Journal Entry: January 20, 2008

Back from a long weekend and, as always, hating to be at work.

Not that there’s anything to complain about with regard to my job. I just hate having to work. Call it a character flaw.

Friday was my Regular Day Off, so I stayed up late Thursday night playing WoW, slept in on Thursday, then went to IHOP for brunch with T–. After that we ran by Petsmart to pick up a new litter box for the cats, and spent some significant amount of time there just letting AB marvel at all the captive animals. She went wild.

Then in the evening we went to County Line Barbecue with D– for dinner, grabbed some flavored Rum on the way home, and played a little Rock Band before we turned on Tropic Thunder. T– didn’t exactly hate it, but it wasn’t enough to keep her up past 11:00, either. I made it to the end, and then some. I was up until 2-ish playing WoW.

Saturday morning T– went to a baby shower for N– at church (which is well-documented and beautifully-illustrated on N–‘s blog), and left me home alone. I did a little project for her (took down a pantry door and painted over the exposed wood from the hinges), and of course played some WoW. We had a pretty quiet afternoon, and then around 5:30 T– headed to her friend Rebecca’s to do some scrapbooking in the evening. I kept AB.

D– came over to help out, and brought the same pizza that had resulted in catastrophic emissions from AB the last time we’d tried the same setup, so I ran to McDonalds to get her a Happy Meal. I expected her to object, since we were eating the pizza right in front of her, but she just loves Happy Meals too much to have mustered any real resentment.

We tried to Cars and Lion King, and finally settled on hooking up the drums for Rock Band and AB pounded away until I put her to bed. After that, it was a fairly quiet night. Instead of jumping into WoW once AB was dealt with, I figured out how to recover the music from T–‘s iPod and spent the rest of the night trying to get it relabeled. Without even realizing it, I stayed up until 2:00 again working on that.

So Sunday morning I slept through church. T– and I took AB to Mazzio’s for lunch, and she got her pizza after all. She also counted up to six, with a little coaching. She can do her ABCs up to “G,” too, if she doesn’t know we’re listening. She keeps going after that, but it’s mostly gibberish.

Then Sunday night I intended to go to small groups, but I spent the afternoon feeling incredibly sick. I laid down to take a nap around 3:30, hoping I’d feel better after an hour, but T– woke me up to tell me she was leaving and talked me into staying in bed.

I got up about an hour later feeling better, and spent the rest of the evening on the computer, working on various projects.

Then yesterday I had off for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We ran by N–‘s in the morning to check out her newly-appointed nursery and make a mess of her coffee table trinkets, then grabbed some barbecue from Steve’s Rib and took it home for lunch. Not a lot of variety in our meals this weekend, but a lot of deliciousness!

When AB went down for a nap, I got out some more paint and put a new coat on the fireplace mantel, which was showing some nasty signs of wear and tear. Luckily AB took a long nap, so all the paint was dry by the time she got up.

Then in the evening T– made some steaks for dinner, and we watched a couple new shows plus the first few episodes of season one of Psych. It was fun, and I got to sleep early enough that I was on time for work this morning, quite in spite of the holiday.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: September 24, 2008

So, yeah, I think I mentioned it yesterday, but I’m going to Chicago next week. I’ll be leaving Sunday evening, around 6:00, and getting in the following Saturday at 11:00 am. T– will pick me up from the airport and we’ll drive straight up to Topeka for our friend Julie’s wedding (unless I can get my flight swapped out for one that takes me back to Wichita, anyway).

Yesterday I got home from work determined to really finish my painting project. I got the ladder out again, got out the white paint, and went up on the wall to paint over the blue from the trim that had dripped past my painter’s tape (there were three spots of that), and to paint over the spots where the ladder had damaged the initial coat of white when I leaned it up against the house.

And, of course, when I climbed back down to move the ladder, it tore the paint again. I’d have thought it would be fully dried by then. But at that point I was able to climb up on it as an A-frame and fix the new tears, and that sufficed for all the rest of the work that had to be done.

I also painted a few coats of white over the walkway post that I had test-sanded, so it looks nice again. It had been the one (out of about six or seven) in the worst shape, and sanding it had revealed the wood underneath in even more places, so it’s a major improvement to have a couple coats of white on top of that. From the curb, anyway, our facade looks really nice now.

After I put that away, T– went to pick up some pizzas and D– came over to eat them. We watched Monday’s How I Met Your Mother, and some King of the Hill, and then when AB went to bed, we pulled out Rock Band, and I got to drum for the first time in a week and a half. Needless to say, I overdid it, and by the end of the night I was late getting to bed and my shoulders were killing me. Fun, though. Lots of fun. I wasn’t too rusty. I can still sight-read just about anything they can throw at me on Medium, and I cleared a handful of (really easy) songs on Hard. I’m going to have to learn some really tough patterns that currently completely befuddle me, before I can fully make that transition.

This morning I went to the Physical Therapist for the last time. We agreed that all of the tension she found this morning came from the painting (and she did some really good work fixing it all), and I can address any further problems I have with just the home stretches and exercises she’s taught me, so that’s that. I feel so much better than I did six weeks ago. Or even two weeks ago. It’s been an amazing experience.

