Tuesday, July 31, 2007
When we brought them home to him, he immediately pulled out his treasure box and began placing them into it. Then he started picking out his favorite rocks and pretending they were different food items. One looked like a plate and one was red like spaghetti sauce. One of his favorites was a beautiful chartreuse color and was shaped like a glass. He held it and played with it and pretended to drink from it.Yesterday at work, I was sitting at my desk, eagerly anticipating time to leave and go to the zoo with my family when I felt something poking me in my left butt cheek. I reached in my back pocket and pulled out the rock Luke had placed in there, unbeknownst to me. I immediately began to laugh/cry with joy at the beautiful little way my son said, “I love you, Daddy,” with his favorite rock.
Before I go any further, I need to make it known that I have never had a professional massage before. I am the sort of person who doesn’t particularly care to be touched by someone I don’t know. So, I felt a little weird about going in for something like this, even though my wife would be receiving the same treatment in the same room. Another item of note is the fact that I have an extremely high tolerance for pain, so I don’t feel things the way most people do and I have to be careful about how I do things since I will hurt myself and not realize it.
So, Friday morning we wake up refreshed, hit the free breakfast bar, and head out for our massages. We arrive, fill out forms explaining any ailments, medications, or recent surgeries (I noted my vasectomy on the sheet) and then waited a couple of minutes while the therapists prepared to work on us. We were almost immediately greeted by our therapists and taken back to a small, dimly-lit room with two massage tables. They looked comfy and soft. My therapist was a slightly overweight woman named Amber. Rachel was to have her muscles smooshed around by a bearded fellow by the name of Jim. They both smiled warmly and reassured us of their desire to make us feel comfortable. Then they told us to take off our clothes and left the room.
Rachel and I disrobed quickly and slid into the smooth warmth of the massage tables, face down. We both commented on how nice it was to use the face cradles and lie flat. It was very nice. Then, the therapists entered the room. New Age music was immediately audible at their entrance. It partly annoyed me at first, then relaxed me once I decided this was not the time to be anal about music.
Amber began. She squirted an odorless oily substance into her hands and began work on my back. The first touch was fine, but my initial reaction was to laugh because it tickled so much. Rachel had signed us up for a deep tissue massage instead of the more, circulation/relaxation driven Swedish massage. But, I wasn’t feeling the deep-tissue feeling I expected. However, being it was my first massage, I waited and let her continue.
Unfortunately, I found myself under a type of tickle torture I had never before experienced. Every touch was like a feather being dragged along my sensitive spine. At first, I tried to hold in the laughter. My body tensed and skook. Amber stopped, “Are you alright, Josh?” “Oh, sure. Fine. Feels great! I just feel like I want to make sounds.” “Oh, um, ok.” For the entire back portion of the massage, I held back my laughter: something I am not used to doing, ever.
Finally, she moved to my legs. My right leg was bared. She oiled her hands. The moment she made the first rub, I cackled, jerked, rolled. I couldn’t control myself. Laughter cascaded from me as urine from an ACPO member. Amber and Jim initially seemed confused, but Rachel’s laughter seemed to give them confidence that I was just like that. Finally, I told Amber that she needed to press harder and that she had been tickling me mercilessly the whole time. She apologized to the inadvertent torture and proceeded to press harder. She pressed as hard as she could for the rest of the massage. And I laughed as hard and long as I have laughed in a long time.
Afterward, we went to the front of the parlor to pay for the relaxation. The receptionist was smiling and asking what exactly we were doing back there. Everyone in the lobby had heard my laughter from the back of the place. I doubt I will get another massage for a long time. I enjoyed it, but I don’t think it was worth the money. I expected the therapeutic effects to last at least a week, but alas they lasted only the rest of that day. Not good enough for what we paid. But, the effects of the laughter on my spirit and the relaxation and buoyancy I felt may have been.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Thursday, July 26, 2007
I bought a large, bulky 35" Sanyo television. This was long before flat screens and wide screens and easily lift able televisions. The thing was massive, weighed a ton and because of the shape of the tube it was incredibly difficult to hold onto.
