Monday, February 28, 2011

dirty basement water legs

I feel like I've written about the flooding that sometimes happens in my basement.  If so I've explained that the pump is in the farthest corner from the door, and I've probably described the crate walk.

Because the pump is in the far corner there are two milk crates in the basement.  When it floods I use the crates to move above the water.  Standing on one crate I move the other ahead of me then step onto it.  I repeat this process until I reach the pump then jiggle the pump until it starts pumping.  Sometimes I have to dig around in the hole to break loose the collected flotsam, and I have a stick that stays in the basement for this very reason.  Once the pump is working I turn and do the crate walk back to the door.

Rain has been falling throughout the day, and I was even lucky enough to get to bike in some light rain this morning.  I arrived at work thoroughly damp, though my butt was nearly soaked from the spray off the back tire.  I won't even attempt a description of my hair, but it needs to be cut and was the combined crazy of rained on and wind blown.

I left work an hour early and met Momma and The Boy near the square.  She needed to be at work earlier than usual, and I was able to leave work in order to take her car and meet Big Brother at his school.  She warned me to avoid our usual driving route due to flooding, and as we travelled I saw plenty of flooding around town.  Our town is a very hilly town, so between the hills and the paved surfaces and the low places we can see lots of rapids down road ways as well as a number of 24 hour ponds.

I knew of course that the chance of my basement being flooded were very good, so upon arriving home my first goal was to check.  I could tell the basement was flooded more than usual, but I couldn't really see how deep it was.  I could see one of my crates, but I needed a long stick to get it close to me.  I try to leave them near enough the door, but sometimes they get pushed out of the way on dry basement trips.

I found a long stick and braced myself against the brick doorway and leaned as far as I could and just could reach the crate.  I wasn't sure how easily it would move, so I wasn't expecting instant cooperation.  I also wasn't expecting for the crate to be floating and to slowly roll over when I did reach it.

But it did.

I ended up changing into shorts and donning my flip flops.  I was dreading my adventure into the cold, brown water, but it exceeded my expectations.  The water is in fact cold and brown and reached just above my knees when I was finally brave enough to step out into it.  It's so cold in fact that it nearly took my breath away, almost like that first jump into the pool.

I'm sure the boys above in the house heard me as I made my way to the pump.  I was singing loudly, "Oh my god it's sooooo COLD!" a little ditty I made up trying to keep the water temperature from driving me over the edge of sanity.  I could only move so quickly as there are plenty of dangerous and invisible things in the brown water ready to trip me or worse.

Thankfully I did finally reach the far corner, and thankfully the pump didn't take too much jiggling to start working.  Now I've got coffee steeping and another trip outside to peek into the basement.  I hope to hear the pump still working, and I hope to see a noticeable drop in the water level.  And I hope to relight the water heater's pilot soon.  The boys already needed baths tonight, and now I'd really like a shower.

Monday, February 21, 2011

loose pad

Fortunately my back brake is tight, tight as in works well enough that I can skid without too much trying.  Also I was fortunate in not having been moving very quickly when I hit my front brake which suddenly wasn't really working in a way that was even a little bit helpful.

It probably wasn't really nice or proper of me to refer to the kid as a sack of shit, but either one or both of his parents are a sack of shit for letting him play with my bike.

Entering the restaurant where I work through the front door you pass between our bar area to the left and a separate dining room on the right.  Continue through and you reach the courtyard which is essentially fenced off inside the greater room, separating it from two walkways on the outer edges of the room.  These walking areas lead to the doors that lead to the stairways that lead to the condos on the floors above.  Continue your walk from the front door to end in the kitchen, where we have more dining, but if I start talking about the tourists I might start to rant a little.

Only one of the two doors to the upper living areas is used often, so the walkway leading to the less used door has become parking for those of us who ride our bikes to work. 

At some point today, as I was moving between the kitchen and somewhere else in the restaurant, there was a family seated in the courtyard.  Only the parents were actually seated at the moment I walked through.  The two young girls and young boy that were also part of the party were in the less used walkway.  While the girls admired the horrid painting of crap that takes up  nearly a twenty by thirty foot area of the wall there the boy could be seen fucking with my bike.

I have no proof that the kid fucked with my brakes.  One of my pads on the front was loose when I left, and I didn't know this till I was pedaling away and tried to use the brakes.  I tend to use the front brake more for control and the back for stopping or to slow myself more quickly.  In a sense I kinda rely on them a lot.

