Monday, December 30, 2013

Z is for Zouk

Zouk - to engage in unrestrained social activity

Now that I'm strictly online, I can hang out more!  I only went to my knitting group every other Sunday when it was in my town.  (We alternate between my town and the town where we moved from a few years ago.  They are about 10 miles apart.)

Dave would give me flack about going to the other town meet-ups because I was spending $15 a day on gas for my commute to school.  Using more gas to get to the other town seemed frivolous to him.

What Dave never seems to understand is that I'm a very social creature.   I was when he met me, I still am.  He's not social (at all), so it never really occurs to him.  He acts like it's a big, damn surprise whenever I want to hang out with my friends.

I already informed him that since I was no longer spending so much money on gas, I'd be going to knitting every week now.

I also want to spend more time with friends outside of the knitting group.  I'd like to strengthen and deepen some friendships that mean a lot to me.

I can't afford to go out to lunch all the time, so I'm going to have to figure out ways to make this happen. 

I'm also going to start writing letters again.  I used to write letters all the time to my friends that were still in the military, but they are all out now.  I've started a letter to my brother.  He and I haven't been close since we were kids (nothing in common as adults?).  I figure letters are a nice way to let him know what's going on in my little world, and who doesn't like to get a handwritten letter?

Last year, I couldn't wait for the year to be over.  It was a tough, fucked-up year.  This year has been better - mostly because I made the conscious choice to see it that way.

I'm looking forward to next year being even better and seeing where it takes me!

Can't wait to get started, Ruth!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Y is for Yule

This Christmas is proving.... problematic.

I never know what to get Dave, so that's nothing new.  He always says, "Don't get me anything.  I don't need anything. blah, blah, blah."  Right.  Like I wouldn't get him anything!

The problem is that this is the first year where I really have NO idea what to get the kids!  They are at that age where they are mostly too old for toys, but I don't want to just get them more video games.

T hasn't really said what he wants this year.  D2 says he "only has two things on [his] list so far."  So far...  At least the good news is that one of those two things is a book!  The bad news is the other thing is a video game.

I love guns.  Dave and I each have one and we think at 10 1/2 and 12 1/2, they boys are old enough to get started on learning gun safety and how to shoot.  Dave wants to do this with the guns we have.   I think we should get them "starter" guns - air guns (BB guns, if you're closer to my age). 

I know, I know... "You'll put your eye out!"

Not with proper training.

Dave and I recently went to the new Cabela's that opened up near our house.  I've never been to one.  It's flipping HUGE!!  We looked at guns and they have some very nice air pistols for just $25 each.

I wanted to look at crossbows because I've always thought they were so cool, and we are also big Walking Dead fans.  Darryl is, of course, my favorite!

I had no idea crossbows were so damn heavy!!  I held one up and sighted through the scope.  My target circle kept slowly dipping down because the equipment is too heavy.  I need to work on getting some guns before I get a crossbow!  (Guns in this context being stronger arms.)

And the cost?!  Those bad boys cost equally as much as a good Glock.

I think I may get the each of the boys a Nerf crossbow and then we can really have some fun with those!

What do I want for Christmas?  I think (as previously posted) I'm really getting a sewing bug.  I told Dave I just want a gift certificate to IKEA, so I can get the pieces I want for my dream cutting table.

Dave has created this tradition that really works great!  My husband purposely buys the ugliest piece of clothing in the store that equals the amount of money he wants to spend. Thus forcing me to return it and get whatever I want! It's stupid funny, and I get to pick something that A) I'd really like and
B) make that purchase post-holiday when most stuff is on sale!  He started doing this about three years ago.  It cracks me up the stuff he picks!

Two years ago, he got me this really plain, too-small, black sweater dress.  I think it was about $80.  I took it back to Macy's and got a killer pair of knee-high, stiletto boots, a gorgeous burgundy, cabled sweater dress with a cowl neckline, some leggings, and some much-needed new bras.  It was like five or six presents for the price of one!

What are your Christmas dreams this year?

