Wednesday, December 31, 2008

WAH and art (sort of)

First, a comment by Nna Yram (aka, Hsum - not her real names) on yesterday's post made me realize that I need to clear up why I was able to spend Monday buying bread in an obscure small town on the coast, watch an amazing sunset, and then spend the evening standing in line to watch a 17-piece band play one of the most obscure Beatles songs ever (Flying).

The company I work for extremely grasciously shuts down for the week between Please Buy Anything and Everything Day and the end of the year. This means that I am off this week and most of last week. This also means that I am free to do all those nagging chores around the house that I have been putting off because "I just don't have the time."

Or I would be free to do those chores, but dang it, I've got work to do at home (WAH) during this break. This is work that I have gotten behind on due to my dabbling in other things when I'm actually at work.

So I set up a large folding table in the bedroom, set up two computers on it, and added all of the WAH essentials I need to be productive. (My word but my hair is geting thin on top. I'm now second-guessing that decision to get a haircut last week - never mind the pony tail; I really need that hair to get a comb-over going.)

In any case, I am being extremely productive. (Although that is mostly due to the lack of bowl games on broadcast TV - the first one is coming on in five minutes. Kansas plays today on an extremely obscure cable channel so I will have to follow it on the internet. Go Jayhawks!)

Now, about this drawing. Darci wanted to draw a picture of me. But then she started getting all "arty" on me. "OK, now I'm going to draw your ears" she said. "Great! Make them really big" I replied. And she made the smallest ears I have ever seen. "I need a beard" I said. She added whiskers over my whole face, including my forehead. "Now for your fingers" she said. "Cool! I'd love eight of them on each hand" I cheerfully exclaimed.

So she drew an angry squiggle on my right hand. "What's that?" I asked with a bit of worry in my voice. "A fierce animal is biting your hand" she said with a twinkle in her eye. "Well then, I don't think I would be smiling."

That circle sort of thing around my mouth is me screaming.

I made a note to myself to not make this kid angry in the future.

That's it - move along...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Universally Fab 17 Monday

Monday was a busy day. The Boy still had a bit of a fragile stomach, but we had already made plans and bought tickets to go to Santa Cruz to see a concert, so with a bit of trepidation, we headed down there.

On the windiest road we could find. We headed out west on 84 through La Honda to Highway 1.

First stop along the way was at the amazing bakery in Pescadero called Arcangeli Grocery Company. We have been buying bread there every chance we get since our days camping at nearby Memorial Park.

It didn't disappoint - they had just pulled out loaves of artichoke garlic herb bread from the oven. We also picked up a bonus half-baked loaf of garlic herb sourdough. Half of the artichoke bread was gone before we made it back to the coast - with The Boy even eating some.

We hit the coast just as the sun was about to splash into the ocean.

The weather along the coast was amazingly nice - not particularly warm, but not really cold either.

We made a quick stop at the Boardwalk where Mrs Notthat scored a 2-for-1 end of the year token deal. These tokens will come in handy next year once The Boy is mobile again.

Speaking of The Boy, this picture shows him eating a "small" Caesar salad for dinner at the Santa Cruz Diner. (He ended up eating half of it - I was amazed he ate much of it at all based on how much of the artichoke bread turned up missing by the time we got there.)

And then we were off to the main event - a performance titled Across the Universe by the White Album Ensemble at the Rio Theatre.

The Rio is an old movie theater that has been converted to host a variety of concerts and other sorts of performances. It is extremely laid back and mellow about the whole going to a concert thing. We got there a little over an hour before the show started, picked up our tickets, and got in line. Since it is general admission, it is like going to the opening of some new hot shot movie involving hobbits or wookies - a line forms of people wanting to get the best seats (there were about 50 people ahead of us).

Note: Obviously, if the weather had not been so nicely tolerable, I would be grumbling mightily about having to stand outside like this. But not this time.

