Category Archives: General

What Happened To The Garbage-men?

You know what I long for?

I long for the days when you could just put garbage on your curb on the appointed day, and a truck would come by and scoop it all away.  No matter how much or how little you had.  A couple of big, burly guys would hop off the truck and chuck everything into the big compactor and take it away. No muss, no fuss. Crazy talk, I know…

Some of you are thinking, “wait, don’t they do that now?”.  To which I respond, not in my city they don’t.  It really chaps my hide too.

See, apparently our garbage removal company and/or city has passed a rule that they absolutely will not pick up anything that doesn’t fit in your oversized rental garbage can.  You know, the ones that they use the fancy truck-based-picker-upper arm and everything.  So long to the burly guys who earned our respect for working hard.  Apparently these guys just sit in the truck sipping their coffee as the truck does all the actual work.  I fully admit that I’m all in favor of technology and efficiency and the future and all that good stuff, but not when it actually provides a WORSE end service.  Technology is supposed to make our lives easier.

Now, normally this isn’t a problem for us.  Jess and I seem to generate a rather small amount of trash on a weekly basis. Jess is a big recycler, so a lot of our “trash” actually ends up in the recycle bin.  Most of the time, in our big 90-gallon rolly-can we’ll have 1 or maybe 2 13-gallon garbage bags in there. Maybe a pizza box. That’s it.  I’m sure it will change once the twins get here, but still. We’re just not big garbage producers.

However, recently we just had two cribs shipped to us which, of course were packed in an abundance of cardboard and styrofoam.  Big old boxes… and I have 2 of them.  Yesterday was garbage day, and just for shits and giggles I decided to put one out on the curb just in case they might actually take one.  Of course, it was wishful thinking because when I got home from work, that friggin box was still sitting next to the can.

So, I have to spend 45 minutes with a box cutter chopping all this crap into bite size pieces in order to fit EVERYTHING in the can, since they won’t even dump the can if the lid isn’t 100% closed.  It will probably take me at least 3 weeks to dispose of all this packaging since I can’t fit it into the can with our normal garbage.  That really pisses me off.  Because of the shape of the can, which tapers at the bottom, you really can’t fit anything even remotely “big” into it. Anger. Don’t even get me started on yard waste.  If I mow the lawn and bag it I will fill about half our garbage can.  Which means, unless I have only a bag or 2 of small stuff, I can’t really dispose of anything else that week. Thusly, I have crap just stacking up in the garage waiting until the week where I don’t have a lot of regular garbage so I can chuck it. I really don’t want to have to think about scheduling my garbage disposal. Seriously… this is where we’re at now?  I don’t have enough to think about, I have to track my garbage?

Oh, they’ll happily rent me another can (and charge me for the privilege, of course).  But, 90% of the time, that can would just sit there empty and take up a huge chunk of space. Not to mention that I’ll still have to spend my time chopping up every piece of cardboard larger than a foot wide anyway.

I guess I just wish we still had regular old trash service like when I was a kid. I can remember some weeks when there were 4 cans, 6 large bags, and an old rusted out something-or-another all there to be whisked away by our friendly neighborhood garbage man.

I miss those days.

Good-Bye Old Friend

This past weekend, Jess and I finally pulled the trigger and bought a new car.  It was obviously needed for the 2 little bundles of joy that are rapidly approaching.  We needed something bigger.  Something safer. So, we bought a 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe.  But this post is not about the new car.  It’s about my old friend.

We first met in March of 1999.  I was still in college and delivering pizzas and was fresh off the nightmare that was my 1987 VW GTI.  The same car that cost me $250 every other month in repairs like clockwork.  The car I bought for $7500 but probably ended up paying over 15 grand for when you add up all the repairs.  To say I was trepidatious would be an understatement.  I wanted something nice, but more importantly I wanted something reliable.

I saw you sitting on the lot.  1996 Acura Integra. Bright silver paint gleaming in the early spring sunlight.  Took you for a test drive and immediately knew you’d be the one.  You were sporty. You were fun. At almost $11,000 you were more expensive than all my previous cars put together.  As an aside those cars were, in order, a powder blue ’78 Datsun longbed pickup, an ’84 Honda Civic, and the aforementioned VW.

