i've been pretty busy this week, what with working a fair amount of OT, beginning with a 12 hour shift on Sunday, and two 10 hour shifts Tuesday and Wednesday. it's amazing how fast your body gets used to working eights. when i was working at my last job i did a fair amount of OT at the beginning then got scaled back into 8s, but i was spending so much time on the road it might as well have been 10s and 12s. this job is so much closer to home i almost don't know what to do with the free time. my house shows the results though; it's taken a while but it's closing in on being as clean as i like it. the organization and cleanliness of the house is inversely proportional to the number of hours consumed by work, it seems. i'm not making as much money as i used to, and i don't have insurance, but the stress level of my work environment is much lower, and the overall day-to-day function of things outside my work environment is better, so it's a fair trade.

last weekend my vacuum cleaner finally expired. i was almost grateful to see it gasp its last as it's been a pain in the ass for a while now. i bit the bullet and picked up a new one at Costco. i'm no expert at comparatively shopping for vacuums, but i brought a man's power tool mentality to the equation so i wasn't entirely unprepared. i attempted to find one with a strong motor, and decided to buy one with an above-average filtration system. i knew i needed something versatile enough to get the carpet on the stairs (the old one forced me to 'comb' the carpet by hand to get all the dog hair out of the corners, a time-consuming process which by necessity wasn't done as often as i'd've liked), and i determined that a bagless seemed to be the way to go. price, as always, had to play a part in the decision (i don't spend money lightly, especially with the aforementioned drop in pay of late) so i settled on a middle-of-the-road model in terms of price. from the look of it, it might as well be a DeWalt, which would be khoul if they made one, although likely more expensive than what i ended up paying.

my new wannabe DeWalt vacuum cleaner in the living room it got clean
my new vacuum cleaner

it's got something called a spin duster which i doubted i'd actually like (or use) much, but just as you can't get a new car without honking the horn, i gave it a shot. it turned out to be very handy. it's an acrylic feather duster type thing that uses a vortex to spin it (thereby cleaning and electrostatically charging it) and it works much better than i'd anticipated. normally when i pull the ever-present layer of dust off (literally) every horizontal surface in the house i do it with a damp rag, which works well for things like table-tops but leaves much to be desired on things like the heat dissipation grill on the back of the television (an electrostatically charged dust collector in its own right). within five minutes of trying that thing out i managed to release the kinetic energy stored in a small picture frame, utilizing gravitational acceleration to propel it in a simultaneously aesthetically pleasing and mildly horrifying parabolic arc, to its ultimate demise on the dining room floor. shooing Chowder away from the scene of the accident (is it just my dog or do all animals instantly feel the urge to scamper enthusiastically to/into/through a pile of broken glass?!), and cleaning up the mess (mostly by hand, though- ironically- the new vacuum was handy for those powdered fragments) i then proceeded to prove i'd insufficiently learned from the experience, knocking a heavy, solid metal homemade clock off the entertainment center onto the television. true to the physical constraints of the universe, the kinetic energy released from the clock (which followed a less horizontally exaggerated parabolic arc of its own) proved insufficient to impart any major damage to it; however, the clock's relatively large mass provided momentum such that it did manage to put an annoying ding in the previously unblemished plastic top of the TV. though interested in the commotion, Chowder kept his distance as there was nothing to impale himself upon, and being not altogether too thick i finally learned to be a little less zealous in my dusting.

[pause to re-up on coffee]

overall i'm pretty pleased with the new vacuum. the filtration system is great, it actually pulled so much hair and dust out of the living room that a couple days later i can definitely see an improvement. i get the impression that although the dog hair was coming up with the old vacuum, it was blowing a lot of the dust back into the air. and Loren likes the spin duster thing.

Thursday and Friday were both in the 90s- unseasonably high temperatures for around here. i think the records got shattered by somewhere around 20 degrees. personally i like it warm, but Thursday was also really muggy and uncomfortable. Friday was hotter, but drier, and i was all over it.

Friday was a short day at work, which cost me a little of the OT i've put in, but damn it seemed long! my work asked me to call in around 5am to see if they needed me to come in early. they didn't. so i'd gotten up earlier than i would have normally, and decided to spend the time doing some more chores. i also got a couple good shots of Chowder dozing off on the landing of my staircase; here's one of them:

Chowder dozing off
Chowder sleepin' in while i did chores before work

arriving at work at 9am i learned that once again our supplier had had problems (this time one of their employees got picked up for something and is spending some time in jail) so they couldn't deliver our parts as previously planned at 5:30am. when the parts did come i had nothing but problems running them. long story short: the difficulties i was experiencing boiled down to the parts, not anything i was doing, so the endless series of changes in equipment and approach i (and the others involved in machining these parts) undertook were all for naught, excepting to nail down the cause of the problem, and the matter remains unresolved. almost before i knew it, it was time to take off to pick up Loren, so i advised Nic to avoid spending the break in the shop as much as possible, and embarked on what promised to be a busy three day weekend.

suffering through a very long Memorial Day weekend commute, i picked up Loren from his mom's house and went through his school notebook with him. it wasn't as good as i'd like it but certainly nowhere near as bad as i've seen it. i took some pictures of him and Phoenix jumping on the trampoline over there. here are a couple of the better ones:

Phoenix on the trampoline
Phoenix jumping on the trampoline

Loren on the trampoline
Loren jumping on the trampoline

Loren and Phoenix wrestling around a few moments before it started getting ugly....boys will be boys
boys will be boys

then off we went, with short stops at the grocery and licquor stores (the latter for some faux Bailey's for my coffee...i knew i didn't really have time to make any this time around....dunno if i could really afford it but i've certainly earned it), then home to eat some frozen pizza (on sale- yes!....and no, we didn't eat it frozen, i cooked it) and watch some Dragonball Z. this time around it was the beginning of the Ginyu Force episodes from the Namek Saga. gotta like Dragonball Z. when i grow up i wanna be Goku. food, inactivity, and work fatigue took their normal Friday night toll on me and i managed to (once again) fall asleep on the couch after dinner. Loren finished out the tape (had to settle for VHS for this saga....[sigh]), and did whatever else he does when i'm sleeping in the living room and he's got the place to himself, and finally woke me up around....11pm i think. got up and got him in bed, and hit the hay myself.

