Friday, November 30, 2007

How About That!

Look here! I've been given a Community Blogger Award by Country Dew of Blue Country Magic. She's a fine writer, and I couldn't be more proud that she enjoys my random carrying on. This came at the end of a rough week, blogging was far from my mind, and when I thought of it, no inspiration came. This may be the ais kickin' that I needed.

Anyway, in the spirit of honoring those I enjoy reading, I'd like to pass on a few Community Blogger Awards myself, in the random order that my neurons are firing:

To Rebecca of On The Market: a wonderful advocate for the Roanoke city market and all of downtown, she keeps us informed of events and vendors, shares her wonderful photography, and occasionally gives us a glimpse of her life and sense of humor. She also makes some super soap. My wife loves it. I'll be back for some stocking stuffers soon.

To Roanoke-Found, of Just Another Day in Roanoke: he's one of the first local bloggers I found when I started this lark back in January. If there is one blogger in town that believes in community building, it's RF. He's got his eye on the city government, he has organized groups and activities in his neighborhood, and he doesn't mind telling you what he thinks - with very clever allusions along the way. I don't always agree with him, but he likes Rush and the Buffalo Bills, so he's OK with me whatever he says.

To Ron Bailey, of Ron Bailey's Weblog: we have a lot in common, and very different ways of expressing it. We have kids about the same age; he puts up pictures from time to time, I prattle on in my posts. We seem to have nearly identical political, social, and religious beliefs; he says it with venom, I keep it veiled. We both like a variety of music; he puts it right in front of you with YouTube clips, I give you the FineTune player so you can go get it yourself. And, he put up a picture of Tacocat, which is one of the strangest things I've seen in awhile.

Cheers to you all on this Friday night. I don't get out there and comment as much as I'd like, but I read it all. Thanks for sharing and playing along!

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Don't tell my boy, but my wife found us a Wii yesterday. Oh, boy, am I'm looking forward to this Christmas now! I've never been much of a gamer, but the one time I got ahold of a Wii, I was immediately hooked.

Further details tomorrow. Things have been busy on Jefferson St. for the past week or so, and work thoughts have shoved any notion of blogging right out my brain and on to the sidewalk.

TB and I are having a "boys weekend" Saturday and Sunday. That usually leads to some good stories. LBB will be off to the lake to cluck with the hens, so maybe we will get the Christmas decorations started and surprise her.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Another One Stuck in the Chimney

This is amazing: yet another person got stuck in the chimney this week. This time it was a teenager trying to sneak in past curfew. Is it really worth it? No good ever comes from sliding down the chimney unless you are Santa.

Looks like I'm going to have quite a list by Christmas.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks

Yesterday I was in a bad mood, and I promised I'd give thanks today, which is going much better, thank you! Here are some things I'm thankful for:

1) That my son was able to have his G'diddy around until he was old enough to have some good, solid memories of him. G'diddy hung around until almost 97. I think the boy was a big reason for that.

2) That my wife puts up with all my peccadillos, and I hers.

3) That the presidential election is less than a year away.

4) That the Bills and the Redskins are both having semi-decent seasons and have a chance, however slim, to make the playoffs.

5) That my oldest brother (21 years my senior) lives nearby my parents and is able to help them out with some things, and that my youngest brother (14 years my senior) has helped keep their finances in order. It's tough being 550 miles away from elderly parents.

6) That my son loves sports and music and we have a lot of common interests. We have a great time together, as long as he's not whining.

7) That we are able to live comfortably although LBB works only part time. She's been able to remain very involved with our son and his school.

8) That the Southies finally won a game!

9) That we have so many great friends and neighbors. Although we have no family in town, it feels like we do, like my son has dozens of little cousins.

10) That we live in a time where people can prattle on, put it out to the world, and call it a blog.

11) That the editor and publisher of the South Roanoke Circle gave me a monthly column. I'd love to "semi-retire" in 10-15 years and do some freelance writing. That gig has given me the confidence that I might actually pull it off.

12) That our son loves our cats, and has never asked us to get a big ole' smelly dog.

13) That we live in gorgeous part of the country.

14) That I've remained close to my college friends, scattered though we may be.

