All posts by Kris Johnson

Home Alone: Day Two – Tracking

Today’s schedule:

  Morning Afternoon Evening Late PM Early AM
Mon 28 Feb Work Play City of Heroes Sleep

So far, so good. I’m definitely at work. I do have something of a dilemma, though, and it pertains to lunch.

[Proceed only if you’re seriously bored. What follows certainly won’t excite, but perhaps its sheer, plodding mundanity will prompt you to get off your ass and do something – anything – else for a while.]

Continue reading Home Alone: Day Two – Tracking

Home Alone: Day One – Shot to Hell!

My schedule for today was supposed to look like this:

Date Morning Afternoon Evening Late PM Early AM
Sun 27 Feb Sleep Host D&D Sleep

Instead, I got up at 6:00a.m., packed Laura’s stuff in the MVoD, told her to drive carefully, and went back to bed started doing housework.

I know, I know. Not on the schedule. Way not on the schedule! Instead of my head hitting the pillow like Balboa’s fist against a side of beef, I vacuumed! I changed the sheets and made the bed! I cleaned up the dining room table! I filled the ice trays, straightened up the entertainment closet, brought dirty clothes down to the laundry room, fed the cats, took a shower, shaved, and emptied the trash cans!

What the hell is wrong with me?

It’s twenty after one. I should be rolling out of a puddle of my own drool right now, not running downstairs to empty the dishwasher!

Y’know what makes it worse? Laura didn’t leave me a “Honey Do” List. That’s right, I have absolutely no obligations outside of keeping myself and the cats alive until Sunday afternoon. Not a damn one.

I vacuumed this morning!

I make myself sick.

As they apparently say in the future: Frak.

As in, “Oh, frak!”

Or maybe, “You have got to be frakking kidding me!”

Or perhaps simply, “Frak!”

The MVoD is trying very hard to earn its title today. The doom in question applies to my wallet. As Laura is taking the family-friendly minivan to Florida this Sunday (and leaving me with her Sunbird), I thought it best to make sure the vehicle was in tip-top shape for the trip. So we brought it to the dealer for its 45,000 mile schedule maintenance and asked that they also address two other areas of concern:

  1. The ABS indicator occasionally comes on after I back up and won’t go off unless the vehicle is rebooted restarted. This has happened perhaps three times in the last month.
  2. The left rear turn signal assembly filled with water back in December. The water froze, some of the bulbs burned out and at least one of the sockets corroded.

Oh, and the brakes hadn’t been checked since we got the van.

The guy gave me a quote which was mildly painful but not unexpectedly exorbitant. Laura drove me to work, we had a nice breakfast in the cafeteria and took care of some charitable donation matching business. She left to babysit, I went to my 9:00 meeting.

The guy left me voicemail while I was in my 10:00 meeting.

I called the guy back. He gave me the laundry list:

  1. The ABS light is coming on because the speed sensor has been compromised. Replacing the speed sensor involves replacing the wheel bearing. Cha-ching!
  2. The front rotors and pads need to be replaced. Not unexpected, but still… cha-ching!
  3. The left rear taillight assembly circuit board must be replaced and both taillight assemblies sealed to prevent further leakage. Cha-ching!
  4. There’s coolant on the engine and the transmission. The intake manifold gasket is leaking and must be replaced. Oh, that one came outta left field! Cha-ching!

Er = Eo * 5.62

Where Eo is the original estimate and Er is the revised estimate and 5.62 is a hell of a lot to multiply the original estimate by.

Frak!

Kidney-punch to the wallet!

Now, I’ve got to step up and take some responsibility for this mess. See, I’ve been letting the regularly scheduled maintenance slip and just going for oil changes at Lube Stop. No rotation of tires. No checking of brakes. No nothing. I’ve got to believe that the cost of these repairs could – at the very least – have been spread out over the last couple of years, if not largely avoided with some preventative maintenance.

Frak me. Right in the face.

Gonna be a busy week.

Laura will be heading to Florida this Sunday with her sister, father, niece and nephew. This will leave me home alone without adult supervision. Hilarity may well ensue.

In an attempt to be somewhat responsible, I have made myself a schedule for the upcoming week:

Date Morning Afternoon Evening Late PM Early AM
Sun 27 Feb Sleep Host D&D Sleep
Mon 28 Feb Work Play City of Heroes Sleep
Tue 01 Mar Work Play City of Heroes Sleep
Wed 02 Mar Work Play City of Heroes Sleep
Thurs 03 Mar Work Play City of Heroes Sleep
Fri 04 Mar Work Play City of Heroes
Sat 05 Mar Sleep Play City of Heroes
Sun 06 Mar Complete “Honey Do” List D&D Sleep

I should probably eat, too. And feed the cats. I’ll pencil those in somewhere, I guess.

