Thursday, May 31, 2007

Day 99 - 05/30/2007

Woke up at 513a to get ready to go fishing on the Bay w/ Larry, Lenny and Jack. This is probably the 10th or so time we've gone out and we've never caught anything (other than a crab on the line here and there). Sure enough, today was no different. (Actually, we didn't even catch a crab in the pots we threw out on the way out of the marina.) We were out about 6 hours and had nary a bite. Larry did catch a jellyfish, but that really didn't count as that's like catching seaweed. On the way back in, we saw a dozen or so skates just below the surface. Unfortunately, all the gear had already been put away, otherwise we'd have tried to catch them.

I got home about 330p and checked in with work. I was able to finish up everything that had accumulated over the course of the day with regards to e-mails and development items. After finishing work, I showered, ate dinner (D and the kids had already eaten) and, when D and N got back from running their errands, N and I went out for a bike ride.

During our ride, we passed by a couple of azalea bushes that were left for the garbage men. Seeing as we've got some empty space in the backyard along the deck that needs some filling in, I made a mental note of their location in anticipation of picking them up later. After the kids were in bed (and darkness had set in, as I didn't want to be seen picking through other peeps' trash), I went out and picked them up. $60 saved! Now all I have to do is plant them. Hopefully I'll be able to get that done Thursday (probably not due to N's t-ball game) or Friday. Nothing like good roadkill! (No, not that kind of roadkill. My kind of roadkill is when you find something useful on the side of the road and take it home with you.)

I then settled in for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup. It was a pretty good game, with both teams getting a flurry of scoring chances. Overall I think the Ducks played better (especially when killing the power play), but when I turned it off after the second period, it was still scoreless. Normally I'd stay up and watch the entire game, bedtime be damned, but since I was up before the crack of dawn and had a long day in the sun, I was pretty beat. I hit the sack and was asleep in no time.

Day 98 - 05/29/2007

I dragged into work after the long weekend. Definitely didn't want to be there (do I ever?), but today I'd much rather have been in bed. Not much going on in-between the cycles. I've got a few issues I need to wrap up, but nothing pressing. Of course, right as I was about to leave, I got a message from a customer that they were encountering errors when conducting an upgrade. I was able to quickly provide a suggested solution to identify the problem (or at least allow them to continue the upgrade) and was able to leave with a clear conscious (knowing I'd be out on Wednesday). We'll see what happens when I return on Thursday.

I picked N up from school so D could get her massage. I had gotten her a gift certificate for her a few years ago and she never took advantage of it until now. We headed home and ate lunch together: I had a ham and cheese bagel (everything...yum!) with fruit salad and he had (what else?) a peanut butter bagel. After lunch we plopped ourselves down on the couch and watched Planet Earth (Caves) on Tivo. He had started watching it previously and I'd heard good things about it (well, about some of it, the part about the bat guano and the roaches wasn't all that exciting, especially right after lunch).

After work, I stopped by Total Wine for beverages for the fishing trip. Since this was supposed to have been Larry's "birthday" trip, I picked up some Young's Double Chocolate Stout. I'm pretty sure he'll enjoy them (and if he doesn't, I'm sure I will!). I also picked up some other items for the trip and when I went to check out, the clerk didn't charge me for the Amstel Light; thanks, dude!

On the mundane front, I was in bed about 920p and probably out by 940p in order to get a fair amount of sleep before having to wakeup at 515a for fishing on Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Day 97 - 05/28/2007

Prior to heading down to Fredericksburg to pick up the kids, we swung by Merrifield to take another look at their trellises. We didn't see any we liked, so we went back to Betty's for another look at theirs and ended up buying a couple more (I'll have to return the ones in the garage to Lowe's at some point as we won't be using them anymore.) They're pretty tall, so we had to take them back home before finally getting back on the road to Fred.

On the way back, we stopped by Springfield to have a quick visit with my mom and Rudy. They were having a party for him, but we had other plans so our visit was a quick one. After getting home, M and I went to the pool for a while, while D and N stayed home. N was pretty much fried after the weekend and going to the pool probably wasn't the best thing for him to be doing.

For dinner we had the traditional Memorial Day fare of pizza. Yes, I realize we're supposed to have burgers and dogs and potato salad and pasta salad and fruit salad and chips and dip and whatnot, but I was at the pool and D just didn't feel like heading back to the store. I don't blame her one bit. Whenever we head down to Fred and back again the same day, the last thing I want to be doing is sitting in the car again. Add to that the fact that (more than likely) the stock at the store was probably low due to the holiday and there's even more of a reason to exercise your digits and order pizza. After dinner the kids got washed up and I read them a chapter from Narnia. I wanted to get them to bed at a somewhat decent hour, what with them being up late over the weekend (M until midnight on Sunday!), so I only read them one chapter.

After getting them to bed, D and I settled into the couch to finish watching Lawrence of Arabia. Her outlook of it didn't change between the first three hours and the last hour.

Finally, with the movie over, I tuned in to Vs. to catch game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals. It was such a long break between the conference finals and the Stanley Cup that I thought I had missed the first game. Fortunately I didn't. I used the power of Tivo to flip between the game and The Sopranos (since we don't get HBO, I'm watching from the beginning on A&E). Finally, around 1130p, I called it quits and hit the sack. I should have hit the sack sooner, but I just didn't want the weekend to end.

Day 96 - 05/27/2007

Since I wasn't able to get in a run yesterday (no, the six mile hike didn't count, although one would think it would have, right? Wrong.), I got up early (well, earlier than D did) and went out for a run. I duplicated the route from last Wednesday when my Forerunner ran out of juice. It turns out that route is just a hair under four miles and took about 40 minutes to complete. (For the record, I walked the first and last 4/10 of a mile in just about 10 minutes.) It was getting pretty humid, so I ended up taking it slower than I had hoped.

After getting back, I took advantage of being sweaty and did some light yard work. This constituted putting the planter boxes back on the rails of the deck and trimmed one of the bushes so that one of the hanging baskets could be seen. Trivial, yes, but it's something I did so I figure I'd add it.

Afterwards, I cleaned up and D and I headed to Mass at 1230p. After Mass, we came home, grabbed a quick bite to eat and went out rose shopping. We ended up getting two White Eden rose bushes to plant on either side of the front door. We also got two trellises to train the roses against, but after putting them in the ground, we found we needed something at least 8' in height (vs. 6' that we got) so that they stand out against the house. At the same time we planted the roses, I transplanted the lilies to an empty space near the driveway. I was just able to finish this when it started raining.

I showered (again) and we enjoyed a (somewhat) light dinner of cheese and crackers, apples, nuts and fruit salad (as well as a green salad for me). After last night's gorging at dinner, neither one of us were all that hungry. After dinner, we started watching Lawrence of Arabia. I had seen it before, but D hadn't. I've been wanting to watch it again and suggested it to her. It won an Oscar for Best Picture in 1962 (as well as some others) and, while it was a good movie (from a cinematic viewpoint), I don't think it was a great movie from a storytelling viewpoint. It did very little to explain to us who Lawrence was or why he loved the desert enough to "go native" (as it were). Only after seeking out more on Lawrence on the web was I able to get a better understanding of who this person was. That being said, had we been watching the movie in 1962, the viewing audience probably had a better idea of who he was and what he accomplished than the viewer does some 40+ years later. Had the movie been released today, unless they cut some of the cinematography and replaced them with actual background on the character, the audience would be left scratching their heads.

Day 95 - 05/26/2007

With the kids out of the house, D and I enjoyed a quiet morning and both of us slept in. Until 830a. (Sorry, but the days of sleeping until the afternoon have long since gone by the wayside.) Taking advantage of the quiet morning, we enjoyed our breakfast and got ready to face the day.

I finished staining the deck. The spindles were around the bench is all I had left to do, but spindles are detail work and it took a lot longer than I had anticipated. Once done, though, I won't have to do it again for a few years. I'll have to do the horizontal boards sooner, but the spindles are good for a good while.

After finishing the deck, we headed out to Bull Run Park to hike part of the Bull Run-Occoquan trail. I discovered this trail only recently and have been itching to hike it (or, as the case may be, part of it). The 18+ mile trail runs pretty much along the southern border of Fairfax County; from Bull Run in the Northwest to just past Fountainhead in the southeast. One day I'd like to hike the entire length of it, but today we settled on a three mile section of it (an out and back from Bull Run). We left the parking lot around 1130a and made pretty good time. We stopped here and there for snacks and drinks, but for the most part, kept our feet moving. We turned back just past where Route 28 passes over Bull Run and retraced our route back to the car. Well, we thought we were retracing our route.

After crossing Cub Run, we failed to turn back on the trail; instead we followed a different trail for about 1/2 mile before I realized our mistake. I had been using my Forerunner to track our progress and wanted to see how well the return route compared with the outbound route. It was off...waaaaay off. We decided to keep on the trail we were on vs. backtracking again to the correct trail and we came out on the access road. Using the breadcrumb screen, we made our way in the general direction of the starting point and finally got back to the car. When we did, the distance was marked at 5.96 miles. Since we had lost signal a few times, I'll call it a flat six miles. Both of us were ready to sit down and we headed home to shower and cleanup before heading out for dinner.

We had originally planned on going to Coastal Flats, but on a whim we decided to hit The Melting Pot over in Reston. Both of us had been meaning to try it so I gave them a call for a reservation. There were two available: 515p and 830p. Since 830p would have us coming home at a pretty late hour feeling pretty good, we decided on the 515p reservation. Sure, it was early, but that way we could still take in a movie afterwards. (We ended up renting Casino Royale vs. going to one in a theatre as nothing was out that floated our boat.) It was our first attempt at fondue in a restaurant setting. I thought it was alright, but definitely not worth the price we paid. I'm not sure, but I just got the impression we were eating at a Ruby Tuesday's or some other corporate chain establishment (which, I found out, is what this is). After the fact, I wish we had gone to Coastal Flats. Even though we go there every now and again, the food is excellent, the service is top notch and the beverages are freshly brewed.