The White Album Ensemble is a group of Santa Cruz musicians that are dedicated to faithfully reproducing songs from the various Beatles albums. For example, tonight they are performing Rubber Revolver in which they all the songs from the Rubber Soul and Revolver albums in order. They don't attempt to look like the Beatles (much) though - they are really keen on playing the songs the way they think the Beatles would have played them live if they were still playing concerts. (Can you imagine the Beatles still playing concerts like the Stones? Me neither, but it would have been awesome!)

To accomplish this, they have a few more members than the Fab Four - I counted 17 all together last night, with maybe 58 different guitars. There was a small strings section and a small brass section. There were also a few more female singers than I believe were in the original Beatles, but this was due to this particular concert - playing the 33 songs from the Across the Universe movie. This movie had covers of the songs, so this concert contained some non-faithful versions of a few songs (While My Guitar Gently Weeps was stunning, Blackbird could have used some tweaks, Let it Be was very good). Most of the songs were very close to the originals though, which was amazing.

The guy who sang the Paul parts REALLY did not look the part. Mrs Notthat said afterwards that she half expected him to say "That'll do pig, that'll do" since he looked a bit like Farmer Hogget. But he sounded just like Paul, even on the challenging songs like Oh Darling and Don't Let Me Down.

The guy who sang the John parts was also amazingly close to sounding like the real thing.

In any case, it was very great fun and a fantastic show. All You Need is Love and I Am the Walrus were stunning. With a Little Help From My Friends started out traditional and then broke into the Joe Cocker version. These guys are really good (and I'm pretty sure this was their first time performing this show).

Mrs Notthat mentioned wanting to go to tonight's show, but man, driving down there and back makes for a late night. (The Boy volunteered to stay home this time - he claims to have heard only five or six of the songs before, which tells me I've failed in exposing him to good music.)

That's it - move along...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gray hair and grandkids

I gave up on my quest for a pony tail and convinced Mrs Notthat to give me a haircut. (I still have nightmares from my last haircut, when Darci did her best to make me look like a character from one of those kids shows she watches.)

Now I will have nightmares about the amount of gray hair that got cut.

I probably can't blame the gray hair all on the grandkids, or The Boy, or IDT, or the Giants, but they certainly all played their part. (And, truth be told, I'm still pretty psyched that I have hair to whine about.)

Friday the grandkids and WHM came over for pizza and general mayhem. The kids had a great time hiding under the dining room chairs. (I don't get it either.) They also had a great time eating dessert.

Here Riley teases Mr Notthat with a sinckerdoodle that WHM made (that weirdly did not seem to have anything to do with Snickers at all).

Darci nursed her ice cream sundae .

The Boy has had a grouchy stomach the last few days, and we are hoping it gets better fast - tomorrow we have a concert of sorts to go to in sunny Santa Cruz and he needs to be perky enough to go.

Maybe I should have saved him a snickerdoodle. (Or maybe he ate one...KIDDING!)

That's it - move along...

Friday, December 26, 2008

More Notthats and some tomatoes

First, I just got an email from my dad in Colorado. I have to give him a bit of credit for not making fun of my post a few days ago where I whined about our bitter cold and the frost I had to deal with. They have received 64 inches of snow in the last two weeks, and are expecting about a foot more today.

So I'm not going to mention how cold it is here (it MAY get up to 52 today) or how bitter this winter has been. At least not in public.

I did send him this picture of our tomato ripening process, showing that we will be eating home grown tomatoes for several weeks to come. Heh heh heh...

Last night I made a pot of pumpkin/broccoli chili and we had some friends who are also Notthats over for dinner and games.

Asil (not her real name) brought the corn bread. Note the separate bowl of beans - one of the most embarrassing things about Mrs Notthat is that she hates beans. Completely and totally. (Well, almost totally - she has a brownie recipe that adds mashed black beans that she likes, but that's about it. Remind me to tell you a funny story of her first night visiting my parnets.)

Once dinner was done, we played Balderdash (it's a little frightening how good we all were at making up extremely likely sounding definitions for words nobody had ever heard of before) and Apples to Apples. Pumpkin pie and some bizarre thing involving crushed Oreos and chocolate cake kept everyone going through the games.

That is Asil, Noraa, and Yentruoc (not their real names) on the left with IDT showing lots of interest in what Noraa has in his pocket (maybe sneaking out an extra piece of pie?).

