Too tired to post for several months

Where have I been the last few months?

Well, I have been busy in the real world and forgot to maintain my virtual presence.

Short summary:

Kids have been working us hard-middle of the night wakeups, the two year old showing up in the bed sometime during the night, resistance to going to bed-in other words, we are spending lots of energy and getting little rest.

Work has kept me busy-lots of 6 day weeks. Lots of 0-dark-30 wake ups to get in by 0600. Contributing to the aforementioned lack of sleep.

School has kept me busy too-foolishly taking another grad class in engineering. When will I learn to stop learning and have some fun?

Shorter summary: after the kids go to bed, I collapse, then get up and go to work, then pick up kids, then try to get kids to bed, start over.

Send a post card to our troops

It's the winter holiday season, which is a hard time for people to be away from home. It's even harder if you are sitting somewhere in the middle of a war zone, with bombs going off, people trying to kill you, friends getting wounded or killed, etc. Send a post card to one of our troops. It's easy and it's quick. Select other for the message content and type in your own words rather than using the precanned messages on the site. In case the link above is not working, here is the URL again: http://www.letssaythanks.com/


Stolen motorcycle update

About a week ago, the insurance company transferred ownership of my old bike to Argo Cycles in New Hampshire (http://www.argocycles.com). I have put a link to the picutes of the bike in the title, but I will add a photo here as well. The bike was stock (as shown in the previous post), but has been repainted and chromed. They also installed low profile turn signals, removed the old plastic fender in the rear and apparently put in some custom horns.


Sometimes there is a little justice

Flash back to my pre-blogging, pre-kids, pre-marriage days. It is 2002 and I just bought a CBR954RR in black/silver/white. Very cool looking, very fast liter class sport bike. Suddenly, going to work wasn't so bad, because I was going to do it at 100+ mph, feeling like it was 60 mph because the ride was so smooth. If you can love a machine, then that bike was loved.
Flash forward two years and I am posting this information around work and by email:
Some bastards stole my motorcycle. I doubt any of you will come across this bike, but if any of you should see it, give me a call. 2002 Honda CBR954RR, CT Plate: 743683
• Picture is not my bike, but is the same model, year, colors.
• Distinguishing features: Frame sliders mounted on the frame near the engine and on the rear swing arm.
• Stolen from driveway on Rood Avenue, Windsor, CT sometime between 2000hrs on 10 JUNE and 1400hrs on 11 JUNE
Flash forward two more years. I have been paid by my insurance. I have purchased a nice but less capable replacement bike. I am somewhat unhappy about it, but what can you do? I have two kids and need to pay some bills, so I can't afford an exact replacement anytime soon. I was recently telling this story to a coworker who also had a bike stolen. Yesterday, I get a call from the Windsor police department. Some dude was pulled over by the state police in Connecticut on my old bike. He was arrested and the bike was recovered. Unfortunately, the insurance now owns it and it is against their policy to sell vehicles back to the former owners. Here is the real kicker. I called the body shop that is holding the bike. It is in immaculate condition, has had a new paint job, custom wheels, etc, the shop owner estimated ~$2000 worth of work. So this asshole who may have either stolen my bike or possibly purchased it knowing that it was stolen sank a pile of cash into the bike and is now cooling his heels in jail. There is a little justice in the world, but not much. I think I would have been happier if all they found was pieces of the frame with the VIN on it. The idea that someone else in Connecticut was riding my bike, customizing it, enjoying the road just makes it all worse somehow.

Longing for the days when they would hang a man for stealing a horse.....


Do Not Follow This Link

I haven't been posting because I have been hunting zombies in Malton. Now I am (un)dead (for the second time) and all I can saw is Mrh and Graagh! Don't start playing this game. You have been warned.


Real Pizza in Texas

This may not be a big deal to you, unless you grew up in Chicago and then left for other parts of the country. Nobody else's pizza ever tasts right. And most places insist on cutting pizza's into pie shaped slices, which is okay if the pizza is small, but makes them unwieldy if they are large. Most places in Chicago cut regular (non-deep dish) pizza's into square shaped pieces. This makes them small and easy to manage. I finally found a place in Texas that knows how to make real pizzas. How? Well, it turns out they are from Chicago, that's how. Enter Little Joe's Famous Chicago Pizza and Restaurante. Now I never heard of them before, so I don't know how famous they really are, but their menu states they originated on 63rd street and have locations in Tinley Park and New Lennox (following the exodus out of the city no doubt). When we opened up the box, I immediately declared that it looked like real pizza. The taste wasn't too bad. The sauce was a little mild for my preferences, but otherwise everything else was much better than any other local pizza joint.

