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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I joined a gym

I signed up with Worldgate Health and Fitness today. I've been a member of Gold's Gym before, and I loved it. This gym is even bigger with more toys (toys = weights, machines, basketball/racquetball/tennis courts, swimming pools, sauna/showers, etc.) Hopefully I'll be able to get into some sort of better shape.

Next comes the problem of finding time to actually use it...

Friday, January 27, 2006

More about the Acura

Remember all the car problems I'd been having? Remember how I said no way it could be the distributor, and I was willing to put some high stakes against myself that it wasn't the distributor? Guess what?

Well, it was more than that.

I took the car in to Goodyear a few days ago. For $90, they did a diagnostic of the entire car. They called me back with a small list of problems, but no matter how small the list was, it was pretty substantial for my wallet.

The major thing causing the oil leak: the gaskets around the area had broken. They had to be redone. They pulled off the distributor cap, and found that the coil that's inside it was shredding itself. It was shedding like a dog in summer. The mechanic pulled out clumps of it to show me. As well, he told me that my fuel lines were filthy, and the belts were cracked.

Like I said a short list, but one that my wallet would not appreciate much.

I got it all fixed for $1200, plus tax. I would have done it myself, but the work on it required more skill than what I knew I had.

When I got the car back, I fired it up, and he roared like a beast. It was a very sweet sound. The acceleration had improved, and overall, the car felt much better. Plus, what was really nice was that the "Check engine" light wasn't on anymore. Major props there!

Well, today the poor guy got towed. I got up early this morning to go to work to finish up some major projects, and I walk out to the parking lot. As I was walking out there, the fact that the tow truck was still in the area left kind of an ominous feeling in me, but I figured it was just paranoia setting in. I continued walking out to the parking lot, to find that my car was gone!

I called Pat, and he gave me a ride out to the pen where they keep the towed cars. Sure enough, mine was in there (it had occurred to me that the car might have been stolen). Now I had to figure out why it was in there. I knew the parking tag was there, and it had been out all day, so the rule that it had to be moved once every 48 hours didn't come into effect either. I asked the attendant why my car was towed. "No tag." Obviously, it had to have fallen. There was no way that the tag wasn't in the window.

Guess where the tag was? Over the weekend, I had taken that tag off to replace it with a different one so I could park closer. In turn, I placed the tag in a small cubby-hole in the car. The tag was sitting right there where I had left it four days ago. Why it hadn't gotten towed before, I don't really know. But I was not fortunate enough to catch it in time, so I owed $90 to the towing company.

I'm just dumb sometimes, ya know? I sure you do...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Ping Pong

Today my job had a ping pong tourney. Check it out here, or check out the TEbLOGICAL link on the side. :)

Today's Peanuts


This was SOOOOO me in college... ;)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The March for Life and other Mondayish events

Yesterday was the day of the March for Life in D.C. The day started out nice enough. I worked on a little bit of stuff before I went to the March, and I took off out of here, believing that I would be late.

I drove through D.C., trying to find a spot to park. First of all, parking in D.C. is already fun, not to mention, now when everyone else is in D.C. looking for the same thing I am, it gets even more fun.

I had heard that the March was going to be in a different spot this year than it normally is, but I wasn't sure where. Just as I was wondering this, I saw Therese D. and her mother walking across the street, directly in front of my car. I waved them down, and asked them where the March was (after, of course, being polite and asking them how they were -- ain't I sweet?). They told me that it at 7th and the Mall. No problem! I said I would see them there. It took them no time at all to make a comeback which I had set myself up for: "Good luck!" How in the world would I see them at the March? There would be thousands of people there. The chances that I would see them were slim to none...

I parked at the Union Metro parking lots, because there wasn't anything closer that I trusted. As I left my car, I ran into another gentleman going to the March (fancy that...), and we walked out of the garage together, chatting about the weather and employment. It was all very proper. As we approached a set of escalators, we got behind two gentleman with a statue of Our Lady set on a board, which they were carrying, stretcher-style. I wonder where they were going?