And that's about it. While there is no sign of snow here at all, it's hard not to run out and pick up a snow shovel anyway, not that you could find one anywhere around here.

That's it - move along...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pumpkin - Notthatlucas style

When it's cold outside, it's time to cook up a pumpkin and start baking.

These are the last two pumpkins from our garden. We decided to cook the big one on the left - it was big enough that we had to cook it in two shifts. 

(Note the ice scraper - Mrs Notthat found it in the minivan hidden in a place no mortal would ever find it, although she claims it was in plain view. We have not needed it since she found it since it has warmed slightly, although it is pretty rainy.) 

We cook our pumpkins a bit differently than anything I have found on the web or in a cookbook. We leave the skin on, cut it up into chunks, and boil it until soft. (Of course we save the seeds - those we boil in garlic salted water, let dry out, coat with a small amount of olive oil and a bit more garlic salt and cayenne pepper, and then roast them for a few minutes. Oh my those are good.) 

The second picture shows the process of taking the cooked pumpkin from the pot, using a blender to puree it, and then the final product.

Well, actually, the last picture shows the final products - a loaf of absurdly healthy pumpkin bread for Mrs Notthat and a batch of vaguely healthy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, some with bonus cocoa and peppermint.

We now have LOTS of pumpkin to play with. We will freeze some and sneak some in other foods (like pasta sauce and chili and such - you can't really taste it but it packs a lot of vitamins and fiber for the more finicky ones).

We've only got one more homegrown pumpkin to cook, but I suspect we will end up with a few others as people get tired of them sitting on their front porch and Mrs snags them. 

Sometimes she even asks first!

That's it - move along...

PS: Of course I'm kidding! She almost never asks.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's not unusual Mars Attacks grandchildren freezing

Yes, I know that's a weird title, but this is going to be a wide ranging post.

I work for a reasonably "hip" company. When you apply to work here, the form has places to list your piercings and tattoos - the more you have the better your chances (I was grandfathered in since I have none of either).

This hip company occasionally has these things called "beer bashes" that usually have some sort of theme (the most bizarre is the Health Faire Beer Bash). Friday we had a bash that promised a "surprise musical guest." Since my group has been moved to a building about a mile away, I rarely go to these things. Also, to paraphrase Yogi Berra, it's so crowded that nobody goes there anymore.

But the promise of a surprise musical guest was a bit much to resist, so I headed over, got a good spot to stand (this was in the cafeteria - they removed all the chairs and tables to allow easy mingling), and started waiting for the event to begin. It was a much longer wait than I bargained for, but finally things got underway.

So who was the surprise musical guest? The company loves to keep these sorts of thing secret. It seemed that a few people there knew who the guest was, but they weren't talking. I noticed that one woman had brought a pair of (hopefully spare) red lace undies. In retrospect, this should have been a big hint.

The introduction went something like this - "He's the greatest singer ever! He's stolen many women's hearts!" Hmmmm. Elvis is (probably) dead. This also eliminated things like Brittany Spears. But who could it be?

As you can clearly see in this picture the surprise musical guest turned out to be TOM JONES!

And the crowd, 90% of which were not even born when Tom had his first hits, went wild! Undies were flung on the stage. This was easily the most surreal bash ever.

He opened with "It's not Unusual," sang a couple of songs from his new (!) album, sang a couple of xmas songs (no DAK, not "It Must Have Been the Mistletoe" - sorry), then the hit "What's New Pussycat" (everyone swaying and holding up their iPhones while their nose rings tinkled - this had to be weirder than anything Tom puts up with in Las Vegas), and then he was gone.

The funny thing is that when I think of Tom Jones, I think of that wonderful Hollywood classic Mars Attacks, a movie in which he had a big role. I forget that he's a big shot singer.

We watched the grandkids this evening while WHM and WHD went to a movie and a dinner that didn't involve animated characters or a Happy Meal. This picture shows Mrs Notthat protecting them while watching the horror movie "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" - a VeggieTales movie.