As for the movie, D didn't like it although I thought it was a good far as Bond movies go. What I did like about it was how it told the story behind how Bond became Bond, from the Aston Martin to his lack of a preference for his martinis to be shaken or stirred to his choice in Bond girl.

For the first time in I don't know how many years, I had one of those candy necklaces. (You know the type -- where you bite the pieces of candy off the elastic.)

Day 94 - 05/25/2007

With D dropping the kids off in Fredericksburg today, I was free to ride my bike to work. Traffic was pretty light coming in, but it took over 30 minutes anyway as I got caught at three of the longer lights on the way in. I was cruising along Stonecroft, just past the UPS facility and a lawn care truck pulled out in front of me. Not too big of a problem, except for the filth it was belching from its exhaust pipe. At first this didn't bother me as he had moved to the left lane. But as he got farther ahead of me, the fumes were able to waft into my lane, causing me to slow down so as not to draw the fumes deep into my lungs. This is the only thing I don't like about riding my bike to work: the exhaust fumes. After arriving at the office, I hit the gym, worked out, showered and went back to the office for a full (not really) day of work.

I left around 4p and the ride home was clean sailing the whole way. Even on Stonecroft there was no one on the road (where there's usually a 1/2 mile long backup of cars waiting to turn onto Poplar Tree).

After getting home, I mowed the yard as I didn't feel like doing so in the morning. I really should lower the bladed a notch, as it wasn't really noticeable that I had mowed (although everything was neater, it just wasn't short enough). I'll have to make a mental note to lower it next week.

After finishing the yard, I showered and D and I went back and forth about what we should do for dinner. We're planning on going out tomorrow night as well, so we didn't want to go fancy tonight (fancy being anything more than $20). We ultimately ended up hitting a new hole-in-the-wall place by Lowe's. It was alright, but nothing to write home about. I was turned on to it by some of my work colleagues who go there for lunch. I should have known it wouldn't be all that as they also go to Applebees for lunch.

The nice thing about it was that we got it to go and we ate on the deck. It was nice and quiet and the bugs weren't bothersome. Other than the quality of the food (which really wasn't that bad, it just wasn't anything to write home about, but I believe I just told you that), there were no complaints: the company was great and the atmosphere was just as good.

After dinner, we watched the Lost season finale. I don't think it was as good as last year's season finale (I didn't like the way they had the flash-forward), but it was far and away better than the first six episodes (as a whole). Afterwards, we hit the sack in anticipation of being able to sleep in tomorrow without the kids waking us up to watch a show.

Day 93 - 05/24/2007

I got home from work just in time to turn around and head out to N's game. We loaded into the car and fought traffic to get there by 545p. Unfortunately, traffic fought back and we didn't get there until just before 6p (when the game was supposed to have started). No one was there. Not a single Marlin could be found. Uh-oh, wrong field. I called Mike to find out where the game was (Poplar Tree Park?) and to let him know we'd be late.

"We don't have a game tonight."

"We don't?"

"No. Or do we?" This time Mike wasn't so sure in his response. He checked his schedule and, sure enough, he was right. No game, just practice.

I took D and the kids home for N to change, turned around and headed back to Oak Hill for practice. This time D stayed at home for some quiet time while the kids and I were out of the house. (As it turned out, we had been looking at the wrong week. The game's on Thursday start next week.) We made it back to practice just as warmups were ended and had a good practice. After practice, we headed home, where the kids got ready for bed.

Since the kids are heading to Fredericksburg tomorrow and wouldn't get any Narnia for the next few days, I went ahead read them a chapter, even though it was pretty late by the time they finished getting ready for bed. They wanted to get two chapters, but since they had two last night (and it was getting late at this point), I declined.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Day 92 - 05/23/2007

We were supposed to go to a customer site on 05/24, but, as of 430p this afternoon, it doesn't look like that's going to happen. As a condition of our visit, the on-site person was supposed to have run some jobs (that take up to 10 hours to complete). I sent the files necessary to run the job 10 days ago and he's just now getting around to run them. (We've had this on the calendar for the past 10 days.) So, more than likely, the visit won't take place (not that I was expecting it to take place...the track record of this guy just doesn't support it).

After work I continued to work on the deck. Right now I'm about 2/3 of the way done w/ the railing and spindles (which is the bulk of the work as it's somewhat detailed -- vs. the floor where all you need to do is spray it on and roll it off). Hopefully I'll have this wrapped up by the weekend so I can check it off my task list. That being said, even though it's not done yet, the deck looks much better than it did before I started staining it. (The previous owner didn't believe in washing the deck, only applying a clear seal every year, which caused it to turn a dingy gray over the years.)

Since the kids were ready for bed earlier than usual, I went ahead and read them two chapters from Narnia. We're approaching the last chapters and, like with most books, the closer you get to the end, the more you want to finish it. Actually, I'm really looking forward to getting the book done with so we can watch the movies. (D bought the box set from the BBC.) M has already seen the most recent version of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, but I'm guessing that'll be a bit violent for N. Although I edited the book as I've read it (e.g., changing "to kill" into "to take" and "ass" to "donkey"), for the most part, I've ready it pretty much as written. I think that while N is only five, having the story read to him and letting him use his imagination to fill in the pictures is much less intense than having the battle scenes and the violence that will accompany them plastered on the screen.

I'll finish this post off with a little joke to brighten your day:

There was a guy who loved fish and chips so much that he decided to take a tour of England, documenting the best places to find fish and chips. Once the tour was over, he would publish his findings as a travel guide.

He drove all over England, eating fish and chips and taking copious amounts of notes. One day, nearing the end of his trip, he stopped in a pub in a small town and shared his story with some of his fellow patrons. All agreed that for the best fish and chips, he should go to the monastery just outside town. They served the best fish and chips in all of England.

The next day, the guy headed out to the monastery and knocked on the front door. When the abbot answered, the man explained the purpose for his visit and was immediately invited in for a meal. The abbot seated him at their dining table and told him he'd be back shortly.

After 10-15 minutes, the abbot returned with a large plate of fish and chips. He served the man and when he tried them, he had to agree with the folks in the pub: These were the best fish and chips in all of England. Wanting to express his enthusiasm with the cook, he insisted that he meet whoever was responsible for the meal.

The abbot went back into the kitchen and a couple minutes later came out with another man of the cloth.

"These are the best fish and chips I've ever tasted," the man exclaimed to the cook. "And I've tasted quite a bit on the travels throughout England! You should be proud of yourself!"

"Oh, I can't take all the credit," the cook responded, "I didn't cook the entire meal."

"Well, then, where is your partner?" the writer asked.

"Right here," the monk answered, pointing to the abbot. "He's the fish friar, and I'm the chip monk."


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Day 91 - 05/22/2007

D had computers (for the last time this year) this morning, so I rode my bike to work. The weather was much better than last Friday in that it was dry, but still a little cool (~55°) so I wore a long sleeve shirt). Traffic was light and I was able to make the light at 50 without having to wait the entire cycle. By the time I got to the gym and gave D her wake up call, she had already been roused out of bed by Mrs. Jardine asking whether she could sub today. However, with her already on the hook for computers and still not feeling that hot, she declined.

I hit the gym and got in a good workout. I had to wait a little for the Smith machine, but did leg extensions while I waited, so it wasn't like I wasn't doing anything. That's the problem with my gym: It's too small and has too little equipment. Of course, the positives outweigh the negatives, so I guess I'll keep going to it. It's located right across the parking lot from my office building, is somewhat cheap and hardly ever crowded. The times when I can't change and get the equipment I want are few and far between. I guess those few times when I do have to wait I'll just have to make do with something else. If it ever started so that waiting was becoming the norm, I'd reconsider, but having the ability to shower after riding in is something that will probably keep me a member.

Work was work and not much to report there. I stayed in for lunch and left around 445p so I could beat the 5 o'clock rush out the door. The ride home was as uneventful as the ride in, and again I didn't have to wait for the light at 50. When I got to the intersection, I was barely able to put my foot down when the light turned green. If only it could be like that every time I ride to work! (The intersection at 50 is the primary bottleneck to my commute when I ride in that can add up to four minutes to my commute.)

When I got home, we foraged for dinner (sandwich and fruit salad for me) before I hit the deck to continue staining/sealing it. I've pretty much finished the horizontal surfaces; all that remains are the vertical surfaces. Unfortunately, we have a lot of spindles on our deck, so this takes almost as much time (if not more) as the horizontal surfaces took. I was able to finish 1/3 of the spindles before I had to call it quits for the night. It was getting late and I promised the kids I'd read them Narnia since it's been a while since I've been able to do so.

We're currently reading "The Last Battle" which is the last book of the series. I'm interested in seeing how the end of the series will come about as I'm wondering if Aslan will end the world or have a "second-coming" type of event. There have been articles and dissertations written outlining how that the series contains allegories to Christianity, but, aside from a few similarities here and there that are evident to anyone who has the slightest idea about the basis of Christianity, it doesn't jump right out at you. I guess if I knew more about the stories of the Bible and had the time to compare the two in detail, there might be something to it, but for now, I'll take the books at face value for what they are: works of fantasy fiction that outline the never-ending story of good vs. evil. Of course, now that I've searched for links to this topic, I must say, there's quite a few of them, so maybe I'll have to rethink my thought and study this in a little more detail before I make up my mind so decisively.

That being said (and as I've said before and as I'll more than likely say again), I'm glad that M decided not to read them as reading them to the kids has been very enjoyable, as well as rewarding, not only for me, but for them as well. (It also provides some quiet time for D while I read, so I'm sure she enjoys it as well.) I'm not sure N enjoys it as much as M does, but every now and then, he surprises me with comments that make me believe he's actually paying attention (vs. "reading" one of his train catalogs).

