December 2008


Wow.  So much to blog, so little desire to do so.

Lets make a list:

  1. Christmas day.  Kids slept late for the first time in their lives.
  2. Finished building drawers for my kitchen island project – installed and fine-tuned them too.
  3. Started taking down decorations.  Hate that: depressing.
  4. Watched many movies.
  5. Read a lot – “Pillars of the Earth”.  Still working on it.
  6. Ate too much.  Took Zantac and Rolaids.
  7. Went to hardware store to buy hardware.  Actual hardware – wood screws.

I guess that’s about it.

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When Evan talks about the various dorm hijinks, it reminds me of similar things I did when I was living in a dorm.  Some our more interesting ones revolved around creative uses of shaving cream. 

My roommate discovered that he could pop the top off his can of Barbasol and replace it with the spray tip from his can of deodorant.  When pressed, the top would squirt a thin stream of shaving cream about six feet which was perfect for shooting a nice aimed beam at a nemesis when the nemesis opened his door a crack.  Plus it had the advantage of not wasting a lot; you could play this game for hours and not run out of ammo. As such things do, they escalate into wars and the stories get told later on.  Like here for example.

Or like when I told the story to another roommate when I was in a summer research program in Arlington Texas.  I was rooming with a guy from Oral Roberts University and of all the places I could think of, ORU was the last place I expected to hear of serious pranking but he told me of the shaving cream trick on steroids:  the Photon Bomb.  Apparently, they would take one of those can openers that punched a triangular hole and use it on the bottom of the can.  If you did it right, the entire can would empty itself in about two seconds and cover your target with shaving cream. It was used like a flame thrower: you somehow coaxed open the door and aimed it in the general direction.

I was enthralled; I wanted to try it immediately.  I had learned through experience that most such stories are urban legends.  When you pressed a storyteller about facts or wanted to try something, you often found out that your informant was just blowing smoke or that when you tried something like making flour explode, it would not work for various reasons.  This guy however knew what he was talking about.  I went straight away and got a can of Barbasol.  But who to prank?

We were all geeks that were there for only 11 weeks and the relationships were rather formal.  Still, we knew this girl down the hall well enough to prank.  I was the straight man and went down to ask her if she wanted to go get some ice cream with us.  Something about me must have been not so sincere because she was suspicious from the start.  We started out across the parking lot when he jumped out from between two cars with his can aimed.

It turns out she was stronger than we thought.  She grabbed his arm in a grip of surprising strength and managed to twist his arm around and get most of the blast on him.  She got a little on her side but he got most of it plus he got his arm wrenched pretty good.  Boy she was mad! It took a lot of sweet talking to talk her down from being mad at us and even then she guilted us pretty hard.  But it was worth it and that’s what kept her a little mad at us; she knew that deep down we were not sorry. She knew that we needed a prankee and that she had been it and that we were very happy to have had a chance to try it on somebody.  We were unrepentant at heart. 

I suppose this is going on my permanent record.  It reminds me of a cartoon I saw in the paper where a guy is standing at the pearly gates and an angel with a clipboard is saying “Well, you lived a pretty good life but we need to discuss a couple of things from seventh grade…” 

Evan made it home yesterday and reported that the roads were clear most of the way; he had no problems except with our neighborhood which is typical.  That was a relief.  His first semester is out of the way and he’s looking at a really hard one in the spring.  His first semester was pretty easy and I hope it serves the purpose of easing him in to the hard workload he’s looking at for the rest of his time there.

We had one of those days at work where everyone brought snacks and so I was full of food by the end of the day.  Not only that but a friend wanted to have lunch with me because he was excited about the fact that he had just been awarded a patent for his new guitar design.  He wanted to show it to me and I certainly wanted to see.  All this led to my getting home and announcing that I wanted no dinner.

This met with much moaning since everybody was all cranked up to go out.  They wanted to call it my birthday dinner even though my birthday is two days away. In the end, we did go out and I had a small salad and we all had fun.  The streets in our part of town were pretty nasty though and a fine mist was falling and freezing on everything. It was good to make it home. We spent the remainder of the evening watching a movie although when Mel and I went to bed, Evan stayed up like the college student that he is.  He was far from being ready to turn in. School was cancelled because of the weather and so they both were preparing to stay up late and sleep in.

They predicted a 20% chance of sleet yesterday.  Naturally I assumed that nothing would happen.  Imagine my annoyance today when I woke up to find my driveway covered in sleet.  Grrr…

It was about 75 degrees yesterday when Erin and I left to take her to her small group.  We stopped at the dollar store and when we stepped out, the temperature had dropped about 20 degrees. Not long after that, it began to come down.

I just hope it clears up soon; Evan’s last final is this afternoon and he’s due to drive home tomorrow.  I don’t want him to encounter any problems.