And it's not as if the kid was off somewhere, unattended and unwatched.  The parents were seated at a table facing the exact direction of my bike and their kid and were not more than five feet away.  Looking at their child would have confirmed that his bike was not in fact the one leaning against the divider fence and that he was in fact fucking with a bike not his own.

Perhaps they just didn't realize that the machine their child was treating as his own is in fact my main mode of transportation, much like their car is for them.  Maybe they just don't realize how dirty my bike probably is.  And it's not that it's so dirty so much as that I ride on regular ol' city streets where anything can and likely does go.  Bikes also hold potential dangers for small children, not the least of which is that they could easily pull the bike over on themselves.

Maybe the kid didn't loosen my brake pad, but it was working when I arrived in the morning, and it wasn't working when I left.  I easily found and fixed the problem, but that didn't really help when I first attempted to use that brake and it wasn't really there suddenly.

My front brake works, but it isn't as tight as the back.  The back is my stopping brake or my sudden need to decrease speed brake.  My front is a more delicate sort of control of speed.  That doesn't make it any less essential, but it also doesn't make it the point.

So, I saw the kid fucking with my bike, and I wanted to approach the parents and say something.  I'm also a restaurant employee and have been trained for years to not piss off the customer.  I also know how some parents can be when approached about something their kid is doing but should not be doing.  It's almost as if you're questioning their entire ability to parent as well as the general goodness of the children.

And I'm still not sure what I should have done.  Perhaps the simplest thing would have been to push my way into their little zone and remove my bike.  There are a couple of places I could have moved it to, and without having talked at all other than to excuse myself there'd be no reason for the parents to turn douche, though some people never need a valid reason.

The best idea really would be for people to control their kids and teach them that fucking with other people's stuff is really never cool.  They aren't special, and my bike should be understood to be off limits.  More than anything, the fact that parents didn't already get this idea is just baffling to me.  And that's part of my reluctance to say or do anything.  What can you really say or do to people like this?

p.s. Is the post title an homage or just a coincidence that made me think of this?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

food war? srsly?

Apparently two brothers in DC have competing pizza restaurants, and now they're "jumbo slice" is going to be on tv as they compete to see who has the best.

Food competitions sorta bother me.  I watched and enjoyed Top Chef when I had the good cables, but the competition aspect always bothered me a bit, and sometimes it irritated the shit out of me.

On a personal level it's not uncommon for cooks/chefs to have to feel like they are the best.  It's part of the thing, and it's probably completely natural.  Maybe it's just a guy thing because many of the guys I know are like this while few of the girls are, and by guys and girls here I mean those with whom I've worked in various kitchens.

The only reason the tv and show are even on behind me is that I'm just too lazy to go turn the damn thing off.  The remote works mostly, but the power button doesn't tend to.  Sometimes if you mash the button hard enough and enough times in quick succession the tv will turn off and then back on, but generally it's just easier to walk the couple steps to the tv.

Everyone likes different foods in different ways and for different reason.  And there is no single food that every single person on the earth is going to like.  Cilantro is a great example of how we taste.  I personally love it.  I feel like too much is almost enough.  But many people don't like it, and in fact they will often taste is as having a chemical like flavor.

Do you win by pleasing the greatest number of people? or do you win a food competition by having the best food?   or do you win by being happy with what you've made?

Maybe there's my real problem.  I'm my biggest critic, and if I'm happy with something I've made then I'm satisfied that I've created what I wanted.  I don't always feel like I've created what I set out to accomplish, but I'm also a good enough cook that I can make people happy while not feeling like I got it right.

Here's another example, chicken and dumplings.  Momma and I both make really good chicken and dumplings, but we make the dish somewhat differently, and we end with fairly different versions of the same thing.  We've also put some amount of time over the years moving our own personal chicken and dumplings recipes into our own territory where we play with the different variables to further create the dish as we imagine it.

As a side note I didn't really grow up with chicken and dumplings.  It just wasn't in my mother's repertoire, so it wasn't something I ate a lot.  If anything this just means that I'm less wedded to an ideal that I'm trying to recreate and/or perfect.

How about a final example?  Take a pound of green beans and trim them then steam them just right so that you've just brought out that lovely shade of green.  Half of that pound goes into an ice bath to stop the cooking while the other half gets tossed with a bit of butter and some sea salt.  The plain cold bean will have a nice crispness and sweetness to it.  It will almost seem to pop in your mouth, tasting just like itself.  The other bean has that bit of salt and butter, the salty and fatty being two things we tend to crave as humans.  Which is truly better?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

something about a hill or something

I really should have gone to bed before two o'clock this morning, but I was up by seven, and I did wake the boys up and get them moving toward clothes and breakfast, and I did get The Boy's lunch.  Big Brother is opting to buy lunch today because they're having barbecue trukey and/or pork. 

