damn it's cold

Benny and i spent the night hanging Xmas lights outside the historic Mayflower Park Hotel, just northwest of Westlake Center in downtown Seattle. the overnight low was somewhere in the neighborhood of 18-20 degrees- very cold. we got the two trees finished and got the hell out of there. i put hand-warmers in my shoes, which helped considerably even though they were about 5 years old and only got about lukewarm. i was already cold by the time i got to the shop, and my toes were starting to go numb, despite 2 pairs of socks in my sneakers, before we'd spent an hour on the site.

driving conditions aren't all that bad overall, but the ice is 2-4" thick, and the overlying snow drifts were about 12-18", depending, on the road i live on. i got out there with a 6" wide flat-blade shovel and busted up as much ice and shoveled as much snow as i could get out of the way after getting pretty stuck this morning trying to leave to go to the bank. one time getting stuck was plenty.

for about 4 months now (that's a guess) i haven't had a heater core in my truck; makes for cold driving, but even worse is having to scrape the interior windows as well as the exterior ones. there's more moisture in the truck than outside it, and by the time we got back to the shop this morning i had to scrape the interiors again. words fail to capture the annoyance, but i suppose it's my own fault for not saving enough money to put in a heater core before the weather got cold....even though it's usually not this cold until January or February around here.

but all that's recent history now, as i sit here drinking the reheated remainder of what was (still, impressively) lukewarm coffee from my thermos, and trying to soak up the heat in the den.

got my tail stomped in fantasy basketball yet again last night. injuries are killin' me. i have a chance to eek out a W this week, but it's rapidly diminishing.

still have the full 6" of snow on flat ground up here, though it's not so pristine as it was when it was fresh. temperature never got above freezing here yesterday, and i'm hearing we might get some more white stuff today. i don't mind the snow, and honestly, the cold is easier to deal with than the slightly-warmer-but-still-cold temperatures and RAIN.

i found this site with some pics of what we've been hangin' (saves me the trouble of posting my own pics). he must have taken the shot about halfway down the page (5 pictures below the heading "And now a series of Christmas light images from Downtown", the photo's called "downtownE.jpg") about 2 weeks ago.

suppose that's all the news that's fit to type at the moment. i'm soon for the sack; all you faithful readers have a good day. PEACE


up the power outage estimate

to about 35,000 statewide.

i met Loren's 2nd cousin Elijah this morning, seems a nice boy with good manners. all three of the variously-sized young-uns are out soaking up a little more snowshine. since i finished my book, i started on Deception Point by Dan Brown; not that i've finished working my way through ...Tristram Shandy yet, but sometimes you just want to read something you don't have to jump to the appendix every other paragraph in order to understand the references the author's making. don't get me wrong; the effort's worth it, but i'm lazy enough to appreciate entertainment that doesn't require as much effort.

tried to get my clock back on the nights by staying up all night last night; hopefully Loren's mother will get back early enough that i can get at least a solid 4 hrs of sleep before i go in tonight...if i had to guess- and i haven't been out in this yet today- looks like conditions aren't too severe for commuting, at least from the north end. not even sure if my partner Benny's had power or not; he might not be able to make it, and i don't intend to call and risk waking him up before about 5pm to find out.

the boys just returned from their snow jaunt. apparently they got in quite the snowball fight, and their heroics will live on in the annals of neighborhood lore for generations, though they sadly came out on the losing end of the stick. can't help but think the outcome might have been otherwise had they not been kicked out of the neighboring apartment complex's playground as illegal aliens. the managers of that complex are on the board of directors of the homeowners association here, along with me. long history of problems from their residents, and rack my brain as i may, i cannot come up with a single instance of Loren's having caused any problems for them...so i'll be bringing that little matter up personally, while i have them conveniently present at the board meeting i called for Dec. 4th. they're certainly within their rights to kick them out- but it was unnecessary. Loren tells me now: the ladies weren't all that nice about kicking them out, but added that they were told they were trampling a flower bed. Loren's response was that it was a little hard tell what was a flower bed when everything's buried under the snow. good for him! she pointed at a sign and told them there were "signs all over" that said only residents of the apartment complexes were allowed there- but she pointed to a sign that only mentioned unrelated things, and he pointed out that the sign said nothing of the kind. i love this kid. i guess the lady finally pointed out one of the actual ones, so they left. gotta smile....love it when Loren knows he's not doing anything wrong and doesn't let people- even adults- just push him around. not that i've ever had a problem with authority, mind you.

