Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thanksgiving & Laptop joy

Thanksgiving was great. We had it at our house this year. I made a Turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. I pealed a 10-lb bag of potatoes and mashed them up. There was concern we didn't take the turkey out of the freezer in time, but come Thursday it was indeed thawed out completely and when cooked it was good. Not the best turkey in the world, but definitely nice and juicy.Our guests where Katie, Annmarie, Sue, Jim, Jon, Judith, Stephen, Nannie, Billy, Rachel, Magdeline, Malaki, Steve, Chris, and CK. I think I listed everyone. Each person brought some food and we had plenty for everyone. Good times where had by all. Nannie said grace which I think she really enjoyed.After cooking all day and having our small house stuffed with people, after I finally ate I had to hide away in my bedroom because I was feeling a little overwhelmed. In my room I burned some CDs for Katie which took enough time for me to relax and chill out a little.We used the extended weekend to get some painting done. We have already painted our kitchen (with massive help from Kim's parents.) We colored the wall that leads from the kitchen to the dining room the same color, a pumpkin orange.I had taped everything off in the dining room and Kim painted right passed the tape in some places. After I through a fit about messing it up Kim started being more careful.When we did the girl's bathroom she was much better about being careful and it came out right. She had picked out a bright neon green, that would usually be gross, but goes well with our jungle monkey theme we have in there.The bottom two feet of our wall is a fake wood thing with some trim. She painted the fake wood beige and the trim black.Next we paint the wall that leads from the dining room to the living room. It will be the same color as whatever we decide on for the living room.
Stephen and Judith told me that where going to get me a new laptop for Christmas. I was floored and really didn't know how to respond. This was a big deal and I didn't want to take it for granted. The gave me a price limit. I have always wanted to be able to support Dell's offering of Ubuntu preinstalled PCs so I went to their site and built a laptop within the price range with Ubuntu, not Windows, installed.I think Stephen was as excited to see this thing as I was. While I expected to have to wait for Christmas, Stephen e-mailed me at work the day it came in and had me pick it up that afternoon.While I expected this to be the best working installation of Ubuntu I had ever tried it was actually the worst. I expected that since Dell had the liberty of being able to hand pick well supported hardware and make tweak to the kernel and elsewhere to the specific hardware they were selling that things would work better than ever. Unfortunately I had problems with turning on Compiz and with trying to upgrade from 7.04 to 7.10 both making the computer completely unusable. I am currently running with Compiz on with 7.04 and all the latest updates. The only two outstanding issues is that changing the sensitivity of the mouse tracking doesn't work and trying to access my FTP sites from the bookmarks kills the Gnome menu bar. A restart of X doesn't fix the problem, only a complete reboot. I have run Ubuntu on various other computers and have never experienced anything like this. Looking around the Ubuntu-Dell forums it appears that my experience is an isolated situation.There is rumor that Dell is suppose to have an official version of 7.10 built for their computers in December. I am going to upgrade at that time and if I still have problems I am going to install 7.10 from the Ubuntu website and hope things are better.Overall though this laptop is rockin. It looks and feels smooth. I tried playing some DVDs last night and they looked real nice on the widescreen. Ooh, I like widescreen. The widescreen also gives me plenty of vertical space which is allows more content to be displayed without having to either wrap it to the next line or force me to scroll horizontally. Wireless works well to, except that Network Manager sucks as bad as it does on any other install. The battery life is ~4 hours of regular use. When I can scrounge up the money I would like to purchase a batter that holds a longer charge. Two 9-cell batteries should provide a charge that exceeds 10 hours. That would be really cool, but will have to wait.Stephen had previously provided me with a laptop that was given to him by someone else. It had lived a rough life going on many camping trips and other mayhem. It had some hardware issues and was slow, but it served it's purpose of allowing my to bring a portable computer in to class to take notes and browse the Internet. I will be donating it to Zeke. I am going to completely wipe the drive and put Xubuntu on it. I think I may have fixed the hardware issues as well. Time will tell.
