Magic Hippies

It was a bit of a struggle to get up today, but I had to get home to shower before meeting my parents to go to the magic club’s annual potluck and Christmas show. We knew Autumn didn’t want to go, but Eaddie changed her mind after originally saying she would go with us. Summer picked me up, and then my parents drove. Phone games kept me occupied for the trip, but then we arrived at a mostly abandoned looking facility.

Larry invited a bunch of his church crew, which was a rather odd looking group of folks. Most of them arrived before anybody I recognized, and then the potluck appeared a bit sparse for that many people. The Walmart chicken was pretty awful, but at least there was plenty of it. At least I don’t think anyone went hungry.

The show was very typical, and then the cleanup went relatively quickly. We didn’t stick around, and loaded up to leave pretty quickly. We stopped very briefly at the Midland market so Mom could look for some stuff, but it was probably the shortest visit I’ve ever seen her make. I picked up a bag of rambutans and some lychee gummies, and then we headed home.

For feeling so tired, we actually got home pretty early. Summer dropped me off at home so I could bring the car back up to her house. Eaddie had Summer quiz her for a test, and Autumn had some laundry going that she left in the machine after I called at her to take them out. Otherwise it was a really quiet, early night to bed.

Fraking gnats, everywhere.

Space Parade

It took me a little bit to get settled into my office today, but once I did, I spent most of my time on the phone with Kayla. There wasn’t much else going on though, and I enjoyed the work I was doing. When we moved all of the bus drivers to hourly pay rates, the district neglected to plan how payroll would be done. As such, Kayla has been processing reams of paper timesheets for every single person that drives a bus.

I got a quick Google Sheet put together with her, and then Zach pulled me away to lunch with Thomas and Greg at Brangus. I had the half chicken salad and remembered how overpriced it was in comparison to the other lunch options. Then I was right back on the phone with Kayla once we got back.

They let us out an hour early to avoid getting stuck by all the people lining up for the parade. I went by Ridgewood and actually got to lend a hand in cleaning things up a bit for the soft open on Saturday. Then I left to swap cars before going up to Summer’s.

We finished up most of the Thanksgiving leftovers and then made our way to the parade. We were early, but not early enough to avoid parking a block off of the main strip. We opted to stand in the middle of a side street once they blocked it off, and that earned us a view from the front row.

The parade itself was super spaced out, with tons of gaps between several of the floats. The high school band was first, so we got to see Eaddie. Then we waited until Autumn passed with the JROTC, and immediately left. The girls actually finished up shortly after that, but didn’t get home until later.

Summer watched the last bit of Weird with me, and then I started UHF before quitting at the first commercial to get ready for bed.

Space mining!

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!

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???

Re-Pumpkined

The girls went to Tech for the band’s Member for a Day event. It ended up raining when they were supposed to go out onto the field, so Eaddie ended up wishing she had gone to orchestra tryouts instead. I took Tres out in the rain and picked up Summer after her workout, and we went to Taco John’s for lunch. Eaddie didn’t want to go to the game in the rain, so we picked her up and let Autumn stay on her own. Summer really wanted to go to TJ Maxx for a yoga mat , and then Eaddie wanted to go to Hobby Lobby for a new paint-by-number.

Once I dropped the girls back off at the Murano, I went home and traded for the Montego before going up to their house. Once Autumn got home, Summer had to talk to her about her failing English grade. The kid is just lazy and unfocused, and needs to be micromanaged. I was a lot like that growing up, so I get it.

I ordered a pizza, and once Summer got out of the shower, we went to my parents’ house to carve the last couple of pumpkins. Autumn did hers in a rush and then hopped right back onto her computer, allegedly to do homework. Judging by how much she was smiling, I would say she probably had other things going on. Dad and I finished ours with the new tool kit I got from Amazon, and it made things a lot easier. Julie stopped by for a bit after Mom bragged about my car to her on the phone, but we didn’t drive it there.

I was the last one to finish, and once I did, we headed back to the house for the evening. I pretty much hit a brick wall once we got there, and I laid in bed for a bit. Then I got back up to finish my evening chores before going to bed.