In general, things are good. I have two pretty significant items that probably need announced, but I’ve been waiting on both of them until I fully understand how they’ll impact my life. That, of course, could be decades in the discovering, but I’ll try to get the info to you before then.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: September 22, 2008

I have this To Do list that I made in Google Documents, and I use it to keep track of little projects I can take care of when I have a spot of free time and am feeling productive (or stuff we need around the house that I can pick up if we have a spot of free money, but that never really happens).

Anyway, the purpose is just for me to jot stuff down as it occurs to me, and I can browse through it from time to time and try to find something that sounds worth doing.

Last week, the “Writing” section kept catching my eye, and you probably saw the results here. I completed a bunch of writing chores last week, and it felt pretty rewarding.

Well, about six months ago I noticed the severely peeling paint on the wood siding above our garage, and it really got to me. It’s been in terrible shape ever since we bought the house, but it’s a relatively small portion of our facade, and high enough up that no one ever really pays it any attention, so it’s gone ignored for two and a half years. When I made up my To Do list, though, I went ahead and put “Scrape and paint exterior woodwork” on there, and ever since it’s been annoying the everloving bawhango out of me. Every time I pulled into the driveway, it irritated me. Every time I glanced through my To Do list, I wanted to mark it off. But the height of that was not only in an incredibly hot (and then abnormally rainy) summer, but also while my body was broken with all that back pain.

So, yeah, last Thursday I found out we would actually be home this weekend, and I checked the weather and found out it would be sunny and windy and dry (and not uncomfortably hot). Then again, I also mentioned here on Thursday that I was feeling sick. I’m not quite sure what happened with that.

Anyway, I moved my Regular Day Off to last Friday, and figured I would either spend the day in bed convalescing, or on a ladder scraping. I ended up doing the ladder.

AH hahaha! That was so worth all the setup.

Bah. No, really. On Thursday night I was still feeling under the weather, so I just watched a movie with T–, and maybe we played some Rock Band. Then I got up relatively early on Friday, felt relatively well, so I went outside to see what I could do. I had gotten a drill bit a while back that said it was for “stripping paint” which, it turns out, is not the same thing as “scraping and prepping a surface for painting.” I seriously damaged some of our exterior woodwork before I came to that conclusion though.

That left me using an old-fashioned metal scraper, and a Mouse power sander. I didn’t get around to the Mouse until Saturday, though.

See, to use the drill, I bit the bullet and got out our Really Long Extension Cord, and completely unwound it. Turned out, that was unnecessary (I could reach the peak of our roof with about a third of it), but I didn’t know that to begin with. So I got out on the ladder, worked on the woodwork until I realized I was doing more harm than good (and would have to scrap, which I hate), and then climbed down and decided to take a little break.

Already having the Really Long Extension Cord unfurled, I decided on a whim to grab the weed eater and edge our lawn for only the second time since we moved in. I ended up doing a pretty thorough job of it (and our drive looks nice now), but there was a lot of newly cut undergrowth all over the driveway at that point. I thought about going to borrow K–‘s leafblower, said something about it to T–, and she pointed out that we had a shopvac we’d bought years ago for a single project, and never used since.

So I vaccuumed my drive. Shut up! It worked really well.

And then at that point I was out of excuses to delay, so I dug out our scraped, got back up on the ladder, and finished the bottom half of the west facing. Only the bottom half, though, because my ladder was too short to do more. It was 5:00 by then, though, and I was supposed to watch AB while T– went to a crop, so I put my stuff away, showered, and called it done for the day.

K– and N– came over to keep me company for the evening, and we went to Mazzio’s for dinner and then came back to the house and watched Baby Mama (which is worth seeing twice, I can attest). Then we played Rock Band until 11-ish, at which point they had to go home, and I ended up playing guitar for another hour and a half until T– got home. It was after 2:00 when we finally went to bed.

Saturday, I had all day to work on the house so I had no intention of getting up early. I turned off the alarm clock before I went to bed, and just slept as long as I wanted to. When I got up, I threw on my work clothes and stumbled out into the living room and T– said, “Oh, I’m sorry! Did we wake you?” And I had no idea what she meant, so I assured her no, and went out to the garage to get started.

I started out mowing the lawn, because it needed it (and I had basically done everything I could on the woodwork without borrowing a taller ladder). Then when I got to the back yard, I couldn’t help noticing how terrible all the edges looked, so I dragged the Really Long Extension Cord back there, and spent a good hour really cleaning up the back yard (focusing mainly on the porch), including another half hour or so of vaccuuming the outdoors. Hey, I said to shut up about that!

Then I put my stuff away, and went inside to find out why T– hadn’t started pestering me about lunch plans yet, and learned that it was barely ten o’clock. I had gotten up at eight. I was horrified.

I showered, and then T– went to grab us some sandwiches and I watched AB. We played some, I made some phone calls to see if anybody wanted to help me work on the house (and learned that all my friends actually schedule productive activities for their weekends, too — who knew?), and made arrangements to swing by B– and E–‘s after lunch to grab a ladder.

When I got there, I kinda tarried. For one, it’s always fun to catch up. For another, I had a really miserable afternoon ahead of me. I did finally leave, though, and when I got home I set up the ladder, climbed up way too high, and finished the scraping. Then I got out the Mouse and sanded the whole surface, top to bottom, which took right around two hours. Meanwhile, T– ran up to Lowes for me and bought the paint — Killz as a primer, white for most of the siding, and a rich blue for the trim.