But it showed a wonderful picture and it was nice and big to look at. I loved it.
Well I loved it, until I had to move anyways, and then I cursed at its weighty bulkiness. My poor father in law has helped me move it half a dozen times and every time he threatens to drop it accidentally-on-purpose.
With the China move I decided to sell it. I was tired of moving it, we had no room to store it and I figured with the money we'd make over seas I could afford a new one when we got back.
I posted it on local boards and a few national internet places as well. I put the price low and promised I could go lower for the right story. As I am forgetful and lazy and a procrastinator, none of this happened until about three weeks before we had to move.
Desperate is the word.
About a week into it I got an odd phone call. The call was from a third party operator who told me he had someone on the other line who was making the call, but who was on a keyboard. This person would type something, and then the operator would read it to me. I then responded and the operator typed out what I said.
At the end of each statement I made I had to say "go ahead" as the signal that I was done talking.
Sounds easy enough, and it was, except I kept forgetting to say "go ahead" and there would be these long pauses interrupted by the operator asking if I was done. Or sometimes there would be a long pause where the other guy had expected more out of me and he would ask me if I was still there.
At the time I thought he was just using some internet dealie instead of calling, perhaps to save on long distance, but now I guess he was hearing impaired.
Still we agreed on a price, and we arranged to set up details via the e-mail.
I sent the pricing and instructions on how to deliver. And waited.
Just as I was getting perturbed, he e-mailed back. It sounded like all things were go, but to be honest the e-mail was so full of spelling and grammar mistakes, I wasn't sure what he was really saying. There was something about him needing to locate his shipper and something else about Western Union. To be honest again, it started to sound like a scam, but again it was so horribly written I couldn't be sure. I wound up replying that it was all ok and to simply let me know when he was ready.
More days passed and I sent another e-mail explaining I was leaving very soon and needed to get the sale completed by the next week. He e-mailed me saying he was sorry and that I would have the payment early the upcoming week. Again all the e-mails were poorly written and didn't make a lot of sense, but again I gave him the benefit of the doubt.
I got a few other responses but ignored them as I hoped this original one would come through.
About Wednesday I gave up and offered it to the church. After much discussion they arranged to have some stout fellas pick it up. We hobbled it down the stairway, nearly dropping it twice and I was finally done with the TV.
On Saturday, after we were already in Indiana I received an e-mail from dude asking me if I had received his payment. Suddenly his words were very clear and the deal he had tried to make with me was that I would cash his check and contact his shippers. For some reason he said he was unable to get his payment to the shippers in time so he sent "extra" to me. I was supposed to then go to Western Union and make the shippers payment via that service out of my own money - the payback was already in his check to me you see.
Scam city. I'm certain his check would have later bounced and he'd be walking away with my good payment to the shippers. I even suspect he would be the shipper and the whole weird phone call is so that I would not recognize his voice when he arrived for pick up.
I decided to not respond to his e-mail. The only things I could think of to say were rude, rude and socially unacceptable. As I had already given him information about me I didn't want to piss him off and make him do something harsh or illegal to my personage. There was also a small nagging part of me that thought maybe he was hard off and on the up and up and I didn't want to crush the poor guy.
He e-mailed me again the next day and I decided to write a polite letter explaining he was too late, that I had given it away, and that I would never pay his shippers as it sounded like a scam. Then I said don't contact me again.
He hasn't, but I still feel mad and dirty.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Back when my Granny was still alive and when I was much younger, she would bake me a homemade strawberry cake. Everything was homemade, right down to the strawberries that she grew herself (I fear memories like this will belong to fewer and fewer people as the years move on, but that's an entirely different blog.)
Granny never had a recipe for this cake. She never had a recipe for anything, but they always turned out wonderfully.
