A 30-Day Farewell To Al Roker

A part of my morning ritual is no more. Hasn’t been for just over a week. I thought I might miss that part and reverse my decision. I have not. Monday thru Friday upon waking I turned on the Today show to watch Al Roker. Al Roker put a smile on my face; he is a funny man and if you know me I like genuine, funny people. Unfortunately two things happened…

  1. Al Roker is on the Today show less and less for the period leading up to number two.
  2. We receive notification that our combined cable package (cable, internet, and oddly enough a phone) is going up in price by close to 50 dollars. What!

It did not take longer than 5 minutes to decide to get rid of cable and the phone. I have no clue why a home phone line is included in the package. No clue. We never had a home phone installed. How hard was it to get rid of cable? Here is how much cable we watched during a week:

  1. An hour, maybe two, in the morning watch Al Roker on the Today show. No Al Roker, no watch.
  2. An hour of news, half-hour of local and world. Two things here, I read a lot of news which would lead to me NOT turning on local or world news because here at least they read news instead of reporting the news. The other thing, why is the world news only a half-hour? There is a lot of world to report on and a lot of what happens in the world affects us and vice versa.
  3. An hour of game shows, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy when I did not immediately turn off cable after world news.

Add that up and at most during a day cable was on for 4 hours. Four hours! What is our television used for if not for non-stop cable? Movies, video games, and dust collector. TV’s collect a lot of dust. Where is the dust device on televisions? A device that either instantly cleans dust on televisions or turns dust into something useful…such as…well I don’t know what; better minds than mine can figure it out.

What happens when you go to turn your cable off here? The salesperson behind the counter was incredulous, “Why would I NOT want cable?” Not wanting the phone made sense. Not wanting cable borders on heresy. However, when you explain how much you watch cable…didn’t really improve the look of “What is wrong with you?” Dropping my love of watching Al Roker in the morning did improve things.

Turns out I am not alone in watching Al Roker because he puts smiles on faces. That being said, “Why am I not watching more cable?” The visit to turn off cable ends like this, after taking back their equipment, confirming we still have internet, a much lower monthly bill, the salesperson says, “Excellent, before you leave, I want you to know in 30-days time you can come back and get the introduction package and price again for a year.”

Baffled I ask, “I wait 30-days and I get everything I just gave you back cheaper?”

“Yes.”

“Then at the end of a year, I can repeat this?”

“Yes.”

And people think not having cable is crazy.

Summer Vacation Nearing The End

School for the children is soon and I am looking forward to them going back to school. I say that now and I know that a few months after Christmas I will once again complain that the children are not getting enough time to be children and play games with the family. However, that being said, right now I am close to being very over summer vacation.

I figured once I graduated I would have all the time in the world to write and in a way I do. Unless you count the children who have a very nasty and irritating habit of interrupting my writing time, unless I am working on a blog such as this one. Seems they no problem letting me write about them, parenting, games, and life. But the second I even think about writing Puddles and Whiskers or anything that requires thought and potential they have something that needs my attention or a distraction or…fuck all just being kids.

Any guess what time of day or night I write Puddles and Whiskers? Your guess and the actual time may explain a few things about Puddles and Whiskers drafts that appear here. I’ll wait while you guess…

….

..

.

Who said 1am?

Anyone?

If you guessed 1am you are correct and you have an idea why sometimes Puddles and Whiskers was written by a very tired individual. Unfortunately that is my time to write anything serious while they are on summer vacation and I have had about enough.

Other than the writing, fighting, work ethic (currently our boy only, hopefully not infectious), and general inability to entertain themselves as much as I would like I love having the kids home. The amount of fun we have had between the above list 🙂 is staggering. Summer vacation, at least this one, has been busy doing stuff we as a family have not been able to do for over a decade and watching them grow is amazing.

When we first moved in, late last August, we got to see a hint of what they would do with almost 2 acres. This summer more bike riding, more running around, toss in a sprinkler-the fun they have had with spraying water was worth the price of the sprinkler-attempting to fly kites, attempting to fly a drone, driving a remote controlled truck, disc golf, frisbee (NOT disc golf as our girl routinely “yells” at me), discovering what is at the center of a golf ball, the various bugs, bird feeder, chipmunks, and everything else not on the list.

