Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Last hours...

It's been an eventful year.  I'm glad it's nearly over, and hope next year is a good one. 

Year's almost over.

I spent the day busting my ass, getting trash out of out-of-the-way places in the living room.  I had no idea how badly it had built up: crayon papers and wadded up scribble-drawings, and old worksheets and boxes left over from Christmas presents filled two 13 gallon kitchen bags.  Odysseus and I moved most of the living room furniture to pull all of that crap out.

And then we sprayed Ortho bug spray around the baseboards in both the living room (where I'd been cleaning) and the kitchen. 

Tomorrow, we'll be taking down and boxing up the Christmas decorations, and the Christmas movies.  I'm inclined to let the kids keep their books...but then again, I always am.

Thursday, the imp goes to spend the night with Grandma and Grandpa (and will take his bike with him for the visit).  After Odysseus gets back, I'll keep the pixie occupied while Odysseus finishes what we didn't get done: the vacuuming.  Which requires moving furniture, and wrestling with the bigger vacuum (which I finally got unclogged).

It's going to be nice to go into the semester with a slightly cleaner house...not that it will likely stay that way for long.


I actually thought I'd hit publish, last night, before I went to bed.  That should tell you how tired I actually was after yesterday. 

Monday, December 29, 2014


They're expensive.

They both had their well-child check-ups, today.  The imp is 48 inches tall, now, and 48 pounds, while the pixie is 40 inches and 34 pounds.  Doc said we're doing good monitoring the imp (catching the red #40 intolerance, and the allergy-induced behavioral issues--with no red #40, and a dose of allergy meds every morning, he's incredibly well-behaved, especially for his age).  Also confirmed what I suspected: that the pixie just has to power through the constant round of viruses she's been dealing with (catching the next as soon as she recovers from the one just previous).  The two appointments were at the office of a doctor that has stopped accepting any sort of health insurance.  She's started offering a subscription-based service...but the office visit for each child was $116, and the subscription is $60/month/person. 

After their appointment, Odysseus and I took them to Sam's Club...and found something I'd been planning on getting to help the imp organize his toys: clear plastic shoeboxes.  He's got two for wood rails, one for wood engines, one for metal, one for cars, one for trucks, one for dozers, one for signs.  And all of them are labeled in writing, and he showed us he could read the tubs and lids.  The pixie has three more from the set for her wooden magnet dolls and some of her small bits of costume jewelry and things.  

Right now, the pixie is asleep for naptime...and the imp is outside, riding the bike the grandparents sent Christmas money for. 

Yep: kids are expensive, but they're worth every penny.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Random ramblings

The kids got mean mommy, this morning.  Loud giggles and slamming doors waking parents brings mean mommy down on them.  They got yelled at and put in opposite corners of the couch, under strict orders that they're not to make any sounds or speak until Mary Poppins  is over.  And that's two and a half hours (an hour past when I'd have preferred to get up). 

They made out like bandits, this Christmas.  The imp got a Tonka firetruck from Grandma and Grandpa that's nearly as big as he is (about six by six inches around, and nearly three feet long).  Yes, it's a noisy toy, but he's got rules around noisy toys that let him play with them without irritating the hell out of Odysseus and me: he can play with them in his room, with his door shut.  It's let him keep a wooden train whistle toy without us being driven crazy.

We got the kids each a stick horse for Santa gifts.  They have plush toy heads (to do less damage to each other when they inevitably get into a fight and use them to hit each other), with wispy manes.  The pixie's is purple (and she's named it Purple Magic for whatever reason), and the imp's is a black and white paint. 

And they will each be getting a bike and a helmet with Christmas money.  Both have asked us for a bike, and now that we've got the Forrester, and can take them somewhere safe to ride, we'll get them each a bike. 

I got Odysseus two seasons of Scrubs, and my younger sister got him one of Futurama (and a nerdy coffee cup, much like the one I have, only a lot smaller).  He has watched quite a bit of both shows, and is very, very happy with them.

He ordered three fountain pens for me.  One is still on its way from China, but the other two arrived in good time.  I've put blue ink in one of the two, and turquoise in the other.  I'll probably put the quick-dry blue in the last.

And last, I found a cordless screwdriver--something I'd been wanting for ages--at Sam's Club, in their Christmas gift displays.  Their price was much lower than Amazon's, at a hair under $20.  It's about the size of a 1911, with a grip angled like a Ruger or Glock (but it has a safety, so it can't be a Glock).  I'll be using that today, to put the clock back up in the imp's room. 

