Video game lines

When Zaque plays video games with friends, he uses a headset and a chat application so he can talk with them in real-time while they’re playing. (LAN parties are so early 2000’s!) Since we can only hear his half of the conversation, it makes for some interesting times.

He often gets, shall we say, very animated during these games, and absolutely screams as he’s playing. Some of my favorite recent lines have been:

Welcome to the Thunderdome!

(does he even know what the Thunderdome is? That was, like, early 80’s)

I can’t be stopped! (pause) I’m like a truck full of orphans!
Ohh-whoa, we’re half way there…
Ohh-whoa, livin’ on a prayer…

(sung at the top of his lungs to the tune of Bon Jovi’s song, of course)

Somebody call an ambulance, because I’m so sick!

Mom knows best

I think this sums up kids and moms throughout history.


Today one of the kids in Laralee’s church class– a ten-year-old girl– gave her a little note after class.

How sweet! And dang it, why didn’t I think of that first?

Triple head

In computer-speak, the number of monitors connected to your computer is referred to as the number of “heads”. For many years I’ve been running a dual-head display, and when I first switched to two monitors, the upgrade was astounding. Now and then I’d attempted three monitors, but I finally “inherited” an old video card that supported a triple-head display so I figured I’d grab a spare monitor and give it a go.

Although I haven’t yet found a driving need for a third screen, I do find that it’s really nice to read the central display face-on. With dual heads, you’re always twisted slightly to the left or the right as you look at the monitors, but with three you can put non-essential things off to the sides while focusing directly on the task at hand.

So although I wouldn’t call this “life changing” in any way, it’s been kind of fun to have three 30″ widescreens glowing at me in my basement office…


Laralee and I have a running argument (as in, a decade or more) about whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie.  I, of course, maintain that it is… and much of the internet backs me up with “top 10 Christmas movie” lists.

I think getting a sweater like this will settle it.


Zaque was preparing for his calculus test, and I asked him how it was going.

“Well, these questions just raise more questions. Like, ‘Bobby is flying a kite 100 feet directly overhead, and the wind blows it east at 10 feet per second.’
How is he flying a kite directly overhead? This is so unrealistic.”

Yep, that sounds about right.

Dream journal

Zaque is taking a psychology class this semester, and really enjoys it.  Their current assignment is to keep a “dream journal” for a few weeks, presumably to analyze those dreams. Here are a few entries in Zaque’s journal:

It was St. Patrick’s Day, and I dressed in SO much green that people literally fainted when they saw me.

Possible meaning: green=money

Kyer was a surgeon, but he ran out of organs, so we went out and stole them from people.

Possible meaning: organs=life?

I had to catch cats in an ice cream truck. The truck was to trick the cats into coming up to it. Then I’d grab them and throw them in the freezer.

Possible meaning: ice cream=tasty stuff; cats=good things

I got in an accident and ended up with a huge hole straight through my chest. Rather than fix it, we played a game where you would throw the ball through my chest hole to the other person.

Possible meaning: hole=problem, game=fun

I don’t remember my dreams, but if they’re anything like Zaque’s, I’m really missing out…

I owe HOW much?

Thanks for the helpful billing notice, CenturyLink!

I guess it’s a good thing I’m on auto-pay, because I’m not sure how much $myAmtDue would be.

Come on, CenturyLink, get it together…

It’s a good day

Laralee just sent me this:

I found the house key down the crack by the dryer and I found a King Soopers gift card in the shoebox on the dryer that has $58.52 on it. Woo hoo!

Not only did she find the house key we lost months ago, but now we’re rich, too!

Fresh Cheetos are the best Cheetos

I’m sitting down to start working on my seminary lesson, and decided to have a bowl of Cheetos. You know, to get the creative juices flowing. So I tore open the new bag and poured myself a bunch.

Of course it’s a scientific fact that the best Cheetos are the fresh Cheetos, right out of a new bag. I’m sure these will help me prepare a great lesson.