The gentleman and I parted ways inside Union Metro, and I made my way outside. I turned "stride mode" on, and strode across the street, all the way to 7th and the Mall. I was mostly following the crowds -- no, "following" is not the right word; when you're in "stride mode", the right word is "passing" -- which is a good thing, because I was pretty sure I knew where 7th and the Mall was, but I wasn't 100% sure.

In any event, I got to the location in a few minutes, and was immediately surprised to see that the crowd was rather small. Granted, it wasn't tiny, but in comparison, it was very small. I looked around for the Christendom group, which had surely beaten me here. I couldn't find it. I called John E., and he said that they hadn't arrived yet. I felt like quite the fool, driving like a maniac all the way there, thinking, "I'm gonna be late, I'm gonna be late," all the way, only to get there and see that I had beaten them.

Soon enough, I looked around, and I saw Paul E. talking to a person. As I continued looking, I spyed with my little eye Paul P. and Sam P. I walked over to them, greeted them in the standard piratey tone, and an onlooker thought we were Scandinavian. Seriously. Their remarks took me entirely by surprise, because I didn't know that Scandinavians said things like, "YARRR!" and "Ahoy, thar, matey!" People all around us looked at us like we were long lost brothers who were at a reunion -- you know what I mean: grinning, whispering to their friends, their friends turning and smiling, taking pictures of us -- oh wait, that could have been them laughing at us...

Well, soon enough the local weathermen proved themselves right, i.e., it opened up and rained. Not as badly as they said it would, but it did rain. It rained just enough to soak through my coat, and make standing there for an hour-and-a-half very uncomfortable. On top of that, the rain was making the ground nice and soft, just like quicksand. The difference was that I didn't sink in it, although I thought that I was going to for a while.

I caught up with a number of people I was hoping to run into at some point, and I made the bulk of the march with them, singing songs, motets, chant (West and East), praying the rosary, marching in silence.

{Related Tangent} You know what just occurred to me? As much good as it does to vocalize our objections to the abomination of abortion, it does just as much good to march in silence and pray from the silence of our hearts. Men don't hear it, but who cares? God is the one who hears and answers prayers. That's why the Shield of Roses has members in the church and on the streets. On the streets, they reach out to all women looking to kill the child living inside them. In the church, they pray that the Lord and His Holy Mother will help these same women see the truth, and give them the courage to back away before it's too late, and they've done the irreversible and eternally regretted act... {End Tangent}

The speakers at the March for Life were not that great. This is one of my many beefs with the March. The people speaking to the congregation do not know how to give real speeches. There is nothing of value in what they say. The ministers who lead the congregation in prayer just shout things into the microphone, with the idea that the louder they spit out the words, the more fire will fall from the sky. The Catholics are, sadly, not much better. The prayers that we say don't ring of what we all need to hear. (And what is that, Anthony? I don't know, but I don't hear it there.) The closest thing are the speeches of the Rabbis. They shoot pretty close to the mark, but they miss it, too. Brand me what you will, but Bishop Williamson should come around during the March and join the list of speakers. I'm sure he could teach these people a thing or two.

After the speeches, the march began. Or, kind of began. It always takes about 30 minutes to get everyone out to the street. During this time I met up with Ashley F., whom I haven't seen in a while. I pretended to be all mad at her because she never called me back, while in reality, I wasn't mad at all. I think she could tell, but you never know. She asked me how to make up for her lack of communication. I tapped my right cheek, and said, "This is how." It was in jest, but she actually took me up on it. So I got kissed on the cheek. I was a bit surprised. I definitely didn't expect it. I said let's chat later, just to catch up. Long story short, I lost her in the crowd after that...

{Related Tangent} I was really hoping that some Pro-Abortion group would attempt to strong arm or intimidate a Pro-Life person. From what I understand that happened last year. If I had seen that -- oooohh, boy... :) {End Tangent}

At the end of the March, I met up with Lizzie and Emma as planned, and we talked about what there was to do. Michael C. met up with us -- he, Sylvia and Emily were wandering around D.C. looking for fun stuff to do. Emma suggested the arboretum, and that it wasn't too far away. It sounded like a good idea to the three of us, so we headed off that way. Mike went back to his girls, and they wanted to go to the Arboretum as well, so he called me and let me know that they would be joining us. Lizzie, Emma and I stopped and waited. While we were waiting, we discovered just how comfortable a chain link fence is to lean on, as long as there isn't a pole in your back and as long as it's taller than you are. Feels like a vertical hammock to me... :)

On the way to the Arboretum, when all six of us were together, we were acting kind of goofy. We ran part of the way, quick stepped part of the way, sauntered part of the way, swung on light poles part of the way. We had fun. :) Well, at least, I did...