We can now survive in Texas indefinitely.


Back on four wheels (at least sometimes)

I finally bought a car. It is a black 2006 Mazda3 s touring 5 door. Here is some tech data:
  • Mazda3 specs

  • I have only had it two days, but so far, I like it. I got the 5 speed manual because I always wanted one, but never owned one. It is pretty fun. I am not real skilled with first gear (seem to keep lighting up the tires). Low speed is the hardest part. I am getting the hang of it. Riding a motorcycle no doubt helped a little, but the body mechanics are different (shifting with my hand and clutching with my foot instead of the other way around. Different hand too!).

    Anyway, if you are on a Texas highway and something small, loud, and black screams by your flank, I apologize in advance for spilling your coffee.



    Finally, some good news. The Connecticut house has sold. It is now someone else's moneypit. I wish them the best of luck and hope nothing breaks while they own it, but let's face it, it is a 50 year old house built using tecnologies that hadn't changed too much in the 50 years preceding it's construction. If I ever have to buy a house again, it will be the (que tv announcer voice) "The Home of the Future". Automation built in from the start, cat 5, coax, phone and any other connections built in. Robot vacuum cleaners (hmmm-should get one now since we do not have a dog).

    Side note-I now have to go spend some of the equity on a car. My target specs are 200-300 horsepower, turbo or super charged, all wheel drive, stick shift, 4 wheels, at least 2 doors and at least 4 seats and a trunk. My target price is less than $20000. This will be a tricky optimization problem, as I would prefer to buy new. I may need to reduce my target horsepower and I may have to drop all wheel drive from the specs as well. I hate not getting everything I want.


    Good news, bad news

    Well, the good news is I made it back to Chicago for some good pizza and time with my family. I even met an aunt that I had last seen in the 1980s. The bad news is we all got together to bury my favorite uncle. I am getting tired of carrying coffins. That's twice in less than 6 months. Heading back out of town tomorrow. I resolve to come back again for a happy event.


    There has to be some good news in this guy's life

    If you have read any of this stuff, you would think all I do is move from one disaster to another. That nothing good is happening at all. Well, it has been a rough few months, but here is some good news:

    -Job is going reasonably well and the location is interesting and entertaining from time to time (if you like loud military jets-I do-we call it the sound of freedom).
    -My son started walking at the end of January. He still likes being carried around, but he is also starting to walk on his own. I sense some relief on the horizon for sore arms, neck and back.
    -My wife is not pregnant anymore. She gave birth to our daughter, who is sound asleep on my lap as a I type this. New borns are the tiniest humans you will ever see. She is smaller and lighter than our cats and loves to curl up in a ball in your arms.

    The only bad thing this week is the weather is cold enough to make me want to skip riding my motorcycle. I thought Texas was supposed to be warm, dammit!


    Goodbye, Dad

    So where were we? Oh yeah, the toilet had exploded on 12 DEC 2005. Shortly after attempting to mitigate the flooding coming out of the bathroom (if you have recently moved, you have lots of cardboard boxes, which make great carpet runner to cover up wet, shit soaked carpeting on a temporary basis), I called the property management hotline and left a scathing message. I thne returned to the computer room to attempt to set up the wireless network once more. Just as I got there the phone rang. An old friend of the family was on the phone and asked how I was doing. I was about to relay the story of the toilet, when she interrupted me and said my dad was in the hospital. The first thing I thought was car accident, but instead I was told he was sick all weekend and went into the hospital that morning. He was apparently in the ICU and getting blood transfusions due to internal bleeding. Mom's cell phone was dead and there wasn't a phone in the room, so the family friend was tasked with tracking me down.

    Long pause as brain readjusts to the change in reality.

    Thanks to the internet and the entire US government-industry partnership in aerospace, I was able to procure a ticket back home to Chicago leaving at 0630 the next morning. Spent the next little while packing, emailing boss and coworkers and worrying without useful data. Emailed my mom to let her know I was heading into town. Emailed my network of Chicago based friends to let them know what was happening. Worried but had no data to either calm myself or confirm my worries. Got a couple of hours of sleep, then drove to the airport.

    Side note ot airports everywhere: If you are open for business (airplanes taking off and landing), your coffee and food vendors should be open for business as well. I do not function well on 2 hours sleep with no coffee. People near me are at risk of getting their heads chopped off with a single blow from the edge of my hand. This is the real national security issue facing our air transport system today.

    Back to me having a bad day. Normally, I do not tend to sleep well on airplanes or in cars. I just have fundamental trust issues when someone else is in control of the vehicle. If you have this problem, may I suggest avoiding all but a couple of hours sleep and skipping caffeine intake for the day? I was unconcious for most of the flight.

