Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Yeah, Iraq! (in the Olympics)

Finally, the politicos got their heads out of their butts and worked out how do do the right thing. Iraq will get to compete in the Summer Olympics after all.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Deer in the headlights

Last night, as I was about to fall over from exhaustion, my sister-in-law called us. She was crying and apologetic. She then told us that Grendel was on his way to the hospital in an ambulance, that he had complained of breathing problems, and then passed out for about ten minutes.

This was one of my worse nightmares. Grendel is spending the summer with relatives nearly two and a half hours away from home. I had no idea what I was supposed to feel or do. I calmly asked K, my sister-in-law, what had happened. She explained the days events, and we identified a few things that could have brought on the breathing problem (which he apparently developed nearly six hours before telling anyone about). She said that all the neighborhood kids had been thoroughly grilled within an inch of their lives regarding possible drug ingestion. All claimed that Grendel never took anything that they were aware of.

K was on her way to the hospital, after having stopped at home to get some insurance paperwork and power of attorney stuff I had provided them with. She promised to call from the hospital when she located everyone and give us an update. About half an hour later she called with an update and let me speak to Grendel.

He was relatively lucid and said that he was feeling better than before he passed out. One of the things I said to him, in my sort of autopilot parenting mode, was that he should have told someone he was having problems breathing hours before he did. We said a few more things to each other, and then he passed the phone back to K. K said that she could see that his eyes were filling up as we talked. She thought that it had been because he had been scared and was glad to hear my voice. I didn't tell her, but I guessed that he was hurt that I would pick the scariest time in his life to scold him about something.

We got off the phone after K promised to call us to let us know if they were going to admit him to the hospital or not, based on the results of his toxicology screening. She called back around 1 am and said that the tests came back clear and that they would probably be releasing him.

This morning, I dragged my exhausted butt to work. After taking care of some bare essential activities, I called where Grendel was staying. He answered the phone and sounded like himself. I apologized for scolding him last night. He chuckled and said "no worries". We talked about our theories on the cause of the problem.

Grendel is taking a mild amphetamine for ADD. Yesterday afternoon he was working with acetone to clean nail polish off a deck at his day camp. After, he had half an Amp energy drink before eating dinner. He started having problems breathing while working with the acetone. The situation got worse by the end of dinner. We think that the acetone irritated his respiratory system and that the energy drink magnified the stimulants in his ADD meds, making for a near deadly combination. This theory is based on Internet-based research conducted by my father-in-law and myself. The hospital had no theories, other than maybe he was having an anxiety attack, and that he should talk to his counselor back home about it. (WTF?!?)

If you know Grendel at all, you know that the last thing anyone would suspect of him would be an anxiety attack. He is an OVERLY laid back person. Prior to the ADD meds, it would take a large lever and a lot of verbal prodding to get him to care about much of anything. The meds get him up to the 'normal' level of teenage apathy.

Needless to say, we are extremely relieved that the situation turned out fine. Grendel is due back home for a 'visit' at the end of the week; we are a stop over for him on his way to a youth camping trip in central NH. We plan to take him out to dinner and to put forth extra effort to get along with each other. I'm sure he'll be a little smuggly spoiled by the time he returns to RI on Monday afternoon.

So, how would you do if your child were two and a half hours away and you got a call that they were being rushed to the hospital with breathing issues, and that they'd passed out for ten minutes? I hope I did ok in the great cosmic grade book on parenting.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Dark Knight ... and previews

What a great effort! Heath Ledger did an awesome job, which makes me even more sad about his death. While I really enjoyed Jack Nicholson's portrayal of The Joker years ago, Ledger was in a league of his own. This is a must see grade "A" flick. (Note: It is a bit long, so be prepared. However, you will be grateful for every moment.)

One of the reasons I was looking forward to seeing The Dark Knight was for the previews of Terminator Salvation. I got goosebumps during the trailer. I'm really bummed that we have to wait until next summer for it. We also saw a preview for The Watchmen. Now, THAT looks fabulous too! Also not out until March 2009.