Yes, the menu does say "trukey," and yes, we have resorted to calling it that.  It's kinda like when your very young, not quite speaking clearly/correctly child refers to granola bars as "goobahs" and it sticks so that years later you say it without quite thinking.  I'm sure my mother still sometimes refers to "bibbits."

I could have gone back to bed, but I seem to have just as much trouble waking up after that little bit of extra sleep, so I made my first cup of coffee of the day and decided just to stay up.

As our weather turned cold and business dropped on the square my place of employment ditched one of the day shifts.  This weeks sees us getting warmer weather, and with that there's every chance we'll have busy-ish lunches, or at least busy enough to need that third person back.

I should be off today, but I'm going in at eleven to be the third person for a couple of hours.  And since I'm up I can leave the house by ten.  I won't feel like I'm having to pedal so damn hard just to be at work on time, and I can finally explore some alternate routes that may or may not be almost just as bad as the basic route I've been riding to get to work.

Also, I really need to get my ass in gear and move closer to town, but that's really not the point at all right this moment.

I am slowly getting the hang of proper gear shifting, or at least shifting that feels proper.  But in this town it seems like a true art, because we have lots of hills.  Mostly I'm doing fine, avoiding most of the worst hills, but I'm also learning that there is always going to be at least one big hill between me and my destination.

I shouldn't complain, though I will, because the ride has to be good for me.  I'm sure I'm going to be in decent shape before too long, but I also need to get in the habit of eating better.  The machine can't work properly without enough fuel, and my eating habits have sucked so much for so long that it's difficult to change.

And now I have another hour before I want to be rolling down the driveway.  I'm feeling the sleepiness that wants to push me back under the quilt.  And I'm fighting the voice in my head that's telling me I could sleep for an hour and be up and ready to go on time.  I'm fighting that voice because I know better.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

school stuff

Big Brother is reading for fun, which is sorta what he does.  He told me earlier that he's supposed to read seventy five minutes a week, and he even has a sheet to list what he's read and for how long.  I get to initial it, I suppose as proof that he read what he said.

Seventy five minutes?  I laughed when he said that and pointed out that he'd only need to read for fifteen minutes a night and only on school nights.  He told me that he thinks some kids do exactly that.  I felt bad for those kids.  I just can't imagine not reading for pleasure and not enjoying reading.

When I initialed Big Brother's reading sheet earlier he'd already been reading for just over two hours.  He has a book that's due back tomorrow, and he wanted to finish it.  He's already well into the next book.  Before the night's over I'll initial his sheet again for another two hours worth of book two.

The Boy is hating doing his homework.  I suggested throughout the evening that he do it, but I never said "do it" as opposed to "you really should do it."  Part of me wants to get him to learn and understand the benefit of doing the work earlier rather than later in order to have that time later.

Right now he's taking a break.  He's written two of the six sentences that are his homework.  He's learning contractions and has to rewrite six sentences changing the underlined words into contractions.  It's easy enough, but he hates the writing.  I try to remind him that it's great practice and gets easier, but that's absolutely lost on his seven (nearly eight) year old point of view on how the world works.

I have to remember sometimes to pronounce words properly, but I also have to point out sometimes that we are in fact southern and mostly used to the accents around us.  I myself do sound southern, just so you know, and I'm pretty much okay with that.  Apparently I sometimes say "aigs" when I mean "eggs."

I also had to make a point when reading contractions to pronounce the word "didn't" properly instead of my more common "dittun."  I don't think they cover "ya'll" leaving to society to instill the proper use of the word.

He's finally on sentence number four, and he's got ten minutes before we need to get him moving toward bed.  They've been at Momma's for the last few days, so we haven't gotten to read The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe for a while.  Three of the four Pevensie kids are about to leave the Beaver's dam, while one already has.

"You can always write smaller," I mentioned moments ago to The Boy.  Before he begins each sentence he extends the line that he has to write the sentence on to the edges of the page so that he'll have enough line to write the sentence.

He answered, "I don't really like writing smaller."  I can't argue with that.

p.s. This is what's playing right this moment.

p.p.s. I do understand that The Boy may disagree about whether it's better to finish the homework earlier or later, but I can't help but think my was is better, and I can't help but wish he'd at least try it once.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

not my job

Some amount of conversation happened at work tonight between me and a coworker, and part of it involved me reminding him that I'm not into girls.  It wasn't so matter of fact as that, and I really don't remember any of what was said other than me using the phrase, "if I was into girls . . ."