Workin’ for a livin’

Zaque had a full-time job working as a camp assistant at the YMCA over the summer. He made good money, and as a result he was flush with cash for those few months. After tucking half of his income into a savings account (Mom and Dad are such killjoys, right?), he was free to spend the remainder on whatever he wanted. It turns out what he wanted was video games, video game add-ons, computer hardware for video games, and the occasional bag of Hot Cheetos or Takis.

As the summer came to an end and the camp wound down, we told Zaque he was welcome to get another job– perhaps at the YMCA– if he wanted to continue spending money at that rate. He chose not to, and the school year started. Not surprisingly, the financial well quickly ran dry. He was still going out to lunch with friends, and after a bit of questioning we learned that his friends had been supporting him. I told him it’s not cool to be a mooch, and he needed to either figure out how to pay his own way, or stop going out to lunch with friends.

Clearly there’s only one choice there, so he shopped around for another job and landed one at Get Air. It’s a trampoline park in town, and they needed some responsible teens with gymnastics or trampoline experience. Zaque had the experience, and apparently in the interview he managed to convey some semblance of responsibility, so they hired him.

He’s been there for a little over a month now, and he seems to enjoy it. Before his first day, he had to watch nearly forty training videos on YouTube, and answer some questions about them. They were the usual things about how to administer first aid, how to be a good example, and presumably how to set bones that break after crazy accidents on the trampolines. My favorite safety video, though, was the one about Foam Pit Extraction.

A Foam Pit Extraction is apparently what happens when a kid launches off a trampoline and lands in the foam pit, but can’t get back out for whatever reason (most likely broken bones). So now, every day after he comes home from work, I ask him if he did any Foam Pit Extractions. To date, he hasn’t.

Also, I think Foam Pit Extraction would be a great name for a band.


“Why are there are so many songs about love but only one about welcoming me to the jungle?”

I don’t think it’s supposed to look like that

Last night, Zaque was heading out to a friend’s house. He ran into the garage, hit the door opener button with his elbow, climbed into the car, and slammed it into reverse.

Unfortunately, he hadn’t noticed that when he hit the garage door opener button, the door didn’t actually open. Needless to say, the car didn’t get very far.

This is what it looks like in daylight:

I admit I’m a little puzzled about this:

Although the track isn’t damaged, and the wheel and axle aren’t damaged, somehow the wheel ended up outside the track. I’m not sure how that’s going to get fixed. So, for the time being, our car is trapped in the garage until I can get someone out to the house to fix this.

I did tell Zaque the bad news: incidents like this have consequences. We’re going to make fun of him backing into the garage door for many, many years.

Chocolate, fini

It was seven years ago that we bought a gigantic block of chocolate and made some Christmas candies. The remainder has been sitting in the basement all these years, even after using some of it two years ago. Today I decided to use the rest.

I peeled a hundred or so caramels, warmed the chocolate over the stove, and went to work.

The end result wasn’t pretty…

… but hey, who cares how they look? They’re chocolate and caramel!

Sayonara, Jinux

About 18 years ago, I built a full Linux system from scratch. I downloaded source code, compiled everything, created a set of custom scripts and management tools, and called it Jinux (for “Jeff’s Linux”).

At its height, Jinux powered over a hundred servers at BitRelay and a few client offices. It worked fabulously, and had far fewer packages (and thus potential vulnerabilities) than the commercial Linux distributions. I used it for my main desktop and laptop systems, running KDE3 for years and years.

Everything has been going swimmingly, but to be honest, it’s become tiresome to keep track of package updates and security patches and whatnot, and continue to apply them to my Jinux distribution by recompiling and reinstalling things. It’s just one of those things that takes time and, while interesting, probably isn’t a good use of that time. I know Linux inside and out, and have well over two decades of experience with it, so I don’t feel like it’s necessary to continue digging into its guts.