15) That my 1996 Camry with 140,000 miles is still running well.

16) That we visited New York a few weeks ago, and we don't have to be on the road this Thanksgiving. It's nice to stay home.

17) That it was 72 degrees today, on Thanksgiving, and we were able to have a great bike ride, toss the football, and get some yard work done.

In an hour or so, we head a block up the hill for the holiday feast at our friends' house.

So, what are you thankful for this year?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Matter of Protocol

I know, tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we need to take time and reflect on all the good in our lives. I'll get to that later.

For now, I'm grumpy. I'm mad that everything has been breaking in our house lately: the PC (now up and running, but still having display problems - we have a new video card on order), my wife's car (the starter went kaput, $400 - and now the headlights won't turn off automatically), the dryer (needed a new belt, $75), my home wireless network (no longer connecting since we loaded a new anti-virus/firewall program), and not to mention my job (I've been fighting to get one lousy report to work correctly for days now).

And here's another thing: office men's room urinal courtesy. If you are tall enough to reach the catch basin, you are tall enough to reach up and give the handle a tug when you're done. I'm tired of having your leavings splash up at me when I use it after you. It's a matter of protocol and a matter of hygiene, you pigs!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Santa on a String

This doesn't exactly qualify as someone stuck in a chimney, but it is Santa, he's stuck, and he likes to slide down chimneys.

Another Schmuck, Stuck

This fool got stuck in a vent shaft and was rescued after being greased up with vegetable oil.

Southies Taste Victory!

This weekend was beginning of the double elimination playoff in the Salem Parks and Rec adult touch football league. The Southies entered the tournament with an 0-10 record, so we clearly had the bottom seed locked up. (My wife asked me how a winless team can make the playoffs, and I didn't have a good answer to that.)

Saturday at 10:00, we played the number one seed. Our strategy was ball control on offense, since our defense had been shaky. The Southies struck first, but we allowed a touchdown with 2 seconds to go in the first half. 8-8 at halftime against the number one seed. Not bad! The second half didn't go so well. Final score, Tap Out 30 - Southies 8.

So Sunday at 12:30 we played our second game against the number 5 seed, The Renegades. These guys played ugly. It's the first game we've had where flags were thrown for unsportsmanlike conduct. This was also a game of ball control. Wind was a major factor (in our favor). Both teams scored two touchdowns, but our opponents were unsuccessful converting the extra points. Last part of the second half, we tried hard to give it away by tossing several interceptions. Fortunately, so did they. In a two minute stretch, there were four pickoffs.

In the end, the Southies held the ball and were victorious 16-12!

That led to a second game yesterday, at 5:30 against the number three seed, The Franchise. They beat us down severely, right from the beginning. Final score, Franchise 58 - Southies 12. At least it was better than the 62-6 loss to them earlier in the season.

The Southies went 1-12 for the season and playoffs, but that one victory was sweet. I just wish we had more than four hours to enjoy it!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Gray Man Group

Tonight I was playing a game with the boy and the radio was on a classic rock station. I think it was a Foghat song. TB said, "This sounds like a gray man screaming."

For someone who says he wants an electric guitar for Christmas he's not convincing me that he's ready to rock.

A Pleasant Surprise

Remember back in mid-August I vowed to lose 20 pounds by the end of September? Well, I pretty much blew that off right from the start. Since then, I haven't done much else about it. We did switch gyms, to one that has a location right in my office building, so I would say my twice monthly workouts are up to once weekly. Also, I'm playing on that football team.

As far as eating habits go, the only real change is that I've been eating breakfast. Normally, I just have a glass of juice, or if my stomach is rumbling I stick a fork in some leftovers or grab a piece of cheese. Not exactly a great start. I'm really averse to cereal, just because I had it every morning, day after day after day when I was a kid. It seems like next to nothing to me.

Lately, I've been eating a bowl of grits in the morning. I know, that is really nothing, but it's about all I have the energy to fool with in the morning.

Maybe it's kicking my metabolism up a notch, because today, on a whim, I got on the scale and I'm down seven pounds. That's compared to my August weight, but at least it's a step in the right direction. I'm feeling motivated now!

