Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Getting back to Normal

The kids were starting to feel better last night.  How do we know this?  They’ve got enough energy to get into trouble.

Prior to them being sick, we always closed their bedroom door at night so they couldn’t wander around the house, and so that little noises like a squeaky floor board right outside their door wouldn’t wake them up.  But when they got sick, we left the door open so we could hear them better.  They were sick, so they made no attempt to close the door again.

Last night, we left the door open and put them to bed.  We had a service guy over to deal with some wasps nests outside the garage, and Lisa wanted him to check the bathroom fan vent to make sure there wasn’t a nest there.  So I took him upstairs, and lo and behold, there was Reece, quietly standing at the top of the stairs.  I put him back to bed.

A while later, I had to run back upstairs.  I noticed the door to their room was open wider than what I left it, and sure enough, their was no Reece in his bed.  I found him sitting in the rocking chair in our room, presumably getting ready to watch Elmo on the TV in our room.  They’ve watched a lot of TV during the last week they’ve been sick.  I think he’s getting a little too used to it.

While I was outside with the ‘Bug relocation expert’, apparently Lisa had two more visits from the little tyke exploring his new found freedom.  Hopefully they get used to it soon, and just go to sleep.

It’s going to be a scorcher here today, so it’s unlikely that they will get much time outside even if they are healthy enough to go.  Which means more Elmo, more Thomas the Train, more Fire Trucks (the TV show Emergency from the 1970s).

It could be worse.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Odds and Ends

I’m actually blogging this from the train on the way home from work.  I’ve got a bit of writer’s block getting going on my next book, and thought, what the heck.  Writing is writing.

We’ve got two sick kids at home right now.  Reece was feeling better until last night, and then he overate at dinner and spewed it all back up.  Lorelai threw up yesterday morning, then started running a fever, and had other ‘gastro-intestinal distress symptoms.’  Her fever was down this morning, but she was throwing up again, and was on the ‘a teaspoon of water ever five minutes’ regimen today.  I really hope that this passes soon.  It’s really hard to see two very happy, outgoing kids just curled up on your lap, too weak to stand up or walk around the house.  Let me rephrase that. It’s not hard.  It’s heartbreaking.

Changing topics completely now.

I found a really cool tool at  I’ve had problems doing up buttons for years, to the point where I only wear button up shirts when I have a lot of extra time to get ready for work.  I have CMT (Charcot Marie Tooth Disease), that has greatly reduced the strength in my thumbs to the point where my right thumb is completely useless.  I had to stop playing guitar because I could no longer hold a pick, nor could I work the fret board with my left hand.  My grip power in my right hand is less than a pound.  Most people have 25-30 lbs of grip force.  But with this tool, buttons become a… snap?  I highly recommend it for anyone who has problems with their wrist or hands.  Its a little bit pricey, but I’m thinking of getting a second one, one for home, and one for travel/work.

It’s in the upper 90’s (F) today here, and supposed to top 100 tomorrow, the hottest day ever in Seattle.  Not for the 29th of July.  Ever.  That’s just wrong.  The air conditioning at work was busted on Monday morning, and temps crept into the eighties in the office, and are still pretty warm and muggy today.  It’s nothing like the summers on the farm baling hay and straw, but back then, I wasn’t such a wus either.

Lisa and I both got IPhones a few weeks ago.  I had a lemon at first, and had to take it back after 4 days, but now I’ve got one that works.  I know for sure that I will never be a power user, but it did come in handy for checking email when my project was going live at work.  I do try to surf with it once in a while, but I’m pretty sure I could live without the web feature at this point if I had to give it up.  I guess I reached the end of the internet a while ago.  There are very few sites I check every day, and I’m close to a real computer often enough that I already hit sites that way.

Anyway, I’ve now reached the end of my brain.  Catch you later.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Catching Up, Again

Slacker, that's me. You'd almost think that nothing has happened in our lives since I last blogged... in February? Wow.

But yes, a lot has happened. There's no way I can do this chronologically, and I'm sure I'll miss stuff, but here we go.

This week has been downright weird. I had Wednesday-Thursday-Friday off work, and planned to do a lot of yard work, a little shopping, and a lot of relaxing. But on Tuesday night, Reece came down with a stomach flu that we have never before seen the likes of (and hope to never see again). It came out of nowhere. One moment, we were tucking him into bed, the next moment he was a projectile puke spewing machine. We stood there like dolts, in shock I think, that vomit could fly that far, and BOUNCE! By the fourth retch, I had him in my arms and running to the toilet. Unfortunately, this was just the first of 20+ vomiting incidents over the next 48 hours. The p0or boy couldn't even keep water down, and we were getting really worried. By yesterday, the vomiting had stopped, and the diarrhea begun, stinking stuff reminiscent of a porta-potty left full all summer long in hot weather. He seems to be doing better today, though we're keeping his diet bland and letting him sleep as much as he wants to.

Luckily (knock on wood), no one else seems to have come down with this one. Lorelai was great through most of it, but we were very conscious not to ignore her while fawning over the sick brother to let her go green with jealousy.