It’s all Obi-Wan’s fault. He’s jealous. He’s holding me back.

On the way home from Brasa Saturday night Laura said, “You know who would have made a good Anakin Skywalker? Nick Stahl.”

Nick Stahl portrays young Ben Hawkins on Carnivàle. He also played John Connor in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Both roles, I realized right then, have facets that are similar to the pre-Vader Anakin.

First, both Hawkins and Connor are unhappy with their current situation. In fact, they’re often downright pissed about it. Hawkins has powers he doesn’t understand or want, and he’s walking a path he’d rather avoid. Connor just wants to be left alone. Anakin, likewise, broods over the fact that the Jedi code prevents him from being with Amidala, and feels that his true potential is being stifled by Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Second, Ben and John are both pivotal figures in a battle of epic proportions. The big difference between these two guys and Anakin Skywalker seems to be that Ben and John don’t want to be as important as they are, while Anakin embraces his power.

And they’re all being manipulated in some way or another. Ben Hawkins’ strings are being pulled and plucked by the mysterious being known as Management (and, by extension, Samson). John Connor’s puppeteers were his mother and his future self (by way of the T-101 Terminator). Anakin Skywalker is being similarly “guided” by Senator/Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine.

Nick Stahl does a damn fine job portraying this type of character, and he brings real depth and personality to the roles (especially Ben Hawkins). He can be angry and frustrated and confused without drifting into whiny. Yeah, he would have made a good Anakin Skywalker.

If wishes were T-16 Skyhoppers…

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Is he sleeping with the peoples?

“Clean that crap off the bookshelf, I’m moving in.”

“Hey! Hey! Either you do something about those damn cats or I will. Keep them away from me, understand?”

“Watch it, pal. I can put the hurt on you in ways that would make the Marquis de Sade wet his pants.”

He was an angry, angry fish, and he deserved a better life.

R.I.P. Sushi
April 2003 – 13 February 2005

“Looks like an A2…”

I meant to take a Before picture of my teeth Friday morning, then an After picture post-filling replacement. Alas, I neglected to do the former, so the latter seems unimportant.

When I was but a lad, I had an unfortunate encounter with a wheelbarrow that knocked out a sizeable portion of my two front teeth. This left me with an inverted V between those teeth. Great for squirting water and looking like Buford Eustace Hillbilly. My mother, of course, found this unacceptable (good call, Mom) and made an appointment with Dr. Lawton to have the situation rectified. Thanks to the wonders of modern dentistry, fillings of the appropriate color were applied and my smile was repaired. There are probably one or two Before pictures available from that time, I’m sure.

Over time, the fillings discolored and decayed. They were touched up once years ago, but time had not been kind even if modern dentistry had. Until Friday, the fillings were noticeably discolored and degrading yet again. So, Friday morning the Good Doctor drilled out the old fillings and once more restored my front teeth to their former glory.

My mouth certainly looks better than it did (though my teeth are arranged in such a manner as to preclude me from seeking a career as a toothpaste spokesperson), but one of the fillings chipped a bit at some point during the weekend. It’s not really noticeable unless your eye is about eight inches from my mouth, but my tongue… well, that’s another story. To my tongue, the tooth in question feels like the surface of the asteroid in Armageddon (“Okay, so the scariest environment imaginable. Thanks. That’s all you gotta say, scariest environment imaginable.“).

So, I guess I need to make another appointment with the Good Doctor to have further repairs made.

In other news, The Venture Brothers is probably the funniest cartoon on television these days. You should watch it.

Rabbit Hole

When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t open my left eye. I didn’t notice it right away, not until I looked in the bathroom mirror and saw that half of my face appeared to be asleep. I screamed like a girl. Laugh if you want, but I’ll bet you’d do the same thing.

It’s not like my eye is stuck, or anything. I just can’t open it. It’s like there just aren’t any muscles in the lid. I can’t move the eye, either. When I touch my eyelid, I can feel my fingertip. If I pull on the eyelashes, I can feel that, too. When I look left, right, up or down, I can’t feel my eyeball moving behind the lid. And if I gently pull the eyelid back with my fingertip… God, it’s just creepy. It’s like looking into a dead man’s eye. Honestly, when I pulled back the lid and looked into the mirror, I almost threw up.

I can’t open my eye, I can’t move my eye, and I can’t see out of it, either. It’s still there, but it doesn’t work at all. Standing in front of the bathroom mirror, I looked at my left eye with my right eye, and my left eye didn’t look back. It just stared off at who-knows-what, and whatever indescribable quality lends life to the ocular organ was simply not there. I couldn’t look at it for more than a second or two before feeling like I’d lose what was left of last night’s dinner.