Well.  I seemed to have written this a couple of weeks before xmas.  We ended up getting the boys some books and video games.   We got them Nerf Laser tag, but apparently, they only work with smartphones which the boys don't have.  The boys returned them and got another video game, a lego kit, and a few other things (the return plus their xmas money).

Dave broke tradition and got our first-ever smartphones for he and me.  He also got me a nicer camera than the one we've been struggling with over the last few years.  The new camera has a flash that only works when you push the button to pop it up.  Also, it only takes 4 batteries - no way to recharge it.  I don't mind either of these minor issues because it takes amazing pictures!

I got Dave a new deep fryer (ours broke recently), a Husker hat, T-shirt, and keychain, and a few other little things.

What'd you guys get?

Brainstorming for gifts for next year, Ruth!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

X is for Xing

Xing or X-ing means "crossroads".  This upcoming year is becoming a major crossroads for me.

Everything is a choice.  It took me forever to get that through my thick head. 

My crossroads involves several aspects of my life: 

Keep being lazy and keep gaining weight or get off my ass.

Keep fucking around or really buckle down and get my speeds.

Keep buying yarn or make a concerted effort to knit the S.A.B.L.E. I already own.

Write lists or do things.

My knees are killing me.  That ain't good.  I know it's the extra weight.  In 2009/2010, I was still a stay-at-home mom with a lot of time on my hands.  It took me 8 months of going to the gym four or five days a week to lose 25 pounds. 

Then I got a job and went to a school across town.  I had an 80-hour week.  80 hours of mandatory sitting.  I'd lost 25 pounds, but they found me again and this time they brought friends.  Bastards.

As of now, I'm strictly online.  I have no job to speak of (although I may have a part-time one starting next month) and a lot of time on my hands again.  I plan to wake, have breakfast, practice for an hour, and then take my ass to the gym.  After gym and shower, more practice.

I made the decision to switch schools.  That decision came in week four of eleven this quarter.  Since I made that decision, I pretty much wrote off this whole quarter.  I knew that much of what I've done at my current school wouldn't count for anything when I transferred.  I barely did the minimum of homework and started playing hooky.  That's so not me!

I was so frustrated with the school I'm going to that I kind of said, "fuck it". 

That stops now.

I'm actually doing a bit of a "double major" type thing at the new school.   They have a voice writer program that only takes 6 months.  I don't even know what a voice writer does really, but I know they make $20-$25 an hour.  I figure I'll do the VW program while taking my speed courses for the next six months.  After that I'll take whatever speeds I have left and all the academics I can handle. 

My thinking is that I can be a VW for the remainder of my schooling.  The registrar says no one's ever attempted it before, and I'll be the guinea pig for it.  I'm OK with that!  We already got the go-ahead from the school owner.

Jeezly Crow.  When will it ever be enough?  (Said no knitter ever...)  I say it every year, but seriously.  I have a fucking WALL of yarn.  And now I'm sewing, too?  So fabric's next?  I already have a pretty large bin of fabric that I've been hauling around for years.  Time to use it.

I recently made a pretty ambitious list.  I've done two things off that list.  One was a much bigger undertaking than I'd suspected.  My side of our bedroom and my HUGE closet have been little more than a dumping ground over the past year. 

It took me four hours to clean it out, clean it up, and rearrange it the way I wanted it.  Four hours.  That's just stupid.  Part of that job included the second thing I crossed off that list:  Making a space in our bedroom for my student activities.  This means that for all intents and purposes, our shared office is going to just be Dave's office now.

To accomplish the space I wanted in our bedroom, I moved our bed and nightstands nearly a foot closer to Dave's side of the room.  If he's noticed at all, he hasn't said anything!  hah!

The bad news is that I may have lost $100(ish)! 

Dave went to a coin machine thing that said if you feed in $40, you can get a $50 gift certificate to Toys 'R Us.  He did it twice.  Instead of hard gift cards, it printed him what looked like receipts.  He gave them to me, and we'd planned to put them in the kids' stockings for xmas.  I put them in my nightstand.  I swear that's what I did with them.