The two of them are growing up so fast now. They're officially two and a half now. We bought them 'Run Bikes' that are like bicycles, but without pedals. They sit on the seat, and use their feet a la Fred Flintstone to power them along. Reece is a natural at it, and was jumping off curbs on the second day. Lorelai is a little more reserved, but she's learning.

Lisa went through a point in May / June where she didn't know if she would still have a job due to layoffs at her client, but she managed to find a new spot and will be there through the end of the year at least.

I just wrapped up a major project at work, building a product for Microsoft called Demo Showcase. You can see the results at It's been really well received by the customer and the users, and has built quite a reputation for our company and for myself. I have been blogging about it on my technical blog at The project chewed up most of my free time in June and early July, so not much else got done (i.e. blogging here).

This week, I'm headed to the Pacific Northwest Writer's Association conference in SeaTac, WA for four days. I'm hoping to learn a lot in the various lectures, but I also have meetings lined up with an agent and an editor, and I hope to make some connections to get my book published. I launched my own website last month at You can read the first chapter of my book there. I've been spending a lot of time lately editing the book, so that has cut into my 'writing' time, but I hope to get back to that right after the conference.

The garden is doing well. I put in two raised 4' by 8' planter boxes this year, basically tripling the size of my garden. It's quite a bit more work, but so far we've had broccoli, lettuce, cucumbers, peas, yellow beans, tomatoes, green beans and summer squash on our table at night, fresh from the garden. We have Swiss Chard as well, except we keep forgetting to cook it up. We've got a big pumpkin growing and 3 more kinds of squash on the way. Next year, less lettuce (or different kinds perhaps), no spinach (slugs kept getting it), no Swiss Chard, half the amount of broccoli, and a better fence around the peas (the kids pulled them all down early in the season).

Lisa got me into reading a new author named Marshall Karp. His first book, The Rabbit Factory is very good, reminiscent of Janet Evanovich, but bigger plots. I just finished it yesterday and am trying to refrain from picking up the next one from the shelf until after the conference.

Other books I've read in the last few months:

  • The Eternity Artifact and The Parafaith War by L.E. Modesitt - Pretty good
  • The Jury Master by Robert Dugoni - okay, not great. I actually met Robert Dugoni at a PNWA meeting a few months back, and got the book autographed.
  • Sword Song - Bernard Cornwell - excellent as always
  • Fearless Fourteen - Janet Evanovich - series is getting tired
  • Last of the Breed - Louis Lamour - Good story, ending is rushed (I know how that happens)
  • Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card - This book was awesome. Scared to read any of his other books. I read one other book of his last year, and I hated it.
  • The Shining - Stephen King - The scariest freakin book I've ever read. I had to stop reading it at night.
  • How the West Was Won - Louis Lamour - Not great, but a fast read and enjoyable
  • Farmer in the Sky - Robert Heinlein - Great Read. Classic SF from the 1950's that is still enjoyable today.

Out movie watching time has dwindled severely, but here are a few we did manage to watch in the last few months:

  • Gran Torino -Good, but Oscar Worthy... no. 3/5
  • Marathon Man - I'd bet a lot of movies in the 1980's and beyond we're influenced by this one. Pretty good, if you understand what was going on in the world back then. 3/5
  • The Golden Compass - Bad movie, skip it 1/5
  • Marley and Me - average. Not great 2/5
  • Frost / Nixon -Amazing movie. See this one. 5/5
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Pretty good, worth watching 3/5
  • The Italian Job (1969) - Not as good as the remake. 1/5
  • Starter for Ten - Middling... chick flick 2/5
  • Death Race - If you just sit back and enjoy it for what it is, it'd not bad (4/5)
  • War, Inc. - Turned it off after 15 minutes (0/5)
  • How to Lose Friends & Alienate People - Oh what have you done, Simon Pegg (2/5)
  • Dan in Real Life - Not bad... for a chick flick (3/5)
  • Twilight - I don't get all the hype. Buffy was better (2/5)
  • How the West Was Won - not as good as the book (2/5)
  • Slumdog Millionaire very good, as you have probably already heard (5/5)
  • Frozen River - Pretty good (3/5)
  • The Duchess - Very good (for a chick flick) 4/5
  • Eagle Eye - A stretch to give it 2/5
  • Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay - Actually pretty funny (not for you, Mom) (3/5)
  • Half Nelson - If you're happy and want to be depressed, watch this. (2/5)
  • Tropic Thunder - Pretty Bad, Laughed once (1/5)
  • Wanted - Bad. Really Bad (1/5)
  • Forgetting Sarah Marshall - A little bit funny (2/5)
  • Ghost Town - Eh... (2/5)
  • John Adams (Miniseries) - Great - Watch this one (5/5)
  • The History Boys - Okay, but a little uncomfortable to watch (2/5)
  • The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor - Bad. Oh so Bad (1/5)
  • First Snow - Okay (3/5)
  • WALL-E - pretty good (4/5)

What you can determine from this list is that we watch far too many chick flicks, and the guys flicks the last few years have sucked. I'm hoping for a good summer blockbuster, soon.

Okay, we'll call it a day now, and pretend that I've updated you on everything that has happened. But if I'm lacking in good material in the next few weeks, I may just flash back to something else that went on between February and July, but I tell ya, I was working a lot, and a couple of months went by without me noticing much.