Saturday, December 13, 2014

Jessica's Wedding - The Travel planning.

It's December 2014, and your mom's finally marrying Chris in May of 2015. 
So Grandpa Don, Uncle Ian and I will be coming up for the wedding - however, as much as I love both of them, I'm not going to be trapped in a car with them for 18+ hours.  
I'm planning on flying in and renting my own car, so that way I'm not dependent on anyone's whims on where to go and or what to see and do. 
That being said, the issue of housing has come up.  
I suggested using, so we can find a house and split it 3 ways. So far, I've come across a couple of spots, however nothing definite. 
I want to rent a big enough space that I can host a party celebrating the wedding. 
Nothing big, just a family cookout.   

So, right now I'm planning on arriving on Wednesday, (Jess, pay attention) - so I'm thinking arrival, unpack, quick social calls, and early to bed for Thursday. 
The wedding is Saturday, so Thursday is mine, dammit. 
(That's the part you need to pay attention to, Jess.) 
Pot luck cookout at where Grandpa Don, Uncle Ian and I are staying. 
Prepare for Grandpa Don to be a bitchy ass, but don't worry. He's all bark. 

I'll post more later. 

Grandpa Merlin

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Let me start by telling you about this week. 
Saturday, check engine light goes on in the car. I can't do anything about it, it's Saturday and mechanic won't be open until Monday. So I promise myself and the car that I'll take her in Monday morning. 
Went to work Sunday, overslept on Monday and didn't get to the mechanic. 
Figured ok, tomorrow morning..  started for work, got 3/4 of the way there, and she died. 
There I am, in the left turn lane, dead in the water. 
I immediately throw on my flashers and call for a tow, call work and call the mechanic to tell them to expect me. 
Meanwhile, the light has cycled like 4 times, and there's a mini traffic jam behind me. 
Why, you ask? Because Atlanta drivers are idiots. They cannot comprehend that a stationary vehicle with it's emergency flashers on won't move just for them just because they're behind it. 
But truly, the cherry on that sundae is yet to come. 
The tow truck arrives, and has to back up to get my car loaded on its flatbed. 
So, the truck is facing the opposite of the traffic flow. 
He has his flashers on, and lets face it, a flatbed tow truck isn't small. By any means. 
So he has the car loaded, and we get in the cab, and this bimbo pulls up within like 6 inches of his front bumper. 
And then had this look on her face. 
Well, got to the mechanic, and they said it's the timing belt. $1200 
Then I had to rent a car for a week... that set me back $700 (but I'll get back the deposit)

The only bright side to this has been my mantra "at least it's not a car payment." 

Friday, February 7, 2014

TV Gold found while mining Hulu

I recently rediscovered a comedy classic while "mining" on Hulu. 
While I've long been a fan of Lucille Ball, she's probably more universally known for her work on "I Love Lucy", rather than "The Lucy Show" or "Here's Lucy". 
I grew up on all those gems, being lucky enough to catch "Here's Lucy" first run broadcast, as it was a show that the entire family enjoyed. 
(Yeah, back in the 60's families usually had only one TV, a console in the living room) 
Anyway, "Here's Lucy" for whatever reason wasn't put into syndication as her other shows were. 
Or rather, it never enjoyed the commercial success its predecessors did. 
That being said, I haven't seen the show since it's first run. 

I just discovered it on Hulu. 

And as wonderful a show as it was, it truly presents a time capsule view of the world at that time. Political correctness? The concept doesn't exist. 
And above all else, you have a glimpse of utter glowing nepotism at its finest.  
Think about it. 
"Here's Lucy" was produced by Gary Morton (Lucy's husband) at DesiLu Studios. 
Starring Lucille Ball, and her two children, Desi and Lucy Jr. 
And in re-watching these episodes for the first time, I'm honestly amazed at the cross pollination that took place, and the talent that Lucy was able to pull to do a sitcom. (I'm going to gloss over the burlesque racial stereotyping)  
As an example, the episode, "Lucy meets the Burtons" season 3, episode 1, had as guest stars, on a television sitcom for the first time, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. 
Something that would confound the first time viewer is the constant reference to "the ring"... quick backstory on that, Burton bought what was at that time, the world's most expensive diamond, and had it put into a ring he gave to Elizabeth. Hence, "The Ring". 
The episode provided for Burton to show off his Shakespeare, set up a wonderful demonstration of Lucy's physical comedy skills juxtaposed with Burton's epic stoic gaze, (aka Burton being Burton) show off "the ring", and above all else, the "power" of the show by featuring what was at the time the Power Couple, Liz and Dick and insuring top dollar for commercial time.