Starting next week Rachel will be our primary daycare provider. We will drop all three kids off at her house in the morning. They will already have been dressed and their teeth brushed but not fed. Rachel will drop Aurora off at school and watch the other two girls all day. After school Aurora will go to the same afterschool at creative child. Judith has offered to pay for this. Aurora really likes her afterschool. When we pick her up she is usually disappointed as she always wants to stay until they close. Afterschool will allow Kim or I to pick up Aurora in stead of Rachel needing to make another trip in to town to pick her up. Rachel watching the girls will allow us to shave off 1/3 of our daycare expenses, and provide her with a nice income. To those not in the know, daycare is very expensive. I explained to my boss, who drives a very nice sports care, that if I didn't have to pay daycare I could afford a car that makes his look like poo.Aurora and Athena are very excited about having Rachel watch them as they really love her and her two babies.
I have started teaching Aurora North, East, South and West and some basic multiplication. She can count by twos and fives so I showed her how to use her fingers to multiply. She has a habit of multiplying anything I ask her by five regardless, and then sometimes increases it to six. So if I ask her for 5 X 4 she'll count 5 X 5 and tell me 25. Same if I ask her 2 X 3 she'll give me 10. We are working on it. She understand the concept but I think she gets confused trying to focus on the counting and not the number of fingers she is holding up.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Trip to Atlanta
This weekend Aurora, Athena and I went to Atlanta to visit Zeke and Vicky. I had a bunch of his stuff in the back of the truck that Vicky gave us.Aurora had rented Surf's Up, which I had promised her she could watch on the way up. We have one of those portable car DVD players. The cigarette lighter in my car had been acting up so before we left I made sure it worked and it did. When we went to actually leave it was not working and I was unable to make it work on the spot. I thought she was going to be upset, because we had made a big deal about it, but she took it pretty well.On the way up the girls where good the whole time. I really didn't expect this because such a long trip is really hard on little kids.Right before we got on I-75, which is about half way, we stopped at Apple Bees on Athena's request. The waitress was really nice. After that we went to Cracker Barrel and bought some candy to reward them for their excellent behaviour.When we got there we took the kids up to the park right behind the Atlanta zoo. The next morning we took the kids back up to the park because they had such a great time. Athena and Vicky where all about each other as well was Zeke and Aurora. They are really good with the kids, and the kids are really good for them.Before we left Atlanta I got the cigarette lighter working again so the girls where able to watch movies on the ride home. They started out with Surfs Up. Then we watched Star Wars Episode IV followed by SpongeBob.On the way down we stopped at the same Cracker Barrel we bought the candy from and ate there. The waitress there was exceptionally nice as well. Maybe that town produces excellent waitresses (and presumably waiters too.)So the trip was definitely a success.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Through a topic brought up on I found happen to be a fan of conspiracy stuff. Most conspiracy stuff is really boring. Other theories are really quite fun. I find the fun ones are the ones that you can pretend to apply to real life. It's like a scary movie. If the movie makes you afraid to step out in the dark, or sleep in a room all alone, then it was a good scarie movie. It is good because it has effected your personal life, which is the thrill that you where seeking.As a kid we imagine a lot of what-if scenerios for entertainment. I used to image 'what-if I was in the Super Mario game?' The idea that slow moving mushroom thingies could be easily stomped on, and break would break at the will of my forhead seemed quite fun and absurdly ridiculous at the same time.So, the idea behind neverkin is that there are mystical people in this world that have one way or another become trapped in a human's body. Some are born human and others inhabit another human's body after they where born. The website goes in to details on their theories on how this might happen and how to discover if you are one of these otherkin, also called "The Aware."One article on the website describes what they believe like this:

