O Plastic Tree

The girls decided they all wanted to go shopping today, but they didn’t want me along. I went home when they left, and hung out by myself for a while. Summer suggested that Autumn should cook dinner, and Eaddie decided she wanted fish tacos, so they got stuff for fish, shrimp, and ground beef tacos.

I made my way back to them around the time I thought dinner would be ready, but they were just hanging out in the living room. Luckily dinner didn’t take long though, and we all ate pretty quickly. After we ate, Summer got the Christmas tree out from under the bed and set it up in the living room. I helped a bit because Autumn was just being a complete bitch the entire time. I rigged up some blinking lights for it, but I was short by one blinking bulb for the white tree lights. I guess the replacements were too low wattage, and kept blowing immediately.

Stop accepting that you consistently choose to make everyone’s life worse.

First Bath

Summer and I got up this morning and went to Hardee’s for breakfast. She planned to go home afterward, so we drove separately but then took mine back home when we realized I forgot our coupons. Their biscuits were awesome again, and I was glad the recipe hadn’t changed like I thought from a prior visit. They must have just had an off day.

When we finished, I went home to get some quarters and then went to the car wash to get some of the dust and grime off of the 3. I’ve driven it so much in the rain that it’s actually stayed relatively clean, but there was a bit of grime on the back end that I wanted to clean off, not to mention fingerprints showing up on the door handles.

I decided to drive around town a bit to dry off, and went toward my parents’ house. I called Brody to see if he was home, but they were only just leaving church. I chatted with him for a moment before going in to talk to Mom until Dad got home from church. She was being critical of the car again, so I did some quick math to calculate how much I’ve had to spend on fuel. I actually figured it would be more, but it costs me about 0.8 cents per mile for electricity when charging at home, versus a lifetime average of 13.8 cents per mile for gas for the Murano. I know mine is beyond overkill, but having a small, electric commuter just seems like a complete no-brainer.

I finally headed back home to shower before picking up Summer to go to Walmart. We picked up a Yonanas machine on clearance, just out of curiosity, and then went across the store for dinner. Eaddie wanted stir fry, so we got a ton of vegetables and headed home to cook.

Summer and I prepped veggies as quickly as we could, and then I stir fried everything together. It barely fit in the wok, and I overcooked things a bit again, but it still turned out really good. We had things split into “long” and “short” cook bowls, but I really need to split it up better in the future to keep things from getting mushy.

The early evening dragged on a bit just because I wasn’t used to the time change yet. When Summer was ready for bed, I found Weird: The Al Yankovic Story on the Roku channel and we watched the first half of it. I couldn’t quite tell if she was serious when she made comments about it being a true story, but I enjoyed the show. It was longer than I expected, so I look forward to finishing it soon.

Oh Tres, you’ve got chips all over your face. :(

Zero Fawkes Given

Summer had to get up super early this morning to get Eaddie to the high school for an away robotics tournament. Then she had a 10k in Conway herself, but I wasn’t about to be a part of that. I didn’t really sleep in, but I refused to get up that early. I got up and went home just long enough to shower before Summer got home, and then had her pick me up. I had been a bit hungry all morning, so we stopped at Hardee’s for lunch before going to Conway to see Black Adam.

That movie was an absolute trainwreck. I hated it. It should have been straight to VHS. Aquaman was more realistic. The dialog was atrocious. The music was just background noise to distract from the awful CGI. It was just utter trash, and I’m rooting for DC. Shazam was incredible. I was super excited for this movie, but after seeing it, I’m upset that they even brought Henry Cavill back as Superman. I don’t want him connected to this in any way. I loved his first movie.

After that, we went to TJ Maxx and Target to kill some time. We loaded up on leftover Halloween candy and toilet paper. Summer wanted Starbucks on the way out, but she didn’t listen when I suggested we move the car closer, so she had to go get it while I checked out. Then we went to the end of the strip mall to try out Kawaii Boba House. Nearly 20 bucks later, she awkwardly split out the door before I could even set anything down. I felt dirty from shopping and wanted to clean up, but we just left. We ended up trading drinks on the way to the car because she liked mine better. I liked them both fine, but couldn’t see myself paying that much for a drink ever again.

We made our way north to Bee Branch, where her workmate Alice was hosting a Guy Fawkes bonfire. They lived like a mile down a dirt road, so I was super glad I asked about parking before we left. I would have been very angry to drive the Model 3 down the road that far, and wasn’t even sure we’d make it into the driveway.