Part of his answer involved him saying, "I know; you tell us every chance you get."

I don't know that I do the thing he said, but I won't pretend that I don't.  The thing is that I don't feel that I'm reminding people "every chance I get" as much as I'm just not playing any games or pretending anything.  To me, being out is more than just letting people know that we're gay.

To me being out means that I'm myself.  If my not gay friends are willing to notice and/or comment on the attractive women around then they need to accept that I'm going to mention and/or notice the guys I think are hot. 

Okay, on some level I am aware that I'm messing with them.  I get that it's not something they're used to.  I know way more people who are not gay than people who are.  It's merely a matter of fact.  It's how it is.  And I would wager that the vast majority of people as a general rule know far fewer homos than not. 

While sometimes I do set out to shock and to fuck with people, for the most part I'm just not willing to not shock and/or fuck with.  I'm not going to go out of my way to help keep their life squick free.  And for what it's worth, I do love telling people to "fuck your hetero normative bullshit!"

I should probably also admit that I can sometimes be the guy that turns too much into a euphemism, and of course mine are all totally gay.  I can throw some not gay euphemisms out there, but most of the time they too disturb the not gays.  Sadly, my ability to make things into a euphemism has become sort of it's own inside joke.  I think maybe I should do something about it, but it almost always makes somebody laugh, so I'll probably just keep going for the easy ones.

So, do I let everyone know every chance I get? or do I just keep it real?  Do I sometimes take things too far? or am I just being myself?

I probably should answer the one that means I need to think before I speak, but that would apply to my life in general.  I seldom stop to stanch the flow with forethought, and it's failed me just fine up till now.  I can't imagine doing something differently just because it makes sense to try a new direction.

And even if one day I do reach a point and finally start to ruminate a bit on my thoughts before verbalizing them, I'll still make sure you know. 

Monday, February 07, 2011

oh the places I'd like to go

I'm falling in love, and it's with a bike.

My Saturday work schedule is usually eleven or twelve to whenever, whenever usually falling sometime around ten.  Somewhere in there, roughly in the middle, is usually an hour long break.  It's usually enough time to eat and walk the few blocks to the tobacco store.

This past Saturday my break was nearly two hours and involved a walk to the bike shop that is slightly farther away.  I've been needing to start looking around, beginning my quest to hopefully find that bike that is the perfect balance of actually useful to me along with quality and economy.

I've assumed I was going to spend some time making this decision.  I've never really owned a good bike.  The bikes I had when I was a kid were fine.  They weren't the fancy ones I drooled over in the BMX magazines, but they took a beating and came back for more.  The bike I have in the garage as well as the one I rode for a short time over the summer both were purchased originally at that horrid bastion of American made crap, Wal Mart.

I explained to the sole visible occupant of the shop that I was replacing a totaled car with a bike and emphasized cheap and used as being key issues.  He pointed out a bike hanging above us, upside down that he seemed happy enough to pull down for my inspection.

My decision may have been a bit rash, but I've proven myself right by having researched the bike after the fact.  I did take a test drive.  The guy at the shop asked for and i.d. and explained just how far I could actually take the bike for a test, but I didn't have quite the time.

Perhaps if I'd declined the test ride I might have held out and not purchased this bike.  Certainly as I pedaled around the first corner I was taken aback.  The handlebars are shorter than I'm used to, and the bike felt unsteady as I dealt with this thing I hadn't considered.  I overlooked the handlebars as I tested the shifters and pedaled easily and then furiously.  I found a good gear for the terrain and slope and found some speed.

Other than a few turns around the square after work earlier today I haven't really ridden this bike for fun yet.  I've recognized that the short handlebars help make the steering more responsive.  Actually I read it on a forum last night, but then riding today I found it to be true.  And riding today involved to work. 

I put about five miles on the bike within twenty four hours of ownership.  I've also already pulled both wheels off to get it into a car trunk and reassembled it on the kitchen floor.  I've flipped it upside down so that The Boy could see as the derailleur worked while I changed gears.

It's sitting in the kitchen right now, waiting next to the door.  I can feel it wanting to go outside and ride, and I can feel it trying to will it's desires onto me.  I have to go to bed so I can get up and be responsible tomorrow, but I'm already thinking about when I have a day to myself and what I'll do.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

i didn't even have to use my ak

The weather has turned back to cold.  Perhaps we're getting our little bit of the big storm.  The forecast I looked at has us having a good chance of snow and rain by the weekend but with temperatures higher than freezing.  Maybe it'll just be a pretty snow.