You were a lease return with a single owner.  But more importantly, you would be mine.  I knew Honda/Acura’s rep for reliability, but still I ended up purchasing an extended warranty anyway.  That’s how gun-shy I was.

1999.  Y2K was still 9 months away. Gas was $1.20 a gallon. The web looked like this, this and this.

It was a long time ago.  But ever since that day, we have been inseparable. With the exception of the miscellaneous vacation, I’ve driven you just about every single day for 11 years and 5 months.  Approximately 4,015 days. That is like buying a car halfway through your 1st grade year and driving it every day until you graduate high school.

You have been my one singular constant over these past 11 years. Everything else has changed, but you were always there.  Friends have come and gone.  You were still there. I’ve lived in 6 different places, bought 2 houses. You always helped me move my crap. I worked at Pizza Hut, 8 years at Hewlett-Packard and 3 years at Wirestone. You drove me there every morning. I went through single, dating, engaged, married, divorced, single, dating, engaged, married and kids on the way. You were always there.

The 4th digital picture I ever took was of you (the one above). I’ve now got more megapixels in my phone than that camera had and I had already owned you for a year.  I’ve since taken over 20,000 pictures. You never complained that you didn’t end up in more of them.

You weren’t perfect. The AC hasn’t worked for years, which made for some hot sweaty summers.  Your power antenna stopped moving up and down. As I got older, I complained about your manual transmission, but it wasn’t your fault that I was getting lazy. When your cupholders had contents, I couldn’t see the radio. But the only major repair I ever had to do in 11 years was replace your radiator. You showed your age like any 14 year old car would with various squeaks and rattles.

But you still ran like a top. My last tank of gas got me over 35 miles per gallon. I think this is one area where you actually improved over the years.  Almost like you knew the price of gas was going up and were going to do everything you could to help me out. You survived all those winters being parked outside without ever leaving me stranded.

Friday evening we received a call from the dealer that they had the very model of car that we had been searching for.  So, first thing Saturday morning, we drove over to the dealer to see if we could make a deal.  I don’t know why, but during the drive I don’t think it occurred to me at the time that this would ultimately be my last time to drive you.  I think I was too focused on negotiating a good deal and the obvious excitement of possibly getting a new car.  I wish now I had taken a bit longer to drive there.  I wish I had recognized just how momentous the occasion was. Instead, I zipped into the parking lot and hopped out. Blithely oblivious to the fact that that was the last time I would ever sit in your seat or close your door.

Three hours later, I had negotiated you away. I’d like to think that I did you one last solid.  They had offered me $1,800 on your trade in.  In the course of the negotiations and in my efforts to drive down the price of the new car, they added those negotiated dollars to your value.  Sure, it all comes out the same in the end, but I ended up trading you in for $3,400. That has to make you happy.  Your last act to me was to get me a better deal for your replacement.  Thank you buddy.

Upon leaving the dealership, you were parked right next to the door.  So, I snapped a few last pictures of you with my cellphone.

96 Acura Integra

And that was that.

I’m sorry I didn’t keep you cleaner over the years. I’m sorry I didn’t change your oil quite as often as I should have. I’m sorry I didn’t hold on to you for my unborn girls to ultimately drive, but you would be at least 30 years old by the time that day came around.

No car will ever mean more to me than you did. I can promise you that. I will miss you.

I hope your new owners love you half as much as I did.  I’ll keep my eyes peeled for you when I’m on the roads.  I will always remember that road trip to Vegas where we made it in less than 9 hours and you put up 100+ in the middle of the Nevada desert.

Good-bye old friend.

The Big Reveal – I’m Officially Outnumbered

My other option for a title was going to be “What is 2/3 of a Motley Crue song?”

The answer?

Girls, Girls.

There you have it.  We have two little girls on the way.  It appears that my gut feeling yesterday morning turned out to be correct.  As did Jess’s gut (although she had an advantage as the kids are significantly closer to her guts and all).

On the health front, both girls size/weight are projecting them directly on the due date, which is good.  Right at .7 lbs each. All systems are still go.  All the anatomy checked out too… hearts, spines, brains, kidneys, the whole shooting match. I’m going to go on the record here.  You know, as much as you can deduce from a single 20 week ultrasound and all.  Baby A (the lower one) will be the hyperactive one.  She was basically Ester Williams in there.  Hardly remaining in one place and instead performing water ballet.  Baby B, the upper one, will be the more relaxed one.  She just kinda hung out while the ultrasound was going and sucked her thumb… in addition to laying completely upside down.  Full relaxation mode.

