Saturday come, and nearly gone

Friday night (last night) held no surprises for Loren and i, and that suited both of us just fine. i drove out and picked him up from his mom's, and we headed home for our usual Friday night pizza & catch-up (not "ketchup"....that would be gross) session. the Sonics were playing the Hawks at Key Arena, and we got a chance to check out another of the players on my fantasy NBA team, the Hawks' Al Harrington. he had a good game, though not good enough to seal a victory for the Hawks; the Sonics took the contest 99-91, though Rashard Lewis left in the first half with a nasty thigh bruise. so much for HIS stats on the night. an enjoyable game anyway- especially watching Damien Wilkins (one of my favorite role-player Sonics) have a career night, including scoring something like 23 points (a career high for him) and at one point in the second half scoring the last 13 consecutive points for the Sonics. Nick Collison, another of my favorites- who's also seeing more playing time under Coach Hill than he might have under Coach Weiss- tied his career best in rebounds, and showed some strong slashing moves to the hoop, in a great starting effort, and even Robert Swift (also the beneficiary of increased playing time under Coach Hill) had a career night in rebounding as well. the Sonics tried to give the game away a bunch of times, turning the ball over WAY too much in the second half, but Damien played probably the best game of his life and put it away down the stretch- FUN to watch!

after the Sonics game we settled in for another episode of ST:DS9, as we make our way through the DVD on our plate at the moment. i figured we'd get to watching the last one today and i could return the disc, but that was not to be. it was too late to watch another episode last night, so it got put off until today, and today we just ran out of time.

Loren did a little relaxing, rising an hour or so earlier than i did (pretty normal for a Saturday here), and got a little TV under his belt, and a little internet time. i got up about 11am, and we had some breakfast and took care of the morning stuff, before i hopped online and started reviewing his school progress with him. he was convinced he got all the work he missed during his recent illness turned in, and that may very well be (i'm pretty inclined to believe him) but the results don't show on the internet yet; there's always a little lag between what he's turned in and what makes the most recent update by any of his teachers. the next part of the school progress review was checking out what he needed to accomplish this week- and that was a sorrier story. he managed not to start a week-long experiment- assigned originally while he was out sick- and we came to the conclusion that he only had 2 days to get some bread to mold (likely not enough time to see any results, let alone successfully meet the requirements), but i had him do what he could to be as prepared as possible to turn it in on Monday anyway- though he'll likely get a bad grade. i told him he should ask his teacher if he'll get a better grade by turning it in 5 days late, but complete, or done as well as possible, but incomplete, and turned in on time. either way he's likely to have cost himself a bunch of points; the average science assignment is worth 100 pts, this one- like most week-long experiments assigned in that class- is worth 400. he'll have to live with the results. it also turned out he didn't finish the majority of his math homework, also assigned as a single assignment with a week allowed for completion. this one there's really no excuse for, considering that's the only way he EVER gets math homework and it's nothing new. i've told him countless times to sit down and do an honest day's homework immediately when he gets home from school, before doing anything else, but that rarely happens- his mother simply won't enforce the policy, which is extremely disappointing. i know i'd be handling some of the responsibility best placed on him, were he to come here after school rather than his mom's house, but i think in a short time the routine would kick in (since it would NEVER change) and he'd do what needed to be done on his own in short order. however, he got that assignment completed, and done as well or better (including neatness!) than any i've seen him do so far, including the "extra credit" portions (always optional and available). i think he'll get a great grade on that. he also did some reading for a book report he was assigned earlier, due Feb 23- which he forgot about until i reviewed his pending assignments with him.

beginning at about 3pm, when my very loud and prolonged castigation for blowing off/forgetting/failing to do/whatever-you-wanna-call-it his homework for the week, he sat down and worked his tail off at it, with a good attitude, and kept at it right up until we had to get him ready for his basketball game this evening. he was more than a little disappointed that we had to spend our Saturday with him at the kitchen table working, as opposed to screwing around having fun with me- and so was i- but i think he spent his time wisely, and i know i did the right thing by making him get his stuff done. gotta say: i'm impressed with how he handled that disappointment. i told him, don't be upset, just fix the problem so we don't repeat it next week. hopefully it'll stick. but enough about homework.