    Got to Chi-town, picked up the rental car, drove at best speed out to the family office where my mom was waiting (difficult in morning rush hour traffic). More disturbing news. Dad had received on the order of 4-5 units of blood over night. He was still unconcious. One of his doctor's phoned my mom and told her to rescind her request for extraordinary measures. Apparently, Dad had been diagnosed with cirrhosis of liver and the doctor said 5 years was a great run. No doctor had seen fit to mention this to my mom over the last 5 years. It is amazing how a portion of your brain can sit and be extremely angry, but also totally compartmentalized so you can function normally.

    So we make the journey to the hospital and I get to see my Dad for the first time in several months. It's bad. It's about the worst thing I have ever seen. Dad looked already dead. He was plugged into about 3 iv pumps for different drugs as well as saline solution, all aimed at keeping his blood pressure up high enough to maintain life. He had a tube coming out of his throat that was sucking blood out of his stomach and dumping it into a small bucket (I am sure there is a fancy medical term for this, but let's just call it a bucket of blood). It was full. They had him on a respirator to help him breathe. It was set for about 14 breaths per minute and it registered about 28, so some part of Dad was still alive and trying to breath on his own, but it was very labored. His skin was like ice and his limbs were stiff from the effects of the blood pressure medication. Heart rate was low (below 60). Blood pressure kept dropping and they tried to up the dosage on the drugs, but they were near the maximum dosage. I never saw a single one of his doctors, or any doctor for that matter. I guess those fuckers were playing golf or something and did not have time to visit one of their oldest patients as he lay dying. Doctors suck. They are dead to me.

    We stayed with him for a few hours. Do you know that nurses seem to be incapable of saying that someone is dying? They used some really stupid euphemisms. His soul is trying to go to heaven. Huh? Are we in a hospital or a church? Is heaven on the 8th floor near radiology? What the hell is wrong with these people? This crap is not comforting. All we needed was a straight answer (yes, he is dying, no there is no hope, I am sorry). That way we could get our heads around the problem, accept it and try to deal with the emotional fallout. Eventually, we left for a while. It was obvious he was dying, so we made arrangements with a funeral home and a church. Started calling relatives to get them ready, etc. We remembered to eat, which was good. Then we went back to the hospital for the death watch.

    I have stood watches on a warship at sea. I have sat in a hospital awaiting the birth of a child (and watched and helped out as much as a man can in such circumstances). I have waited on the results of job interviews and school exams. Nothing compares to waiting for someone you love to die while knowing there is nothing left to do but watch. Dad never regained conciousness. Part of me is still convinced that his brain and mind were gone sometime the previous night. We asked the nurses to stop giving him the blood pressure medication. His blood pressure dropped so low that the automated sensor had trouble measuring it. His heart rate was getting so slow that the machine kept calling out a code that the nurses had to cancel. His breath rate dropped to the setting on the respirator. It seemed that was all that was keeping the body going. We asked the nurses to remove the respirator. They told us we had to speak to the chaplain. Apparently they do double duty as lawyers. It turned out we needed some sort of living will or durable power of attorney, which we did not have. Now, if any of those fucking doctor's had shown up, they could have written orders to remove the respirator, but it was now night time, so no doubt they were out having a few drinks somewhere instead of helping one of their patients. We were stunned. Dad was only hanging on because of the respirator. How much longer would we have to watch? All of the sudden, while we were arguing the insanity of the situation with the hospital chaplain, the nurse pointed to the screen and said he was gone. We all looked. Flatline. Just like on tv and in the movies. A straight line for the pulse sensor with an annoying extended beep. I almost expected to hear someone yell out "Charge paddles to 20, clear!". The nurse turned off the monitor and we left the room while the pulled out tubes and electrodes and everything else. After he was cleaned up, we went in and said goodbye. Then we filled out paperwork and went home.

    The rest of the week went by in a blur. We waked him on 16 DEC 2006 and held his funeral on the 17th. I was a pall bearer, even though some told me that I was supposed to stand with my Mom. Somehow, I couldn't let others carry my Dad in my place. Since it was winter, we just delivered his coffin to the graveyard chapel. Too bloody cold to dig a grave. At least without heavy equipment. I stayed a few days to help out and then flew back to Texas.

    I should mention that my pregnant wife came up with our 1 year old son to help me through the week after Dad died. Amazing what women will do for you.

    I should also say that my best friend, known in this realm as Equalitist, stood by me through the death watch and through the week that followed. All of my friends came to the wake and funeral. Thank you all for your support.

    I miss fighting with my Dad on the phone....