Friday, August 31

sophia gets a boob job

Brian's motorcycle made a trip to the shop this week for the installation of some auxiliary lighting. New headlights, if you will. Brian says this is a safety feature--it will make him more visible in the day and allow him to see more at night. But, I think he did it just because it looks cool.

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 29

back to school

It's that time of the year. Today marked Jake's first day in second grade. Brian got him on the bus this morning and it was all peace and quiet after that. He had a good day at school. This quite contrasted last year when he started complaining, in July, about having to go back to school. This evening, he and his buddies wreaked havoc on the neighborhood. I think they had more fun today than they did all summer. Perhaps it was school that made them realize that summer's almost over, so might as well make the most of it.

Monday, August 27

the simpsons movie

We took Jake to the Westwood Plaza Theatre this evening to see The Simpsons Movie. The movie was good--it was like watching a 90 minute version of the television show. If you like it, you will surely like the movie. We also had supper there--that's what I like about that place. Good stuff. I got my usual gyro, Jake had a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, and Brian had a burger. There were surprisingly few people watching the movie (less than 10). I thought it was going to be packed. Shows what I know. I guess this was Jake's last hurrah before going back to school on Wednesday.

Saturday, August 25

shilling popcorn

Jake's selling popcorn for the scouts. Apparently the popcorn sale is equivalent to the Girl Scout cookie sale. Though, I'd rather he sold cookies (yum!). I did have some of the popcorn last year and it was good, but it's rather expensive. Anyway, if anyone wants some--you know where to get it. No need to feel obligated as he's already sold the minimum amount between us and his grandparents. But, if you're jonesing for some overpriced popcorn, I can hook you up.

the exploding tomato trick

My garden fared pretty well this year. As usual, some things did better than others. My two experiments--broccoli rabe and celery--did not pan out. Most of the celery went to seed (though I guess there's still a chance I'll get something from it) and the broccoli rabe was devoured by insects. I'll probably try the broccoli rabe again, but I think I'll pass on the celery. My garlic took a hit this year. I don't know what happened with that. Probably 1/3 of it didn't germinate. But, I plant a lot, so I still got a lot. My tomatoes were doing so-so. I had a bunch that were ripe early this week, but I didn't get a chance to pick them until after all of the storms. When I went outside, I found most of them had burst on the vine (presumably from all of the water). I was not happy about this. The plum tomatoes came though relatively unscathed, so I froze a bunch of those this week. But, I was really hoping for more tomatoes this year.

Of the three years I planted potatoes, I had the best harvest this year, so I will continue with that practice. My peppers did great. I like to freeze my extras, so you can never have too many. And speaking of too much of a good thing, I had a bumper cucumber crop this year. The past few years, I haven't had much luck with them, so I planted twice as many as usual this year. Unfortunately for me, this year proved to be a good cucumber year so I had dozens and dozens and dozens of cukes to get rid of this summer. I also got a nice crop of carrots. Carrots are one of my favorite things to harvest because you never know what you're going to get until you pull them from the ground.

Everything else did fine. I'm trying an experiment for the fall--the other week, I planted some broccoli rabe, beets, carrots, and radishes. We'll see how that goes. It's too cold up here to have a 4 season garden, but if I can squeeze in a few extra months, that would make me happy.

Tuesday, August 21

dell sucks

My Dell laptop is less than 18 months old, yet out of warranty. The other week the +/= key broke off the keyboard--the clip that holds it on is the culprit. I found a source on Amazon that sells individual keys, so I ordered a new one (at a price). Additionally, my left mouse button on the built-in mouse has been acting screwy, so I took it apart today to find that there's a part broken on it, too. It is now totally out of commission and I'm not sure how to fix it (besides plugging a mouse into the USB port).

Up to this point, I've been pretty happy with the Dell products I've purchased. But, no more. Next time, I'm buying a Mac.

Saturday, August 18

italian wine party

Brian's parents hosted an Italian wine tasting party last night. The food was good, the drink was good. What more can you ask for? We got to try a lot of nice wines. I just love these parties! We're going to have to host one soon...