Saturday morning i woke up at 5:50am with no alarm. my left arm was killing me (i think i have a tendency to sleep on it) and i attempted to get more comfortable and go back to sleep. woke up at 6am- left arm killing me. attempted to get more comfortable and go back to sleep (damn it's bright out!). woke up at 6:10. left arm killing me. DAMN! go back to sleep. YES! didn't wake up until 9:50. that's much more like it, thank you. Loren and i did the Saturday morning thing, anticipating his joint birthday party (Loren's 12th, Phoenix's 9th- i think) at Marysville Skate Inn. i wrapped the one present i planned to give Loren at his party (electing to give him the rest on Sunday, his actual birthday) and headed out to Granite Falls to pick up one of Loren's friends, a boy i've never met before named Brad. nice kid, with nice parents. headed out to Marysville, whereupon i found Mapquest's directions dismal. nevertheless, i found the place in short enough order, a few minutes later than i'd planned. packed in the kids and the cameras and stuff, and called my folks to amend the undoubtedly wrong directions they likely got from the same place i did. they were stuck in traffic and didn't make it up for a while. Mom was pretty swollen from some oral surgery she had done Friday, and pretty uncomfortable, but it seemed like she got distracted from her discomfort a bit at the party, which i'm happy for. Jason and Melissa made it out too. THANKS to everyone for coming, Loren had a really great time, as did the rest of the kids. i had a great time too, even got out and did some skating myself. i haven't roller skated since i was Loren's age, somewhere around 12 or 13 years ago, and i wasn't ever a major rink rat so i was a little shaky at first. i managed to pick it back up pretty quickly though, and it was a lot of fun. i only fell down once, when i tried to do that funky thing where you bring your knees together and apart while transferring your hands back and forth between them (is there really a name for that motion?). it's an easy enough thing to accomplish standing still on the ground, but doing it while skating is another matter entirely. still, my butt never touched the floor. watching some of the rink employees skate i saw some of them doing this cross-their-feet-over-each-other move while cornering; i had to try it. a couple shaky tries and lo and behold, i got it down. it's the same move i remember seeing the speed skaters in the Olympics do, and it's just a much better method. i never could do that when i was a kid, so i'll call the afternoon a success. still can't skate backwards though. here's some of the better shots from the party:

Phoenix is really photogenic- it's hard to take a bad picture of him
love his shirt here: "it's my brother's fault" hehehehe
Phoenix at Loren's and his joint birthday party

Loren with a balloon-disk thing from his mom
Loren with a balloon-disk thing from his mom

closeup shot of Loren
Loren closeup shot

Phoenix opening a gift
Phoenix opening a gift

Mom, Dad, Melissa, & Jason came out for the party
here they're watching the boys open their gifts
Pelkeys and Wylls watching the boys opening presents

Loren's mom got him this (really hard!) puzzle
Mom and Dad tried it out with him, and that's Loren's friend Matt in the background
Mom, Dad & Loren trying out a puzzle Loren got from his mom

actually got out and skated some- it was fun
here's Loren and me skating (kinda dark)
Loren and me skating

some of the kids kickin' it at Loren's mom's after the skating party, before a mondo sleepover. hey- that's my truck!
pre-sleepover at Loren's mom's house

then it was off to Loren's mom's house to drop off a whole slew of kids for a massive sleepover. i had Loren, Brad, Aaron and Matthew. Melody and her crew (2 vehicles strong) didn't arrive for another half an hour so i hung out with the kids i hauled until they showed up. most of the kids spent the time on the trampoline and chopping wood. one of Loren's friends, Aaron, is a boy scout, and he's a little larger than the others, so he had the strength and the technique to split an impressively large piece of wood in one blow. when i saw him do that i knew my own technique wasn't right, so i watched him closely, and tried it his way- and promptly split the hell out of a big piece of wood like i've never done before- which was khoul. watch and learn. between the skating and chopping, i guess i'm not that old a dog.

after saying my goodbyes i headed for home, to take a few minutes to relax before trekking south to hook up with my old friends Pat and Toni, at Pat's sister Donna's house in Shoreline. Pat doesn't get down this way very often (he's living up in Juneau, AK these days) and it's always good to hug my friend (like a brother to me) and catch up in person. Pat and Toni both look great, Pat especially looks good, even better than the last time i saw him. a little greyer in the beard, and a little thinner in the hair, but hey- aren't we all? they've been in town doing some church work (not my bag, but certainly theirs) and it would take a fairly extreme set of circumstances for me to let an opportunity to see them pass by. they'll be in Snohomish (5 minutes from here) later today, and hopefully will get time to come over and hang out a bit this evening while Loren's here. i got to see some pictures of Pat's son Ryan and his wife (can't remember her name) and their baby (can't remember that cute little baby girl's name either). one of the pictures of Ryan i saw i seriously couldn't recognize him in, but in another one i could see past the now-dark hair and the goatee and see the boy i knew from infancy until he was about 7 or 8. hard to imagine he's a 17 year old teenager who's married with a kid of his own now. hope i get to see those boys again. Loren and i got to see Pat and Toni's youngest son Josh a couple years ago (a great looking young man with impeccable manners) but haven't seen Zack or Ryan since they moved to AK. i also saw some old friends of Pat and Toni's (and acquaintances of mine) from the old days, Ronnie and Collen, and their kids. here's a shot of the group of us, taken by Donna's husband (another really nice guy whose name i'm properly ashamed i can't remember- again), who was gracious enough to lend me the use of a couple AA batteries for my camera, to replace those worn out during Loren's ealier party. thanks to Donna and him for the hospitality, and for a barbecue of turkey burgers, salad and baked beans- all very good- which i didn't need but indulged in anyway. nice folks.