Summer played a game with washers, we went inside for a tiny bit of food while we stood awkwardly in the kitchen. Then they finally lit the bonfire, and I was able to relax a bit in the dark. There were some little kids around, but no stupid teenagers. I did roll my eyes a bit at the girls that had to have tinny music playing from one of their phones, but otherwise it was a good time. I brought along a box of old firecrackers and sparklers for them to burn, and they seemed to like it. I was just happy to see it leave my garage.

Once Summer had enough, we said our goodbyes and made our way home via a shorter route without passing back through Conway. I was super stressed about wildlife, but we never encountered any at all. We got home, I unloaded everything and put away what I could, and then it was off to bed.

There was a frog on a dog on a hog on a log in the bog???

Network-

I only woke up about 15 minutes earlier than usual, since I did all my prep work the night before. I didn’t love it, but it got the job done, and got me to Little Rock a little after 7:30, which gave me just enough time to settle in before finding the classroom. Greg called to tell me he was coming in late, but that he would be there since they couldn’t get a refund for his ticket. He said he felt better, so hopefully I don’t catch whatever he had.

Mike Meyers was a bit of a celebrity in the field, and I think he probably acted more that way than anybody else let on. I was only just aware of his existence in the space, but Ben wanted to come have his book autographed. When I saw that he was giving us copies of his new book, I jumped at the chance to have it signed for myself, and got a selfie with him as well.

The class itself was rather a disappointment. I had hoped it would be an intense workshop to try and cover as much material as possible, but instead it ended up almost being more of a roundtable. It would have been a nice way to decompress and chat further about things you learned in a formal class, but in and of itself, I don’t think Greg or I learned anything at all. It was almost more of a pep talk to psyche us up for the test itself.

Greg and I had lunch at the hotel, which was quite a bit smaller than I expected, but still better than the “barely a step above cafeteria food” I had documented from previous years. Half of the bar was a salad, and the other half had mostly run out of food by the time we got there. They had some chicken, and Greg found some pork when we went back for seconds. The staff were fussing that it seemed like there were more people than they were told, and we missed out on dessert as well. Ben picked up Tacos 4 Life, but I declined his offer to pick up some for us, remembering a less than stellar experience from before.

The afternoon went by relatively quickly, but with not much more productivity. By then, the hotel had managed to bring out cookies, and did a fair job of keeping the drink fridges stocked. We got through the day, but Greg mostly scoffed and rolled his eyes at the fossil that couldn’t remember his ports or acronyms. I was a bit more forgiving and could see the struggle with fitting so much historical knowledge into an eight hour course. I tried to reel the conversations back in to the test material periodically, but I don’t know how much that helped.

I made the trip back home without incident, but confirmed how much I hate traffic between Conway and Little Rock. I just don’t know how people do it. My entire life would be so much more stressful if I had to do that every day. I miss the old days of getting a hotel room the night before a day like that. I got gas, went home to unload, and then went to my parents’ house to visit for a bit.

Julie was there to talk to Dad about their trip to Disney. They warmed up some fish sticks for sandwiches, and Mom shattered one of her prized bowls full of boiled carrots and butter, slicing her hand open a bit. I didn’t really get to talk about my delivery day plans, but suffice to say that I wasn’t thrilled with the way support responded. I went ahead and made the appointment, but apparently even that can change, so if we stay the night, I’ll have to get a room that allows for refunds in the event of a reschedule.

When I left my parents’ house, I went to the high school and got some of that fancy pellet ice from the breakroom, and then went out to the stadium to watch the marching assessment with Summer. We stuck around longer and colder than I expected, and then ran out to the cars to beat the crowd out. The girls eventually made it home after the event, and everyone was off to bed in a hurry.

0/10, especially with that weird, bland rice.

Choice

The Montego didn’t appreciate being started this morning, and the idle bounced around for a bit until I got a “failsafe engine mode” message. I shut it off, gave it a moment, and then started it right back up again without any trouble. I asked Summer if she’d ever encountered that before, and she said sometimes it just happens.

Death trap.

I made it home, but took the Shadow to work again on account of the weather. It was a bit on the cool side, but it didn’t take me long to work up a sweat. I had to walk to the Support Services building a couple times to pick up some old junk, and though the humidity wasn’t reported to be very high, and it wasn’t terribly hot outside, I couldn’t stop sweating.

I had to stop by Transportation for a moment after that, and then I spent the rest of the morning working on things in my office. Lunch time came quickly, and a group of us went to Slim Chickens. Greg had his daughter with him for an appointment in the afternoon, and she was shy at first, but by lunch time she was bouncing all over the place. I had a BOGO deal of questionable value, and took the leftovers back to the shop fridge.

