Monday, August 17, 2009

Welcome Back

It never fails that, whenever I've been on vacation and really enjoyed myself, coming back is a colossal pain in the neck (among other body parts).

The piles of work I left on my desk and in various other places around my office were still there, some even a bit larger than when I left. Where, oh where, is the pack of elves or faries or whatnot that are supposed to come around when I'm asleep or away to do the work for me because I'm such a kindly old gentleman?

Then the actual court sessions were long and aggravating, without even the random Tasering to make it bearable. One guy plead "straight up" (i.e., without a recommendation as to possible sentence) because he wanted less time than I was offering. My Judge sentenced the bozo to even less time than his lawyer offered--that really hurt, because the next moron on the bench decided HE could get a better deal too, but we put him off a couple of weeks and I slashed and hacked the previous options up so they won't be there next time. That'll show 'em.

Over the weekend I got two new tires put on my car and the next day the battery died. I spent good money and time putting a new battery in, only to find that the battery terminals are rather corroded and probably need to be replaced. Since old Blue's track record on car repair success hasn't exactly been 100% lately, I'm thinking of taking it in to let someone else do it so I can't screw it up.

Mrs. Blue and yours truly helped Littlest Blue move stuff into her cell...I mean room at her residence hall at the local university, then bought all sorts of food for her to shoehorn into the nooks and crannies. She's still coming down from the European trip--possibly detoxing, since she told us about her just about daily beer drinking ("But it was cheaper than soda!") and her consumption of a hash brownie in Amsterdam (oh, those crazy Dutchmen!). Well, at least she can't have beer for breakfast anymore.

Bigger Blue and I went to see "District 9" over the weekend and really enjoyed it. There's just something about a low-budget film where the director really has to work at it that seems to make them better than the big budget messes that Hollywood likes to throw at us like so much red meat at a pack of howling wolves. On the other hand, I watched an execrable mess from Israel in 1971 on cable on Saturday that was called "Hot Bubblegum"; simply an excuse for the director of that dreck to have young women take off their clothes and for pimply-faced young men to plot how to bed 'em and leave 'em. The so-called "hero" would be pilloried these days for his two-timing, but I guess the director/writer must have seen "Porky's" and left the theatre inspired. Oh, those wacky Israelis!

Anyway, we're dodging tropical depressions and storms again. So much for a "quiet" Hurricane season.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Long, Long, Long Day

Why today seems to be more draggy than yesterday escapes me. I actually had less sleep Monday night because of the trip to pick up Littlest Blue from her Most Excellent Adventure, but I woke up this morning feeling drugged out, but, I swear, I don't touch the stuff.

Maybe it's the weather or the inexorable count of the days, minutes and seconds that go by until I can walk out of here into the misty world of retirement. Beats me and scares me at the same time, since I tend to look at retirement as going over the top of the hill and skidding downhill into oblivion. Who actually does MORE constructive stuff when retired? Maybe folks do--my in-laws certainly keep busy, God bless 'em--I just keep thinking about the various things I've been wanting to do all these years and wondering if retirement is really an off-ramp to them or dropping dead when I get my first pension check in hand?

Yeah, I know, not exactly happy thoughts today, but that's just the way it is sometimes. Heck, I COULD be traipsing around the country, screaming my lungs out at various Democratic Congresspersons at their Town Hall meetings about health care and other stuff during the Summer Break for fun and profit like a lot of the Astro-Turfers are these days, except I happen to agree with the President on the idea of some sort of medical safety net for all those poor devils who don't have any. In fact, I find it incredibly odd that most of these so-called protesters, who don't generally look all that prosperous, are yelling about this at all, since they are the ones who'd probably benefit from most of the proposals, assuming they've bothered to listen at all over the last couple of months.

Nope, most of the yellers and screamers are too busy worrying about the Current Resident stalking their dearly beloved Gramma and Gramps, waiting to inject them with some of Dr. Kevorkian's finest and put them out of our misery and thereby generating all those savings in Medicare that's supposed to help pay for the less-fortunate (and not so old) to get health care.

Oh well, enough happy thoughts for today. Gotta go out and see if the torrent has stopped long enough for me to head out to the grocery store and get something to eat for my family so that we don't have to think about butchering the dog.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Back in Siberia

Well, as the drunken ex-fighter pilot said at the end of "Independance Day" as he kamakazied the giant alien ship, "IIII'MMMMM BAAAACCCCCKKKK!".

At work, anyway. I had to drive over to Jacksonville to pick up Littlest Blue yesterday from her European vacation, figuring that we'd be back in the old home town by 8 PM tops, only to find out that her London-Houston connection started out two and a half hours late, making her miss her connection by a couple of minutes and not allowing us home until 1:30 AM, meaning that just about everyone in the Blue household is tired.