This weekend, we have two, and possibly three, football games. I'm may even try to squeeze in a workout this afternoon.

The whole impetus behind this, aside from the obvious need to lose weight, is that my cholesterol has been creeping up. I really, really don't want to go on cholesterol medication, so I need to work on the exercise and diet before my next doctor appointment. Maybe I'll try the oatmeal method.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What About The Jolly Green Giant?

These Australian Santas-in-training were instructed not to say "Ho, Ho, Ho" because it might be offensive to women or frightening to children.

Just how much more ridiculous can things get? I think it's best if we don't say anything at all anymore. Then no one will be offended. Just stay quiet and everyone will be happy. That means you, Santa!

"When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed." - Talking Heads, Psycho Killer

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I Was Right All Along

Display driver problems: that's what hosed my PC last week, not a blown hard drive. I'm back in business now, but I'll spare you all the trials and tribulations and the count of system recoveries we did to figure that out. Anyway, some advice: if you have a recently purchased HP PC, don't download the game Peggle. You'll be sorry.

And even more significant advice: don't buy an HP PC, because they don't play nice when something goes wrong. Everything is so proprietary that you have to fight like a little dog ahold of an ankle to get any answers out of them. Their service reps read (or chat online) from a script and then ultimately ask you to send the PC to them because it "must be a hardware problem". Once we were 100% sure it was a display driver problem, they wouldn't give us any instructions how to recover that driver from a DOS prompt (which is what we needed, because the PC kept rebooting itself without fully starting up).

Ah, well. A learning experience.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Southies Complete A Perfect Season!

0-10 finish in the 'A' league.

We didn't win a damn game. There were at least three we could have, and should have won. We didn't.

Next week, we go to the playoffs against the same team that slaughtered us tonight 58-0.

It's been fun, though. We went out and laughed it off with a few beers after the game, and guess what? I think most of us will be back to try again next year.

In the 'B' league, we hope.

Feeding The Fussy

So, I was all ready to put together a chicken casserole last night when TB announced he wanted pizza. Oh, crap. How do I redirect this? I had already defrosted the chicken and laid out all my ingredients (yes, I'm a bit too methodical in the kitchen. That's why I don't get to cook much. My wife says I take too long).

Finally, after some negotiation, he agreed that I should make the chicken casserole AND a pizza. So I found a little Totino's frozen pizza and brought it upstairs just in case. About the chicken dish he asked me, "Is this something you and Momma eat, because I won't like it."

To which I had to say, no, Momma wouldn't eat it because she's vegetarian.

"Well, maybe if I see everything you put in it, I will try it."

"That's why you're going to help me," I said.

So, we took a couple chicken breasts. Browned them up in a pan with some oil and garlic salt. Then cut it into small chunks. Meanwhile, I boiled up a pound of pasta - letting him choose the variety - he chose the San Giorgio "Trio" (shells, twists, and ziti - very festive!).

In a casserole dish, we dumped the pasta, the chicken, two cans of Cream of Chicken soup, milk, onion, oregano, parsley, and black pepper. Mix that together and add about 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese, and top it all with stuffing crumbs. Bake for about 40 minutes.

I had some canned mushrooms on the side that I mixed in separately for myself. That would have been a deal breaker for TB.

Yeah, we had a ton of leftovers. Barely looks like we touched it, but yum! We both had seconds. This morning, it's the first thing he told his Momma about. "I loved it!" he said.

Well, then! After eating, we watched the first half of the Virginia-Miami game. While we were laid up on the couch he said, "Daddy, I like when we have dinner together."

We have dinner together most of the time, so I took that to mean he really enjoyed guys night in with his Dad. It was a great night.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Boys Night In

Last night, not an hour after posting about picking a movie, I realized I was falling asleep, so I was in bed by 9:30. So, no movie. Aren't we wild and crazy on a Friday night?

Tonight, TB and I are on our own. LBB is doing a movie and dinner with friends to celebrate a birthday. There are a lot of good games on the tube. I think it's an excellent night to hunker down at home with some comfort food and football. I'm going to whip up some kind of chicken casserole. Hope the boy likes it. He's not a very adventurous eater, but I'm hoping if I let him help prepare it he will experiment a bit. He likes everything I'm going to put in it, but sometimes he's funny about mixing things together.

