Thursday, December 28, 2006

I went from tri-weekly to try weekly to try weakly

It's official: after many years of growth and learning, I have finally taken a decidely adult move, and I have officially become a responsible grown-up... I bought a chainsaw. 'Next year, get me a chainsaw' - Doug McKenzie, 12 Days Of Xmas It's a Stihl MS-180 with a 14" bar and the highest rating in a recent survey by Consumer Reports. I realize that among lumberjacks saying you have a 14" bar is like telling the guys at the pub you have a five inch dick -- it's functional and utilitarian, it does what you need it to do and does it well, but it's not going to impress anyone when you hold it up, even if you can get it started in only three pulls. (er...) My Y-chromosome isn't very prominent and a device like this doesn't make me particularly macho, but just owning it and using it is making me feel like a man. I've started trying to clean up my yard, and this may take awhile because the yardwaste bin is picked up by the garbage collector every two weeks. The thought of renting a wood chipper has crossed our minds, yes. I've only used the saw for an hour or two (plus a little test run yesterday) and already I need to sharpen the blade because the wood is so wet. That's the price of progress.

"Christmas, how was that?" you ask. It went well. My bride got nearly twice as many gifts as me (but I gave her quite a bit and she has giving friends so I didn't expect equity), and I got stuff I wanted -- including a record player. I was given the Crosley that I hoped for, or rather the one I had expected, and discovered that it didn't have any way to plug it into anything else (no speaker jacks in back, no earphone jack in front) so it wasn't going to be suiting my needs... my intention was to rip vinyl and tape to the computer. I replaced it with an Innovative Technology brand device with an earphone jack, and I'm really enjoying listening to my records and creating high-quality MP3s. Funny, IT's website isn't mentioned in the manual, only on the bottom of the box; the page hasn't been updated this year so it contains the 2005 product lineup (which doesn't include this ITRETRO-401); email sent to the address on the site bounces as "no longer accepts mail"; the manual and site do not mention anything about replacement needles, though I suspect the one Crosley lists for sale in their pack-in materials will fit. Christmas itself was as expected spent at home (we got up at 1 p.m.!) having a very nice quiet time together in our jammies the whole day. We liked it a lot.

Job search... As you can imagine, last week was not a good time to look for work because there wasn't much up my alley (or most people's) listed. I discovered a stupidity about the Unemployment Dept's online weekly filing thing: Question number two is "did you actively look for work?" Yes. Question number three is "you certify that you put in 3 applications or participated in 3 programs or a combination thereof for 3 contacts?" No, I make no such claim. And it bounces back to question two, as though Looking equals Finding. Great job, guys. Anyhow, so I was contacted a week or two ago about meeting with someone to go over my job search list for a particular week. ZOMG, an audit!!!1! But I had put in three applications that week so I had nothing to ph34r. So I show up at the appointed place at the appointed time to talk to the appointed person, who presumably does this very task several times a day and is better versed in where to look for employment than I. Eventually I get called back, sit at this desk and hand the guy my search list, and after a cursory glance Manure [or something like that, it was an Indian subcontinental name] leans forward and gives me a patronizing look, then tells me I can't list the same job twice. Look again, dipstick; the first line of the two entries say they were found online at, but the next two lines after that on each says what agency they were through and what the business being served was. He'd never heard of despite the fact that every streetcorner in Pierce and King County has a sign with that name poked into the ground or nailed to a pole (and when I visited Portland OR last summer, it was written on every streetcorner and sidewalk in chalk!), and you'd think that dozens of people he's talked to have used the site. So he pulls out the White-Out and erases the '' from the Who column and writes it in on the How column -- in the email address blank, though he noticed earlier that I'd checked the 'from website' box directly below it. say what? Right-o. I rolled with his punches, making sure he was clear on the fact that I had done my three contacts. He moved on to the you-need-a-résumé portion of his rote presentation, and luckily there was something that sounded like "do you have one?" at the end of one of his sentences (though I'm sure that's not what he actually said) so I pulled mine out cheerfully. Much like the college professors my friend Emil had a decade and a half ago when he'd hand in 5 page papers that were entirely composed and written by me (on subjects for which I had never taken a class), he didn't actually read my résumé so much as eyeball it to make sure it looked like it had a table of contents, a thesis statement, a body, a conclusion, and a bibliography. Passed his sniff test. He printed out a listing for some "technology tech" job with a community college's 'puter lab, had me sign a form saying that either I'd apply for this job by the end of the week or not get paid (mentally I'm hearing the voice of my bud from my last two major support jobs, Marcie, saying "I'm a little pink poodle and I LOVE to jump through hoops!") and that I'd call his voicemail once I'd done that, and away I went to put in an application at a craft store a mile away to be a framer. I hope they call, that sounds like a cool change, though I have to say their (front of store) staff organization was about as disorganized as the state office I had just left... maybe the framers, in the back of the store, are more elite and snobby. :) So that's where I am; two apps for this week, one to go. The next day was more amusing, I went to a mostly-unannounced auction at a defunct furniture store and it turns out the auctioneer (who has a storage building in the Lower Yakima Valley) knows my parents. It's a small world afterall...