It was already dusk by the time I finished sanding, but I did a test coat of the primer in one of the lower areas, and it had me feeling pretty good about the project. I put my stuff away, went inside for dinner, and then played Rock Band with T– for a couple hours before watching SNL. It was nearly midnight before we went to bed.

Then I woke up at 7:30 Sunday morning so I could out and put up the primer before church. That was a miserable morning, I’ll tell you what. I was also sore all over from two full days of hard work, but I made myself climb the ladder again and again, and it took me just under two hours to get the entire area primed. Then I had to rush to get ready for church, and we went to worship while my base coat dried.

I kept falling asleep during church, and really dragging when we went to lunch at Subway with K– and N–, but I needed to get two coats of white on, then let it dry completely so I could tape it before I could do the coat of blue. So when I got home from church, instead of crawling into bed, I crawled back up the ladder and did a coat of white in about an hour and fifteen. I let it dry for half an hour, then went back up and did a second coat in just under an hour. At that point, the siding was looking pretty good.

Then I took my nap. I spent an hour and a half sprawled on the bed, then went back out and taped and painted — I didn’t have any room for a tray at the top of the ladder, so I would take the tape up, cover everything I could reach, then go back down for the tray and brush and go back up to paint. All this to do one six-inch-wide trim board, so I was only doing three or four feet in lenght from any given ladder position.

All told, taping and painting took about an hour and a half. Then D– showed up, newly back from Wichita, and asked if I wanted something for dinner. T– and AB were at Small Groups with K– and N– (and eating there), so I said, “Heck yes,” and he ran off to Taco Bell while I climbed back up and did the second coat. Since the tape was already up at that point, the second coat only took about half an hour, and that was significantly more time moving and reconfiguring the ladder than it was painting.

Once again, I finished my handiwork by the glow of our exterior lights, but I got it done and went in to enjoy my soft tacos (and a Diet Dr Pepper with more than a little bit of rum in it).

Before I finished eating T– and AB and K– and N– got back from Small Groups, and we started up the Cowboys / Packers game. It was another wild one, and after a slow start the Cowboys really tore up. That was a pretty pleasant way to end a pretty unpleasant weekend. I went to bed at eleven again, and was up by six this morning to get to work on time.


I did finally count it up, and every step in the process of painting required me to climb the ladder eighteen times. That’s eighteen times to scrape the peeling paint, eighteen times to sand, eighteen to prime, thirty-six to paint two coats of white, eighteen for taping and painting blue, and eighteen more for the second coat of blue. My legs are dying.

I have eighteen more, too. I’ve got to go up and take down the tape, when I get home from work today. I should probably go up with some white and do touch-up (where the blue dripped past the tape, or the ladder damaged the not-perfectly-dried white when I was moving it around), but I doubt I’ll have the energy. It’s so high up, and such a small area, I doubt anyone will care.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: July 21, 2008

Thursday night, T– went to a church picnic with K– and N– (footage is available on her blog). I wasn’t feeling up to pretending to be friendly with churchfolk, so I opted out. Instead, D– and I grabbed a pizza from Falcone’s, and took it over to B– and E–‘s place.

You know, I really need to spend more time with them. We had a great evening. D– worked on B–‘s computer, I borrowed a couple of books from E–, and we watched Shakes the Clown. That was my first time seeing it. Just…bizarre. Hilarious, but bizarre.

Amazingly, B– failed to get us all smashed this time, so we made it home at a reasonable time without too much drunkenness. I think it was about 10:30 when I got in.

Friday was my RDO. I slept in, then spent the morning working on a writing project (and chatting with my little sister about her book-in-progress). Then in the afternoon I mostly lazed around the living room. T– did the same. We went to On the Border for lunch, and probably went out for dinner, but I don’t remember where. Friday evening just sort of melted by. We finished off Arrested Development, though.

Then, around 10:00, D– showed up and he and I went to see Get Smart. It was everything I hoped it would be. I also rushed home and added Get Smart: The Complete Original Series to the top of my queu on Blockbuster. It appears to come all on one disc. I’m baffled.

Saturday morning T– woke me up at the unthinkable hour of 8:30 so she could go shopping with N–. I watched AB for most of the morning, then D– called and asked if we wanted to go to the bagel place for lunch, and naturally we agreed. I have something against letting T– use our kitchen. I dunno. Right afterward we dropped AB off with the babysitter at our place, then we went up to the mall and got in line for The Dark Knight.

While D– and I held out spot, T– went shopping in the mall and got our niece a birthday present. Then, forty minutes in or so, K– and N– joined us, and a few minutes after that they opened the doors. The movie was pretty much fantastic. An artistic vision. It was dark — you’ll be amazed how much so — but the story was well told.

It was longer than any of us expected, too. We got out of the theater right at 5:00, and we had dinner plans with the Vickis — friends of ours from high school, plus their husbands. We went back to the house and T– got started grilling while I ran to the store for some last minute groceries. By the time I got back, the guests were well installed in our house.

