One of Everything

Eaddie woke us up at four in the morning to be dropped off at the high school for an away robotics tournament. I got frustrated with her when she asked for food after we had already started driving the wrong direction for that, and then we tried two different gas stations that ended up being closed for the night. She ended up changing her mind about it, but then wanted me to drop her off to kill time by wandering around the campus in the dark. I at least got her in the building, and then checked up on her on camera once I got back home and into bed.

I didn’t let myself sleep too long though, because I wanted to make it to the Ridgewood Brothers for their soft open at 11. I got cleaned up, and Summer and I went across town. We were actually the second ones there, but I think the other lady might have been there the night before as well, so I was fuzzy on how the invites or events went out. Gary showed up a little while after we did, and came to join us. We were all really surprised there wasn’t just a line of people wrapped around the place.

They had a somewhat limited menu, but we definitely weren’t short on food. They could have just opened for regular price, and I would have paid it just to support them, but they were giving dine-in orders for half-off for the day. The one new thing I got to try was their new cheesy jalapeño rice grits. I thought they were fantastic, and could have started the day with a bowl of that for breakfast.

After we ate and finished socializing, Summer and I headed back to the house to get my yoke, and then went to Superfast to borrow some tools. They ended up having to buy a socket adapter that I would have had at home, but I didn’t have a breaker bar or a 10mm hex to go on the end of one. It took a little bit, but I ultimately got the wheel off with an air impact. I ended up swapping the whole front facia and using my OEM buttons, rather than separate the horn springs and whatever else was contained in the wiring harness. In the end, I thought it looked pretty good, and the experience of driving with a yoke was exactly like I expected: In no way better, but tolerable as a style choice.

We went to my parents’ house to show them, and they at least liked the look of it. We made plans to come back for dinner, and I took Summer back to the house so she could go to the gym. I poked around the house for a little bit, and tried to clean up some oil or grease stains on my hoodie from spending more than a couple minutes at the shop. Then I stopped by Walmart for bread flour, yeast, and a forgotten cucumber before heading up to get Summer for dinner.

Mom made egg rolls the other day, so Dad fried some up for salads. Eaddie was heading home on the bus the entire time, so we didn’t stick around too long after we finished eating. I dropped Summer off, and then immediately went to the high school to get her. We stopped by my house so she could get some things she had left, and I showed her my first three ice spheres from my new fridge. I was pretty happy with how they turned out, especially for the first batch.

Summer was making bread when we got back home. Eaddie chatted a bunch about her day, and then everyone was off to bed pretty early. Autumn made it home from Quiz Bowl, but didn’t bother to greet anyone before closing herself up in her room. I was absolutely heartbroken.

I feel personally attacked!

The Host that Smokes

Summer spent all morning getting ready for everyone to come over for Thanksgiving dinner. We struggled to get Autumn to help as usual, and we’re just counting the days until we show her, imperically, that she’s not pulling her weight around the house. In fact, she’s completely delusional, as is often the case.

Summer really wanted to get a table and chairs set up early, so I took out some trash and dumped it at Dwight on the way, and brought back a big and little table, as well as chairs. Then I quickly made the butter and seasoning concoction that I would be injecting into the bird. I made it about a block down the road before I realized I forgot to actually take the turkey with me, so I had to turn back.

The smoker started reliably well, but I kind of forgot how foolproof it was and unnecessarily started it twice. It got up to temperature much more quickly than I prepped the bird. I wished I had done all of that at Summer’s where I had more room to work. I was in and out of gloves to get the grill set up, and then had trouble getting the drip pan in under the grates. I just needed to think my process through better before starting. My syringe clogged during my very first attempt to inject the first breast, but I was eventually able to clean that out and made it work.

The turkey seemed to be rising in temperature pretty steadily, but it was pretty clear it wasn’t going to be done by 4 when we told everyone we would be eating. I eventually had to crank the heat up from the already-high 295 all the way up to about 350 to finish it off, because I wasn’t sure of the accuracy of the temperature probe, and I didn’t think to use my wireless Meater probe alongside the one integrated into the smoker. Ultimately I lost the apparently cool part that I was measuring, and every other part I probed tested over 160.

