Sunday, December 30, 2012

I Survived Vacation 2012

Notable things from the vacation:

- K-poo asked for engineering-related Christmas puns to amuse her coworkers, then shot down my first three attempts. Is it my fault that mechanical engineers don't study stability and keeping the poles on the left side of the plane? Also, I still think my Santa yelling "Mho Mho Mho!" (For the non-EE crowd: an mho is a unit equal to 1/ohm) joke was worth some consideration.

- Why did it take 6 hours to drive south, and eight hours to return? Okay, part of the problem was the accidental detour onto the 580 which I've never done before. I was so entranced by the synchronized blinking of the red windmill lights (except for one of them which was out of phase) that I didn't stop to wonder why I was even seeing the windmills.

- I got to drive through snow for the first time going through the grapevine. Okay, there wasn't actually any snow on the road but it was starting to build up on the areas of my windshield the wipers didn't touch. However, the only real danger was from all of the idiots stopping on the side of the freeway to get out and experience it snowing.

- Note to self: never stop in Kettleman again.

- Unlike last year, the big dog seemed to recognize me when I picked her up at the kennel. Then she spent the first ten minutes at home racing up and down the hallway like she'd never seen the house before.

- Scooter the Wonder Cat spent the last two days hiding from the pet sitter, then sat next to my head and stared at me all night long last night. If he were a teenager I'd think drugs were involved.

- I think I'm done leaving the house for the next year. This could impact my work performance. Or maybe not.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

How to Plan a Vacation

In order to ensure an easy stress-free vacation, it is essential to plan ahead. Therefore, I suggest you do exactly the opposite of what I do:

1) Vacillate on both the leaving and returning dates, thus making it impossible to book any travel arrangements.
2) Finally make a decision on dates, then call to arrange boarding for the dogs, only to find that other people like to travel during the holiday season as well. This has the side effect of changing the travel dates slightly because there is no room at the inn.
3) Armed with these new dates and four days advance notice, contact your pet sitter to arrange for care for the cats and birds. Or try to. Leave a message on the new answering machine with no outgoing message (hmm...). A day later dig around in your backpack until you find the other card with her home number and call that only to learn that the line has been disconnected. Search the online obituary archives to find out if she died or just moved away to avoid you.
4) Start calling random pet sitters to see if anyone can take care of the herd.
5) Fantasize about a vacation at home.
6) Eventually get a call back from one person who agrees to take care of the animals.
7) The night before you are supposed to leave, remember that you never actually reserved a room at the hotel.
8) Give up on cleaning the house and go to bed.

Anyhow, Merry Christmas and all that crap.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Couch is Dead, Long Live the Couch!

While I was at Home Depot last week buying everything except the one thing that I specifically went there to get (something to put up my new wall hanging, and I searched the store for an hour and never found it), I picked up a new utility knife.

Let me tell you, if you ever need to tear apart your own couch it's a lot easier with a sharp knife than with really dull scissors.

Anyhow, I finally finished breaking up the couch into bite-sized pieces that will fit in my trash bin. I'm sure my neighbors are happy about this, although I still maintain this is all their fault for not rushing forward to take it to the dump themselves.

So now the question is: do I continue just serially destroying my existing furniture (entertainment center, I'm looking at you!), or do I buy a replacement couch first?

I guess it would be kind of nice to have someplace to stretch out in the living room, but on the other hand, I kind of like the spartan look that I've got going.

More importantly, what would impress the pet sitter more?

In other news, I finally closed up the house and turned on the heat last night. Then I got to listen to the big dog wandering around for an hour trying to figure out how to get through the closed door to the cat porch. Not the brightest bulb that one...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Musical Review

Yesterday was Woodland's 48th annual holiday parade, and just like every other year, I've been excited to see it coming. Not because I actually go to the parade. Let's face it, I'm not really a big-crowds-and-standing-around-to-watch-things-drive-by-slowly type of person. No, I'm excited that the parade is here because it means the students at the middle school in the next block are done practicing for it and I will not have to hear their medley of Christmas music until next year.

