12 October 2009

Meet The Neighbors

So, several months ago we closed on a house. And then my parents visited and helped with some repairs/painting/etc. And then Nate's parents came and helped move us and do other assorted house stuff. And then we painted. And then we painted some more. And then we dug up some plants in the yard. And then I nearly divorced Dr. Nate because it was August and hot and we didn't have central A/C. Windows units are horrible, noisy messes and not useful when you work from home and have to be on the phone a lot. When you're taking off work for an afternoon just to go sit at the mall and enjoy the cool air, then it's time to make changes in your life. An ultimatum came: central A/C or my own centrally-A/Ced apartment for the months of July-September. We went with option #1.

(The dining room)

(The living room)

And then it was time to met the neighbors. Behind us are the Fatherly Advice neighbors, B & D. They seem to think we're much younger than we are (and therefore we must have no money or Life Skills). But we have learned that the Road to A Decent Lawn is Paved with Scott's Turf-Builder from them. Except when Dr. Nate paves it so well that he burns a running track in our yard. We'll just hope those brown patches grown back in Spring, mmmmkay?

To our left is another "twin" (we call 'em duplexes where I come from). On the far side is 50-ish Year Old Single Real Estate Lady who owns The World's Crabbiest Tabby Cat. On the right side is Gay Stereotype #5: Younger gay man whose home looks the local historical society threw up in the place. His mom is over to visit daily. We need to find him a boyfriend, stat.

And then the folks with whom we share our wall. Luckily that wall is concrete block and there is a fence out back. We call them the Schlumps. Mr. and Mrs. Schlump are perfectly nice. But....schlumpy. Bland. Resigned to what life has dealt them. And what has life dealt them? Two sons, Tweaker and Meat Puppet.

We didn't even know Tweaker existed for several months. He is a pasty sort, 12-14. The skinny type that spends nearly 100% of his time playing World of Warcraft in his room. We've never spoken to him, as we rarely see him outside of the house. So why call him Tweaker? Last weekend Dr. Nate and I were heading to bed around midnight and discovered Tweaker and a friend were hanging out in their garage. Both seemed to be pacing back and forth a lot, then going off into a corner of the garage. Then pacing some more. Not that we were watching this or anything. Heaven forbid we need to take the garage out at midnight. And yes, I will admit that we were drunk. Note to self: the third bottle of wine is never a good idea. Even if you opened the first one at 4:30 in the afternoon.

Meth use or torrid love affair? You be the judge.

Meat Puppet is another story. College, slightly post-college age, I guess. When we first moved in, I was doing something on the front porch and startled him when he walked out the door. I said, "Hi! We just moved in. My name is alm." He responded, "I don't live here." Except that was in June. And it is October and he is still living there. So, yes, he DOES, in fact, live there.

I first chalked it up to stoner kid who graduated from college and is living with his folks, since we rarely saw him leave the house. But all social interaction goes out the window with this one. You'd think that college, or being over the age of eight, even, would teach a young man some social skills. Apparently not. Dr. Nate and I were in the yard awhile go and he came out to walk the family dogs. You'd think we were going to shoot him. I smiled and said "Hi" and got a terrified look from him and a weak, squeaky, "hi" back.

And there was the day I saw him standing in the back alley rubbing his hands in his pockets and looking down the street for no apparent reason. And other little incidents that all amount to a good deal of strangeness.

Dr. Nate and I argued whether it was OCD, Asperger's, or social anxiety disorder. I was rooting for social anxiety disorder. Nate was convinced it was Asperger's with a dose of OCD.

But then I find out from Nate that he witnessed The Puppet out in their back yard at 7:30am, glancing furtively at their back porch, rubbing hands in pockets, and then sneaking into their garage.


All this lead Dr. Nate to make a crack that the kid reminds him of the senator's son in The Busboy episode of "Lucy, Daughter of the Devil" and that we might find a meat facsimile of me in their basement as some point. So, obviously we started calling the kid Meat Puppet. I mean, what else can we do in this situation but give him a nickname?

Well, that, and call the locksmith to install a few more deadbolts.

13 July 2009

Old People Rock

More specifically, the old people that spawned me. The people who drove 1,000 miles over two days, woke up at 5:00am each morning (as old people are wont to do), drove to our new house BEFORE Nate and I were even awake yet, and worked all day cleaning, fixing, painting, grubbing out the mess of a yard, pruning trees, scrubbing floors and windows, doing minor electrical work, plumbing, and all manner of other work. A 79 year old man (code name: "The Daddy") and a teeny 76 year old woman (who goes by the name of "Mom") put Dr. Nate and me to shame each day they were here. Swooped in on a Thursday afternoon; left on Monday morning leaving gleaming woodwork, painted rooms, pruned trees, a water line to the refrigerator, and an apology that they wish they could stay but needed to get back to volunteer for the local bike race in their wake.