Downside… no boy.  Which, I have to admit, is a bit of a bummer for me.  More on this later.

I have to admit, there are a lot of plusses here.  One set of clothes. One set of toys. They can share a room a lot longer. We can refer to them as both “the twins” and “the girls”, you know, just to change it up, so that’s a plus right? I’m sure there will be other advantages too…

So there you have it.  The last big surprise until the bigger day comes.

Girls…

As a postscript, I’m taking to our other blog at http://thehabermans.net to do some micro-blogging about this whole thing.  I’m planning on using that one to just crank out short posts about how things are going in this whole deal. This blog will remain for the bigger posts, however. Keep your eye on that space as well for a snapshot of my thoughts on day to day life of having a wife pregnant with twins.  I believe Jess is going to blog there as well.

The Coin of the Realm

The Almighty QuarterThe other day I was jingling some change in my pocket, not really thinking about anything.  When I pulled it from my pocket and looked at it… I must admit I still got small charge from it.

There they were.  Quarters.  Dear god do I still love quarters.

When I was a kid, quarters were the first “real” money you could get.  Sure, for a penny you could get a crappy bit of bubble gum from the machines in front of the grocery store.  Nickels were silver, which was cool, but nothing fun ever cost $0.05.  Dimes were smaller than everything else but still had some of the nickel’s stigma.  But quarters… quarters ruled my world as a child. Do you remember the excitement of actually finding a quarter on the ground? Like winning the kid lottery.

The first thing that one notices with quarters are the size.  Even just by feel you know they what they are.  Bigger than everything else (except those fifty cent pieces, but how often did you lug one of those bastards around?) and with those ridges around the outside.  It wasn’t just the quarter itself. It was everything a quarter represented. When you had a quarter you finally had some legitimate buying power.  When I was a kid, buying power was not something one possessed lightly.  Forget a piece of gum. For a quarter you could get a superball!

Obviously to a kid that grew up in the late 70’s and early 80’s, the main draw of quarters was video games.  If you had a quarter, you could play any game you wanted any time you came across one.  I vividly remember going to the old Sea Galley in Boise (where Outback Steakhouse is now) with the family when I was about 10.  In the waiting area they had the tabletop version of Galaga. When you’re a kid, waiting of any kind is akin to Chinese water torture.  Waiting in a room with a functioning arcade game and no quarters might as well have been water torture combined with the pulling out of fingernails and just for fun random shocks via a cattle prod.  Trying to pry a quarter out of Dad to play a video game was like getting a wise man to part with the meaning of life.  Just wasn’t gonna happen.  I just had to sit and suffer and watch some other kid get to play.  If I had just had a quarter on me, everything would have been right with the world.

I contend to this day there is no problem on earth that couldn’t have been fixed by a pocket full of quarters and a flashing, noisy arcade to spend them in. I believe my love of arcades is probably for another post, so I’ll just move on.

Even as I got older, quarters never lost their magic. You needed a pop from a vending machine? Bang.  Two quarters got you there. (This was before they ever had dollar changes on them things).  Needed to make a phone call to Mom to pick you up from the movies? A quarter into the payphone. How about the first time you went to Vegas?  Back then there were no nickel or dime slots, and don’t even ask about penny slots.  Quarters baby.  Nothing will ever match the time I was in The Barbary Coast casino on The Strip and won $90 from a slot machine only to have it all dispensed in quarters. The “clank clank clank clank” sound of quarters falling into the tray must have lasted 5 minutes. 360 of them. If my 12 year old self could have been there for that, he would have probably had a brain aneurysm from the excitement.

Of course nowadays, quarters simply aren’t as important as they used to be.  First off, with inflation nothing that cost a quarter when I was a kid still costs a quarter now.  A paper dollar bill just doesn’t have the same style… the same panache. Arcades are mostly gone except for the seedier places, but you have better games on your living room TV anyway. Payphones? Nope. Even Vegas slot machines use no coins any more.