The National Arboretum was interesting. I couldn't tell you a lot about what was in there. The first room was a bunch of videos of plant life, played very quickly, demonstrating that plants do indeed have a living principle. You could watch them grow, watch the roots spread, watch them get attracted to light, etc. In the second room, there were a lot of containers of seeds and various smelling things. These made me hungry, so we didn't spend too much time in here. Next up, we wandered around the various climates: desert, jungle, reinforced, urban, whatever. It was interesting. There was a small creek running though one with a bridge over it, and near the bridge, you could look down at where it began from a railing. Lizzie was just watching the river from the railing as I pranced across the bridge. Show off? You'd better believe it. It was short lived, so I didn't torture her that much.

At the end of the aboretum, we all chilled for a few minutes. Just for the heck of it, we sang a short motet rather quietly, but even that got a few people looking. :) The power of performance. As we were bundling up to go outside and to Union Station, Emily put on her bucket hat, and someone got the bright idea that it was a perfect hat to lay on the ground and get money in -- this may have even been Emily's idea.

This was discussed all the way back to Union Metro. Halfway there, Lizzie spies an expensive-looking restaraunt, and wants to go in there to eat. I was tempted, but then Lizzie said we shouldn't, because everyone looked like a bum -- except for her, of course. (Sure thing...) But it would be fun, let's do it. No. Let's not, it would be a waste. But it would be so much fun! You get the idea of the way the conversation was going. Oh, and Lizzie either agreed with or made every point that I was just flip-flopping on...

As we continued towards Union Metro, singing was discussed further, and we decided that we were going to do it. I was in favor of it, as long as we knew what we were doing, and as long as everyone knew their parts. I was fairly confident in us for almost everything, but I knew that not all of us knew all the pieces quite as well as we could. I, for one, cannot get the starting note for bard's Ave Verna cold turkey. It has to be played for me. That and my timing was off in a couple other pieces. But, oh well, you only live once. So we did it.

But who would direct? I was in favor of no director, because we sang together often enough that we knew the pieces well enough to be able to visually keep time with each other. Besides, a director might seem a bit out of place.

As we walked up to the Metro, Emma found a great spot, so we plopped the hat down, arranged ourselves, and started singing. We started off with balustrade's scout cervix, moved on to Dr. Poterack's Ave Vernum, and then sang Victoria's Ave Maria. As we were finishing Ave Vernum, Denver S. ran inside the Metro. As he passed us, he glanced over and saw us, waved and went inside. After we started the Ave Maria, he came outside, saw the we had actually gotten money, said that he couldn't give anything, and then heard what it was we were singing. He hopped right into the bass line and finished that up with us. Applause from the people standing around and more money followed. We sang Meditabor, and as we finished that up, a guy cam eup to us and asked if we knew Sicut Cervus. But, of course! So he jumped in the tenor section and helped out Michael. After that one, we started Byrd's Ave Vernum (my request -- dumb, I know), and Sean V. and Sydney W. joined us. I could not get the bass line until several bars into the piece (talk about embarrassing...). Sean and Sydney stayed with us for one more piece and then they left. We sang one more piece (O Rex Gloriae). Abotu this time, an elderly black women came up to us and was scrutinizing the sopranos and altos. Lizzie couldn't stop grinning. The rest of us cast a couple glances around and just sang normally. At the Alleluia chorus in O Rex Gloriae, the woman smiled very noticeably, and left. As we wrapped it up, Emma soloed one more piece, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, which got a lot of attention as well.

We totaled up what we made: over $12. Not bad for half-an-hour from a college choir. :)

We went downstairs and ordered a couple pizzas. Emma asked me how much she owed me for the pizza. I told her not to worry about it, it was on me. She didn't like that answer and asked me again. (Everyone else was also pulling out their wallets.) I said, "If you really want to pay for it..." and I tapped my cheek. It worked once -- maybe it would again. :) She said that she would just have to owe me, because that's a debt that can never be repaid. I told her that she can't get to heaven with a debt, so she acted offended. But I still didn't get a smooch. Oh well, you win some, you lose some...

