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.

03 April 2009

Music for Tots

I was driving home from the gym this morning and the Beastie Boys' "Paul Revere" came on the radio. I've decided that the Beastie Boys would be great at writing children's music.

26 February 2009

Pre-Approval on the Rest of my Life

We were pre-approved for a home loan. And we've contacted a realtor. And he's going to start sending us listing of homes in our area.


Dr. Nate sees this as a good thing. Something to do with "equity" and "place to practice trumpet without annoying the jesus-neighbors downstairs." I see it as "there is no guy that will magically fix the hot water heater for free anymore" and "I've never used a lawn mower in my life."

Seriously. I have never used a lawn mower in my life. I am not making this up.

Whatever it is that guy is doing in the picture is not something I know how to do. I think there's a pull-string on it. But beyond that and the idea of pushing it forward, I have no clue.

My dad is, if anything, exceedingly particular about his lawn. There is a certain way you care for a lawn in his household and no one is privy to this method except he. It's a vast method involving charts and graphs, two different lawn mowers and other various and sundry equipment, and a schedule of fertilization that follows the phases of the moon, with exceptions for reports of solar flares. One week mowing is done side to side. The next week it is corner to corner. The following week is paint the fence.

So mowing the lawn was, and still is, my father's domain. And at nearly 34 years old I'm not sure if I want my skill set to include lawn mowing experience. There are far cooler things I could add to my skill set. Gene splicing? Yes. Free diving? Yes. Use of lawn-grooming implements? Not so much.

I suppose eventually I'll get on board with this whole home-buying idea, but I plan to make sure that the place is zoned for sheep. I'm pretty sure lawn care is already part of their skill set.

09 February 2009

We're Totally Yuppie Scum

Yep. Unfortunate as it is, over the weekend Dr. Nate and I became yuppie scum. We went to check out a town close to us as it is a potential place where we would buy a house. The downtown area has lots of "shoppes" - places I'd wander into but never buy anything from. However, there is a fairly good selection of bars there. We went into one for a beer and found soccer (football for non-American and Australians types out there) on the t.v. and a nice assortment of beers on draft. This does not necessarily make us yuppie scum. Leastwise not yet.

I noticed they have one of my new favorite beers on tap: Founder's Breakfast Stout. The bartender said, apologetically, that it was $9.00 for 12 oz. I considered this for a minute and ordered one anyhow. Yet, still, I did not feel like yuppie scum. (Incidentally, you can get a pint of the same beer for around $5.00 in Illinois. Damn you, Pennsylvania and your prohibitively-taxed beer.)

The place sells packaged liquor and they had the Founder's for sale there. Having been looking for it at the good liquor store in Delaware, I figured I'd pick up a 6-pack. Come to find out that it's a buy-by-the-bottle store, so you can get yourself a mixed-6-pack. Which we did....

....to the tune of $29.34. Yes, Dr. Nate and I paid $29.34 for a 6-pack of beer. If this doesn't officially make us yuppie scum, I don't know what does.

And they weren't big bottles or Lambics. Oh no - all were 12 oz. 3 Founder's Breakfast Stouts, one Breckenridge Vanilla Porter, and two Gulden Draak (some Belgium triple that Dr. Nate wanted. 10.5% alcohol they were; nearly stripped the lining out of my esophagus when I tried one).

It's bad enough that we paid that much for a 6-pack. Even worse that we both though the guy behind the counter said the total cost was $39.34 and we were willing to pay it anyhow. Luckily we'd misheard him and the total was $10 less than we'd first thought.

Yep, so one fell swoop of the credit card and we doomed ourselves. I wonder if there's a way to undo the damage. Avoid Starbucks for six months? Purchase all our clothes exclusively from Sears?

I suppose the only thing to do now is wait for the Pottery Barn catalogues to start arriving.

28 January 2009

Child Endangerment by my Parents?

I was visiting my parents over the past weekend and realized something as my mother and I were leaving the cemetery where my grandparents are buried:


Holy crap! We'd been sitting zombie bait for 15 years!

The more I thought about this, the more I realized what a potentially deadly and re-animated situation I narrowly escaped by going away to college. Not only was my childhood home a mere, what? 300 yards away from a cemetery, it was a ranch-style house. And one room had been converted into a sunroom - all windows. And there was no basement. And the attic was only accessible from the garage. What had they been thinking when they bought the place?! Obviously not the safety of themselves and their children.