my great friend Pat (with the goatee), his wife Toni (center), our friends Ronnie (in the back beside Pat) and his wife Colleen (in the turquoise), their two kids (Marcus, in the front, and the other girl i can't remember her name for the life of me), and that's me on the left, at Donna's house in Shoreline
get-together at Donna's house in Shoreline

incidentally, Pat's older brother Dan died a short time ago, and they had a service for him last weekend. under most circumstances it would have been nice to see Pat's mom Carmen, and the rest of their family, whom i've known for 20-odd years, and especially Dan's children (especially Holden, whom i knew best, though he went by Danny when i knew him), and even under less-than-desirable circumstances like a funeral it would still have been nice, but i missed the service. it was, however, appropriate that this was Memorial Day weekend. Loren and i spent a significant part of Saturday morning remembering those who've been a part of our lives who aren't with us any more, including my Gramma and Grampa Pelkey, my Grampa Douillet, Loren's grandfather and grandmother Hulse (the latter deceased before i met Loren's mother), my friend Char Putnam (who died of injuries suffered in a car accident while we were in high school), my friend Katie (from my high school days, who died of misdiagnosed liver cancer), a long assortment of pets Loren and i have had (most especially in my mind our old Pelkey family dog Lucky and my cat Crash- OMG i forgot Evil! can't forget my extremely affectionate and gifted-at-hunting cat Evil- who died of accidental poisoning much too young), my aunt Barbara (my uncle Walter's wife, a very nice woman i was very fond of, who was killed in a car accident that left also left Uncle Walter incapacitated), all the great grandparents i can remember meeting, my uncle Roger (thanks VERY much to Loren for reminding me to remember him- he was a great guy), Pat's aforementioned recently-deceased brother Dan, and their father (my long-time very good friend), the much admired Bob Fagg. i'm sure there are others i've forgotten; there are certainly some i've thought of that i haven't included here. i miss these friends, family, and pets a lot, and i'm thankful for the occurence of Memorial Day to remind me to think of them all. thanks also to American troops throughout the ages for their sacrifice(s), that we might enjoy times like this three day weekend.

OK. this is one seriously long post, and the weekend's not finished yet. i woke up around 2:30am from an uncomfortably-crowded couch, and i've spent much more time writing this than i'd planned (the birds who've invaded the attic over the den are chirping and it's more light out than dark). time to get a few more winks before i finish wrapping the remainder of Loren's presents and take care of some more chores before he comes back this evening.


onward and....onward

sunday i worked 12 hours, an exercise in frustration having trouble with what used to be the easiest parts to run en masse. the overtime will come in handy. i'll be getting a bit more tomorrow, as i'm starting at 5am to pick up the slack caused by our supplier's damaged punch die. no die = no parts for us, and that puts us on a backlog. the last two days have been pretty uneventful, though i did manage to get Loren's birthday shopping finished and his birthday/Memorial Day weekend plans ironed out. to wit, i'll pick him up friday evening after work and he'll stay until we leave for his (and Phoenix's) birthday party at a roller rink in Marysville. when the party breaks up he'll be heading to his mother's house for the remainder of the evening, and slumber party with a bunch of the kids. he'll spend much of his actual birthday at his mom's too, and sometime in the afternoon the last of the guests should be headed out; he'll be coming over around dinner time, and staying through Monday.

finished my latest book, A Darkness At Sethanon. it was very good despite far too many editorial gaffes, and provided a fitting end to author Raymond Feist's Riftwar Saga. a review of this and the other books i've finished since i last updated my recommended reading page are forthcoming- though i have no specific timetable in mind. the teeming multitudes waiting eagerly for my latest flawlessly executed Wax Eloquent upon the literary works occupying my attention of late will have to wait a bit longer it seems. some of the reviews are written but i've not found time to update the page yet. tonight i started Prince of the Blood, another novel set in Feist's world of Midkemia, this one taking place approximately 20 years after the end of the story in the first four books. this one is meant as a standalone. Loren finished Magician: Apprentice and started on Magician: Master. i think he's worked his way through at least half the book by now, which means he's enjoying them as much as i am. big smiles from the Dad here. his GPA is the best it's been since his last report card was issued. he's still got a way to go before kicking this school year to the curb but with a modicum of luck he'll improve his grades enough to warrant the return of his video game priveleges. i'd like to see it happen- he's worked much harder than he did before, the fact that i've pushed him much more notwithstanding.

other than that there's no news worth the espousal of great detail. working. paying bills. trying to wrap my mind around the finances and my losing a week's pay at the end of June. i'm really not in much of a position to be out the money....hope there's a bit more OT to be had at work in the meantime. regardless, broke or no, i go to NY to spend time amongst Pelkeys old and new, and introduce them all to Loren.

time to hit the hay, 4am comes early. till next time- enjoy.


the Sonics fall in the NBA western conference semifinals

...in game 6 to the Spurs. it went all the way to the wire. with seconds remaining, Tim Duncan slipped behind Vitaly Potapenko to receive yet another well placed, acrobatically delivered dish from Manu Ginobli, and he banked a 5 footer off the glass to give the Spurs a 2 point lead with only half a second remaining in regulation. following an immediate time out, Antonio Daniels inbounded to Ray Allen in the left corner. well defended by Duncan, Allen's turn-and-shoot 3-pointer went off the front of the rim. the faithful at Key Arena never lost hope; the decibel level was monumental throughout the contest. if Allen's shot had gone in the whole building might have spontaneously exploded. following the miss, the hometown crowd gave their Sonics a standing ovation for an outstanding season. there are 7 free agent players on the Sonics roster, and Coach Nate McMillan's contract is up too; it'll be interesting to see who returns.

