Thursday, January 30, 2014

Snow Day Retirement Party

At three in the morning it got down to 1°F, although it didn't feel that cold; presumably the thick blanket of snow helped. The roads had been plowed enough that the office was open, although we were told "get here when you can" rather than "at the usual time".
Today was my retirement lunch! The people from Accounting (Karen, Des, Tina, Ashley--Jocelyn hadn't made it through the snow) and Customer Service (Jimmy, Rich, Georgette, Greg, Zoe, and Ryan who's moving into my spot) were there. My "speech" was "Hi, y'all"; they asked me if I would change my mind about leaving, asked whether we were moving and what our plans were, and said that the eight years I'd been with them had been fun. "You should retire more often!"
We got out early so people could drive home before it got dark and before the melted snow could refreeze. When I got home, there was all this fresh, untouched snow in front of the I made a snow angel.

Snow Angel

The roads were clear enough that I could make it to work, although they let us out early so we could slide home during daylight instead of evening. On arriving home, I helped push a couple of cars into and out of parking spaces. And then I made a snow angel. Because snow.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


It snowed last night. nearly ten inches. I'm used to a snowy morning being unusually quiet, but in this case I was awakened at 6:15 by someone revving his engine, spinning his tires, pause, rev, spin, pause, and repeat for about twenty minutes. I don't know if he eventually got out of his parking space or gave up.
In the afternoon I got out the shovel and scooped snow off the steps and out from behind the car. First time I've shoveled snow in ages. Mostly we stayed indoors, though; the snow was too dry to make snowballs, and we were busy moving furniture in preparation for the Great Montreal Import.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Counting the Days

At work today, speaking of my impending retirement, someone said "You must be counting the days!"

Well, no. You'd think I would be, and it sounds odd even to me that I'm not. I really should have a big calendar, on which I gleefully mark out each remaining day with a fat red marker. If I hated my job, I'm sure I would be counting off the minutes until I could get free; but I don't hate it, it's just that I want to do other things now.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dancing girls

Diana is at Mum's house in Montreal, pointing out which stuff goes to Virginia Beach, which stuff goes to the Salvation Army, which stuff stays for the new owner.

Since she's away, I had three dancing girls over. Well, dancing somethings. With the mukluks and parkas and all, it was kind of hard to tell if they were, in fact, girls. They may have been manatees.

Power went out for a couple of hours, and it got down to 54° in the house, which is better than the 16° outside, but still pretty chilly. It was also dark, but you can use a laptop as a substitute flashlight, somewhat awkwardly.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Cold and snow. Diana is in Montreal, where it's something like -30°, but that's okay, it's supposed to be cold there. It's not supposed to be 13° in Virginia Beach. With three inches of snow. Brr.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Movie Weekend

Diana is out of town this weekend so I've watched a couple of movies:

  • Big Trouble in Little China. I was wondering how I missed seeing this when it was originally released, and the answer is that it came out in 1986 when I was in grad school. Kurt Russell and his buddy Wang Chi set off to rescue Wang's girlfriend McGuffin--er, Miao Yin--from the sorceror Lo Pan and his mini-bosses Thunder, Rain and Lightning. The great line, after they slay the villains and rescue the girl (and some other girls they run across along the way), is " We really shook the pillars of heaven, didn't we, Wang?" This appears to be a reference to Job 26:11: "The pillars of Heaven shake and are amazed at His rebuke."
  • The Warrior's Way. A Japanese warrior/assassin refuses to kill the baby who is the last surviving member of the enemy clan; he takes the child, fights his way through his clan's other killers, and goes to the American West. He starts a new life as a laundryman in a small town, taking care of the baby and befriending a young woman. However, outlaws come raiding. The hero must take up his sword again, but once unsheathed, the sword's lament draws the clan assassins who are hunting him. This one didn't have any notable quotes but it did have a good structure, with The Final Battle Against the Outlaws being interrupted by the Final Battle Against the Assassins.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


I told my boss nearly a month ago that I was ready to leave; today I officially handed in my resignation. Huzzah! I've started training my replacement, telling my customers that I'm going, and cleaning off my desk.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Following up on my resolution to try new foods, we made Costa Rican Beef and Chayote, which is not actually a dish I saw in Costa Rica, but we tried it. Mostly ground beef and onions, plus garlic, parsley, curry powder, diced tomatoes, green pepper...and chayote squash. Chayote looks like a pear but tastes more like cucumber, maybe with a taste of celery. If you're out of zucchini, and you happen to have a chayote laying around, you can use it as a substitute. Not the sort of taste explosion that would cause anyone to weep for joy; on the other hand, it isn't a lutefisk-and-kimchee sandwich.