One thing that we did not see a preview for, but I found out about while poking around on the Internet Movie Database: Rendevous with Rama ... COOL!

Saw a poster for Twilight, based on the book of the same title, which is part of a very popular YA vampire series that I've been thinking of reading. Now, I definitely will have to read it before the movie comes out in the fall.

Still up for the summer: latest X-Files movie, Mummy 3, Death Race, Babylon A.D., and Bangkok Dangerous. I'd also like to see Henry Poole is Here, but since it's slated for limited release, it may not make it to NH. (Oh, and if I'm feeling like killing brain cells: Disaster Movie)

And, while it's way off, here are some fall movies that have my interest piqued: How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (stars Simon Pegg from Shaun of the Dead), RocknRolla (Guy Ritchie flick with Gerard Butler), Quantum of Solace (Bond!), Australia (Hugh Jackman), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, The Road (great book turned movie with Viggo Mortensen), Transporter 3, Punisher 2, The Day the Earth Stood Still (Keanu Reeves? interesting), Defiance (Daniel Craig in WW2), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Marley and Me (great book).

Friday, July 25, 2008

Iraq banned from Summer Olympics

Time and again, politics has come into play in the Olympic games. One of the things that the Olympics is supposed to do is bring the world together in spite of political issues. This time around Iraq has been banned from Summer Olympics due to political issues between the government of Iraq and it's own Olympic committee. The Iraqi government disbanded the standing Olympic committee due to concerns of impropriety, replacing it with it's own appointees (which, by the way, is just as improper). The International Olympic Committee the disqualified Iraq from the upcoming games.

These machinations may only seem to affect seven Iraqi athletes. However, this kind of thing tarnishes the games for the entire world in my opinion. This is especially sad since it involves Iraq. That country certainly deserves a chance to be involved in something positive on the world stage; it deserves a chance to be proud and to hope.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I just click the mouse... stay away from MY mouse

Since coming back from vacation, things have been getting more and more interesting at work. Confused N has been utterly nice to me, for one. Then, Consultant C has let me know that he's going to be our new boss (very fine with me indeed). C is asking us all to evaluate what it is that we do, and decide what is most important to us. It is getting more and more well known that I am spread very very thin. However, I'm not overly inclined to give up any of the things that I do. It's the burden of a control freak, I guess.

When Consultant C asked me which of two major directions I wanted to take, he asked me in front of the entire team. First off, I'm not sure I'm ready to answer that question. Plus, it's something I'd rather discuss with him one-on-one. However, everyone looked at me expectantly. I am VERY poor at hiding my feelings. Everyone was trying to read me. C joked around with me, "No opinion? That can't be." First I responded with our standard joke line of frustration: I just click the mouse. Then I responded that I had a lot to think about and that I wasn't ready to talk about it just yet. (It is pretty difficult for me to keep my own counsel. Though, I felt it was prudent since I really don't think the two main areas of my job can be separated.)

When Consultant C asked her what direction she would like to take now that she would no longer be burdened by management stuff she said she wanted to get back into doing some development work, maybe automated some of our processes. C mused that she was particularly interested in helping me automated some of MY processes. ... um ... I've been working on automating my own processes more and more, as time allows.

Confused N gave up all of her operational roles when she moved into management. Now that she's not going to be management, she needs to reclaim some of them or carve out some new space for herself. While I know that I am overtaxed, I am not about to give up any of my stuff to her. I like writing scripts on occasion too, you know. And, I know my processes quite well. I have just enough leftover bad blood with her not to want to spend significant time with her explaining my processes so that she can automate them for me. Nor do I want to give her the fodder to come through looking like a hero by letting her improve MY processes.

Petty? Of course. Controlling? No doubt about it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Brief reflections on Hell Boy

We went to see Hell Boy 2 the weekend it came out. I really love the three main characters (HB, Abe, and Liz). Hell Boy is so likable. He is fun loving, easy going, and he loves cats. I find it amusing that he and Liz are attracted to each other. I mean, after all, he is a VERY upbeat demon. She is a depressive goth girl. Um ... opposites attract?

