Sunday, October 31, 2010


I took my daughter trick-or-treating with her half-sister and her half-sister's father yesterday (can you follow that? Did that make sense?). Last year, I picked a costume to match up with my daughter. She was the statue of liberty and I was Uncle Sam. This year, however, my daughter decided to be a vampire, and, due to the hectic events of the past week, I had no time to rent or buy a costume. After finally setting foot in my house for the first time in nearly a week, I tried to think of some last minute costume ideas. Here's what I came up with:

  • Wearing a sandwich board that says "HTTP 404: Costume not found" 
  • Putting a bunch of quarters in a bag and carrying a hammer. This would make me a quarter pounder. 
  • Taking all the cigarette butts that are littering my backyard and attaching them to an old baseball cap. This would make me a butt-head. 
  • Wearing my lab coat and stethoscope along with my pig-face mask and calling myself "Dr. Pigface". This went over fairly well at GenCon 2010
  • Walking around in my Samuel Adams shirt and cap along with an empty Samuel Adams glass and an empty bottle of Octoberfest and passing myself off as a man in need of a beer.
In the end, I didn't go with any of the above as time was way too short and the kids were having a good enough time even without their fathers participating in the costume-themed fun. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More Car Weirdness

My car is on its last legs. If it were a horse, it would wake up every morning and faithfully do its duty, but I'd still have to shoot it. My 1999 Saturn SL-1 has been a good little car, but lately, it has been acting like a dementia patient. Ever since I replaced the battery, starting the car has been an issue. Every so often, I will turn the ignition and all of the electricity will go out. Quite by accident, I discovered that shaking the car in just the right way will take care of the problem and allow the car to start. I've checked the connections to the battery numerous times and everything seems okay. 

It's obvious that this little car is ready to go to that great parking garage in the sky. I was just hoping I could squeeze another year out of it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Landing On Planet Wiener

I had the opportunity recently to chow down on some hot dogs and fries over at Planet Wiener, a newly opened restaurant near my home. The name maybe sort of a gimmick, but the food is out of this world. They've got a variety of different hot dog concoctions to choose from, and you can even create your own by choosing from the dozens of different toppings available.

Now, don't get me wrong, the hot dogs themselves are pretty damn good. They're beef based, cooked very well and are reasonably priced. For me, however, the real star of Planet Wiener has to be the chili cheese fries. Too often, when you order chili cheese fries from other restaurants, you get bland chili topped over skinny fries. Planet Wiener gives you a generous portion of steak fries topped with chili and cheese that has a little kick to it.

For nostalgia sake, Planet Wiener might not eclipse the place in my heart that the old hot dog stand in my home town currently occupies. Still, it's an awesome place to grab a hot dog and fries.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Walden University Endures My Rantings

It appears that the bug in which Google Voice drops calls upon recording them has been fixed. This afternoon I was able to record an incoming call from a representative at Walden University. At first, I didn't think that the call would last more than a few seconds before being dropped, so, when you listen to this call you'll notice that I change accents. The poor lady hung on for over 13 minutes before I decided to have mercy on her and let her go. Along the way, we talked about how John Lennon wrote "Walden Pond", the sexiness of Dan Rather, that mean old Nigerian Prince scammer and the healing powers of Lionel Ritchie.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Walk

I took my car into the shop the other day, figuring that, since I didn't need it few a few days, I would just arrange to pick it up this morning right after I got paid. So, bright and early this morning, I hiked up to the service center and handed the mechanic my debit card so that I could pay my bill. DECLINED. What? Okay, not a huge deal. Every so often my paycheck is about two hours late processing. Yet, two hours later, after a long walk to my office, when checking my balance online, I saw that there was no direct deposit waiting to be processed. I called my bank. Turns out that they had changed the routing numbers and I had somehow missed the memo. Payroll graciously cut me a check later that afternoon. Thus, after work, with my daughter in tow, we undertook the longest walk we had ever taken together.

We walked from my office to my bank, which is about a half a mile. I had to get to my bank in order to deposit my check so that I could pay for the repairs to my car. We walked along a back street, the afternoon Sun blaring down on us and reflecting back from the blacktop. When we reached the bank, my daughter and I both drank several cups of free water in the bank lobby. I deposited my check, kept a little money back, and we were on our way. This time, we had to walk to the mechanic, a good two miles from where we were. My daughter was a little trooper, but, with blisters erupting on my feet because of the shoes I was wearing, I felt like a Volga boatman. I think I even subconsciously sang a few bars of Эй, ухнем! to myself. We stopped along the way to get a bite to eat and to rest. More importantly, we talked. We talked about the past, the present, hopes, dreams and fears. I might even dare to say that it was the first REAL conversation we ever had.

Too often, there is this barrier between us. I'm the parent. She's the child. It's not unlike the supervisor/employee relationship at times. Yet now, sitting in an empty restaurant sipping on sodas, we were just two people caught up in the midst of a very difficult afternoon. We were on a mission together.

We pressed on. We got the car and drove to the store for some drinks. When we got back into the car, I went to start it, only to find that the battery had died. I groaned in agony at the thought of having to hike up to the auto parts store to get a new one. Screw that. I called Jason for a lift instead, as he was now off work. We'd had enough adventure for one day.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Praying Mantis

Early last week, I was out on my porch watching the kiddo ride her scooter up and down the street when I looked over at my screen door to find a rather large praying mantis hanging out there. I figured that the mantis would jump off the door the second we opened it to get back into the house, but it kept clinging to the door even after we opened and closed it several times. In fact, the praying mantis hung out on the door for about three days.

The visit from our praying mantis inspired the kiddo and I to look up some information on them. The praying mantis is thought to be a cousin of the cockroach, branching off their common ancestor, a predatory proto-cockroach with mantis-like forelegs, in the Cretaceous period. They are ambush predators who lie in wait for something that they can devour to pass close by so that they can be caught and held securely with the mantis' grasping, spiked forelegs.

One can't look up information about the praying mantis and not run into a discussion about sexual cannibalism. In captivity, female mantises have been observed devouring its mate's head during the mating ritual. Researchers initially believed that the removal of the male’s head was a reproductive strategy that enhanced fertilization while allowing the female to obtain sustenance. Other research has indicated that the behavior appears to be an artifact of intrusive laboratory observation.

Kiddo and I learned a lot about the praying mantis and were a little sad to find that it had left after a few days. It was nice to have a visit from an insect that wasn't related to a wasp for once.