Seattle shot slightly better from both the field and the stripe, won the battle of the boards, had more steals, more fast break points, and less turnovers, but San Antonio had more assists and blocked more shots. Duncan was completely denied scoring from the field for the first half and the majority of the third quarter. so many little things over the course of 48 minutes can make the difference in a 2 point game, but i'm left with the impression that the officiating robbed Damien Wilkins of a clean basket; he was called for fending off Manu Ginobli on a layup where he clearly didn't come close to touching him. c'est la NBA.

i suppose at this point i'm free to say, "Go Phoenix!"

Loren went to see Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith with his mom tonight; i hope he doesn't spoil it for me too much when he comes tomorrow. his mother and i are planning a joint birthday party for Loren and Phoenix on Memorial Day weekend, at a roller rink in Marysville. should be good times.

the weather's been schitzophrenic for days now. thundershowers one minute and blue sky the next. i gather we need the rain, my own personal impression from the fact that every time the sun comes out the ground gets completely dry before it dumps for 10 minutes again. it's been doing this for days, you'd think we'd have some standing water around by now. love looking out the bay doors at work when it's like this. ever notice that the weather gets really interesting when you're really bored? running the same program on the same machine for 8 hours makes one appreciate anything serving as a break in the monotony, let alone when one minute it's all sunny and the next the rain's coming in diagonally and bouncing off the ground. the temperature's been swinging up and down wildly over the course of the day. love seeing big black clouds against blue sky.

back to work tomorrow, then off to gather Loren. he'll be here Saturday, then Sunday i'll be putting in a little OT.



my boy's got the blogging bug

sure, it wasn't a stretch for me to encourage his interest, but the idea was his. so i helped him get set up and now he's runnin' with it on his own. obviously there's a lot for him to learn about everything, but he certainly picked up how to include anchor tags and links into the body of his blog posts. [sniff] i am....so proud. lookout world, here's Loren's personal cyberspatial psychocornucopia, available at internetworked terminals worldwide (void where prohibited).


wheel in the sky keeps on turnin'...

...and if life imitated music, i wouldn't know where i'll be tomorrow. however, at this particular moment that doesn't appear to be the case. tomorrow will find me once more upon the road at a very early hour, first northbound to deliver Loren unto his other home front (where i trust he'll meet with no sudden illness to prevent his attending school) and then southbound to do battle once more upon whatever steel minions await a taste of my carbide blade (as it were). [note: this posted after midnight, but for me, it's still Sunday night --inf]

Friday the 13th lived up to the hype last week. the air compressor that fried at the end of the work day Thursday brought the shop to a standstill before anyone got there (i saw this coming), and the forklift sprouted a hydraulic leak- bad timing considering we had to move 6 months of accumulated crap away from another CNC machine, mothballed since long before i began working there, which they had someone coming in to work on that day. they're talking about running a second shift, or maybe having me start early from now on so they can keep the machine i'm running most of the time running more of the time. that was an interesting sentence to type. the owner, Scott, bought a new part to replace the one that fried on the compressor and i went on a mission to Home Depot for some brass pipe fittings to get it all hooked up, and fixed it with Nic. the same guy who came out to work on the hydraulic systems for the CNC machine also fixed the hydraulic leak on the forklift; it was only a blown hose, an easy fix. three of us moved everything that could be moved by hand away from the CNC machine, no small feat. lack of manpower contributed to a large accumulation of unorganized stuff (read: bigass pile of crap) in that area. at some point someone needs to step up and organize that shop. it's one of my strong points (i've done it in most of the shops i've worked in- i have a low tolerance for disorganization in a shop environment) but my experience tells me it's going to be a monumental undertaking in that place. picture large piles of drill bits thrown together in a drawer without regard for size, then extrapolate throughout the entire shop with every conceivable form of tool and material present. it would take someone a solid week to put a sizable dent in the mess. sooner or later the bullet's going to have to be bitten by someone.

speaking of organization (like the segue?) Loren's notebook was clean and well organized at the end of the school week, and he turned in all the missing work it was possible to get credit for, just like i asked him to. i stopped off on the way home from picking him up at his mom's and bought him a pack of cards (which played carrot to one-week-of-no-TV's stick). bought us both a slurpee too- just the trick considering it was a little muggy and warmer than it's been. Loren mentioned he remembered the time he got a slurpee with me when he was really little and he dropped it on the way out of the store, spilling it all over the pavement. i think he was around 4 then. he was really upset at the time, but he bucked right up when i gave him mine- which he also remembered. i'm guessing that's one memory that'll stick with him if he still remembers it.

this weekend went by quickly. Loren and i spent much of it in the company of family. Friday night we spent eating a little frozen pizza and taking in the last two new episodes of Star Trek to be aired for the forseeable future. the first was the conclusion of a storyline begun last week, and the last was an interesting close to the series, depicting the formation of an alliance which would eventually become the United Federation of Planets. the entire episode was tied in to the ST:TNG episode in which Riker wrestled with a question of honor, as one of the minority of survivors in the ill-fated, and subsequently covered-up, testing of a banned cloaking device aboard his former ship, the Pegasus. in the ST:TNG episode, upon the rediscovery of the formerly lost Pegasus, though sworn to secrecy concerning the incident, Riker eventually chose to inform his current commander, Captain Picard, of the circumstances surrounding the ship's disappearance. in the ST:Enterprise episode, Riker used a holodeck simulation of the Enterprise's final days to both objectively watch the historic events and interactively participate with the crew members (posing as the ship's chef) in order to gain some insight before making his decision about whether to reveal his knowledge of the Pegasus incident. it was an interesting choice to tie the final ST:Enterprise episode in with an existing episode of the ST:TNG series; it was also strange to see Johnathon Frakes and Marina Sirtis portray their ST:TNG characters from an existing episode after so much time has passed- they've both visibly aged since the ST:TNG episode, but the producers ignored that fact and executed the storyline without trying to hide their difference in age. it was pretty khoul to see Picard's Enterprise depicted again in the final ST:Enterprise episode.