See the blankets and warm PJs? We are still in the grip of a winter blast. This morning, IDT's water dish had just a little water left in it, and it was frozen. I tried to fill it with the hose, but it was frozen.

Snow can't be far off.

That's it - move along...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Gentlepersons - Start your engines!

Here's a funny thing: A coworker (Ydnas - not her real name) has a daughter (Yllom) who is about to turn 17. Yllom announced a few days ago that she wants her first car to be an old Ford Thunderbird. Ydnas explained that these cars are either really expensive or they need lots of work. Yllom said the "lots of work" part wouldn't be a problem since she could have The Boy do it. They met once at The Crucible when we took that welding class. A 56 Thunderbird is a sweet ride - The Boy would probably love fooling with one.

And he may even end up qualified to do so. 

He did it - The Boy got into the Skyline College Automotive Technology Program! Apparently they get quite a few more applications than they have openings, so it gets a bit competitive to get in. Last semester The Boy took an introductory automotive course there with the hopes that doing well in it would help his chances of getting into this program, and it appears to have worked.

The program is three years long and each semester requires you to come to classes four days a week for five hours each day. If I read it right, his first semester will have him there from 8 AM to 1 PM. It has been a while since he had to be anywhere at 8 AM, and since this school is in San Bruno (Spanish for "Without Bunions" - weird), which is about a 20 mile/40 minute commute during rush hour, this will definitely be challenging for his alarm clock.

But he is excited and looking forward to it anyway. His knee is healing well and he will hopefully be fairly mobile by then (he has three more weeks of crutches).

Now, the important bits. Skyline College calls themselves the Trojans. While they don't have a football team, they do have baseball, basketball, wrestling, and soccer teams. I'm not aware of any pro athlete that came from this college, and their games are not nationally broadcast - weirdly it appears that sports are not their top priority.

So The Boy and his fragile knees will have to focus on his classes and be happy.

We are thrilled! Congrats Jesse!

That's it - move along...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dang it's cold...

This is for you people that live in the habitually frostbitten parts of the country. You need to understand that, even out here in the bliss that is California, we too have to suffer through bitter cold.

Yes, that is frost covering the car this morning. Yes, that is a squeegee that I am trying to scrape the frost off with. We do own at least one ice scraper - I'm sure of it. But I couldn't find it. It's probably hiding behind all the leftover ketchup packets and mis-folded maps of Fresno.

I should just do the normal California thing and squirt the car with the garden hose and not sweat it, but scraping frost was a large part of my upbringing, and it's kind of in my blood. 

And the squeegee eventually did manage to wear out the frost enough to allow me to see through it.

That's it - shiver along...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

30 feet of amazement

My office is being moved today. I have WAY too much clutter and ended up with probably about twice as many boxes as anyone else. 

But it's my clutter, and as long as they can give me enough boxes, I will keep it. Who knows when I'll need AFL Thunderstix or a poster of the Sabercats cheerleaders.

The plant will be interesting. It won't have a window in the new office, but I don't think it will care too much. This is a stunningly resilient plant. I hope.

This picture shows it strung out in the hallway, all 30 feet of it. I coiled it up in a box and will need to come up with a way to hang it in the new office on Wednesday. Once that's done I can start sweating the trivial things like connecting the computers and doing actual work.

That's it - move along...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Boy takes a shower (finally)

The Boy had been waiting for this day ever since the surgery. Today marked 72 hours (he was counting down to the minute) after the surgery, which meant he could remove the bandage and EXTREMELY carefully take a shower.

But first, this picture shows where he has been spending most of his days. Last time we did not actually get him a handicap placard and there were a few times when we really wished we had. So this time, Mrs Notthat went to the (begin spooky music) DMV to pick one up. Except the Redwood City DMV was out getting a facial, so she had to drive up north somewhere to get it.

This picture shows the bandage removal process that involved a lot of "Be careful, go slow, OOOWWW, here let me do it" and so on.

And here is his knee. You can see three incisions (two below the kneecap and one that looks like it has masking tape on it - I swear we didn't go to Kaiser, although the fact that they felt it necessary to write "Yes" twice on the leg does worry me a bit). The shower went OK, but getting in and out was tricky. Hopefully a well placed grab bar will help him with that.