We ate, we talked much and browsed nearly all of T–‘s scrapbooks. Then D– showed up (around 10:00, once again), and we talked some more, then we turned on the Wii and bowled some and golfed some and then we spent twenty minutes browsing YouTube. We finished up with some Christopher Walken from SNL, and it was after midnight by the time they left (and they had a drive back to Tulsa still ahead of them, the poor souls).

Over-socialized and late-to-bed, I slept in and skipped church Sunday morning. D– called and asked about lunch and he and I ended up picking up Taco Bueno for everyone. Afterward he went home for a nap, AB went down for a nap, and T– got on her computer to take care of some work stuff. Free to spend my time however I pleased, I decided (for some reason) to work on my To Do list.

I hung a picture in my office (an old drawing of a red fox that I’ve had forever, that T– had framed for me as a gift), replaced a burnt-out lightbulb outside the front door, cleared out some overgrown shrubs in a flowerbed, sawed some dead limbs out of the swinging tree in our back yard, moved some of AB’s baby stuff into storage in the attic, cleaned up my office workspace, and then enlisted T–‘s help and we hosed down the woodwork on the front of the house and gave it a thorough scrubbing. That last was an amazingly successful project. The house looks a lot better than it has since we moved in.

That list of chores took up all of Sunday afternoon. When AB got up from her nap, we took her with us to Wal-Mart to take care of some business there (shopping for a nephew’s birthday present, and getting a new key to the Tulsa house), and then we picked up some dinner from Popeye’s on the way home. That was an awful experience. They overcharged us, made us place our entire order twice, made us wait twenty minutes for our food, and then gave us the wrong food and none of the drinks we’d paid for. Ugh. Then T– tried to call the customer service number on the receipt, to place a complaint, and found it out of order.

The chicken was good enough, though, and afterward we watched Hot Rod (which I enjoyed more than T– did), and then got to bed at a reasonable hour.

There’s my weekend. We may have some developments on the Tulsa house (nothing to open champagne bottles over, but good news nonetheless), but I’ll wait until I’m clearer on the details before sharing that.

Journal Entry: June 6, 2008

Yesterday was ass.

On an unrelated note: I recently discussed a Cabrel song called “Je t’Aimais, Je t’Aime et Je t’Aimerais” at length. Since then, I’ve been working on learning the song. I can sing along with all but the first verse at this point, but I do get a little confused when I try to sing it entirely on my own.

For one thing, I keep trying to remember how “CACTUS!” fits into it (or possibly it’s “CACTUSES!” — there’s no way to tell in French). Also, I end every other line with, “les acrobats…avec leur COSTUMES et les PApiers!” He really knows how to make that “pa” pop. I’m just saying. And, damn, I’ve never heard anyone get so excited about cactuses.

Also, for everyone who isn’t B– or E–, ignore those last two paragraphs. They’ll only be funny to them.

Okay, Wednesday night we talked about meeting at Moe’s Southwest Grill, but later switched that to Taco Cabana. Tragically, B– and E– didn’t get the message that we were switching locales, and as a result they were both at Moe’s when it was infiltrated by terrorists and they were shot dead. I spent the whole evening feeling guilty about it.

Anyway, K– and N– met us at Taco Cabana (D– was in South Carolina or some nonsense for work), and dinner was delicious. As long as I never try anything new, I always have a great dinner when we got to Taco Cabana. In fact, I may have just talked myself into going to the one by my work for lunch. Yum.

After dinner, I went home to play AoC while everyone else went to church. I got a lot accomplished in an hour and a half, and then when T– got home I was planning to chill out and watch some Lost, but then she pointed out that we should probably go ahead and get our stuff in the car for our trip to Tulsa on Thursday.

And then, while I was mentally inventorying everything we would need, it occurred to me that K–‘s badass gas-powered weedeater would probably do a much better job for what I needed to do than our puny electric one. So I gave him a call around 8:30, and headed over there to pick it up. It’s a twenty minute drive to get there, and then I helped him with a little bit of car repair (which mostly consisted of me just keeping him company, because I’m never all that helpful), and then I stopped at Wal-Mart on my way home to pick up some needed supplies, and by the time I got back to the house, it was 10:30 and we hadn’t even started loading the car.

In the end, we didn’t load the car. Remember the van we drove back from Little Rock on Sunday, as a favor to my sister’s in-laws? Well, we got permission to use that, and I’m so glad we did. We took the lawnmower, K–‘s weedeater, gas cans for both, several tools, two rakes, a cooler full of water and soda, and I had a bag with a change of clothes. Then, we brought all that home plus a million-pound air conditioner that had been in the kitchen window. There’s no way we could have gotten that all in the car. We barely could have managed the lawnmower and the air conditioner, and those were the two most important bits!

Anyway, we loaded up the van Wednesday night, and then yesterday woke up way too early (6:30, so forty-five minutes later than I usually get up, but still!), dropped AB off at the baby-sitter’s, and then headed for Tulsa. When we got in, T– dropped me off at the house, then she headed out to several of her accounts to do some work (the actual reason for the trip in the first place — I just tagged along to accomplish some extra stuff at the house, and save us the gas money of making the trip some weekend).

I started working around 9:30, and around 10:30 called T– and asked her to pick me up some sun screen when she came by with lunch. By that point, I was already burned.