I forgot to put them in the stockings, but no big deal, we just told them about it.  Yesterday, after the four-hour cleaning/rearranging spree, Dave said we should take the kids to TRU to let them use that money. 

Those receipt things are NOT in my nightstand. 

Worse upon worse, I had T take the two bags of trash to the curb for me since it was trash day.


I know I didn't throw them away.  I check every scrap of paper before it goes in the trash.  I do this even on a normal basis, much less a mass cleaning! 

That being said, I also know I put those little fuckers in my nightstand. 

I tore my recently cleaned room apart looking for them.  I can't find them.  It made me nauseous.

Dave says it was just coins.  "Like found money", he says.  Screw that.  It's $100!!

The receipts are good for 80 years (weird, right?), so hopefully they turn up eventually...

Anyway, other than losing that money(ish), I was super happy with my progress on the cleaning front.  I've started on the office, too.  I already have three boxes of stuff to take to Savers!

Crossing over into the New Year, Ruth!

Friday, December 27, 2013

W is for Weave

I have lots of classes from  Like 33.  About half of those are the free classes they offer.  I've got sewing classes, knitting classes, jewelry classes, and a couple of cooking classes.

I've watched 1/2 of three of the 33.  The one I've completely finished is Sewing Studio, taught by Diana Rupp.  (If you are a beginning sewer, I highly recommend it!)

One of my goals is to watch two classes per month next year.

When had their cyberMonday sale, I bought a couple classes (my current total is 33).  I almost bought the beginning serger class, but then I remembered that I don't own a serger.  Yet.  (Anybody have a serger they are looking to get rid of, send it my way!)

Strangely, the fact that I don't own a loom didn't stop me from buying a beginning loom weaving class a few months ago.

I have a friend who is a master quilter and knitter and now, weaver!  She's been bringing her weaving projects to our knitting group, and it has really made me want to learn!  I hear it's a great way to eat up a lot of yarn.  Just so happens, I have a lot of yarn!

I want a loom that's at least 24" wide.  They are SO expensive!  There are some that are nearly reasonable, but they are only 16" wide and I don't want to just make scarves and/or table runners.  I really want to make lovely towels like my friend has been making.

My friend is such a good friend that she said when she finishes her latest weaving project, she'll lend the loom to me so I may do my class.  She's so cool!  (She also has a huge floor loom.)

Looking forward to my future towels, Ruth!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

V is for Valentino

I've discovered silent films this year.

It's no secret that I'm a fool for movies.  I particularly love old black-and-white movies.  My most recent break between quarters have been spent in front of a slew of old movies.

I had a Cary Grant/Irene Dunn movie marathon while I sorted through the mountains of paperwork that have built up in my bedroom and closet over the course of a year.

My favorites are The Awful Truth, My Favorite Wife, and Penny Serenade (makes me cry EVERY time!).

I had a Vincent Price marathon while sorting two HUGE boxes of pictures to get them ready for a trip to Target where they will be scanned and put on CDs for downloading.

Vincent Price is at his best when coupled with Edgar Allen Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne.  Spent a large portion of my childhood Saturdays with Vincent.  My brother and I would watch his movies whenever they came on.  That and Kung Fu theater.

With the exception of Chaplin movies and early Laurel and Hardy fare, I've never been into silent films.

TCM has been doing Silent Sunday Nights for a long time now.  They did a Buster Keaton marathon, so I DVR'ed them all.  He is amazing!!  I started watching them in the mornings as I ate my breakfast before commuting to school.  I would watch about 10 minutes a day.

Truthfully, 10 minutes at a time was about all I can handle of a silent film.  I usually multi-task while the TV is on.  I'm knitting or doing my academic homework, organizing something, folding laundry, blogging (Chopped All-Stars is on right now), etc.  With silent films, you have to actually pay attention as most of the action is conveyed through facial expression and sneaky script cards.

I had always heard about how great Intolerance was.  I recorded it and when I opened that recording to watch it, it's three hours long!!  I watched the whole thing.  Again, 10 - 20 minutes at a time.  It was all right.   It's not really linear in it's thought processes.