An aunt of mine managed to recreate Grannys strawberry cake and commit the recipe to paper. When I found this out, I asked for the recipe and we have had it for many years.
Larissa made said cake for me for my birthday. Sure, she didn't grow the strawberries, and the actual CAKE was from a box, but she did make the divinity icing from scratch.
Thought I would share the wonderful beauty of this cake!
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
However, whenever I read about the first war, in some ways it seems even more horrific, disgusting and hellish than the second.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Sunday, July 15, 2007
I now want to comment on that post, plus add a few of my own speculations to the pile. Obviously I have now read all six available books and I watched the Order of the Phoenix last night.
Harry Potter shall not die. Sipper speculates (and I'll not comment on the fact that this speculation was coming from a man who had not yet read the books and could have only seen the first four films at that time) that Harry will, and in fact must, die by the end of the last books. His main points are that Rowling is writing in the tradition of Tolkein and Lewis and that they both knew, and therefore Rowling must also know that the only way to end a great fantasy is to allow their characters to die or go to heaven.
Now I have not actually read any of the Narnia books all the way through, and I am only familiar with the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, so I cannot comment too much on him, but I have read the Lord of the Rings series.
However I must immediately differ in opinions with Mr. Sipper. In the famous Lewis book, it is true that the main character, the lion king Aslan dies. However, like Jesus he comes back to life to save the day by books end. I think it is safe to say that Harry won't be resurrected in these books as he is not the Jesus figure. Perhaps I am missing something from the other books, and feel free to argue that out with me.
In LOTR though, almost everyone lives. In fact there is a long prologue discussing the long lives they all live after Mordor is destroyed. I suspect the argument is that the elves and Gandalf, etc all go away into some mystical land that is really heaven. Good arguments can be made for that allusion, and I don't want to argue them, but I don't see this as a real death finishing off the characters, but a way for them to move on and have a happy ending. There is a lot more too that, but I'll leave it vague for now.
Mainly though I don't think Rowling is in the same league as Tolkein and Lewis. She simply isn't as good a writer. Tolkein was writing very serious literature in the vein of a fantasy novel. Lewis was writing religious allegory. Rowling is writing pop fantasy. It is good pop fantasy, but I wouldn't really elevate it to great literature status.
She writes for the reader, and her readers will revolt if Harry dies. And even though her readers now include millions of adults, her books have always been essentially for children. Death of Harry is a very big blow to the kids. Having him die in battle will bring no real victory for him, and though she makes mentions of ghosts and a vague afterlife, there has been no strong foretelling of a heaven like place as in LOTR.
The prophecy also essentially says that Harry and Voldemort must battle and that only one will live. That's a crummy prophecy if both of them wind up dying. No, I think Harry will live to see the end of the book. I will say he might wind up living a difficult, sorrowful life after much like Frodo. But I kind of doubt that too.
But this long diatribe isn't just about Harry, but some of his gang too.
Dumbeldore shall rise again. Rowling has stated she is a fan of Lewis and partially modeled on the Narnia books. Dumbledore is the obvious leader and is a God-like character so he is a good choice to rise from the dead. Although I've never seen any official acknowledgment, he has always reminded me of Gandalf, whom as we know also came back from a grave, of sorts.
Then there is the phoenix, Dumbeldore's pet bird. It constantly dies and is reborn in a bit of fire. Remember then Dumbeldore's funeral where a great big fire arose out of his grave and the bird also flew over. Seems like a good allusion to Dumbeldore coming back.
He was also very interested in learning all he could about Voldemort, and especially his ability to be reborn so to speak. I think Dumbeldore has learned that magic and will come back from the grave just as Harry most needs him.
Snape is totally a good guy. His killing of Dumbledore was not only intentional, but demanded by Dumbeldore himself. When you read the end of the sixth book it read as though Dumbeldore was surprised by Snape and was overpowered by him. But if you read it in the context of Dumbeldore wanting to die, then the conversation reads more like Dumbeldore demanding Snape kill him while Snape tries to get out of it.
