A Twist Of Fate
August, 2010 Entries
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(08/30/10 - 9:16 PM)
Received and blew through Lost Season 6. And while it was the final season, it also felt like it was probably time to wrap things up. They probably could have strung it out another season, but on the whole, I think they were losing momentum.

So: Season 6. While confusing, it answered a lot of questions, while raising many more. And my guess is that that was intentional - to keep some of the mystique alive. We learned all about Jacob and his un-named brother, but not about the motivations of their surrogate mother. That would have been something interesting to know.

We also learned about the smoke monster, and how it came to be, but not WHY it was a smoke monster.

I could have done without the confusing dual-realities which was oftentimes hard to follow and off-putting.

All in all, a fitting end to what was, debatably the best series ever on television. I know, for me, it was certainly right up there.

So long gang: you will be missed. Especially Hugo and Desmond - my personal favorites.

(08/28/10 - 9:48 PM)
I can scarcely believe it, but my Mom's deck FINALLY got stained today. After a sporadic two years of power washing, belt sanding, construction and so on, it's FINALLY done.

My brother and Wanda both assisted, and thanks to their Herculean efforts, we had the job done in just over two hours.

We all cleaned up, and then went out to lunch.

We came back to a homemade German Chocolate cake (frosting and all), and had a nice time all around.

I still can't believe all the dozens of hours it took to get the thing done, and perfect. But the end result is well worth the effort, albeit late in coming.

My brother was telling an amusing story about his trip to Indiana, and this reminded me of a story I forgot to share about our recent vacation to Hermann, MO.

On our second evening in town, we came back to our B&B after a long day of running around. It was ungodly hot, and we were both fairly tired, so we decided to just order a pizza in and call it a night.

We had seen a Pizza Hut on our way back into town, and seeming to be the only game in town, we elected to just bite the bullet and call.

The phone rings, and a young lady answers. I begin to get things rolling, when she asks for my phone number:

"Ummm... that's a really good question," I respond, checking the phone to see if it's on there somewhere.

But before I can she retorts, incredulous, "You don't know your own phone number?"

Can't say I wouldn't have responded the same, honestly, but I explained the situation to her, and we moved on.

I started to order, but then asked a question I thought was totaly stupid, "You do deliver, don't you?"

"Deliver?!?" Came her response, "No. We've never delivered."

What made it all the more strange was that she thought I was nuts for having even asked the question.

Apparently, they don't deliver in towns of this size. I don't know. I've never heard of a pizza place that doesn't, but whatever.

I think the strangest part of the story was just her bafflement at the whole notion of pizza delivery, coupled with my whole notion that every pizza place on the planet delivered - especially the chains.

Live and learn.

(08/27/10 - 7:27 PM)
I now know who killed Laura Palmer. Can't wait to finish the series, but first Lost season six came in, so I have to put Twin Peaks on hiatus. It's a great show but let's face it: nothing - but NOTHING - beats Lost.

(08/25/10 - 8:13 PM)
What would today be without a Mr. Phillips Screwdriver story? Oh, yes: A better day.

Mr. Phillips Screwdriver recently made us aware of a genuine problem on his machine. Which is great, because we need to know these things.

HOWEVER: when he came in to explain the problem, I immediately got it. I responded, "I totally understand. I will have Dave come out an look at it just as soon as he is off the phone, and thanks for letting me know."

Seems simple enough, until:

"Well, you see, it's bad because it allows the machine's spindle to move up and down while I'm cutting. And I don't know what's causing it. Maybe I should show you what I mean."

Okay, I think: Clearly my acknowledgement and understanding were not conveyed properly, because I totally got the issue, and thought we had this covered.

"I totally understand why this is a problem. Dave fixes all the machinery around here (which everyone - including he knows), so as soon as he's done on the phone I will send him out."

Once more, he re-iterates PRECISELY what he just said, and then proceeds to go into detail about where in the machine the problem might lie, what the problem might be, and why it's important to fix.

Once more, I try and stop him, more strongly and articulately illustrating that I cannot help him further, nor is it my place to speculate on such things, and that I will send Dave out as soon as he is done on the phone.

And I'm praying that it's soon, because I'm getting flustered.

As soon as I'm finished, he begins to once more re-iterate everything he has just said before, adding new speculation, while nagging me to come and see what he means, because maybe he's not explaining it right.

We have two more bouts of this before he finally leaves, feeling unhappy because hey - I just don't get it, apparently - and why wouldn't I just come out to the floor with him to see the problem I so firmly grasp to save him some time explaining what I CLEARLY don't get, for some reason.