The middle school marching band is the perfect storm of a bunch of things I can't stand, namely:

- Children
- Christmas music
- Marching bands
- Music played very badly
- Loud music played in the street in front of my house while I'm trying to sleep

First the disclaimer: These are middle school kids. They only get two weeks (at most, depending on the weather) to learn how to march and play at the same time. I know it's really not their fault, but holy crap, if I have to listen to that four song Christmas medley again any time before next December, there will be hell to pay.

So here's the review of this year's band:

First off, the marching:

I initially thought the band instructor was just getting his yayas when he was still yelling "left...left...left, right, left" well into the second week, but then I saw the kids outside when I was walking the dogs. Turns out there was a reason he was reminding them. Perhaps he should have clued in the guy on the front left corner as to which foot was his left foot. Maybe that would have helped.

Then there was the kid that is either a musical genius who will go on to write complicated jazz music, or a musical moron who will be the worst dancer in the history of white people. Somehow this kid was managing to play the music and stroll to a completely different beat. I dare you to try that sometime. It's a lot harder than it looks. In general though, I have to say that it's fine to move to the beat of your own drum, but not when there is an actual drum section three feet behind you.

And then there was the saxophone player... While technically stepping in time with the music, he looked like he was imitating Snoop Dogg (er, I mean, Snoop Lion now I guess) walking up to receive an award. Not because he was black (because he wasn't), but because he managed to make each step about eight different moves with knee dips and hip pops. Also, if I really wanted to find some weed amongst that group, I'd probably start with the sax case. Just sayin'.

The music:

It's a medley of Christmas music. There's a lot of really, really crappy Christmas music and anything that didn't start out that way gets moved to the crappy pile after I've heard it for the five thousandth time. Which is to say that there is no good Christmas music and I have been known to avoid all stores from Thanksgiving to the end of December just to get away from it all.

Note to the band director: giving a run of sixteenth notes to the brass section while everyone else cuts out is pretty gutsy. Especially when your brass section consists of two consistently out of tune trumpets, a beginning trombone, and a baritone. It's hard to get crisp notes out of the brass section during the best of times, and this was definitely the worst of times. Next year just pick one of the notes and have them stick with it and maybe it won't sound like a cow falling down a flight of stairs.

The woodwinds (by which I mean about fifteen clarinets and a couple of flutes) weren't bad, but since you can't actually hear the clarinets in a band, it doesn't really matter. (I say this as someone who played clarinet in a marching band. You know all this bitterness had to come from somewhere, right?)

I was pretty excited this year about the percussion section as I lay in my bed at seven in the morning. In years past they've given the musical Forest Gumps of the world the bass drum and cymbals (because that way they don't have to read music or try to play in tune), but that's been a disaster because those are the two instruments you can hear from half a mile away, and the Forest Gumps of the world can't keep time.

This year I noticed early on that the percussion section sounded much, much better than in years past. It took me two days to notice that it was because they just had a snare drum and xylophone and didn't have either a bass drum or cymbals. Sadly, two days before the parade they flushed out two extra members and once again we had the crashing of cymbals at random moments during the songs. The bass drummer still wasn't as impaired as the one two years ago (a kid who seemed to be playing in time to a drunkard's walk), so at least it wasn't all bad.

Anyhow, there you have it. Not as bad as some years, but I'd still donate money if they'd start practicing somewhere else.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Couch Strikes Back

It's time to do all of the official December stuff:

- Rake up all of the leaves from all those damn trees that I don't own.

- Remember that I really should have gotten the roof fixed or redone over the summer because I can't sleep when there is water dripping in my bedroom.

- Clean up the house for my pet sitter.

- Consider getting a maid service so I don't have to clean up for my pet sitter.

- Remember that I'd have to clean up in order to hire a maid service so I don't have to clean up for my pet sitter.

- Neglect to put up holiday decorations again.

In other news, the couch on the patio is steadily getting smaller. Had a slight setback today when my hand slipped and I whacked the knuckle into a board with some staples sticking out. I'm not sure whether the pain is from hitting the board or hitting the staples, but my hand looks like I was bit by a small snake which is kind of cool, so maybe it's worth it.

Now if I could just remember exactly when I got my last tetanus vaccine...