those are the same ladies that used a feeble excuse of the "possible impending collapse" of the roof of the basketball court as an excuse to forbid some children of one of their residents to throw a Halloween party there. i was annoyed about that and told them that while i supported their right to make a decision concerning the use of common facilities by their own residents, i thought their concern of damage to the court was an overreaction, and the argument they gave the parent and kids involved was disingenuous. i'm sure they didn't like that much, but i offered it as a personal opinion, so screw 'em.

live and let live, already. seems to work for many who actually give it a try.

damn it's late

just completely devoured the 5th book in Orson Scott Card's Alvin Maker series, Heartfire. i'm pretty familiar with a lot of his work now, having read all the books in the Ender and Homecoming series (both sci-fi) and all but one of the Alvin series. if there's a running theme in his work that i can see, it's his knack for creating moral dilemmas for his characters. the Alvin series takes place in an alternate history of the United States in the late 18th & early 19th centuries, fictionalizing some well-known historical figures (Washington, Jefferson, John Adams, Henry Harrison, Andrew Jackson, and Napoleon, to name a few) almost, but not quite, to the point of unrecognizability, and using them to lend some historical weight to the landscape his completely original (and more central) characters inhabit. fun stuff.

another theme in Card's work is obviously to use children (often fantastically gifted ones) as his main protagonists, and i'm not sure if this makes it easier for everyone to empathize with, or just me in particular, but it's certainly effective where i'm concerned.

moving on to other subjects:

it snowed nearly all day today, from about 10am on, letting up a little in the afternoon and coming back for real in the evening. knocked out power to at least 2500 people in northern snohomish and south whatcom counties, and piling up about 5" deep in the most average place i could find to measure this evening. a blanket of white, which Loren wasted no time getting out and snowballing it up in. i joined him for a bit but since i've been freezing my tail off hanging Christmas lights on graveyard shift in downtown Seattle for the last couple weeks, i'm a bit too fond of the warmth to spend a lot of time out in it. barring a heap more severe weather, it'll be more Christmas lights to hang tomorrow night (tonight, now- i believe i mentioned it's quite late) and i'm sure i'll get a fair measure of cold for ducking out of it this afternoon.

Loren's school is cancelled tomorrow, which simply broke his heart.

Chowder went nuts when i let him out in it this afternoon- that dog does love the snow. pretty much anything new and different is OK by him.

Loren and i spent the 4-day weekend hangin' out. he spent a good deal of time messing with the new Nintendo video game system (the Wii) she bought him. it was originally supposed to be a Christmas present, but she opted to "guarantee" she got one by camping out in front of the local Target store for the first shipment, which necessitated her bringing her younger son Phoenix along, and the surprise was sacrificed, so she just gave it to them. Loren's loving it, especially the Dragonball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 game she got as well. the thing's got an unconventional motion-sensitive controller (which you already know if you don't live under a rock) which allows realistic motions to be used interactively with the games, i.e. swing the thing like a bat to hit a baseball, use the two pieces of the controller simultaneously in punching motions to hit an opposing boxer, swing the controller forward underhand to bowl, etc. pretty neat. it'll be interesting to see what types of things the game designers come up with to exploit the technology.

Loren also spent a fair amount of time playing games on his computer, which made me quite happy, since i spent a fair amount of time getting it set up and workable, and doubtless makes his grandparents happy since they gave the bulk of the system to him.

tomorrow Loren's mom's going to drop off Phoenix, and Loren & Phoenix's cousin (damn-i-forgot-his-name), who's 5, while she wrestles the bad roads to Children's Hospital in Seattle with her neice Jennifer (the boy's mom) and Jennifer's other son, age 1, who has some fairly rare sort of bone cancer. they're going to postpone a bone marrow transplant treatment (if i understand correctly) for the boy until after the holidays, which should be good for everyone involved. neither Phoenix nor Jennifer's older son would have much fun making a likely 5-hr round trip to Seattle, as well as waiting through the brain fluid tap procedure they're going to do on the little one tomorrow, so they're coming here. Loren was all thumbs-up to that.

i saw Nichole on the news this morning, at the beginning of the Seattle Marathon- first time i can remember seeing anyone from my family on television. Loren saw it too. fun stuff there.