I don't even know what to do with the guy anymore.

(08/23/10 - 6:27 PM)
Installed a ceiling fan in our room the other day - FINALLY.

I can't believe I waited this long to do it, but the time was just never quite right for various reasons, I suppose.

But it's done now, and it really adds something to our bedroom.

(08/22/10 - 9:03 AM)
Woke up too damn early this morning (I can't remember the last time I woke up at 5:30) so I got to work on the stuff I should have done on the media library yesterday morning, paid the bills, updated the checkbook, and on and on.


I just watched my cat playfully turn around quickly... and faceplant right into a door.

He's okay, so I think that makes it okay for it to be funny.

(08/21/10 - 7:46 PM)
Spent the morning at work processing a monster order that we received from a new customer, whose door we've been trying to get into for over two years now. It's pretty exciting.

Came home, and finally did something I wish I had known how to do five years ago. Specifically, when we moved in the garage had no opener. My father and I installed one a few weeks later, and we realized that the foresight of the builders had been a bit short, as there was no power to be found for the thing.

Not to be bested by a motorized implement, I came up with the simple (if not awkward and unsightly) solution of running one of those ubiquitous orange extension cords up through the rafters, and down the back wall to the lone source of power in the garage: a GFI.

For all the years we've lived here, it's remained as such. Then, earlier this year, an idea dawned on me and I had a 'well, duh!' moment. I decided to add an extension box to the existing receptacle box, thereby moving the GFI from within the wall and flush, to without the wall, and able to be accessed via conduit.

I ran conduit from the new bump-out box to the area just next to the garage door opener. Here, I placed a single receptacle in a 2x4 box, and then added wire hangers to clean up the remainder of the wire leading from the plug to the unit itself. All in all, a neat and elegant solution.

So, after all these long years, I bid a fond farewell to the orange extension cord. Crazier still, the whole thing worked on the first go-round which was fairly exciting.

Once again I give props to Gary, my personal electrical Yoda. I've come a long way since those first lessons, but I can't thank you enough for putting me on the path.

The only mistake I made was not realizing that I had purchased a specialized single outlet. I should have looked more closely, but I was in a hurry due to a thunderstorm rolling in, and knowing that I would have to have conduit sticking out my open window on the short drive home.

A short drive to the hardware store rectified that. Live and learn.

Now I just need to find something else to wire up...

(08/20/10 - 5:26 PM)
Went to the grocery store tonight and witnessed a morbidly corpulent, pube-bearded, frizzy-haired, late-teen walking around with his trailer-park parents, dancing, with a mouthful of a stack of quarters.

God bless America.

Stopped off at the hardware store to pick up $16.00 worth of electrical supplies to do a $100.00 job myself tomorrow in my garage that is long overdue.

(08/19/10 - 8:49 PM)
Spent the afternoon working in the yard. Specifically, I trimmed the shrubs once more, and then did the trim around the yard as well. Originally, I was going to go to the store, but I ended up working later than could be helped, and so that option quickly slipped away from me.

Still: a productive evening, all in all.

I also noted that the lone home in the neighborhood that has been far more than neglected and abused (I can't even describe the shape this house and yard are in) had some activity today after nearly two months of dereliction (I still have no idea where the tenant disappeared to.)

There was a large dumpster outside, and it was filled to the brim with garbage. I found out from my neighbor and co-worker that as he was driving home for lunch, he saw workmen in the garage in respirators removing the items. He said it was floor to ceiling, front to back full of garbage bags.

What I don't know, specifically, is whether the crap was left in said state by the tenant (who is the owner's grandson, B.T.W.), or if they had been working on the house and putting the refuse in the garage until they had enough for a dumpster full.

My instincts tell me the prior, knowing the tenant.

I would so love to buy that house. I've been saying it for years as I watched it deteriorate, but if they fix it all up, then the point is moot. I was hoping that the Grandmother (who is mucho rich) would just dump the thing.

You can't blame me for wishful thinking.

(08/18/10 - 6:06 PM)
Another God-forsaken lawn mowing this evening. I can't ever remember such sweltering heat for such a prolonged period of time. I think the problem is the humidity. Before, even when it was hot it was dry. Not so this year. Or perhaps my memory is incorrect. It wouldn't be the first time.

The point is, it was damn hot and miserable.

Oh, and I also watched someone's black cat take a crap on my hill while watching me intently from about 20 feet away. I'm pretty sure he was mocking me; daring me to stop him.

When he was finished, he scampered away over the berm.