It kinda makes me sad that my kids will probably never have the attraction to quarters that I once did.

Though personally, I doubt I will ever get old enough to forget how much lifelong joy quarters have brought me.

Haber-Twin Powers… ACTIVATE!

The couple had tried for months.

They knew they wanted to create a legacy.  Something to follow them in this world.  Someone to impart their vast knowledge to.  Thus, the plan to create another being  was implemented.  They tried everything they could think of, but nothing seemed to work.  Apparently, some evil force was onto their plan and had foiled them each step of the way.  It was clear that they needed help even getting their goal off the ground.

That was, until one fateful April day.  Word came in that efforts were indeed successful and their name would continue.  Huzzah!  There was much celebration that day.

Little did they know just what was in store.

Just three weeks later, upon the first viewing of the newly formed being growing in its veritable cocoon, they got the shock of their lives.

“Well, there’s one little fluttering heartbeat…” the technician said to the beaming couple while twisting the scope, “… aaaaaand theres another little fluttering heartbeat!”

It was that exact moment when the full force of the news hit them.  And it hit hard…

Twins.

Yes, it’s true.  Jess and I are pregnant in a BIG ol’ way.  And yes, the news was quite a shock that probably STILL hasn’t worn off yet.  We first got the news we were pregnant on April 13th.  Followed by the bigger (literally and figuratively) news on May 4th.  Let me get to some specifics you are all going to be interested in:

Due Date: December 21st
They are currently 4cm long and chugging along at an ideal 163 beats per minute. At today’s ultrasound, they were both wiggling around doing what appeared to be either kung-fu or synchronized swimming.  I’m wondering what happens in a couple months when space becomes a premium in there and they are throwing their own version of a steel-cage match on each other or working Jess’s bladder as a speed bag. I guess we’ll see.

They each have their own placenta which is a good thing in a multiple situation.  I suppose they’ll have to learn to share later. We’re 9 weeks away from sexing these little munchkins, but  basic math tells us that there is a 25% chance both boys or both girls and a 50% chance of one of each. Jess is doing excellently.  No morning sickness at all.  Just tired and thirsty.  All systems are go.

And to our Moms… both of you… feel free to spread the word.  We know you have been absolutely chomping at the bit to tell people so now is your chance.  Go crazy.

I saw this a few days ago online and am going to pretend like I made it for our announcement too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Snp3rHDHwPg Just change those names to Jason and Jessica in your head…

So, let’s make with some excitement people.  Something has to distract us from the mountain of diapers and simultaneous college funds I can’t seem to shake from my head…

Broke the Seal

I’ve been looking forward to a day like today for a long time. I finally broke the seal on the shorts-wearing season!

I’ve said time and time again that my all time favorite days are those where you can wear shorts and a sweatshirt and be neither too warm nor too cold.  And when the mercury starts to rise into the 60’s, that is good enough for me.  Such days I will also refer to as “Oregon Coast days”.  Luckily, Jess made me buy a new pair of shorts at Costco this past weekend, otherwise I would have had to tear into the storage boxes in order to find some.

Of course, mom wouldn’t approve of today…  See, growing up in our house the standing rule was that it had to be 70 degrees or higher in order to wear shorts.  I’m sure mom thought we would catch pneumonia or something if it wasn’t warm enough.  I vividly remember busting home from school absolutely sure that it was at least 70.  We’d run to the thermometer on the front of the house (no internet or even The Weather Channel back then) and look at that little red line.  Hoping against hope that it was at that 70 notch.  When it was, we’d run get mom so she would verify and then go put on some shorts.  The worst days were when you were certain it was really hot, only to find it was like 65 and mom said no-go.

Ahh, childhood.

Just Get a Professional

Everyone out there, do me a favor.  Next time I mention that I’m thinking of doing some sort of home improvement project myself, just repeat those words to me.  “Just get a professional.”  It would certainly save me a bunch of time, frustration and body soreness in the long run.

Why do I mention this?  Well, this past weekend Jess and I decided it was finally time to get a water softener.  Our water in Meridian is super hard (with dissolved minerals, you sickos).  We’ve wanted to get a water softener since we moved in almost 2 years ago.  Our shower walls are slowly turning orange.  The funny thing is, we put aside most of the cash we got for the wedding in an envelope with the specific purpose of buying a water softener.  It just took us this long to actually pull the trigger.

