January 2005

Fridays have a way of deteriorating fast these days as mine did this past weekend. I came home to the news that Evan was having a few friends sleep over. Erin apparently had a birthday sleepover to go to down the street so Mel decided for some reason to give him cart blanche for a sleepover as well. That means one thing: I would not get to sleep until quite late and I would end up trapped in my own home from dinnertime Friday to about noon Saturday. The rule seems to be that they can wake me up but I'm not allowed to wake them up. Fortunately, the coffee maker did not wake them up.

Things generally go well, it's just that I end up trapped back in my bedroom. Teenagers need to feel that they're not being spyed upon and can speak plainly to each other. Never mind that we can hear everything from our bedroom lair (which makes this an advantageous viewpoint from the eavesdropping parent standpoint). So, we make ourselves scarce. I lost a few points by not letting them have my video camera but this was a simple misunderstanding. I was on my way out the door to pick up the pizzas – I just didn't want to go back and find a tape for the camera; it wasn't that I was against the idea. Most of their videos end up with the night-vision mode on outside looking up one or both of some kids' nostrils. Thank goodness it's only the nostrils, eh?

But I found myself rousted out of the bedroom (or spying hidey-hole, if you prefer) to go investigate the opening of the front door. We have this rule: most middle-aged homeowners get nervous if they see a gang of teenaged boys roaming the neighborhood late at night (at least I do) so they have to stay inside. We impose a curfew, as it were. So I went to lasso them all back into the house. Imagine my surprise when I looked out and found out that they had duct-taped one of them to the pole that holds the roof up and pulled his pants down around his ankles and left him there. The noise was their attempt to go frantically looking for a camera before the jig was up. I just hate to be the one in the position of telling a group of 14-year-old boys to un-tie their friend and let him pull his pants up! I'm so unreasonable!

Mel and I pulled the mattresses off the beds and put them into the living room but when I got up Saturday morning, I found that they had jammed them upright in the hallways to serve as barricades while they had a marshmallow war. Several years ago, I had bought some half-inch PVC and made little blowguns for the kids to play with; you put in a marshmallow, blow, and *bingo*, you're having a blowgun war! They had excavated these plus one bag of marshmallow minis and had quite an epic battle – and they had apparently done it quietly. The floor (and the driveway and front yard) was covered in stale marshmallows. The poor dog was looking in the back door with a look that said: “I'd have that cleaned up by now if only you'd let me in!”. All snack food in the house had disappeared. I never saw Evan that whole night without the cell phone against his face. I'm pretty sure our plan has unlimited night/weekend minutes and now I'm really hoping I'm right.

So, as far as sleeping arrangements go, they were just draped over the sofas, in the easy chairs, and all over the floor in random arrangements. The TV was on showing the DVD title screen from the movie they had started and which had long ago finished and gone back to the intro screen. I think there were five boys but it seemed like more – maybe twenty or so. One had just showed up at some point and apparently one had stayed over who hadn't been invited. He was given special dispensation though because their band needed a drummer and this kid owned a set of drums. Early in the evening, Evan came back to our bedroom asking if we'd take the truck and go get this kid's drum set and bring it over. Mel, incredibly, said yes. So we had a full-sized rock band whaling away for a large part of the evening: two guitars, a bass, and drums. Surprisingly, they weren't all that lound and sounded pretty good. Evan is that way – he has never really done anything halfway. If he sets down to do something he usually does a pretty good job at it and so his guitar playing is coming along quite well. He's better than me at this point.
But of course, I have to go to work to pay for all this *^&% while he is free to practice for hours but you've all heard that story.

They slept on the bare floor in their clothes until noon-ish. One Dad showed up at 9:00 to pick his kid up (the pantsless one) but Mel just shooed him off telling him to come back later. “Well, we've got this thing until 1:00”. “Fine” Mel said. Erin had a friend come over at around 11:00 at which point they were beginning to stir. Mel kept the little girl on the front porch, saying to one of the boys, “Do you have a shirt?”. Some seconds later I heard him say “Oh, you mean you want me to put it on?” Yes, that was the idea before this little girl could come in from the cold.

I finally left at midday – unable to stand being trapped in my own house for that long – I headed up to HarborFreight Tools and fingered the goods to relax. (I bought one of those air-up-your-tires things and then came home and aired up all our tires. That's another story though; my boss TheMan let me have the use of his air compressor – I think he wants to buy himself a bigger one and if he can say that it's loaned out, then he can justify his new purchase – I'm certainly willing to help but I'd like to pay him for it. I also have a brad-nailer which is great fun.)

