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HAPPY BIRFDAY [profile] spiziks!!

This weekend, I have spent much time in contemplation and doing research with regards to restoring Cammie, and unfortunately, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that rebuilding the Grand Prix is beyond my means. Not impossible, mind you, but I had to evaluate several things and make some hard decisions. Fact is, the degradation and damage to the body itself is extensive. I blame the long-gone Rockhill Pontiac for that and the absolutely shitty job they did repairing the car after the accident it had when it was just four years old. The cheap metal they welded on there, unprimed, improperly painted, and so on is why there's a hole in the back passenger-side quarter panel. And though they replaced the front passenger-side quarter panel/fender, they didn't prime or pain it correctly, either, and that's why it's cracked and faded.

The scrapes, dings, and other rust areas only contribute to the overall problems. It comes down to the fact that the shitty job that was done... I did what I could with waxing and such, but all I did was prolong the inevitable. And when it became clear five years ago or so that, despite my best efforts, the shitty repairs were failing and holes started forming and such... Well, if I could have afforded to get the body work done then, then things would be different. But the rust is out of control. And since most of the mid-1980s cars were crushed and recycled, I can't just go hunt a salvage yard for new fenders and panels and such. New panels and such would have to be custom manufactured, which would triple the cost of restoring the body.

Then there's the engine. The reason why Gary put in a new crate engine is because factory manufactured engines have been phased out in favor of crate engines. Factory remanufactured are somewhat limited in how universal their applications, whereas crate engines can pretty much go in anything, but at the expense of having the same computer control that stock or remanufactured engines would have. The performance engine in Cammie had no computer feedback, other than an oxygen sensor and a sensor or two in the exhaust line. This may have contributed to her demise, as there was nothing to signal the loss of oil in the engine. Just knocking, and then seizure.

Looking around, Jasper has pretty much dominated the market on street-legal crate engines. And given how they screwed me on the current engine, I refuse to do business with them pretty much ever. When I was looking at Jegs and Edelbrock, they have nice, powerful engines that would fit the Grand Prix, but there's no way they'd pass street-legal emissions. As is, with the performance engine and having to trade the digital Rochester carb for the Edelbrock carb, it barely passed the fast-idle test. Now, I could have switched out the metering rods in the Edelbrock carb with a set that would lean out the mixture and give me better emission results for the inspection test, but, the Rochester could be set to have less emissions all the time. Alas, Rochesters have gone the way of the dinosaur. So, my options, even with trying to build one myself, for a decent engine for Cammie are more limited than I had thought.

Then there's the interior work, which would still be somewhat significant. Even skipping swapping the bench seat for bucket seats, getting rid of the idea of putting in a center console, and new digital instrumentation, the headliner would still cost a pretty penny, not to mention the vinyl part of the roof on the exterior. I could only find used/salvaged motors for the power windows and the door locks. The alarm system slowly died and became just a glorified keyless entry system.

Long-term storage would also present the problems of needing new tires which, this time around, had to be special ordered. I would need a new battery. Assuming nothing else rusts in major components, the radiator would still need to be flushed and replenished. The transmission would still need a fluid change. The brakes, though just done a few weeks before the engine seized, would need the fluid changed.

If I made about twice as much as I make now, then I could probably afford to restore the Grand Prix in a timely manner. Right now? Twenty years would be a best-case scenario, and that's assuming I can get the G6 to last that long without any major problems, like needing a new engine or transmission or whatever. Or without having to replace the G6 with a new(er) car or somesuch.

There's only so much work I can do myself with the tools and expertise I have. And without being able to keep it at home, where I could work on it for a half hour a night or something... Yeah, I wouldn't be able to do much and save money. Yeah, I can keep it at Henry's indefinitely, but, it's outside, and subject to further deterioration from exposure to the elements.

The final cincher is this: I'm trying to get back into dance and I need to start writing regularly. I can manage writing and dancing. Tossing in a car project that would also suck away money is just...too much. I can already see where I would have to make a choice among dance, writing, and car building. I can only do two of the three. Ultimately, it came down to the fact that I want to dance more than I want a truly unique car that I would only drive on weekends and such.

That was another thing... I couldn't see doing all this work for a car I wouldn't drive much and would pay through the nose for insurance unless I found a garage to keep it in. At the new house, I don't think I'll be parking in the garage often at all, and with two vehicles? Yeah, no.

So, the plan instead is to keep the G6 in really good condition, pay it off in 5 years, then save up for a year or two, then go to CarMax and trade in the G6 and have money down, hopefully a couple thousand, for a Camaro. It has to be a V8, black, and with a sunroof. And some way for me to plug in the Sansa clip, either by USB or patch cord. I'm also thinking manual transmission, just to help deter theft, but, I worry about my knees sometimes and having to deal with a clutch, so, the jury's out on that. I've found that CarMax has three and four-year-old Camaros with 20k miles or less on them, practically new, for about $10k less than brand new. I'm thinking these were cars given to salespeople at a dealership or demo cars for test drives or somesuch, then sold to CarMax. Plugging in my criteria, I found a 2011 Camaro with a manual transmission for $24k with just 20k miles on it. Factor in the transfer fee (it was in Fairfax, Va), title, tax, and so on, figure $25k, which is still a little less than half what the G6 cost. Now, if I have a good G6 to trade in and a couple thousand down thanks to saving, I could come up with a decent enough replacement for the car I loved so much.

This is still a bit of a kick in the gut, though. I enjoyed having a classic that I had worked on, that at one point was one of the five cleanest cars in the state emissions-wise, that was truly unique, that had saved my life so many times. I feel bad that I just...can't return the courtesy. I suppose I did save her life a few times, what with transmission replacements, replacing that first engine with the 350 which lasted me 13 years. That engine served me well that summer I went down to Delmar every few weeks to practice with Holly, or going to Yardley every few weeks to practice with Kristin, or to visit Robin every other week in Milton for over a year... It got me through a LOT. And there was still that time the battery died on the way back from Milton, yet the car kept running until I got to Henry's. Inexplicably so. Whatever spirit inhabited the Grand Prix, I hope it found a new home in the G6 and will follow me into the Camaro in six or seven years or so. I hope Cammie is nestled somewhere in the G6 and may live again as a Camaro.

And I'll enjoy taking the cats to the vet for their annual check-ups in the Camaro, and going to TTL for dancing or lessons in the Camaro, and so on. For now, I'll enjoy doing all that in the G6. But I will miss the Grand Prix, and will treasure the memories I have of driving that car, of hearing the secondaries in the carburetor kick in and the free-flow thrumming as the throttle opened up and the car reared like a horse and took off like a shot. I am mourning its loss, and will probably do so for awhile.

I hate Jasper and I'm glad Rockhill went under.

On the plus side, I had fun dancing at TTL earlier tonight. I even managed to dance a full Viennese Waltz with Josie, and though a little winded at the end, I didn't need my asthma inhaler. Again, dancing with someone who knows what they're doing makes V. Waltz so much easier and effortless. Well, less effort, anyway. And I'm glad that some of the newbies I've been dancing with have shown some improvement as well.

For right now, I'm okay with social dancing, what with being busy with the move and all. But after we're in the new house and somewhat settled, I plan to get more involved with dancing.

Anyway, more later...
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HAPPY BIRFDAY [profile] disgruntledgrrl!!

So, the big news for today is (dun dun DUNNNN...) the annual vet trip!

First off, mucho thankies to all who donated funds! There was enough money from that and Mom's direct donation that they all are current on their shots and such, that Minerva has enough insulin to get her to about Christmas, and I have just over $10 left over to apply to Minerva's glucose checks. Because of everything going on with Rocky's and then Minerva's diabetes, there was just...nothing left financially. And now? Now, I was able to afford the latest ampule of insulin and get them to the vet in a timely manner (meaning, about the same time as last year) for them to remain current on shots, which means this year, they finally got a 3-year rabies vaccination instead of just a one-year shot.

If I ever get out of debt and have this thing called "disposable income," I shall pay it forward...