The afternoon was quiet, but I kept pretty busy. I ended the day upstairs with a few new work orders, and then came back to the shop to close up. I had to shoo Tammy out, otherwise she would have kept working late. Autumn had called to ask me to pick up Eaddie because they had a disagreement about who had to do what. Autumn wanted to go mow the lawn at her grandparents’ house, but Eaddie had to finish an assignment for band before she left school. Autumn did a good job of making it sound like Eaddie was the asshole, but of course Eaddie ultimately had other details.

I took my time getting home, wanting to make Eaddie sweat it out a bit since she didn’t pre-arrange for me to pick her up. I stopped for gas at Casey’s, but then changed my mind and went to Shell instead. When I got home, I called Eaddie back and went to pick her up. We stopped back by my house to get some air in the damaged back tire, and then went to Lowe’s to drop off some recycling. As I was walking back to the car, I passed an old guy that had been staring at a riding lawn mower parked behind his trailer since before we pulled in. I stopped to offer a hand, and managed to push it up onto the trailer by myself. He didn’t really have proper straps to tie it down, but I did my best and left the rest to hopes and dreams.

Autumn beat us home with some stuff to bake cookies, but then went out to mow the rest of the back yard. I started grilling some burgers for the girls a little before Summer got home, and then we all ate a mix of a bunch of leftovers. I was astounded by how well the old lettuce and tomato had kept from the last time we grilled burgers, but it all turned out pretty good. I had a slight overflow issue with the deep fryer, but that cleaned up alright.

After we ate, we sat the girls down to talk about how both of them were both right and wrong, and pleaded with them to work on their communication with one another. Then everyone went to bed while I waited up to finish Autumn’s laundry. When I put Summer to bed, she said John invited her to Thanksgiving, but evidently I had done something last year that offended him enough that I wasn’t allowed.

I’m never particularly afraid to offend anyone, but I certainly never go anywhere with that intent. I know I can get into belligerent moods where I say things off the cuff, and then dig in even if things go awry. I don’t think it was really fair to Summer to put her in that predicament, but I’m glad for her that someone chose to be her friend. We both know a lot of people, but I don’t think either of us really have that many that we can call “friends.” I always think that I do, but then when it comes down to it, it’s really just whoever I’m working with most frequently at the time. I try not to feel too sorry for myself because I believe that to be common among humanity. They always joked that if Summer and I broke up, they would keep her over me. I’ll have to apologize, because I never meant to put anyone in a situation that might make them feel the way that any of us feel now. It’s just a sucky situation because of the way that I chose to be.

It always plays better in my head.

Dentology

I knew I had to take the girls to the orthodontist this afternoon, but I nearly spaced and took the bike to work this morning. I caught myself on the way out and took the Murano instead, but it wouldn’t have been a bad day for a ride. We had a short meeting, and then I was mostly left alone to do my own thing. Gary had me update SCCM, which was a relatively easy, but long process that took me all morning to complete.

The guys went to Taco John’s and invited me along, but I was on the fence anyway, and then traffic didn’t allow me into the right lane to make the turn, so I headed on up to Summer’s instead. The girls were up but sedentary. I warmed up some leftover Mexican chicken casserole for lunch, and then we left for Dr. K’s.

When we got there, the doors were locked for lunch time, so we waited under the shade of a nearby bushy tree. It seemed a little silly to see so many people waiting outside the door in the heat, but I guess they’ve gotta eat too. Autumn filled out some paperwork while Eaddie went back. Then she wanted me to go back with her for the consult. Autumn really wants braces, but Invisalign is about 400 bucks cheaper. Evidently they don’t have insurance to cover anything, so I don’t know why Summer’s trying so hard to spend money on the kid that’s giving us so much trouble.

After the girls finished, we went to my house so I could change out of my work jeans into some shorts, then headed back up to their house until Eaddie’s flute lesson. They watched Stranger Things for a little while, and I baked the Surfer Boy branded pizza we got for them. Then Autumn took a nap while Eaddie painted. When it was time to leave again, Autumn pitched an absolute fit about being woken up, and was super bitchy for about two hours.

We dropped Eaddie off for her lesson and then went to my parents’ house for half an hour. Eaddie finished up after about 45 minutes, and I took them straight to karate. They had both started to get moody, so I decided to go in to watch them for the hour. They begrudgingly worked out together, and flailed their limbs around loosely the entire time. On the way home, Autumn wanted to get some sour cream for barbecue nachos, but then went straight to the Takis and Dr. Pepper. I didn’t have the energy to fight her there, so I got the corn chips we really needed, and we continued home.