They took to outside and have not looked back, for the most part. Until last year they never had a yard to do anything in and right after we moved in they went to school, thus play time outside very limited. Which why other than my very small list of complaints and who doesn’t like to read the adventures of two cats written by someone at 1 am this summer vacation has been one of the best times of this parent’s life.

Sometimes Parenting Sucks

My son has a shitty attitude towards work.

I know he is a pre-teen, boy, whateverhisgenerationiscalled, and I am his parent, old, male, and whatevermygenerationiscalled.

Those labels do not change the fact that his attitude towards work of any kind is shitty, horrible, abysmal, and any other adjectives that describe a less than ideal state.

Among the many things I have tried to instill in both of our children, having a work ethic is one of them; near the top but not at the top of the list. I want them to understand and embraces that when there is work to do you do the work to the best of your abilities and then you play.

“I hate work.”

“I don’t see the point in doing (insert job) because it will just (insert words for return to current state).”

This attitude among many other fun sentences uttered by our boy covers anything. I mean anything…

  • he enjoys painting but when he thinks of painting as work, “Screw this.”
  • he says he enjoys playing the trombone, something he has not done all summer, “It’s work.”
  • he says he enjoys creating games, but when asked to write down the rules for all us, “Ugh, I hate writing.”
  • put away his clothes, “Why they’ll just end up in the laundry again.” He said this where Barb heard, suffice to say he won’t ever say that out loud again.
  • fold towels, dry the dishes (he doesn’t wash that is our girl’s job), clean up anything, and so on.

I know, this is a phase. He will grow out of it.

What if he doesn’t?

Seriously ponder that.

What if he does not grow out of this shitty work ethic?

That more than anything else is what causes me concern. I know people my age who have shitty similar to our boy’s work ethic and you know what they do? Nothing important, nothing interesting, nothing that provides them with a living, and sure as hell nothing that makes them happy.

I’d like for him to avoid the fate of working in a party store for the rest of his life. He won’t work in fast food because if you have ever worked fast food there is work involved and lots people yelling at you because you are not doing your work. It’s crappy food people you can wait a minute…no you cannot, thus if this attitude keeps up he will not be in fast food. He will be that person behind the register at every party store who could care less about what you want as long as you go away and don’t make him push buttons or bag your shit.

There is time. There are plenty of positive examples around him. I keep the people with equally shitty work ethic away from the children. Crossing my fingers that many years from now I am writing a blog about how both of our children are doing great things or at least things that make them happy and not about how I brought fried chicken to the one child in jail made by the other child at the party store.

Parenting sucks sometimes.

Blame the Slimes

Well look at the time…

I got distracted ranching slimes.

Take a moment.

Yes, you read that right.

Normally video games are a play for a bit then move onto something else kind of affair for me. Typically an hour or less of play then I get bored. Once bored I move onto writing or painting.

I didn’t get bored. Slime Rancher is a bright, engaging farming game where you use your space vacuum to capture different colored and types of slimes. Put them into pens, feed them, and collect their plort (poop) for money. Different types of plort equals different amounts of money based on the universal plort (poop) stock market.

Even better there are upgrades for your character, your space vacuum, pens, and land. Most of the slimes have a favorite type of food; food that you can grow from fruit to chickens. Did you know that if a slime eats the plort from a different type of slime that slime gains the characteristics of the other slime: Example: a pink slime eats the plort of a rock slime becoming a pink rock slime with the characteristics of both.

Are there bad slimes? Yes, if a slime eats plort from too many different slimes, I think three, the slime turns into a tar slime that eats other slimes and you. If a tar slime forms at your ranch, it will eat the slimes in your pens. Speaking of pens, the various slimes need to be fed regularly, have their pen cleaned of plort, and some music helps. Slimes express their mood with big smiles, small smiles, and the cute but warning sign of unhappy slimes that may do something…no clue what yet, I fed my unhappy slimes as soon as our girl pointed out they were not happy.

All in all a very enjoyable few hours. With my limited play time I have seen far from everything, but I saw enough to keep me playing long enough that this blog is late. And if this blog is late (noon remember) I am behind on a few other things, but since the people around me say I don’t know how to relax I’ll take a few hours of slime ranching as a sign that I do. 🙂

Puddles and Whiskers, Not Any Puppet II

Previously.