"Otherkin", simplistically defined, is a person who is in some way other than
human. Some have memories of being something "other" in a past life; some are
conscious of "ghost" body parts, such as wings or horns, that humans don't have;
some are genetic anomalies; and some just feel like general misfits in human
society. I have yet to meet an Otherkin who is not currently human (or mostly
human), but they all have a certain "otherness" quality about them.

I read through many of the articles on the website and I believe that these people really do believe what they are saying. I am sure that there are plenty of pranksters out there posting that they believe this and that when in real life they are just poking fun or looking for a reaction. But, it seems that many of these people are being honest.I am curious how one comes to such a conclusion. I think it is obvious to state, and they admit it on their site, that most of these people grew up feeling very different and out of place in this world. That is probably a good way to start believing that maybe you feel this way because in reality you are not one of them. But it also seems to go deeper. Many of these people claimed to have always felt something extra. One claims he has an elf in his head. Another says he can feel his wings. Many claim to have very distinct memories of the past.These memories are actually an important part of their coulture. For those who had not previously had distinct memories and have their first rush of memories they call this their awakening. This is when they first realise the true nature of themselves. The experience is reportadly a big emotional rush that can take hours to recover from.I really wonder what can be going on with these people. The only good explenation I can come up with is that they are in middle school. I knew some people in middle school who may have probably been suckered into believing they where one of these. The site claims that many are actually adults or at least in College.They also report to have get togethers. I wonder how far they have to travel to have a good sized group of people.I can only stereo-type and say these people are probably your average annoying goth kids. They are probably also probably exceedingly annoying to talk to. They will make stupid claims about their mental problems or being obsessive compulsive or a pyro maniac. They may also make up that they are suppose to be on drugs such a Zoloft. As Zim once said, "You're not a freak. You're just stupid." If you have ever known someone who is one medication such as Zoloft or is obsessive compulsive, then you know that they are not proud of it and certainly don't make that the topic of discussion the first time you meet them.I imagine these people are in this same group of people, but have taken their ridiculous delisions to a new level. They have gone beyond trying to being some sort of interesting circus freek, to convincing themselves that the real reason they are different, and the real reason behind their fantasies is because their fantasies are real. Their social isolation has gotten the best of them and driven them too far.As a child who didn't ever really fit in, I can relate to how they felt growing up too. As an adult who still feels like this world was built for someone that is nothing like me, I can understand how this may still be traveling with them as adults. I too feal like the world for me must exist somewhere out there in some cosmic nether region. But these are really just fantastic ways of me understanding that I'm just not average. It's like delving in to a book and fantasisieng that you are on the journey that you are reading about. Or being with your cats and pretending that for a few minutes you are one of them for a few moments. It makes the pressure of reality go away for a few moments. This temporary and healthy escape has been shown to even improve health.I guess with the 6 billion people that live on this earth, it shouldn't come as a surprise that some mistake their strong affection for cats to mean that they where a cat in their previous life. The thing is, that if you read their site they get incredibly specific about different races. It is much more precise than "I feal I was a cat in a previous life." These people have really worked it out in to as much of a science as trying to classify species. They have theories on what makes on an imp or a gargoyle or a unicorn.I think these people are probably on the same level as people who have gender identity problems. People with gender identity problems will often swear that they are really a man trapped in a woman's body or vice-verse. For them this feeling is very strong and real. They say they have felt it their whole entire life, even since they where a small child. It's easy from someone on the outside to tell them that they need to look no further than in between their legs to find out what they really are and they just need to get over it. For these people who have to live with this every day it is a very real dilema as much as anything tactile like trying to pay bills or keeping gas in your car. For these otherkin, they too claim to have felt they where another being ever since they where children. The dilemma of not fitting in to the human culture is an every day reality they have to live with. As far as I know they do not yet have race or species changing operations yet.Here are some good quotes from their site:

am not a living, individual person in the traditional sense... rather, I'm
'taking a holiday' in someone else's body. Or rather, hiding out. Gynn,
unfortunately, is not doing very well, which means I get complete control.
Somebody save me.

Like most of you, I felt as though I had found something that I had sought all
my life. I had all but convinced myself that the sensation of phantom wings was
an illusion; and my sense of being different was nothing more than the lingering
effect of childhood trauma.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Surgery recovery, and Rachel

Yesterday I finally took the tape off that held the holes in my skin closed for the last two weeks. Today marks the two-week anniversary of my surgery. It is something I am very happy to have behind me. I am happy to have my gallbladder attacks behind me as well as the surgery.I don't think I would classify me as being 100%, but probably 98%. Yesterday at the park I tried to do the monkey bars and could feel it in my wounds and had to stop.I am planning to get back in to roller blading (after over a year off) and I hope I hold up well for that. When I quit I could do 16 miles on blades, which was a real thrill. I would like to get back in to having those abilities, as well as getting myself better at stopping quickly and other stuff like rolling backwards, etc.
Our friends Rachel has been planning on moving to Tallahassee with her boyfriend and twins. I was going to call her on Friday and when I went to pick up the phone noticed I had messages. One of them was Rachel saying to call her immediately. I then realised the phone was not on its base, so I went to look for it. As soon as I turned around to start my search the phone rang. It was Rachel. She was just north of Gainseville on her way to stay with us for a weekend to do some house finding.I was really thrilled. I called Kim up and let her know the scoop. About the 2.5 hours later Rachel and company where at our house. Kim and I had done some serious picking up and getting the spare bedroom ready.They didn't find anything concrete but have a few good leads, including some places in our neighborhood. Steve, her boyfriend, spent most of his time looking for a place to park his business. He runs a tow-truck operation. He has a contract with AAA and they had work to do on Saturday and Sunday. He had two of his workers with him, put up in a hotel room.Having five kids in the house was a lot of fun. Her kids are just over a year old and get in to everything, as kids their age do. Kim and I had all five of them at one point and it actually turned out pretty well, all things considered. Another time Kim and I had all five at the park, which also went very well. The twins have a white mother and Nigerian (black) father. They have the skin tone most multi-racial (black/white) people. Kim and I had decided that if anyone asked that we would insist all five where our own blood. No one asked.Malachi, the boy, takes a while to warm up to men. It was Saturday night that he finally warmed up to me. He fell asleep with his head in my lap. I was happy to have him on my side. Magdelline, the girl, will go straight to anyone, no questions asked.Sunday night Rachel had dinner with us and a host of other people we invited over and headed back to Orlando to get some more stuff. She will be back Wednesday.