Tuesday, August 14

mini vacation

While Jake was away, Brian and I headed to York on his bike. That's right--I left mine at home. I'm not quite ready for prime time yet. We left at lunchtime on Sunday and arrived in York just before supper. We went out to eat with my friend Laura at a really nice restaurant called El Serrano. It was great to see her again as it had been a long time. After dinner and the chit-chatting was over, Brian and I hung out in the hotel room and read for a little bit. Then we went to a restaurant by the hotel and had a nightcap.

On Monday morning, we went to the Harley Davidson factory and signed up for the factory tour. While we were waiting for our turn, we checked out the little Harley museum they had. Among other things, they had all sorts of bikes you could sit on. It was pretty fun. I tried to get Brian to sit in a sidecar they had displayed, but he wouldn't go for it. He's a party pooper. In the meantime, he took pictures of me on every bike I sat on. Lucky for you, you'll be spared from all but one of them in our slide show. We didn't get a lot of pictures this trip, but that's because cameras were not permitted in our main focus, the factory tour. It is unfortunate they don't permit photography on the tour because it was really something to see, but I guess I can understand why they don't.

Today could hardly be called vacation, but we didn't work, so I guess it was a vacation for us. The day started off by picking the pups up from the Cozy Inn. Next up was a nice bike ride up 271, turning around at the Laurel Trail. This time, I did ride my own bike. We stopped for pizza at Pizza Man on our way home. A little later, we ran over to Sam's club to pick up some stuff. They had a coupon in last week's paper for a one day membership. I was there one other time, but I didn't have as much fun this time. Perhaps it was because we were in a hurry because Brian had a meeting set up for 4:00. Anyway, I think I'm good on Sam's Club for a while. I do wish we had a Costco around here, though. After supper we went outside and trimmed the hedges. That took the rest of the evening and here I am now. Do I really have to go to work tomorrow?

Saturday, August 11

another party

Doug had another one of his monthly booze parties tonight. This evening's theme was vodka, though everyone I saw was drinking beer (perhaps we didn't stay late enough). We had fun like we always do. Kids were invited to this one, so Jake had a blast playing with all of the kids that were there. We had to cut this party a little short, though, because we had to drop Jake off at my parent's this evening because they are all leaving for the beach in the morning.

As a bonus, one of my former co-workers now makes wine and she wanted to swap bottles with me. I came out on the better end of this deal--we were supposed to swap six bottles, but she brought me seven. I can't wait to try all of the new wines. I'm going to try to hold out a little bit because they were all bottled this year and could stand some aging. But, I'm guessing the first bottle won't make it till the end of the week before we try it.

Doug's parties always seem to be ridiculously fun after dark. Maybe it is all of the drunk people--I don't know. He already has plans for a September bash so I'll have to test my theory then and stay late for that one.

Friday, August 10

cookout tonight

There is this couple at our church that we've been friendly with since we've been going there. We're always talking about getting together, but before today, it never happened. So, we made the first move and invited them over for a cookout this evening. They have two young kids, a girl and a boy--2 and 4 respectively. They're a really nice family and it was a very enjoyable evening.

Two of the neighbor kids showed up at some point. You should have heard the racket! Five kids can make a lot of noise. It's hard to believe someone didn't call the cops.

The evening ended with a marshmallow roast in the chiminea and Jake has a bellyache to prove it.

Thursday, August 9

we're not in kansas anymore

Or are we? I was about ready to head for the storm cellar today. We got hit with two major thunderstorms--one this morning and one this afternoon. When this morning's storm rolled in, I thought it was the end of the world. It was that dark. I had to shut my work pc down for about 15 minutes because I didn't want it to get fried.

Then, this afternoon, another one rolled in. Brian and Jake were heading out for a bicycle ride and I checked the weather only to find that another storm was going to arrive in a few minutes. So I went to tell them and I returned to see all of the office pcs in various stages of reboot. I guess the power must've flickered when I was away. I called it a sign and called it a day--it was just about quitting time anyway.