Needs mud flaps.

Pumped

I came in and out of sleep pretty early this morning, but kept making myself go back to sleep until Summer got out of bed. As everyone else roused, she made a small batch of pancakes for breakfast. I played Into the Breach for quite a while between poking around on the computer. I got my first call from an actual human being at Tesla to confirm my delivery appointment.

My parents called for some help with Bác Vân’s iPad, but I couldn’t do much remotely. Summer ended up taking a nap, so I went home to clean up. My parents were still next door, so I walked over to see what I could do. The iPad wouldn’t support an iOS version compatible with the YouTube app, so that was a bust.

Once my parents got home from running around town, I ordered some pizzas from Little Caesar’s and went to get the girls. We loaded up the pumpkins, stopped to get the food, and then made it to my parents’ house to eat and carve. I was surprised by how little food was left, so I was glad I actually ordered enough.

After we ate, Autumn said she was too tired to carve a pumpkin. Dad preferred to wait until closer to Halloween, but Eaddie didn’t want to come back to do it after school. She and Summer just carved theirs together, and we left the other three for later. They turned out really good, so once my carving kit comes in on Monday, I’ll have to really think of something good to carve.

We loaded everyone up to go home, and brought the two pumpkins worth of seeds along for roasting. Summer cleaned them up and simmered them in some water for a few minutes before we had to dry them out. We ended up drying them in the oven on its lowest temperature setting, since leaving them on the counter would have taken days. She seasoned them with some olive oil, salt, and cayenne pepper, and they turned out great.

Everyone settled into their rooms after that, but Noah was supposed to come over after work. I didn’t stay up for that, since we had a full day of driving in the morning.

36 hours!

Not My Favorite Uncle

I got up this morning and headed home to finish up my taxes before cleaning up for a late Easter lunch. With the way my short-term trades were calculated, I got to pay for the gains I made without taking into account my unrealized losses that nullified them. I thought I might do some additional research to make sure it was all correct, but in the end I trusted the system.

Dad had lunch ready just a few minutes earlier than he expected, which was a departure from running late. Bác Vân and Doug were already there, and Summer and Eaddie arrived just seconds before I did. Autumn had to work, and Julie is still ignoring us all. Lunch was good, but we didn’t stick around for very long. Eaddie still had homework, and I still actually had to submit and pay my taxes.

As soon as Autumn got home from work, I helped her file her own taxes. She didn’t earn enough for it to be required, but by filing she’ll get a refund of what her employer held out of her checks. For some reason the social security and such weren’t refunded, which made me question whether she should have paid in the year before when the school district paid her as a contractor. I don’t get why we can’t just receive a statement telling us what we owe every year instead of propping up a ridiculous industry. That, or a high sales tax seem like great ways to fix this.

Summer had a headache and climbed into bed well before sunset, and the girls were off in their own rooms to avoid any human contact. I left, but ended up stopping at Walmart for a bit before making it home. My lava lamp went out at work, and the retro dorm theme just isn’t the same without it.

As I pulled into my driveway, Michael called to chat some more about crypto taxes. I’m into it in theory, but I worry he’s reading too much into the tea leaves. I didn’t accomplish anything else like I had hoped, but with any luck I’ll sleep through the night before work in the morning.

It’s buoy bells.

Witchcraft!

We all woke up early to leave for Eureka Springs this morning. I had to stop by Superfast first though, to check my coolant level again. We took a jug of some extra along just in case it got bad later, but I really shouldn’t have, because at the end of the day we found it had leaked all over the trunk.

It was a long and pretty drive, though the trees were all still dead from winter. Eaddie did great in the car, and we didn’t even have to drug her. We got to the Inn of the Ozarks a little before the last lecture let out for lunch, so we picked up Dad, then Mom and went to the top of the hill for lunch at Myrtie Mae’s.

After lunch, we watched the matinée for Dad’s performance. Then the girls had to cut out partway through the closeup show in order to make their zipline appointment. My parents and I got back up to their room just as the girls finished up, so once they walked back across the street, we headed to The Rockin’ Pig Saloon for dinner.