I mowed the front yard first, which was probably knee-high in places. If you’ll recall, when I went up to Tulsa with Toby three or four weeks ago, I borrowed his lawnmower and cut the front yard. At the time, the back yard was too high to cut in a reasonable amount of time, so I just left.

Well, it’s been three or four weeks since then (and rainy weeks, too). The front yard had gotten up to knee-high. The back yard, I do not exaggerate, was shoulder-high in places. Most of the back yard was at least four feet tall.

It only stood a couple feet tall, though, because the strong wind had folded the grass over. If any of you has ever had to mow tall grass, you can imagine how bad that is. The lawnmower just rolls right over the long stems (longer than the width of the chopping area), and at best it cuts off the last three or four inches of the blade. It’s awful.

That’s what I brought the weedeater for. My goal was to cut the grass down to a reasonable length (maybe a 12-18 inches tall), then rake off the tall stems and bag them, then mow the lawn with the mower on its highest deck setting, then mow it again with the mower on a more reasonable height.

If that sounds like a lot of work, it is. Also, we have a huge back yard in Tulsa, especially now that the deck and that row of bushes is gone. Oy.

So, I did the two-pass mow on the front yard, then called T– to ask for sunscreen (so that was about an hour), then headed to the back yard to get started.

It was awful. I spent the first half hour trying to deal with this vine plant thing that we had chopped down back in April, but it came back. In a wicked way. It used to be this big ugly ball of vines and flowers over by the fence, but since we chopped it down, it sent out dozens of vines in all directions, hiding under the grass. Whenever the weedeater would catch the edge of one of those vines, it would twist all around the spinny part, and almost drag the weedeater out of my hand (because the vines were too thick for it to easily cut).

I ended up clearing to the stump of the vine, and then chasing down every single one of the vines that shot off in all directions. Some of them were eighteen, twenty feet long, snaking through the long grass in all directions. I pulled them all up, gathered them in one hand like I was holding up some infidel by his greasy braids, and then use the saw to chop them all loose.

Yeah, I’ve been playing a lot of AoC.

Anyway, that was extremely frustrating. After I got that cleaned up, I’d still only finished weedeating a patch about ten feet by five along the entrance to the yard. I went ahead and mowed that so I could feel like I’d accomplished something.

Bah. I’m not going into all the details, but the whole day was like that. I would run the weedeater for about hour, clearing a swath from east to west about five or six feet wide. Then I would rake it and run the lawnmower up and down (and maybe back up again) and then it was back to the weedeater.

T– finished up with her accounts around 3:30 and came to help me out. She did the short cut on the front yard while I finished weedeating the last section. Then she mowed in the back while I did some edging work in the front, and in the end we got everything cut, but not everything raked and bagged the way I’d wanted. I’m hoping none of the hay we left is thick enough to kill off the grass underneath.

This was all in preparation for hiring a guy to come take care of the lawn for us. The charge for that initial job would have been astronomical. As it is, we’ll be paying about $100 a month to keep the lawn in good shape which is a tough hit, but it’s one we should have been paying for the last two months (and we knew that all along).

The place does look a lot better now, though. At the end of the day, both of us exhausted and ready to leave, we remembered we still had to rip the bajillion-pound air conditioner out of the window. You may remember the last time I tried to do that. Well, this time wasn’t so bad. We’d learned from our experience, and got it out of the window in about half an hour. T– and I, against my expectations, were able to carry it the five feet to the waiting van, and get it loaded in the back.

Then we were both just dead tired, but we still had a two-hour drive ahead of us. It was seven o’clock when we left town, after grabbing some Long John Silvers for dinner (which we didn’t finish).

I did finish my first read-through of Heather’s book on my drive up there, and I’m excited about it. I had some problems with the last scene (I’m going to recommend she remove them entirely, and save them for the sequel). I spent most of the day working through how she might rearrange all the pieces of the ending, actually. Sometime around four I remembered that I’d brought an mp3 player, but whatever. I kept my mind busy.

On the way home we had to stop by K– and N–‘s to pick up AB, because they’d gotten her from the babysitter for us. We crashed on the couches, “just for a minute” and I almost didn’t have the energy to get back up when T– said it was time to go on home. When we got home, I couldn’t believe it was only nine.

We put AB to bed, I got some stuff ready for work this morning (and about half unloaded the van), and then I went to bed and just crashed.

Then, at 5:45 this morning, my alarm went off and I jumped out of bed to go turn it off…and almost crashed head-first into the closet door on my side of the bed. My back was stiff, my legs were sore, my neck and shoulders were on fire from the sunburn. Even my fingers hurt (they still do, surprisingly bad) from operating that weedeater for four or five hours. I turned off the alarm, crawled back into bed, and gave up several precious hours of leave time to recuperate.

I finally did get up around 8 and came in to work. Now, it’s time for lunch.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry

It was, for the most part, a disappointing weekend, but it had its spots of sunshine.

Friday was my Regular Day Off, but I went in to the office for a few hours in the morning to make up for my late morning last Tuesday. Afterward, I had lunch with D– at On the Border, and then headed home.

I’d wanted to go to the gym early and then spend the rest of the afternoon programming — or maybe reading, I’m on to Watership Down, now, and it’s gripping — but Friday morning a guy from the gas company came out to investigate our ridiculously high gas bill (a free service the gas company provides), and he decided it was caused by the water leak in the bathtub.