Just before it finished, I glazed it with some of the leftover butter and seasoning from the injection, and mixed in some honey and bourbon. The skin was super crispy, and I think the glaze softened it up a little bit, but it could have also been the covered ride back over to Summer’s.

Mom, Dad, Bác Vân, and Doug were all there with the girls. Julie was somehow last after I told her not to rush on account of the turkey. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait any longer than it took me to carve the turkey, and we all dug in.

All of the food was great. Summer made a bunch of sides and a ham, and the turkey was at least done, and I thought it presented well. I thought it was a little bit salty, could have used some more smoke, and ended up not being as moist as I expected. I assumed that was all because of my cook time and temperature, so next time I’ll take much more care to start earlier. Hopefully we can pick up some more turkey on clearance in the coming days.

After we ate, Julie wanted to play a game, so the girls brought out Phase 10. She had to teach Mom how to play, and the game wasn’t entirely without drama, but I think most everyone had a good time while Dad, Bác Vân, and Doug watched from the couch. We played through more phases than I expected, and then everyone filed out relatively quickly. Summer was proud of how quickly everything broke down and cleaned up, and then she was off to bed while the girls started on another jigsaw puzzle before bed.

Less heat; more smoke!

Spatched

Summer went to work this morning, and I eventually got out of bed and made some rice for the leftover corned beef. Autumn slept on the couch because she got everything out of her storage unit, but didn’t have her room cleaned up with a place for everything. She sat around watching Criminal Minds all morning, and then ate some plain white rice without any of the actual leftovers. I tried to get Eaddie out of bed, but she didn’t want to get up. Neither of them wanted to clean house like I asked.

I eventually left to meet Summer at Superfast so we could get her patched tire back on. I was there with her for a little while after the guys helped swap the tires, since she was ready to leave work a bit early and I thought she might do something with me. She ended up going to the gym, so I went to my parents’ house to prep the turkey.

I’d never actually handled a raw turkey before, but this was actually much cleaner than I expected. I’ve always felt that chickens were super gross and slimy, but the turkey wasn’t slimy at all. It trimmed up nicely, and the random clearanced shears I picked up at Walmart a while back did a great job cutting the spine out. I decided to spatchcock the turkey for my first attempt at smoking one, since it promised a more even cook with the added benefit of speeding up the whole process. I couldn’t have been more pleased with how the prep went.

Mom warmed up some shrimp soup while I was there, so we ate a bit before I headed home. I was supposed to drop the spine and other assorted entrails off at Julie’s house so she could make gravy out of it, but she took forever to respond to my text messages, and said she had left the house to go shopping. I killed a bunch of time cleaning up at home, re-covering the fire pit out back, showering, and getting things generally organized to smoke the turkey. Finally she just had me leave the bag of turkey bits in my mailbox so she could pick it up on the way home.

I had to stop by Lowe’s for an injector, and I decided to throw out my leftover marinade, so I’ll be making my own from scratch in the morning. Just as I left Lowe’s, Summer reminded me to bring my bread maker, so I had to circle back home to get it. When I got to her house, Autumn was still at her boyfriend’s house. Eaddie was working on homework, and Summer was making fruit salad, key lime pie, and deviled eggs. She finished up with a loaf of bread that we thought was a bit overdone. Autumn got back home a little early, and after a little wind-down time, everyone was off to bed.

There’s simply no respect.

Da Boiz

I woke up a bit early today after staying up to late last night. Eaddie was up before I was, and made herself breakfast and started cleaning house. Both of the girls were having their boyfriends over, so they had to get everything cleaned up before then. I tried to clean up some leftovers for breakfast, and then went home to shower before meeting Summer at Walmart.