Anyway, back to the vet visit... Rocky is doing well. He's at 22.2 pounds, which, for his size, is a little overweight, but not by as much as it sounds, as he is a Big Cat. And they're okay with him having a little extra weight; if his diabetes flares up and he doesn't eat for a day or two, he'll still be okay, instead of, say, shutting down his liver. Heart, lungs, eyes, teeth, ears... Everything else is excellent! Perfect for a cat in remission. He does have allergies and dry skin, which they can't give him anything for, as he's steroid-allergic, meaning, a steroid would send him into a diabetic spike. But otherwise, he's a big, healthy, happy kitty in diabetic remission, which we'll ride for as long as we can.

Riffy is also doing well for an 11-year-old cat. His ear crusties were gone this morning, but I still mentioned it to Doc McHarg, who had done the original partial ear removal and biopsy. She said that if it went away, resolved on its own, then yeah, it's an inflammation issue and not a skin cancer issue. (For the new people: Riffy is all-white, and two years ago, there were crusty scabs on one ear that looked like the skin cancer which eventually led to the demise of another all-white cat we'd had, GiGi. Doc McHarg (nee' Boone) had just started working up there, and indeed, that was the same day I had to bring YoYo up to help him cross the Rainbow Bridge. After assisting with that, she removed part of Riffy's ear, in case it was cancer, to try to halt its spread. Fortunately, it wasn't any squamous carcinoma; just irritation. And she did a good enough job on the surgery that, for the most part, you can't really tell he'd had part of his ear removed. So anyway, yeah, that issue is resolved. He was at 16.2 pounds, which is what he was at last year, so, he's maintaining his weight, which is another sign of good health. Riffy, overall, is almost as big as Rocky, and a little leaner. Dr. Shlusseil once commented that I tend to have big cats, and said it in a way indicating this was a good thing for the cats. His heart murmur was the same - no better, no worse; just stable. As he's asymptomatic - no panting or rapid breathing - this is relegated to, "Be aware of this, but most likely, it's nothing to worry about." Otherwise, he, too, is in excellent health, especially for an 11-year-old.

So, I have three wonderful, healthy cats, despite diabetes and heart murmurs. I am glad to have all three of them in my life, and I am proud to be their "daddy" and their "hoomin." And I look forward to getting them all to enjoy each others' company when we move.

See, both Rocky and Riffy were out of their carriers at the vet. And yeah, they hissed at each other, and Rocky grumbled. But Riffy was out first, and he stuck his head into Rocky's carrier when I was trying to get Rocky out. They would periodically check each other out, then hiss, then sit next to each other and pointedly ignore each other. But no attacking. No swatting or other dominance issues. They kind of acted how I'd expect "normal" new cats to act during an introduction.

Of course, when I got home, I opened the carriers, they came out, hissed at each other, and Rocky went to get a drink of water while Riffy slinked up the stairs. Rocky then went up, hissed at Riffy, then went down the hallway and sat outside my room while I let Riffy back into Mom and Rich's room.

Right now, the hope is that in the new house, with no established territories, they will all get over themselves, stake out new territories and shared territories, and finally get along. Mom has also said that she and Rich, in addition to getting a new, bigger cage for Yoda, are also planning to get a few cat trees for the cats, including a BIG one for the basement, and maybe a few window perches.

At the vet, they recommended getting some Feliway for when we actually move to help calm them all down a bit.

On an aside... One of the things that is so frustrating is how similar Rocky and Riffy are. In temperament, in helpfulness, in intelligence, in caring, in curiosity... Rocky is a little louder, but Riffy's a "talker," too. As is Minerva, once she warms up to someone. They're all very sweet cats, and I'd love to see them all get along and express that sweetness towards each other by cuddling when it's cold out or tag-teaming caring for one of us when we're sick, and so on. I want them all to not be confined or restricted from each other's part of the house and to instead enjoy the big house we're going to, enjoy each other's company, and have full lives.

Anyway, shortly after I got back from the vet, I had lunch, puttered around for awhile, watched some TV, then ended up taking a nap. Things like this take an emotional toll on me. I napped for a good three and a half hours. But now? Time for dinner, then going dancing for a bit. I kind of need it tonight...

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This is Halloween

My awesome niece will be going around as Supergirl. Since she's too young for candy, she will be collecting for UNICEF, thus still working the whole superhero angle...

That's a Superman itty-bitty in the can. Incidentally, for a couple years there, I dressed up in a Starfleet uniform and took my sister trick-or-treating while I collected for UNICEF.

But yes, my niece is awesome. Expect more pictures on November 1.

Now, a staple of Halloween is ZOMBIES! Learn how to deal with Zombies by watching this educational video about Zombie University.

Followed by a seasonal message from Zombie!

Then we have the quintessential Halloween video, with some dancing and music that is part of our cultural history.

Last, and hopefully not least, is the annual, seasonal, re-release of my short story, based on actual events...

Zombies at Dunkin' Donuts (pdf)

And if you liked that story, feel free to leave a tip by way of a donation to help Rocky, Riffy, and Minerva get their annual shots and diabetic care and so on.

On a related note... HAPPY BIRFDAY ROCKY AND MINERVA!!! And though it's not Riffy's birfday, it was late October, 11 years ago, that I almost hit him with the car on my way to class, was a sucker for hard luck cases, tossed him in the car, skipped class, and thus adopted him. So, all three furkids have some sort of Halloween attachment.

I hope you all enjoyed this seasonal post. Happy Halloween!

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HAPPY BIRFDAY [profile] divine_delerium!!

So, last night, I was getting an insulin syringe ready for Minerva, and Rocky hopped up on the kitchen table and got in position like he would when he was getting insulin. So, I pinched the back of his neck, made a tent, and pushed the capped syringe into his neck. He gave me a look that said, "I know you're bullshitting me," but he was otherwise mollified by the attention. Minerva still tries to slink away from the shot.

First thing this morning, I took Minerva up to Lantana for her glucose check. Her levels were down to 468, which is a slight improvement, so, they upped her to three units twice a day. Dr. Emslie also found where she's got an ear infection in both ears, so, she's got ear drops for the next two weeks, too. This isn't all that unusual for a new diabetic to develop some sort of infection, so, yeah. In addition, Minerva has fairly hairless ears, in addition to a kinked tail, so...

Poor kid. But, she seems to be responding to treatment. Her activity is back to about the level it was before I started noticing the extra water consumption. Though after the vet today, she went into her room and went under the bed for about two hours.

And yes, she is MUCH quieter in the car than Rocky. Though when she does meow, it startles the crap out of me. Other than that, she was just watching me drive, trying to look out the windows, and so on. We were about a half mile from home when she just stretched out and started going to sleep.

I apparently have the sympathies of the techs up at the vet. They said they were talking about me before I showed up on my abominable luck, but that at least I had really good cats. (I've been told my cats are very good compared to most other cats, who tend to bite, scratch, and be as uncooperative as possible.)

Anyway, we're good until Thursday night, when Minerva has her next glucose check. I just have to keep in mind which cat gets shots, which cat I'm shoving into a carrier, and so on...

Today's been a lazy day otherwise. After I got back from the vet and medicated Minerva, I helped Mom and Rich load up all the old prescriptions and meds to be taken to a drop-off site. We spent more time cracking jokes about selling the drugs to the people in the apartments behind us and making $1k to $2k. Told them not to get stopped on the way for transporting drugs. Anyway, they dropped off all the old drugs, had some jaw-dropping reactions from the people and the cops there, but, hey... Some of this crap was over ten years old. And given the joint replacements and tonsillectomy and such, we had some goooooood stuff...

So, they ran their errands and I...passed out. I've had some insomnia issues the past few nights. Hard time falling asleep, then waking up in the middle of the night and next to impossible to fall asleep. So, I napped through most of the afternoon.

Yesterday, I was able to get the grass cut, which is a start. But, I still need to clean the bathroom, take care of the cat boxes, take care of my laundry, vacuum the house, and some other odds and ends. On the bright side, Mom and Rich are going out tonight, so, I'll have an empty, quiet house to work with. I have my Mahi Mahi fillets out thawing and will make that for dinner.