We recently had to try a new type of food on the cats.  It's still Purina One, but their usual Healthy Metabolism food was nowhere to be found.  We've tried them on the Indoor formula, which is supposed to contain grasses and things that outdoor cats supplement their diets with (rather than supplementing the diet with mice, like Shadow does.  She swallows them whole, judging by the near-complete skeletons I've found encased in poop in the litter box).  Cricket seems to like the food a lot better...and Shadow's gotten more active.  She's started playing with me, instead of just climbing on me and cuddling.  Shadow has this thing where she'll lay on her back and pull a hand down to pet her belly.  Yesterday, she pulled my hand down to her belly, started rabbit kicking me (carefully without claws), and bit my shirt sleeve a few times. 

We saw the dog on Christmas.  She's a shaggy, stinky little catfish smelling dog that spins circles in place in happiness at the very sight of us, yipping this excited, high-pitched "come play with me" bark.  We did play with her a bit, and I loved on her a bit (and fed her some of my roast chicken). 

We are going to have to do something to get our dog back, before my mom decides to keep her.

I've still got about three weeks before I go back to work.  One of those weeks will involve practicing going to pick the pixie up from school, since I will be doing that at least two of the three days during the week, due to Odysseus's class schedule.

I'm trying to get going on Detritus again, but it isn't easy.  I'm going to have to order a CD to help me set the right mood.  It seems to want to be written to the Rolling Stones, not anything I already have.  I'm strongly considering ordering a four gig memory stick to boost my laptop up from two gigs to six.  Odysseus says that four (which is what his laptop has) helps greatly, but I'd rather not have to deal with this again for a while, since the entire bottom of the laptop has to come off, rather than a specific part of it like Odysseus's laptop has.  The small section to access memory would make things a lot easier, but...yeah.  Mine is two years older than his, despite being the same model.  And things like convenience for upgrades weren't considered when putting mine together.

Friday, December 26, 2014

I have to share these.

I will admit that I have a favorite brand of ink, now.  Yes, the Waterman's ink is alright.  It works, and the green and the turquoise are really pretty.

But I must say that Noodler's ink has become, far and away, my absolute favorite.  Not only is the ink of very good quality (and much of it is water resistant or waterproof, with a few freeze resistant varieties), but the company has a sense of history and sense of humor that is rarely found today. 

They have inks like Q-E'ternity (a blue-black that happens to nod toward the endless rounds of quantitative easing), Nikita Khrushchev red, Tiannanmen (also red, but a little darker), a collection of colors inspired by WWII (Burma Brown, Mandalay Maroon, Operation Overlord Orange, etc)...

...and the one I just ordered: Bernanke Blue.  A quick drying ink named after the Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who was the main face of the frenzied printing of money that was Quantitative Easing.  There's also a quick-drying Bernanke Black. 

Neither color is permanent, only water-resistant and smear resistant. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas to all!

I'm havin' a drink (as soon as the kids go to bed).

Serious celebration time: I survived yet another Christmas with minimal family drama (though that might be because the drama llama loved the bamboo crochet hooks I found for her).

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Breaks in daily routines suck.

Wanna know why? 

Because my kids cannot seem to get along, today, and cannot seem to be capable of good behavior. 

I've given the imp a dose of 12 hr allergy meds, and he's actually behaving decently.  It's not him at fault.  It's the pixie.

The pixie has been incapable of settling down.  She's also been whiny, and has tended to pick fights with her brother. 

I am getting so sick of her behavior.

I've been sick of the whole mess surrounding Christmas since the end of November, when we put up the tree.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


So, back several years ago, I bought a bottle of Glenfiddich 15 year old single barrel Scotch. 

I have nearly run out...and Sam's Club has stopped carrying it.  Which means MY price has jumped by nearly $15/bottle.  This boosts it nearly out of my affordability range. 

I really like that particular Scotch.  What I liked most about it was the smoky, earthy flavor it has.  I save that mostly for celebratory drinks, since it was $45/bottle when I bought it. 

Does anyone have any recommendations for a reasonably priced replacement?  I already know I don't care for blended Scotch, and prefer a longer aging process. 


Monday, December 22, 2014

Sticking to my knitting.

I'm more than a bit upset about the recent spate of revenge killing of police officers.  On the one hand, I can see where it's coming from: various incidents with SWAT and with overreactions to honest-to-God peaceful, law-abiding people questioning why they were being detained/questioned/thrown face first on the ground, and/or family pets shot out of hand.  Only problem is that it's not the cops that have sown the wind who are reaping the whirlwind.  It's the poor schlubs that are in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

And leftist mouth-breathing leavings from a diseased whore's dripping twat bloviating about how the police were wrong (*ahem* de Blasio, Sharpton, Jackson, et. al. ad nauseum) have done nothing but destabilize an already explosive situation.