I watched the original Ben Hur for the same reason I watched Intolerance.  It's supposed to be so iconic and innovative for its time.

That one got me.  It was started out just OK.  Ramon Novarro is quite beautiful.  It's another long one - nearly 2 1/2 hours long!

If you don't know the story.  The IMDB synopsis is as follows:
A Jewish prince seeks to find his family and revenge himself upon his childhood friend who had him wrongly imprisoned.

Ben Hur and his family end up in a very bad way through a series of events beyond their control.  He ends up in slavery, and his mom and sister end up in prison where they become "unclean" - that means they contracted leprosy.

More series of events and Ben Hur regains some semblance of his former self/wealth/etc. and makes his way back to his former mansion, looking for his mom and sister.

Through their own series of events, they are released from prison and also go home.  They see Ben Hur sleeping on a stoop outside the home (he got there first, couldn't get in, fell asleep). 

This is where my heart broke. 

The sister starts to rush to her long-lost brother, but the mom holds her back saying they can't let Ben know they are there.  She explains that if he were associated with lepers, he would spend his life being shunned like they are.  They both walk up to the sleeping Ben and they want so very badly to hug him and show him how much they love him and have missed him so terribly.

They can't because they don't want to wake him or possibly infect him (back then, they still thought leprosy was contagious).

What they do instead is pretend to touch him.  The sister is at his feet and gently kisses the bottoms of his shoes since she can't kiss her brother as she would if things were right in the world.  The mom strokes the air above his sleeping head, just like I'm sure she did when he was a child.  That's where I lost it.  I was crying like a baby.

Ben Hur goes on to have a happy ending.  They are all reunited.  The mom and sister are healed by a chance meeting with a passing Christ.  They regain their previous station in life.  The bad guy gets what's coming to him.

My own son, T, is often up with me in the mornings before I leave.  I've gotten him pretty turned on to Buster Keaton.  He already likes Charlie Chaplin.

Funny thing that...

When T was first born, Dave made me a pretty sweet deal.  Dave had to get up at 4am to go to work at the golf course.  He told me that he was going to sleep in the spare room on the twin bed.   That way, he wouldn't be up every two hours with me and the baby for feedings.  He explained that once he got home from work, he would take baby duty and I could nap as long as I liked! 

It worked a charm! 

I always thought it was funny that he was on the twin bed and I got the queen-sized bed all to myself!  (Dave's a big guy - 6'1", 225-ish)  We did it again when D2 came along, but then it was a twin bed for him again and a king-sized bed for me!

With T and I in a room to ourselves, up every few hours for the first month or so, I would get sort of bored.  The star of the month on TCM that month was Charlie Chaplin!  I'd watch those while I breastfed the squirt.  It was quiet and didn't wake him up all the way.

Flash forward ten years....
T asked me if he could watch a Chaplin film.  It was sort of out of the blue, and I asked how he knew who Chaplin was?  He said he didn't know.  We watched a film or two together and he's been a fan ever since!  Weird, right?

Next to get him on to Laurel and Hardy...

For me, this year, I was watching these films as a way to pass the time before I faced my commute (as I said) and not wake anyone else in our house.  They weren't really hooking me like the Chaplin and Keaton films.  That was until the star of the month was Lon Chaney.

Are you kidding me??

This guy is absolutely astounding in his ability to convey an entire range of emotions with just a look or two.  His graceful hand movements tell the rest of the story. 

So far, my favorite movie with him is West of Zanzibar.  Not your typical American film as it is dark and unhappy and the ending?  Wow, what an ugly twist. 

Pretty early in the film, his character gets paralyzed from the waist down.  Later, his cohorts in crime call him Dead Legs.  It's true!  The way he drags himself around, gets in and out of chairs, etc....  If you didn't know it, you'd swear he did not have the use of his legs.  

There were a couple of documentaries about him that month that I also watched.  I don't think he ever did a talkie.  He was an advocate for keeping silent films going as long as possible.  His main reasoning wasn't anything like a lisp or accent or anything that might have held him back career-wise.  His motivation for silent films came from his love for his parents.  They were both deaf-mute, and he worried about their accessibility to films if the film industry went all sound.