Comics )
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Yes, my niece is a little bit of a diva and doesn't want to share the spotlight...

I'm posting because I totally forgot to mention how utterly fascinating she is as she develops! She is becoming more and more aware of the world around her and is realizing she has some sort of an effect on it. She loves her parents, and is a bit of a "Daddy's girl," in that she will crane her neck around to see where Scott is going if he's moving around like he was last night getting condiments from the kitchen and so on. But she actively tracks people as they move around if someone has her attention.

She's trying to communicate, too. She's been cooing regularly, and there are times when she acts like she wants to make a noise, but isn't sure what noise to make, and you see the frustration build up on her face, and there's some sort of ! or ;*A! Or %ug&. We encourage this by telling her to tell us all about it, and she continues to coo and make noises and such.

And she smiles at people. She's also teething, so, she'll latch on to hands and just start sucking...

At least, we think she's teething, and isn't going to grow up all Hannibal Lechter on us...

She's getting more coordination with her hands and is starting to make motions like waving. Oh, and she's imitating. She watched me eat some corn on the cob, and she brought her hands up to her face. Then she watched Rich eating something, and the hand gestures were like she was putting food in her mouth.

On a final note and on a slightly different track... Yoda remains quite chatty. He still favors asking questions, largely because he gets an answer, which, psychologically, is interaction, and as a flock animal, he craves interaction. Now, his predecessor, Nemo, "waved" at us. He fluffed his wings in response to people waving at him. Guess what Yoda's starting to do? Fluff his feathers when people wave at him.

Then there's Rocky. Earlier today, Mom was out in the garage moving some things around, and she left the door to the house open. Rocky, being curious, went out there to see what she was doing. But because there's chemicals and such out there, I...really don;t want him out there. So, I stood in the doorway and calmly said, "Rocky, I really don't want you out here. Come back inside please." He turned around and came back in the house. No argument, no nothing. Just, "Okay," and turned around and came back in. I didn't have to raise my voice or go chasing after him. I...don't know how I ended up with a cat that responds to voice commands, though, he pretty much only responds to me. But, I'll take it. I think it's a sign of trust and mutual respect. I also think it's evidence, albeit anecdotal, that these little furballs understand a lot more than most people give them credit for understanding.

Cats, birds, and babies... Makes me happy I have a degree in psychology and can appreciate their cognitive abilities. And the three specific examples cited above... Yeah, they're smart. And Yoda and Rocky? Terrifyingly smart. Dani? Dani has opposable thumbs, and I think she'll give us a real run for the money when she gets older, and especially when she starts to read.

Anyway, just wanted to get all that out there before I forget. To say that life is interesting around here is an understatement...

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HAPPY BIRFDAY [profile] daytonward!!!

Today has been busy, but productive. Grass is cut, hair is cut, a few other things are done... I still have stuff to take care of. Like the cat boxes, laundry, weekly computer maintenance... Oh well.

Tomorrow is Dani's baptism and then a party at her house afterwards.

My mind has been all over the place with regards to Cammie and so on. I hate this not knowing crap...


But...thanks for all the people here and on FB who have offered words of support, encouragement, and so on over the past few weeks. It's appreciated.

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Well, there's a ray of hope. At least as far as general transportation is concerned...

Mom said that she remembers that I paid for a 93 Saab to the tune of $3200, plus a couple hundred for tax, title, and tags, plus tires so it would pass inspection, plus a battery. So while she was at work, with nothing to do, she searched Carmax a little and found a 2009 Pontiac G5 for just under $10k. She said that if Cammie is indeed dead and no warranty coverage on the engine, she'd put $2k down on it and reduce my rent so that I'd be able to make the monthly payments.

So, it's better than a bike and shitty public transportation. On the one hand, I am annoyed that I can't be self-sufficient and need to rely on the kindness of others. On the other hand, I'm kinda happy that past kindnesses are remembered and help given for them.

But, we still need to hear back on the final fate of Cammie, if there's any warranty coverage, and so on...

In other news, I had a bit of a happy moment. Mom had to leave for work before Rich got back from his meetings and appointments and errands, so, I got to babysit Dani for just under an hour. Mom had barely left and I got the hungry cry, so, I fed her the last ounce of milk she had in her bottle. Got a decent burp or two out of her when that was done. A few minutes later, she started getting fussy, so, off to the changing table we went, and the diaper indicator changed from yellow to blue, with a stop-off at green, indicating a change was needed. So, I changed her, getting hung up only on finding the damn sticky tabs on the new diaper. They tuck and fold those things so far away you have to open up the whole damn diaper and scout along the edges. Meanwhile, Dani's looking at me like, "C'mon, Uncle Dave, get with the program!" Anyway, I found the tabs, put the new diaper on her (after cleaning her up with the appropriate baby wipes, of course), snapped her onesie back up... And I got a smile for my efforts.

Picked her back up, and we went into the rec room, and I put on the Star Trek DVD I had been watching, since "Uncle Grandpa" was on Cartoon Network, and I can't stand that one. So, I rocked her in the recliner and she fell asleep as we watched the second half of "The Doomsday Machine." Then I had to use the bathroom, so, I put her in the napper in the pack-n-play. And then Scott showed up to pick her up. Dani barely peeked past closed eyes while Scott buckled her in the car seat and all.

So, she went home clean, alive, and not fussing. I...guess I did the babysitting thing right...

So, I can join the small circle of people who have changed Dani, fed her, and so on. Oh, and when she hits the teen years, I can say, "I used to change your diapers!"
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It's not guaranteed yet, but Cammie may be dead.

Remember yesterday how I mentioned the choke light and such? And the annoying clicking noise? And how Jack said they'd take a look at it, but check the oil, just in case?

Yeah, well, things happened too fast. I was going to check the oil when I got home from work. Mind you, I topped it off two weekends ago. And before that, Gary had replaced spark plugs and an oil pressure sensor. So, I had no reason to think that the oil in the engine would just...be gone. Even with the problems I had with the old stock 305 engine, which burned oil pretty regularly, I've never had consumption where I lost a full pan in two weeks or just under.

Apparently, that's what happened. On the way home, I started hearing a screeching noise, which I thought was a bad belt from the car next to me. Then it started stalling out on me, but restarting easily enough. The last time I got it started, though, it made an ugly screeching noise, got me across the street and into my development, and stalled again. I was able to coast to the house.

Got a flash light and checked the oil, and saw that it was bone dry. I put the half-quart of syntec I had left in it, with smoke coming from the fill port, and tried to start it to get it in the driveway. No joy. I mean, not even cranking. Like what you get when the starter's dead.

The engine was guaranteed for three years, 30k miles. It's barely three and a half year old, but less than 20k miles. So, if it's toast...there's no definite coverage. However, Gary/Henry's has worked with Jasper for decades, and with it barely being six months past with much lower mileage and the engine being taken care of, they might go ahead and honor it. They might also pro-rate something, and, say, for $1k, replace the engine. That I could swing.

It's also possible that, with it being a performance engine and using syntec, the engine is only mostly seized, and getting some oil in it and manually cranking it through, it may be okay after all. Maybe a little thermal damage which may be repairable or negligible, but, you never know.

I am, however, anticipating the worst, since my overall luck totally sucks ass. I'm anticipating no warranty, and that I'd have to replace the engine...again. Which I just...do not have the finds to do. So, unless I get a free or even mostly free engine, Cammie...is at the end of her life.

In that case, I'll sell her for salvage and hope to get enough to at least pay off the bill with Henry's for the latest work, and maybe reduce further what I owe the bank for the engine loan. Then I'll probably get a decent bike, helmet, and some bus passes and save what I can on gas and insurance, pay down debts further, save some money, and eventually get another vehicle.