Here's hoping that they continue the series. I could do with a Hell Boy 3.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Interesting week coming, but will miss the weekend

Overall, it was a pretty good weekend. It started off on a bit of a down (see Friday's post). However, I still managed to do some things that I wanted to do.

One huge downer, I scanned the episode synopses for the BBC's Robin Hood series and discovered that one of the main characters will die in a couple of episodes. Also, I scanned the synopses for the BBC's Doctor Who. And, while Rose is briefly back, the real Doctor loses her again ... to a mortal version of himself (his choice actually ... but still a slight bummer).

The most interesting aspect of the upcoming week is that I am hand carrying Goblin's resume to my HR department tomorrow. Goblin is in the market for a new job. Oddly enough, a job in his field was posted on Friday. We would both really like him to get the position. However, it would be VERY odd to commute an hour each way every day together. We probably wouldn't see each other during the day otherwise (3000+ employees, different circles of interest and all). Still...

Lots of utter crap on the horizon for my own job this week.

Also, studying for the CISSP is not going all that well. I'm starting to think that maybe I shouldn't register for a fall class, so I can focus on studying and be free to studying for my second attempt come November. While I know this sounds defeatest, I think it may be preventative realism. If I don't pass it on the first shot at the end of September, I know I can pass it on the second attempt, if I have time to focus on my weak areas.

Growl, grumble, whine. I have really been looking forward to the class I was going to take in the fall (Aging in Society). I'm dreading the class I need to sign up for in January (Health Care Finance). However, I REALLY need to get my CISSP so I can have more jobs to pick from.

Have I mentioned recently how much I hate certifications? I really do. However, I've gotten to the point in my career where I need one to move forward.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Suburban Cat Herder Game - online

In honor of my blog title, Cobwebs sent me a link to this amusing and simple time suck: Suburban Cat Herder Game - online

Yes, I had to play it several times. It will now be added to my arsenal of 'zone out' fodder.

Friday, July 18, 2008

What qualities make a great friend?

I am pondering this question very deeply today. I feel like I'm about to lose another great friend. To say that it saddens me deeply would be a vast understatement. There's a chance that I may not lose this friend, but that the relationship may go from 'great' to 'good' or maybe even down to 'fair'.

  1. What are some of the qualities of a great friendship?

  2. What differentiates a great friendship from a good friendship?

  3. What differentiates a fair friendship from a friendly acquaintance?

For me, one of the qualities of a great friendship is lack of judgmentalism. I know that's not officially a word, so I'll elaborate.

A great friend is someone who you share thoughts, feelings, and opinions with, where the sharing feels safe from judgment. You feel that you can tell each other virtually anything and the other persons opinion of you will not diminish based on what was shared. If the great friend does not agree with your opinion on something, they will not diminish the value of your opinion by letting you know that they think you are wrong. They let you know that they value your opinion even though they may hold a different viewpoint. I have had only a very few friends that have fallen into this category.

A good friend is someone who you share things with, but whose opinion of you may change due to what has been shared. If a good friend does not agree with your opinion on something, they may (typically accidentally or inwardly) become angry with you, or disapproving of you, that you acted a certain way or believe differently than they do. Some good friends are skilled at not letting you know that they disapprove of what you have shared. Some are not so good at it. I have several good friends that fall into this category. I do not fault them for this. We can't all share 100% of our friends' opinions. However, I really value the gift of the great friend who values you because of your differences, not in spite of them. They don't hold themselves any higher than you due to any differences. They truly value who you are.

A fair friendship is one where you enjoy spending time with someone but are VERY select in any sharing you might do with them. The reason behind this could be that you suspect that your viewpoints are different on many things from the outset. There are areas that you are in true sync with such friends on, so you are comfortable sharing those areas of your lives. However, these friendships are somewhat limited. Sometimes, such friendships can grow into deeper friendships. However, in my experience, most of these relationships remain pretty compartmentalized. Some deep friendships diminish into 'fair' friendships due to time and distance. As expected, I have a good many 'fair' friends. I suspect that we all do.