I wanted to do the shrubs and trim as well, but after the lawn, I just didn't have it in me.

Perhaps tomorrow or Friday.

(08/17/10 - 9:31 PM)
Finished Carl Hiassen's latest, "Star Island".

Here's what I liked:

Hiassen has managed to take old characters, and commingle them with new ones in a way that feels fresh. Specifically, the addition of the self-destructive movie star's 'double' was a brilliant play on the 'other side of the story' idea. Loved it. Way to re-invent yourself, without losing what your fans inherently love: your recurring characters.

Here's what I didn't like:

I found points in the book somewhat nonsensical and hard to take seriously (inasmuch as one can take Hiassen seriously, mind you). Specifically, I find it amazing that the Governor makes such exceptions for the dominant heroine. It just seems out of character.

The only other complaint I have is that at times the book dragged a bit. It felt like it could have been shorter, or possibly more well put together than it was.

On the whole though, a solid offering in a series that never really disappoints.

Way to go, Carl!

(08/13/10 - 10:22 PM)
Spent the evening re-connecting with my closest friend, Bryan and his fiancee, Cindy (FINALLY, he popped the question.)

Went to dinner and just talked for hours about everything & anything and it was truly enjoyable.

It's a shame when you don't see or hear from someone for a great deal of time, but by the same token it makes the re-connecting all the more meaningful.

So thanks you two for a wonderful evening (photo on FaceBook).

(08/11/10 - 10:22 PM)
Wanda and I finished the NewsRadio DVD set this evening, and were both in agreement that it was one of the single best pieces of comedic television that we've ever seen. EVER.

This show ran five seasons (the last of which without the murdered Phil Hartman), and I felt like it was no where near ready to be finished. The writing was so tight and so fast-paced that it left one hanging on every word, waiting to find out where the next quip would take you.

I applaud the writers, I applaud the cast, and everyone else who had a hand in bringing this brilliant show to life: It was amazing.

My advice? If you like to laugh, you HAVE to see this show. It's certainly in my top three comedies of all time, and depending on the day, it might even be number one. It was just that good.

(08/10/10 - 9:08 PM)
Finished Douglas Preston's latest offering, "Impact" and was satisfied, but not much else. While I am still in awe of the things that he, and sometimes partner Lincoln Child, have come up with in the past, I think this one had a great premise, but missed the mark a bit.

Specifically, I mean that the story seemed to take too long to tell, and could have been told differently on a more exciting pace.

All in all, I was happy with the premise, enjoyed the book, and as a writer, I feel disingenuious in crapping on something that's so hard to create.

(08/09/10 - 7:42 PM)
Had a relaxing afternoon reconnecting with one of my dearest friends from Texas, and her husband, who I had not yet met. I found him to be a super nice guy, and liked him immediately. They seemed really good together.

We even got to visit with their dog, Derby, who was keen, if not a tad on the excitable side (photos on FaceBook). I attempted to introduce the cat and the dog, and got two holes, and two scratches in my pectoral for the effort, followed by the cat whapping me in the head full-force until I put him down.

Live and learn.

Just before this writing, I saw a dimunitive, ring-tailed grey squirrel perched in our yard. He had something next to him that I could not identify, and sat stock-still for a full two minutes. When he finally moved, he picked up the item in his mouth, but it was a bit much for the little guy to bear. Apparently, the lucky fellow had come across a fresh, full-size, complete hamburger bun somewhere in the neighborhood and was debating how to go about utilizing it to its' fullest extent. He tried digging a hole, tried taking it up a tree, and finally just ran off with the thing in his mouth.

It was totally amazing, and I wish I had had a camera rolling.

Good for you, little dude.

(08/08/10 - 10:26 AM)
Wow what a dark, rainy morning. It's been storming since last night, and it seems to have continued nicely into this morning. The house feels like it's dusk, and even the cat seems to have a 'What in the world is going on, and who did you piss off?' look in his eyes.

Last night, I had what I could rightfully call the most vivid dream of my entire life. As many of you know, my dreams are hyper-vivid, but this one took the cake.

I was in an auction house, where they were preparing to parcel out the lifelong accumulation of physical property by some early star of stage and screen, unbeknownst to me.

The auction house was about as large as a football field, and was crammed with 'room' after room of this woman's accumulated life-detritus. Each room was laid out in a sensible way, and some rooms contained racks of the harder-to-place, smaller items.

What blew me away upon waking, was that there were fourteen individuals in the auction house with me, all of whom were fully articulated, guised, and personality-laden.