They moved when I was in college. Oh sure - move to a safer place once the kids are out of the house...

13 January 2009

A New Kind of Personal Torture

I've been seeing a personal trainer at the gym. This is good for me for a number of reasons. #1, I need accountability to get up of my lazy arse and do strength training and lose weight and be healthy and prepare for sculling school. #2, it gets me out of the house twice a week and allows me to talk to someone. When you work from home you can find yourself cooped up in the house for days straight. Especially in the winter. And when you don't know anyone where you live. And when you use the self-checkout lane at the grocery store, thereby avoiding even brief interactions with other people. I could literally go for days without talking to anyone other than Dr. Nate. And I don't want to start anthropomorphizing pocket lint and the kitchen table. I do it enough with the cats.

So I trot off to the gym twice a week and see Trainer Jim. Trainer Jim is evil, but in a good way. I like someone who pushes me to the limits of what I can physically do. It's the only way to improve, right?

But Trainer Jim said two things today that I didn't particularly like (okay, yeah, here I go with the negativity again, but trust me folks - you would whine about it too...)

#1. He wants to see a food log. Damn. That means I need to be on my best behavior while I'm logging this stuff. No cookies. Although if I wanted to be really truthful with him I would eat the cookies anyhow and just tell him. Or, as is likely, I will be good for a week and then eat cookies AFTER I submit my food log.

#2. He suggested that I start what sounds like the worst possible thing EVER. It's called the 100 Day Burpee Challenge. See? That sounds miserable, doesn't it? My grousing is justified. I haven't done burpees since junior high PE class. Trainer Jim LOVES the burpees. So this challenge is: Day 1, do one burpee. Day 2, do two burpees. Day 3, do three. And so on until you get to day 100 when you have to do 100. But you can't do 20 in the morning and then 20 a few hours later, etc. (believe me, I asked!) until you get to 100. No, you do them all at one time, no matter how long it takes.

But Trainer Jim's "suggestions" are never really suggestions at all. They are more of a command. "You should do" really = you will do or prepared to be hassled about it everytime I see you. So I will do it. Although I reserve the right to whine about it.

Incidentally, I'm a bit confused by the wikipedia description of a burpee. I've never put the push-up at the beginning. I always have just started from a squat position and then gone from there.

So tomorrow starts the challenge. But maybe I'll have a cookie first

Staged Death or Something Else?

If zombies were at all involved then this story is AWESOME. If zombies were not involved then it's just sad and dangerous.


09 January 2009

Stop it, Christians!

Christians need to stop co-opting our secular holidays. I've noticed this trend in recent months, it being, you know, the "holiday season." And I find it distressing.

I was miffed when I noticed the massive (read: scary) lutheran evangelical church down the street was holding Thanksgiving services. Thanksgiving is on a Thursday. So it wasn't like it was a regular Sunday service. It was a service FOR Thanksgiving.

NOTE: Thanksgiving is about honoring the pilgrims by making 'hand turkeys' and watching football and eating oneself into a coma. It's not about religious figures being born, dying, or do whatever else religious figures do...performing miracles and making the grass grow or whatever.

So leave it alone.

You christians have your own holidays - they are called Christmas, Easter, various and sundry saint-related ones (Catholics only), lent, Good Friday, advent, and a really weird one that I have yet to figure out what it's all about: Mandy Tuesday? Monday Wednesday? (I didn't feel like looking it up in Wikipedia. It shows up around Easter, I think).

But okay, I'll cut you a little--not a lot, mind you--slack on Thanksgiving since it's about giving thanks and all, and christians like to do that by congratulating themselves on stuff like Proposition 8 and the rapture.

However, my ire was very much raised by driving past a different evangelical church that was holding New Year's Eve/Day services. WTF? I ask you: how in the HELL is New Year's Day a religious thing? It marks the beginning of a new calendar year. How is there any sort of religious connotation to that?! For pity sake - let the poor parishoners have a break! Let them go out and have fun and watch football and nurse hangovers.

There aren't a lot of secular holidays we can lay claim to. Thanksgiving was one. New Year's was another. And you've taken them from us.

It'll be Fouth of July and Casual Friday next.