Loren kicked my butt in the first 2 of 3 chess matches we played this evening- beat me pretty handily in the first 2, and fought well before i defeated him in the last one. just when i think his attention span in the game is suffering, he does something brilliant. either that or i'm not very good, or possibly both. fun, though. still like to play chess, and though we don't play all that much, there's a table with a board set up on it in the living room pretty much all the time.

haven't exactly enjoyed the experience of hanging Christmas lights in the cold and wet at night, but the timing was near perfect and i really couldn't turn it down after finding myself summarily dismissed from my former job. sounds like there may be some work for me through the end of the year at Hollywood Lights, if'n i can do it. i've been wearing my wrist/thumb brace hanging the lights; i tried it without and it left me in a lot more pain than normal. there's really no improvement in my wrist to speak of, and i need to get back to the doc. i've given up on filing paperwork over the internet, a method i was more than a little inclined to use, given the amount of writing necessary on the work history forms they sent me, but eventually just grinned and bore it since their web site is just one more jumble of red tape. i haven't been back to the doc in quite a while, partially because i've been working nights and partially because Labor & Industries hasn't compensated me for my claim-related expenses or paid the doc yet, since they've been waiting on the paperwork to allow or reject my claim. the holiday weekend's been a little more delay for me, but this week i'll get their forms in the mail and the ball rolling again- the injury's been around for months now, and isn't healing on its own.

suppose that's all the news that's important to print. PEACE


flat bushed

it's 7:09am. just got done filling out my ballot, just in time. first time i've ever voted mail-in, rather than going to the polls, which would have been difficult this year since they don't exist.

never mentioned here that i got laid off a couple weeks back. interesting timing, considering the wrist problems. boss said he was closin' up shop, not sure if i believe him or not....seen him lay off other people he wanted to get rid of before. regardless, it's not my problem anymore. i've run my last doubler, burned my last triangle, smelled that damned stomach-turning, bacteria-rampant coolant for the last time, which doesn't exactly break my heart, despite the fact that i got laid off without any notice whatsoever, nor received any severance pay for that inconvenience.

i could grouse about all this and dwell on hard feelings, but i'll just wash my hands of the place and move on, in a couple more sentences. the family that owned and predominantly operated the shop were certainly nice enough people to work with, but i have to count that job among the worst i've had, considering i worked pretty darn hard, pretty darn consistently, for a very long time, and showed aptitude for tasks beyond those assigned to me, without ever getting the chance to expand my skills or even take full advantage of what i brought to the table. that's a good enough note on which to end this little summary of my experiences there.

hope to receive my outstanding paychecks in the mail today, and i'm hoping the $20 or so (maybe more?) in expenses i paid out-of-pocket for company supplies, gas, etc., will be included in that. wouldn't surprise me if i never saw that money, though, but i could certainly use it right about now.

obviously the next step was to apply for unemployment benefits, so i did. then it was time to update the resume (imagine the last 'e' in that word with the proper accent mark, if you'd be so kind...i'm not feeling ambitious enough to copy one out of the character map). this was the point at which i realized that particular document failed to survive my last hard drive failure. wonderful. found the single remaining hard copy in my possession, and recreated it from scratch, with the required updates. i think those things are like a work of art; it's never really finished, you just reach a point where you think you have to stop working on it, already.

started looking for something to do, when an offer to string Christmas lights for Hollywood Lights came along and i couldn't refuse, despite the fact that it's likely a couple weeks of graveyard shift in what's likely to be a significant amount of precipitation. desperate times, and all that. i haven't made a late mortgage payment yet, and i'd rather not start now- it's really one of the few things that's keeping my credit rating from being completely in the toilet. actually, i manage to pay all the credit card bills on time as well, but the balances keep going the wrong way a little at a time, and since they raised the minimum payments on the cards i'm beginning to get a little nervous about being able to make them on time. and we all now what that means: ludicrous hikes in the interest rates, followed by even more difficulty making the payments.

guess i have financial stuff on my mind....

must be about time for a cup of coffee....too bad i'm all out. guess i should go make some. i've been trying to get my schedule turned around for the graveyard thing bit by bit, and i'm still awake at 7:36, so i guess i've just about got it. wow...25 minutes goes by fast when you're blogging.