I managed to come under the sway of some random viral crud for the past several days which curtailed just about everything.  On the other hand, it’s nice to spend a day or two in pursuit of some guilt-free napping.  In any case, I’m out from under it now and got back into the saddle to the extent that I finished hanging lights on the house and helped Mel wrap up some presents to put under the tree.

Saturday night we went to the party for our class at church.  I try not to call it Sunday School because that’s technically just for kids but that’s what everybody else calls it too.  For some weird reason they had it at two different places and we had to drive from one to the other.  I’m not sure what that was supposed to accomplish except perhaps for two families getting to show off their homes.  I guess that’s a good enough reason – it has the advantage of making you clean it up really good which is a gift that keeps on giving for several weeks.

It was fun.  It’s gotten to big that I can’t really get to talk to many people.  An added complication was that the OU game was on and so a lot of people were preoccupied with that.  Indeed the host husband never left that room.  I doubt he even knew there were other people in the house other than the ones in his TV room.

On Sunday, Mel decided that we need to deal with the leaves and put up some more decorations.  She has a serious preoccupation with fallen leaves and cannot live with the sight of them blowing around outside.  They must be lassoed and hauled off.  Or, in my case, mulched with the lawn mower. As to the decorations, they turned out nicely.

I used to enjoy putting lights up on the house when the kids were little but sometime between then and now, the urge left me.  I guess I just feel like I’ve already done that and enjoyed it and now I’m moving on.  Maybe it’s because the kids are older and I feel they don’t care.  And perhaps it’s because that’s exactly what my Dad did.  One thing that annoys me is how the strings of lights keep failing and I have to go buy new ones.  I’ve never mastered the art of repairing them.  For any of these reasons, I didn’t feel the urge to put lights up but I was overruled by Erin and Melissa so I started the process yesterday.  I got a couple of spiral trees and some nets of lights on the bushes and my energy ran out.  I still have yet to put strings of icicle lights along the edge of the roof but I feel I can do that sometime this week.

I’d prefer to put some Christmas music on the iPod and drive around town and look at the light displays of others.  That’s still fun for me and we did a bit of that this weekend.  But it’s apparently no substitute for lights on our own house.  We’re having Mel’s family over next weekend so I guess that’s the ultimate movitator.

I think that for the first time ever, we dirtied every plate, knife, fork, and spoon in a single meal and we did it more than once in a day.  Good thing the dishwasher was in working order.

This year’s throwdown involved most everything going on over at the in-laws which is about three blocks away; therefore, I didn’t have to drive anywhere.  We gave the house a thorough cleaning just in case but other than that, it was extremely easy on us.  It was so easy that I actually didn’t get enough activity on a couple of days and, for the first time in my life, had trouble sleeping.  I should have just stayed up later but when everybody in the house goes to bed, what can you do?

I kind of like it.  We should have all holidays in town but a few houses away.

Everyone did eventually come over since Mel wanted to give her sister a break from the non-stop kitchen duty.  We had three meals at our house so we put all the leaves in the table, got out the card table, pulled up the office chairs, and used all the aforementioned dinnerware.  It was fun – I’m glad we bought the upscale dishwasher that is super quiet or that racket would have gotten annoying since the thing was running continuously.  Word to the wise:  “quiet” dishwashers are quiet because they reduce the pressure inside which makes them run longer.  MUCH longer – so leave plenty of time.

I should point out also that we only used up our stock of every day stuff. The china and fine glassware remained firmly in the attic or in those cabinets over the refrigerator that you can never reach and so that stuff never gets used.  This is another lesson in that the “finer” stuff usually goes totally unused. We should get rid of it completely.

Evan eventually headed back to Fayetteville and texted us an hour later with reports of snow.  I texted back for him to stop texting while driving in snow.

Mel’s younger brother was in town which is a rare thing. He and his wife came in to visit some of her family as well.  I’ve never pried into her life but she bears all the marks of having been brought up in the best parts of town so I’m always concerned that she’ll be bored at our house where we watch a good deal of football. She never says anything though – but if you’re from the good side of town, you don’t say such things.  Oh well, at least we don’t live in a trailer. Plus, I think it’s a law that you have to watch the OU/OSU game.

Dixie the decrepit dog enjoyed herself; she limped around the house soaking up attention and crumbs from the floor.  Mel’s brother recently lost a dog to old age and recommended glucosamine/chondroitin dog treats. 

We drew names for Christmas gifts and so now we all have a firm idea for how to head into the next holiday. I look forward to it.  There will be much music to listen to at the various churches and parties to attend.  There will be many cookies to eat.  Actually, after this over-eating weekend, I think I’ll lay off the cookies for awhile.