Now go see the January 2007 update to Laughter is the Spackle of the Soul!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

doom and destruction

Hello, holiday readers. Things have been whacky, possibly more whacky than necessary. Thursday of last week there was a massive windstorm and the power went out here for a few hours. (We live 1 block from the power company, so if I don't have lights chances are they don't either. They get theirs restored, mine come on.) Around 1:30am we were looking out the bedroom window at the trees on the side of our yard swaying... and witnessed one just keep going, straight down. The end result of the storm was that the last two trees on the side of our yard (you may remember we'd had two others removed) went down diagonally through Lillian's back fence and they hung over Ruben's side fence. Also, the tall tree in the corner of Lillian's yard, which is mere meters away from our bedroom window, fell parallel to our two, and amazingly none of the three trees hit a house. Photos of the carnage are below: the first one is the right tree through the fence, the second one is the left tree broken off at the 8 foot mark (and the first time we came to realize the inside of that tree was totally rotten), and the third one is a view from the other side of Lillian's yard (taken while chatting with Ruben about damage and cleanup) showing my two trees going through/over her fence and hanging over his fence. The mound at left in the third photo is the top of her tree, which landed 15 feet from the corner of her house.

Paige's brother Boyd came over with his trusty chainsaw, and within two hours he had both of the trees cut up into manageable pieces, which Paige and I dragged into our own yard, and both of our neighbors' yards are free of major debris (or ours anyway). Yeah, now what to do with the piles of crap in our yard? I'm not sure what will be done about the fence; I'm willing to buy supplies and fix it myself, with or without Lillian's son's help (this is the guy who was supposed to replace the short fence separating our properties in the front yard last summer and hasn't), but she said she's had her insurance company do fence repairs before so they might take care of it. Ruben's fence was not harmed at all, because the trees landed on Lillian's apple tree and didn't make impact on the planks.

There have been some amusing stupidities encountered in the shopping binge I've been on in the last few days, but as usual I can't think when I'm at the computer. Okay, here's one that wound my clock: I was in this thrift store in the Hilltop neighborhood that I'd never seen before, bought a flock of ornaments and such, and I found a couple records I wanted. (You can never have too many musicbox albums, though some would reason that even one is too many.) For some reason I decided I needed this Christmas album by Living Strings, but -- totally unlike me -- I didn't pull the record out to confirm it was the Living Strings Christmas album. I got home, turned on the turntable, and... uh, it's not Living Strings, it's this German children's chorus (oh boy, screechy kids and an accordian!). At least it was still Christmas music, but the kind I prefer to go to Leavenworth to hear over loudspeakers while shopping rather than play in my own home while wrapping gifts. And on that note, I have finally decided upon a gift I want this year: my record player sounds horrible lately, like there's a short or something inside or my needle is blunt (well, that part I already knew), and Crosley [you're there!] has been marketing some CD/tape/record/radio consoles -- one of which will burn CDs of your records -- that we've seen in catalogs and for half-price at a department store chain locally. I dropped that on Paige yesterday, now let's see if she gets on the ball and goes shopping for one while they're still (hopefully) in stock. Anyhow, witness the photos.

click me  click me  click me

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

another old memory found and new thought lost

Hello, all. You still out there? Great. I skipped a week but it wasn't really intentional... seems I had some cool stuff to say two weeks ago, thought about it for four or five days, and then come Monday or Tuesday I could not for the life of me remember what it was. And I still can't, but it was great. I might have remembered what it was about last night when I was writing something else, but I didn't follow my own advice and write it down so again it's lost. It'll be back someday. And it is good, whatever it is. gold-confetti clear bubble light Say, has anyone seen Jamie Dawn since Halloween? The semester's over (but is the move?), we're here waiting for you! By the way, it happened again: someone doing a vanity search for a friend's name came across reference to him in one of my online screeds, and let me know they found me. The friend in question has been deceased since 1985 and the person said that my entry was the only actual mention of him she's been able to find. I still want to be cremated and scattered rather than given a stone, for the record.

So a couple days ago my Christmas tree went up. Shortly before I wrote the previous Stupidities entry, I brought all the ornament boxes in the house and sorted through them, as mentioned, to get anything related to snowflakes and snowmen (and the cardboard Christmas village from the 1950's) gathered for the display case, and green, white, and clear lights and ornaments assembled for the tree in the livingroom. Nearly two weeks later, I brought in our wonderous artificial arbor and spent the rest of the night screwing in lights and putting up the strings, then we decorated it. Lights aren't a simple deal for me; since there was a theme to follow, I picked up every greenish, whitish, or clearish C-7 light in the house to put on the tree somewhere. Having taken nearly all the glass flake-ish stuff to the library, this meant we had to run out and buy some more -- oh, and we made our own crystal flakes out of borax detergent and pipe cleaners chenille sticks. The link above is the Flickr page showing how the tree turned out, which you'll want to see at full size (warning: 2.2mb image). It came out pretty good. Now all we have to do is get or wrap some presents and it'll look the way it's supposed to. Offhand we have no plans to go anywhere for Christmas, and we have no known visitors coming between now and the New Year. That's the plan, kids: there is no plan. Don't ask again, it's not going to change. I think I've done all my shopping for the year; my wife has not mentioned anything practical she wants (and I've asked once a week for a month) so I guess I don't have to worry about failing to fill her list! Full disclosure, I haven't really got a list myself, so she's having the same issue... yet she hasn't asked what I want, that's the difference. Uh, hmm, for that reason this should be interesting.

Also last week I pledged to show you the house lights. Here ya go! There's been one addition, a very large twinkling snowflake in the livingroom window, but I'm sure you've seen plenty of those lately so just envision it on the left side.
my house lights

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