I was pretty concerned by that, as the water leak had barely even started during that billing period, and so it suggested the leak was causing something like $40 a day in extra cost, so instead of spending my afternoon as planned, I spent it plumbing.

I took one of the old, rotten valve stems up to Lowe’s to see if I could find a replacement, but I didn’t have a lot of hope (it being a non-standard type). They had a little book there for reference, though, and I was able to find an exact match to the one I had. Just, y’know, they didn’t have it in stock.

I waited my turn and asked the salesman if they had any in stock (in the desperate hopes that I’d just missed it), but he said no. He went to the computer and looked up the manufacturer’s number and made a call, and told me it would take 10 days to have one shipped.

While he’s explaining this, a funny little old man standing behind me keeps grabbing at my sleeve and saying, “Excuse me. Sorry, excuse me.” And it’s clear from his manner that he has some advice to offer, but I was kind of hoping to let the salesman finish his explanation, then turn to this new guy. The salesman didn’t even pause in his spiel.

So, I finally turn to the guy, and he says, “You know Watonga cheese?” I just stared at him, completely blank. I had no idea what he was talking about. He asked again, “You know Watonga cheese?”

I just shrugged. “I’ve never heard of it.”

“Well,” he said, “There’s this place called Watonga cheese on 39th Expressway, and right in the shadow of it is a little shop called The Faucet that has every faucet part you could imagine. You know, in case you need to get it today.”

I did, and I followed his brief directions (with some help from T– and Google Maps, via phone), and found The Faucet and as soon as I walked in the door the guy there took my ruined valve stem, stepped behind a shelf, and came back with a new one, quick as that.

I got home, and (after weeks of messing around with it), now knew enough that it was a simple process to swap out the old with the new. I replace both valve stems, turned the water back on at the main, and came in to test it.

The good news is, there was no hot water stream (as there had been for three expensive weeks). I did, however, still have the same cold water drip that had started this whole process. I didn’t cry or curse (somehow). I just called a plumber and scheduled a visit for this morning.

By that time, it was nearly five in the afternoon, and we had plans to do dinner with D– (and I didn’t feel particularly motivated anyway), so I never got to the gym. I didn’t get any programming done, either, but I think I finished a short chapter in my book before we went out.

We had Bennigan’s for dinner, and then went downtown to the Festival of the Arts. T– says we spent two hours there. I wasn’t really keeping track. It was a mess of people and a lot of uninteresting art being peddled by depressed-looking artists, but there were certainly spots of genius in there. The only piece we considered buying, though, looked like something you could pick up at Target. It would have been cute in AB’s room.

A little after 10:00, my dad and Josh showed up, and Josh stayed the night. I was exhausted, but we stayed up for an hour or so talking, and then I finally had to crash. I wish we’d had longer.

Saturday morning, T– went to the gym and I slept in. When I finally got up, I did some work around the house (little things, like taking out the garbage and putting away clean dishes), and then dad showed up again (he stayed the night with my sister), and T– showed off the work she’s doing in the back yard, and before I knew it the morning was over and I was making us late getting to lunch.

We went to Ted’s again, up in Edmond. It’s my sister’s favorite Mexican place, and my dad’s pretty partial to it, too. Lunch was good, and afterward we found ourselves on the north end of Edmond with an hour to go before my niece’s birthday party. We didn’t feel like spending the whole time driving home and back, so we went to a little playground in my sister’s neighborhood, and T– and AB played on the swings. I took a nap in the car.

Then we had the birthday party, which is already well-documented elsewhere. My aunt Darla and grandma came in from Dallas, and it was awesome to see them. After the party, they stopped by our house on their way home, and we got a little bit of time in a quieter environment to chat with them. It was fun.

After they left, D– came over and bought us pizza, then when AB went to bed D– and K– and I went out to Henry Hudson’s for some drinks. After everything else in the day, it was pleasantly relaxing.

Sunday morning after church we went to Carl’s Junior for lunch, and ate for free thanks to K–‘s participation at a water station along the Memorial Marathon that morning. All volunteers got coupons for a free combo meal, and he picked up enough for all of us. It was a nice treat.

Then I went to the gym (for the first time in five days), and spent the whole hour running — first on the elliptical, then on the treadmill. I’m going to try to do more jogging on the treadmill. It’s a good way to follow the exercise plan I’m using, and keep track of my goals and progress.

Afterward, T– and I went grocery shopping, and then we cooked hot dogs and brats for K– and N– and D–. D– had picked up Mario Kart for the Wii, and we spent the whole rest of the evening on that. It was much fun.

Then, this morning, our plumber came out and I just got a call from T– with the update. Turns out the valve stem seat is (and always was) wrong. It was a kitchen sink seat, rather than a bathtub one. He replaced it in no time, and we paid him $90 to fix a really simple problem that I never in my life would have figured out.

Anyway, the problem is fixed, now, and the leak is gone. Thank God for that. Looking back on it, it was a pretty fun weekend, but I spent most of Friday and Saturday in a bad mood over plumbing problems. That’s a shame.

I should have plenty of time to program over lunch today, though, and after the gym tonight, I figure I’ll get a lot of reading done. Nothing much to pout over. I’m hoping for a good week.

Journal Entry

Busy weekend.

