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Sunday, May 24, 2009

No more Todd...

It turns out that one of my dogs passed away. Mom is on vacation so my brother-in-law was taking care of the dogs and cats. When he went outside to see the dogs, Todd (the beagle in a tuxedo) was lying on the ground and didn't get up. I don't really know the story, but he was at least 14 years old, so it was inevitable. I feel like a Requiem, but it would be useless. He was a (pretty) good dog. Unfortunately, this means that Loki will be alone, but she's probably too old to really accept a new companion.

Not that it really matters, but I hope he died peacefully.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Get Smart TV Series

I'm on season 4. Agent 86's jokes are getting really old. Agent 99 is getting really annoying. The Chief is about the only one not annoying. This might be a TV series that I just can't finish.

But I refuse to succumb. I will finish -- I just might be taking a loooong break...

Friday, May 15, 2009

I H8 PaulE

He didn't think the new Star Trek movie was all that great.  I think he needs new glasses.  Until he changes his opinion, I don't think I can ever talk to him again.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Of all the things to happen...

Yeah, so yesterday was fun -- in a most sarcastic way. I've been going jogging during the day recently. It's a great way to get some fresh air in the middle of the day, and I feel pretty good when I'm done. Also, when I get back to the computer to keep working, I'm refreshed and work doesn't seem nearly as tedious, because I've come back after thinking, so I've got some new ideas.

Anyway, so the day before yesterday, I jogged my 2.1mi circuit and made it about 1/3 of the way without stopping, then I slowed down from a jog 3-4 more times. Not bad, but I need to do better. On the way back, I checked Christine's and my cars: the Meadows has a bad habit of ticketing cars for not having a permit -- even when in unmarked visitor spots. I can understand ticketing them if they don't move, but these cars moved quite a bit. They were clean. I went back inside and went back to work.

Yesterday, I went to jog again and I noticed that Christine's car was gone. Upon closer inspection, it was clear that it had been towed. !!!! Normally, there's a 48-hour waiting period -- not this time. Sometime in the 24hr window, they had ticketed and towed her car, which is not their normal procedure. So that had to be rescued. My car had a ticket with a 48hr warning on it. I'm not sure what's up with why hers would have been towed...

Anyway, so I also joined AAA a couple weeks ago, when all this trouble started with my car. I got my papers in the mail yesterday, and called a locksmith out to unlock my car. (When all this trouble started with my car, it was towed, and the tow truck company or the driver lost my keys. I had a spare ignition key, but not a key to unlock my car. Nissan didn't have my car on file, so I had to work with a locksmith.) He came by in about an hour, and made quick work of unlocking my car and making a new key -- $150 later, I can now lock my car again.

So after this, he left, and I moved my car to the street. I went back inside my house -- or tried to. I had locked myself out of my house. Ironic, to say the least, that the locksmith had unlocked my car, but I had now locked myself out of my house. I searched for the spare key, but it was gone. I tried a couple things, but I was about fed up with my luck for the day.

I drove my newly-unlocked car out to Eric's workplace, just up the road. He drove back with me to our place. On the way back, my car died. I was hoping that wouldn't happen, but it did. So I was following Eric, and then I had to swerve out of the flow of traffic and park on a neighborhood street for about 45 minutes for my car to start again. By this point, I was actually mad. I was so steamed that I fell asleep -- which was better than staying awake at that point. I was already tired, so I just shut down for a few minutes. I'm not sure how long I was out total, but I drifted in and out of sleep for an hour or so, each time, trying my luck with the car. It wasn't more than an hour, at least I hope not. My patience for these games was wearing thin, and I still had to get back to my house. Jonathan said that he would drive me out to pick up Christine's car, and it's rude to keep people waiting (it's also hypocritical of me to say that, being the guy who is perpetually late).

Now, I should add that my cell phone has gone missing since last Thursday. I can't call people or receive calls. So I couldn't receive Eric's call when he noticed that I was no longer following him from the office, nor could I receive Jonathan's call when he called to make sure I was home. Alternately, I couldn't call AAA to send a tow truck to get my car back home.