I need to grind out a Circle column tonight, too. I'm still not coming up with a topic. Maybe I'll write about the Southies 0-9 football season. Tomorrow we play a team that's 8-1. Probably the same team we will face in the playoffs. We've already locked up the bottom seed.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Movie Night

Nothing much happening here on Jefferson Street tonight. After LBB and I eat some delicious curried cauliflower on basmati rice, it's time to put TB to bed and then watch a movie. I checked what was on pay-per-view. All I saw was Knocked Up, and something else I've never heard of.

LBB has a pile of People magazines on the nightstand, so I think she's going to leave me high and dry. So, looking at my meager DVD collection I'm trying to choose a film. I'm not in the mood for David Lynch. We watched Lost Highway last weekend, and I'm still confused. Not what I'm thinking tonight.

So, it's either Mystic River, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather, or The Outlaw Josey Wales.


OK, last night I went over the edge and posted a really bad analogy between Mexican food and the Bush administration. Forgive me, I'd had a few cervezas. Still, flimsy as that connection may be, I'm leaving it up there. I'm still mad.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Of Taquitos and Troubling Times

Our town is overrun with Mexican restaurants, which is fine with me, because I love me something rolled in a tortilla. We have one big fat chain restaurant called Abuelos. I've been there once. I'd go again, but I'm not standing in line for it.

There's a new place soon to open downtown called Alejandro's. I'm excited to see what they are going to offer.

Mostly, though, we have several local chains that seem to have sprung from the same menu. They've changed some over the years. I don't see "#F" as an entree anymore, but I wish someone would explain why that was always there and what it means.

Tonight we went to the closest local place. It's cranked up the prices, ratcheted down the portions, and substituted canned tomato sauce for their burrito sauce. I ate every bit, but it wasn't what I was expecting. Ask my wife: there is nothing that rages me up more than when things aren't the way I expected them to be.

I coasted through it OK, because I know, we all are under ridiculous economic stress because it costs $5 for a gallon of milk, and the corn is getting pricey, and it costs eight times more to feed the chickens, so the eggs are $3 a dozen, and because oil is $100 a barrel and soon it will be $5 a gallon for gas . . . I think inflation is already here . . .

... because of our insane president.

OK. . . there, I digressed quite far, but my Burrito Deluxe was more expensive, much smaller, and covered in Ragu, and guess what: I do blame that on Bush.

You know why? Because he spent billions and billions and billions of dollars on a war that accomplishes nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I'm an economic conservative. You know what pisses me off more than anything? I expect (and support) that a Democratic candidate will win the election. I expect my taxes will be increased greatly. I know for a fact that will piss me off and I'm going to fuss at my wife for some small expenditure that used to be within the budget.

I don't want to fuss at my wife simply because the taxes go higher, because we elect a president that makes sense, and he/she has to raise taxes to pay for the previous president that was a complete loon.

Guess what? If we hadn't spent squillions in Iraq we wouldn't have to repeal those "Bush tax cuts" and then increase taxes even more, but that's what's coming. Yeah, there is a business cycle, the economy is going to ebb and flow, but right now, I think we are deeply screwed. Say goodbye to your lower tax rates, because the Bush administration spent so much on this war. Your next president is going to have the joy of raising your taxes and taking the blame.

My Mexican food cost too much... because of President Bush. I wish the elections had been this year. I'm so ready for things to change.

And then here's the thing about these local Mexican restaurants, as much as I love the food, I always leave my coat in the car, because the fried bean odor clings and won't let go. That's how I feel about this presidential administration. We need to toss it in the wash and rinse it away.


Turns out I have a blown hard drive. It spins a-ok, but it's not seeing any of the directories. We can't even get to the recovery partition to copy the missing boot files. Ah, well, a new one is on order.

It amazing that you can get a 320G hard drive for less than $90. What would that have been ten years ago? $10,000?

Also, another Circle deadline lurks just a few days ahead, and I have no idea what to write about. Somehow it's always like that and I pull it off at the last minute.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Evening Wear

Tonight, we went to Applebee's. That is not something we generally do, but I'm not averse to it, either. I had a gift card.