after TV, Loren and i spent a very short time reading The Wishsong of Shannara again; he was pretty disappointed when i fell asleep before making much progress. again he spent some time making an effort to wake me up, with very limited success. by the time i actually woke up enough that i might have been able to continue, it was well past time for him to hit the sack. this is getting to be something of a habit on Friday nights, and he's not pleased with me. i hate feeling like i've let him down.

Saturday morning came early for me (i'd certainly gotten enough sleep) and i woke up well before him for a change. i let him sleep in. we got ready in time to head out to Ethan's soccer game, his second of the season. Nichole asked me to referee the game, but i declined. then the light bulb appeared over my head and i suggested she ask Loren. he agreed, and was granted the whistle. Ethan's league is a non-results-oriented affair, as they're all between the ages of 5 and 7, and it's a pretty informal game setting. Nichole and Chris sum up the experience for the kids as, "At this point, it's all about the snack," which is both accurate for 90% of the kids and funny. Mom and Dad were there, and Cole (who was a bundle of energy throughout the game, and showed a remarkable amount of restraint for a 2 yr old boy who likes nothing more than a ball of any variety). my folks invited Loren and i out to dinner, with no real plan in mind, and in the end all questions of where and when and how were left up to Loren. he chose dinner in, at Gramma & Grampa's at around 6pm. we went home in the meantime and Loren promptly went out to hook up with his friend Josh. he traded some of his Dragonball Z CCG cards to Josh for a whole slew of Josh's Yu-Gi-Oh cards, a deal i tried repeatedly to nix. Josh suggested it himself, but i figured he'd regret it eventually- it wasn't even close to a fair trade. evidently Josh's (15 yr old) sister agreed and told him he needed to get something more than the three cards of Loren's he'd bargained for. Loren was accommodating and they reached a deal which Loren still ended up quite comfortably on the better end of. soon we were on the road to Gramma & Grampa's. barbecued chicken, mashed potatoes and peas were the fare of the evening, and Loren watched some cartoons while we all caught up a bit. we played a few games of Uno, with Loren's attention (and mine) divided between the game and the Star Wars Clone Wars cartoons on TV. Mom won the first two games, with Dad coming in second both times, and Loren and i split the games for third place. then we retired to the dining room table to play a couple more, Dad winning one, me winning the second. my apologies to all the seriously die-hard Uno fans for my appalling failure to remember which of us took 2nd, 3rd, and last place in those final two games- simply shocking, i know. it was a relaxing evening, and we all enjoyed ourselves, including Chowder, who in the absence of my Most Excellent nephews wasn't outside the whole time due to Cole's unbridled fear. then it was back home for Loren and i, arriving well after bedtime, but we ignored the hour and made up for Friday night, reading a fairly sizable chunk of our aforementioned book despite the impressive bruise-blue circles under Loren's very tired eyes.

the next morning (this morning) saw Loren downstairs watching cartoons when i finally rose around 11am- a respectable beginning to a rainy Sunday. Loren and i made our traditional Sunday Big Brunch, pancakes, eggs and sausage, while we listened to acid jazz streaming over Rhapsody radio. we both put our noses in our books while we ate. Loren's nearly finished with Magician:Apprentice and i've just begun the 4th book in the same series, A Darkness at Sethanon. Loren watched some more cartoons and examined more closely the cards he gained in his latest bartering session. i cleaned up the brunch mess while he gathered his Lord of the Rings edition Risk game so we could start a new battle. i knew we'd never finish it (especially considering it's been long enough since we played we had to make a thorough trip through the rule book) but it was good to start a new game. sometimes it's fun to get into a game that's going to take a long time to finish. we broke from the game to watch the Sonics thoroughly trounce the Spurs in game 4 of their 2nd round NBA playoff series, at Key Arena. the first two games were in San Antonio and the Sonics lost them both, then the Spurs came here and lost the next two. an impressive team effort propelled the Sonics to beat the Spurs soundly without Radmonovic or Lewis. Radmonovic went down in San Antonio, for at least the remainder of this series, with a severely sprained ankle. in the same game, Ray Lewis went out less than two minutes later with his own sprained ankle. he was able to return for the next game, albeit fairly hampered. Lewis went down in the first Seattle game, with some sort of toe problem. everyone seemed to come up big for this game though, including Damien Wilkins in an impressive showing, especially defensively, especially from a rookie, from the bench. Luke Ridnour finally got some shots to fall, including 15 points in a great third quarter. the Sonics managed to make the Spurs play their game, a crazy game bordering on out-of-control at times, which seems to work for them. at the start of the game, Loren intended to read his book on and off while watching, but he couldn't help watching the whole thing play out. i get the impression he really likes watching basketball, more than most sports, which is great in my book. basketball's by far my favorite sport to watch, and you can't help but think Loren's going to get something out of watching the pros play (besides the plain old fun of watching the Sonics!). i really hope he plays basketball next year, it was fantastic watching him out on the court last time around.

after the game it was time for a simple dinner, some fish sticks and tater tots, and we watched some more of the Trigun DVD series lent us by my friend and co-worker Nic Crowner. thanks Nic! the farther we get into the series, the better it gets. all too soon it was time for Loren to shower up, and then we retired to the couch for the last of this weekend's Shannara sessions. no, i didn't fall asleep or i wouldn't be sitting here typing ;)

that brings us up to date, and it's time to crash. i'm sorely tempted to ignore my fatigue, have another cup of coffee, and dig a bit further into A Darkness at Sethanon....but damned if 4:30am doesn't come earlier than it did when i was a spry young whippersnapper of, say, 35.