Emily asked me the same question and got the same answer (first, don't worry about it, then the cheek tap). At first she was confused. What was on my face? I clarified what that meant, and she said, "Oh! OK!" and I got smooched again. :)

Now, this next part confuses me just a bit. I don't remember how it happened, but a similar thing happened with Julianna K. I got a kiss from her, too. :) I was cleaning up!

Anyway, the pizza was good, and Michael took the remaing two slices. We got dessert and called it a day. No more singing -- it was relax time. So we got a deck of cards and played Mau (Mao? Maow? Whatever...). Then it was time to go. We said farewell and parted ways.

So let's see, quick recap: march for life, singing for $12, and three (count 'em!) smooches. Not too shabby of a day, if I do say so myself...

I did have a very wierd beginning of a dream when I got back to the apartment. When I got back, I changed and crashed. But as I was falling asleep, my brain sarted putting together the images of the day. Suddenly, I was in a musical. Swinging on telephone poles, singing various songs, dancing (a bit). I was in Singing in the Rain. Everyone with me (the same group) were also singing and dancing, and everyone else in the world lived in a musical world where random people just broke into songs at random times. It was so weird that I woke back up really quickly...

When I finally fell back alseep, I didn't wake up again for the rest of the night. I slept like a rock...

Friday, January 20, 2006

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Today's One Big Happy

If I ever get married, I hope that I have a daughter as cool as Ruthie... LOL!!!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Acura Revisited

I think the Acura is done for. I don't know for sure, but it may well be. After replacing the spark plugs yesterday, everything seemed fine, so I told myself that I would take the car to Front Royal today to swap it out, and while it was there, I would have one of the mechanics out there work on it, or at least advise me on what needs to be done.

When I fired up the car today, it had the exact same problem. Without even looking I know it has the same problem as before: only one spark plug firing because the others are coated in oil. The downside is that now the car has even less power than before, meaning the problem is only going to get worse...

The odds are stacked very high in favor of a cracked block at this point... DRAT!

Adam @ Home

If I ever get married, I will do this...

This was taken from today's Adam @ Home on http://news.yahoo.com/comics/adamathome.

Daily dose of Peanuts

I think Lucy has a better arm than I do. Anyone who's ever been on the receiving end of a snowball thrown by me knows this...

This was copied from today's Peanuts on http://news.yahoo.com/comics/peanuts.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Bible "Truths"?

I'm going to get my Southern preacher side on here for his one...

*ahem*

I was checkin' my e-mail, and I stumbled upon one of the worst websites I have evah seen. No kiddin', it was the worst, as bad as sites that display sin. But the content wasn't pictures, oh noooo, brothers and sisters, the content was text. In this website, the author(s) tried to "prove" that the Bible showed us all that religion was wrong. Tried to PROVE it! What kinda phony-baloney maniac would try to do that?

{Anthony suddenly realizes that he is behind a podium on a soapbox waving his fist in the air, about to bring it crashing down on the podium. Problem: no one is listening.}

What am I doing up here?

{gets down from soapbox, and resumes normal conversation.}

The website is http://bible-truths.com. I give you this website purely for your amusement. It may come in handy one of these days against some "I know the secrets of the Bible and you don't" freak.

God bless you all, and keep the Faith!

The Acura

Uh-oh...

The Acura gave me some problems this week. On day, when I fired it up, it seemed a bit sluggish, as though it did not want to go anywhere. I let it sit for a bit and warm up, and then I took off. First gear, no, problem. I switched from first to second. It acted like I had gone directly to fourth. Any stick drivers will know what I mean when I say that. The car started shaking and vibrating, and the engine sounded like it was about to die. I quickly disengaged the transmission, looked wierdly at Ken (because we all know that he had something to do with it), and tried again. By this point, I was at the exit for the apartments. I put it in first gear, and once again it acted like it was cold, but I gave it a bit more juice and took off. I put it in second. No power, up until high RPM. Third: almost normal. Fourth: almost normal. Overdrive: over drove it. :) When I put it in O/D, the car began to decelerate. Not a good sign. I decided that the car should not go anywhere that day and took it back to the lot. Ken got his car, and I popped the hood on mine. When he pulled up, the engine on my car was still running, and I was looking at it like I knew what I was looking for. I asked him to rev the engine on my car, so he got out of his car and did so. In neutral, the engine started to shake back and forth. My first thought was that it was a spark plug problem. One of them had to be misfiring. Why else would it vibrate regularly? If it was irregular, it may be a faulty plug, but this was definitely a bad plug.