the NBA is back in action, and i'm on board a fantasy league with 30 teams (of which i think 28 are actually helmed by Real Live Humans, from the far reaches of the globe in some cases). i missed the live draft, but ranked at least some of the players i wanted beforehand, so my automatically-picked #1 pick, Ben Wallace, who's playing Center for the Bulls this year, landed on my roster. with this many teams playing, everyone's got maybe 1 superstar at best, and the rest of the team is fairly deep into the league's talent pool. 10 players per fantasy team, for 30 teams, is basically the top-rated 300 players in the league. so far i'm doing alright; i eeked out a win in the first fantasy period (1 week) with a win, outperforming my opponent's team in 6 of 8 of the stat categories, which are: field goal percentage, free throw percentage, # of 3 point shots made, overall points, assists, rebounds, steals and blocked shots. i made my first trade early on, trading Matt Carroll of the Bobcats for Johan Petro of the Sonics, partially because i needed another center for the days Ben Wallace doesn't play, and partly because the Sonics' starter Robert Swift tore his ACL and is out for the year (providing the opportunity for Petro, the only returning Seattle Center, no pun intended, to get increased minutes), and partly because he was an available Sonic that might fit into my roster, and partly because he was the highest rated Center on the free agent list when i figured out that i was overly heavy at the Power Forward position and underpowered at Center.

this year's standout performers so far are Leandro Barbosa, Ben Wallace, Al Harrington and Carlos Arroyo. Delonte West has been a disappointment so far, and Petro really hasn't done much yet at all, but i have some hope for both those guys. filling out my roster this year are Antonio McDyess, who can't seem to hit a shot to save his life in the first 4 games of the year, but plays decent defense, Brian Cook, of the Lakers, who's doing fair, Eddie Jones of the Grizzlies, also doing fair, Antonio Daniels, the former Sonic, with the Wizards now, not performing too badly, and the aforementioned Petro. fantasy basketball is grueling, and trying to perform well with a so-so team in a head-to-head league means keeping a close on everything, and being able to schedule your guys properly. scheduling your guys is easy when you don't have to choose between players, but considering you can only field 7 starters, and 5 of them must occupy all five positions, and some players are eligible at only 1 position (others two, but which two varies), that means you can only choose two other players of the remaining 5 if everyone's playing that day. knowing which three players to bench requires knowing what statistical categories you're likely to win or lose, easily or marginally, knowing which of your players are likely to give you the best chance to win those close contests, and what stat categories to give up on, and when, in order to score a win in a majority of the categories on a given week. in practice this means (for me, anyway) tracking my guys' stats daily. last year i had less players on my team, and less stat categories to keep track of, so i had to rework the spreadsheet i built last year...which required a lot of doing. also, the percentage categories are figured for the team as a whole rather than an average of the individual players' averages, which requires inputting 4 sets of numbers instead of 2. then of course, you have to arrange the data in a form that's easily digestible or it's all worthless....takes some fairly involved formatting. but my fantasy spreadsheet this year is a work of art; again, a work of art in progress, but it's better than last year's (which wasn't bad at all), despite being more complex, and i've learned a little about conditional formulas and formatting, as well as graphing, in the process. the joys of obsessive compulsions....

well, i've now been typing for 58 minutes solid, so i gather this is going to be a long entry.

i figure no entry this long should go by without saying something about Loren, so i'll mention that he's nearing the end of first period in school at this moment, on the 2nd day of the 2nd quarter of 8th grade. he spent the last weekend here, Thur-Sat, and we watched a lot of TV, which i didn't feel extremely bad about since we had such crappy weather. Fullmetal Alchemist, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Monty Python's Flying Circus. you get the picture. we played a bunch of games of chess too, each of us playing a lot more quickly than we have in the past, which made for some interesting games. i think he plays better when we don't spend so much time on the games, and in a lot of ways it's more fun. i might still win most of the time, but he certainly makes it difficult- and he very nearly beats me quite a bit.

his mother brought him by my folks' house on Halloween, as usual, and we took some decent pictures, which i haven't uploaded to my computer yet. i'll prob'ly post some on here when i do. afterwards we all headed over to Scott's house. nice to see him, it's been a long, long time again. Scott's dog Loki has a fairly advanced case of cancer in his lymphatic system; Loki looks downright healthy, but we all know how these things usually go. can't help feeling like Loki's got a lot more life in him than the vets might think, though. he's a tough one. prednisone treatment is doing him some good, and i hope it continues to for a long time- always liked that dog.

Loren's mom's dog Sid was killed by their neighbor's dog (their conclusion, though no one saw it actually attack Sid). bitten in the abdomen. not sure if they found it dead or not, but no matter- still terrible. liked that dog too, despite his contribution to the cacophony that is a house full of Chihuahuas. he was feisty for a little guy. Loren was pretty upset, as i'm sure everyone in their household was. tough to lose your longtime pets.

suppose i'm all typed out for now, having typed all the news, bad, mundane, and otherwise that comes to the top of my head. not bad for 1hr 13min of a Tuesday morning.

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