By all accounts, he was a very good man.

I still DVR a silent film here and there.  I still watch them about 10 minutes at a time.   Strangely, I have yet to see a Valentino movie.  As far as I can tell, TCM never seems to play them.  Maybe they don't own any?  He's quite possibly the first person people think of when silent film is mentioned!

I've seen two Alfred Hitchcock silent films (he's my favorite director).  I've seen all of Chaplins that are available.  I'm working on all of Chaney's and Buster's.  I've got a few Greta Garbo's in the queue.

Silently waiting for a Valentino, Ruth!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

U is for Unethical

Exactly a year ago today, Dave's main employee, W.S. Binion, rear-ended a city plow truck with one of our business trucks.

(For clarity in this post, WS also goes by W.)

January of this year, WS got married.  He and his wife invited us to the wedding, so we went.  It was in a church and it was SUPER-churchy.  Very "the wife is obedient to the husband"-type of thing.  And this church is so far in that they don't even sing hymns out of the classic hymnal.  They have their own hymns that they all know.  

Dave and I sat through the whole ceremony with barely concealed.... lack of zeal.

I realized that I kept shaking my head here and there.  I also realized there were people sitting behind me, and I should probably stop, so I did. 

They had the reception in the church hall.  Dave only knew one other person there (another of his employees), so, of course, the couple didn't seat us with them.  Nice.

We were seated at a table with two other couples, one couple had kids.  The younger kid was seated next to me.  He has Down's and he and I had a very wonderful conversation about Sasquatch!  He was so cool!  The couple on the other side of Dave asked how we knew WS.  When they found out Dave is WS's boss, they asked, "How did he not see that city plow truck?"

I said, "Have you met him?"

JK.  I didn't say that.  Not out loud, anyway.

We stayed just long enough to congratulate the happy couple and then we split.

Shortly after the wedding, WS quit.  We knew he was going to, it was no surprise.  He decided he needed to find an opportunity where he had more room for advancement.  Completely understandable now that he has a wife and they, presumably, want to start a family.  He told Dave something about going into construction.

He has been making noises for nearly this entire 12 months about buying Dave's business.  There was talk about a church member who was going to finance him.  That fell through.  Then there were trips to the bank together. 

About 2 months ago, I came home from school, and Dave's truck was in the middle of the driveway.  This happens now and again while he loads/unloads stuff into his trailer.  I was listening to a good part of my audiobook, so I pulled up to the curb in front of our house to wait for him to move the truck. 

I saw him make a call and realized he was talking to WS.  I immediately muted my book and eavesdropped.

I only heard Dave's side of the conversation, but I got a really good idea of what was going on. 

I heard Dave say, "W, I READ the letter!!"

So basically what happened is that one of Dave's clients showed Dave a letter that WS sent to her trying to steal her business from us.

What a fuck!

OK, so many things wrong with this scenario....

The first thing that stupid punk does is deny he sent a letter to anyone.  Dave repeated, "I read the letter" like five or six times. 

Next thing that pussy does is hide behind his wife's skirts.  He tried to say that she wrote the letter, and he didn't read it before she sent it out.

One of the things the letter said was that WS always did all the work and Dave just took all the credit (and the money). 

That's like saying the register worker at Walmart does all the work and the Manager (or CEO, for that matter) takes all the credit.

Um.... no.

WS, you are an employee.  You did the job we hired you for.  You did the job we PAID you to do.  Barely. 

Dave would catch him so many times NOT working and WS spent so much time on the phone wasting Dave's time with inane questions and general bullshit, that we finally put WS on salary.  That way, he got a set pay and we didn't end up paying him for time he was dicking around.

 During the phone conversation, Dave asked if W was going to go after our snow business, too. (In the winter, Dave's company does snow removal.)  Then I heard Dave say, "Oh I think you know exactly what I'm saying, W!"

Hey, WS, backpedal much?  Such a LOSER!!