After the kids were in bed, D and I watched the two episodes of Heroes we had on Tivo. More and more I've come to see this show as nothing but fluff. The storyline is interesting, but there's no mystery, no edge-of-your-seat drama like Lost. Some of the scenes from tonight were questionable, such as the van transporting Ted or the final battle" in Kirby Plaza. I'm not sure if I'll continue watching next season. I guess I'll have to wait to see where they'll take this (and who will be next year's villain). If I did stop watching, there'd be one less show to tie up my schedule, maybe I could use that time to practice my guitar more!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Day 90 - 05/21/2007

I had a follow up appointment with Dr. Carter today. When I went back for my follow up blood test, he did a CBC and found my cholesterol levels to be in the unhealthy range (but not so much that they'd prescribe meds to control them). So, with that in mind, he wanted to retest the cholesterol levels and see whether it was a fluke or whether this was something we'll need to start monitoring.

So I went there for the appointment and had my blood redrawn. I imagine that it will be somewhat lower than it was before (137) as I've adjusted my diet somewhat: I've stopped having my nightly bowl of ice cream and have been trying to have a bowl of heart-healthy cereal on a daily basis. I imagine the ice cream wasn't doing much for my health anyway (well, physically speaking; it always does wonders for me emotionally). Actually, I was quite surprised by my blood pressure reading. It was 106/64. I'm not sure how low that is, but the doc didn't make any fuss over it (the nurse sure did though). I'm not sure if it was due to me fasting or whether I've just got super-low blood pressure. Oh well, I guess that's better than the alternative, right!

After the appointment, I stopped by the house to pick up the external hard drive. It was still in the office, attached to the computer and as I was disconnecting it, I noticed a large brown spot through the shutters in the office. I went to the window for a closer look and saw three deer (a doe and two fawns). They were helping themselves to the bird seed in the travel plaza and, more importantly, were ignoring the flowers I had planted on Sunday. The mother smelled them, but passed them by for a mouthful of leaves from a nearby plant. Phew. I'm glad that happened. I wouldn't have been very happy to see her eating $12 worth of flowers I had just planted. (I wonder if Lowe's offers refunds on plants that have been eaten by deer? Hmmmmmmmm....)

After getting to the office (my work office, not my home office), I barely had enough time to sit down before my dad called. We were scheduled to go out to lunch today and he just wanted to know he'd be early. I told him I'd head out early as well and hung up.

We've been having lunch for the past few years on a somewhat monthly basis. We've worked out a system so that he pays for lunch during the even months (e.g., February, April, June, etc.) and I pay for lunch during the odd months (e.g., January, March, May, etc.). I'm not sure how it got started this way, but it's easy to remember whose turn it is to pay as my birthday is in February (an even month) and his is in January (an odd month). Some would call this a little extreme, but it works for us. I look forward to the monthly lunches. It gets me out of the office, as well as provides us with some one-on-one time to talk about whatever's going on in the world. While we usually don't have any huge earth shattering discussions, it's refreshing to be able to pretty much talk about whatever is on our minds. It also allows us to hit up different spots. We have our circuit of restaurants that we go to, but every now and again we'll try something new. Like we did today.

El Portalito is a new place that just opened where Taj Palace used to be (which was where Golden Palace used to be). The location isn't that great (as evidenced by the revolving door of restaurants in the same space), so I'm not sure how long this one will last. As you can imagine, the food was Latin (I won't say Mexican as I think it was more Central American influenced vs. Tex-Mex/Southwest) and seemed to target the natives of that area vs. the gringo population. We walked in and the place was empty save for the waitress standing behind the bar and what appeared to be the manager in the office. Both of them looked at us as if we were invading their space and didn't belong.

We sat down and were handed the menus. Nothing on the menu appealed to me that much. I was in the mood for some enchiladas or tamales, but the only thing remotely close were the burritos (chicken and beef). My second choice would have been some carnitas, but this was missing from the menu as well. I settled for the carne asada and, while I wasn't disappointed in the steak itself, the beans tasted like they came straight from an Old El Paso can.

After the waitress took our order and walked back towards the bar area, my dad commented that she forgot to get dressed that morning (she's probably taking life a little too easy). He had a point in that she was wearing a spaghetti-strap halter top w/ a jeans mini-skirt on (partially covered up with an apron). I didn't pay it much attention, but when the other waitress came on duty, she, too, was dressed somewhat scantily (well, for being a waitress, at least). The second was wearing a mini-skirt as well (smaller than the first one) with thigh-high stockings and a t-shirt that was somewhat form-fitting. I can only imagine their outfits are for the benefit of the afternoon clientele who come in to relax after a hard day at work. Either that or this place is a cover for a bawdy house. I haven't decided which yet.

As we ate our lunch, the music on the jukebox kept on starting and stopping. I thought at first they were playing the music for a song and then stopping it for some reason. I then found out there was a jukebox and it was on a timer. Regardless, it was annoying to go from dead silence to mariachi music in the blink of an eye.

We finished our meals, got the check and left. I don't think I'll be heading back there anytime soon. While the steak was good, the menu was limited and on the expensive side for lunch (most items were $10 and over).

Day 89 - 05/20/2007

Got a call from my mom bright and early that Rudy's party was being postponed until a later date. He took a fall Saturday evening and ended up with a concussion and had to go to the emergency room where he got some stitches. Apparently he lost his balance in the hallway and fell down, hitting his head against the wall. Hopefully he'll recover quickly and he'll be back to his old self. Right now, the party is scheduled for next weekend. Unfortunately, we won't be able to make it as we'll be out of town.

So, with the afternoon suddenly freed up, we no longer have to worry about making it to 1045a Mass. Instead, I suggested to M and N that we go for the bike ride we were supposed to go on yesterday (but were unable to due to everything else we squeezed in). M was excited about it, but N was not. He ran up to his room and started crying. After a few minutes of trying to calm him down, I was able to talk him into going. The three of us got ready to go, prepped our bikes and hit the road. I had planned on taking them to the end of the trail (by Fairfax County Parkway), but this changed not 10 minutes into the ride.

"Can we stop at the playground?" asked M.

"No, let's keep going." I replied. "Maybe we can stop on the way home."

"But my legs are tired!" cried M.

"We haven't even been riding for 10 minutes, M, your legs aren't tired."

Cry moan fuss.

Great, it's already started. I tried to calm her down, but it was no use. It continued for the rest of the ride. Finally, it got to a point where I couldn't take it anymore, so I told her that if she complained one more time, she'd spend the day in her room. That did the trick. She sped off ahead of N and I (who was enjoying himself to no end) and stayed ahead of us for the rest of the way home, save for when she stopped to wait for us before crossing Stringfellow. She finally acknowledged what was wrong with her behavior, but not until I had to talk it over with her. I tried to explain that we were out for a bike ride and that I was going to stop at the playground near Greenbriar Pool. However, since she started pouting, crying and generally acting like a pill once she didn't get her way, there was no way I was going to reward that behavior (that and the fact that we had to get back for 1230p Mass). I guess the discussion we had the other day just didn't sink in.

We finally got home and we all got ready for Mass. During Mass, M sat next to me and tried to make up for her behavior earlier by holding my hand, sitting as close as possible, etc. I find it hard to hold what could be called a grudge against her for too long, especially since she's still only eight and doesn't quite get it just yet. Well, that and the fact that she's my daughter and that tops everything. While I don't like her behavior at times, there's never a time when I don't love her.

One of the announcements that Father made at the end of Mass was to not forget to get the weekly bulletin -- it contained lots of interesting reading materials! That got a chuckle from the congregation and it seemed lots of people took him up on his advice, including us (not that we don't get a weekly bulletin anyway). Reading it in the car waiting to exit the parking lot, I noticed a blurb by Fr. Beres announcing that he was giving away an HO scale train set. That would be right up N's alley, seeing as he pretty much lives and breathes trains. (After calling him the next day, I found out that someone had already claimed it. The called Sunday morning. It was already gone by the time we read the announcement.)

When we got home, I changed, ate my lunch and N and I took a trip to Lowe's (after another tantrum by M, this time over her lost government project). I wanted to get another hanging basket for the deck, as well as another shepherd's crook from which to hang the flowers. While we were there, I decided to get a few perennial flowers for the backyard to plant along the tree line. I picked out some Jethro Tull Tickseed for their bright color and am hoping they're deer resistant. (I later found out they are when a family of deer made their way through the backyard, stopping briefly by the plants, but passing them by for other greenery) N, seeing that I was picking out a plant, also wanted to pick out a plant of his own, so he picked one out too. His isn't nearly as colorful (at least at the moment), but we'll find out in time I suppose. After very little debate, he decided to pick out a Palace Purple Coral Bell (actually, I tried to offer alternatives from the flowering perennials, but he wouldn't change his mind).

On the way out to the parking lot, N saw a plane landing at Dulles and asked if we could go to the airport. Since Dulles is only 10 minutes up the road (and we had nothing better to do the rest of the afternoon), I pulled out of the parking lot and headed towards the airport. After leaving 28, I found the toll road was a parking lot. Typically I'll make a few passes around the arrival/departure circle and then call it a day, but with the traffic, we were only able to make one pass. On the way back to 28, I decided to make a detour to see what the general aviation terminal held in store. Boy, were we in luck. No only could we see the planes (sort of) up close, we also saw two "Army" planes (I say "Army" as that's what N calls them because they had a camouflage paint scheme). Turning around, we made our way back to 28 and headed home. On a whim, I stopped off at the Air and Space Museum to see if we could see any planes landing up close and personal. (The entrance to the museum takes you just past the end of runway R36, so the planes are pretty low.) We didn't see any planes landing on the way in, so on the way back out, we paused for about 10 minutes at a stop sign and watched 4-5 smaller planes land. We rolled down the windows to hear the roar of the engines as the planes made their way towards the end of their flight.

On the way home we saw a few Canada geese goslings on the exit ramp to Westfield Boulevard. N was quite impressed with them (and even mentioned them later on at dinner). All in all it was a great outing. It's not that we did anything exciting, but just sharing in the wonders of the world around us made it all the more memorable.

