Monday, July 23, 2007

Finished Man of all School

So a few weeks ago, N heard that cousing Ben had finished school. Entirely. No more collegel, no more classes ever! Nate, in first grade, could hardly believe it. It was as if a new paradigm had burst forth upon his unprepared conciosness.... that there was an End to school, a light at then end of the teacher and test filled tunnel. N didn't know what to say, being so overcome that Ben had actually finished school, and he could only stammer out.. "You mean... he's .... he's a.... Finished man of All School???"

We thought it was a great phrase, so we had a t-shirt made up for Ben, who wears it every day in an attempt to get hot chicks with it. This old Hollowell day, Molly had Auntie Cate make up this shirt for N.
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Sunday, July 15, 2007


Nice beach day yesterday. We picked up a free bed liner for the new truck (doesn't quite fit) in Harpswell and found a nearby beach that had a very cool island that was accessable at low tide.. lots of nooks and crannies to explore. The kids loved it, we had fried clams on the way home, and the kids fell asleep as soon as we got back home. It was a very nice day.
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Friday, July 06, 2007

New truck!

Well, I traded in the old Audi A6 and the Mazda B3000 truck and $900 for a 1998 Ford F-150. It's an amazing deal, I haven't seen one that fit my needs so exactly. It's a 3 door, extended cab, 4x4, (electronic), power everything, loaded, full length bed, and in decent shape, all for around $8000!

I'm very excited, Molly likes it, we put the whole family in it and were quite comfortable.

So, the first day of ownership of my new truck, toward the end of the day I decide to take my kids out for a ride in it. 6 Miles away, there is a dirt logging road that goes to some disused gravel pits and logging areas. We tool on over there and drive down the road.

After a while, I get to a section that for some reason is covered in soft sand, looks pretty deep. I chuck it into 4WD, drive though, and take it out back into 2wd. Suddenly, the cabin... starts to stink. Real bad, like. A definite organic smell, not mechanical. The smell got worse and worse, the kids started gagging and holding thier noses. I rolled down the window, and was hit with a solid wall of stench. Rolled it right back up!

The smell... it was almost like really fresh dog shit from a dog suffering from a long, terrible disease, but worse. It was like shit that had died. It was like fresh dog shit that had somehow aquired a corporeal body, and gotten morbidly obese, contracted leprosy, and rotted, while living, until it finally died in a bubbling miasma of shit and rotted flesh, and then that mess putrefied in the hot sun for a day or so. It was a bad, bad smell. I actually wondered if the car was cursed, Amityville Horror-style, and the stench was an evil spirit about to warn us to "geeet ooouuuutt"

We hightailed it out of there as fast as we could, me thinking the forest had suddenly started to stink, but as we kept going I realized that we had probably run over something... nasty. Aftre 5 minutes of all of us breathing through our shirts trying to not choke or throw up, I pulled over to check the tires and wheel wells. Each one stunk a lot, some more than others, I don't know exactly which, my mind was in a state of disconnected horror. I tell you, it took all of my dedicated fatherhood to not abandon the kids, truck and all right there just so I could get a little fresh air. I didn't see any actual evidence of anything other than some moisture on random underside parts.

Anyway, after some experimentation I found out that the stink had not hit the vent intakes, so I could run fresh air through the cabin and keep the windows closed, and inside eventually got normal-smelling. I decided to find a car wash that had some kind of underside wash, fired up the Garmin, which led us, literally, on a 70 mile goose chase of nonexistent car washes until Mrz Jamz called up wondering where the blue blazing fuck we were, and told me that there was a car wash a mile or so from where we were. Oh, and that we had passed one a couple miles away from the logging road.

The car wash didn't help much, by the way, but all the driving did. Smell went away aftre a couple of days.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Nice weekend

We went to go see Dr. Bob about N's recurrent ear and sinus infections. He talked us out of having the Tonsil and tube surgery, based on the suffering he'd encounter during the recovery, and we convinced N to get tubes in right in the chair! He cried a bit from fear, but was otherwise very brave for a 7 year old getting a bit of invasive surgery done.

He offered to do mine as well, but I want to swim this summer without dealing with earplugs. I'll get it done in the fall.

Sunday, I took most of the day to take the snowblower off the lawn tractor, and sharpen and clean the mowing deck. Installed it, and decided to mow the lawn without bagging it, just as an experiment. When you don't have to stop every few passes to empty the bins, it goes a whole lot quicker! I did the whole lawn in just a couple of hours!

M did a lot of gardening, and the front garden looks really nice.