I finally made it back home and I was so frustrated with the whole affair that I signed off work (I was late for my scheduled departure anyway) but I couldn't just put in half a day's work. I would have to come back later. I had a voice lesson with Julia at 6PM (which I called and cancelled for today: I wasn't in the mood to sing, and she understood), I had to go rescue Christine's car before they start charging me a bunch of daily holding fees, and I had to get to Tim's place to rehearse for the Collegium Cantorum concert in June.

So I made it to Battlefield Towing, and paid another $150 to get Christine's car away from them. Talk about an expensive day. If I were a dishonest man, I'm sure I could have gotten the car for nothing, but I don't think that dishonestly.

On a side note, I've discovered one of the least-liked services rendered by one man to another: the enforced towing of another man's car by one man at the other man's expense. It's a racket. I didn't ask for a tow truck. The place I live at decided to set me up with some extra bills this month. So nice and thoughtful of them. Good thing I have those piles of money just waiting to be spent.

So I signed back into work at about 11PM, and I'm still working -- I'm just taking a break to rant. I need to get this off my chest.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Obama's speech

So I was listening to the radio yesterday, and I heard a speech given by our current president, Barack Obama. It was his speech on what to expect for the next 100 days in office. While I appreciate a good joke, his speech was absolutely full of jokes, most of which were as predictable as they come. The quality of his speech (as an action, not as a thing) was amazing. He is very charismatic, and when he's just talking and telling jokes, he's fun to hear. It's no wonder that people like him. He's articulate (when he's on the cue cards), he is able to make fun of himself and those working for him without being offensive, and he generally puts a positive spin on everything. People like positivity and charisma, and he's definitely got it. (Click the title of this post or click here for a transcript of the speech.)

That's all I'll say, because as far as everything else goes, I don't think he's remotely qualified to be our president, and his telling jokes won't change that. Neither he nor his team know what they are doing, and their agenda is killing the United States of America. Of course, it's also just as likely that they know exactly what they are doing, and they continue to do it anyway because they finally have power and are trying to "prove" that their "system" can work better than anything else the world has ever seen.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

My day so far, with car troubles

I had my written final today. The oral/aural half was on Tuesday. On the way back home from the test, my car stopped running again as I was about to exit onto I-66 from 50. After I let the car sit for about 30 minutes, I drove home without incident.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Bacon Vodka

I just put this alcoholic delight into the freezer. It should be ready for tasting either this evening or tomorrow. Anyone interested in joining me for a sampling?

Monday, May 04, 2009

Recent life

So my Nissan is in the shop again. On Thursday, as I was driving on highway 50, and traffic around me was doing between 60-70mph, my engine just turned off. The car kept moving, and I only noticed it when I applied the gas pedal and got no response. I shifted the car into neutral, and turned the key, but it didn't start. I put my hazards on and attempted to coast into a parking lot. No worries, really, as I was still doing about 50, and I was nearing my destination. I slowed and entered the parking lot, and attempted to start my car again. It fired up, fortunately. I was doing about 10mph, so had I needed to accelerate again, I would have been in trouble.

I drove it the rest of the evening without incident.

Friday morning, bright and early, I drive to the office. I have some errands to run in Tyson's Corner, so I got there at about 7AM, so that I could have my work done in plenty of time to run my errands. Noon rolls around, and I take off to run my errands and then get back home, as I'm supposed to ride with Michael C out to Front Royal to sing at the Tridentine Latin Mass for the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. After running the errands, I'm leaving the parking lot to get onto highway 7, and my car doesn't move when I apply the gas. It's not running. I turn the key, hoping it will start up. Nothing. Of course, there's a line of cars behind me...

After signaling the 5 cars behind me that they need to go around, I push my car out of the way, and make some phone calls. No one really knows exactly what it is, but the primary question is, "Do you have gas?" Of course, I have gas. I have half a tank. I just filled it up the day before...

So, I look around, and as luck would have it, there's a service center in the same parking lot. It's a Mr. Tire/Goodyear, so I'm not sure if they do diagnostics. I leave the hazard lights on and walk over. As it turns out, they do diagnostics, so they help me push my car from one end of the parking lot to their building, and we put it in the shop.