What kind of vehicle? Well, I insist on a V8 engine. And at this point, I'd really want a manual tranny. I'll probably go with a Camaro. Or, if I'm looking at older, a Firebird. It won't be anything brand new. But I'm looking at maybe finding another classic to restore, maybe one with a body in much better shape or somesuch. Or maybe a three or four year old car that's been well-kept. Maybe something from Carmax, since Mom's really happy with everything they did for her with the Hyundai. Much depends on how much I reduce my debt, what I can afford in monthly payments, and so on. It's quite possible I may be car-less for a couple of years.

So, yeah, I'm a bit upset at several things... The fact that my project is dead, that I can no longer easily get from point-a to point-b, which affects work, my health, Rocky's health, and so on.

Even though I have a plan of some sort, which includes just trying to cope, I'm still feeling rather devastated. And poor. And so on. And stressed.

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HAPPY BIRFDAY [personal profile] dydan, [personal profile] lydy, [personal profile] greygirlbeast, [profile] cookie_chef, [profile] evilest_kitten, and [personal profile] devils_sidekick!!!

Yes, some of those are belated. Yes, things have been a bit busy around here.

So. Saturday. Mom and Mandie convinced me to exhume the body of the poor kitty I hit and take it to the VCA Emergency vet on Marrow's Road in Newark. They did a microchip scan for free, and declared with certainty, since they checked twice, that the poor thing did not have a microchip. The vet seemed to think that, despite the fact he looked sufficiently nourished, he could still be a feral, and some strays and ferals take very good care of themselves.

Mom told them that I found the body in street and moved it and so on, but in retrospect, I'm sure the vet knew I was the one that hit the poor kitty. The whole thing sounded analogous to, "What could anal leakage be a symptom of? I'm asking for a friend..." Nevertheless, the veterinarian kept thanking us for being so humane and thorough and such. For not just leaving the body in the road to get hit by every other car that came down, for making an effort to see if he had owners, and so on. I found a bit of closure there. Or at least, I got a step closer to closure. I still have a ways to go.

The veterinarian also recommended wrapping the box in aluminum foil to keep the decay scent in the box and keep scavengers from digging up the body and so on. Granted, I never had a problem with Yoda's grave, or Lucky's or BamBam's. Still, I made what Mom called a "spaceship grave" for him. It's all good.

Something else that helped me a lot: Riffy. Given that I first "met" him when I almost hit him with the car on my way to class, and saw him almost get hit by another car... He had been living in a storm sewer, and would go up to the college kids living in the dorm there looking for food and getting handouts, so, to him, cars meant the possibility of food. And he was hungry, so, he was going up to cars looking for food. Sucker for hard-luck cases that I am, I skipped class, tossed him in the car, and brought him home and fed him and so on. Eleven years later, here he is, doting on my niece and so on. Now if he would just come out and play with Rocky...

Riffy reminded me that if I could have stopped, I would have. That if I'd known the kitty was there... But, I never saw him. Hell, at first, I thought I'd hit a branch, and was wondering where the branch came from, since there was nothing in the street beforehand...

Anyway, I am...slowly getting over the accident. The unnamed kitty is re-interred in the back yard, and he will hopefully rest in peace. If he did belong to someone, then hopefully he will at least have been shown the same consideration had he lived a full life with them. If he was a stray or feral, then hopefully his death will suck a little less than what most get.

Yesterday, I played the part of the social butterfly. I went over to my sister's house for a bit, where Mom and Rich were, and my cousin was visiting. 'Twas a good visit. The I headed over to Doke's at [profile] thumpermarni's insistence for his annual Memorial Day party. Again, it was all good. Got to watch some Harry Potter and part of Blade Runner. There was some ultra-conservative, religious, conspiracy-theory, Illuminati-touting asswipe that was spouting off, and that's when I left the room. Though, small tidbit: when you start talking about Christianity as the one true religion, maybe you shouldn't be dropping f-bombs in front of your toddler as you rail against the liberal government controlling you through the media and claiming that in 50 years, there will be no more religion, first amendment, or marriage in America...

Instead, I went into another room, where Darryl was playing music through his phone and subjected us to Ace of Base. My 90s dancing seemed to go over well...

[profile] thumpermarni also gave me this book she saw way back when and got for me... The Star Wars Vault. Rocky and I looked at a little of it last night, and it's got some interesting trivia and ephemera...

Today, just trying to get some stuff done around the house. Mom's cleaning Yoda's cage, finally. Mandie and Danielle are over, helping and such, though, Danielle's been really fussy the past hour or so. It might be the different house and all the activity. Mandie's helping a little with some cleaning and packing. We're going to BBQ some 'burgers and 'dogs later, and Mandie, Scott, and Danielle will be joining us.

I...am feeling a little wiped out. That whole shyness thing, then going to a big party... Those who are a bit introverted know how parties and socializing can really wipe you out. Then again, it's been a busy weekend, and the whole bit with the tragic unnamed kitty has taken a lot out of me.

Oh, at least I cleaned the bathroom yesterday, and I also got some stuff done on the car. In addition to getting the windshield replaced, I found my tube of goop and fixed the trim on the rear bumper that was peeling off. I also used the last of my brass paper fasteners to tack up a section of falling headliner, and wrapped the sun visor in duct tape to take care of the split in the upholstery on it that was leaking cardboard. Yeah, it all sounds kind of pathetic, but, temporary repairs until I can get the body and interior restored. At least it runs well.

And with the new fuel pump and spark plugs, my gas mileage has gone up quite significantly. Even though spark plugs are good for three years, I'm thinking I should go back to replacing them every other year. Decent double platinum plugs aren't that expensive and the cost of replacing them every other year is more than made up in gas savings.

Back to the grind tomorrow. Work and chiro afterwards. Grocery shopping and comics stop on Wednesday, and Rocky for his weekly glucose check on Thursday. My life is so exciting... /sarcasm

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HAPPY BIRFDAY [profile] ladnews!!

Going through something hellish right now...

Last night, as I was turning to back into the driveway, I felt a thud near the front tire. I was wondering what the hell it was, wondering if there was a problem with the front brakes, or if I'd run over a stick or something, but the road was clear when I started my turn. As I backed in the driveway, I saw a cat body writhing in the street in front of me. By the time I stopped the car and got out, the writhing had stopped. I went in the house and got Mom, and when we got out there, there was another car coming down the street. We waved him around, but in the headlights, Mom could tell the cat was still breathing, and then the cat took its last breath and...was no more. Crossed the bridge, if it hadn't done so earlier, and everything else was just nerves, given that it was a head injury that killed him.

I haven't really slept, well or otherwise, since this happened. Mom dragged the body to the edge of the yard, just so he wouldn't get hit repeatedly or anything, and while I was getting the windshield replaced today, she made some calls. We were hoping animal control would come out and take care of the body, maybe make a note of the description in case he belonged to anyone and someone came looking for him. Turns out, animal control doesn't deal with anything dead, nor do they collect information like that. They referred Mom to DelDOT, who said that if the body is on the property, there's a fee for removal, but if it's in the road, removal is free, and so, maybe drag the body back into the road.

Fuck it. I dug a hole in the back yard, got one of the smaller boxes we have for moving, lined it with an old towel which doubled as a burial shroud. He (and I'm assuming it was a "he") was stiff with rigor mortis, but I did the best I could to make him fit in the box with any kind of dignity. Wrapped him in the towel, closed the box, said a few words over it, and apologized profusely as I buried the box. The cardboard casket.

It pains me to think he may have been some kids best friend. But then, this is why my cats are indoor cats. And why they have collars and chips.

He may also have been a stray or feral. Just...don't know.

What kills me is that despite his injuries, I could tell he was a beautiful cat. And no matter how accidental, no matter how unintentional, I feel like complete and total shit about this.

And as I've had a low level of acid and bile from all of this all day, I get a thing in the mail from the GI doc. The biopsies came back, and I'm back to having Barrett's Esophagus, which is basically a condition where my esophageal cells have mutated into something thicker, and are more likely to mutate further into cancer cells. Hence, more frequent endoscopies, more aggressively working to prevent gerd, and so on. With the stress from work, and now this recent...incident? Tragedy? Added stress? Yeah, I can feel my stomach eating itself right now.

