Today was the day to hang Christmas lights. It was pretty chilly– about 45 degrees– but you can’t hope for much more this time of year. I dug out the ol’ box from the basement and went through all the existing sets of lights to see which ones worked. Surprisingly, only two sets were dead. Still, the others are in pretty sad shape (some of them date back almost a decade, from my college days). I took the kids on a trip to Wal-Mart so they could see all the glitz and glamour of the Christmas section. (Aieeee!)

Picked up some sets of 100 lights– very nice. After some excitement with the wiring, trying to get everything to run off two plugs, I think I’ve got it all in place. We’ll see how it looks when the sun sets tonight…


We’ve got a baby monitor. It’s got a transmitter that you put up by the baby, and a receiver you put wherever you are (in my case, the basement). Nice for hearing if Zack wakes up, since I can’t possibly hear him two floors down.

Anyway, Alex and Kyra decided they wanted to play with it. They turned it on, and then one of them ran upstairs to the transmitter.

“Hi Alex!” yelled Kyra into the transmitter.
“Hi Kyra!” yelled Alex back. Of course, she couldn’t hear him, since it’s just a receiver.
“Hi Alex!”
“Alex, can you hear me?”

Alex figured out that she couldn’t hear him, so he tried to end the conversation:

“Kyra, that’s enough talking for now.”

I was laughing pretty hard when Kyra stormed downstairs and demanded to know why Alex wasn’t answering her.


Ah, Thanksgiving.

We went to celebrate with our friends the Lukowskis. They’re great, a lot of fun, and (most importantly on this particular day) fabulous cooks. We brought a handful of homemade cinnamon rolls and some dinner rolls, and they provided everything else: turkey, cranberries, potatoes, carrots in a white sauce, candied yams, Jello salad, pumpkin cheesecake, stuffing, gravy, and all the other trimmings.

Oh, and plastic cups.

What a marvelous way to celebrate friendship, food, and generally all the great blessings of life.


I went to Sears today to buy the towels and rugs we need to outfit all our bathrooms. Several bathrooms have towels dating back to our pre-married days (six years ago!) and of course our new bathroom in the basement has been pretty much empty for the few months it’s been around.

After lugging two enormous piles of towels and rugs to the checkout counter (Sears doesn’t have carts, of course), I was subject to the fascinating spectacle of watching the saleswoman Maureen ring up my order.

She’d take a washcloth, carefully unfold it to find the tag with the UPC, and hold it up to the laser scanner. The little red light would dance across the UPC for a few seconds; she’d shift the tag around a bit to get a better angle; the light would continue to flicker; she’d move the scanner a bit and then move the washcloth a bit. Finally, with a satisfied BEEP, the system would read the UPC.

Then she’d fold up the washcloth very carefully and place it gently into the gigantic plastic bag on the counter. She’d pick up the next washcloth (which was identical to the one she’d just scanned, but I guess she didn’t know she could hit the “Again” key or whatever to ring up the same item) and repeat the entire process.

It must have taken fifteen minutes for her to ring up the thirty or so items I had. A line of people grew behind me, and I probably would’ve laughed if I wasn’t getting so impatient. It was comical, how slow and deliberate she was.

In the end I bought two hundred dollars’ worth of bathroom linen. Sheesh. Maybe I should revert to a grungy rug in each bathroom, and let people wipe their hands on their jeans after they use the sink.


Qwest strikes again!

We’re having sprinklers installed in our backyard, and the guy doing it was being all proper by calling the phone company and asking them to come out and flag the underground phone lines. They did.

Then he cranks up the trenching machine and starts digging pipelines, and (surprise!) smacks right into a phone line. Who knows why it’s there; it seems to cut diagonally through the yard for reasons only a Qwest engineer could fathom.

So our neighbor Bill will be without phone service for a while, I guess…


Today we cleared the rocks out of our backyard. This is part of the preparation for re-grading the soil, installing a sprinkler system, and dropping in sixty (yes, SIXTY) tons of topsoil and compost.

In addition to the fun fist-sized rocks peppering the yard, I came across two enormous chunks of concrete buried just beneath the surface. Each one easily weighed twenty pounds. What in the world are chunks of concrete that big doing in my backyard?!


Who would’ve guessed it would be so hard to find matching bath sets? We went on an odyssey in search of bath mats and towels in certain colors: navy, maroon, forest green, and a dark purple (all jewel tones). Seemed simple enough.

After going to Wal-Mart, Target, JCPenney’s, Sears, and Dillard’s we learned that you simply can’t buy that. Some stores had a set of navy but no green. Others had most of the colors but no small rugs (for in front of the sink). All in all, two hours resulted in nothing.



For three days my client has been trying to get their brand new network laser printer working. When I was last there, I configured it for all the right network settings and left it for them to finish, because at that time there wasn’t a network cable for the printer to use.

So after a number of exasperated troubleshooting calls from the client, I finally agreed to go down there (45 minutes each way) to get the printer working. It turns out they’d connected it with a crossover cable instead of a straight-through cable. Simple mistake, sure, but it took all of a minute for me to recognize the problem.

It reminded me of the story where the consultant shows up to fix the problem and spends about a minute doing so. His invoice is for some outlandish amount of money (in my case, seventy-five bucks) and when he’s questioned, he simply itemizes the costs.

Fixing problem: $5
Knowing how to fix problem: $70

Ahh, clients.