ruminations on october, and the imminent onset of middle age.

It’s October! That’s my favorite month of the year for various reasons.

It’s New England autumn, which is the best place and season combination anywhere. The first frosts of the year kill off the last of the bugs, and there are falling leaves and pumpkins and long drives on country roads through forests that are so bright with color, it’s like nature showing off its entire sixteen trillion Pantone shades available in PlanetShop Pro. We have the pellet stove going (the dogs greatly approve), there’s apple cider in the fridge, and the farm stand out on 4A has those little homemade cider donuts that are terribly easy to eat by the dozen.

Then there’s my birthday at the end of the month, of course.

I was a bit ambiguous about this one, being the big four-oh and all. But the other day I was talking to an old friend from Germany, and I mentioned that I was dreading the 40th just a little. I mean, it’s the onset of middle age, and I don’t even have the cash yet for the Corvette I’m supposed to be buying for my midlife crisis, and how am I supposed to cruise up and down the street in front of the all-girls college with a dirty minivan that has old McDonald’s fries permanently incorporated in the interior?

Well, my friend recently lost his sister to cancer. She was a year younger than I am now. We lived on the same street, so we knew each other pretty well, although I hadn’t seen or spoken to her in fifteen years or so. She left behind a husband and two daughters that are barely teenagers. When I told him about dreading my 40th birthday a bit, he cut right through my silly little bout of self-pity.

"Don’t," he said. "Be happy instead. My sister would have loved to turn 40."

And you know what? He’s absolutely right. There’s not a damn thing wrong with my life. I have an awesome wife and two healthy and happy kids, we have food in the fridge, the bills get paid, the house is ours, and I get to do what I’ve always wanted to do with my life. (Actually, I suspect writing is the only thing I’m fit for, seeing how I’m not a huge fan of manual labor and the thought of returning to corporate Cubicleville makes me break out in hives.)

So bring it on, 40. I’m looking forward to the next decade. If things keep falling into place like they have in my Thirties, my Forties are going to kick major ass.


tuesday randomosity.

Pup #1 went with his new family yesterday. He will be living in New York state, in a household with other dachshunds. His new owners named him “Rocket”.

Pup #2, Arthur, did OK by himself until this morning around 3AM when he started howling and barking…and kept up the ruckus for what felt like the better part of an hour. It’s amazing how a dog that small can crank out a racket that loud. As a result, Robin and I got a few hours less sleep than usual, so I was dragging a bit this morning. Arthur won’t be going to his new home until October, and I sincerely hope the little shit won’t repeat that performance every night until then. If he does, I’ll have to buy artillery-grade earplugs.

We’re going to the Scottish Highland Games in Lincoln, NH this coming weekend. We went last year and liked it so much that we put in a reservation for this year as well. I’ll be wearing a kilt at the Tartan Ball Dinner & Dance, but with some luck, there won’t be any incriminating photographic evidence of the event. I also have tickets for the Scotch tasting on Saturday, so there’s a built-in good time right there.

The last few months have been all go-go-go, but with the onset of the fall I feel like I’m getting my equilibrium back. There’s still plenty of work to do to get the Castle ready for the winter, and there’s always writing work on my plate, but it doesn’t feel like rolling a millstone uphill anymore. I’m probably weird in that respect, but I don’t care much for the summer. Too hot, too many bugs, lawn that needs mowing every week…no sir, give me a crisp New England autumn instead. For my money, it could be late September weather all year long, but then just about everyone would want to live here.

How’s that for a diary-type entry? I need to keep that kind of stuff in check, lest they kick me off WordPress and make me switch to LiveJournal…

thursday randomosity.

Random bullet points from the ongoing week of My Exciting Life!™:

  • The snow is gone just about everywhere in the area, EXCEPT OUR PROPERTY. I’m not even kidding—we’re like Garfield’s little house in the suburbs that’s the only one with a cloud above it. There’s no other property on the way to town that has any white stuff left on it. The snow plow guy said it’s something about the location of the property, which sits on an east-facing slope at the eastern edge of town. It looks like we bought a patch of land that is to snow what a litter box is to cat poop.
  • The new DSL is working great, except when it drops the PPP connection. That happened about six times on Day 1, twice on Day 2, and only once yesterday, and it never takes more than a few minutes for the modem to reconnect to the Great Link, but it’s still annoying. The telco is sending out a tech on Friday to wave dead poultry and light black candles over the line, and we’ll see how it goes from there. Other than that, it’s a huge increase in bandwidth—exactly three times faster than the WISP we’ve been using, and really low-latency. I’ve been dusting off my first-person online shooters again (helloooo again, Battlefield 2 and Team Fortress 2), and even though I don’t have a ton of time to play them, it’s nice to know that I once again have the option of a quick round of BOOM HEDSHOT when I need a bit of stress relief.
  • Also much improved: Skype and Netflix streaming video. I can actually use the Interskypes properly now, although I haven’t done any extensive testing due to the fact that NONE OF MY SKYPE CONTACTS ARE EVER ONLINE. If you’re one of them, and you see me online, feel free to hit me up for a quick palaver, so I can test the DSL line some more. Robin will need to use Skype from home for professional reasons soon, and I want to make sure everything works hunky-dory.
  • The annual rite known as the Cleaning of the Spring is in progress here at the Castle. I just finished excavating the playroom, and found toys with Neanderthal teeth marks in them. Next up: cleaning the battlewagon, and swapping out the snowblower with the lawnmower.
  • Wanna see a random artifact from my childhood? A friend reminded me of a kids’ cartoon from 1970s Germany, Vicky the Viking, and I was able to recall most of the theme song, even though I haven’t watched that show since I was in elementary school. Here’s the title song from the start of the show (in German.) You want to take a freaky trip down Memory Lane, look up the shows you used to watch as a kid. Seeing those visuals again after three decades really made my brain do a double-take. It’s a funky sort of déjà vu.
  • If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?

seven years of living among the injuns.

This year will mark the seventh anniversary of my naturalization at the federal courthouse in Chattanooga. I still get this little rush every time I have an occasion to affirm my nationality–checking off “United States of America” for citizenship on a 4473, for example, or acknowledging verbally that I am an American citizen.

I did it for the first time the day I got back from the courthouse with my naturalization certificate in hand, and went straight to the town clerk’s office to register to vote and apply for a passport. So far, it hasn’t lost its thrill.

I’m not a dual citizen, by the way. According to Germany’s new citizenship rules, you have to file a formal application to keep your German citizenship when you acquire a foreign one. I didn’t have the necessary inheritance or business interests in Germany, and I didn’t want to waste the non-refundable 200-some Euro fee, so I never bothered filing the application. I still have a German passport in a drawer somewhere, but legally speaking, it’s no longer valid. If I want to visit the country of my birth for more than three months, I have to get a visa, which is kind of a weird feeling.

(The post title isn’t actually accurate–I’ve been living among the Injuns for fifteen years now. I learned their tongue, and showed great prowess in the buffalo hunt, so they made me a full member of the tribe seven years ago.)

pet peeves, part #29911.

One day a week, I get to take a break from parenting and go out on what I call my “Dadcations”.  I usually leave the house after breakfast and stay out until after lunch.  This is when I go to the bookstore to browse for new stuff and sit down in the bookstore’s café to scribble a thousand words or so.

Since I go there on the same day more or less at the same time, I tend to see the same faces in the bookstore café.  One of them is a woman who mildly ticks me off every time I see her.  Without fail, she’ll occupy the same table, set up her humongous laptop, and then proceed to use the café’s free WiFi while eating a bag breakfast she clearly bought somewhere else.  Everyone in the café has at least a $2 coffee in front of them, but this lady has never, to my knowledge, patronized the café where she’s making use of their space, electricity, and bandwidth.  Instead, she carries in a bag from Mickey D’s or Wendy’s, complete with 32-ounce large drink.

Am I somehow unreasonably sensitive about this?  It just strikes me as incredibly rude to be taking up resources of a business without actually subsidizing the availability of those resources with the purchase of at least a stinking two-dollar cup of coffee.

personal grooming II: the beardination.

Boy, the webcam on the little Asus Eee is really nothing to write home about.

Here’s a shot from two weeks ago–mop-like hair and usual three-to-five-day scruffiness, about to unlock the Caffeination achievement:

And here’s this morning, hair short again, and with the most facial hair I’ve ever sported:

I’ve never had the patience to let the beard grow past the “ZOMG I can’t take the itchy anymore!” stage, so this is a new experience.  Not sure if I’m going to keep it, though…there’s a disturbing amount of grey in that beard.