The first thing we saw walking in the joint was an ancient woman, sitting at the bar, in her nightgown and slippers. I thought maybe she was nuts, but then she was escorted by a 40ish couple to a table, and we realized she wasn't nuts, but maybe they were.

I have an 83 year-old father with Alzheimer's disease. He doesn't have any idea who I am, or even who my mom is, but he can still get around a bit. Last weekend, up in Poughkeepsie, we took him out to eat. We didn't take him in his PJ's.

I'm glad these folks took their mom, or grandmom, out to eat. But at what point has society devolved to where we take people out in their nightgowns? Maybe a two year old at the ice cream shop, but not a 90 year old in Applebee's. That doesn't show much respect for grandmom, or to anyone else in the place.

The other thing that surprised me was that I had the rarest steak ever at Applebee's tonight. I never order a steak, so I'm not sure why I did tonight except it's what I was looking at when the waiter showed up; but when I have one I want it barely grazed over the flame. So, he didn't even ask how I wanted it cooked - they don't anymore, since the diet police say it must be burned to a char. Hope I don't get some chef in trouble, but this thing was really raw.

The boy ate like a champ and we had a fine time. Next time I'm just going to wear my undies.

Does Good Luck Come In 3s Too?

Over the past weekend: my PC shat the bed, the water heater stopped working, and the clothes dryer died.

The water heater problem was just a blown pilot, so we got that going again. My dumb ace had turned off the gas rather than the water in an attempt to drain the sediment from the bottom of the tank. Hey, the pipes all look the same, right!

The dryer, which is a cheapo Magic Chef model, 13 years old, just had a broken belt. $12. It's back and happily tumbling our duds.

So, Mr. PC fixit is coming tomorrow. Our breakdowns came three-at-once. Let's hope for the same luck in reverse!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

PC Troubles

My long absence is primarily due to the fact the our PC is completely fried. I'll try to give you the short version.

Thursday morning, my wife called me at work and said it was booting up with "funny colors" and then the monitor would go to sleep. It would then attempt to reboot and only allow it to boot in Safe Mode.

I came home at lunchtime and gave it a look, and sure enough, I couldn't get it to boot normally either. The last thing I had done the night before was play Peggle (that game I'm still addicted to). So real quick, I scurried out and bought some memory sticks (our DVD writer isn't working, either), I backed up all our files and my wife's Outlook Express. Damn! She had 3 gigabytes of email saved! I had to zip that.

I uninstalled a bunch of stuff, and eventually tried reloading the nVidia display driver. That fixed it! For about 15 minutes. Once again, the last thing I did before it went south was play Peggle. So, I uninstalled Peggle and decided to go ahead and do a standard system recovery (which runs from a partition in the hard drive, and is supposed to restore the original factory settings without losing any data).

That worked, all I had to do was reload MS Office, virus and anti-spyware software, and import my wife's address book and email settings. Everything was looking nifty. This was Friday night.

Saturday morning, because I can't help touching the wet paint, I played Peggle again. Sure enough, within 5 minutes, the PC spontaneously rebooted itself and was again having the boot up problems.

Crap. OK, so I try the standard recovery again. Hmmmmm . . . this time, hitting F10 to start the process did not work. It took it back to the Safe Mode boot screen. Now what? OK, I have all the files backed up, so I figured I would try a FULL recovery, using the recovery DVDs I made shortly after buying the PC.

That took several hours to run, but it seemed to be running correctly. Well, in the end, it didn't help. Now, I'm still getting the funny colors, still getting the safe mode boot screen, but it won't fully boot up, even in safe mode. I can't even get a command prompt. It keeps telling me "setup incomplete. Run setup again." I've tried that three times.

Anyway, I'm done with Peggle, and everything else at this point. Someone's coming to look at it this week. He thinks the game wrote something to the registry that corrupted a file needed in the boot sequence. This is officially beyond my level of computer competence.

At least the laptop still works with a wireless connection to the router, so I'm not fully out of commission, which is good since I'm on call this week.

So now you know the whole story.