It was a little late, but I wanted to eat a little bit for dinner. Then I had to threaten to take her snacks before Autumn made herself the tiniest plate of smoked pork and shredded cheese I had ever seen. She didn’t even open the sour cream she begged for. After she ate, I made her clean the kitchen while Eaddie cleaned her room. Then I killed time until Summer got home super late. She went straight to bed, and I played Puzzle Quest on my phone all night.

…but I’m a creep…

Idiot Wrangler

I made myself an iced coffee this morning, and then I was sent with Kyle and Brody to strip out the computer lab at Sequoyah. It was a short run to the closet, so pulling the cable out was a relative piece of cake. They were both working with earbuds in, so I went along with it and listened to Weird Al all morning. By the time we finished up, it had sprinkled a bit on the stuff in the truck bed, but it was likely all going to scrap anyway.

We finished unloading the truck in time for lunch, so Kyle drove me over to central office to see what the guys there wanted to eat. Someone suggested Stoby’s, and then we all volunteered Kyle to drive us. Somehow we made it to and from the restaurant without incident. I went light with tuna on a toasted croissant, and then took my chips for later.

We spent the afternoon finishing up termination at central office. It felt at times that we were underprepared, but Zach was happy to make trips back for parts we needed. It certainly could have been done more efficiently, but it wasn’t too embarrassing with all of the admins out at their retreat. As we finished up, I learned that one of the girls over there was married to Jackson, our old family friend from years ago.

I was the last one out of the admin building, and as I was walking into the shop, Kyle was walking back from the truck pen with a shit-eating grin, and said he may or may not have wrecked the truck trying to back it into the pen. I never made it over to look at the damage, but evidently it ran the length of the truck and left a pretty good dent. That frustrated basically everyone there with any goddamn sense. Zach let us go home early, but I think all but two of us actually stayed until Thomas showed back up from the retreat, and then they went to inspect the truck and damaged fence post.

I left and went to my parents’ house to clean up some leftovers for dinner. Mom wasn’t home from work yet, so Dad and I chatted until she showed up. Then we ate and I sat around for a bit before heading home. Summer hit the gym before going home, so I took her some Taco Bell, and we called it an early night.

“At least nobody died,” is not as comforting to hear as you may think.

Insanity

The shop was quiet when I got to work today. Zach had other things to do, so I spent the morning running around with Greg. I had him take me to The UPS Store to pick up our boxes, and then we went to the middle school to give them to Josh. Jacob was there helping him sort devices, and we walked out with several boxes of good devices to ship. From there, we went back to the shop to load up some more, and took them all to The UPS Store.

When we finished with that running around, we continued to check devices in the graveyard for any that we could ship back. Jacob came out to help for a bit until lunch, when the three of us and Thomas went to Slim Chickens. My wrap took a while to come out because the fries were fresh, and they were delicious because of it.

When we got back, Greg and I went to Oakland to check on an intercom issue, and then went to look at the new jumbotron at the high school. They angled it poorly, so it’s basically impossible to see from the visitors side. I’d love to see who at Ace Signs is connected to someone in the district, because we’ve literally never been happy with anything they’ve ever done for us.

I was a little scattered for the remainder of the afternoon. Thomas came back for a minute just to hide, and I spent some time working on a few different things for others. I ended the day mostly in spreadsheets.

Summer called to let me know that she had let Autumn go into the high school by herself to drop something off, and of course Autumn had to show off the minor bruising she had after last night’s showdown. DHS called while they were all at the gym, so Summer took her right over to close out the case again. Another day; nothing learned.

I got roped into picking up Eaddie and Zane from the arcade and brought them up to Summer’s for dinner. I hadn’t really eaten much, but still felt full. I wanted to make Autumn skip a meal, but that didn’t happen. We just sat there, and I ate after everyone was done.

Eaddie had a meeting at the junior high about a band trip to Hawaii. It felt like I was in a timeshare meeting, and very little useful information was provided until we got the final handout at the end of the meeting. At $3k per person in a room of four, I’m not sure how bad of a deal it is. They’re certainly not making up for it in meals, and most of the excursions were an extra fee on top of that. As we left, Autumn was acting like she would be with us for some goddamn reason.

We dropped Zane off at home, and then I took the girls home. As I started to leave, Summer wanted to talk, so I stood there a while with her before heading home. There, I fought with a Fi rep about a promotion I’m not receiving for a SIM card that I purchased with real money. It seems like disappointment is all I know in nearly every aspect right now.