At this point, the printer mysteriously malfunctioned saying that it had a paper jam when there was clearly no paper jam. This mystified me all day Sunday. Finally today I took the whole thing apart and found our culprit: a marshmallow that had been squished between the paper feed rollers.

Now you see what I mean when I say “lost weekend”.


Well, I've made DVDs out of all our 8mm tapes. That comes to 19 tapes. That's slightly less than 38 hours. I've definately got to master that editing software that you use to cut down the amount of video.

Newsflash! I found a snippet of video of riding the teacup ride at Disneyland with my son, wife, and his wife. Before my daughter was born. Well, she was there if you know what I mean.

I decided to grow the beard back without the intervening stage of shaving off the mustache. I'd rather deal with the grey hairs than the fat face. I can either dye it or diet. Perhaps both.

Actually I'm dieting now and just lost my 10th pound! Of course that's a chunk of weight that I put on the the last couple of months so I guess it should be easy. But I have a long way to go. Perhaps I'll put a bit more effort into keeping it off this time; last year I started well but just lost the emotional drive. Sad.

But back to the beard, I've got about 5 days of growth and am looking pretty fuzzy; but not in a good way. Here's hoping it doesn't take too long to look beard-like rather than homeless and unemployed.

OK, I'm off on a rant here – anyone not interested in reading about my philosophical objections to trying to force our children to grow up too fast, just move along. Go read something else.

Coming soon is the Spring Formal Dance – a prom-like affair thrown together by the two intermediate schools in town. Apparently, some cheerleader from days gone by decided that it would be cool to take a bunch of 14 to 15 year olds who can't drive, have little experience in dating, and have never had to pay for their own dinners, and throw them into ridiculous knock-off of the senior prom with all its associated pressures and wastes of money. And so, we have a dance that requires the arrangement of a date, rental of formal wear (or, if you're a girl, the purchase of an expensive get-up that you'll only wear once), the arrangment of dinner at a restaurant, and all the other claptrap.

My opinion: it's silly and should be stopped. Many of them aren't ready for this level of dating. Sure, these kids are starting to date and to learn how to get along with each other but this formal thing isn't going to help that process along very much plus it's just putting a lot of pressure (both social and financial) on everyone involved that they don't need. And for what? I'm sure a few people will have fun dancing but I think those people will be in the minority. They what? Kids have enough exposure to sex and they get enough conflicting guidance in the matter from too many sources without throwing them into this superficially romantic getaway. If they sneak off and start making out (or more), then we have nobody to blame except for the idiots who set up this whole thing. And we wonder why the teen pregnancy rate is so high around here! These dumb-assed adults are part of the problem!

I suppose when the senior prom comes along, they're ready for it – at least they can drive themselves. Ah me! There are few genetic freaks in the 9th grade who appear to be ready for anything but the rest of them just don't seem ready yet – at least to me. Of course, I have a 9th grader so I suppose I'm biased. I also agree that kids need something to do to keep them busy and out of trouble but couldn't it just have been a normal dance without the tuxedos and dinners out?

I am nerdier than 96% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am indeed a professional.

I shamelessy lifted this from Mathew Baldwin at defectiveyeti

Elves Of Valinor Warn Of “Critical Security Flaw” In Palantír Browsers

The Elves of Valinor, creators of the popular palantíri “browsers” used throughout Middle-Earth to view distant lands, announced today that the Seeing Stones contain a critical security flaw which could leave users open to attacks by malicious Dark Lords. The vulnerabilities, according to an ElviNor monthly bulletin, could permit malignant gods to monitor the location and activity of users, or allow persons peering into the Palantíri to be taken over and used to execute remote commands. ElviNor urged those in possession of a Palantír to contact the Order of the Istari and request a magical patch to address the problem. Critics, meanwhile, seized upon the announcement as further proof that ElviNor hardware is inherently insecure, and urged consumers to switch to reliable mithril products. Said Thorin III Stonehelm of Khazad-dûm, “you'll never get this kind shoddy craftsmanship from a dwarf.” .

We got a new gadget – and this one was found and recommended by Mel herself – a Sony DVDirect DVD burner. You can just plug your video camera into it, push play, and make a DVD of your videos. Software was included to hopefully make them less boring but it's pretty obtuse.

Still, when Mel recommends an investment in technology I don't ask question – I just get online and buy it. Geez, I had forgotten how boring some home video can be. It will be better if I can ever figure out how to edit them.

Next Page »