In any case, he has been watching lots of TV and movies and even Dave Letterman. Tomorrow he may even venture out of the house for the first time.

And I'll bet he doesn't forget the handicap placard.

That's it - move along...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Boy is running out knees

The Boy got his left knee operated on this morning. He had a torn meniscus and ended up getting stitches, which means he is out of commission for a while. (The CHP are bummed that he won't be driving for a bit. Our insurance company asked if he was out of body parts to be operated on - they like the idea of him not driving.)

The plan was to start the operation at 9 AM. Club Sequoia requires that you get there two hours early, so this meant leaving the house at 6:40 AM or so. Not great, but not obnoxiously early. Then yesterday we got a call that the operation had been moved up to 7:30 AM - and was asked if that would be a problem.


Simple (but horrifying) math said that this would require us to be up at about 4:30 AM to shower and get loaded up. Which was what we ended up doing.

Well, not really "we" since my job was to stay home and keep the grandkids from shoving IDT's tail in an electrical outlet or building a scaffolding out of Tinkertoys to get at the cookies (seriously, all they have to do is ask - I'm of the "ice cream is fine for breakfast" opinion if it makes them happy and my job easier).

So after Mrs Notthat and The Boy headed off to the hospital, I squeezed in a little nap. (Please don't tell Mrs Notthat - I'm supposedly this "morning person" kind of guy who should be thrilled at the chance to get up that early, and I'd hate to burst that bubble, although I can't for the life of understand why not.)

As was done when he had is right knee whacked, they wrote "YES" on the knee to be cut open. I still think they should write "NO" on the other knee, but I'm just a bit more paranoid than is useful.

The operation went fine. The Boy was much less stressed about the whole process this time. Here he is pretending to be ET with that glowy thing on his finger while in the recovery room.

And here he is with his extremely complicated knee brace that he will have to wear for a month or so. Apparently the damage was not as serious on this knee since he is not quite as heavily restricted as last time - for example, he can put 50% of his weight on the knee already - so hopefully his recovery will be much quicker than in February.

Meanwhile, his classes are on winter break and he has taken a leave of absense from work, which means he is going to have a LOT of time on his hands which we can't fill by making him mow the lawns or other chores like that. For now he is OK with that, but I suspect he will be getting bored soon.

Mrs Notthat will certainly be ready to get him healed and out of her hair very soon.

That's it - move along...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Two Caltrain things

Two quick (HA! You know these are never quick) Caltrain things.

See that car in there with all the shuttle buses? This is the shuttle bus loading area. There is a large sign that says "Shuttle Buses Only" at the entrance. This woman either missed the sign or, more likely, figured nobody would notice her as she pulled in.

Driving a car into the shuttle bus area is like the captain of the chess club wandering into a football practice to complain about the noise - it isn't going to go well. Most of the shuttle bus drivers just pointed and laughed as the woman tried to get the shuttles to move out of her way so she could get out - they were all waiting for a train that wasn't due to arrive for another ten minutes or so. She managed to get the guy behind her to try to move out of the way so she could back out, but more shuttles arrived and it quickly became hopeless.

I feel a bit bad that I enjoyed this a lot.

Tonight at the station, the crossing gates came down because the northbound train was pulling in. These gates are about 20 feet in front of where the train actually stops, so theoretically you could duck under the gates and stand on the rails and be perfectly safe.

It is annoying to have to stand and wait for these crossing gates in that situation, especially when you really want to get onto that train but you are on the wrong side of the tracks. But experience has shown me that if you wait, the arms will raise and you will have enough time to cross and get on the train because it takes so long for all the bicycles to get loaded.

Two teenage girls decided not to wait - they ducked under the gates and ran across the tracks. Well, one of them did - the other tripped on the southbound rails and fell across the tracks. The southbound tracks. They were completely focused on the northbound train and had not even looked to see if a southbound train was coming.