Well, the time had come and Jess was able to convince me that we could totally install it ourselves.  And by “we”, she meant her dad and I.  So, Saturday morning we headed to Lowe’s full of resolve that it was to be that day.  We had grand plans to crank this mother out and be enjoying our soft water that evening.

Hang on there, Sparky.  As is always my problem with things like this, I don’t know what I don’t know.  I did know that having looked at the plumbing for the softener (that our house was built with) meant that piping was going to have to be cut.  See the above image. I guarantee this fact added at least a solid year to my procrastination.  There was no handy-dandy screw off ends here.  Also, this isn’t PVC pipe either.  It is something called PEX which I’d never heard of. Of course, this requires a special tool we gotta rent.

Having purchased all the crap we’d need and planned our attack we started in.  This PEX clamper-tool-dealy-thingy (which resembles bolt cutters) was a bitch and a half.  Let me tell ya, compressing that bastard took everything I had.  This was compounded by the fact that final rings needed to be compressed behind the water softener.  I’m basically dry humping the water heater trying to get enough leverage and strength to do it.  It very nearly didn’t happen. Not to mention that I could hardly get out of bed the next day with my back, shoulders and arms all jacked up.  When we were “finished” I didn’t have enough strength in my arms to even close the tool. But I digress.

Long story short, we get all of the new piping cut and connected.  It comes time to test for water fastness.  I am happy to report that NONE of the PEX ring seams had a single problem.  That was the good news.  The bad news was that the threaded pieces leading into the softener itself were dripping.  Very slowly, but dripping.  Shit.  Well, we disassemble and unscrew them… re-teflon-tape them and reassemble.  Same thing.  We tried tightening.  We tried more teflon.  We tightened some more.  No dice.  It was at this point where we were out of ideas.

Fortunately, we still had usable water (thanks to my massive PEXing) so we didn’t have to spend the weekend like backpackers in the wilderness or anything.  However, the bucket under the tubing told a different story.  Honestly, I’m just glad that at this point I didn’t have water cascading around the garage looking like Old Faithful.

This is what always seems to happen to me.  Every project I do I can get 80% of the way done.  Then comes some curve ball and I’m basically dead in the water (no pun intended).  Something on my end is always different from the instructions.  When that happens, I don’t have the knowledge necessary to adapt the plan and continue.  Usually at that point I get frustrated that I shot an entire Saturday on the project and am just going to have to call someone in anyway.  F-bombs and flying tools usually commence.

This morning, the good people from A-1 Plumbing came out.  The guy was really nice.  He even complimented me on my PEX seals.  He told me about a guy who tried this a few weeks ago and every single one of his PEX joints was leaking.  At least I got that going for me.  Anyway, a couple hours and 300 bucks later we are up and running.  Not to mention that there were a couple pieces that he did and I didn’t even know about which could have cause us MUCHO problems in the future.

I guess I’m just not enough of a “manly” man to know this stuff. It is time to admit to myself that I really don’t know what I’m doing.  I suppose I wouldn’t expect a plumber to build me a website either.  There is a reason these people exist.  Just bite the bullet, pay the money and have it done right.

Thus endeth the lesson…

Idaho State Capitol Rededication

Great Seal of the State of IdahoThis past weekend the Idaho State Capitol building was reopened to the public following 3 years of construction.  Jess wanted to go but I wasn’t too sure… then she mentioned that I could shoot pictures and that sealed it.  Not only was I in, I was excited to go!

So, we rounded up the parents (both sets wanted to go) and headed down there Saturday morning.  I’m no expert on what all they did during the construction, but I do know that they added two wings that are underground with skylights which were pretty cool.  They did an amazing job matching up all of the marble as well.  Go to the idahostatesman.com for more on that front.

I mainly just wanted to take photos, so that’s what I did.  Here are my favorites.  You can also go to the entire Flickr.com set to view more than what is here.  Also, I would like to add that you really should click on each image to view it larger.  Some of them really benefit from being viewed bigger.  Thanks and enjoy!