When we got home, I planted the flowers, as well as N's plant before starting dinner. Since we were originally supposed to have gone to my mom's for dinner for Rudy's birthday, I didn't shop for anything for Sunday dinner. Once those plans were changed, I decided I was going to make dinner with what we had, regardless of what that was. As it turned out, there were a couple of steaks in the freezer from Christmas, as well as some stuffed baked potatoes (both thanks to D's brother). I cooked these, added some fruit salad and D made some corn on the cob. It was a good dinner for all (except for N, who had his standard CN, FF & K -- chicken nuggets, French fries and ketchup if you must know).

After dinner, since it was still somewhat early, I suggested a family bike ride. I meant it to be a quick trip around the block, but M had other plans. She was determined to make it to a playground and since she couldn't earlier, I agreed with her on this trip. Making the turn, however, N hit a rut and lost control of his bike. He wiped out and re-skinned his knee (the same one he skinned earlier when he imitated Jimmy and tried to ride his bike without hands while clapping at the same time). Not to worry, though, this is N. After hugs from D and I, he was back up and on his bike in no time. As I said earlier, he's not easily injured and, when he does wreck, will almost always get right back on and keep on going. This will probably give me an ulcer from worrying about him, but I guess that's what parents have to do as their children grow up and learn to navigate the world around them.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Day 88 - 05/19/2007

N had a 9a T-Ball game and M had a 9a softball game. He and I rode our bikes to the fields, but D had to drive M as hers was farther away. As usual, N and I were one of the first ones there. As the season progresses, it seems the players are showing up closer and closer to actual game time. This week one of the trouble players (e.g., zero attention span, always fielding the ball regardless of where he's playing and where it was hit, etc.) wasn't there, so I was somewhat happy about that. I'm sure he's a good kid, but he causes too many disruptions with the other players in that he's always tempting them to goof off. There's a couple more on the team like that (N included at times), but for the most part, they're a good bunch of kids. Their hitting is coming along nicely and since I've been in charge of batting the better part of the season, it makes me feel good to see them getting better. Now if only they could get better on the field, we'd have ourselves a pretty good team out there!

After we got back from the game, I mowed the lawn. I mowed it last Friday and wanted to do it sometime during the week, but just didn't have time. With practice on Thursdays for the next month or so, it looks like it'll have to be Wednesdays or Saturdays (unless I break down and do it Friday, which I'd rather not do as that's supposed to be family night). After mowing the yard (which included trimming), I started a few 'round the house projects, including potting a couple of the leftover begonias, cleaning out the garage, getting the backyard hose out for watering purposes, etc. I finally finished up around 4p and went inside to get washed up and ready for M's piano recital. I passed the time by fiddling around on my guitar (which I've been doing more and more of lately).

I got my guitar for Christmas one year when I was in college. I believe it was either my freshman or sophomore year (or maybe it was in high school -- I don't really recall when). It's a steel string acoustic model from Morris guitars. I'm not sure where they rate on the grand scheme of things, but for what I use it for, it's good enough for me. I've toyed with the idea of getting an electric guitar (or a nylon-stringed acoustic), but have never followed through as I can't justify it based on my playing ability. Ever since I've had it, I've gone through fits and starts in trying to teach myself how to play. I've never taken private lessons (e.g., one-on-one), although I did take a group lesson in a classroom setting one summer (via Fairfax County's adult education offerings). I learned somethings from that course, but not enough to get me farther than I already was. (I also think I wasn't practicing as much as I should have.) One of the things I've never been able to master is chords. I can read sheet music and play a song based on what the notes are, but only as individual notes. With this in mind, I've never really branched out and attempted to play songs as they were meant to be played (e.g., using both chords and individual notes...or so I would imagine). D likens my playing style to pluck-pluck-plucking and (at times) I would have to agree with her. Over the past year I've been trying to focus on learning different chords so I could actually play "popular" songs. Like previous attempts, this has gone in starts and stops, but for the past few weeks, I've been more committed. Each night when I get home I'll sit down for a few minutes and play a few songs, or repeat a few chord progressions. Little by little I've been seeing improvement. While I still can't play much more than Clementine, I'm seeing positive progress, so that keeps me going.

So, like I said, while waiting to leave for M's recital, I fiddled around on the guitar.

As with the previous recitals, this one was held at the teacher's church. The room she has for the recital has nine tables (with three seats at each table) that seat 27 people somewhat comfortably. At the back of the room there are folding chairs for the overflow. It's typically standing room only, but for the most part, everyone is in the room. This time, however, not only was it standing room only in the room itself, but the crowd was trailing down the hallway. It was a good thing that three families had to leave early (us, the Styles and the Ojedas) so those in the hallway were able to get seats. M went third (after Mary Grace and Madison) and after she played, we left in order to get the kids home and for us get ready for bowling before Heather came over to babysit.

We got to the alley and found out we went 3-1 last month. I was somewhat surprised as we didn't do that well. I was thinking that (at best) we split the games, but I guess Chris and Lori did better than they let on. The first place team ended up losing all four of their games, so going into tonight's set there were seven teams that could end up in first place, which made for some exciting bowling at our end of the alley. At the start of the night, we were in 4th place and went head-to-head against the 3rd place team. We quickly took the lead in the first game and ended up winning by 70+ pins (I closed out the first game with a turkey). The second game we all bowled pretty much like the first, except that Margaret (one of their bowlers) was on fire. Her average is about 115 and she bowled a 180. Yikes! Needless to say, that score, coupled with her handicap, allowed them to snatch the game away from us. Not all was lost, however, as I got two strikes in the 10th frame to close the gap to 20+ pins. This allowed us to enter the third game up by 50 or so pins. With the 11 that we were spotting them, though, this cut our lead to 40 pins. We had to win the 3rd game outright (or lose by less than 40 pins) in order to take the pin count and 4th game.

As it turned out, Margaret's flame went out and she returned to her average. We traded the lead through the first few frames, but midway through the game we took the lead and started extending it through the last few frames. After it was all said and done, we ended up with the 3rd and 4th games, making it 3-1 for the night. We would have to wait to find out how the rest of the teams did, though to find out how we finished out the season. The totals were finally tallied and the winners were announced. We moved up to second place (out of first place by 1/2 game) and took home the silver pin (including a gift card to the Blue Iguana.) I also won the "Most Improved Average" award (including a gift card to the Macaroni Grill) and D and I won a $20 gift certificate to Fortune Palace. Looks like Fire on the Lanes will be having some date-nights in the coming months! (Actually, there were quite a few of us who won gift certificates to Fortune Palace, so I imagine we'll have to have a group outing!)

After the awards ceremony, a few of us headed over to the Tiki Bar (the deck behind David and Sandy's house that they decorated to be like a Tiki Bar). As usual, Burke and David got out their guitars and started playing. One of the reasons I've picked up the guitar and started focusing on the chords was their playing -- they make it seem so easy -- but I guess after years and years of honing their craft, it should be easy! It's always a good time over there and tonight was no exception (except for that we didn't stay very long - D was dosed up on Claritin and being outside wasn't doing her allergies any good). We bid our adieus and headed home, where we promptly fell asleep (after watching a few minutes of SNL, that is).

Day 87 - 05/18/2007

Today is National Bike to Work Day so with that in mind, even though it was on the cool and wet side, I rode Sparky to work. (One of these days I'll get a picture of Sparky on here for you to drool over.) There weren't many other bikers on the road, but that may have been due to the either the early hour or the weather conditions. (It wasn't that cool, probably around 55° F but it was damp, which made it feel a little colder.) The ride was uneventful and, after getting to work, hit the gym for a morning workout and then heading into the office.

For breakfast I had two packs of banana bread instant oatmeal. I'm not sure if it was this or the lack of sleep or a combination thereof (I felt fine when I got up and when I left the gym), but soon after finishing them, I started getting an upset stomach. All day long I felt this way and was worried I wouldn't be able to make it to M's dance later on. Fortunately it subsided over the course of the day (but didn't go away completely until after we got to the dance), so maybe it was just a 12-hour bug or something. Whatever it was, I'm glad it didn't get worse, I really hate it when I'm sick for the weekend.

Tonight was the annual Girl Scout Father/Daughter Dance. In years past it's been held at the high school. Groups of dads would get together and take their daughters out to dinner beforehand and then everyone would descend en masse on the dance. This year they did things a little differently as the dance was held at the Sheraton Reston and dinner was included. It was held in a ballroom and the room was setup similar to how a wedding would be. We were a little late due to a miscommunication (I thought it began at 630p when that's when dinner was to be served), but were able to find a seat with people we knew (Burke and Riley), so that turned out well. Actually, it was even better as Riley is on M's softball team and they've become better friends over the season. They're in the same grade as well, which makes her one of the few girls (outside M's class) that M is friends with that's her age. I wish we lived closer to them (they live in our old neighborhood) so they could do more stuff together, but for now we'll have to settle for driving over to each other's houses.

After the buffet line and dinner, the dance floor was opened up. In years past M would want me to twirl her around by her arms. This year was no exception, although she's now too big to twirl around like I could when she was six. We settled for spins and dips and doing the twist instead. After a while we headed out into the hallway to participate in some of the games that were setup. This was a new twist as in previous years the contests were held on the dance floor. Having them in the hallway was better as it allowed the girls to mill about and do different things in case they didn't want to dance all night long. There were a variety of ongoing games, ranging from balloon stomps to paper-clip races to hula hoop contests to the ever-present jump rope contest. M did pretty good (as can be seen below), but there was a Daisy that out-jumped pretty much everyone.

It seemed most of the girls had fun, as did most of the dads. Having the festivities spread out in separate areas seemed to provide for more interaction between both girls and dads vs. previous years where most of the dads simply formed a horseshoe around the girls while they did their various contests.