I am not a 'great' friend to all of my friends. I know that. It is easier for me to have that kind of relationship with some people more than others. I think both parties have to where their hearts on their sleeves somewhat and trust each other. And, that really and truly is VERY difficult.

There is a place in everyone's social lives for all three classes of friends. They all have value.

What do others think on this?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Currently reading - update

A short while ago I posted mycurrent reading list. Well, I finished "The Holy Road" and "Odd Thomas". Both were excellent reads. I got Goblin to listen to "Odd Thomas" and now he's totally hooked and is trying to acquire the next three books in the series via ebay!

Sadly, my physical reading is now reserved for the "CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide". Intriguing, no? Over eleven hundred pages of riveting non-plot! But, it should help me in my pursuit of the CISSP certification (first attempt at the exam should be in late September).

Next up for my commuting pleasure: Terry Pratchett's "Wintersmith", one of the Discworld-lite novels. I haven't read any of the Discworld novels yet, only the Tiffany Aching series, which I adore. Maybe I'll take the plunge after this. Then again, I have another Pratchett in my queue, "Johnny and the Bomb". I read (listened to) the first two Johnny Maxwell books and thoroughly enjoyed them. I discovered Pratchett only in the last few years. Sadly, he's had some health issues. Hopefully, medical science will keep him healthy and productive for years to come.

P.S. This is actually my 501st post to this blog!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Summer's half-way over?

It probably seems irrational, but I feel like today marks the halfway point of summer. To me, summer means June-July-August. Therefore, halfway through July is halfway through summer.

Grendel didn't even finish up with school until the third week in June. Then again, he starts back before August is over. For those of us with children, the definition of 'summer' is the warmest part of the year where our kids are not required to be in school So, at the most optimistic the mid-way point for the school-year version of summer is in a week from today.

I guess what I'm saying is that I really don't want summer to end this year. Last winter was hard in a lot of ways (weather-wise and work-wise, as well as family dynamics). Plus, I've set myself a personal goal for professional development that I'm under-inspired to pursue.

I really REALLY need to take the exam for the CISSP at the end of September. It's an arduous test. If I want to move to the next stage of my career, I need to get the certification. However, I've never been overly fond of certifications. Plus, I really feel like I need some down time this summer. And, I don't want to try to study for the test while I'm actively involved in school, which starts back up in mid-September (and won't really be done again until June 2009).

I want to read fluff books! I want to watch stupid movies. I want to continue to organize my house. I do NOT feel like studying the ten domains of the CISSP. ... Oh, bother.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

M$ Conspiracy Theory

If you are a ZoneAlarm user, you may not be able to read this today. Micro$oft issued an update this week which turned into a ticking time bomb for ZoneAlarm users. I had been having issues with ZoneAlarm on my primary Windows XP machine. So, about a month ago I uninstalled it, with full intention of reinstalling it shortly. Shortly still hasn't happened. Which, for me, turned out to be a VERY good thing. On Friday, I got an email message from ZoneLabs warning me "Installation of Microsoft Update KB951748 may result in loss of Internet connectivity."

I didn't think anything of it. My husband's copy of ZoneAlarm had expired, and he was having issues reinstalling the new keys. (Sense a theme here?) My son's computer is turned off for the next month while he's away with his grandparents. So, I shrugged it off and figured Micro$oft or ZoneLabs would put out another patch and all would be right with the world.

Then, late this morning, my old Windows XP system lost Internet connectivity. I didn't think much about it at the time, since I was about to go out, and I sometimes have to reboot my router. Then, this afternoon, my husband complained that he couldn't get to the Internet. So, ZoneLab's warnings of gloom and doom, "Microsoft Update KB951748 - Workaround to Sudden Loss of Internet Access Problem", finally did impact my household.