Monday, April 02, 2007

What a great day for financial disaster

Ugh. M's car died at the side of the road on Friday, necessitating a cab ride and a tow back home. I figure it is the alternator, or some other part of the battery charging mechanism. (Note to self: check the cables) So, it being that the truck is not inspected, we were down to one car.

We decided to get the truck inspected as it would probably be cheaper than fixing the Volvo, so I bring it to Sears. Three hours later, they show me the remains of the entire rear brake and drum assembly. It just fell apart while they were taking the drums off. It was held together by rust, they said. Also, the front brake hoses needed replacing. The total for this and some other work came to $850. Which we don't have.

So I told them to do the rear work, and I would do the front work myself, which brought the price down to $550 or so, which we also didn't have, but it was less. Four hours later, they report that the main brake line between the front and read setups exploded while they were re-bleeding the system after replacing the rear brakes. They have to replace that as well they say.

All in all, I was at Sears, waiting around, poking about the mall for 7 or 8 hours. Depressing way to spend the day, especially because I had been away at work (Springfield) for the past 3 days and the kids really really missed me and I them.

I had promised to spend all day playing with them.

So I tell them that I will come back Sunday, and call M in for a rescue. We go home, more or less just in time for bed.

Sunday we go in, and I planned to use my Sears credit card to pay for it all. Evil surprise, it has an extrordinarily low limit. so I put $350 on it, and we go back home with no truck.

Monday comes, and I gather the credit card that I had JUST paid off entirely. We go to Sears again, and the card is declined. I call the company, and apparently the card was shut off back in Spetember. Why do they not say this over the phone?

So, we go to the spare bank, and take out whatever is left. $200. I figure with the $200 in cash, I can put the remaining $350 on the NRA card, which I left at home. We go home, no truck.

We go back later in the afternoon, after I ensure a good balance available by calling the CC company twice. I plonk down the $200, and I try to put the rest on the card. Declined. I call them, and they say that the payment is late, so the card is dead. Why, again, do they not say this over the phone?

I say fuck it, I'm not coming back here again, and put it all on the work credit card. I'll explain to them later.

So now, we have no cash money, the CC is almost maxed (at it's low $1000 limit) but at least we have two operable cars.

I do hope the tax returns are good this year.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A short list of things about my life


sailed to Bermuda

gone wreck diving

had to escape a burning apartment building using the fire escape

shot a machine gun

owned and rode a few motorcycles

more to follow

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Well, I just lost about a year off my life...

I took N (7 years old) karting today for the first time. He is tall enough to fit into the "junior" karts, which are similar to adult karts but fit for kids. He did one race in the Kids Karts, which were quite slow, and I got some video of it. He kept spinning the kids kart. We decided to do a father/son race with the real karts, me in a regular kart and him in a Junior kart. We originally planned, and asked for, a session with just the two of us out there so he could get used to the speed and handling of these big karts, but we ended up racing with a bunch of father/son combos, and there were maybe 5 adults and two other older kids on the track.

We race around for a while, and it was tough on him getting used to the kart while surrounded by a bunch of aggressive adults, but he was doing pretty well until he and a bunch of cars all went into a tight turn at the same time. He got pushed into the wall, and hit hard enough to wedge the front of the kart under the barrier. I was right behind him, but going way to fast to stop, and besides, no one gets hurt in karting.

A couple seconds later, after the hairpin, I can look back and all I see is his little helmet slumped against the wheel, and he isn't moving. The yellow flag is out, but I get worried that he wasn't moving, so I start passing cars, going down the straight. By the time I turn and can look again, his head is still slumped over and he still isn't moving. They motion for all the karts to stop, but I blast past them and stop next to my son's kart, where his head is still slumped forward and he still isn't moving. The spectators are waving sort of frantically for the employees to come. Unwelcome visions of Dale Ernhardt and Adam Petty come to mind.

By the time it takes me to throw off my glasses, neck brace, helmet, look down and undo the unfamiliar buckle arrangement and window net, and take off the steering wheel to get out, he still isn't moving. I was doing some heavy praying during this time, as workers come from all over and surround his kart.

As I run over to him, I see him moving a bit, and his head coming back from the wheel.

As it turn out, the impact had stuck his helmet into the steering wheel and somehow wedged it there! Scary for him, because he couldn't raise his head up until it was dislodged, but he was not hurt at all- just scared. Probably not as scared as I was though. No one at the track had ever heard of the helmet getting stuck on the steering wheel before, but I guess we do things first.

He wants to go back, and I'm going to make sure it's just him and me on the track (which was our original plan) till he gets more used to it.