I cannot do anything to affect any of it.  Not one damn thing.

Especially as these poor schlubs have been fed the lie that I am a dangerous individual because I believe in the rule of law set down by the United States Constitution, rather than the rule of whim of the ruling classes that we aren't supposed to have, but do anyway.  They'd rather cozy up to and carry the scorpion across the river.  Because there's no way the leftists would stab them in the back, right?

As I said: there's nothing I can do.  Not personally, and not with my small readership.  All I can do is keep a weather eye on things and hope the storm bypasses my life, and doesn't endanger my family. 

Personal responsibility III: taking care of yourself

There are several levels to this: everything from eating right to exercising to exercising basic hygiene to going to doctors' appointments, and the like.

That's not what I'm talking about. 

What I'm talking about is making sure an individual can take care of themselves.  Odysseus covered some of it in his financial advice columns, but I want to expand on it a bit. 

First off, and this is the most basic part, the individual must make sure they have a job.  It would be better should that not be a minimum wage, part time, dead-end job (though there are actually fewer of those than most believe, given how hard Casey's tried to get Odysseus trained on everything, and to promote him), but any port in a storm.  A job equals income.  And even a part-time job that pays minimum wage is liveable, if you're careful.  And it grants the time to go seek out a different job that offers more hours and/or pays better.  Or, failing that, a second job.

Second, start a savings account.  A few dollars a week until a grand is saved up is enough to start.  That prevents an emergency brake repair from wiping out everything someone tries to do to better their lot. 

Third, should that aforementioned job happen to be a part time, minimum wage job, the next step is that the individual in question should stop indulging.  No more eating out--not even from the McDonald's dollar menu--no more coffees that they don't make themselves, no more money spent on frivolities.  Why?  Because the average American is an idiot, and carries a metric fuckton of debt, between what they took out for college, what they owe on their car, and what they owe on their credit card(s) and/or payday loans. 

And, once the individual stops indulging in whatever little habit tends to suck the money out of their bank accounts, they can start paying down those debts.*

Getting rid of those debts makes everything else easier.

Fourth, pay cash or do without.  On everything, basic medical care included, because a yearly doctor's visit isn't too expensive, if it's budgeted and saved for.  And no, having someone else pay for medical insurance isn't a basic, human right.   Neither is steak, or junk food, or cell phones of any type.  Or internet.  Or cable.

Fifth, a solid pantry, holding a few weeks' worth of food (enough to get through a short-term emergency or unemployment) should be assembled.  I recommend a membership at a warehouse store--it makes acquiring things in bulk a lot simpler...and a lot cheaper.  I think we save somewhere around a thousand dollars a year on the groceries we get at Sam's Club.  When the kids were in diapers, it was more than that. 

I think the biggest thing, the thing that makes the most difference in being self-sufficient is the capability to plan ahead and to defer gratification.  And both are involved in each step of taking care of yourself.

*I recommend Dave Ramsey's plan for that.  And no, I'm not being paid to say that.  I was incredibly disappointed when our local talk radio replaced him with Sean Hannity, who annoys the piss out of me.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

random ramblings

Yesterday was the kids' classes' Christmas parties.  My initial impulse was to keep them home. 

I should have listened to that impulse.  The imp got given red Kool-Aid.  And he slowly and inevitably turned into a nasty little beast as the day went on. 

The start of Christmas Break for the kids marks the end of the second quarter.  The pixie doesn't get a grade card, as such...I think.  The imp didn't really get one, but I can see his grades online.  His grades have improved greatly (in everything except math, which he seems to have started kind of blowing off because it's easy for him), since he's passing without having to have the grades massaged.  At this rate of improvement, he may well be ready for first grade by the end of the year. 

And the pixie has two full weeks to recover from her back-to-back respiratory illnesses, caused by hanging around with thirteen other snuggly little germ incubators with no concept of personal boundaries.

She hasn't grown since September.  Not even a little.  She's had to use her reserves to try to fight off her constant illnesses instead of grow.

Shadow has been a right pain, recently.  The random number generator inside the fuzz-covered little kitty skull has come up "sleep on sleeping person" lately, and when I put the pixie down for a nap, I have to shut the cat up in the back room (unless Odysseus is napping--in which case, I toss her in onto his ankles).  If she's not doing that, she's chewing on plastic: the corners of wipes bags, Ziploc bags, trash bags hanging over the edge of the trash cans, Walmart name it, she's chewing on it. 