There wasn't a southbound train coming, the fallen girl got up and finished running across the tracks, and the northbound train coasted to its normal stop, blaring its horn.

It was all no big deal in the end, but it makes it easy to see how so many people end up being crash test dummies for Caltrain.

It's a bit crazy.

That's it - move along...

Tomatoes and BBQ

This is a picture of 1/3 of the cherry tomato plants. They are not particularly pretty, but notice the yellow blossoms and the green tomatoes. There is another 1/3 that looks sort of like this - the third 1/3 was pulled so that we would have somewhere to put the snow peas.

I picked all of the current tomatoes, no matter what their color, and they are now slowly ripening in a bowl on the kitchen counter. Every day a few more start turning yellow, then orange, on their way to red (and Darci's mouth). We should be eating tomatoes for at least another month.

I couldn't bring myself to pull up the plants yet - we have had some near-freezes but nothing yet that has hurt the plants. I'm having a real hard time getting past the end of summer.

Related to this pathetic "clinging to summer" thing, we had a barbecue and invited over about 25 people for dinner.

There was "Vaguely Mexican a Bit Spicy" chicken, "Vaguely Asian a Bit Spicy" chicken, and "Vaguely not Mexican or Asian or Spicy" chicken. Others brought a ham made of turkey, sausages made of chicken and spinach, a great rice dish, really good potato salad, and a token green salad. Oh, and LOTS of desserts.

Here is the buffet line in the kitchen with The Boy signaling a touchdown (yes, this was all done while the Redskins were getting drubbed by the Ravens - I am pretty sure he was taunting me).

But there still appears to be no chance of summer coming back.

That's it - move along...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A boy, a dog, and produce

Just a quick couple of pictures I found on the camera this morning. 

Riley loves bugging IDT. IDT seems to be OK with the attention, and is pretty good about just wandering away when he wants peace and quiet. 

Riley had a brush with a cold or something this week and there was fear that he was going to end up back in the hospital, but WHM jumped on top of it and appears to have defeated it, which is excellent news. 

Our three year old dwarf orange tree is giving us the most oranges ever! I love freshly picked oranges - they have a flavor that no store bought oranges can match. We do have to protect them from critters (we must have some of the healthiest rodents in the country). We are looking at getting almost a dozen oranges total.

That's it - move along... 

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Grab Bag

Work has been busy and has made doing these posts a bit irregular. Sorry. Today I catch up on a variety of things.

Frost on the Roof!
This morning dawn rose on lots of frost on the roof. It's cold. Officially it is only about 39 degrees or so, but it feels colder than that. This weekend I must pick the rest of the tomatoes since I don't want to have them spoiled by a true freeze like happened last year.

The Boy Getting Whacked Again
On Wednesday The Boy is getting his other knee operated on. We don't know yet how long his recovery will be, but it has been timed to occur during his school's winter break. Last time he was not able to drive or put weight on the leg for what seemed about a year - hopefully this time it will be less.

New Weights at the Fitness Center
We got some new weights at the fitness center at my work.

Note the bars. In spite of the way it looks, they are arranged in ascending order. I do not know why the red 7.5 lb bars are longer than the 10 and 12.5 lb bars - they must have a better agent. The true horror is that the heaviest bars are the 20 lb pink ones. Yes - pink. Sorry to be such a stereotypical male, but I will use two of the others before I will use the pink bar.

Note the nice colorful grips they placed on the bars. Weirdly, these are almost never where you actually want to grip the bar. Sadly, they are not nearly as comfortable as they look either, should they accidentally be in the right place - they have rough edges that dig into your hands a bit. Our old bars were all black and had a very comfortable foam their entire length. They were perfect. And not pink.

The dumbbells you can see to the right are also new and colorful. They are also as comfortable as they look. Also, none of them are pink.

Pushing Daisies Canceled
I've written before about this show. It was weird and funny and weird. Apparently it was too weird, and ABC, the network that saved another of my favorite shows, Scrubs, has canceled it.

Network TV just keeps getting worse and worse. I've been watching old episodes of Northern Exposure on DVD lately. I don't understand how that show lasted so long - it was weird and funny and weird too.