With assistance from Mad Mike Williamson, I have obtained a kukri. One more item checked off the bucket list. Nearly ready for the zombie alpaca lips.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sugar Cane Juice

Available in canned form, from the Asian market. Back 40-some years ago, I could get it straight from the cane, which (according to my 40+-year-old memories) was better than this. But it's something new to try.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Company Party

My employer had its annual Awards Dinner and Casino Night, and since this is my last one before retirement, we decided to attend. Half an hour of drinks to get you numb enough to go through the next hour, which included the Comedy Routine, the Look Back at 2013, the Awards, and the Company Plans for 2014. Last go round the awards part dragged on and on as the top few sales guys got award after award and everyone else sat there; this time was fewer awards and a bit more spread out, which was a lot better, After that it was dinner and conversation, which would have been followed by gambling with monopoly money, except we slipped out around 8:30 and headed home.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Frozen Pipes

An arctic air mass has slid across the US which has made it bitterly cold--meaning 14° here Monday night, and much colder in the Midwest. This morning I woke up at 5:30 to the chirping of my Uninterruptable Power Supply, because our electricity had gone out. So I came downstairs, saw the temperature inside the house was 57°, and got the UPS to stop making noise...whereupon I heard water running under the house. Marvelous. First time I've ever had pipes break. Fortunately there's a main cutoff valve inside the house, so I cranked it to OFF and crawled back under the covers. Electricity came back on at 6am.
Called the plumber at 8am, they promised he'd be there before noon. We had a couple of gallon jugs of water, so we could heat up a cupful for tea and a bowlful for a sponge bath, Not exactly sufficient but better than nothing.
Noon came and went. The plumber did not.
Several more calls. "We'll put you on the schedule", they said. Silly me, I'd thought we already were on the schedule, but I guess just calling and getting a "he'll be there before noon" doesn't count.
More calls. I'm wondering which day he'll show up.
Finally the van arrives at 8pm. Plumber is a nice guy and has obviously had a long day. He crawls under the house and resurfaces with good news: the pipe did not actually break. What happened was, the cold caused the copper to contract enough that it pulled out of the coupling to the back deck faucet. He puts an end-stop on the pipe so we can turn the water back on; he'll have to come back to reconnect the deck faucet but it's not like we're watering plants in January anyway. Disaster averted.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


I say tamarind juice in the Asian market and brought some home. Tastes something like quince, something like guava with the grassy taste. I was thinking of Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica, when I got it; however, it was originally native to tropical Africa.

Saturday, January 4, 2014


For my first time out of the house in a week (not counting trips to doctor's offices and the hospital), I went to Ryan's to kick the gaming year off with a bout of Ironclads. Dan, Ryan and I rotated among the three ships in the Ferrol 1865 scenario, with the Confederates winning twice, the Union eking out a win once.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Years

What an exciting New Years. I had a recurrence starting Sunday night of whatever it was that I had for Thanksgiving week in 2012, although thankfully this time has been rather milder--we caught it earlier and went to Urgent Care first thing Monday morning. Spent the rest of the day (and indeed, most of the week) taking antibiotics and propping up my leg. Tuesday, we cancelled our New Years Eve dinner reservation, pulled out the laptop and watched Hopscotch, a charming Walter Matthau movie from 1980. Wednesday, back to the doc for another shot. Today, to the hospital for an ultrasound on my ankle to see if this is being caused by a blood flow issue--which it is apparently not.
But I read a novel, parts of a couple of rule sets (Monsters and Other Childish Things, Don't Rest Your Head, Godlike) and set up Navajo Wars.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Things to do in 2014 (a partial list):
  • Climb Mt Rogers and Buffalo Mountain 
  • Take yoga/aikido/tai chi/something class
  • Revisit Costa Rica
  • Try new foods--things like pummelo, chayote, cherimoya
  • Attend LibertyCon, Historicon, SLC ComicCon, GZGECC and others
  • Visit Mesa Verde, Shiprock, Monument Valley
  • Reconnect with the Charlottesvillains 
  • Study investing
  • Write 120,000 words of fiction
  • Visit Virginia ACW battlefields