As the night wound down, prizes were announced but, unfortunately, M didn't win any. Oh well, we had a good time and that was the important thing. As we were leaving I told her that if it was held in the hotel again next year, we'd think about staying over.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Day 86 - 05/17/2007

Happy Birthday, D!

Today is D's birthday. We don't celebrate it today though; instead, we celebrate it on her half-birthday. I suggested this to her a couple years ago (since it was getting overlooked due to its proximity to Mother's Day and our anniversary) and she agreed and ever since, we now celebrate it in November. I'm not sure whether this is going to confuse the kids when they grow up, but I guess we'll just have to wait and find out. For her birthday, I took her out to lunch at Sakoontra where we feasted on some good Thai food. (She had "pad thai no scallions with broccoli please" and I had "pad phed and the spice tray please." Actually, I didn't need the spice tray as it was pretty flavorful already and nothing more needed to be added.)

I was supposed to lead N's practice, but since D wasn't feeling well (allergies), I called around and got one of the other coaches to take over for me (I was taking over for Mike as it was). M had a game, so I needed to take over for D in keeping stats. Sometimes I think we try to do too much, but I don't mind (and hopefully the kids enjoy their parents being involved). We're not supposed to keep score at this level, so stats are strictly kept to determine whether they got five runs or three outs (at that point, the inning is over). With that in mind, no official score is kept so the girls are always told it ended in a tie. The focus is to teach the kids the fundamentals, but I think the competition would be good for them. That being said, I kept minimal stats on the other team (e.g., runs vs. outs scored in an inning) in case the coach wanted to see whether they needed to work on getting the outs or what. As it turned out, the score WAS tied at the end, so maybe there's something more to it than I'm aware of.

D also had bunco tonight, so it was a good thing I was able to get someone to cover for me, otherwise she would've had to go later than she wanted to (and would've had to drive as well). As we were coming home from M's game, we saw her leaving the neighborhood w/ Molly on their way to bunco.

After we got home from the game (where they actually tied), I got the kids ready for bed and started ripping CDs. I discovered that there are quite a few CDs in my collection I had yet to convert to MP3s, so I took advantage of D being at bunco and started ripping them. I'd like to have all my CDs converted to MP3s in the next few months so I can pack away all the CDs for good. I never really listen to them, except for when I'm painting, so having them out in the open is just silly.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Day 85 - 05/16/2007

I got home from work somewhat early and decided to go for a run. D was making dinner (I thought we'd have leftovers from Sunday, but she was cooking a pot-pie instead) and M and N were at the table where M was finishing up her homework.

I went upstairs to change and after I came down, asked the kids if they'd join me on their bikes. I like going out with them as it gets them outdoors and provides them with some stealth exercise to boot. If it's anything like what I went through as a kid, it will (hopefully) instill in them a lifelong attachment to bikes and using them as a means for transportation vs. just a way to have fun.

N immediately said yes, but M started crying that she wasn't done with her homework. Before I was able to tell her that we'd wait for her to finish, she started in with "it's not fair" and wah wah wah wah and fuss fuss fuss. I tried to talk her down from her outburst, but was getting nowhere. So I told her to go to her room where she wouldn't bother the rest of the family with her behavior.

She didn't budge.

I told her a second time and again the result was the same.

So I started counting.


Moan groan fuss.


More of the same.

"M, if you're not in your room by the time I get to three, you will suffer the consequences." I've learned over the past few months not to give her a specific punishment when she's going through this phase. Not only do I tend to overreact in what I used to dole out (e.g., take away computers or TV the next day), it can, at times like these, be more effective if it's an unknown.

Still nothing.

I waited a few seconds before saying...


Finally, she started running upstairs.

So, with that wrapped up, it was just N and I going for the run/ride. M would stay at home. She didn't like it when he and I walked to the path (N said she was looking out her window at us), nor did she like it when we got home.

Of course, had she gone to her room when I first told her to, I would have followed her up there and explained that she didn't give me a chance to tell her that we'd wait until she was done before going on the run. After we got back, I explained to her what she did wrong and provided some suggestions on how to change things in the future. I hope that next time she'll not fly off the handle like that, but that's how she reacts when things don't go the way she wants them to. I really wanted her to go with us, but when she acts like the way she did, letting her go with us would be rewarding bad behavior. I hope she's able to outgrow this behavior sooner rather than later, I really don't want N to start modeling his behavior after hers (which, so far, he doesn't seem to be).

I enjoyed the run, although cut it short as I wanted to try out a new route. We went down the trail and over the bridge to the other side of the neighborhood and then headed out to Stringfellow. According to my Forerunner, the run was only 2.2 miles (I told you I was cutting it short), but since I lost signal in a few places (and the resulting track of the run backs this up), I'm pretty sure it was longer. I'll have to go back and measure it again by bike as the track I get on my bike seems to stay captured longer than when I run. The first mile is pretty much uphill the whole way (well, not all the way, but the majority of the way) and it showed in the split (~9:45). The second mile was mostly downhill and it also showed in the split (7:05). Part of this I attribute to running downhill, but the other part I attribute to N speeding ahead of me. I used him as a pacer throughout the run so that when he went slow, so did I. Likewise when he went fast.

It felt good out there and I was quite happy that my knees didn't bother me one bit. My shins did a little, so I do need to focus on stretching them on a more regular basis. Once I hit the corner past the school I called it quits on the run and walked the remaining 1/5 of a mile home. I'm hoping to be able to get in a couple runs a week for the time being. I figure if can get through the summer somewhat pain free in the knees, I'll begin to up the mileage over the next few months and may even consider entering some races in 2008. That would actually work to my benefit as I'll be in a new age group and, hey, you never know, maybe I'll bring home some more hardware!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Day 84 - 05/15/2007

For some reason I thought it was Wednesday all day long. And by all day long, I mean all day long. I planned on biking to work, but after waking up, I saw that I had library duty during lunch, so I drove in instead. I arrived early, however, and hit the gym for a pre-work training session. I wasn't in a rush to get to work so I did two biking sessions (a quick 10 minute one before lifting and a 40 minute "ride" afterwards). While I don't care for the treadmill compared to running outdoors, riding a stationary bike isn't all that bad. I typically grab a magazine and get in the zone. And since there's very little in the way of air rushing over my skin, I sweat like a pig. It feels great.

Afterwards I did my stretches, showered and headed to the office. I love having the gym right across the parking lot from work; it makes it so much more convenient for getting in a workout before going to work. It also allows me to head over there during (or after) work if I just need to get away and burn some energy. Having the shower also comes in handy for when I ride my bike to work (like I was supposed to do today...grrrrrrr).

Work was work. Nothing special to report there. We're still going strong on the current development cycle (actually, we're somewhat done with it, but are waiting for QA to finish their testing so that we can ship it out the door). I basically bided my time until it was time to go to school.

I arrived for library and it was empty. I thought for a minute or two that there wasn't going to be any library that day or that they were in the class like they've done in the past. This was for naught, however, as they were just at lunch. They arrived a few minutes before the kids did and soon I was checking in books while they started perusing the shelves for more books to check out. Out of all the school volunteer duties I've done over the past few years, I think I like library the best. You get to interact with all the kids (for the most part), but aren't responsible for "teaching" them like you are in computers. (And if PE is anything like what I've heard, I have no desire for volunteering for that.)

After finding their books and checking them out, the kids gathered 'round the tables to watch Pollyanna. I had M read that story the night before, so I was excited she would be seeing the movie. It was in one of the books from the Wonderful World of Disney box set I bartered for at the thrift shop when I was dropping off some old junk (junk to me, not to thee). I saw the four volume collection that we had as a kid and had to get it for the kids. I asked if I could trade in my box of books for them and the guy taking donations found it acceptable. Not only are there stories from fairy tales, but also abridged stories from the Disney movie archives. In addition to Pollyanna, there's "Swiss Family Robinson", "Babes in Toyland", as well as "The Shaggy Dog", to name but a few. (I tried searching for it, but most of the hits were from auction sites, which will probably be gone by the time you read this, so I won't add a link. If you're interested in finding out what I'm talking about, click here.)

Anyway, they watched Pollyanna while I shelved books. It wasn't too long after Mrs. Watson started the movie when the entire class erupted in laughter. Since there was only music coming from the film, I knew it had to be visual, but by the time I could see the screen, whatever was so amusing to the 3rd graders was gone. I later found out that there was a boy swinging on a rope and jumping into the water. Nothing funny about that, except he was sans clothes. Egads!

After work I had to make cookies for M to bring to school the next day. This week is Culture Week at school and the students were able to bring in a treat that highlights their heritage. I have a recipe for Danish butter cookies, so I offered to make them for her. (Note: The recipe found at the previous link looks suspiciously like it was copied from the cookbook I got mine from: Scandinavian Feasts.) I was only able to make about 40 of them as I always seem to make them bigger than they're supposed to be, so instead of two per child, there will be one with some left over. (I'm sure I'll put them to good use.) I hope the kids like them.

Before making them, however, I had to get some flour. Since I was unable to bike to work, I decided to bike to the store to pick up the remaining ingredients. It was just up to Bloom (which replaced Food Lion), so it only took about 20 minutes (there, shopping and back). I also picked up some cleaning/lube for my bike, which I'm hoping I'll be able to address this weekend. It's amazing how much quicker I can get there via bike vs. car. It's not that it's faster, but it's not that much of a difference. Traffic on Stringfellow is at a standstill at that time of day and by riding my bike, I can just bypass all those folks sitting in their cars going nowhere. Too bad not everyone a) can ride their bike vs. drive to where they're going; and b) has the desire to ride vs. drive. If even 10% of those in their cars could ride, it'd go a long way towards making the traffic in this area so much better.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Day 83 - 05/14/2007

Happy Anniversary, D; I Love You! It's been 13 years since we exchanged our vows and my love for you only grows stronger as the years pass.