What I find odd is that I thought KB951748 hit Windows XP systems on Tuesday (or Wednesday at the latest). So, why did it take until Sunday for our systems to lose connectivity.

Also, you just gotta love the fact that ZoneLabs sends people an email to tell them that they could lose Internet activity, particularly since the email was sent after the patch was deployed.

Now, here comes the conspiracy theories. Aside from some minor glitches we've had in our household with ZoneAlarm lately, we are True Believers. ZoneAlarm has been the most reliable suite of tools to protect Windows systems from the big bad Internet. One has to wonder if Micro$oft didn't cause this situation on purpose. If you don't have ZoneAlarm, the Micro$oft patch will only help you, not hurt you. On the flip side, maybe the quality issues we've seen the last few months with ZoneAlarm have made the product more of a security hinderance than a security helper. Maybe Micro$oft is trying to tell us something: 'ZoneAlarm should not be trusted. We don't trust it, therefore we won't let you get to the Internet if you are using it.'

And for the final conspiracy theory: Maybe KB951748 is one of those patches from Micro$oft that actually introduces more vulnerabilities than it patches. Maybe THAT's why ZoneAlarm won't let you to the Internet after you've applied the patch.

The solutions offered thus far by ZoneLabs: Lower your Internet Security settings from High to Medium or Uninstall KB951748.

Decisions, decisions, decisions... (Note: My husband lowered his threshold to Medium. I now have two systems with no ZoneAlarm installed... really need to work on that. Maybe I'll back out of KB951748 and reinstall.)

Ultimately, I'd pretty much made my next big decision related to all this. My next Internet-facing computer is going to me a Mac. I'll keep the Windows systems around for the software that I use that only runs on that OS, but I will not be reading email and doing general surfing on those systems. I won't be pulling the trigger on that decision until 2009, unfortunately.

Update: ZoneLabs has come out with a patch to their products that allows them to work with the Microsoft patch. Joy.

Job application fool

Things at work really aren't too bad since I got back from vacation. However, it could just be a lull in the insanity that I was noting the month or two before I went on vacation. Plus, I still really dislike the length of my commute.

So ... this morning I applied for three different jobs at an organization that would shorten my commute by about ten minutes (not significant, but it'd be a step in the right direction). Plus, the place is on several "best places to work" lists.

I also applied for a job with Fairpoint Communications, who are in the process of taking over landline communications in NH from Verizon.

If I get any nibbles from my applications, I'll be sure to let everyone know.

Note: Goblin is also applying for jobs these days. Sadly, his 25-30 minute commute will probably have to more than double for him to change jobs. But, he really does need to move on from his current position for a boatload of reasons. He is going to see an actual career counselor next week. He's not constantly looking and applying for jobs like I am, so he could use the hand-holding.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

More vacation pictures

Here's me considering the thrill of using the shipboard facilities on one of the historic ships we saw in Mystic, CT:

Here's Goblin as we're about to enter the shipcarvings' building in Mystic. It was our favorite exhibit. Notice the cool cat carving on the side of the building. We were not allowed to take photos inside, or I'd have taken tons:

Here is the restaurant in Mystic where we ate lunch. The trip to Mystic was inspired in large part by a review I heard of this place. The clear broth chowder was fantastic!

When we got back to RI from CT, we found our fifteen year old son passed out on the porch of his grandparents rented house. Wonder how a teenage could be so exhausted in the middle of the afternoon, especially one on ADD medication (basically: amphetamines):

No, he did not drink the beverage next to him, but it does make for an incriminating photo, no?

Here are three generations of D-family males collaborating over grilled meat products.

And here's an awesome photo of some of the great fireworks we saw on the 4th (courtesy of my father-in-law's intrepid attempts to capture the show):

My next lengthy vacation probably won't be until next April, at least not one that involves traveling. I may take a few extended weekends where I don't go anywhere. C'est la vie! (Appropriate phraseology considering that the April trip will involve Paris.)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I used to read one book at a time

My good friend Cobwebs hooked me up with Good Reads as a means of peering into each other's reading lists.