Cricket has been more skittish than usual.  I do not know what Shadow's been doing when the two are shut in the back room, but it's had an effect on Cricket's mental health.

We saw our Scotty dog at my mother's, yesterday.  Didn't pet her much--she literally smells like a catfish.  And, according to Mom this morning, the dog either ate something she shouldn't have while playing outside yesterday, or just got really upset, because she threw up in her crate last night. 

Semester has been over for Odysseus and me for about a week, now.  My student who'd gotten an incomplete last Spring finished out her work, and I got her grade change request turned in when I got my grades done. 

And Odysseus...Odysseus pulled a 4.0 semester.  Busted his ass to do it, since three of his four classes were upper division accounting classes (including auditing and tax accounting 1), but he did it.

I think I may have a good idea of why writing's stalled.  First, I don't have the right music.  And second...I tried to take the story in the wrong direction.  I seem to do that a lot...

In any case, I think I can get back on the ball, now.  Once the headache I woke up with goes the fuck away.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


When I said that the pixie was sick on Sunday, I meant really, really sick.  Bad enough to have me a little scared.  She was breathing hard and fast, her heart was beating hard and fast, she had a deep, barking cough, and was running a fever.  I was going to call the doctor on Monday...and then, after a good night's sleep, she was much improved.  Still coughing, but no fever, and no difficulty breathing. 

I was the one having difficulty, yesterday--difficulty keeping her still and quiet to continue her recovery.  I'm having the same trouble today. 

And today, she's throwing mini-tantrums when I refuse to let her up to run around and play. 

She's going back to school tomorrow.

Woah, buddy, time to lawyer up.

Yep.  Time to lawyer up and sue the ever-livin' fuck out of the city of Philadelphia, and the state of Pennsylvania for permitting this to happen in the first place.

Seriously.  The city tax office admitted to making up the $280K back taxes bill out of whole cloth, and because the guy, who lives on a fixed income, didn't purchase the transcript that some petty bureaucrat ordered him to, a fucknugget sitting on the bench and claiming to be a judge ruled that the guy had to pay the bill that everybody involved admitted he didn't owe.  

I'm pretty sure that suing the city for a few tens of millions of dollars, with the lawyer paid half of the proceeds, would get him a damn good one willing to work without retainer.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sick pixie. Again.

I'm really beginning to hate handing my children over for solid chunks of days.  My imp may be doing much better, for the most part, but the pixie has barely gotten over one virus before she's come down with the next one. 

I'm not sure she'll be up for school tomorrow.  She's decidedly uncomfortable, and has been running a fever, on and off.  I think the best, and only, thing I can do is try my best to get her to be still and rest to recover.  The Nutcracker is doing a lot of my work for me...but I've already watched it twice today, and have promised her I'd start it again when she wakes back up from her nap.

It's ironic, though...the doctors in the NICU told me that the imp would probably have a weak immune system, and that he'd have trouble with it through elementary school.  He's had one cold (albeit a nasty one), and one bout with stomach flu.  He's had to stay home once.  It's ironic that the one born eight weeks early has the stronger immune system than the one who was born only a little early. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Oh, fer fuck's sake!

There is a sign, just outside the women's restroom, pointing toward one of the conference rooms, announcing a committee meeting for the committee on committees. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Well, apparently, the university can't afford raises or Christmas bonuses: they're changing job titles.  Secretaries are no longer secretaries.  They're now Administrative Assistants.

That just rolls off the tongue: English and Philosophy Department Administrative Assistant. 

I will agree that these secretaries are now doing more than what used to be considered a secretary's job; however, I think the university should have cut the pay of some of the various VPs and shifted that money into giving the raises to the people who actually do the fucking work: their "Administrative Assistants." 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Random ramblings

So, the imp is really starting to get the hang of school.  I'm pleased. 

What has me even more pleased is hearing him quietly sounding out words and reading to himself in his bedroom with his door slightly ajar. 

He's mostly well-behaved at school--he's learned that if he's badly behaved at school, he gets punished at home, and the level of punishment has increased from simply no TV  on a warning day to no TV and a toy confiscated, only to be returned on a blue day.  And if he lies about it, he gets sat in the kitchen to stare at the corner until supper, then until bed.  Which is what happened last week (Tuesday). 

The pixie is starting to get over the nasty part of the cold she came home with just before Thanksgiving...which means that she may be coming home with some all new crud sometime in the next two weeks, if patterns hold true.  I'm actually hoping that they don't, and that she won't be sick over Christmas Break (which starts the 19th and ends January 5th for the kids). 