The only good thing from the last day is that I finally got my damn windshield replaced. There was a tiny, very thin scratch on the new glass that I may have never noticed if they hadn't said anything, but they did, and they took $100 off for it. Also, when they took the old windshield out, they sanded down the rust from two windshields ago, that was done sloppily by another company and leaked like a sieve, and treated that. And cleaned/vacuumed the front seats and footwells as well as cleaning all the windows. Given that they took almost half the price off for a tiny scratch and everything, I'd highly recommend the Safelite shop on Kirkwood Highway for automotive glass repair or replacement.

Rocky...knows I'm upset in general, and he's been a little extra affectionate today, which just makes me feel worse. I feel like I betrayed his kind somehow. And considering how karma likes to make me its bitch, I'm terrified of something similar happening to him. Then again, he's an indoor cat and is perfectly okay with that. The door can be wide open, and he'll just sit at the edge, no desire to go any further. All of my cats have been like that. The furthest any of them ever wanted to go was the garden in the front yard. Some of them liked to sit in the back yard, but that was problematic, because they saw the deck as a neat part of the house and liked going exploring under it and were real pains in the ass about coming out when it was time to go inside.

But, yeah, I'm feeling pretty crummy. Maybe esophageal cancer is a just punishment for me or something.

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HAPPY BIRFDAY [profile] mercurykitty AND [personal profile] tacit!!

It...has been a busy weekend. Yesterday felt like a bit of a lazy day, but, it was okay for it to be. First off, my eight-year-old angel fish, Spectrum (all my angel fish are named Spectrum) died. This is the second long-lived angel fish I've had. The last one lived about eight years, too. Anyway, he was the last fish in the tank. I have since shut down the tank. When the weather gets nicer, I'll drain the rest of the water down, toss the gravel, clean everything up, and store it until we move. The plus side of Spectrum's passing is that now I don't have to worry about moving him, switching tanks for transport, and so on, and doing everything quickly so that he doesn't die of hypothermia and expertly so he doesn't die of water shock. Now, I can simply move the tank and equipment, and after we get set up in the new place, put everything together, get new gravel, fill it with water, take a few days to balance out the water, then get new fish.

I briefly thought about just simply...not having a fish tank anymore. But, it's been a bit of a hobby for me for almost 20 years, and when the tank is clean and there are fish in there, people like to come in and see the fish and watch them for a bit. In the new house, I'll have the tank set up in my "office" in the basement so people can more easily enjoy the fish.

The other downer for yesterday was that Mom's aunt, Aunt Carolyn, lost her battle with cancer. Even though she was Mom's aunt, she was only about 10 years older, if that. My prayers are with her second husband, Fred, down in Florida, where they moved to after they got married. They were very active with Habitat for Humanity, until her cancer came back. She had originally had kidney cancer, which she beat, but then came down with lung cancer. She's been in hospice for about two months.

I...wasn't especially close to her. But I am very grateful for something she did. About a year after Dad died, Aunt Carolyn was talking to Mom and said she sounded like Mom needed a break. She paid Mom's air fare for her to go down and spend about a week down there with her and Fred. The trip was a rather healing one for Mom. And for that kindness towards Mom, I am very thankful to her.

There will be a funeral and burial down there in Florida. Given everything happening right now with new jobs, new babies, and new houses, we just...can't get away. Which sucks. But I'll admit I'd rather be playing with my niece than traveling.

Mom and Rich are down in Odessa today, signing the almost-final papers for the new house. They want a letter from Mom's new employer stating that she is employed and such before they make the final papers for the mortgage and such and start construction. But after today, it's pretty much a done deal and we don't have to worry about someone else snatching up the lot or anything.

So many ways in which life is changing. Starting anew...

I've gotten most of the housework for the weekend done. Just need to take care of some computer things and finish up my laundry. I might also go visit my sister and niece and do my grocery shopping. Alas, I still haven't gotten to work on my taxes. And next weekend? I'm scheduled for the ALYX blood donation (hopefully, my hemoglobin will be high enough for it, or else I'll try again next month). And next week is a vacuuming weekend, though, I'm going to try to get that done before I go donate some RBCs. But I was hoping to go dancing next Saturday night, but, we'll see how my energy level is after donating.

Anyway, more later...

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Mom and I went to visit Mandie and Danielle last night...

Mandie is doing much better and is out of the High Risk area. Danielle had to spend a day in the NICU under, essentially, a heat lamp to stabilize her temperature, which turns out to be a common, minor problem to babies born a few weeks early. But she was reunited with her mommy, and her mommy was moved to a regular room.

I got to hold Danielle for a little bit. First off, she's only the fifth baby I've gotten to hold. The first was my sister, the second was a neighbor's baby, third and fourth were cousin's babies. Danielle is the fifth. And I got to hold her for a good half hour, or at least, it felt like that.

Again, she has a hell of a personality already! A nurse came in to take Mandie's temperature and blood pressure, and then to take Danielle's temperature (via armpit). Danielle didn't fuss, but gave the nurse a hell of a stink eye.

Holding her, I felt her moving through the blankets and swaddling she was in. Little feet kicking slightly, little arms moving around, and her picking up her head slightly. She went through a range of facial expressions, opened her eyes and looked at me a few times... In many ways, it's like her brain is running constant diagnoses on everything, calibrating for whatever responses it's getting.

Mandie says she hasn't been fussing or crying very much. I think this is because Danielle's getting all her needs met. And getting showered with tons of attention and luvins. And it occurred to me that she's an exceptionally lucky baby. We may not be rich or anything, but she was born to two loving parents who have loving, supportive families. There is an abundance of both practical and textbook knowledge among everyone. And there is an abundance of unconditional love.

There will be pets who, when they meet her, will accept her into the family as unconditionally as the rest of us, largely because they, the pets in question, were accepted and loved unconditionally. This is a situation where karma comes in and repays kindness a thousandfold. I'd lay money that Loki and Lily will give Danielle the gargoyle treatment, standing watch. Lily may take a few days to warm up to this pink thing that makes noise and such, but I'm sure she'll step up to the plate. Loki will probably fall over himself to be her first buddy.

I'm reminded of the TNG episode "The Defector" when Romulan Admiral Aladir Jerok explains his defection to Captain Picard, that as a parent, there comes a time when you look into your child's face and realize that you have to change the world for her. I may only be her uncle, but I feel the same press to make the world suck less for her benefit.

And there's a part of me that feels badly for all the kids out there who aren't as lucky as Danielle.

But yeah, Danielle's one of the quiet ones. She'll be the type to have a secret lab in her closet at the age of eight, working on cold fusion or something.

I told Mandie that yeah, her and Scott's lives are now forever changed, but I'm realizing that with the closeness of the relationship, Mom's, Rich's, and my life have all been changed as well, as well as our counterparts in Scott's family. Though this is Mom's and Rich's first time as grandparents, and my first time as an uncle. It's still sinking in for me that I'm an uncle, and figuring out what that means in general and what it means for me.


Though of one thing I'm certain... I need to re-learn how to change diapers. Two things, actually... I'm going to be taking and posting lots of pictures...

With the camera phone, so, the quality isn't as good, but still... )

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I'm posting this entry "in the clear" so that it shows up on my Facebook feed. As I've mentioned here, I've been dealing with a lot of...unpleasant...memories this past week. Memories from middle and high school, when I was really young and stupid. Now that I am (much) older and at least know that I am stupid, I have to say I'm somewhat embarrassed by some of the actions, attitudes, and so on I had as a youth.

Hell, even in college, I was still pretty stupid. So, for the people who were not in my life from pretty much when I joined the dance team and began competitive ballroom dance, I am, essentially, completely different from how you may have known me. Now, no one from high school or even college has an on-line journal blog thing, so, this is just scratching the tip of the iceberg. In some ways, I feel badly for not giving this caveat to my friends from the before time, from high school, when I friended them on Facebook.