Friday night, I went to the gym after work and put in an hour on the elliptical machine. It was a pretty good workout — I stayed above 160 strides/min the whole time, and according to the machines burned 900 calories and ran 5 miles. I also weighed in at 239, which is only 5 pounds below where I started back in January. Infuriating.

I’d already been thinking that I needed to extend my workouts beyond the 3 days a week that we’re going to the gym. I did 5 days last week, but the drive time is brutal.

So, instead, I’m going to start jogging every morning before work. I’m going to try, anyway. I have to leave at 6:30 to make it to work on time, so that means waking up around 5:00 to get in a half hour jog. I managed it today, but it will be tough keeping on that schedule. I’m sick of seeing so little progress, though, and I’ve done what I can easily do to fix my diet (short of a dramatic and miserable overhaul of everything I eat). I’d rather work more and eat what I like, as long as that’s an option.

Anyway. Friday night I killed myself at the gym, and then went over to my sister’s place for dinner. D– was supposed to meet us there, but he got home from work and fell asleep, so that didn’t happen. I can’t say I blame him. I was exhausted even before I got to the gym.

After dinner, T– and I went home and watched some TV, and we went to bed relatively early.

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early to go for the first of my morning jogs…and then I hit the snooze button and that was that. I woke up around 9:00, had some breakfast, and then went to the gym with T–. So, yeah, it’s not like I was skipping exercise for the day, but I thought getting in jogs on the weekend would make it easier for me to go ahead with the plan on Monday morning.

Bah. We worked out with K– and N– for an hour, and then split up again. Saturday afternoon, T– and N– went to the zoo (which will be well documented on both of their blogs, I’m sure).

I went to Tulsa. The only thing I had to do was replace a circuit breaker for the new air conditioner. I wanted to get that done so we could show the house, and get full advantage from the costly system we just put in. Unfortunately, it was a pretty petty project for a 3-hour drive.

There’s another job I need to do up there, but it sounds like a real chore. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t even try it on Saturday, but I didn’t want to go all the way up just to change out the breaker. I ended up spending a couple hours cleaning up the garage, which was still full of a lot of the detritus of our repair projects of weekends past, as well as some junk J– had left behind when he moved out. It took a while to get everything sorted, and in the end all I had to show for it was a clean garage (not a major selling point), but I did get the breaker replaced, too, so I’d done what I came for.

It was also my first chance to see the house with the new carpet and all the tile work done. It’s really an amazing transformation. The house looks great. I just hope it starts to show soon.

Anyway, I spent most of the drive home working on conceptual stuff for the game I’m writing, and organizing dinner by way of cell phone. I stopped at P F Chang’s on my way home, and picked up dinner for five. K– and N– came over and brought an XBox game (Fusion Frenzy), and D– brought an extra controller and Lego Star Wars, so we had a pretty full evening of good food and video games.

K– and N– headed home at 10:00 and T– headed to bed. D– and I sat up talking. For a while. My alarm clock was set for 5:00 (for the jogging practice, y’know?), but when I finally headed to bed at 3:58, I went ahead and turned off the alarm. No sense pretending.

Sunday morning I slept until 11:00, which meant I missed church. T– took AB to class and services, and then we met up with K– and N– for lunch at Mazzio’s. Afteward, I went over to K–‘s place, and he showed me how to jog.

I did try a real-world jog on Friday afternoon, before I’d headed to the gym. I felt this incredible, terrifying tightness in my chest and back, pressing on my lungs, and I gave up after less than a tenth of a mile. Humiliating, yeah. I’ve always had that reaction when I’ve tried jogging or running, but I figured my three months of cardio at the gym had gotten me past that.

K– wasn’t so surprised. He was a cross-country runner in high school, and he said that even though it felt like a problem with my lungs, it was just my heart working too hard and desperate for oxygen. The solution to that is more long-term, but it’ll get easier with practice.

Anyway, we went for a jog in his neighborhood, and then I collapsed on his couch for twenty minutes and watched some E. R. because I didn’t have the energy to drive home. There are some pretty unique aspects to the show, but I still don’t think I have any interest in watching it. I should for the perspective it would lend on Sarah’s story, but I don’t think I will.

At home, T– and I spent the evening watching old episodes of Lost. I also spent a while searching Google Images for monster portraits for my game. Overall, a pretty productive evening.

Then, this morning, I was up at 5:00 and I made my run. The course I’ve picked out is 2 miles, and I jogged the first half-mile and then walked the rest. My short-term goal is to jog the first and third half-miles, taking the second and fourth to rest. Long-term, of course, I’d like to bump it up to a three-mile route and jog the whole thing. That’s a ways off yet, though.

Oh, I also created a Blogger account this morning and got it all set up. But then, you already knew that….

Journal Entry

I couldn’t get it done.

I even left work early to make sure I had time to pick up all my supplies and get started before dinner.

I got home from Lowe’s at 4:00, thinking, “Wow, I’ll have time to get the whole project done before dinner!”

I was wrong. I spent the whole evening working on it, and when K– and N– came over after church, I had just made my first real breakthrough since I’d started at 4:00. K– and I together made a second discovery, which gave me most of the information I need to finish the job. I think.