Dave also asked if W has just been stringing Dave along this whole time about buying the business.  He said, "Were you just lying to me long enough to get the balls to send out this letter?" 

Dave ended the call saying he wanted to a list of ALL the clients that W contacted.  He reiterated that it was unethical and generally jacked up to have contacted them.

When he ended the call, he told me all about it.  I was flabbergasted and SO angry.

The person I was most angry at, however, was Dave.  I told him when W left to have W sign a 5-year non-compete!  Dave said that W would never have the ambition to do anything.

Dave wasn't wrong.  According to that tiny-brained shit (WS), he didn't send out the letters, his wife did.

So what's happened is that his wife has finally come to the realization that she married a man with no ambition, no education, no prospects, and decided to do something about it.

 I was mad at Dave for several days until a friend told me that non-competes aren't enforceable in CO anyway because it's a right-to-work state. 

Fine.  I guess.  I'm smart enough (or at least married long enough?) to not have brought the non-compete up with Dave.  It would have only resulted in a fight about something that was so far past fixing as to make it a stupid fight.

I wrote out a notice for Dave to send to his clients...
It's recently come to our attention that our trusted, former employee, W.S. Binion has sent out letters trying to pilfer our clients.  We are saddened by his inappropriate and unethical behavior, and we hope this hasn't inconvenienced you in any way. 

Rest assured we continue to give the excellent and timely service you have come to expect from the Lawn Guy.

Thank you for your time.

It's "Christians" like those two that reaffirm my Atheism, Ruth!

Monday, December 23, 2013

T is for Theory

My friend, the knitting, Navy SEAL, is a bit of a conspiracy theorist.  He sends me texts or emails sometimes that make me say to myself, "I'm going to tell myself that he's kidding."  (By the way, he's an ex-SEAL now.  He retired last April with 26 years of service.  I often ask what he's doing now.  I tell him that if it were me, I'd take the rest of my life off!)

I've never been one to see conspiracy in the motives of people, companies, or governments before, but lately, I can't help but think about it.

The Obamacare thing has been an abysmal failure so far.  People are getting kicked off their insurance altogether or have been notified that due to the new regulations, it is unattainably expensive.

My thinking is this...

The insurance companies have know for YEARS that these changes in the law were coming into effect.  They did nothing to avoid this clusterfuck.

My conspiracy theory is that the insurance companies WANT Obamacare to fail so they can say, "See?!  It doesn't work.  Let's all go back to the way things were.  SO much easier!!"

I know I'm no math whiz, for sure.  But here's my simple calculations...

We are self-employed and pay close to $600 a month for our insurance.  We are with a company that starts with an H.  Say Company H covers 1 million people.   Say that most people are paying an employer and probably a more reasonable amount, so we'll cut that in half - $300 a month.

Take one percent of that one million and multiply their payments by one year...

That's $36,000,000


Don't you think they could have taken a portion of that ONE percent and hired an entire TEAM of people to work out these kinks and make it workable and attainable for their customers? 

The thing is, Company H does not cover one million people.  They cover ELEVEN million people.

And don't think I'm letting the government off the hook here.  They also knew these laws were coming into effect.  They also seemed to have done fuck-all to prevent this mess.

With the government, I keep wondering...
Did NO ONE think to consult with countries where this is working?? To consult Canada, England, Germany, ANY of them?? To ask them, "What's working?  What's not working?  How did you make the transition from people paying on their own to healthcare for all?"

If they did, it doesn't show.

My conservative friends keep putting up Internet posters about how universal healthcare means we're paying for those who won't pay for themselves. 

I keep telling them they are delusional if they think they aren't already paying for people who can't (or won't) pay for themselves.  If they think the cost of the uninsured isn't rolled into the cost of healthcare (either from the doctor/hospital side and/or from the insurance company side), they are kidding themselves.

I think it's shameful in a country as well-provisioned as ours to allow people to lose their homes over medical bills.   Or for the elderly to have to make decisions between proper nutrition or necessary medications.  Or any of the other atrocities we hear about.

Looking for a new insurance company, Ruth!