This is the first picture I took that day.  Might be my favorite…

Idaho State Capitol Rededication

Two cheapo flags, held by me. Just playing around.
Idaho Capitol Rededication

The National Anthem… I wish I could have gotten a little closer to the 2 servicemen, with everything in the background.  But I still like this shot.
National Anthem

Straight up through the dome.  This almost looks like something out of 2001 A Space Odyssey or something.
Under the Dome

Idaho Capitol Rotunda

Zoomed on the dome a bit more… removing the lights gave a much “cooler” blue feel.
The Dome

Idaho Capitol Rotunda

Visitors gazing up to the dome.
Looking Up the Dome

Capitol Reflections

There you go, hope you enjoyed.  Like I said, there are more images in the Flickr set.  Go there now.

As a side photography note, I have a bunch of really good photos from the Christmas holiday that I have yet to share.  I know Christmas feels like a couple months ago at this point, but hopefully I’ll post them soon.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas?

Some of you who know me, know that I really enjoy Christmas music.  Have since I was a kid.  I still remember learning all the words to all of the songs in grade school.  In many of the songs, I can even sing those 2nd verses that often get left off of modern recordings.

In fact, in years past I have written blog posts about my favorite Christmas songs as well as my not so favorites.

That being said, there is one song in particular that amuses me,  “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”.  You all know that song and have heard it a million times from a thousand different artists.  But, what amuses me about it is a couple lines in the song:

Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.

Nice sentiment right?  Christmas is a time to reflect back to the good old days.  It is also a time for friends and family to come together and enjoy each other again.  I’m sure this is just as true in your family as it is in mine.

However, if you listen to many of the versions out there, the artist mistakenly (or otherwise) swaps two of those lines which completely changes the meaning of the tune:

Faithful friends who are near to us
Will be dear to us once more.

It’s a subtle swap that you probably never thought about, but basically turns from expressing the joy of having far-flung loved ones around for the holidays to the following…

“You know, you scumbags are around all the friggin time…  You rotten son-a-bitches really piss me off the rest of the year, however it is Christmas time, so I guess you’ll be dear to me again… But I swear to God, come January you people are all back on the shitlist!”

Can you see why that amuses me so?

Merry Christmas everyone!

Another Year Older

birthday-2This week will bring along my 36th birthday.  Holy crap, that sounds really bad.  THIRTY SIX?!  How in the hell did that happen?  I mean, I don’t feel significantly different from 32, or 28, or 25.  When you’re a kid, you think about when you’ll be an “adult”.  Honestly, I’m still wondering…  It’s gotta happen one of these days, right?

It occurred to me, that at 35 you are half of 70.  Granted life expectancy now is mid to late 70’s, but if you kick at 70, nobody looks a that as a great tragedy.  Whoa.  That is a sobering thought.

With such a birthday coming, I’ve been thinking about aging.  Stages of life, if you will.  Of course, we have the epic speech by Billy Crystal in City Slickers.  But I think I can expand on it a little bit. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I don’t personally know the older ranges… I’m educated guessing)

Age 0
You’re born.  You obviously don’t remember this, and probably for good reason.  Ye olde play-doh fun factory of life would probably not be something you want to look fondly back on.  You are the center of attention, even if you don’t know it.

Age 1-2
You start to figure things out.  The walking. The talking. “NO”.  You know… The essentials.  You may have some friends you recognize from day care.  The most important toy is always the one the other kid has.

Age 3-5
The last years before you enter the forced hierarchical structure that is school.  This is a golden time.  Your parents are the smartest people on the planet. I remember very well hanging out with Mom all day.  She worked from home sewing, so I would crawl around in the closet full of fabric and listen to daytime TV.  Occasionally make a run to the bank or grocery store.  All I knew was that my older sister wasn’t around and didn’t get to do any of this fun stuff.

Age 6-12
Now you’re in school.  You have a ready made gauge for ranking everyone.  When you’re in first grade, all you know is everything is new and you’re the youngest in the school (except for those wimpy kindergartners but they don’t even go to school all day).  Once you jump to 2nd grade, you realize what all the fuss is about.  You instantly know, you are not the youngest, and thus, the most lame.  Everyone older than you is cooler, everyone younger is not.  That is just the way it is. School is the dominating force in your life.  You spend the most time there.  The year feels SO long.  It might as well be 5 years between Christmases.

Continue reading Another Year Older