We celebrated by going out for a nice romantic dinner at Sweetwater Tavern...with the kids. Actually, it was D's decision. Since M was supposed to have practice, we weren't really going to do much other than have our NuptuAle and dance and call it a night. I'm glad she took charge and made the call. (Next time, remind me to ask for a go-box immediately so I don't over eat. While the pork chops were good, there was too much of them. I could've gone with just one and saved the other for lunch the next day or something.)

After dinner, we got the kids to bed and popped open a NuptuAle (I brewed this as our wedding favor back when I had the time to brew my own beer). Every year on our anniversary we've had one as part of our anniversary ritual (the other part is dancing to our song -- Can't Help Falling in Love With You by Elvis). Surprisingly enough, the beer hasn't gone bad on us (we joke that once it does, our marriage is doomed). After the one we had tonight, we still have 8 left from our wedding day. We've talked about having one each year until they're gone or having one every five years (starting in 2009). If we went that route, we'd enjoy the last one on our 45th wedding anniversary. Wouldn't that be something if it still held its flavor after all these years. (I think storing it in the basement since it was brewed has helped it survive.)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Day 82 - 05/13/2007

Since it's Mother's Day today, we let D sleep in. Since we've been doing breakfast in bed in the years past, I suggested to the kids we do something different and have a pancake breakfast. They were thrilled with the idea and, when D finally woke up around 930a, we made pancakes for breakfast. Except for N, he wanted frozen pancakes instead, but had to settle for frozen waffles. (I really don't see how they can enjoy them frozen; I don't think I could.)

After breakfast, we took our time getting ready for Mass and ended up going at 1230p. Afterwards, we went back to the garden center for more begonias (to replace the pink ones in the planters) and headed home for lunch. (We never did get the begonias in the pots; I need to get that done soon.)

After lunch, the kids and I rode our bikes up to Giant for the rest of what we needed for dinner. D had bought salmon for dinner in case her folks came up, so I was going to cook that (with the hibachi grill sauce). We had some baby carrots leftover from last week, so all I needed to do was get some orzo and feta cheese for a side dish.

This is only the second time the three of us have ridden to the store. The first time was last summer when N still had his training wheels and it took us much longer. Now that he's on two wheels, we got there in about 20 minutes. We went via the trail over to Greenbriar and then up Majestic Lane. The kids stayed on the sidewalk for the most part, so traffic wasn't that much of a concern. (To tell the truth, I was more concerned about them in the parking lot than I was on the road, so I had them walk their bikes on the sidewalk vs. riding them.) We went back via some of the lesser traveled streets in Greenbriar, making our way over to Poplar Tree and then to Stringfellow. M wanted to ride back this way to take advantage of the long down hill (which we avoided on the way to Giant by going on the trail). Both of them enjoyed the ride and when we got home, I started making dinner.

Dinner was a hit (M even commented that she thought the orzo was good), although D requested that next year we go out to eat. I don't blame her as it was a little late (we didn't eat until about 6p). After dinner, the kids got ready for bed, I read a chapter in Narnia and put them to bed.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Day 81 - 05/12/2007

Happy Birthday, Larry. What a drag it is getting old, eh?

I was up at the crack of dawn and didn't stop doing chores until 8p when I finished mowing the yard. Actually, M woke me up at 730a to help her get started on a Mother's Day project (she ended up writing D a story). Once I got her situated, I made coffee, had breakfast and started knocking off the chores on my list.

First off was finishing the deck. I started staining it earlier in the week, but it was taking longer than I thought it would (I was only putting in an hour or so at a time and other commitments were getting the way). By the time I got the final coat on, the exterminator had arrived to give us a quote. (We've been having ant issues and want to nip it in the bud.)

Once he left, I stained the planters, after which we ate lunch and went to N's ball game. After N's game, M, N and I went to the garden center for some begonias for the planters. We picked out some red and white ones, as well as a hanging basket full of petunias. M and N also picked out some pink begonias and we headed back home to plant them.

On the way back to the house, we saw that the neighbors were out in their front yard with a slip and slide. Both M and N wanted to play in it, but I told them they'd have to wait until they were invited over. Sure enough, about 10 minutes later, Jimmy came over, asking whether they could come over. Since they had already started changing into their suits, the answer was obvious.

While they were playing in the sprinkler, I decided I'd start mowing the front yard. However, after gassing up the mower and heading out front, I saw that Jimmy's folks were also out there. Since they just moved into the neighborhood in November and not a lot of activity went on outside between then and now, I decided to forego the mowing and go over and be sociable. (This is the new me coming out; the old me would rather have mowed the yard, not wanting to interact at all.) After about 20 minutes or so, I got the kids to come back over (Jimmy was already tired of the sprinkler) since we still had the begonias to plant.

We finally got the planters done and the kids went inside to wash up (as in showered -- they were both filthy from planting) while I started on the lawn. I got about 2/3 the way done before dinnertime and finished up after dinner, right before it started raining. I headed inside, took a shower and, after saying good night to the kids, settled into the couch to watch Lost w/ D.

"The Man Behind the Curtain" wasn't as good as others thought it to be. I thought the whole cabin scene (where they introduced Jacob) was hooey. I don't know why, but I just didn't find it enjoyable; it seemed contrived. I hope the rest of the season isn't like this.

As much as I wanted to, I wasn't able to get in a run today (for obvious reasons -- did you read the summary above?!?). It's been a while since my last run and I really want to get back in the swing of things. I believe I'm well on the way to recovery as my knee doesn't really bother me when I do run (the fronts of my shins do, but not my knees -- I guess I need to stretch them out more). Maybe tomorrow if I can get the kids to go with me (giving D some peace on quiet on Mother's Day).

Day 80 - 05/11/2007

Rode my bike to work and hit the gym upon arrival. I added an ab workout to my routine, but I'm not sure if that's enough. Since starting at the gym back in October '05, I'm positive I've gained muscle mass, especially in my arms and chest, but I still have a ways to go with my abs. (They've been the bane of me since I can remember.) I guess I just need to up the cardio...or accept the fact that I'll always have some extra sumpin' sumpin' around the waist. I'd rather up the cardio.

Getting out there in the morning on Sparky, in the (somewhat) quiet and the cool morning air, gives me a sense of accomplishment, a sense of freedom. The only downfall is having to fight my way across 28. More and more I've decided to give up and hit the sidewalk on that section as there are too many opportunities for things to go wrong. If there's a place where I'm going to get nailed on the commute to work, that's the place. (It's not an issue in the evening as there's not a lot of traffic in that area during the evening rush hour.)

I went to lunch for sushi with a colleague. When we went out for lunch last week neither he nor I had cash (and the restaurant doesn't split checks during lunch), so I covered him. He asked whether I was up for lunch and away we went. As usual, I ate too much, but it was (mostly) all good. I say mostly as there was this one dish that wasn't all that great. We asked the waitress what it was and she told us it was fried tofu in a ginger sauce. Well, I'm pretty much game to try something new and it sounded okay. After eating it, though, I had to change my mind. It tasted somewhat familiar, but I couldn't place it. Finally, after mulling over what it was, I hit it: It tasted like wet wheat bread. I shared this with Matt and he agreed 100%.

M bridged to Juniors; the ceremony was at the Government Center auditorium. It was a nice enough setting, but the acoustics made it hard to hear (even with the sound system). Actually, calling it an auditorium is a mistake, it's basically a seating area in the atrium of the lobby where public (non-govt'l) events can be held. It was a nice ceremony and I'm glad we were all able to make it (vs. when M bridged to Brownies and it was held in the school gym during after school hours). Unfortunately, the lighting conditions weren't very good due to the giant wall of windows behind the atrium, which messed with the camera, so we weren't able to get great pictures.

That's pretty much the one thing I've yet to figure out with our camera is how to take good action shots in low light so the subject doesn't come out blurry without the use of the flash. Or maybe that's just not possible.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Day 79 - 05/10/2007

For lunch today, we went to Buffalo Wing Factory for chicken wings. Now, I'm not one that thinks wings are the best thing since sliced bread, but when lunch is on the boss, my standards all of a sudden become a little looser.

After it was all said and done, however, I wish I had stayed back at the office.

We arrived at the restaurant around 1145a and were one of the few parties in the house. It turned out that Thursday's special is All You Can Eat wings and fingers, so the place quickly filled up with other parties. After placing our orders (five of the seven of us ordered the special), we sat around the table, waiting for our food. After about 10 minutes, a lull came over the conversation. Not wanting to be unsocial, new topics of conversation were drawn from the well and the conversation ensued again. After 20 minutes of waiting, we had to go back to the well for the third tier of conversational topics. Shortly afterwards, our order arrived. (It should be noted that of the 20 or so tables in the place, we were the first ones to get any food from the kitchen during that entire time.)

Seeing as it took waaaaay too long to get the first round of wings, we immediately ordered our next round. It was a good thing we did, as that came about 10 minutes after the last wing from the first order was consumed. Once the second order came, we repeated the process with the third order. But it never arrived. After 20 minutes of waiting, we asked for the check (which took more than five minutes to arrive) and left (30 minutes after ordering the third round and it still hadn't arrived).

Note to self, don't go back too soon for unless you have a few hours to kill (and unless it's for happy hour as I did notice there were 30+ beers offered on tap, including Dominion's Oak Barrel Stout).

We had practice again tonight it was the best one we had all season. The kids are coming along and separating them into smaller groups really helped. I was in charge of the hitting drill. Each player got ten balls to hit off the T. I tried to help them with how to setup at the plate, how to swing, how to watch the ball and how to position themselves to hit in a certain direction. Some players were better than others and what I showed them was dependant on how they swung the first few times. Some of the kids, though, just weren't getting it. There was one player who came into the drill barely hitting the ball and left the drill hitting the last three solidly. It made me feel good seeing the improvement in just a few swings. Hopefully he'll be able to carry that forward into Saturday's game; I'm sure it would make his day were he to hit like that in the game. That one moment has made coaching worth it thus far; I can't wait to have more moments like that one.