Sirius, I think is dead for sure, but I suspect he will come back in some form. Maybe as a ghost who helps Harry out in some way, like giving information. Though he might be more like Yoda in Star Wars.
I'm also going to state for the record that Ginny is going to bite it. We need another main character death, but we've come to love the rest of the Weasleys too much. Ron and Hermione have to fall in love so they are out. But Harry and Ginny will become much closer, she will fight bravely but will get smited. That way we have another good death, Harry suffers even more, and the fans can still take it.
Well, that was long, and it was written in two sessions, so my apologies if it seems disjointed. Mainly I wanted to get some HP discussion going.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Friday, July 13, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
As our winter was mostly mild, and the thirty minutes was enough to keep the house relatively warm, and I'm not afraid of a bit of cold weather I never complained about it.
As it turned warm, however, we have learned out AC does not work either. In the Spring when we first needed to use the coolness of the air conditioner, we found that the unit wasn't really producing cold air. It was more like a perpetual fan. At first I didn't complain about this, because it wouldn't really bother me so much until night, and by then the office was closed. Then the next day would wind up being cooler and everything was OK.
Eventually there were several warm days in a row and I complained. Nothing really happened, but it would again get cooler and I would let it passed. This series - warm weather hitting, me complaining, nothing being done, cool weather - reoccurred several times over a couple of months.
Then it got very warm, and I complained a lot. Then the stories began coming. The maintenance man would look at it, adjust something and think he had it fixed. The problem was he would come on days that weren't too terribly hot and feel the air coming trough the vent and decide it was cool air, when in fact it was more like fan air.
It would get warmer, I'd complain more, he'd come back and adjust something else. This went on for a few weeks. Then he needed to order a part, but our units are so old finding parts are difficult. There were a lot of things said, and I won't flat out call them lies but in the end a lot of things didn't happen like they said they would.
Eventually the mystery part came and our air did work.
And by work I mean there was cool air, but it was weird. If I set the temperature gage at something normal, say 70 degrees, when the actual temperature arrived near that temperature, the pipes would freeze.
The only way the unit would work is if we ran it down at 50 degrees. Sweet cold air flowed. And flowed. And flowed. We would wake up in the middle of the night and it would be like 54 degrees inside. I worked out a system where I would run it like that then turn off the unit. It wouldn't get warm again until late in the afternoon the following day at which time I would crank it back down again.
This lasted maybe a month. One day the air was only semi-cool. It would get the temperature to about 72 degrees but no lower. Then the next day it was back to fan air again.
I complained everyday for a week and finally the maintenance came out and recharged the unit. It was cool for a day and then went back to fan air.
That was three weeks ago. Everyday I have complained since then. Everyday they tell me they will get it fixed.
It is currently 80 degrees in my apartment. This is cool to me now, as usually at this time it is close to 90 degrees. It rained today though, so it is a little cooler.
A few side notes:
The maintenance man is not certified. He likes to tinker with the units, but is not really qualified to fix them. Until yesterday they had never thought to call a qualified, certified HVAC person. The maintenance man also likes to take his time. If he says he'll be by in the morning we're lucky to see him the next day. He is horrible at communications too. He comes in, piddles with the switches then leaves for long stretches. He never tells us what he's doing.
He also doesn't tell the staff what he is doing, as they never, ever know.
The staff is incompetent. There are at least half a dozen girls working in the office. They work 9 in the morning to 8 at night, but there shifts are strange and interchangeable. They don't communicate together. So when one day I tell one girl the problem she will swear it will get fixed. To prove it she writes it down on a little pad. But then the next day I come to complain it isn't fixed another girl is sitting there and has no idea what I am talking about.
On and on it goes. At this point since I have been complaining every single day for three weeks a couple of the girls know me, and one of them remembers my problems, but the other one knows who I am but not my problem.