February 2014 update

Ok, it's February, and a week before my 53rd birthday. 
When I last posted, I'd just sent up your tablets, and your father gave them to ya'll ahead of Christmas. So, Happy Hanukkah. (It's so nice being multicultural)  
Aiden managed to prove why you shouldn't give tablets to toddlers, however I'm sure that got dealt with. Your mom hasn't said. 
(If not, please share with him when your mom or dad supervises.) 
I hope you're enjoying yours and it's helping with your schoolwork. 

So, being in the mid west, you get snow every year, in ungodly quantities, and it stays around, forcing you to deal with it. So, you're used to it. 
Well, here in the South, Atlanta to be specific, winter weather is a rare event, however every once in a while, we get slammed. (See 1977, 1983, 1994 legendary snow/ice storms, Atlanta.) 

That's what happened January 28th. 
The days before, we had been having a brief warm spell, with temperatures in the 50's and 60's - then, we get word that there's going to be a "winter event" but it's only going to be affecting the city south of I-20 ... accumulation of 3 inches (yeah, I know, you see that as a dusting) and temperatures in the 20's during the day, and low teens at night. 

Well, someone miscalculated and didn't account for drift. 

At around 11 am on the 28th, the ice storm hit. and in an act of utter stupidity, they closed businesses, schools, and government offices at the same damn time. 
Thus began a traffic jam of epic proportions. And the ice is coming down. Quickly. 
And when it hits the pavement and roads, it's melting and immediately freezing, adding to the traffic nightmare. 
So, I'm unaware of the traffic issue - but being the loyal employee that I am, I decide to leave the house an hour and a half early for my commute to work, normally a 20 minute drive. 
I think ahead, and pack my meds, along with a couple of changes of clothes, and grab a couple of frozen dinners, filling the cat auto feeder and water bottle, and I'm out the door. 
It's not that bad outside, however I'm a bit distressed when I see an accumulation of about an inch and a half on the railing outside my apartment. 
Regardless, I headed out. It's 1:30 pm, and I thought that the back roads would be my best bet. Apparently so did everyone else. 
I managed to get about 8 miles in 5 hours. And then, the car died. 
And it's almost sunset, meaning that the temperature is going to drop further, rather quickly. 
Thankfully, I got a jump from a Sandy Springs policeman, and was able to continue trying to get to work. 
However, some 6 hours later, the car died again. But this time there wasn't a nice policeman to jump the battery. And I'm blocking a lane of traffic, not that it's really moving, but still.  
And my blood sugars are crashing, because I haven't eaten anything since approximately 9 am that morning, and it's nearly midnight. 
I got rescued by Sandy Springs Fire Rescue, and taken to work. 11+ hours of utter hell. 
 Thank you, Captain Chris. 
Spent that night at work, and didn't get home until Thursday. 

So again, you can see why Grandpa Merlin doesn't do snow. 
Just wait until I hit the lottery. You'll only ever have to see snow again if you travel to it. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas 2013

Andrea & Aiden, this post is about the first time I probably really pissed your father off. 
Note, I did say first time. 
Undoubtedly, there will be more to come, but I'll write about those as they happen. . 
And always remember, no matter what squabbles we have, that I'll always love him because he was smart enough to court and marry your mother. 

Now because I live in Atlanta, and in 2013 ya'll were in KC, I didn't get to see you much. 
So, that's why whenever I did see ya'll, I tended to spoil you. Rotten. 

Anyway, back to the subject at hand, Christmas 2013.  
It just so happens that you're 5, about to be 6, Andrea, and Aiden, you've just turned 3. 
I kind of wanted to do something more for your Christmas this year, instead of just a gift card. 
However, I know from conversations with your mother that space at this time is an issue. 
And I know at your ages, getting clothing isn't an option at Christmas. That's when you get toys. 

Thankfully, tablet prices were dropping radically at this time. That's when I got the brilliant idea to get each of you a tablet for Christmas, something that would come in handy for both of you with school, and to help introduce you to technology. Besides, they're cool. 

A little research, and I found something called the Fun Tab 4.3 - it's designed for kids, with parental controls and reporting pre-installed. 
(Yes, that's how Mom & Dad knew you were playing games instead of doing your homework) 

So it turns out that your father is a bit of a Luddite when it comes to ya'll & tech. 
I don't understand it, I completely disagree with it, and that's how I pissed him off. 
I got ya'll kid's tablets for Christmas 2013. 