After we got home from practice, I finished staining the floor of the deck. I had been worried that the stain wouldn't be the same, but after getting home from work on Wednesday, I saw that D was right and that it did blend together. So, with that in mind, I finished up the bulk of the deck (I just have to go over the entire deck with a roller to cover any missed spots) and will only have the bench, railings and planters left to stain. I can't wait to check this off my list of things to do. It's taken me far too long to do this chore, but (hopefully) I won't have to do it for another couple of years.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Day 78 - 05/09/2007

I picked up some more stain/sealer during lunch (5 gallons this time) and dropped it off at home during lunch. After work I finished another 1/3 of the deck and am hoping it will turn out a little better. I used the sprayer again, as my fears about using the roller came true. If this doesn't turn out, I'm not sure what I should do. I'd hate to have to start over as I've already been working on this project for coming up on three weeks now. Live and learn, I guess, but, like I tell the kids, there's always enough time to do it right the second time, but never enough time to do it right the first time. Why couldn't this be easier!?! Why must I make it so difficult?!? Again, aaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrgh.

I was able to read the chapter that D read to the kids on Tuesday after I got home. I've been having ear problems again so while the drops were doing their thing, I laid down on the couch and tried to get caught up. I didn't make it all the way through before dinner, but was able to finish after dinner (and before continuing on the deck as mentioned above). Again, I started reading the next chapter to the kids, but was interrupted by the ants. They had sought out an alternate route to freedom and so I had to spray the other window. It's time to call an exterminator or else I'll never be able to finish this book! (I did finish the chapter after D put the kids to bed though, so I'm all ready for Thursday night.)

But, before any of that happened, I went to work. I'm the person in charge of making sure our customers migrations from our old product base to our current product base is successful. Not only do I manage the code, but also act as a liaison between the project teams and the product development team. I've worked on migration systems before and enjoy the challenge of getting everything right. Anyway, I'm close to wrapping up the current release and have been making vast improvements to not only the migration, but also the product. I investigated an issue that was causing a performance issue when users first launch our product and found that in order to determine whether a value was true, all the rows from a database table were being returned, processed and interrogated to see if the value was true. In this case, over 20k rows were being returned in order to accomplish this. I was able to write a query (and bypass the processing) that returned a single row and get the same value in less than a second. This was a reduction of over 20 seconds when logging in to the product (an eternity when the user is sitting there twiddling his thumbs). What scares me is that this type of logic MUST exist elsewhere in the product and, were the parties involved able to write code that focused on maximizing performance vs. making reusability the focus, our product could be so much faster. Hopefully they've taken this approach in the rewrite as we port our products to .NET. Only time will tell.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Day 77 - 05/08/2007

How do you put 15.189 gallons of gas into a 13.9 gallon tank? I understand that the neck contains gas (and is probably not included in the tank measurement), but that's probably only 1/4 gallon max. Is the fuel line configured like your intestines, where it wraps around in all sorts of twists and turns and therefore holds much more than you'd think? Or does the user's manual not tell the true capacity of the tank with the thought that if we knew the true capacity, we'd be more likely to push it and run out of gas? Or is the meter on the gas pump incorrect and I just paid $3.25 per gallon vs. the listed price of $2.99 per gallon?

Me thinks I will be making a phone call (either to the Department of Weights and Measures or Nissan) in order to find out the truth.

And speaking of liquids and gallons and such, how much stain do I need to cover our 400 square foot deck? I've used two gallons thus far and am barely a quarter of the way done. Maybe I should punt with the sprayer and use the roller method instead. Of course, now that I've already started with the sprayer, if I switch to the roller, will there be a visible difference between the two? Arrrrrrrrrgggggggh.

Tonight I did (what I thought was) the unthinkable: I let D read the kids a chapter in Narnia. I've read the entire book to them thus far without any outside help. (I must admit, without reading it to them, I never would've read it myself and am now just as interested in the story as M is -- N I'm not so sure about.) We've had some issues with ants invading our space and tonight was the final straw. They were swarming the space between the side window in the sitting room. Unfortunately, the only way to get between the panes of glass is from the outside (the side windows don't open from the inside). So, I had two choices: Read to the kids and kill the ants or kill the ants and finish the deck. I opted for the second choice, with the caveat that I'd read the chapter that D read to them after they went to bed. D and I ended up watching Lost and the Sopranos instead on Tivo. Whoops. Now I guess I'll have to read it sometime before bedtime on Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Day 76 - 05/07/2007

Went to the new pho restaurant across the way. Apparently Viet Crystal has changed their peanut sauce recipe and they're no longer lunch-worthy. I liked this new place better anyway. It was:

  • bigger;
  • brighter;
  • cleaner;
  • closer to the office (right across the light at 50 vs. having to actually turn down 50); and (most importantly)
  • the food was delicious.
So, it looks like we've found a new place for lunch without having to resort to corporate places. (I wouldn't mind going to a corporate place ~gasp!~ if they had something worthwhile to offer, but c'mon, really, what's the difference between TGIFridays or Ruby Tuesday's or Applebees? Not much: Their food is pretty much all the same...mediocre.)

I also spent some time trying to get D's laptop to work. She called in a panic (alright, not really a full-blown panic, but needed assistance none-the-less) in that she couldn't connect to the Internet. Without the Internet, she couldn't send e-mail. Without being able to send e-mail she wouldn't be able to finish her room mom correspondence for Teacher Appreciation Week. So, like the good tech support staff that I am, I dashed home and fixed her issue. Don't ask me how I did it as I pretty much did nothing she couldn't have done. I turned off her laptop, went into the office and played backgammon for a few minutes and then came back out and turned it back on. Viola! It worked like a champ. She was back in business.

I have no idea why, but it worked.

M had another blowup this evening about something or other that caused me to take away Narnia for the night. She and N were going at it as soon as we got home and neither one of them would let up. It was partially my fault in that N and I lost track of time down the street and didn't get home until 645p. Seeing as N hadn't had dinner yet, he was well on his way to full on Mr. Crankypants. While part of me worries that this will be long term behavior (it better not be!), I also think it's just her being a normal 3rd grader and that she'll grow out of it. (Of course, I know some adults who pitch a fit when things don't go their way, so it's always possible.) One thing that I need to be cognizant of is the way I interact with her during these periods. I need to remember to stay calm and not escalate the situation. There's a few cliches that I could name (e.g., crying over spilled milk, throwing fuel on a fire, etc.), but I'll try and refrain from using them here and now. Whoops! Looks like I did just that! :-)

Anyway, as I said, the important thing is to not actively participate in her tantrums and instead try to remain calm and unimpressed. Maybe this will cause her to see that she's not getting anywhere with her behavior and will change tactics herself. But, truth be told, the day when she does can't come too soon.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Day 75 - 05/06/2007

Hey! I just noticed that today is 5.6.7!

We spent the day in the car. Yet another weekend morning where I had to set the alarm. This morning we left the house at 815a for a trip down to Richmond for Josh's First Communion. We got there a bit early (about 10a) as traffic was pretty much non-existent. That's alright though, I'd much rather have been early than late, especially under the circumstances. When we arrived, 9a Mass was just letting out, so finding a spot took a little time. I dropped off D and the kids to use the facilities and went in search of a spot. After one lap I found a prime spot. It was in the shade and right on the street, which made for an easy exit after Mass

Afterwards we went to the Jefferson Hotel for their champagne brunch, which was fantastic. Not only was the food delicious, but plentiful. There was everything from eggs (cooked to order or as Eggs Jefferson -- sort of like Eggs Benedict, but w/ a biscuit vs. an English muffin), grits, potatoes, sausage and bacon to smoked salmon, prime rib, ham, oysters, shrimp and mussels to all kinds of lunch dishes and desserts. I think between the twelve of us, we tried everything that was offered. My favorites would have to be the Eggs Jefferson, the grits and the oysters, although from the look of my plates, nothing went to (EVERYTHING went to my waist after that meal!)

I'm not sure whether the kids loved the unlimited Belgian waffles (with all the sweet toppings), the desserts or the elevator the best (we were on the balcony overlooking the atrium). After about three or four plates of waffles and desserts, they were done eating (taking the elevator down and back up each time) they stopped eating and starting taking the elevator up and down just for the fun of it, although after a while, we had to put the kibosh on it as they were starting to get a little too rambunctious.

Brunch was a great idea. I'll not go into the details here, but suffice it to say that not all of us get along, so having it at a neutral location meant we didn't really have to spend one-on-one time and it allowed the conversation to flow unimpeded. It also confirmed the fact that getting an invitation to the new home won't be in the cards anytime soon: If there ever was a reason to invite us back to the house, this one was probably it.

We hit the road again and made the long slog north. It really wasn't that long, but after a big meal and not enough sleep, I was beginning to feel tired. We stopped off at Costco in Fred for some gas and I picked up an iced coffee at McD's (which took darn near forever). Fortunately traffic was pretty light (with the exception of a few spots) and we were home at a somewhat decent hour. The kids had some dinner, but D and I were still too full from brunch to even consider it.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Day 74 - 05/05/2007

So even though it's Saturday, I still had to set the alarm and rouse the kids from their beds. M had practice at 830a, after which she was going to her friend's house for the morning. She got dressed and had breakfast without fussing (shocker!) and at 8a I awoke N from his slumber. He wasn't happy to get up, but he finally came around. After dropping M off at practice, he and I rode our bikes over to Bare Island Drive to see what the noise was that was coming from that direction. As it turns out, there was a tree crew taking down some trees from a homeowner's yard and turning them into mulch via the chipper. N was very interested in seeing them take the tree down and I was pretty impressed as well. The took three 30' trees down (and turned them into mulch) in less than 10 minutes. Wow.

After growing tired of watching the tree folk do their thing (and our ears being assaulted by the the noise), we rode down to the house that caught on fire a few weeks back (I had originally thought the sound was coming from this house and it was the sound of them tearing it down). It's currently covered in a number of blue tarps in order to keep the elements out, although from the looks of it, you've got to wonder whether they'll end up tearing the frame down and just keeping the brick front in place.