tonight was BASKETBALL night for Loren, and he had a CAREER night! what a great game, and so nice to see it come after a fairly hard day. Loren's team lost a really good contest 36-33. Loren started, and played the entire first quarter, and was subbed in once for a few minutes in the second half. during his first stint on the floor he made his presence known with consistently excellent defense (playing aggressively enough to get called for his first foul of the season, which was great to see), and showed good movement on offense without the ball. that movement earned him a couple well-timed passes- both of which he put in the hoop! the first was a shot from the side of the key, down low, the second from about 16' out, both from the left side, both bankers off the backboard, if i remember correctly. he also stole the ball on an inbounds pass, and he said he came down with a rebound, though i don't think i saw that (could've missed it, i'll have to go watch the video to see if he did....or if the shaky, distracted cameraman- Yours Truly- caught it). he brought his defense back onto the floor with him when he was subbed in during the second half, but never got the ball for another shot, finishing the game with (by my count) 4 pts on perfect 2-2 shooting from the field, 1 steal....and maybe a block? i'll have to go look again. DEFINITELY a great game for him, despite the losing effort. from the point of view of a spectator in the stands, this was a competitive game throughout, neither team building an insurmountable lead, nor able to stop the other from taking it back. this is what makes sport so much fun- close competition. would've been nice to see Loren's team get a win, but i think most of his team was happy to have been in the game the whole time.

Loren took off back to his mom's this evening after the game, armed with his science experiment, completed math homework, and Playstation 2. he managed to leave the PS2's power cord here- and when he called to ask about it i declined to drive it out to him, mentioning i could leave it where he could come get it tomorrow while i'm working if he liked (left outside in a place he can find it). then i looked at the power cord and realized it wasn't a transformer or adaptor or anything- simply a power cord like you'd find on a boom box. which made me think he might be able to plug the power cord from his boom box into his PS2. i told him to try it, and the plastic on the end of the cord where it plugs into the PS2 wasn't shaped correctly, since the PS2 cord has a couple notches which fit around a couple tabs in the slot for it; i told him to have his mom's husband cut the plastic away so that it would fit- which i've done on other cords for other devices successfully. his mom seemed reluctant to let that happen, but eventually her husband agreed to give it a try, and was successful, so ol' inf gets an 'A' this evening for solving Loren's prob- and his mom's husband gets an 'A' for effort for doing something nice for m'boy.

tomorrow is a long day for me, though the work will be easy enough. making up some time lost to my truck being out of commission, and the hours are certainly welcome. it'll make for a long work week, but so be it. i've been trying to get a little ahead on the bills so if there's a little minor disruption in the pay schedule (as sometimes seems to happen) it doesn't put me in a tight spot. the way to do that seems to be to go through a tight spot now. i've been forcing myself to exist on basically nothing but credit card charges (and as few of those as possible, for the least amounts, and only for absolutely necessary things) for a few weeks, and putting the checking account money into the bills. i'm planning to keep it up for as long as it takes to get at least 2 paychecks ahead of the bill cycle, so i have a 1 week hedge against a belated paycheck, and another week to allow for electronic bill payment lag. after that i intend to see just how much money i can possibly spare toward paying down credit card debt. still considering refinancing my house but....one thing at a time, i think. transferring the balances to term-guaranteed lower rates (around 4%) was Step 1, getting ahead on the bills to make sure none of those payments happen late (and ruin Step 1) is Step 2.