I don't know when he'll forgive me for this, however he's in the wrong and I forgive him for it. 
Besides, there's still the distance factor.  
Well, that's the story of your first tablets. They were meant as gifts for Christmas 2013.

It's not my fault if your father didn't give them to you until you turned 18. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pre psuedo Thanksgiving cheesecake mystery

As you know, (or, more accurately, will discover when you come down for a visit)  I cook cheesecakes - they're my "go to" dessert when I need to trot out the culinary skills. 
Now, over the years, I've developed a relatively fool proof basic recipe that I can take from a dozen "mini" cheesecakes to a 14" full size just by multiplying by a factor of 4. 
(1 egg, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 block cream cheese, room temperature, 1 tbs vanilla extract. Cream)

That makes 12 cupcake size cheesecakes. 

Or it did until tonight. 
Tonight, I was making a batch of "Berry Surprise" mini's for an early Thanksgiving dinner at Aunt Sheba's & Uncle Bobbie's. 
I figured I'd double the recipe, so I started working with 2 blocks of a new product, Cream Cheese & Greek Yogurt blend. 
Normally, I'd add some sour cream to make it a New York Style, but I thought "what the hell" when I saw the aforementioned. 
Here's where I also made a serious deviation from my usual. 
Instead of using a hand mixer, I elected to use the food processor. 

Never again. 

It broke the batter down to about half its normal volume. 
Additionally, because I didn't add sour cream, that was another 3 - 5 oz of missed volume. 

 So, instead of 24 "Berry Surprise" mini's, I now only have 12. 

Lesson to be learned? Only experiment when you're dealing with family. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fourth Quarter, 2013

Ok, it's November 2013.  
As you know, I work a corporate job. 
This means that I get benefits, one of the better ones besides insurance being paid vacation. 
Because I've been at this company for 18+ years now, (yes, 18+ years as of 2013) I get about 5 weeks of vacation a year at this point. 
Yet, with that much vacation available, in order to take advantage of it, you have to factor in your department, your co-workers, the particular responsibilities you handle, timing, etc. 
Which leads me up to what just happened in October. 
End of year is coming up, and both my co-worker and I have unused vacation time. 
I admit I'd been lax about the holidays, however was planning on using my vacation time at either Thanksgiving or Christmas, depending on what everyone else's plans were. 
Then, the coworker emails me her list of the days she wants off so she can use up her vacation. 
Well, a quick glance at the dates and a check of the calendar has her taking both Thanksgiving and Christmas off. 
Now mind, we're a two person shift. 

Did I mention that she's also on a "special schedule" ? 
Seems that Tuesday - Thursday, she gets to work noon to 8 pm instead of the shift, which is 3 pm to 11 pm. 
Normally, not a problem. Except that there's the little matter of a file transfer to the Federal Reserve Bank that has to be made nightly, Sunday - Thursday. 
And it's the responsibility of a total of 3 people cleared to make the file transfer at 9 pm, two of whom are on my shift. (Yes, myself and coworker) 
That information will factor in shortly. 

Allow me to digress for a moment.....  

Last year, I had plans for celebrating Thanksgiving with Aunt Sheba & Uncle Bobby, and Grandpa Don & Uncle Ian. Had being the operative verb in that sentence. 
Then, an "emergency" (and trust, the quotation marks are justified) came up and co-worker couldn't work Thanksgiving, so I had to. 
And I proceeded to continue to work my ass off, through the rest of the year, ending up setting the departmental record for OT, in this case 48 hours. (That's on a 2 week check, btw) 
I also ended up being unable to use over a week of vacation before the end of the year due to, again, co-worker's scheduling. 
I was allowed to carry it over to January that time, however that was apparently a one-off. 

Back to the subject at hand... so, she's effectively scheduled me to work, without asking me if I had plans or what I was going to do, and taken both prime holidays as well. 
Well, complaints to the supervisor about this went nowhere, she's the one who put coworker on her "special shift"... 
So I'm working both holidays again this year.  
And, trying to figure out a way to burn 4 days of vacation I can't schedule. 

On the bright side, I'm on track to beating that OT record this year.  
But, ya'll will like the gift cards you get from me. 

And for what it's worth, I've already booked my birthday vacation at the ranch.