Monday, August 22, 2005

Another Fine Mess

Saturday was one for the books. I'm in the upstairs convenience when I hear Linda yelling that the downstairs convenience is overflowing. Like I'm supposed to come running. I finish up as fast as I can and discover that, sure enough, there's a small flood in the downstairs bathroom. This happened once before and I knew the cause right away: tree roots got into the sewer line and caused a jam. The fun part is watching feces and murky water filling the tub. But, veteran of the wars that I am, I called Roto-Rooter and dug the dirt off the sewer line access so he wouldn't do it at his ungodly rate (approximately $155 for 30 minutes, $40 for every 15 minutes thereafter). Here was there and gone in an hour ($301.11, including the root killer I bought from him) and we're safe for now.

I am learning to hate trees. Oh, I know they're lovely, provide shade and oxygen and homes for dear little woodland critters, but that's only the part above ground. Beneath the earth, like Commie infiltrators in the fifties, they spread their satanic roots everywhere, clogging innocent sewer lines, choking garden plots, and buckling staid old driveways. I've also had their branches all over the roof after a storm, their leaves in my house's gutters, and more leaves in the yard. I expect one of these ruthless monsters to fall on the house one day. If I ever get another house my first requirement is that there is no tree within 100 feet, and those that are on my property never grow more than 15 feet tall.
Maybe those bonsai people have something there.

In six days I'll be on the road for the Bouchercon in Chicago, via Wisconsin. That is, if Northwest Airlines is serious about their scab mechanics keeping 'em flying. Expedia, from where I got my tickets ("from which?" "From whom" doesn't sound right when discussing a company) has sent me a couple of e-mails assuring me that there will be no glitches. But I always expect the worst and with the way my life has gone that still makes me an optimist.

I took Kristine to Wal-Mart yesterday so she could stock up on school supplies. In their dollar bin I found a DVD of MAN AGAINST CRIME, with Ralph Bellamy. The notes on the back say this show was unique in that it was broadcast live. Also on the DVD front, I finished the latest CISCO KID disk I got from Netflix. The stories were generally better than some of the earlier ones, but there are still some time glitches that even the kiddies must have noticed. What's also interesting--at least to me--is that Cisco had three different horses, often in the same show. I call them the 90% black-and-white paint, the 50% black-and-white paint, and the regular paint. It wasn't uncommon to see him climb aboard the 90%, ride across the landscape on the 50%, and rein up with the 90% again. The regular paint (think of the markings on Little Joe Cartwright's horse) was only used in the occasional chase scene. I can't tell if Pancho's horse had stand-ins or not. It's a basic palamino with a blaze face.

As I type this some moron in the area is blasting a stereo. I'm going to stop now so I can counter-program with my electric guitar. "Mr. Checkov, amp on stun."

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

HELP ME. Help me. help meeee

Remember the ending of The Incredible Shrinking Man? I know just how the guy feels. A few days ago my kids measured my height and I'm a full inch shorter than I used to be. I've been afraid this has been happening for years. I used to buy pants with a 32" leg; now they're 30". Getting old sucks.

On the plus side, I weighed in at 190 yesterday morning. I'd like to hit 180 before B'con, but that's highly unlikely. When I was at my piggiest I was 223, so I feel pretty good about losing the extra grease. Another Atkins success story.

I took the girls to the movies on each of the past two weekends. First we saw The Bad News Bears, or what Kristine called the most unneccessary remake of the year. I agree. It had some funny moments, but most of it consisted of 12-year-old kids using bad language.
Last weekend Kristine and I saw Skeleton Key, with Kate "Spoiled Hollywood Brat" Hudson. Kate's cleavage co-starred. It was an attempt to be an atmospheric thriller, and it wasn't bad, and the ending was a change of pace, but there were times when, had it not been for the cleavage, my mind would have strayed.
Most amazingly, no one talked during the latter film. I could even hear the woman in the row behind us chewing her popcorn. Or maybe she had a bale of hay. They sound alike while being chewed.

Usually my job is boring routine, but two Mondays ago there was something interesting. There had been an air show/open house over the weekend and some of the planes RONed (remained overnight). So as I was driving around the flightline in the morning I saw 2 AWACS, a B-2, The Air Force Thunderbirds stunt team's jets, a Navy AE-6 Prowler (one of the loudest jets extant) and several fighters. The previous Friday, as I was leaving work, I watched a couple of biplanes with white smoke pouring out from under their wings practicing loops. They made a heart as I drove off.
Naturally, I didn't attend the show. Bad enough I have to go on base five days a week, I don't want to go on my day off, especially when I have to slog through miles of backed up traffic and a crowd of 150,000. (The recruiters also signed up 100 unsuspecting youths.)

I also took the girls school shopping last Sunday. Yikes! How can a flimsy little T-shirt cost $20?

On my last post I mentioned Bill Crider's and Ed Gorman's blogs, saying they were the best. I should have added there are a number of others I like equally: James Reasoner's, Polly the P.I.'s, Mark Evanier's, Frank Denton's, Tod and Lee Goldberg's separate blogs, and no doubt a few others I'm forgetting.