There are several book-ish sites out there. Previously, I tried out Shelfari. What I like about Good Reads is the multiple shelf approach. The default shelves include: Read It, Reading, and To Read. You can also make up your own shelves (ex. Recommended by a Friend, Feel Guilty for Not Reading, etc.)

Currently, my Currently Reading shelf has gotten ridiculous. I used to read one book at a time. I swore by this approach. If I had more than one book going, I found myself easily confused, mish-mashing the contents of the multiple books I was reading. Apparently, I have become much more adept at task (re: book) switching. Here is what I am currently in the process of reading:

  • Scattered Minds: Hope and Help for Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder by Adler, Lenard (started two days ago)

  • The Joy of Drinking by Holland, Barbara (started reading last fall - distracted by other things, nearly done though)

  • The Protector's War by Stirling, S.M. - (started reading over a year ago - not as good as the first book in the series, hope to finish by Xmoose)

  • The Holy Road by Blake, Michael (started reading on vacation last week - nearly done!)

  • How to Read a French Fry: And Other Stories of Intriguing Kitchen Science by Parsons, Russ (started reading this April - got distracted by school reading)

  • The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story by Ackerman, Diane (started reading this winter - got distracted by school reading)

  • The Film Club: A True Story of a Father and Son by Gilmour, David (Started reading about a month ago)

  • Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz (started listening to this in the car this week

I think I may actually be in the midst of a couple of other books. These eight are just the ones that I remember. I have a huge stack of reading materials in the bathroom (yes, I am one of those weird people) and next to the exercise bike. Most of the stacks consist of periodicals. However, there are monographs wedged within the mixes of each.

I really do like to read (either with my eyes or with my ears). There's something very satisfying about cramming new ideas and information into my head. I used to prefer fiction a bit more than non-fiction. Now, I think the scales have shifted in the opposite direction.

Looking at the length and diversity of the list, I guess Grendel is not the only member of our household who currently abides with ADD.

Atheist soldier sues Army for 'unconstitutional' discrimination

I truly applaud Army Spc. Jeremy Hall. I wish him well in his suit against the Army for 'unconstitutional' discrimination. I don't think he'll win, but I really want him to. What I find interesting about his case is that he was raised a Baptist and he carried a Bible with him to Iraq. Then, after things he experienced, he found himself more comfortable with atheism. Doesn't the old adage go: "There are no atheists in foxholes?" Well, I guess there are after all.

Unfortunately, these days, there does not appear to be a career path for an atheist in the Army. Hall was told that if he couldn't "... put my personal beliefs aside and pray with troops (he) wouldn't make a good leader."

Apparently there's a rising number of fundamentalists in the military these days. I guess that makes sense in a way. When you find yourself involved in a war that is unpopular at home, as well as around the world, patriotism alone might not be enough to get you through the day.

Good luck, Jeremy. Considering the leaning of the Federal courts these days, you're going to need it.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Hot as Hell's Kitchen?

We watch very little 'mainstream' television. I was amused to discover that the number 10 show in last week's ratings is one we watch: Hell's Kitchen

What is the attraction for us? Is it that Gordon Ramsey comes off as a complete jerk? Is it that the contestants seem so clueless that you wonder how they made the cut to even get on the show? Is it the fact that my son and I love cooking shows in general?

Um ... YES?!

For the most part, we stay away from realty television. However, we love watching Chef Ramsey yell at the contestants like they're complete idiots. We love it when one of them actually manages to please the jerk. We REALLY love it when one of them screws up so royally that Ramsey threatens to throw them out of the kitchen (and sometimes does). Will they complete the evening's dinner service? Will the self-absorbed conceited culinary artist learn to be a team player and/or learn to bend to the will of the Chef? Will the wide-eyed newbie rise to the pace of Hell's Kitchen?