PEACE and a good week to all.


lack of activity = lack of posts

work. watch basketball. read Silverthorn. do laundry. sleep. repeat. hard to make something thrilling to post when your week consists of mainly that. so i'll delve backwards into last weekend i guess.

last Friday Loren's mother took off to go shopping or something, by my place, while i went to her place to pick up Loren after work. growlz. crashed out in my truck at her (deserted) place waiting for her; buzzed her a few times on her cell. eventually i got tired of waiting and headed home; intercepted her on the main drag and acquired my son....albeit with Phoenix and his friend James. someone had decided it would be a good night for them to have a sleepover, and since Loren was coming, my place was elected. nevermind the fact that neither of the other two boys had so much as a change of clothes, toothbrushes, or anything else that commonly accompanies kids bound for a sleepover...it happened. i was pretty grumpy about all my wasted time (and another wasted trip to Granite Falls) but managed to make it through the evening with the boys. i was thoroughly unprepared for company- not enough clean dishes (or food ready to prepare for that matter) for the additional bodies so i spent a little money i didn't have on some pizza. Loren sat with me and watched Enterprise (though in truth his mind was more than a little occupied with his latest issue of Nintendo Power). the other two boys were less than heroic in their efforts to keep the noise down, so i missed much of the dialogue. never considered myself much of a stick in the mud, but i have to admit that left my banana somewhat irked. they made their way outside for part of the show, and after the pizza showed up and they'd eaten, i sent them upstairs to play. Loren hung out with me. eventually all three young men retired to the den to watch The Demented Cartoon Movie (Loren for the umpteenth time- he's thoroughly impressed) and my weariness soon gave over to full fledged sleep on the couch, at the ripe old hour of 9:30pm. i woke sometime around 2:45am and found all three boys still up and about....not really surprising. i got them all ready to sleep, but Phoenix and James wouldn't stop joking around (Loren was more than ready to succumb to the sandman) so i separated the two younger boys, setting up Phoenix on the couch downstairs- that did the trick. sometime between 9:30 and 2:45, they managed to drink somewhere between 8 and 12 cans of pop and eat half a box of swiss cake rolls. boys will be boys i suppose. Loren only copped to one pop, and said he didn't eat any of the junk food. have to admit i was a little surprised he didn't try to stop them or wake me up during all that, but he's not the house police. i told him he was in charge earlier in the evening but i guess i'll have to wonder what he'd do if he actually wielded the authority, since he doesn't excercise the right. in any case, i believe Loren copped to his own part in the fridge raid truthfully, so the other two really binged.

in a parallel train of thought, Loren looked pretty well, though he occasionally sounded hoarse, for a boy who missed all but 1 day of school last week. have to admit i'm a little (maybe more than a little?) upset at his mother for letting him stay home when he was well enough to live it up all week while he missed school. Loren defended himself by telling me he really felt bad in the mornings but improved later in the days. i'm trying to help Loren bail water out of his dicey schoolwork boat and that wasn't exactly an example of his mom helping him patch leaks. really, missing a bunch of school over an itchy throat was the last thing he needed, when he just got on a bit of a roll. growlz. it's one thing if he's really sick (i'm not a sadist) but from talking to him on the phone it was obvious he wasn't feeling all that bad. i talked to him tonight on the phone and he told me he's finished all the work he missed except one thing. if that's true (and i'll only believe that when i see it, since he's been "wrong" answering that question many times at this point) i made him promise me that the remaining one would be done by tomorrow. i'll be inspecting his school notebook again Friday- hope he remembers that and takes care of business like i showed him; i'd hate to have to discipline him after he's been doing so well.

i intended to make it to Ethan's first soccer game on Saturday, but getting a late start and having company in the house nixed my plans in that regard. actually, if i'd had definite info on where and when the action was going to take place i'd probably have made a greater effort to get there. here's hoping i can get Loren out to the next one.

spent a little time lately cruising used book stores for the aforementioned book i'm reading, and managed to find all the books in the series (10 titles) scattered amongst half a dozen stores. it was a little more of an investment than i'd planned to make, but since i know i'll read through them, i'll count it as cheap entertainment and leave it at that. Loren started the first book in the series (Magician: Apprentice) and he's worked his way halfway through it. it's always khoul to see him take to a new book. he's got a bunch on his shelves he's never touched, but i've been guilty of that too, and he'll either get to reading them or not- they're not going anywhere. better too many books than too few, and i count it lucky he likes to read.

sunday i made it over to Mom and Dad's for Mother's Day; picked up Mom a bottle of wine. always nice to see the folks, and the trip south doubled as a chance to get to a used book store in the area. happily they had the very book i was looking for. didn't realize my nephews were visiting Gramma & Grampa until i let Chowder loose into the house and he barrelled right in and terrified Cole, who probably scared the crap outta Chowder with his awesome display of raw lung power. Ethan was a bit nervous but handled it very well. Cole eventually warmed up to the concept of "friendly dog" enough to view him with through the window as he hung out outside- where he spent the remainder of my visit. Cole asked me a little later what the thing hanging on the wall was (Dad's guitar) so i took it down and let him strum while i fingered chords- the boy's got rhythm- and Ethan joined in the fun. i played some myself, and Cole seemed to like the music, getting his groove on a lil' bit. eventually i put a little spin on the whole thing by singing a song about "my friend Chowder" and Cole seemed to appreciate that. Dad contributed to the lyrics, notably at one point where i'd sung my improvisation into a corner with a line like "and Chowder likes to eat..." (can you see where this is going?) of course Dad finished off the line "...little boys". i saw it coming and was sorely tempted to go there myself, but he beat me to the punch. Cole took it in stride, and immediately went back to the window to check out m'dog.