And thus I finally decided to walk away from it. I wiped my Jinux systems and installed Ubuntu. But KDE has evolved quite a bit since version 3 (which dates back to the late 90’s), and I found that several of the key software tools I used no longer worked well. Most importantly, email was a hot mess because the latest versions of KDE are based on a search platform called Akonadi. After considerable experimentation, I was reminded why I hate Akonadi with the fiery passion of a thousand suns, and I decided to migrate all of my email out of KMail (which I love) into Thunderbird (which is decent, but not nearly as good as KMail). The migration was a little painful, but it worked. For about a week I used a sort of Frankenstein mix of KDE, Thunderbird, and other applications, but I grew increasingly frustrated because things didn’t work quite the way they did in good ol’ Jinux.

I messed around with Mint Linux for a day, and looked at some other desktop environments, but realized that KDE3 continues to be my favorite by far, and it’s just rock-solid. So I wiped my Ubuntu systems and rebuilt them with Trinity, which is a repackaged version of KDE3 for the many people in the world who, like me, prefer that old version over the shiny new one.

Again, some configuration magic had to happen, and I migrated some things, but I finally reached a point where my systems were happily running Ubuntu and KDE3. Now I don’t need to worry about software updates, or compiling code, or tracking down dependencies. Life will be marginally simpler… although I’m a little sad to bid farewell to my home-grown Linux systems that have served me so well for nearly two decades.

Hey, at least it’s not Windows…

Dominion redux

The Dominion Gang continues to grow. This morning I connected with Dirk, Derek, and Morgan for a few online games of Dominion. We all jumped on Hangouts and had a great time playing, and of course heckling each other.

With Hangouts, I was able to see Derek laughing diabolically…

Morgan enjoying himself as he took the lead…

And Dirk standing up to show off his dance skills by “flossing”…

All in all, it was a fun morning with old friends.


Well, it’s official: the roofing truck stopped by today and stacked a bunch of shingles on the top of our house.

Now we look like all the other houses in the neighborhood, ready to have a new roof installed. After the Great Hailstorm of mid-September, pretty much everyone is having their houses upgraded. Of course, our roof is 16 years old and was doubtless getting pretty worn anyway, so the hailstorm was a convenient way to get the insurance company to cover the bulk of the replacement. They even included allowances to repaint part of the house and fence due to hail damage, so by next spring everything will be all fresh. Thanks, hail!

A mystery

Last night I came home from work around 6:00, picked up the mail from the mailbox, and went up to the front porch. Imagine my surprise when I saw my Amazon package:

I’d purchased a pair of Levi’s, which you can see covered in snow on the lower step. The box is torn open.

My first thought was “Gee, thanks Mr. Mail Delivery Person!” I suspected the mail carrier had just thrown the box at the front porch, and upon impact it had burst open and flung the jeans out. But that doesn’t really make sense with the positions of both. (Physics!)

The mystery deepened when I brought it inside and noticed there was blood dripped all over it. It’s not clear in the photo, but the box had a bunch of blood on the open side, and there was more blood on the plastic bag encasing the jeans. You might say, “Come on, Jeff, it was probably just… raspberry jam or something”. But Laralee dripped some hydrogen peroxide on it, and it fizzed and bubbled… just like blood would do. (As a test, we put some H2O2 on jam, ketchup, etc. and none of them reacted in the same way. So we’re pretty sure it was blood.)

Then I checked the USPS web site and discovered (according to the tracking number) that the package had been delivered the night before. It was sitting on our front porch for around 24 hours before I found it. If the blood had been on the box when the mail carrier left it, surely it would’ve been dried and black. But no, it was definitely fresh, wet, red blood. Maybe an animal? We have a lot of rabbits and squirrels around the neighborhood. But there weren’t any animal tracks in the surrounding snow.

I find the whole thing completely mysterious. Laralee says she was “pretty freaked out” by the whole thing, and intends to call the Postal Service to get to the bottom of it. But honestly, I can’t think of what they might possibly tell her that would explain all this. In fact, I can’t even come up with a plausible story. (For example, a squirrel was digging at the box for some reason, then a hawk swooped down and grabbed him, spraying blood? Because yeah, that’s realistic.)

La says we should get one of those porch cameras. Normally I’d shrug that off, but heck, in this case I’m definitely interested to see what happened.