Caltrain Having a Bad Week
Yesterday, minutes after I got off the train in Mountain View, the computer that controls the signal crossing arms all along the peninsula failed. (A computer controls these? That's a bit of a surprise since I figured the trains controlled them, seeing as how they know where they are and when they are heading across a street and such.) So all trains stopped for about an hour. Last night there was a message on their overhead signs apologizing for the delays (a first!).

This morning a train has hit a moron and they are once again stopped. The good part of this is that, since I don't have a train to catch, I have time to write this post! Lemons to lemonade! Just not pink lemonade (sorry Darci).

That's it - move along...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A haircut and more leaves

On Wednesday, Mrs Notthat, WHM, and Riley all watched as Darci got a haircut. Here is the before picture:

And here is the after picture:

Yeah, I don't see much difference either. Riley seemed to have had a pretty good time waiting for the event to end.

The grandkids both love wearing their rain boots. A lot. What kid (or stunted adult like, ummm, me) doesn't like playing in puddles? I'm with them - it's best to be prepared for "just in case."

One nifty thing to point out, that hooded sweater that Riley is wearing was made by WHM! She worked on this a lot during the trip to Maryland. Amazing.

Yesterday the grandkids came over so that WHM could study. It never did warm up very much - it only got up to a cloudy 61 - but that didn't slow down the assault on the front yard leaves.

One thing you might notice is that the trees still have a lot of leaves on them. Our fall is just getting started. There will be several more weeks of playing in the leaves. Also, I have no explanation for the "tent" over the leaf pile. I took apart some deteriorating edge railing and this seemed to be the right thing to do with the bits.

Again, can you see how much hair got cut? Darci told me this was her sword. (It appears to be an Impossible Dream to get the kids to not pick from plants you don't want them to pick from.)

Just to wind me up, Riley has almost as much fun destroying the leaf pile as creating and playing in it.

That's it - move along...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Just call him "Speedy"

On Tuesday, The Boy was anxious to get home from class. He could smell the popcorn. It was 9:30 in the evening and there was little traffic.

Except for that CHP officer.

The Boy got his first speeding ticket on Tuesday. As we all know, the system is set up to heavily punish teenage drivers, especially teenage boys, that get caught doing something they shouldn't be doing while driving. 

We don't really know how this will turn out. There will be a court appearance (I'm pretty sure there is no option to take a drivers safety course to expunge the ticket, but maybe...), there will be the fine, court fees, possible traffic school costs, possible revocation of his license, and who knows what else. Well, I know one what else thing - the insurance company is definitely going to get theirs.

This is going to be an expensive and potentially painful lesson.

I know it was for me when I first started driving.

When I was his age I got a speeding ticket in our small town's speed trap. I knew the trap was there, but after a bit you start to believe you are invincible. One ticket was not such a big deal in Colorado though, even for a teenage boy. Just be sure not to get a second.

Which of course I did, for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign. Another niggly ticket that I did not deserve. Completely not my fault. Mostly. It didn't matter what I thought though, the state suspended my license for three months. Boy, that got my attention! I had learned my lesson. I was going to make that little old lady that only drives to church on Sunday look like Dale Earnhardt.

A couple of weeks after I got my license back I got another ticket. I couldn't believe it. But that one finally did it, and I've only gotten one other ticket in the 30 years since then.

I paid for my checkered teenage driving history until I was well into my upper twenties in the form of insurance premiums. I still remember how the various insurance companies would laugh when I listed my driving history. There are special high risk companies that deal with the likes of me, and they get paid very well for that risk - I paid about four times the normal premiums for my insurance for a long time. 

So this is going to be an expensive lesson for The Boy. His motorcycle (yikes!) savings is going to take a big hit. But hopefully he has learned from this and will be MUCH more careful from now on. 

And yes, I am well aware that since I wrote this and bragged about my clean recent driving record that I will most likely get caught before the week is out. But I'll be extra careful. I always try hard to not be the fastest car out there - I like to get passed since those people will be more attractive to the CHP. But there are so many things you can do wrong, and, like the holding call in football, you break some law almost every time you get behind the wheel, and all it takes is being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The picture up top is The Boy and his friend Yentruoc (not his real name) at the SF auto show yesterday. He took about 120 pictures of the event, and most were of cars that could easily top 200 mph.