Chuck rolled Puddles over, quickly running his paws over her body looking for wounds. She slapped his hands away, “I’m fine.”

“Oh Lovey, you served me well,” the man said tossing the remains of the robopuppet to the ground as he accelerated down the thoroughfare scattering wageslaves.

“Check Amson,” Puddles commanded as she sat up. “Damn that was close.”

Chuck looked over at Amson, “He’s definitely gone.”

“Shit. Where’s Whiskers?”

“He took off after the puppet man.”

“He’s fast,” Whiskers said breathing heavy over comms.

Whiskers ducked underneath the arms of an overburdened wageslave, keeping an eye on the puppet man. Three wageslaves tumbled to the ground in front of Whiskers. With a leap, he cleared all three landing hard, slipping, and falling on his rump.

“Damnit!”

“Where are you at?” Chuck asked.

“Near the taxi pads,” Whiskers replied resuming the chase.

Puppet man swung the case in a low arc taking the legs out from two wageslaves who were too busy with their electronic devices. Both of them tumbled into Whiskers path who used the nearest wall, to wall ran past the wageslaves. Puppet man rounded a corner to the taxi pads, Whiskers heard screams and watched as wageslaves ran away from the taxi pad in a panic. Sliding around the corner, he remembered he left his katana at the office. No need to worry, Puppet man dove into a taxi that immediately flew into traffic.

“He is gone.”

“Gone?” Puddles asked.

“Jumped into a taxi.”

“Damnit.”

“Police are here,” Puddles flatly reported.

“I will be there in a few minutes.”

Out of breath Whiskers jogged back avoiding the knots of wageslaves rubbernecking the scene. Standing over Amson’s body, the SCPD Officer spoke into his com while recording the scene on his tablet. Puddles and Chuck sat to one side waiting. Whiskers sat next to them with a thud.

“What the hell was that all about?” he asked.

“No clue,” Chuck replied. “Officer Chu doesn’t know anything either.”

“No surprise,” Puddles said. “He showed up after the fact. I got his ID so we can get any information the SCPD may find.”

“Great, does he need anything from me?” Whiskers asked between big breaths.

“Not that we know of. He asked us what happened, took our information, and that was that. We only sat here to wait for you.”

With a groan Whiskers stood up and approached Officer Chu. A brief conversation and Whiskers signaled Puddles and Chuck time to leave.

Puddles and Whiskers, Not Any Puppet

Previously.

Not Any Puppet

Leaning against the window of Wake Me Up, Puddles watched wageslaves walk past their eyes downcast. Through the glass of the walkway, she watched mid-morning traffic fly past, more wageslaves onto their jobs. She listened to Chuck place his order through their shared comsystem, chuckling to herself when the coffee dispensing wageslave announced his name as, “Chunk!”

“I thought you said no more chasing cheating spouses,” she said over comms.

“Somethings cannot be helped,” Whiskers replied.

Puddles casually looked around the elevated walkway intersection spotting Whiskers sitting on a observation bench sipping his coffee and reading his ever present tablet. Out of the corner of her vision she spotted Chuck exiting Wake Me Up and heading the opposite direction. Glancing at her skin watch, almost time.

“Anyone spot our target?”

“Not yet,” Whiskers responded quickly.

“I just got into position,” Chuck replied. “I don’t see him.”

“Keep an eye out Chunk,” Puddles teased.

“How hard is their job,” Chuck mumbled.

Chuck wearing his latest wageslave disguise, a tan overall with an accounting firm’s shoulder and breast meme-badge sat down at a table with an excellent view of foot traffic. Pulling out a tablet Chuck shopped while drinking his coffee and keeping an eye out for their target. Instead of their target, Chuck spotted a man erratically walking down the sidewalk, bumping into garbage stations, chairs, and the occasional wageslave causing a commotion as wageslaves attempted to adjust to the disruption.

“Isn’t it a bit early to be drunk?” he asked over comms.

“What?” both Puddles and Whiskers responded.

“There’s this guy…”Chuck trailed off. “What the an’jal is this guy?”

“Something wrong?” Whisker asked.

“No, this drunk is cradling a hand puppet of a bird, talking to it, and bumping into anything that gets in his path. Which seems to be everything.”