They all look at me like I'm crazy when I complain that it is freaking hot in my apartment.
The manager is certifiable. I'd guess she was in her 40s but it is hard to tell. She is full of wrinkles and her skin is full of leather. She is one of those ladies who spent her formative years fake baking in a tanning booth so that now her skin looks terrible. She is also one of those ladies who doesn't understand this concept.
I have never seen her in anything then a very short skirt with a top that squishes her breasts together and pokes them out. Today, I kid you not, her skirt was maybe 2 inches from her butt cheeks, it was see through enough to reveal her under garmets and I saw more leathery cleavage than I would ever wish upon a man.
Yesterday, a poor girl who I have only seen once before got a bit of my wrath. I demanded a real HVAC guy and she had to call the maintenance man twice. Promises were made that a real one would be here tomorrow at 2 in the pm.
It is currently five and no one has showed. Half an hour ago I saw the manager who had no idea what I was talking about. She was however, very concerned about her dog. She pointed me in the direction of the maintenance guy who was working on his truck. I had to go talk to him by myself. He promised the AC guy would be here today because, and I quote "he gets paid today."
When I asked him if he could make sure this man would check on my unit he gave a very vague response and then made an inside joke to his partner.
We are moving to Oklahoma soon. Our furniture is already moved out, but Amy needs to do some things at the library so she'll have materials for her dissertation. I'm ready to burn the place down and forget about it all.
Sorry for the long rant, but I'm super pissed but am such a weenie that I can't really curse the apartment people out.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
I no longer need an alarm clock anymore for I have a cat. Every morning anywhere from 6 to 8 in the am, my cat Thumbelina, decides it is time for me to get up. Her first measure of offense to get me out of bed is simple pouncing. She jumps up onto my bed, and then onto my body, usually with another jump.
If she is lucky this is met with a simple “umph” from myself, followed by a gentle swat to get her off of me.
If my wife is not so lucky, Thumbelina dodges my swat with a giant leap off of me and onto the wife’s belly. This is followed by a large “oooooowwwww!” from my wife and a not so gentle swat to the cat.
This usually gets rid of the cat for ten minutes or so.
Just like a snooze alarm, she comes back for more.
Often the jumping/swatting routine is repeated several times. As I ease into awaked-ness I am less likely to swat the cat away as to simply let her be. What this means for the cat is that she begins to crawl across my body.
I am typically a side sleeper, as sleeping on my belly isn’t comfortable and sleeping on my back makes me snore and gives me nightmares. So, the cat tends to start somewhere near my middle, crawling across my hips onto my ribcage and sometimes up to my shoulders. Most of this is quite uncomfortable and eventually I make the roll over to get her off which usually makes Thumbelina jump onto Amy again and we start the snooze process all over again.
After all of this Thumbelina still has one more move to get me out of bed. She no longer tries to walk on me to get me up, but rather nuzzles up beside me. Take this morning for example – after jumping on me a time or two she crept up towards my hands and gently bumped them with her head.
Thumbelina is very much a lap-cat and when she cannot find a lap on which to cuddle, she rubs her head gently upon a part of my body. While lying in bed early this morning, this is exactly what she did to my hand – with a little nasty addendum.
She nuzzles the hand briefly as if to let me know she means no harm, and then she brings out the claws. Internally I’m thinking – oh how nice a little head but to let me know she loves me – and then she scratches the crap out of me.
Actually it isn’t too bad a scratch as more of a letting me know she can get violent if I don’t get up soon. Like a trained killer she doesn’t scratch my skin to leave any evidence, but gives me just enough pain to give me a warning.
This garners a pretty big swat. But she isn’t through. Oh no, if I am still not up she comes back with more head cuddles and menacing scratches.
At this point I either throw her out of the room and shut the door (knowing full well she will only scratch at the door) or I actually get up and feed her or let her outside or do whatever it is she wants.
She’s a crafty one that cat of mine.