There have also been several people whom I considered friends back then who have refused friend invites, or who friended and then unfriended me, or whatever. In many ways, I figure this is just as well. If you still see me as some geeky, nerdy kid worthy of ridicule, rejection, or what have you, then I really don't need you in my life, be it in person or in the digital frontier of social media. Indeed, the only reason why I even bother is because I have changed so much that friending people from the before time is one of the few ways I have of reminding myself that I have a past that extends beyond when I started dancing. I mean, I've pretty much divided my life into "before dance" and "finally living."

I am still shy. Painfully, pathologically shy. Except for when it comes to cats or dance. As I mentioned before, dance gave me a dysfunctional crash course in How To Socialize With Other People, and my early days (years, actually) on the dance team were, in some cases, as painful and painfully awkward as my high school days were. Thankfully, I made friends, like Jon Anderson, Trey Smith, Kyle Buzzard, Doug "Danger" Manley, and several others, and I was fortunate to have a few dance partners who birthed me through a late-blooming socialness, namely, Ciela McDevitt and Holly Powers. Lastly, Pete Taylor and Lisa DeBevec, as my coaches and mentors, did much to teach me about professionalism and simply not taking any shit from nobody.

I look at what the world of Ballroom Dance has done for me, at the person I've grown into, and in some cases, maybe my head has gotten a little big. Then again, I'm allowed a certain degree of pride in what I've accomplished through dance.

Tonight, er, last night... Just a few hours ago, I was at a social dance at my new dance home, Take the Lead in Lantana. Because of financial sacrifices to keep my house out of foreclosure, and the power on and so on after my father's death and my mother's incredibly hard unemployment and underemployment, and then followed by further sacrifices I made for my four-legged kids, I can only afford to social dance at the moment. Once I sufficiently dig myself out of debt, I do plan to start taking private lessons again and competing. But social dancing still has plenty of rewards.

I dance with people of all levels and abilities. A few hours ago, I danced with someone who must have just started dancing. I had danced with her twice during the Fox Trot mixer, and I even asked her to dance for a Waltz a little while later. It wasn't rewarding for expressiveness or anything, but it was rewarding for making someone's night. Many times, when Crystal Ballroom was still around and when I worked as a DJ there, I often danced with new students, and if it was a night when the men and women were pretty evenly matched, I would often ask the one lady who was sitting by herself to dance. In some ways, I should thank the people who were often "too cool" for me and often excluded me from whatever, since having endured that hell, I tend to be sympathetic for those who may be feeling excluded and make them feel included. Thus, I've no problem dancing with newbies, since (1) it makes their night and (2) the only way anyone gets better is by doing. Even though I'm restricted to three or four basic steps, with someone who is still learning to hold their own frame, I am still rewarded with making them happy by giving them someone to dance with. And thanks to Lisa and Pete, I learned to lead well. I'm often told how clear my leads are and how easy they are to follow. Thus, the newbie gets the benefit of someone who knows what they're doing, who can keep time, and so on. They may be clomping on the floor, but they feel like they're dancing through a meadow with the wind blowing through their hair.

Tonight, though, I also had several moments of pure bliss while dancing. Fox Trot and Tango with Helena, a Bolero with Josie... Both are upper-level dancers, and so I can break out the more advanced figures and amalgamations as well as technique and styling. And since TTL had a good turnout tonight, there was even floorcraft. Floorcraft is where you have lots of people on the floor, and you manage to not collide with other couples or smack them in the face with your arms, and so on. Very important when competing, especially at Bronze and even Silver levels, where they cram 30-some couples on a floor at one time and you're trying to be seen by the judges without rudely running over the competition.

In particular, during the Bolero with Josie, the ghosts who have been haunting me the past week were given a thought. And in an instant, I thought of every show, every competition, every lesson I've taught, and I realized that the people who have chosen to absent themselves from my life are the ones missing out, not me. I realized that I have been blessed with not having the cookie-cutter life of go to college, get a job, get married, have kids, and then what? I have lived, and am still living, albeit on a reduced scale at the moment because of my current financial situation, which is, as they say on Avenue Q, "For now."

I went to England to dance in the 2001 Intercontinental Dance Festival. From the UD team, we had five guys and three girls. My partner was not among the women who went. So, I had a different partner every night. One night, I ended up dancing with a girl from France, who barely spoke any English. We survived three heats of Bronze Rhythm to make it to the semi-finals. Which means we were in the top 12 of about 100 couples. In fact, just about every night, I made it at least to the quarter-finals, if not the semi-finals or even placing.

Then there was the time a bunch of gymnasts from China ended up coming to the HESC 120 class at UD. Pete told me to go dance with one of the gymnasts, largely because he knew I could lead. Now, this poor girl knew absolutely no English, and to top it off, came from a significantly different culture. Naturally, I ended up dragging her through a Cha Cha. Well, not really dragging; she could at least hold herself up. One we got through the chasse step, it was all gravy.

Thankfully, dance has an intermediary language of music, which is universal. Hence, this is why I have the utmost respect for musicians. Well, for musicians who are any good, anyway.

I remember dancing at the American Star Ball with Holly... We were the only amateur couple in our age group, and so our heat was run concurrently with the pro-am (professional-amateur, where a professional dancer dances with one of his or her students against other professionals dancing with their students). Because there's a professional involved, and because of the costs involved, these other competitors have trained hard. So when my coach, Lisa, said that she was proud of us because she had to go looking for us, that it wasn't a cursory look at the floor and, "Oh, there they are," that meant a lot to me. We blended in quite well with professionals and amateurs who had, at the time, likely spent about twice as much time dancing as we did, and for twice as long.

Then there was the Arnold competition. Arnold Schwarzenegger started and continues to sponsor a long-weekend-long competition of athleticism, with events for body-building, cheerleading, gymnastics, martial arts, and so on. Several years ago, they added a ballroom competition to the list of events. Arnold was very interested in the ballroom component, largely because he had to learn some Tango for his role in True Lies. Normally, they had a special show for when he came around to see what was going on, largely involving kids barely a quarter of our age and with dance abilities they could mop the floor with us. (That's the one drawback of amateur, non-collegiate competitions: you see kids 10, 11, 12 years old who can outdance you in their sleep...) Anyway, the third year, when Arnold was still governor of California, there were some security concerns, and his schedule was changed at the last minute. So, he didn't see the show they'd prepared. Instead, he saw some of the actual competition. Which was the year Katherine and I started to get our feet wet with International Standard. Consequently, Katherine and I danced in the semi-finals for Bronze Quickstep, and I made eye contact with Arnold as he sat at the dais and watched us. Dancing in a competition can be nerve-wracking, and even more so while being stared at by the Terminator.

And thanks to Pete? There's only two degrees of separation between me and Marilyn Monroe. See, Pete was a close friend of hers, worked with her on several films. Come to think of it, there's only two degrees between me and Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the casts of White Christmas and The King and I, and so on. One of the most humbling things for me was when one of my teammates asked Pete what Marilyn was like, and he looked at her and said, "She was a young girl just. Like. You."

And the first showcase we did... There was a large group number we did that was Rumba and Cha Cha, and we entered the stage doing Rumba walks from either side of the stage, in time, meeting at the middle, and so on. I was one of the people in the front. And Pete declared, "All right, you're all gonna watch David. When he moves, you move." Then he looks at me and says, "Don't fuck up." Consequently, whenever people are depending on me, or there's something serious going on to which failure is not an option, I remember Pete's sage instructions: "Don't fuck up."

Then there are the situations where you fuck up. Where I remember the many reminders that the audience, the judges, whomever, don't know your routine may not know you fucked up, and will continue to remain ignorant of any blunders unless you act like you made a boo-boo. And in dance, there's also the rule: If you are rhythmically right, then you're not wrong." As long as you're on time, you're fine. There have been times when I've screwed up a pattern, and will just walk in time to the music, then continue on. I've done this at competitions, during show routines, at social dances, and so on. It's kind of a variation of, "Fake it til you make it."

I miss Pete. Long story short, he needed to have both his hips replaced, and to afford it, he sold the studio. Hence, the end of Crystal Ballroom. Fortunately, there is Take the Lead.