Throughout the course of that day, I wondered if it could be anything else. I thought about what I remembered when Dad explained engines to me (even though in my stupid youth I didn't care). I realized it could be one of the wires, the distrubutor cap, or the distributor -- or any/all of the above! This was going to be expensive, I could tell...

Today, Josh and I went to Advance Auto Parts, and picked up spark plugs, wires, the distributor cap, and (just in case) the rotor. The distributor was around $350, so I decided to hold off on that one, just in case. The rest cost me about $80. The manual I had purchased for the car when I fixed the brakes came in very handy now. It showed me how to do all this stuff, and as I looked at the engine, it all made sense anyway. I popped out wire #1, and pulled out the first spark plug. It was fine, aside from normal wear and tear. I popped out wire #2 and the spark plug. The wire had a bit of oil on it, but I didn't think twice about it.

{brief side note}

For all of you people out there, for those of you who know engines, the spark plug wires are not bare wires. They are heavily encased in rubber, like other wires, and the casing gets heavier when it actually connects to the spark plug. Thus, I'm using "wire" analogously, not meaning the wire itself, but the rubber insulation around the wire.

{end side note}

I took out the second spark plug. It was coated in oil. This obviously wasn't normal. If it was, how in the world was it supposed to fire? Josh went back to the apartment to get some paper towels. I called Dad again, just to verify what I was thinking. He agreed with me: no, the spark plug is most definitely not supposed to be coated in oil. He recommended that I get the system flushed, and refilled with a heavier oil, because this was too light, and it had to be leaking everywhere. As I looked around the engine, sure enough, it had leaked, and was now covering things that had been clean before. Indeed, I thought cleverly to myself, this is the cause of my problems!

I removed the other two wires, and I noted with some dismay that the wires were also covered in oil, as #2 had been. And it was with some shock that I pulled out the other two spark plugs and they were also covered in oil. No wonder the car was vibrating and acting like it had no power! It was only running on one spark plug!

Josh came back with the paper towels, and he was as surprised as I was to find out that the car was only running on one spark plug. Pat came jogging up a couple minutes later, as I was trying to clean out the oily insides. I trashed the old spark plugs, just in case, and installed the new ones. After I installed the new ones, it occurred to me that I may be dunking them in an oil well. So I removed the new ones to find that they were slighly coated in oil, but not much. I wiped them off and reinstalled them. I cleaned off the wires, and put them back on. Then I fired up the Acura.

Blue smoke came pouring out the exhaust pipe. That's usually a good sign that there is an oil leak. I got out of the car and Josh and Pat both pointed out the blue cloud to me. By this point, I had found the switch in the engine which I can move to rev the engine, so I revved the engine from there, and watched. More blue smoke poured out, but as I kept revving it, it cleared up. So far, so good...

I'm going to take it back to Front Royal and bring the Sentra out of hiding (again). I'm hoping to give it to a mechanic out there to get them to flush out the engine and tell me a few things about the car, i.e., if I have a cracked block...

If I do, oh boy... Gontran and his wife will get some bad news about their baby...

(Gontran is the guy at work from whom I purchased the Acura. They are very appreciative of the fact that I'm taking good care of it, but if it has a cracked block, there's not much I can do for it, aside from replace the engine...)

{Anthony dreams of a seven-speed with a V8...} ;) Just kidding. Sorry, guys...

Friday, January 13, 2006

An update on my father

"Again I say to you, that if two of you shall consent upon earth, concerning any thing whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by my Father who is in heaven. For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." --Matthew 18:19-20
When I sent out the original e-mail, I knew that I could count on prayers, but I didn't expect to see the level of response that I received. Thank you all very much for your prayers. As I'm sure you can imagine, it really means a lot to me and to my family to know that so many people are praying for us.