After a couple hours, they can't find anything wrong with the vehicle. Their first inclination is that it's water in the gas tank, so I should fill it up the rest of the way and hope that's enough to dilute the gas/water ratio. So I take it back and fill it up. I get onto 495 and as I'm exiting 495 to get onto 66 (see location), the car dies again. So I call a tow truck, and they tow the car back to the shop. Again, they can't find anything wrong, except that the tow truck driver didn't give them the keys, so they are good as lost, because I don't have them anymore.

That evening, Michael and I sang at St. John's for the Mass as planned. After Mass, we went to dinner with Fr. C, who said Mass, and then out to Christendom. I had a small role in the latest Mirandum Pictures film, and Michael had a dance to attend. We left about midnight.

Saturday rolls around, and Michael and I head over to Tyson's Corner to talk to the mechanics. No keys have shown up, so Michael drives me to the Nissan dealership and we find that we can get new keys made for $8. I just need a copy of my insurance card. I had a spare key for the ignition, so I brought it to them and asked them to not lock the car. They began working on it, and the car performed just fine for them. They took it for a 45-minute drive and it never had any problems. They said that they would keep it through Sunday and drive it around, trying to get it to stall.

On the way back home, I asked Michael to drop me off at St. Andrew's so I can catch confession. He reminded me that I'd have to walk home, but that didn't bug me too much. He drops me at home first so I could drop off my laptop and pick up the umbrella (and a pipe -- it's a long walk), as it was overcast. After confession, I fired up the pipe and walked back home (about 4.5 miles), which took me about 1.5 hours, walking at good pace. I stopped a couple times for pipe maintenance, and once to check my voice mail on my cell phone, but aside from that, I made pretty good time, overall. I'm sure I was quite the sight: my corncob pipe in my left hand, my long walking umbrella in my right, but pointed up and resting on my shoulder as though it was a rifle. I was walking at a decent clip, so I'm sure people were thinking that I was either a former army boy or just a wierdo looking for attention. Of course, the latter was true...

So I made it back home and then went to the gym where I killed my arms. They are still a little sore, but it's a good kind of sore...

Anyway, so on Sunday, after Mass, Michael and I went to Paul E's Easter Season Party. After a while, I went outside to smoke a pipe, and Michael came with me. Earlier in the day, I had filled the Zippo lighter with fuel, and closed it, but it had been slightly overfilled, so a little bit spilled out onto my hand, so when I tested the lighter, the lighter lit up, and my hand also torched. It didn't hurt at all -- I just felt the warmth of fire and then shook my hand off, and it extinguished itself. Last time I had overfilled the lighter, the entire lighter (outside as well) had gone up in flames and I had dropped the lighter pretty quickly. I didn't fill it that full this time, so the lighter behaved normally -- well, aside from lighting my hand on fire...

So at Paul's place, I wanted to do that trick again. So Michael (who took the picture), Bridget, Jonathan and Draper were watching as I poured a little lighter fluid onto my hand, and attempted to light it on fire. I waited a little too long, because the fluid had all evaporated, and there was nothing left. So I doused my hand a little heavier and spread it around, and this time it caught. I waved my hand around for a quick second, and then shook off the fire. Except that I didn't shake off the fire -- it kept burning, and the harder I shook my hand, the more it burned, because I was feeding it oxygen, so it burned hotter. After a second shake of the hand, I realized that it wasn't going out as easy as it had before, so I ended up having to essentially wipe it off on my pants. Fortunately, they were made of heavy flame-resistant material.

For the first 2 seconds or so, it didn't hurt. For the last 3 seconds or so, it did. But my hand is fine, with only some minor blistering and a lesson learned. Wanna know that lesson? Next time I do that trick, have a bucket of water handy. Alternately, use less oil and spread it around instead of keeping it focused in the palm of my hand (so that it burns quickly and is done). Better yet, use rubbing alcohol, which burns cooler (blue) and doesn't stick to your hand like oil.

So now it's Monday, and the guys at the shop still can't find out what's wrong with the car, because it's not acting up for them. I piked it up and it runs fine.

I've spent nearly $1000 since last Monday. Last Monday, I dropped about $700 into a total fluid flush. Friday, I spent $120 on a system diagnostic and today, I spent another $120 on an hour of miscellaneous labor (dropping the tank so they could test the gas). So much for paying off that credit card this month...