Classes are done for the university.  All we have next week are finals: I'll need to be in on Wednesday from 11-1:00, for the first one, and 12-2:00 for the second on Friday.  Odysseus has one on Monday, one on Tuesday, one on Wednesday (rescheduled for Wednesday night with the online sections of the class), and one on Friday.  Sounds fun, huh?

The kids have one week more than Odysseus and I do...which sets us up for Christmas shopping for the kids.

The cats have been extra-snuggly this weekend.  I have no clue what's gotten into them, but if they're not crowding on me, they're sleeping on or near one of the kids. 

And last but not least, I've got the plot for the project I'm working on all worked out.  I've just got to flesh it out, now.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Stupid student tricks...

1. One of my Saudi boys turned in good papers all semester.  I double checked each one, and none seemed plagiarized (the English was too good).  Well, I graded his blog this morning, and double checked on one of his posts...and it was copied and pasted from a persuasive essay website...which took his high A for the class down to an F.

2.  My blatantly racist student was just in here complaining about how confusing another professor in another department's ways of figuring grades is, and asking me to explain to her how her grade was figured.  I HAVE NO FUCKING CLUE.  She's also missed four out of five of the workshops (each of which is worth ten points), but managed 90% on all of her papers for me, and was wondering if there was anything she could do to raise her B for the class to an A.  Um...nope!

3. I have two students who have not turned in the research paper as of yet.  One of them had an A before I gave her a 0 for the paper, and the other had a D. 

4.  I had a student to whom I gave an incomplete last semester contact me and ask me if I'd graded her papers that I could make sure and turn in a grade change give her the piece of mind that her Incomplete doesn't turn into an F.  I haven't received her papers, so how the fuck could I grade them???

FFOT: stupid policy enforcement

Well.  I'd be finished after today, were it not for the mush-brained twatwaffle who thinks Kipling's Kim described the Great Game of nations in unironic terms (assuming he knows that's where the terms he's been gleefully throwing around come from), and has embraced whole-heartedly applying the term "Great Game" to things: we have the Great Game of Business, and the Great Game of Education.

Why on earth did the Board of Trustees decide to hire a community college player on as a growing and developing full university president?

Because of this idiot, every class must do something during scheduled final exams time.  Yep, every class.  From Choir to Ceramics to College Composition.  Knowledge-based classes and skills-based classes.

I can see the point with the knowledge-based classes, all of which now require a comprehensive final exam, but skills-based?  It's fucking stupid.  It's a waste of the students' time, the instructors' time, and of the resources of the university. 

I s'pose that just matches the fat-fuck waste of space sitting in the university president's office. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

If you drink coffee...

We lose power sometimes, through thunderstorms, ice storms, and routine maintenance by the electrical company.  Sometimes, the loss of power can last more than a few hours--during one ice storm, we lost power for about two days (we had to go to my in-laws' place for that one, since we lacked heating backups). 

Well, when we have no power, I have no coffee.  I keep whole bean coffee around.  Ground?  Not so much. 

A few days ago, I ordered a manual coffee grinder.  It arrived yesterday, and I just used it to make a cup of coffee.  The drawer that holds the ground coffee is only big enough to make one cup, but since I'm the only coffee drinker in the house as of yet, that doesn't matter. 

It works.  It works really well.  Apparently, it's adjustable, and mine came adjusted for a very fine grind--it's only slightly coarser than an espresso grind--exactly the way I like it.  It takes about four minutes and plenty of elbow grease and stamina to grind enough to make a full cup of coffee. 

There's a very slight difference in flavor, but I'm not sure what causes that, and it's not enough for most to notice.  I do think it's an improvement, though, so...yet another plus.

It's also quite pretty, so it serves a dual purpose.

Definitely a good purchase, and a good addition to short-term power loss emergency preps.  Especially when combined with this, which is what I used to make my single cup of coffee with the new grinder. 

Monday, December 1, 2014


Missouri Governor Jay Nixon nearly stepped on his dick, here: last week, he decided he wanted to call a special session to find the cash to pay for the National Guard and State Troopers in Ferguson, MO. 

Well, now, he's changed his mind.  I'm pretty sure I have a good idea why, too: the Guard were stationed in the upscale neighborhoods, while looting went on in the commercial districts.  I would be willing to bet that he doesn't want the special sessions demanding answers to awkward questions, like "Why weren't the Guard and State Troopers stationed where everyone knew looting and rioting would occur?"

Yup: he barely avoided stepping on his own dick, there.  Too bad he wised up before the session was called...