More and more nowadays, I find myself losing myself in the music, in the dance, feeling free and alive, technique and steps coming naturally, grinning ear-to-ear, with this skill and feeling that no one can ever take away from me. And right now, I'm sure as hell. My knee and ankle are screaming, though surprisingly, I can walk, and without limping. The weather weakened both, but, they held up tonight. But my arms and back are feeling like they had a good workout, too. Weather-permitting, I'll be doing this again next weekend.

But tonight, I really needed it. One of the other regulars, Lydia, has described the weekly social dances as medicine. Medicine for the soul. And...she's right. Troubles at work, ghosts from the past... They vanish when I'm dancing. And tonight... Old ghosts were banished from my mind. The past went back to the past as I found what I needed to ground myself into the present. I'm not the person I was. I'm much better, much more interesting, than that.

One of these days, I'll use the digital transfer station at work and transfer my old videotapes of me and my partners competing to a digital format that I can upload to YouTube and show you all. As well as making new videos.

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Alas, it is the end of another calendar year. A universal measuring stick. I've been somewhat contemplative the past few days, and I have also realized that I do this on the annual day I celebrate my birth onto this ball that circles the sun.

In reality, I guess we're all constantly self-evaluating and self-improving. Even if it's evaluating how much of an asshole we've been in the past year and how much more of an asshole we can be in the next year. Eh, it's all good.

As for me... I just set goals and such. Reading goals, writing goals, financial goals, project goals... A year ago, I was hoping to have a sellable novel by this point. Well, instead, I have improved my writing a little, and I'm giving serious thought to looking up some markets and seeing if I can sell "Christmas Spirit" to a magazine or anthology for Christmas 2014. Not quite was I was originally angling for, but, hey, it's a start. I at least have enough confidence in it to make the effort.

Tonight will likely be a quiet night. My sister and brother-in-law are over for dinner. I have an invite to a party later on, but, I'm not feeling entirely social, so, I think I'm going to skip out on it this year. I can't see feeling lonely out in public when I can be lonely at home, so, yeah. Maybe I'll get a little more reading done.

Speaking of reading...

Here's what I read in 2013... )

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Alas, it is Caturday. I have had a productive day. I got most of the housework done. Things like cat boxes and bird cages and whatnot. I'm sitting here realizing that I've only got five days left of my break. It doesn't seem like long enough. At the same time, I was actually glad to have some stuff to do today. It gave my day a little more structure than what I've had the past few days.

That's the thing with this big Christmas/New Years break - The first half of it is so busy with last-minute Christmas prep, and then...nothing. I had hoped this would give me some extra time for reading and writing, but I was so exhausted from...everything...afterwards that I just plain didn't have the mental energy needed for jumping into writing. I'm just about back to my normal level of reading, though.

I'm working on closing out files for 2013 and starting files for 2014. I sincerely hope 2014 is a better year. Granted, 2013 was off to a rough start, largely with the problems at work and with the car needing a transmission overhaul. And no one's said boo to me at work since March, and the car is doing well with new tires and the new blower motor. In 2014, I need to get the windshield replaced, and then it'll be due for inspection at the end of the summer. Joy. Between now and then, I'm hoping to maybe at least patch the hole with something. Doct tape, maybe. And continue to use that rust inhibitor and maybe get some spray-on car paint to deal with some of the worst rust blemishes and see if that doesn't improve the appearance enough that the State inspectors won't actively try to fail it again this year.

Financially, I'm about where I was a year ago. Maybe a little bit better, since what I still owe Gary for the tires is less than what I owed him for the engine at this point a year ago. The only other roblem with the car I see in the immediate future is needing to replace the power window motors. The one on the passenger side has been dead for over a year, but I don't think I need it to pass inspection. The one on the driver's side still works, and I need it to work in general, what with needing to put it up and down every time I park my car in the garage on campus. Fortunately, it's only a $200-$300 repair, if need be.

I'm also hoping to be able to see my optmetrist and get contact lenses again.

Oh, and I'll still need to get money set aside for Minerva and her $600 dental work that she needs.

In other news... I've noticed my sleep has been better this break. Usually, I fall into a habit of staying up until 4 or 5 in the morning during the break and sleeping in until noon. This year, I've been waking up around nine or so and going to bed at my "normal" time. I'm thinking the androderm patches are having some luck in regulating my sleep/wake cycle a bit better. My energy is a little better, though my back is still giving me problems. I'm not devouring Christmas cookies like I was at the beginning of the break. I don't think I've gained more than a pound. With the energy level being a little better, I'm getting antsy. Thing is, I have so many little, organizational projects, my biggest problem is picking a place to start and just...starting. I'm not yet freaking out over the fact that my break is more than half over, but, depending on what I get done in the next day or so will determine how much I freak out on Wednesday.

I'm also trying to finish up a few books before the end of the year. Especially Neal Stephenson's Anathem. I liked he beginning of it, and I'm liking the end of it. The middle kind of lost me in a few places, but things started making sense at the end. Next up is Reamde, by the same author. Stephenson tends to write near 1000 page tomes, and part of wanting to get through these books is the fact that they're heavy to carry around. I mean, I got Reamde about a month before I got my Kindle. Anything else he writes will go on the Kindle.

Did I mention how I wrote about 17k words from early October through mid-December? I...haven't written that much in a long, long time. But now, I need to work on outlines, which is maybe a little harder to measure than actually writing a story, since word count is useless (for me, anyway) and I'm looking more at how many scenes I map out. But I'm still fleshing out settings and such. I've also found some security in giving myself "permission" to sketch physical scenes, such as rooms, to help myself better visualize elements of a story. And then I'll go ahead and describe those scenes. Because I don't think any of you wants to be subjected to my drawing tragedies.

Looking ahead... I'm hoping I'll at least continue dancing regularly in 2014. Part of me is tempted to start taking lessons again as soon as I pay off Gary, but, responsibility sets in, and I'll likely use that money to pay off other debts and to save for any other emergencies. I'm hoping I can get into a routine or, maybe more accurately, a rhythm with regards to outlining/mapping stories.

Oh, and a big THANK YOU to everyone who actually took the time to read "Terminator:East" and "Christmas Spirit" and comment on them. Such commenting boosts my morale and encourages me to keep writing.

On a final note... I watched the Original Trek episode "Dagger of the Mind" today with Rocky and Yoda. It's about as close to a Star Trek Christmas episode as we get. And maybe I should be...concerned...that Rocky and Yoda had their own running commentary as we were watching it.

More later...

Posted at LiveJournal and Dreamwidth.
wookiemonster: (Default)
I haven't really posted much on Facebook today. People have been pissing me off.

Item I: Furkids.
There seem to be a growing number of people who take exception to people like me calling their pets "kids" or "furkids" or whatever. Or especially, referring to themselves as a "pet parent." Because I like Jackson Galaxy, and because the term "cat daddy" has been working its way into the lexicon, perhaps to refer to the male counterpart of "cat lady," I'm okay with being a "cat daddy." Rocky, you'll note, refers to me on his page as "hoomin." I don't think of him as my "son." But he is like a kid for me. I'm not likely to have kids of my own at this point (hell, I'm not likely to ever get married, and I'll be lucky if I ever even get another date, so, yeah), and so, yeah, Rocky (and Minerva and Yoda and Riffy) gives me someone to dote on, be proud of, look forward to seeing, play kiddie games with, and so on.

Some people say that the purpose of a parent is to guide their offspring into a self-sufficient adulthood. Since we're getting pissy about nomenclature, then are parents who have children with disabilities such as severe down syndrome or a handicap that prevents them from self-sufficiency then not really parents? Normally, I'd agree with the general definition of parenthood, but, again, people are taking offense to people not being happy with referring to their pets as mere property.