then it was back home for me, to watch the Sonics get absolutely Beat Down by the Spurs in game 1 of the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs. ugly. very ugly. tonight they fared a little better but still couldn't manage a win, so they'll come home to play a couple (three?) down 2-0 going in. they've seriously got to step it up on defense if they hope to have a chance, and they're shooting's gotta average a lot higher than the high 30s they shot this game. didn't know the Spurs could run like that, but i missed most of the latter half of the season this year, so it's not surprising i didn't know what to expect from San Antonio.

ok that brings everything up to date and i'm officially out for now. --PEACE


soundclick stats

some (most?) who chance to be reading this at this particular moment (be that when it may) are likely aware i have a smattering of my songs posted online. the main site i use to host my MP3s is soundclick.com, and the link to my little corner of the soundclick universe is at the top right of this page, the first link in the 'local content' section. i'm not sure exactly when i last posted the soundclick usage stats, but since i check them every so often (at roughly monthly intervals), i took a few minutes to lay out the current stats and post them here. in the SONG STATISTICS section below, the first number in each row (after the year), is song plays (times streamed), and the second number is downloads. in that section i've also included statistics from other sites for those songs.


TTL PLAYS / HIT : 0.974
TTL HITS / PLAY : 1.027

PLAYS : 1351
DWNLDS : 174
PLAYS / DWNLD : 7.764
DWNLDS / PLAY : 0.129
PLAYS / HIT : 1.090
HITS / PLAY : 0.918

PLAYS : 491
DWLNDS : 102
PLAYS / DWNLD : 4.814
DWNLDS / PLAY : 0.208
PLAYS / HIT : 0.755
HITS / PLAY : 1.324

Total Page Views '04 : 1240
Total Page Views '05 : 650
Total 1892


A Little Bubbly [demo]
'04 : 131 11
'05 : 30 7
Total 161 18
* unsignedbandweb.com: 9 streams, 4 downloads

All F*ed Up [no vocals, as recorded by Infidel]
'04 : 37 11
'05 : 6 6
Total 43 17

America [as recorded by Infidel]
'04 : 46 5
'05 : 25 6
Total 71 11

Coward [as recorded by Infidel]
'04 : 39 7
'05 : 16 5
Total 55 12

Distractions [live, dry]
'04 : 102 8
'05 : 35 5
Total 137 13

Distractions [live]
'04 : 179 10
'05 : 33 8
Total 212 18
* unsignedbandweb.com: 12 streams, 3 downloads

Dtune [demo]
'04 : 50 8
'05 : 28 6
Total 78 14
* betarecords.com plays: 8

Escape [as recorded by Infidel]
'04 : 40 12
'05 : 30 7
Total 70 19

Happy Song [demo]
'04 : 44 7
'05 : 28 5
Total 72 12

High Wire [as recorded by Infidel]
'04 : 30 5
'05 : 22 3
Total 52 8

I Wanna Disappear [demo]
'04 : 38 6
'05 : 26 6
Total 64 12

Jus' Dyin' [live outtake, as recorded by Pat Fagg]
'04 : 31 5
'05 : 9 5
Total 40 10

Jus' Livin' [live, as recorded by Pat Fagg]
'04 : 24 5
'05 : 13 4
Total 37 9

Liquid Motion Experiment #2 [demo]
'04 : 170 20
'05 : 49 4
Total 219 24
* betarecords.com plays: 5
* unsignedbandweb.com: 14 streams, 4 downloads

Lullaby [live]
'04 : 162 9
'05 : 31 3
Total 193 12

Now Is The Time [as recorded by ThoseDudes]
'04 : 18 6
'05 : 12 3
Total 30 9

PiBuWiFaSur [instrumental, as recorded by Infidel]
'04 : 28 6
'05 : 9 4
Total 37 10

To Hell With It Anyway [as recorded by ThoseDudes]
'04 : 31 9
'05 : 19 3
Total 50 12

Too Easy [no vocals, as recorded by Infidel]
'04 : 34 10
'05 : 6 4
Total 40 14

Tracers [instrumental, as recorded by Infidel]
'04 : 31 5
'05 : 21 4
Total 52 9

Unspoken [as recorded by Infidel]
'04 : 86 9
'05 : 43 4
Total 129 13
* betarecords.com plays: 9
* unsignedbandweb.com: 17 streams, 3 downloads


the weekendend

another two day respite from the trials of a work week is just about finis. Loren's upstairs in the shower, and i'm getting ready for our nightly wind-down, before an early Monday morning start. 4:30am comes early enough, to be sure, and an hour later we'll be on the road, first taking Loren back to his mom's for another week of slogging it out in school, then i'll be headed back south to rejoin the battle on the machining front.

yesterday Loren and i took it pretty easy, neither of us did a great deal. he was unsuccessful locating any of the neighbor boys to hang out with, so he came back and we played a little poker. he was a little rusty, it's been a while since we played last, and i took a bunch of his money (read: my money, lent him for the game) before we'd had our fill of cards for the afternoon. we watched Van Helsing, which i knew he'd like. it was a campy adventure/horror flick with some pretty decent special effects, and a lot of over the top scenes. entertaining, but not a serious attempt at a monster movie by any means. can't remember the name of the actor who played Dracula in it, but he was the campiest of them all, he looked like he really enjoyed putting a comic spin to the role where he could. i got a great kick out of seeing (damn i can't remember his name either!) the actor who played Faramir in The Lord of the Rings as a comical friar somewhat akin to Q of 007 lore- he did a great job. totally freaky to see him in that role. for me, he's forever typecast as one of my favorite characters from the Tolkein novel. all the actors in Helsing did their part, in a flashy low budget movie, meant to be light entertainment, and it fulfilled its mission.