Further, we walked through the entire place, and each piece of furniture was intricate down to the wood grains and the carvings. Many of these pieces, I have never personally seen the likes of, and yet my brain designed entirely new types of furniture, each with their own specific function. Everything down to the doorpulls and knobs were ornate, patinated, and striking.

And there was just tons of the stuff. One room contained a custom-made, thirty foot wall designed to hold 8" x 10" frames of photos. And the wall was better than 50% populated with said-same. Amazingly, each photo was of a different 'family member', and I could pick out each person, and approximate the date the photo was taken based on the hues of patina and clothing style the individual wore. And they ran the gamut over a 50-year timespan.

I can't even begin to convey the detail, intricacy, and wealth of information my brain was feeding me. And I still sit in awe even as I write this. It was truly something special.

So, thanks brain for the interesting evening!

(08/07/10 - 7:16 PM)
Wanda and I went to Madison early this morning to get the oil changed in her car.

Before we left, Wanda asked me if I had seen her cereal bar lying around anywhere, as she had misplaced it mid-consumption, and had looked everywhere she could think of - even the places she hadn't been.

I responded no, but I would keep an eye out for it.

A few minutes later, she came back down to the office and said, "You're not going to believe where I found it."

Somehow (and she's still not sure how) it ended up in her underwear drawer.

WOW. It was pretty funny, all in all.

While we waited for our oil change to commence, we walked the few blocks to the Half-Price Books and once more carpet-bombed the relevant books with my home-made bookmarks. We even found a couple from the last time, but most were gone.

Wanda found a new book that she didn't have, and I - for once - found nothing of interest.

We came home, and Wanda cleaned while I worked on the media library and did the weekly burning.

(08/06/10 - 8:22 PM)
Came home and mowed the lawn for the second time in 5 days (it's either raining like mad, or hot as Gahenna in summer these days), and then got a few other odds and ends done around the house.

Work today was mercifully slow, what with a number of individuals either on vacation, or having left early for various reasons today.

Tonight, Wanda and I look forward to some hilarious DVD's and relaxing. It's been a long, trying week for us both.

(08/04/10 - 7:16 PM)
Finished Lincoln Child's newest novel, "Terminal Freeze" and was - as usual - not disappointed.

Child is fast becoming one of my 'must read' authors not only due to his amazing ability to spin a story, but more profoundly due to his ability to paint such a compelling picture with words. Every scene in the book, no matter how mundane, is a mesmerizing array of just-the-perfect words strung together in something that finds a way to be both easy to read, while being poetic at the same time.

I envy that skill a great deal.

Child's latest book takes us to a long forgotten Arctic outpost (familiar territory for me!) where a small group of scientists arrive to do a study on global climate change, sponsored by a television conglomerate.

As things progress, discoveries are made that both excite and confound. And these discoveries soon turn the whole place on its head as the struggle between science and sensational media butt heads.

About half-way through this work, I felt like I had heard this story before; seen a movie something akin to this.

Turns out, Mr. Child had me fooled. And refreshingly so.

I think my favorite part of the book was the exchange between the rogue Enigmologist, Logan, and the Paleoecologist on the dig where Logan brings to the fore a metaphor about losing one's dog. It was damn near a perfect ending.

So, as always, I recommend any of Mr. Child's growing arsenal of amazing books. If you're disappointed, then something is wrong with you - not the book.

(08/02/10 - 9:37 PM)
Finished reading Lisa Lutz's latest installment in the Spellman Files series, "The Spellmans Strike Again", and wasn't disappointed.

BUT, I will say that the antics of this family seem to be getting a bit more insane, and a bit more tiresome. While it was fun in the beginning because it was fresh and new, it begins to feel as though Ms. Lutz is now going the way of Janet Evanovich, in that she seems to find a new frame for the same picture ad-nauseum.

And while this probably has tons of mass appeal, I like my stories and plots to be amorphous. I'm getting somewhat tired of the relative predictability of her work. And while the family storyline is advancing, it feels like it's doing so too slowly to continue in this vein.

A great many future plotlines were potentially set up in this installment, but I fear that their progression will be too tight to the existing installments to be anything more than more of the same.

So please, Lisa: Do not go the way of Ms. Evanovich. Your stories are funnier, brighter, and more fleshed out and that's saying something. Bring that spark of interest, intrigue, and humor that I so loved in your first installment back to the table. I miss it.

(08/01/10 - 11:48 AM)
Spending the morning working on the media library. Lots to do this morning, and then it's out to mow the lawn for the first time in something like a month.

Then I plan on reading, and being lazy.

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