I also spent about $85 on the project so far, and all of that is completely useless to me. Much of it can be returned (I hope), but that gives you an idea how much I thought I knew I was doing, and how many trips to Lowe’s I ended up making. The whole project, finished, should cost less than $30, and right now I still have to go buy all the parts I’ll actually need.

We did manage to get the pieces put back together, though, so I was able to turn the water back on last night. Small mercy, that. I’ll take another stab at fixing it over the weekend sometime.

After I’d gotten done with that, D– came by and asked if I could go out for a couple drinks. He’d had a worse day than I did (by far). We both needed it. So we dropped over to The Dugout and had beers and talked until about midnight. I was up for another hour after that, taking care of things that I hadn’t had a chance to do in the afternoon with all my focus on the plumbing problems, so I was totally beat by the time I crawled into bed.

And, y’know, I always hate that alarm clock going off at 5:45, but today was worse than most. Ugh.

Tonight I’ve got a trip to the gym, and then I think I’l probably go home and crash. I’ve been dragging all day, but I’ve got to get in my reps and sets. That’s just how it goes.

Stupid Thursdays….

Journal Entry

Last night I went back to the gym. As I mentioned, I’ve been going regularly three times a week since January, and I’ve seen a lot of strength and endurance improvement, but not a lot of weight loss.

When I started in January I had a goal for June that wasn’t terribly aggressive, but at this point I’m nowhere close to making it. So I’m thinknig I’ll switch to five days a week, and see if that helps any. I’ll devote the extra two days to cardio.

When the weather improves (and if I feel like I’m getting enough benefit from it) I’ll probably just jog the neighborhood for those two days, more often than not. For now, though, I’m going to stick with the gym. Adding Tuesday nad Sunday to my other three.

Anyway, I got home at five and the gym took two hours (with drive time). I dropped by B– and E–‘s to pick up some tools I’d lent them, that I’m going to need for my plumbing project tonight. Then I got home around 7:30 and T– had dinner waiting for me.

We watched the finale of Biggest Loser and she watched a Law and Order while I read. I finished another of the Myth books last night, and another one over lunch today. They’re short books.

I forgot my laptop when I came to work today, and it’s a thirty-minute drive, easy, so I’m just getting by without it. I have a desktop that is still “officially” my work computer, so I can still get some stuff done, but it’s really thrown me off, having to work on it.

I’m not sure how tonight will go. I’m just changing out a leaky faucet (with valve stem replacement), but I’ve had enough bad experiences with plumbing I expect there to be major problems. I don’t know what they’ll be yet, but that just adds to the excitement.

Ugh. If I can get it done, though, that’ll be a major improvement that’s been in need for a really long time. Here’s hoping it goes smoothly.

Journal Entry

Amazingly enough, there has been more going on in my life than just the mess with the Tulsa house. I’m not sure how I keep up with it all, but I do.

I’m making slow but steady progress on Sleeping Kings: Golden Age. The characters are at 50 Penn Place now, which means I’m into the climax of the story. The whole second half of the book is handwritten so far — I haven’t started transcribing any of it — but I’m nearing completion of the draft and then I’ll start typing.

I quit playing WoW about a month and a half ago. My account officially ended on the first of April, but I was done playing at the beginning of March. I’m anxious for a new MMO for me to waste massive portions of my life on, but it’s just not here yet. WoW can’t hold my attention anymore, thuogh.

I started programming a game, and that’s been pretty fun. I also started reading again. In the last week I’ve finished Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, Everything Bad is Good for You by some neuroscientist dude, Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies by the grammar lady, Born Standing Up by Steve Martin, and the first three books of the Myth series by Robert Asprin.

I’ve done some work around the house, too. It’s frustrating to me going up to Tulsa over and over again and putting in all the effort for a house we don’t even live in. We can’t afford to redo a bathroom or put in new carpets, but I’ve been motivated to fix some little things that have been nagging. I worked on our garage door opener (loose wire), finally replaced the bulbs in our garage overhead light (fluorescent, and they’d been dead for over a year), started getting our lawn treated to kill off bugs and weeds, and swapped out our broken kitchen sink faucet for one that will actually work (and, as it happens, is really nice). I’m going to take a shot at fixing the bathtub faucet again, even though last time I tried was a miserable, devastating failure. Who knows? Maybe this time it’ll turn out better.

There’s not a lot to report on the baby front. She’s making more use of her words, but not really talking yet. She nods when she means yes, and if you hold up two objects (books, toys, pairs of pajamas, whatever) she can pick which one she wants. She got four molars at once (well, “is getting”), and that’s a little bit brutal on everyone living in the house, but once it’s done she can stop chewing all her food at the front of her mouth, and that should be better for everyone.

We refinanced our mortgage on the Oklahoma City house, and caught some good breaks on that. It’ll definitely help us out financially, especially with everything going on in Tulsa.

Oh. I’m still going to the gym regularly. I guess I wasn’t blogging in January when we started, but we joined a gym January 20th, and I’m going three days a week ever since. I’ve missed more than a handful, but I’m pretty well set in my routine. I’ve only lost 9 pounds at best, but I’m definitely seeing improvements in my endurance and strength training, so hopefully I’ll see more weight loss in the coming months.

I think that gets you all caught up. I haven’t blogged any since November, but not a lot has happened, either. So there you go.