last Monday, as i've been planning, i quit smoking. after three days of being pretty miserable i started feeling better about the whole process, and noticing differences. food really does taste different when your lungs and mouth clear out a bit, and i noticed some of the lines on my face starting to lighten up some- that was unexpected. i've come to the conclusion that i really don't want to quit smoking completely forever, if it's possible for me to do it with moderation. that may prove impossible. after 5 days of not smoking, during which time the urge to smoke diminished slowly but surprisingly steadily, i gave in to temptation and bought a pack of smokes, mostly to see if i could smoke one without immediately wanting more. the first few drags of one were enough to make me realize how fast your body gets over nicotine- it made me damn dizzy, and upset my stomach. having them in the house though, makes it much harder not to smoke. after 20 years of smoking it's going to take more than a few days of abstinence to get over the urge to light up, even if the body really does get over the nicotine addiction quickly. the habit is much harder to break than the addiction is. as i type i'm smoking the 9th cigarette i've smoked in 6 days, which is the same as saying i've smoked nearly half a pack since last night- still only 1/2 as much as i had before i tried to quit, but clearly a full-on backslide, in my mind. the question of whether i can change my habit to being someone who smokes on a rare occasion is still an open question, but for the moment at least the answer to that seems to be a resounding "NOPE". tomorrow i go back to work and first thing in the morning i crawl back on the wagon. i'm going to see how long i can manage to wait without smoking with cigarettes in the house. but to what end? i'd like to be someone who can smoke occasionally. if i had to put a number on it, i'd say a limit of...hmmm....a pack a month (?) would be an acceptable definition of "occasional". if i can't manage to do that, i'll have to do like the alcoholics do, and just swear it off completely. another way i'm planning on discouraging myself from indulging (overindulging?) in smoking is to start running again. i used to really like running, and it's certainly great exercise- i don't get much aerobic exercise anymore (read: pretty much none); and on the few occasions i've run i get MUCH more in tune with the amount of abuse my lungs have taken- and that's positive motivation. so, next step is to put the smokes in the cupboard (or maybe the freezer- i hear they keep well in there) and work on how long i can go without, knowing they're available at any time....can't say that i'll be surprised if they'll be gone in a day or two....but if that happens, i try to quit completely, for good, again. in the meantime, i'm committing myself to not bring any with my anywhere, or buy any more for the forseeable future. before i get off the subject, i have to say that i was surprised how quickly the STRONG urge for a smoke RIGHT NOW went away....and not altogether surprised that the lingering urge to light one up sort of lurks right beneath the surface, all the time.

moving on....

had a few minutes this evening to play with some scripts for this site; i'm considering including a script which will rotate between the current and past pictures displayed above this posting section. there are plenty of scripts online which can do this in Javascript (a somewhat limited compromise solution, in the absence of the ability to run CGI, PHP, SQL or ASP stuff, none of which are permitted on the servers i currently use for this site) but most of them aren't exactly what i have in mind. my main concern is formatting; i want a fairly specific and simple output that won't change the overall presentation i've worked on for this page. many of the scripts i've found include elements for additional user controls which invariably must appear in one form or another. i prefer something that just changes the image from behind the scenes and leaves the remainder of the page the way i've got it. i'm sure the results will be noticeable to those familiar with this site, if i'm ultimately successful.

been spending a bit of time finishing out the (flat excellent) book of short stories by Mark Twain (pretty much my favorite writer, i'd have to say) i started a long time ago. i'm down to the last story, and since i've pretty much worked my way through all the full length and major short stories he wrote, i'm actually finding myself a little reluctant to finish that one, in the same way that more thoughtful children might begin eating their ice cream more slowly as they see the remaining amount diminish- with the noticeable exception that Mr. Twain's words are unlikely to melt should i wait too long. i'm going to have to look around for any of his works that failed to appear in the this book, The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain, and the previous one i read of his, The Unabridged Mark Twain- which contained "nearly every major work of fiction ever published" by him. what an amazing writer, and obviously someone who viewed the world in much the same way as i do. laugh out loud funny, with absolutely scathing social commentary, and just enough, and appropriate, empathy, presented in his trademark Everyman style, subtly sweetened with uncommonly beautiful prose in just the right measure....i don't think that's putting too fine a point on it. can't wait until Loren and i get to the ST:TNG episode(s) in which the characters actually encounter Mark Twain....those were always fun.

ok- this has turned into a book, so thanks to all for reading, especially those few who've made a habit of visiting my little corner of cyberspace (you know who you are, and you help to make this all worthwhile).

PEACE, and a great remainder of the weekend to you all.

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