“I spotted Amson,” Whiskers cut in. “He is walking towards me wearing a blue suit carrying a black case.”

“I see him,” Puddles responded. Tossing her coffee cup into the trash she started towards Whiskers when she collided with someone. “What the…”

The man who collided with her bounced off her across the walkway scattering wageslaves. His disheveled and mismatched outfit wageslave outfit did not stand out as much as the robopuppet that his left hand was inside.

“Heading your way,” Chuck said.

“Are you okay?” the man asked.

“I’m…”

“Not you!” the man screeched. “Are you okay Lovey?” He asked the robopuppet in a cooing voice that caused Puddles stomach to heave.

Puddles decided the best course was to ignore the man and attempted to walk past to intercept Amson who was crossing the elevated walkway towards her with Whiskers following.

“What’s wrong Lovey?” he asked the robopuppet as it began to screech and caw loudly. Wageslaves avoided the scene with alarming speed. “Did this feline hurt you? What’s that?”

Puddles turned to see what the man was going on about.

“Puddles down he’s got a…”

BOOM BOOM BOOM

On the ground, bits of plastic and metal showered Puddles. Amson, their target fell over his chest and face, what remained of his face, covered in blood. Whiskers dove for cover. Chuck flew overhead, arms outstretched. The man, his left hand in the remains of a robopuppet, stepped over Puddles, grabbed the briefcase and ran past Whiskers.

A Better Best Day

Sometimes the best days begin with an idea, such as “let’s go to Petoskey to search for Petoskey stones, hike, explore, and celebrate your birthday.” Sometimes the better than best days end with, “You’re our third waitress and we got zero service other than you picking up our dishes.”

Yesterday was a better than best day. We had a potential to travel to Petoskey, roughly 2.5 hours away, to spend the day doing what people do in Petoskey which if you believe the literature is look for rocks on the ground. Fine with us, we like things like that plus roughly half of us have not been to Petoskey.  To make the car trip more bearable for those of us who hate long car trips we decided to stop at quilt shops along the way.

Issue number one, stopping at quilt shops does indeed break up long car trips, but they increase the amount of time spent on the road and cause every almost everyone to want to go quilt shopping instead of traveling another 2 hours to a place we have not been for rocks.

Issue number two, a car full of easily distracted and amused people quickly get derailed by a trout statue. For this year’s C4 we stayed at a hotel in Kalkaska. From the hotel we traveled to C4 and back. We were not aware of the trout statue. In my head there is a statue to honor something, such as the trout who freed Kalkaska from the evil overlord or the trout who gave his life saving orphans from a flood. You know major things that trout can do, not because Kalkaska has a trout fishing day or festival. I like to fish. Fishing is a quiet activity. Where is the festival in that?

Which is how we found ourselves driving through Kalkaska for the second time this year. Being in Kalkaska, passing the hotel, we decided to head into Traverse City. Our logic being:

1.) Closer than Petoskey

2.) A quilt shop nearby

3.) We could walk around downtown on the gorgeous day

4.) Food

The quilt shop Renee’s House of Quilting is HUGE. A lot of quilting shops are tiny and built near a house. This was a HOUSE. Upon entering a lady asked if we had ever visited, we said no. She informed us that there were four rooms full of quilting stuff. This place is awesome especially when compared to other quilting shops. Funny thing is even though Renee’s is larger the atmosphere is the same as smaller shops.

From there we took the birthday woman to Nawbin’s bead shop. Because she used to bead and make her own jewelry.  While there she found a Petoskey stone shaped like Michigan, the kids found various stones, and everyone left happy. Onto the mall.

The mall? Yes, the mall. Why the mall, because someone had not been to the mall. And it was a good thing too. Along the way we found Top Comics Inc. where you can’t park anywhere we could see but inside is a treasure trove of comics. My collection of the New Wolverine is almost complete. But that is not the mall.

At the mall seeking food and fun we found SPONGEBOB. I now have a bright yellow hoodie with Spongebob’s face across the chest. AWESOME! A stop in a Spencer’s gifts for more necessary goods and finally food at Bagger Dave’s where the food was bland, the service horrible, and the management totally uncaring. That did not diminish our day.

Upon arriving at home we started a fire and made great food, built a futon, and enjoyed the rest of the evening.