Summer went to the gym, and then had most of the stuff picked up for chili by the time I found her. Then we made a quick run through the rest of the store before heading up to the house. Gavin showed up in the early afternoon with a flower in a vase. Eaddie had fallen asleep again because her head cold was draining her, but she got up and I eventually took them to the Valley Park Center to wander around.

Adam didn’t show up until after I left to pick up Eaddie and Gavin again. Then they played some Mario Kart and watched TV until it was time for me to take then to Pasta Grill. When I got back, Summer had chili ready for the four of us. Adam was well mannered enough, though he didn’t eat much. Autumn warned us that he was a picky eater, but he let slip that his father took him to CiCi’s before he came over.

After we ate, the four of us played a game of Monopoly. Adam seemed to enjoy it, but was mostly quiet and didn’t seem to fully understand all of the mechanics. We taught him about making monopolies, and coached him through buying houses. I tried to get the game going pretty quickly, so it was a good time until I had to go pick up Eaddie and Gavin again from the train depot.

When we got back to the house, the two couples split up to watch two different TVs. I laid down in bed until Summer came in to find me, and then made me periodically wander through the house to mind the children. Gavin had to be home by 10:30, so Eaddie and I took him home in time for that. We saw lots of deer and a raccoon, but fortunately nothing jumped out in front of us. I had to make Eaddie ride up front with me on the way back, but then she was super talkative for the whole drive home.

We stopped by my house to get the Montego and my neti pot since her head cold had just gotten worse all evening. Right as we turned onto Main Street, we could hear and feel that the car had a flat tire. I pulled over in front of GameStop, and the rear left tire was completely flat. Summer had to come pick us up for the evening, and we’ll have to go back tomorrow to try and air it back up.

Adam was gone again by the time we got home. Autumn was in her room. Eaddie showered and went to bed. I chatted with Summer for a bit, and then it was off to bed for us as well.

Just be a well-rounded, good-intentioned human.

Copy No Copy

It was frosty again this morning, but comfortably cold during the day. I tried to keep busy, but kind of got distracted quite a bit. I spent some time on hold with my insurance company because I couldn’t log in to check my HSA information. That whole process was a bit of a rabbit hole. When lunch time rolled around, it was just Zach and me again, so I suggested sharing a BOGO at Subway.

The afternoon was super quiet, just as it has been. I finished up my file copying and messed with file shares, visited Dwight to check on something that fixed itself, and generally tried to stay out of trouble. After work, I went straight home to swap cars before going to Walmart to pick up the last couple things I needed to make dinner.

Summer was at the gym and Autumn was at karate, but Eaddie was home while I threw some frozen chicken into the Instant Pot for tacos. I ended up running the program twice because I wasn’t completely sold on the temperature of the chicken after the first cook. I think too much of it was above the water line, and all of the chicken was frozen into a solid block anyway. I thought it smelled pretty gross, but Summer said it just smelled like dark meat. It tasted alright though.

The girls all went to bed really early. I played my Stranger Things Puzzle Tales game a bit since I had to make it to a certain level to retrieve the progression pack I earned from playing before it was moved to the Netflix games category. I tried not to stay up too late though.

Sentry mode… re-activated?

Smokey Bros

The holiday doldrums were in full swing today, and I think everyone is just ready for a break. I went to Leonard’s at the start of the day to get some nylon washers to put between my vanity license plate and the screws. After that, I didn’t really deep into anything today, and spent most of my time watching a progress bar as I moved files off of our old SCCM server. Even after running all day, I’ll still have more to do tomorrow.

Dad stopped by in the morning to deliver a pumpkin cake, and Tammy didn’t realize who she had let into the building, which caused a bit of a stir up front when he completely bypassed the front of the office. A couple of the guys up front took off after him until Gary recognized who it was.