Loren's creeping up on me, so i'll finish this post later.

ok i'm back. miss me? didn't think so. let's see...where did i leave off....

ah, yes. we ate lasagna (one of Loren's favorites) Saturday night. no, i didn't get all culinarily motivated and become an Italian chef extraordinaire, it was frozen lasagna from Costco- Loren's obviously not very picky about his lasagna, he loves it. i cooked it about 10 minutes longer than the directions say and it came out better for it, a lot drier than usual. next time i'll have to let it go even longer and see if it comes out even better. that's about the extent of my culinary experimentation.

i suppose this train of thought is the correct one in which to mention i tried my hand at concocting some homemade Irish cream licqueur Friday night. i conscripted Loren to help with the project, and although a little reluctant at first he got into the spirit of things soon enough. i chose a middle-of-the-road Irish whiskey for my first attempt(s), and let Loren dip his finger in it to get an idea of what we were using to make the stuff with; he liked it, though i'm sure he wouldn't have if he'd taken a whole sip. the recipe i tried for this first attempt didn't much resemble the remaining Irish cream i had in the house, so i winged it a little from there, and ended up with something much closer, and easier to make. the final ingredients used in this first batch are thus:

1 pt heavy cream
1 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1/4 oz plain unflavored gelatin (1 envelope)
1 generous cup of Bushmill's Irish whiskey
2 tbsp chocolate syrup (mostly darkened up the mixture)
1 tbsp vanilla extract

in the end, i'd have to say this recipe is a little light on the whiskey; it could prob'ly use another 1/2 - 3/4 cup, and the gelatin seemed to detract from the whole thing, as it didn't seem to mix well. i used a whisk to beat this stuff up for awhile, and after bottling it (in an old Irish cream bottle, of course) i shook the crap out of it (Loren enjoyed his part in that also) but i think the results might have been better if it had been blended, like most of the directions for the recipes i've found call for. unfortunately i don't own a blender, so i had to make due. if it's meant to thicken it up, i think it's unnecessary, the stuff is probably thick enough on its own, and the gelatin plain old didn't work. maybe it would be different with a blender. many of the recipes i've seen also use honey, and i bought that and enough other ingredients that i could experiment with any of these recipes, so the next batch i try will likely have some honey it it too. the end product this time is certainly drinkable, but not perfect. i'm sure i'll get closer in a couple more tries.

so back to present events. today Loren and i went through his school notebook; he's still got a way to go before he gets the organization thing licked- as evidenced by the immense stack of paper we got rid of. when i'd finally reduced it to what he actually needed to hang on to, it was down to maybe half a dozen assignments in progress, an assignment planner, a math book, and some blank paper. gone now are the paper airplanes (Loren reverse-engineered a particularly complex one he found in his desk in a class and promptly recreated the design a couple times), the graded homework and quizzes from October '04 through the present, the assignments he didn't realize were in his notebook and started again, and a plethora of drawings (some of them quite good!). i traded out his ever-present Dungeons & Dragons manual for something a little less likely to distract him from his studies in his other classes (he's been bringing it to school for his reading class, but i get the feeling it's been doing double duty as a source of inspiration for the aforementioned drawings and non-school-related stuff). i've told him that for him, this quarter, there's no such thing as 'extra credit' assignments- he's to treat them all as if they're regular assignments and turn them in- i don't want to see zeros for extra credit when he's struggling with grades. i found a two page list of extra credit assignments he could do at any time for his social studies class, and as this class seems to be the only one for which his current grade is actually lower than the one he received on his last report card, i told him he's to pick any of them he wants, 1 per week, and do it. he couldn't really argue with the fact that if he's got time to draw pictures in school, study hall or not, he has time to draw the maps and/or floor plans of imaginary lands and/or castles (etc) that will qualify for extra credit in social studies. seriously, from what i can tell of the difficulty of the average assignments given him in his classes, there's no excuse for any of the students to be failing. hmmm....have to admit some of the math stuff he's working on at the moment threw me a curve ball i wasn't prepared for- it was difficult enough that i couldn't just glance at it and intuitively figure it out- but he's got a grasp on it, which means he's at least paying attention in math class. good job there, bud :)

note: since it's come to my attention that Loren's taken to reading this meandering monologue when he gets computer/internet access at school, i'll occasionally be including comments to him- WAAAAASSSSSUUUUUUUUUUP Loren?!?! hope everything's beyond khoul for you today.

this afternoon we spent some time over at the Sargents'. good times :) Ethan overheard Nichole's end of our phone conversation and that was the end of aspirations toward a nap. we played some ball in their back yard, which was fun. Ethan's got a great swing and it should serve him well should he decide to take part in tee ball this summer. Loren tried to pull the boys up some steps in their wagon but they took a backward dive. that's ok though, i nailed Cole in the face with a wiffle ball trying to pitch him one; he wasn't very happy about that, but he was a good sport. even got to have a beer with Chris. all too soon it was time to mosey homeward, and we came home and had some dinner and watched a little of the Trigun anime series lent me by my co-worker Nick. Loren's seen the show a couple times before and he likes it, so it's a hit. it's going to take a little while for us to make our way through it (5 DVDs' worth) so i hope Nick's not in too big a rush for it back. we'd have more time if it was summer, but for the moment we're making the best of our weekend time.

we put a couple more chapters of The Wishsong of Shannara behind us this evening, and that brings me up to the present- and time to go sit with my own book a bit before hitting the hay.

thanks to Loren for another great weekend. bring on the week!

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