But, it was back to the old salt mines today. My staff was glad to see me (well, at least I think so; more so after I shared genuine Vermont honey in tiny little jars and Maine Lottery scratch-off tickets with them) and I've been wading through the morass all day today, further reminding me why I keep a countdown clock until my retirement.

Littlest Blue regaled me all the way back last night with tales of the wild and woolly Old Europe (as Rummy called it in the Prior Occupant's administration), particularly how she HAD to drink beer just about everywhere because it was SO much cheaper than soda or water with ice in it. Not that I'm doubting her, of course, since I've heard that before, but not out of the mouth of my youngest, who cannot drink legally here. She doesn't seem to have destroyed too many of her brain cells in the process, but now she's got to buckle down and go through a couple of weeks of training at her job herding freshman girls at our local university and then ratchet things up for school, which starts all too soon.

Bigger Blue managed an "A" in her one class at the local Community College this semester, of which we are all happy for her. Now if we could only get her to pick up her clothes in the bathroom...

Our cat is getting older and having a difficult time remembering where to take a whiz. Sorta like yours truly, but I'm not nearly as old as she is comparatively, so I really don't have as good as an excuse. She managed to put a big stain in our newly installed wood floor and now is convinced that the same spot is the place to go from now on. She's also remembered to wake me up in the middle of the night for wet food, so I know it isn't the kitty-kat version of Alzheimer's. It'll be a sad day when our cat is gone; she's been a good one, if you don't count the shedding, the countless allergy attacks and the constant screaming for food. That's what make us love them, I suppose.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Did you miss me?

It's been a while, I know, but I've been on vacation for the last couple of weeks.

Mrs. Blue and I went off to the wilds of New England, Vermont, New Hampshire, the greater Boston area and Maine. We really enjoyed ourselves, as one of the nice things about New England is that you can get around most of it without driving for hours and hours, like you do in our home peninsula.

We flew to Burlington, VT for a few days, hitting some places we went to a couple of summers ago and new ones as well. We ate at Bove's Italian Restaurant, where I had their famous lasagna; a couple of days later we ate at the Alchemist Brewpub in Waterbury. We drove our rented Volvo S80 across Lake Champlain at Crown Point and into upper New York to visit Mount Whiteface and take the skylift up to the top, returning to Vermont on the ferry. We drove over the Quechee George in Quechee, VT and had a wonderful lunch at the Simon Pearce store and restaurant in nearby Woodstock.

After Quechee, we drove to Norwich, where we ate lunch and shopped at the King Arthur Flour store, then drove to North Conway, NH to take the Cog Railway up to the summit of Mount Washington. We were mooned by some hikers (apparently a tradition of sorts) and enjoyed the overcast weather at the top. North Conway is a big tourist trap, but at least it's a clean and fairly neat one, with many tourists wandering around.

After North Conway, we drove to Boston, staying for six nights at a Marriott in one of the western suburbs. Unfortunately, the higher-end Marriotts, unlike their cheaper Fairfield cousins, don't offer complementary Wi-Fi, so I was out of touch with things except for a liberal use of my Blackberry. We did manage to navigate the"T" as they call the metro in Boston without any real problems, seeing the Liberty Trail, the U.S.S. Constitution and the North End, among others. While I was in the North End, I got to see a religious street festival that was a slightly-updated version of the one in "Godfather, Part II", complete with ribbons of dollar bills over a statue of a saint. I had dinner at one of the Italian places there and got some canoli to go. Mrs. Blue and I made a point of hitting various museums and taking the Sam Adams Brewery tour, where everyone in our group was awfully friendly by the end of the tasting session.

One day was taken up with a trip to Plymouth to see where one of my ancestors came to these shores, but I was sorely disappointed. There's still a bit of history there, but it is all but drowned out by the shouting of crass commercialism. I half expected to find a "Pilgrim XXX Video Gallery" around every corner. Of course, the fact that the day we went was probably the first dry, sunny Saturday New England had had all summer may have had something to do with the crowds of tourists, some in cars, some on motorcycles, packed like sardines on the street.

Our last few days were in Maine, staying in Portland, but driving around to see things up and down the coast. We had a good time there, enjoying the scenery and the local brewpubs as much as anything. We did discover mustard pickles on this trip (made by a local place south of Rockland) and vowed to order some one day, since no one here in North Florida seems to eat them.

Of course, now it's about time to hit the saltmines again. Mrs. Blue goes back tomorrow, while I have to drive over to one of our bigger airports to pick up Littlest Blue, coming back from her whirlwind European tour. She says she's gained a lot of weight from both the food and the beer, particularly in Berlin. It'll be good to see her in any case.

We went to see "Julie and Julia" today, which will probably make every part-time blogger (like yours truly) start finding something substantial to blog about in order to hit the big time like Julie Powell did. I'm not jealous of her, since my sense is that she started the blog for her own sanity and just got lucky (and fortunately noticed) in the meanwhile. I write this because I just like to write, whether someone reads it or (more likely) not.