The junior high invited us for Thanksgiving lunch, but Thomas was having none of that. We were going to Taco Tuesday. Gary and Josh rode with me, but as soon as we got into my car, we realized my screen had frozen. The music would play, but I couldn’t touch any controls, change the volume or climate controls, or even see a speedometer. I didn’t want to force a reboot and have to wait to drive to Taco John’s, so I got us there and then started the reboot once everyone was back out of the car. Allen was there to eat with us again, and then when we left, my car was back to normal.

I went to Dwight for a bit in the afternoon, and then stopped by the Ridgewood smokehouse on the way back. Grant was there, and actually needed a ride to get his car from the tire shop anyway, so I let him drive. It was kind of gritty on the roads after the rain, so we didn’t get to have very much fun, but he got a taste. After that, it was a dull day back in my office until quitting time.

After work, I went back to the smokehouse and hung out with Kyler and another guy while the bros were in the kitchen doing an interview. They were tending the first fire in one of their new smokers, and seasoning the grill before they could check it for hot and cold spots with some biscuits. It was cool to chat about that stuff for a bit, and then I got a better look at the rest of the building once they finished up with their interview.

Eventually I headed home to charge, and then picked up some Popeye’s on the way to Summer’s. The girls all came out to eat, and then it was early to bed again. I think getting dark early just helps. Everyone was tired and ready to crash.

Smoked, dried, floor biscuits.

Engineering

It was a frosty morning, and it never got much warmer during the day. I forgot my keys at home, so I had to borrow Greg’s to get into my office. Gary had some engineering tasks for me that kept me busy for most of the day. Otherwise it was pretty quiet in the back of the shop. Kyle came through a couple times and stood awkwardly close to me, but that was about it. Greg was out doing something else most of the day.

When lunch time came around, Zach was the only one going. I took us to Morelos, where we sat in a booth next to Cameron, who had walked across the street from Superfast. We had a pretty quick lunch, and then ran by my house to get my keys before going back to work.

I ran to Dwight to take care of a couple things so Melissa could mop my office. On the way back, I finally remembered to return my jack pads to The UPS Store since they were too small to stay in the jack points of the Model 3. Then I spent the rest of the afternoon reading Microsoft’s documentation to figure out what I had to do to decommission our old SCCM server.

Autumn called to ask if I would get Eaddie after band, so I picked her up in what turned into some slightly hard rain. It wasn’t quite sleet or snow, but it definitely had an occasional slush to it. We swapped cars and then headed home where Summer was making a surprise dinner for us. She cooked up some sausage and vegetables which she used to stuff some yellow squash boats, and then covered them in mozzarella and baked them for a little bit. It turned out really great, but was a little heavier than she thought it was going to be.

Eaddie practiced her flute to some music she played on the TV for Summer, and then it was an early night to bed for everyone.

2022.40.4.1

Fro, Yo.

Tammy came into my office first thing this morning and said she had something for me. She had mentioned some Vietnamese artwork before, and finally brought it for me. She thought it could be worth several hundred dollars, but I was pretty certain that it wasn’t based on other artwork I’ve seen throughout my life and visiting Oriental markets.

The boss was still out sick, so it was quiet downstairs again. I had some leftovers for breakfast, but otherwise kept relatively busy somehow. I wasn’t really hungry by the time lunch came around, but I went to Quiznos with Gary and Zach just to get out of the office for a bit. I went light with a cup of soup, but then nearly doubled the price with a bread bowl and drink. I can’t resist their lemonade though.

I spent a good part of the afternoon upstairs with the virtual academy folks, because they had a stack of several computers up there that they wanted serviced. Most of them didn’t exhibit any troubles for me, but I logged in and charged them up just to be sure. A couple were damaged enough to be discarded, but one of those was pretty well demolished. I even had a teacher device with a cracked screen, so nobody was safe.

In one of my trips back upstairs, I ran across Danielle, who wanted to look at my car. I thought she was going to stick around while I dropped off some junk, but she went up to her office instead and said she would come by tomorrow. By the time I finished running around, it was time to leave.