I found out that his heart is getting weaker because it is stretching. The cardiologist informed him that his heart was twice as large as it should be, and was more like a balloon than a pump. It was at this point that he was advised to go to the hospital, or else...

My father was in the hospital up until this past Monday. While he was there, they had him hooked up to an I.V. (or several). My family in the area spent as much time as they could there with him, because they kept hearing that he could go at any time. I was also prepared to leave the area and go back home on short notice, should things get worse. Two days into his stay, things started looking better towards the end of the day. My Dad's energy increased, and he was eating quite a bit. He had some coffee and was returning to his normal self. The doctors still said that he could go at any time, but his prospects for surviving were looking ever better. When they released him, he went home and tired out very easily. But the good news is that my father is getting better. I spoke to him last night, and he sounded weak. I called him again today, and he sounded really energetic.

I would like to thank each of you personally for everything, but I realize that that would be quite impossible. However, I would like to thank you all for your prayers, Masses, novenas, rosaries, etc. for my father and for my family. It was undoubtedly thanks to all of them that he has pulled through still kicking, although I'm sure that the medical community and good ol' Smitha Stubbornness played a role, as well.

As good as all this sounds, he is still in the woods, although he is making progress out. If you have time to send an Ave heavenward, it will be of huge assistance in his continued recovery.

God bless you all for your prayers and support for me and my family during this difficult time. God will reward each of you for your generosity. My prayers for all of you are hardly thanks enough for everything that all of you have done, but I hope that they are at least a start.

Sincerely,

Anthony Smitha

Monday, January 09, 2006

Can someone say, "Too many twinkies!"? Or how about, "Too many kitty tweats!"?

His "then" picture looks like me now. I should eat what he's eating. Maybe I'd lose a spare tire...

Today's "Adam @ Home"

This is funny. It reminds me of my old tech support job. :)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

About my father

I'm sorry for making this a mass e-mail, but I most desparately need some prayers said.

My father has congestive heart failure. His heart's aortic valve was replaced several years and has seen a number of doctors who have prescribed medicines and exercises for his recovery. Unfortunately, he had rheumatic fever as a child, so his heart is much weaker now.

My father has been having health issues as of recently. Within the past couple years, he's been getting weaker and weaker, less able to move about, reduced energy, reliance on an oxygen machine. I was at home between December 21 and January 3. During this time, he went to the hospital because he was having a difficult time breathing, and he thought that he had a stroke. He was there for a day-and-a-half.

He went to see the doctor today. They called him in because they needed to do a follow-up check on him after he left the hospital. Results of the test were extremely poor. He was in desparate need of medical attention. He had two choices: he could go home and possibly die very soon, or go to a hospital where they might be able to help him. Needless to say, he went to the hospital. The doctors there say that he will have to stay in for at least a week. I have no idea how he is doing, but if things get too much worse, then I will be going to Texas again very soon.

If you have some extra time, and you can say some extra prayers, please pray for my father. His name is Eddie Alberto Smitha. He is 67. Please say some prayers for my mother as well, as you can imagine how she is taking this.

And, while you're at it, if you can pray for all of my family for their strength in the case of the passing of my father.

God bless you all.

Anthony Smitha

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I can't believe I just did that...

I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine, Fidelio, when we got to discussing Power Rangers. I couldn't believe that I was able to remember so much about them...

Seriously, it was ridiculous, almost to the point of disgusting. She stopped responding as I was recalling the history as I remembered it.

Still think I'm sane???

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Absolutely nothing...

In an attempt to have another good dream, I ate right before going to bed last night. I had a bacon double cheeseburger, large fries, large lemonade, and stuffed jalapeƱo poppers. Nothing. I dreamed a perfectly normal dream. So normal, in fact, that the strangest part of it was that Mara V. called me to ask for my help. I heard my phone ringing right before my alarm clock went off. I hit snooze, and tried to resume the dream, but nothing happened. I think she needed help with her computer or something...

Drat...

Oh well. Maybe next time...

But it would have been a great way for me to start off the new year...