They are already planning the assault on the wall dividing the kitchen and dining room that must come down; moving outlets, light switches, and a thermostat; redoing the kitchen flooring; installing new cabinets; and moving the plumbing around for the sink. They will be rewarded with coffee, tea, and toast for breakfast, only the finest Panera sandwiches for lunch, and their own sleeping quarters (bathroom will be shared).

02 July 2009

Good to Know

From the NOAA weather web page, where a special red link above the rest of the weather forecast is supposed to mean something. This is our "Hazardous Weather Outlook" for the area:
Hazardous Weather Outlook
309 PM EDT THU JUL 2 2009

309 PM EDT THU JUL 2 2009








03 June 2009

STFU, already

Dear John and Kate Plus Eight,

You courted the media. You are making millions exploiting your children for the amusement of shut-ins and hausfraus. You quit your jobs so you could better exploit your children. And now, when it no longer suits you, you wish the media would leave you alone. Guess what you odious twats? You brought it on yourself. And you deserve it. So shut the f**k up.

By the way, CNN: these imbeciles are not news. So please stop reporting their every action.

12 May 2009

Plants vs Zombies

'nuff said:

17 April 2009

Can I just conceal carry a compound bow instead?

Back around the beginning of the year, Dr. Nate and I each had a background check, were approved by the Pennsylvania State Police, and received conceal carry firearms permits. The background checks came out fine other than that one incident where I tore up my social security card and holed up on top of an abandoned water tower and pledged allegiance to the government of Mongolia. But that was really all just a zany mix-up. Honestly.

So, without ever having fired a gun, I am now able to tote one around in a pocket or purse. Packing heat in the grocery store? You damn well better believe it.

At one point a few weeks ago, Dr. Nate thought it might be a nice idea to buy me a gun for my birthday. I don't want to hunt, I just want to plink at targets and such. Good practice for zombie defense and I'm sure that Tom Gresham, your host of Personal Defense Television, would be proud. So would my NRA-member dad. And Phil Spector.

So we went to the local gun shop/target range one Saturday. Talked to a nice man who gave us information about safety courses we could take. Showed us some guns. Encouraged us go to the shooting range and try out a .22. Said the folks down there would show us how to use it (they showed us how to put the bullets in. That was about it).

Okay, fine. Safety glasses on, ear muffs on, gun, bullets, target. Go into very large room where nearly every lane (aisle? booth? whatever you call the divisions at a shooting range) was full.

And then, it seemed every other lane/booth/aisle pulled out 9mms and .44s and started firing simultaneously. Shell casing from the lane/booth/aisle next to us were coming over the parition and landing in my hair. Guns are LOUD. I had no idea how loud. The concussion was overbearing.

I have a confession to make. I absolutely freaked the fu*k out. As in, I surprised even myself by this level of freak-out. I'd been under there impression thus far that I'm a fairly calm person under stress. I never flipped when I was doing SCUBA training. I've gone down 80ft in pitch black water by myself with no problem. Yeah, it does happen on occasion, but never like this. This was freak out on a scale heretofore unknown by me.

I have no idea what caused it. I assume it was the mixture of the concussive effects of gunfire in my noggin, a new, LOUD, environment, and general apprehension of messing with a deadly thing without any training. Total synapse shutdown.

Needless to say, we left without firing a shot. I did manage save my complete and utter meltdown until we got into the parking lot. Yay for that, I guess?

This leaves me to wonder if perhaps fireams are not my "thing." I don't think that's necessarily it, though. I do know I was woefully underprepared for the environment that is a target range and would probably be more comfortable in a lower-stress situation like plinking at a tree on someone's acerage. Either that or some training to be comfortable with the nature of shooting firearms. Thing is, even now that I know what the noise levels in a target range are like, I still don't think I could use one when it's that busy. I was probably in the range for no longer than 2 minutes and ended up with a headache that lasted the whole rest of the day.

Guns aren't that loud on t.v. (joke)

Either way, I'm a pathetic wimp. Maybe I could look at the deadly, but more silent art of bows and arrows. Good for not revealing your whereabouts during a zombie invasion, but not so easily concealed while walking the aisles of the grocery store.

Obviously Dr. Nate did not buy me a gun for my birthday. I got a far-less-deadly cordless immersion blender instead.

15 April 2009

Reading To-Do List

I've got a book backup at home, seeing as I spent far too long slogging through a biography of Werhner Von Braun and now I'm spending far too long slogging through a book about black holes. The Von Braun biography was good, but exhaustive in detail. The black hole book is good, too, but I put it down for a few days and then forget all the stuff I've already learned and need to go back and reread bits.

But oh what a stockpile of goodness awaits when I'm done! To wit:
  1. Two, count 'em TWO zombie books - "World War Z" by Max Brooks and "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!" by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
  2. Anti-religious books: "Crazy for God" by Frank Schaeffer and "Why Evolution is True" by Jerry Coyne
  3. "The Pluto Files" by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Most excellent airport reading for upcoming work travel.