Autumn ran around after school and went to karate, so I had to get Eaddie from band. She wanted to go by her grandparents’ house, but evidently they forgot and weren’t home either. Instead, we went to get a pumpkin cake from my dad, then swapped cars and headed home where Summer was busy cooking dinner after going home early from not feeling well.

We arrived to a super smoky house, but most of that was just from a dirty oven. Summer had made chicken cordon bleu with mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts, and it was awesome. The three of us scarfed that down pretty quickly, and then I broke out the new Yonanas machine we bought on clearance. I didn’t realize the bananas needed to be on the ripe side, but it still came out super good with some mixed fruit. I’d always heard that frozen bananas tasted a lot like soft serve, but in reality the similarity was uncanny.

Autumn came home, and all three girls were off to bed pretty early. I stayed up doing my usual things and found a deal on an LG refrigerator with the craft ice from Costco, so I messaged Julie to see if she could order it for me. That turned into a bit of an ordeal because you can’t pick it up from Costco, but they also won’t deliver it farther than 50 miles from a store, nor would they deliver it to the Splash in Conway. I ended up getting Ben to be my fridge mule, and we’ll just have to pick it up from his house after Thanksgiving. All of that, of course, was on a whim since I’ve been without a refrigerator for several months now.

A sad chicken, named James.

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. :(

Red is Black

I struggled to find a whole lot of motivation today, and spent a bit too much time aggravated that the little felt letterboard I had in the shop was likely thrown into the garbage for “cluttering the place up.” I don’t understand why we couldn’t have anything decorative in the room. It just feels so sterile back there now, and I kind of hate it.

I left to go to Dwight and install a AA battery, but the one in the microphone just wasn’t installed properly. What made it worse was that you could easily see where the battery needed additional contact to charge. While I was there, I had to ask Karen to decipher the calendar again, because evidently the copy she gave me for the agenda had the names inverted from what Linda was expecting. This was even more confusing, considering that Linda was the source of both copies.

We thought Jeff was going to eat lunch with us, but it ended up being Gary, Zach, Thomas, and me. Gary drove this time, and I sensed that Thomas appreciated the extra leg room. Kevin texted that he saw me, but I didn’t spot him until we left. He and Keith were having lunch together, and it was good to see both of them.

Dad went by my house to meet a guy from Terminix to inspect the termite damage. I had nightmares all night about my walls falling apart from termite damage, but the end result of the inspection was really just to sell what appeared to be a highly overpriced poison treatment plan that will do nothing for the repair of any damage. He didn’t even look in the attic, which seemed particularly important to me since he couldn’t look behind the drywall. The only relief will be how much easier rerunning electrical will be if we have to tear the drywall out.

I had to go back to Dwight again after lunch because their projector in the cafeteria had some sort of problem. I finally got Karen to figure out what was happening, and luckily the end of the VGA cable would be bent and twisted in a way that the colors looked normal again. It’s super tempting to make Kyle re-run that cable on account of how high the ceiling is.

After work, I ran straight to Arvest to withdraw a sack of money. Aaron chatted with me for a bit, and all the girls got super chatty about the car. I think I would enjoy being rich. With a Popeye’s paper bag full of large bills, I picked up Summer from the gym and we went to her bank to deposit it all back into her savings account. Their lobby was closed, so we had to wait forever in the drive-through, but we finally finished, and Summer was super relieved to have her account squared away.

I dropped Summer off and ran to pick up Eaddie late from robotics. Ethan was giving Lindsey a tour of their Ioniq, but I still felt bad for being so late. We continued to my house so I could change, and then went to Walmart for some salad fixings. Eaddie argued for boring lettuce, so I made her get the unprepared romaine hearts instead of the pre-bagged stuff.

Summer and Autumn were sitting out on the porch when we got there, and I fixed dinner by myself. I got pretty frustrated by how late it was, and the fact that I couldn’t use either side of the sink to clean vegetables. I ate, the kids ate, and then Summer finally ate after a shower. Then Summer and I chatted for a bit before she went off to bed.

Be kind; Unwind!