Something has happened to my brain, I think. Not a stroke, but that definitely crossed my mind. That and about a thousand other neurological train wrecks. Whatever it is, nothing else feels different. I can talk and move all of my limbs and extremities. Every other part of my body is working as it did yesterday. But my eye… my eye has been turned off somehow, and whatever part of my brain processes visual input doesn’t seem to miss it.

I’m aware that my field of vision has decreased, but where it seems like there should be this … I don’t know, this black space, there isn’t. Does that make sense? Go ahead, close your left eye, or just put your hand over it. See that? Blackness on the left. Dark. A definite area of darkness. Your left eye, though covered, is still … on. Mine isn’t. There’s no black area. Just as there’s no black area around your normal, both-eyes-open, field of vision. I don’t know if that makes sense or not, but I’m not sure how to better explain it.

My depth perception, which should be shot to hell, is … different. Once I (abruptly) moved from that early morning almost awake phase into full blown, in-your-face consciousness, I started thinking about these things. The world seems to have many layers to it right now. If I focus on what I’m looking at, I’m aware that I’m not really seeing in three dimensions, but it’s not exactly two dimensions, either. Instead, there are layers, like those old plays where the scenery is all cutouts and there are layers of ocean wave cutouts between which the boat cutout moves, and further back there’s a sea serpent cutout gliding between more layers of ocean waves.

I’m sure that made absolutely no sense, but the point is that I’m not bumping into doors or knocking over coffee cups because I can’t judge how far away they are. If I don’t think about it, everything feels normal. My subconscious has made some crucial adjustment that my conscious mind can’t quite handle.

Are you with me so far? Because this is where things get weird. This is where you’ll want to call the men in white suits.

Laura, deep sleeper that she is, slept right through my little panic attack. I shook her awake, and she got out of bed. Well, one of her did. One Laura sat up and put her glasses on, but another ignored me and kept right on sleeping. The Laura who got up was solid and whole, while the one who stayed in bed started out solid, but quickly faded from sight. By the time Awake Laura stood up, I could see right through Sleeping Laura. When Awake Laura asked me what was wrong, Sleeping Laura was almost gone. When Awake Laura asked me what I was looking at, Sleeping Laura disappeared entirely, and I wasn’t sure I’d seen her at all.

As I explained what was happening with my eye, I kept seeing strange things. When Laura talked, her lips seemed blurry. Sometimes, a phantom arm would reach for my shoulder, only to disappear like smoke in a breeze. When she said we should call someone, I saw her turn to pick up the phone, yet she was still looking at me. After a moment, the Laura on the phone (With who? I wondered. Her mother, maybe?) faded and disappeared. Laura suggested that we go to the Emergency Room, and immediately there was another of her in the bedroom, hurriedly getting dressed, while the first speculated that I might have nerve damage. I wasn’t sure which was real until the dressing Laura started to become transparent. After a few moments I realized that I was seeing Laura’s choices. Everything she might do, she was doing, and I saw every option play out and those that weren’t exercised dissolved like cool mist in the sunlight.

Sometimes, it was easy to tell what was really happening and what wasn’t. Minor decisions, those with little or no consequence, appeared as only faint, spectral images, while choices of more importance seemed solid and real. I quickly learned that however real one of the alternate Lauras might seem, they were insubstantial. Trying to touch a choice not made would result in it dissipating into nothing.

Laura didn’t run when I told her what I was seeing, but I know she thought about it. I saw her phantasmal form jump back, scramble over the bed, and disappear just before it passed through the bedroom door. She saw me watch the ghost dash across the room and said, “I’m not going anywhere, Kris. And I believe you.”

“I know,” I replied. “I could see right through you.”


January 27th is the anniversary of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s arrival on Earth. He has since departed, but before doing so he wrote several interesting tales under the pen name Lewis Carroll. The above post is my contribution to LJ Rabbit Hole Day.

(Cross-posted from my LiveJournal, obviously.)

MLRWRFC for short.

When you tell the guy behind the counter at Caribou that you need (need) a medium light roast with room for cream and he gives you a medium light roast with room for cream and you pay for a medium light roast with room for cream and you leave the store with a medium light roast with room for cream and get in the MVoD with a medium light roast with room for cream and get halfway to work with a medium light roast with room for cream when you realize you forgot to add the cream to the medium light roast with room for cream…well, you’ve got a couple of choices. You can:

  1. present the medium light roast with room for cream without the cream to your boss with your humblest apologies and enjoy your large Va Va Vanilla (which doesn’t need room for anything else).
  2. stop by the cafeteria and steal some creamer for the medium light roast with room for cream.
  3. stop by the cafeteria and buy some half and half for the medium light roast with room for cream.
  4. present your boss with an empty cup which once contained a medium light roast with room for cream and tell her a woeful tale with much tripping and spilling involved.
  5. turn the MVoD around and go back to Caribou with the medium light roast with room for cream and add the cream.

So, WWKJD?