We recorded this evening's season finale. So, I don't yet know whether Petroza (the sweet tempered slob) or Christina (the under-experienced culinary student) won the day. I'm rooting for Petroza. Christina was easily overwhelmed in early episodes. And while she won more individual challenges, Petroza kept his head and maintained an even keel throughout almost every episode (though Chef threw him out of the kitchen in one episode, and he had to be convinced by another contestant to come back and try again.)

Mindless waste of time? Probably. But, it's one of our guilty pleasures. Plus, I think it's fun (in a sick kind of way) to watch someone else get stomped on for minor screw ups, after spending a day at work feeling either under-appreciated or embarrassed for messing something up that you should have known better than to do.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

What would you do for a Klondike bar?

The following meme is from Barbie2Be

What would you do with a million dollars?
What would you do with 10,000 dollars?
What would you do with 1,000 dollars?
What would you do with 100 dollars?

A million dollars? Pay off various and sundry debts. Give 10% to my constantly struggling church. Quit my long-commute job and find something closer, that would probably be a LOT less lucrative.

Ten thousand dollars? Finish my basement.

A thousand dollars? I'd do a fabulous spa weekend with half of it, and put the rest in the bank for the inevitable car crisis that always seems to occur whenever I have a windfall.

A hundred dollars? Go out for a nice dinner and a little shopping.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Vacations are never long enough

We arrived home today after our six-day vacation. On Sunday, we deposited Grendel in Rhode Island with Goblin's family. We ourselves continued on to Mystic, CT, for forty-eight hours of 'adult time'.

In Mystic, we checked into our hotel, relaxed for a bit, and then went to dinner at the hotel-affiliated Ground Round restaurant. The most intriguing aspect of our vacation was this dinner. We were seated in a booth in the bar, away from the families with small children in the main restaurant. Seconds later, someone from the next booth came over after recognizing Goblin. It turned out that several martial arts friends of his were in Mystic for a wooden boat show. Very strange coincidence, indeed.

The next day, we went into Mystic and did some tourist stuff, including having a quaint lunch at the Little Kitchen. Afterwards, we returned to the hotel for a swim and a nap. Then we headed over to Mohegan Sun for a little gambling and oogling. We only dropped about $100. It was an amusing adventure though. What a spectacle!

On Tuesday, we headed back to Rhode Island to commune with family. We spent the next several days doing a lot of nothing. Our son, and the grandparents, are seriously into tennis; so, we were witness to a great deal of Wimbeldon (Go Venus!).

The house that Goblin's parents rented was on the water and had a lovely view. Sadly, since they were used to Texas heat they were not as uncomfortable with the mugginess of the weather, so we didn't turn the air conditioning on. The first night we barely slept. We ended up buying some fans for our room the next day, which did help, but it was still extremely soupy the entire visit.

On Wednesday evening, we ventured out to see Will Smith's new movie: "Hancock". It was an amusing divergent flick. Nothing stunning or truly original, mind you. But, a worthwhile vacation encounter.

On Friday night, we had the best seats in the state for fireworks. Several households, on the water, put on pretty glorious fireworks shows. Plus, we could see the commercial-grade show over at Fall River (MA) from a distance. We watched the festivities from the comfort of a screened in porch. I can't imagine doing it any other way from now on!

I have tons of pictures, but the following is a mystery I'd like help solving. We encountered this flock of birds near where we were staying in Warren, RI. They kind of look like a cross between turkeys and pheasants. Any idea what they are?

We will be Grendel-free until 7/31, and then only for a day or so. He has a camping trip here in NH. Afterwards, he will return to RI for three more weeks. Hopefully, the rest of the family will not be tired of him by that point. And, who knows, maybe we'll all get along better after the extended break from one another.

While Grendel is gone, I plan on doing a lot of little projects around the house. And, generally enjoying my freedom to be a poor example (irregular meal times, bed times, and general sloth). I'm sure he'll enjoy lax rules under the reign of his grandparents. Though they said that they plan to maintain a certain level of structure while he's there. ...right...

I need to get back to enjoying our kitties. We did miss them a great deal while we were away.