Today was sunny for the most part.  I opted to stay awake after Momma came to get the boys for school and hadn't really planned my day when the phone rang.

It was work asking if I'd come in to replace a sick coworker who was there but needed to not be and would come and pick me up.  Being inside working meant that I didn't see a lot of the sun, but the nicest part of the day might have been my walk to the bus station after work.

I tried to chase the sun as much as possible but kept finding myself in the shadows of buildings until the last and longest stretch.  That final stretch involves two long blocks headed east which put the sun at my back.

One of those little things I crave during the winter is that sunny day with the sun at your back creating that little circle of warmth.  It helps, I think, that I wear a black leather jacket that seems to soak up the energy.

A little tense from the cold I turned that block and was a short way down when I felt that little spot growing on my back as the sun shone down on me.  I relaxed a little bit and might have even walked a little taller.  I certainly didn't slow down my pace.  I was cutting my timing a little close and didn't want to miss my bus again.

I had no need to worry.  I arrived on the platform with time to spare, though not much at all.  I met the driver as he came from the driver holding pen and boarded the bus right behind him.

I'm glad to have picked up the hours at work and will be glad to see them on my check.  My favorite coworker was there, and she and I nearly always have a great time in the kitchen.  I got a needed dose of sunlight and blew some of my last little bit of money till I get paid Friday on pizza because Papa John's delivers and I can pay online with my debit card.  If I'd had a bike I could have easily taken the #22 bus to the grocery store and biked home from there, but alas that has yet to transpire and is not germane to this conversation.  Homework help was provided, pizza was eaten, Scribblenauts was played, and chapter five of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe was read.

title of post taken from

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

figuring it out

The idea of homework has always been part of the deciding factor in homeschooling the kids.  I just don't believe in homework.  Very few jobs really require you to do work outside of doing your work.  Sure, there are some times when you might spend some personal time taking care of some business, but when do we, as adults, really have homework? 

So to think that schools can't, in the time they have, do the job we expect of them maybe suggests we should assume something is wrong.  But now that I'm seeing some homework and helping, I'm actually developing a different appreciation, though I'm only going so far with this.  I'm not really changing my mind.

By the time I got home The Boy had already finished his math homework, and he's doing well it seems.  He needs very little help except with understanding sometimes what's being asked.  The homework I helped with tonight involved eight sentences which were missing their verb.  The verb was place at the end of the sentence, apart and hugged only by ( ) but needed to be translated to past tense and inserted into the blank space.

Out of eight sentences offered there were only four verbs, so each was repeated.  We worked through the first four, and he once again impressed me with his reading.  He's taking his time with it, but he's actually doing it even though it takes a lot of reminders of what things sound like.  Of course we're also learning American English, and it feels that sometimes you almost need to work in our own Southern dialect.  How many times can you tell a kid that this time that letter sounds different from nearly every other time that you see it, and it actually sounds just like a letter that exists, which begs the question why it's spelled this way instead of another, and I'm not even stopping homework to discuss how many non English words seem to exist in American English, which is still only some amount of the issue, none of which is even the point.

After completing the first four sentences we agreed to take a break.  I settled back expecting a few minutes of playing followed be requesting food which would then be followed by a reminder from me that we needed to finish.  Less than five minutes passed before The Boy was back telling me he was done with his break.

He sat down and took a few seconds to look at his work paper before making the realization.  He looked at the four remaining improperly tensed verbs and realized that he didn't even need to do anymore reading.  He explained completely what he was doing, that the words repeated and he could just write them in without needing to read the sentences, and I couldn't argue with him.

It's true that reading the sentences would have been reading practice, and I even pointed out that it would be good to read them anyway.  I tried to entice him with the idea of being able to work on reading and to get better at reading.  I told of reading for pleasure, and he agreed that he'd like to be able to read better and to read whenever he wanted to. 

I couldn't argue with his better way.  And I'm willing to go with the idea that he's learning not to work any harder than the worksheet.  He did the assignment, and he saved himself some time so that he could get on the computer quicker.

And honestly, he's really doing great with reading.  He isn't fighting it, a concern I once had, though he's not at the point where it's easy enough to do so much.  He'll get there, and in unschooling fashion I'm going to step aside if he figures out how to beat the system once in a while. 

And I'm glad I just remembered to look up Turkish Delight.  The White Witch enticed Edmund with it, and we've read about it the last three nights that the boys were here.  The Boy keeps asking what it is, but the only answer I have is that I think it's a confection.  Then he asks, What's a confection? and I have to tell him it's kinda like candy or a sweet treat or something, that I'm not really sure, but I'll look it up.

so . . .