Oh my.

That's it - move along...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday grab bag

Three quick things.
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There is no way I expected to ever see what shows in that picture. Gas at less than $2 a gallon. I've heard there are places around where you can get it for less than $1.90 and quite a bit less if you leave the Bay Area.

The interesting thing will be how fast people start dumping their Prius and Smart cars and such and buying back their Hummers and Suburbans. 

I had expected gas to get a bit below $3 a gallon, but not to fall this far. I'm kind of torn about this: on the one hand times are tough and people need one less thing gouging them, but on the other hand the costly gas forced people to think a bit greener. I guess cheap gas is a good thing, but hopefully people won't forget how much it used to be and will continue to conserve.

But I'm not holding my breath.
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If inventing a device for shooting hot dogs into the crowd at a baseball game interests you, click this link. There is a video that shows a bit about how they created this device for the Phillie Phanatic to use. I'm not a huge fan of team mascots, but he, along with the San Diego Chicken, can be extremely entertaining. Others are just annoying. But even the annoying ones become cool if they are shooting hot dogs into the stands.
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I've written before about how I don't really crave a window office, but I've ended up with them for my last two offices (here's my latest). In any case, a new group is moving into our building and they are covetous of our offices. So now we are shuffling offices and are losing our windows. 

Honestly, I don't mind losing the window - I am just lazy. I HATE packing up everything. I HATE that I will have to deal with moving the Circle Plant. I HATE that I will probably lose about three days of useful work to this. And I HATE that I suspect this will happen again in about a year, which is the average length of time people stay in their offices here. (In seven years I have had four offices in three buildings, but never changed my job. Amazingly, only once in all that time did I have to work in a cubical. Any kind of office is better than a cubicle.)

So I have a bunch of boxes to pack on Tuesday.

Or maybe not. 

Now there is word that maybe we won't have to move. Or maybe we won't move as soon as we were told. 

Heavy sigh...

That's it - move along...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Grandkids, leaves, and a led-free zeppelin

First, I've posted a few more Maryland-based pictures here. These were taken after I left. The basic theme is that it can get really cold at a Maryland beach in November.

Next, I just want to say that anyone that runs a day care center or who cheerfully routinely watches two or more kids should immediately have their sanity checked. How do sane people do that? I watched both grandkids on Wednesday and Thursday, and I have to say, work is MUCH easier. Oh, they were cute and fun off and on, but they were also constantly going at full speed and testing me and just plane challenging.

Darci has been dying to rake the leaves into a pile so that she can jump in them. The tree that supplies our leaves is still in the early stages of dropping them, so there were not all that many leaves to work with. But both kids (and Idiot Dog Teddy, on the right side) were eager to try anyway.

There were enough for them to share for a little bit (followed by them each needing their own pile, with lots of bickering over whose was bigger or whose was touching whose).

I did manage to get this picture of Darci. I have no idea why she felt her mouth had to be open - I certainly would not have had it open while someone was dropping leaves on me.

Darci has been on a waffle kick. Notice the presentation.

Riley absolutely positively does not need a nap. Until he does. Both grandkids were excited that we were going to head to the airport to pick up Mrs Notthat. And then Riley apparently got run over by a truck or Idiot Dog Teddy - I love how his shoes are scattered, just like Charlie Brown on the pitcher's mound.

Today Mrs Notthat and I took IDT for a walk. The weather is magnificent - clear and 70 degrees or so.

See how green the hills are turning? See how nice The Hotness looks? Notice the zeppelin in the upper-right corner? (You can ride this thing, but it's a bit pricey - $495 for an hour).

Today I cook the turkey we bought last year at this time - you know, one of those bargain turkeys. I need to do this so that I can make room in the freezer for a couple more bargain turkeys that I bought on Wednesday. Mrs Notthat has already pointed out that this makes no sense, so you don't really have to.

That's it - move along...