Aside: People who say, "I love my pets, but I'd get rid of them in a heartbeat, they're not my kids," and so on... Once the qualifier "but" is in there, then I mentally read/hear, "I love my car, but I'd get rid of it in a heartbeat if I had financial difficulties and couldn't support it" and so on. Here's the thing: the car doesn't feel pain, can't suffer, doesn't feel abandoned, and so on. Trust me: I've had Cammie for awhile now, with a cracked windshield for a little over a year now and a rusted out hole on the passenger side for a few years now. Considering the BMWs I dust routinely, Cammie's not suffering.

But the difficulties we had with Rocky initially were because he did feel abandoned. Minerva's shyness issues are because she did feel abandoned. Yoda's couple of years of terror were because he did suffer loss. Pets are not just idle curiosities to be acquired and then discarded when they get old or fail to entertain or become an actual responsibility. I can't adopt every single homeless cat, dog, bird, or whatever out there and clean up the mess that this mindset has created.

I also know several people who have service animals, be they seeing eye dogs or for people who are paraplegics and so on. These are trained, intelligent animals who have more compassion and sense of purpose than the average person I trip over when I leave the house anymore. The only reason they haven't taken over the world and treated us as shitty as we've treated them is because (1) they're too nice and (2) opposable thumbs.

Now, I'll do one better than these people so upset at us "pet parents." Let's come to a compromise, which has been unheard of in these circles: pet guardian. It doesn't have that ownership concept some of us object to, since we know were owned, or even pwned, by our pets, and it's not a perceived belittling of human parents.

Yes, I know I don't have to send Rocky to college or prepare him to survive in the world on his own. I also can't put him on my insurance or deduct him on my taxes. Hell, I can't even get paperwork designating him as a service animal, though his diligence on getting me up in time for work has saved my job and thus allowed me a degree of self-sufficiency and "normalcy." In addition, I have to put up with people who can't or refuse to acknowledge that there just might be an ineffable bond between me and him.

Item II: Military people overseas not able to be home with their families.
I had someone actually state that they didn't feel any sympathy for servicemen and servicewomen overseas unable to be with their families for the holidays because they signed up for that job. And a lot of people commented in support of them with obvious disdain for the military. Now, leaving aside political slants that America has become an invading country and such, fact is, yeah, these people volunteered for the job. But it's a job that needs doing. Leaving out Afghanistan and other hot spots, we still have bases and embassies around the world. Why? Because a successful military needs military readiness. And not just readiness for war. One of the main reasons our military is spread so thin is because, like an idiot, America engages in humanitarian aid throughout the world, no matter how much other people hate us. We're dropping food and medicines all over the place because it's the right thing to do. We're usually the first on scene to help out after a major earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, and so on. And think before you say something stupid like, "We shouldn't be throwing our resources to help other countries" or some variant thereof. This is about helping people in need.

Now, leaving aside all that... I wonder if this person, these people, also have no sympathy for fire fighters on call, EMS personnel, emergency room doctors and nurses, power plant operators and engineers, and so on, who can't be home with their families for the holidays. I mean, they also signed up for those jobs. Fact is, we don't live in a bubble where everything is magically taken care of. We live on a planet and because we want to light up our Christmas trees and watch the new years ball on TV and want our beverages chilled and our food cooked and not have someone loot our house, then people have to work on holidays. Military and civilian. Doesn't mean they don't miss their family and loved ones, as is human nature most of the time. Get over yourself and have a heart and be damn thankful there are people willing to make that sacrifice to make sure the world doesn't just...collapse.

All of this is probably less eloquent and detailed than I would like. I'm just...disappointed in the people making these statements. And in other statements, but, I'm still under the weather, so, I'm trying to keep this all short. Too late, I know. As a lonely person, I know what it's like to not have anyone to spend the holidays with, other than my cat, and to hear people saying they don't have sympathy for those who might be lonely because they're in the military or to piss on me for valuing my cat so highly because he's one of the few things I have... Yeah, bite me.
wookiemonster: (Default)
HAPPY BIRFDAY [personal profile] mrs_tribble AND [profile] sophiabrat!!!

High-speed, low-budget post...

I have slept a LOT over the past two days. But then last night, I started getting some stuff done. Checking in comics and so on. This weekend is a "light" chore weekend, with only laundry and cat boxes and such to worry about. But I am hoping to at least get the outdoor lights up while we have some above-freezing temperatures during the day. I might run an errand or two this afternoon as well.

I have to say Thanksgiving was rather enjoyable this year. I ate way too much, though, despite efforts to pace myself. I've been surprisingly restrained with leftovers, though.

Yesterday was a day of errands. With the deposit of my paycheck, I paid several bills and then went to the vet to get another ampule of insulin for Rocky. Kid should have enough insulin and syringes to get us through Christmas and New Years.

I haven't done any writing since Tuesday. I'm hoping that I'll get some done tomorrow, if not tonight.

On the bright side, "Christmas Spirit" is up to 7170 words...

And, since I worked on "Star Wars: Escape" this month...

Actually, it may be closer to done than the meter shows. Unless I decide to combine the second story idea into the first story, which would be do-able.

Everything else still needs some serious outlining.

And then the reading update... )
Posted at LiveJournal and Dreamwidth

Anyway, more later...
wookiemonster: (Default)

Apologies for this being a little pic-heavy, but, I think the day kind of warrants it...

So, I was awoken a little after 9:30 this morning by a very upset cat. Rocky was very aggressive in waking me up, even though I had turned off my alarm for work before bed last night. I had to tell him several times that it was a holiday and I didn't need to go to work today before he started to calm down. Thus, I am thankful that I have a cat that looks out for me, even when he wakes me up "early" on holidays.

I am thankful I still have a job, especially after all the bullshit I had to deal with at the beginning of the year. I am thankful that my health has improved a little over the last several months. I am thankful that, even though Rocky's diabetes came back, he is still healthy, and the other fur and feathered kids are doing well.

I am thankful that I have to drive all of 2.5 miles (5 minutes) down the road to my sister's for Thanksgiving, and that the path isn't right outside any stores or anything.

I am thankful that my Christmas shopping is done already. Hah!

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HAPPY BIRFDAY [profile] dr_nebula!!

Weekend chores are just about done. Last load is in the dryer, will be done soon, and will then be folded and put away. Lunch stuff is all ready to go.

I slept through a good chunk of today. Meh. I figure I must have needed it. On the bright side, my allergies are a mild annoyance, not even requiring medication right now.

Rocky was cute last night. As I was falling asleep, I was aware of him petting my face and booping my nose. He's very reciprocative.

Dinner in a little bit. Mom's making chicken parmigiana and spaghetti. The over to my seester's house for cake and ice cream in honor of my brother-in-law's natal day.

Anyway, as I am short on time, no comics, but a few web things here...

Dogs are People, Too. Dogs undergo MRI scans and show similar scans to humans.

Elephant spontaneously joins in piano playing. I like how the elephant bobs his head, too.

Posted at LiveJournal and Dreamwidth
wookiemonster: (Default)
Allergies are doing a little better today.

First, let me back up to yesterday. At 2, I raised the white flag and left, using sick time to cover the remaining few hours of the afternoon. Meanwhile, my back was getting worse, so, I stopped home, changed, had a snack, then went back out. Yup, thoracic and lumbar back was pretty fubared. Stopped at the pharmacy on the way home to get more Coracidin. Amazingly, I haven't needed it since last night. Still, 'tis better to have it on hand.

Got home and slept like the dead for about 4 hours. Woke up, had a late dinner, did some reading, then back to sleep.

This morning, I puttered around a bit, got a few odds and ends done, then took a four or five hour nap. Woke up feeling better. Indeed, the congestion is quite mild at the moment. Fortunately, this is a lite-chore weekend, so, I don't feel so bad for having slept the day away. In fact, I just need to shave and shower, take care of a few more little odds and ends, then off to dance I go. Thanks to the improvement, I'm good to go dancing tonight.

Rocky stuck with me pretty closely last night. Today... Well, he's checked in on me, but has been busy running the house. Though he got me up a little bit ago because it was (his) dinner time.

So, not much to report, other than I have been convalescing, and that Rocky still has the equivalent of a Harley engine when he purrs.

Comics )
Posted at LiveJournal and Dreamwidth
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