The garden/yard is a little worse for the wear from these storms. Everything is tipping over. One of my tomato plants is broken in half. Our one (newer) tree in the front was just about uprooted--I need to take care of that tonight (somehow). I was planning on planting a fall crop in my garden this year. The beginning of August is the time to do that, but the weather just has not been cooperating, so the crop has not been planted.

We would've had one fatality from the storm had it not been for Brian's quick work. This morning I went downstairs to grab a snack and noticed there was a bird stuck in the bird feeder! The bird feeder has been empty for a few days so this bird must've crawled under the glass partition while looking for something to eat. Due to all of the rain we've been getting, the top of the bird feeder was stuck shut, so Brian had to break one of the parts in order to get it to open. I guess that's another item he can add to his "to do" list--fix the bird feeder. Though I think this little incident will probably work in the bird's favor--I bet Brian doesn't let the feeder get empty again.

Saturday, August 4

anniversary party

My godparents (who also happen to be relatives) were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary today with a party at their home. So, we headed out to Alexandria, PA (near Huntington) for the occasion. They have a really nice property on the Juniata river and a fantastic house. Anyway, the party was held outside and there were quite a few people there. We had a nice time and they seemed genuinely happy that we came, so I'm glad we were able to do so.

the last kiss

**Spoiler Alert** We didn't like this one. It was a story about a guy who cheated on his pregnant girlfriend. She takes him back for some reason I can't figure out. There were a bunch of other bad relationships showcased in the film as well. All in all, one unpleasant movie. After Zach Braff's wonderful Garden State, I was expecting a little more. Of course, unlike that movie, he neither directed nor wrote this one. Maybe he should think about doing that again in the next movie he stars in because otherwise, I'll probably pass on it.

Thursday, August 2

licensed to maim

I did it--I passed the riding test and got my motorcycle license today. I cut it pretty close, but there was a reason for that. On the last run of our last practice exercise, I dumped the bike. We were doing emergency stops and my front brake locked up on the wet pavement and down we went. The bike was ok. I was ok (except for my bruised ego and a few bruises that appeared on my legs after the adrenaline wore off). Life went on. I could've easily gone home at that point. I was so worried about passing the test that dropping the bike hadn't even occurred to me. Anyway, the test was next, and I figured I didn't have anything else to lose so I stuck it out. What's the worst that could happen? Drop the bike? Nope--already covered that.

Dropping the bike made me the pariah of the group. No one would look at me or talk to me after it happened (better safe than sorry--these sorts of things could be contagious). We had a little break while the instructors were setting up for the test. I went to my car to get a drink of water. When I returned to the group, someone finally summoned up the courage to speak to me and they asked me if I got hurt. I made some smart ass comment, everyone laughed, and that was the end of that. I do feel that I will be remembered well by this group of people, though it's not for anything I'd want to be remembered for.

So, the test was next. I didn't figure I had a chance in hell of passing. Prior to today, I thought I'd do ok on it. I knew I was going to flub the figure eight. Luckily, or unluckily, that was first. I wasn't even close to staying inside the box, but I didn't put my foot down or stall like some of the others did, so it wasn't a total loss. Next was the swerve test. I did fine on this. Then came the dreaded emergency stop. I messed it up somewhat, but that was to be expected given the circumstances. Last was the two curve test. I got dinged a few points on this one, but nothing major.

While I didn't do as well as I'd hoped, I blame that on my earlier indiscretion. The stress of the test did a number of most of the people, from what I noticed. A lot of them were messing things up that they did perfectly in the practice runs. I think everyone passed except one woman who had never ridden prior to this class. I don't feel I could've passed the class without some practice riding first so you can't take that away from her. She did perfect figure eights, though--go figure.

They say there are two kinds of bikers--those who drop their bikes and those who will. I was hoping to fall into the latter category, but, like my instructor said today "at least you got that out of your system."

Wednesday, August 1

the laws

If we were Simpsons.

Get yours here.