They had a bunch of menu items with Wagyu beef, including an $85 ribeye that made even our server’s eyes go wide. Mom got a non-Wagyu ribeye for less than half that, and the rest of the table got a pretty good mix of things. Somehow Autumn ended up with a pepperoni pizza, and even it was pretty good. I still think the brisket at Ridgewood is more tender though.

We got back to the Inn just in time for the raffle drawings, and then we watched the evening show. It was a good time getting to see everyone again after putting the event off for COVID. As they closed up shop, we left my parents to go find our hotel across town.

The Statue Road Inn was a cute little motel, at least in the dark. There was some confusion with the check-in process, because I was sure that I paid in full online, but I received an email saying I had to make a partial payment at the inn, and the lady at the front desk didn’t have any record of payment at all. She was super friendly though, and unable to find any credit card history, I felt comfortable making the partial payment. After researching some more online, I’m not convinced that I don’t owe the rest of it, but we’ll sort that out later.

The room was kind of cute, but it looked like they had some renovations going on at the other end of the building. This was the second time I’ve had a physical, metal key for a room I’ve stayed in as an adult. Aside from the miserable water pressure that Summer reported, everything seemed to be on the up and up. I guess we won’t know for sure until morning.

Short trip.

The Time Honored Tradition of Explaining Things to Your Denny’s Server

I thought we might go see The Batman today, but things quickly started changing. Autumn had to go shop for uniform clothes for her new job at Denny’s. Summer just wanted to go to the gym, but was otherwise flexible. I spent most of the morning shopping for refrigerators online. We started to warm up some food for everyone, and then Autumn got a call from her father asking to meet up, so they abandoned the pizza we made.

Eaddie wanted to watch a movie, but later ended up going to see The Batman with her boyfriend instead. I made it home and continued shopping for a fridge, but was suddenly hit with a bit of nausea for some reason. I laid down in bed for a bit until that passed, then took a shower.

After her movie, Summer went to get Eaddie and I met them at Denny’s for dinner. Autumn was there shadowing our server, and it quickly became apparent that it won’t take long for her to become the best employee there. As long as she can keep from picking up any bad habits, she should be able to get some experience and take those newfound skills somewhere better. I’m a little afraid she’ll just let herself become comfortable there, though.

After we ate, I went home and did some laundry. At some point I heard a mystery song on YouTube that had been rattling around in my brain since I worked at the call center. Nearly a decade later, I was able to use Google audio search and Shazam to find enough other relevant YouTube videos that lead me to a Reddit thread where someone else was also searching for the song’s origin. All this time, it was just royalty-free music. With that finally out of my brain, I eventually made it to bed.

Eureka! Fifth Avenue Stroll!

Wanna Fight?

I got in a couple minutes late this morning after a split night of sleep. I wasn’t as sore as I thought I might be, but I still felt pretty gross in general until I had my shower. Thomas was out again, and Zach was transient all morning until he took off for the afternoon. That left me with a grumpy Gary to sort through everyone’s messes.

Several of us went to Taco John’s for Taco Tuesday, and I had a light lunch that left me surprisingly satisfied, if not a little peckish. The afternoon was pretty quiet, but I had Justin come down to chat about our meeting tomorrow. It’s time to put thoughts into action and stand up for what I believe. At least I won’t be completely alone, and maybe I can get a couple raises out of the deal.

After work, I ran home to change before going to my parents’ house to wish them a happy new year. Then I stopped by the bank so I could be prepared to put my money where my mouth is, picked up my “free” taco, and headed up to Summer’s for the evening.

Noah came over, and all of the kids went to some kind of wrestling event. I showed Summer a bit of what I was working on until the kids made it back home. Then Eaddie and Noah stayed up being super loud until Noah went home. I kept feeling like my blood pressure was up, even after being pretty good over the last couple of days without medication, but I didn’t have my cuff to check. I guess that’s one more thing to check during my morning prep.

Opinions are like armpits, and yours are wrong.