We then rode home and got ready for N's pictures.

It was because of M's practice and N's pictures and game that we had to postpone our yard sale. We've got quite a bit of stuff in the basement we've been meaning to get rid of as we either a) not longer use it; b) no longer need it; or c) both (a) and (b). Oh well, maybe in a few weeks. It probably worked out for the best anyway as with D out of town, it would've been a bit much to try and cram into one morning.

After pictures and N's game (which was another exercise in chaos and frustration at kids who don't want to be there), we went to pick M up from Riley's house. On our way over, she called and said she was at Riley's brother's game at the school, so we altered our course and went up to the school. The weather had turned unseasonably cold over the course of the morning and, with me only wearing a t-shirt and shorts, I was quite uncomfortable (especially once the rain started). N was wearing his uniform and M was wearing a sweatshirt (fortunately she asked for a sweatshirt on the way to practice), so both of them were somewhat oblivious to the weather. Not so much, though, when I made them walk home from school -- I wasn't about to let the two of them get in the van w/ them being as muddy and as dirty as they were!

Once we got home, I took a long, hot shower to warm up and got dressed in clothes that I'd normally wear in March (jeans, long sleeve shirt and wool socks). I was seriously contemplating turning on the fireplace, but my sanity prevailed and I didn't; I decided to suffer instead, while I sat on the couch watching the playoffs in HD. Since the kids were also dirty, I made them take a bath in the middle of the afternoon, which they balked at until I said they could take on in my tub. They relented and while I watched the game, they washed themselves up. Yay, now that that's out of the way, we could relax the rest of th afternoon.

Not too much, though, as D was due home and I had to get dinner ready. I'm pretty sure she wouldn't want to come home to either pot-pie or take out. So we headed out the door to Whole Foods to peruse what they had to offer (I was also looking for a reason to shop there as I'd never been to it since it opened). On the way, though, we stopped by Target and Toys'R'Us for a kickstand for N. (Ever since we took his training wheels off his old bike, he's been wanting one.) Since we were in no rush to get back, we took our time looking at bikes, as well as Lego.

We finally made it to Whole Foods and I decided to forego cooking dinner and instead seek out pre-prepared meals. Well, that thought was quickly put to rest when I saw the sesame seed encrusted tuna with wasabi. Yum. I love that stuff and had been craving it for the past few weeks (not sure why, though, but I have). I picked up some baby carrots, some lettuce mix and some sides from the hot food bar before checking out and heading home. (It really wasn't that quick, though, as the kids were with me and we sort of made a side detour upstairs to the bathrooms.)

Returning to the car, I discovered that D had called, wondering where we were. (I didn't leave a note and had forgotten my cell in the car.) I called her, but got her voice mail, so left a message and then headed home, where I unloaded the groceries and started dinner while we waited for her return from her trip to the store.

I got dinner going and then planted myself in front of the TV to check out the Kentucky Derby. I decided not to attempt any mint juleps this year as it just didn't seem right what with the cold weather and all. While we were waiting for the race to start, D came home and joined us.

After dinner (which wasn't all that great due to my lacking skills in the tuna searing department), we all headed upstairs and got ready for bed. Once the kids were in bed, D and I watched Heroes and then called it a night to get ready for the long day ahead of us in Richmond on Sunday.

Day 73 - 05/04/2007

So with D out of the house, the morning should've gone smoothly and, for the most part, it did. It's not that her being around causes things NOT to go smoothly, but without the two-parent dynamic, the kids are just easier to deal with. (I would imagine this is the same in most households, but I might be wrong.) Anyway, like I said, for the most part they did. We were out of the house a little earlier than normal and there was hardly any fussing or moaning or groaning in trying to get the kids out the door. Actually, it was the opposite: they were pretty pleasant.

Of course, with as smooth as it was going, I knew something had to go wrong sooner or later...and it did: As we're rounding the curve in the parking lot, M asks me what was for hot lunch. I told her I didn't know and then it hit me (and her): She forgot her lunch box. I had asked D to pack their lunches before she left (as I'm pretty useless in that department, although, if pushed, I'm sure I could've gotten it done). I made sure N had his in his backpack and thought M had hers as well.

That's alright, she said, I'll just have cereal for lunch. Huh? And do you plan on getting said cereal? Apparently the school has cereal available for the kids who forget their lunch. Oh well, I guess that's better than hot dogs. (Or is it? I'm not sure what kind of cereal they have on hand, but I would imagine it's not Lucky Charms or other sugar-laden cereal.)

Speaking of sugar-laden cereal, I think it's a travesty that Sugar Bear is out of work...I mean, who better to sell product than Sugar Bear?!? He was cool and had that really smooth and mellow voice. He was the perfect spokesbear for Super Sugar Crisps. (Can you imagine the marketers today trying to sell that name to the higher ups? Uh, nice try, but nyet.)

Anyway, I digress...

After dropping the kids off at school, I headed to work and got stuff done. Since I had to pick N up at James' house at two, I left around noon to hit the gym. I got caught up on the latest Men's Health and found out that, according to a recent study, more fat is burned if you lift before your cardio workout. Whoops, I've been doing it all wrong all these years. (Years?!? Uh, try months, like 18 of them or so.) After the gym, I went and picked N up from James' house, after which we stopped off at the bank. We both got blue lollipops and by the time we got home, we both had blue tongues.

I dialed into work and got some work done via the home office while N played trains in his room. After M got home, they played inside while I cut the grass.

By the time I was done with the yard work, it was about dinner time, so I popped in a pizza and we sat down to eat.

(Bored yet with my exciting day?)

The evening was filled with other fun and exciting events, such as playing on the computer (by the kids), followed by a quick shower, a chapter in Narnia and one song. (I promised them two the next night, since it was getting late and both of them had to be up early on Saturday for baseball.)

Bedtime for the kids was about 815p and once they were in bed I settled in to some playoff hockey. The Sabres beat the Rangers in OT to go ahead 3-2 in the series. I was hoping for a marathon OT session, but instead was treated to about five extra minutes before the winning goal was scored. Oh well, some OT is better than none. Once the game was over, I got sucked into backgammon and the next thing you know, it was 11p and I really had no business being up. Off to bed I went.

Day 72 - 05/03/2007

An employee working at the customer site came to my office today to go over the migration. He's under the gun from the customer to keep up with what's going on with the product so, in order to satisfy the customer, made the trip out to the office. He was running late so by the time he got there, it was time to head out to lunch. A couple of the guys on the team came with us and the four of us went to the local Thai place. During lunch he shared with us the following story:

"...So I had been out hiking one day and after getting back to my car, decided to stop by at a California Burrito for some chow. After ordering, I went over to the wall of hot sauces and decided to be daring and got down one from the black section. I settled on Dave's Hell Fire Hot Ass Sauce (or was something like that -- it had a picture of a guy with flames shooting out of his mouth and ass and smoke coming out of his ears with his eyes bulging out like they do in the Tom and Jerry cartoons when Tom [or Jerry] sees a cute cat [or mouse]) and opened the top. Suddenly, I lost my grip on the bottle and it slipped out of my hands and landed on the table. Unfortunately, it landed in such a way that some shot out of the top and squirted me right in my eye.

At first it just stung, but as the seconds passed, it got hotter and hotter. I started gyrating and squirming and moaning and rubbing my eye, but the more I rubbed, the worse it got.

I'm not sure what I looked like, but after the fact, I pictured the folks behind the counter (who couldn't see that I had squirted hot sauce in my eye) thinking they should call the cops or something, as I was squirming and moaning and shaking and rubbing my eye and just not acting right. The more I stood there, squirming and moaning and shaking and rubbing, the more it hurt. After a while, I couldn't even see and I was thinking I was hallucinating, but I can't be sure. All I knew was that I had to get my eye flushed out. I was able to see enough out of my good eye to see the soda fountain and so I went up to it and started splashing Coke in my eye in order to flush it out. Now I'm SURE they were thinking what the hell was I doing, but they never tried to stop me. (Maybe they had seen it happen before and knew the drill.) Anyway, after about three or four minutes, it finally felt good enough where I could actually stand the pain and was able to finish flushing my eye out in the bathroom."

Of course, after he tells us this story, one of my colleague makes the comment that "You flushed your eye out with Coke? That probably didn't feel good!"

"Yeah, but it felt a whole hell of a lot better than Dave's Hell Fire Hot Ass Sauce!"

We all laughed at his pain, but you've got to admit, that would've been a hoot to witness in person!

Of course, I shared this story w/ D and the kids at dinner (except I altered the name of the hot sauce, for the little pitchers with big ears at the table).

Speaking of D, she left for Chestertown this evening, so it was just me and the kids for the weekend (well, until Saturday evening anyway).

N wasn't feeling too well, so we called in sick to practice. It's better he didn't go, as we'll be at the game on Saturday and he wasn't up for going anyway. Last night he got to bed later than usual (as well as on Tuesday). Another late night and he might not be able to kick the cold he's recently picked up. It hasn't turned into a full-fledged cold (and I'm hoping it won't).

After D left, the kids got ready for bed and I read them a chapter from Narnia before putting them to bed. N was in bed around 8p, which is much sooner than he would have been had he gone to practice (and since D had left, M would've had to go as well, much to her chagrin).

M read until around 835p and turned the lights out on her own. I warned her that if I checked on her and found her lights on after a five minute grace period, she'd lose computer time this weekend. Much to my surprise (actually, I really wasn't surprised as my incentive was worth it), I heard her shut down right at 835p. (I told her lights out at 830 and, in full M fashion, she pushed it to the limit.)

After they were in bed, I settled into the couch for a night watching TV. I finished up the Deadliest Snakes show that D wasn't too keen on watching with me and then caught some hockey before hitting the sack around 11p. Butterfly missed D and cuddled up next to me, but not for much longer than usual before settling in on D's pillow (again, as she usually does).