This is not the grail you’re looking for.

Cartagain Weather II: The Heat is On

It was hot and humid today. Everything made me sweat. I mostly missed out on our morning meeting, since I was having to investigate untruths from Autumn as she realized she was permanently locked out of her Facebook and personal email accounts, and trying to use school as an excuse to get back into them. We arranged to have her laptop returned, and for a moment thought she had skipped school and taken off in the middle of the day. We were able to track her down to a different room though, and all was fine.

eSCO came by pretty early and picked up a little over 20 old laptop carts, and we helped to haul them out the hard way, because they didn’t feel comfortable backing up to the dock. Then I had to scan a bunch of laptops that were brought back to the shop by another group. All the while, Dad was babysitting my house until someone from Rood finally showed up to look at my air conditioner.

I left for lunch early so I could relieve my dad, and my air unit was fixed with a replacement contactor, which is evidently the name of a legitimate part. Richard, the tech, said I would need a new thermostat though, because my Nest was showing an error every time we hooked it back up, in spite of no detectable wiring issue. On the way back to the shop, I just picked up a surprisingly good Big Dill pickle burger and a Red Bull slush from Sonic.

The afternoon was relatively quiet, but I went back and forth helping here and there with different things. I never got sucked into any real projects, which was a nice break from everything else I had been juggling mentally. At the end of the day, Tammy appeared to be having a hard time up front, so I just awkwardly left to run home and change.

Nick was coming to talk to Autumn and take Eaddie with him for the weekend, so I wanted to be there. I beat them all to the house, and had just enough time to finish up some nacho cheese cups that were leftover in the fridge from various visits to Taco John’s. When the girls got home, Eaddie wanted help with an English project because she had to turn in her library book before she finished the project. Then we coaxed Autumn into mowing. Nick showed up with some leftover barbecue for Summer and me, and then sat down with Autumn so we could all talk.

The conversation went about how it always does, but Nick ended it by actually shaking my hand and doing the half back-pat bro-hug thing. It felt really good to feel like I had some validation from him after all this time. With Eaddie gone, Autumn mowed while Summer and I ate. By the time she came back in, we were all exhausted enough to pass out super early.

Fun isn’t something one considers when blocking the internet, but this does put a smile on my face.

Red Hands

I finally got a bike out this morning, and rode the Shadow to work. It was an incredibly slow day, and I had to creatively fill my time. Tammy and Kelsea went to the high school to help with laptop pickup, which was an odd choice. I had to make fun of Tammy, because the boss really did send her to the library, which has been one of her greatest fears.

I convinced Zach to take Gary and me to Sam’s for lunch, and I spent and ate way too much. I was disappointed that they weren’t as generous as usual with the servings, especially since I didn’t get out the door under $30. Zach and Gary both mentioned that it was expensive, but I guess I had just forgotten how expensive it really was.

The afternoon was more of the same. I did have to run across town to pick up Summer’s new Invisalign trays from the orthodontist, since she wouldn’t make it back to town in time. At the end of the day, I had to run home to get the Murano so I could take Eaddie home before her band awards. That was about the time that things really went downhill.

We’ve been watching Autumn’s computer usage since our encounter with DHS, and she continued to make really bad choices all afternoon, the day after we had another heart-to-heart with her. Eaddie and I thought we’d try to catch her at Denny’s with some friends while she was supposed to be practicing for color guard after school. We never encountered her, but while we were there, I triggered an email alert that let her know that something wasn’t quite right. Summer met us when she got into town from work and ate a couple pancake puppies until it was time to get Eaddie to the band awards, and then met me at my house to see how badly I had compromised our operation.

Autumn had locked her account down, but I was able to recover it. We made the decision to take ownership of her accounts and lock her out of them, and then also disabled the internet on her school laptop outside of school hours. With the cat irreversibly out of the bag, we went to the Center to watch the tail end of the awards ceremony, and collected the girls to go home. Autumn continued to try and play it off, but we had already made up our minds.

When we got to the house, Eaddie and I went to the other room so Summer could properly search Autumn for her vape. Then we had another long conversation that basically just summed up how disappointed we were in her choices. She didn’t have a whole lot to say as usual, and exhibited the same kind of behavior we see every time, except now we have no way to monitor her response to her friends. The next step will have to be reaching out to them with her, so she can correct her course. This whole thing is eye-rollingly dull at this point, and we just want it to be over. I’m thinking boot camp in a few weeks.

We’re expecting a bit of a headwind for most of our flight, so sit back, try to relax, and we’ll get you to your final destination as quickly as we can.