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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in kenville's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, July 14th, 2011
5:50 pm
Summer Update

Originally published at Ken's Ten Thousand Things. Please leave any comments there.

We had very little Spring, fast-forwarding into Summer, with humidity high enough to not breathe well and hide in my (air conditioned) office or the basement for most of the day. 

I finally finished the deck staining.  This time we let it dry for many days, but that is why it didn’t get done sooner.  The garden crops were in the way until it was too cold to have room to do it, and it rained an everage of every second day all year until just now.  It was even dry enough for me to crawl under the deck and install plastic lattice-work.

I had another great time at Star Wars Night at the ballaprk.  I ran into a friend and her husband (the former health & fitness program manager at DuPont) and sitting behind me was the sister of Jeffrey Trainer, someone I went to grade school with!  My friend Bob was their photographer, and the group seems to have grown a bit since last year.  It really is the top draw of the season for the Bisons — a destination event for people across the region.  I’m just not sure if I would commit to being in the show next year as much as I’d like to.

I sued EG Tax (Esther Gulyas) and won.  The award wasn’t near what i asked, but still twice as much as she offered.  Their lawyer was pretty b@dass and I annoyed the judge with my lack of brevity, but facts were facts.  I especially enjoyed cross-examining their witness (an office worked who checked the records), only to run into him while volunteering at the Greek Festival’s wine shop.  Amicable fellow.  He told me Sandy (or agent previously) went on sick leave aboutt he time I told her employer I taped a conversation with her (admitting they received the paperwork they lost), and then retired thereafter.  I hope it didn’t have anything to do with us.

I killed a Chia pet, or at least failed to achieve prosperity of any kind.  The seeds were from several Christmases ago, anyway.  Time to Freecycle!

My goal for some time now has been to take Christina and go to Utah to visit my Dad and step-family.  The money WAS coming in until receiveables clogged up and a major project went on hold.

5:46 pm
Parkview Private Library, Phase I

Originally published at Ken's Ten Thousand Things. Please leave any comments there.

Ever since we decided to buy the house, we also decided that the living room would become our library.  And so it was — the old entertainment center and the three upright bookshelf towers from our former bedroom did the job … sort of.  We just needed more space, even after putting up long shelves near the ceiling on two walls for antique editions.

I estimate we have between 1200 and 2000 books, of every imaginable subject.  That amount is roughly half what Jefferson donated to start the Library of Congress, and about 1/8 the total number of books currently available at the Cazenovia Library nearby.

Anyway, the plan became a wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor shelving plan on one wall, with a possible addition between the windows.  Well, phase 1 of the Parkview Private Library (our former dining room) is complete.  It took learning some new carpentry skills and using wood glue extensively for the first time.  The design and construction was entirely of my own brain, and the wood came from an exchange of services with a client who owns a mill-work.  It’s painted white to match the existing house’s woodwork and shelving in the foyer, not to mention keeping the room from shrinking and being potentially gloomy.

The baseboard pattern is being recreated, and along with crown coving at the ceiling, will make it seem as if it was built with the house.  Holes and spaces will allow any sort of wiring behind the books necessary for any purpose, such as lamps, an aquarium, or most likely light-up decorations and Merry’s Christmas Dingle People.

In the end, I hope to catalog all out books on LibraryThing.Com.  Merry doesn’t care for the idea, but I like the idea of sharing what is available to friends and others who might want to come in for tea and read an obscure title not otherwise available.

Thursday, May 12th, 2011
10:10 pm
My butt calls dead people.

Originally published at Ken's Ten Thousand Things. Please leave any comments there.

A few weeks ago at the mechanics I was putting stuff in my car when my phone rang.  The screen told me it was “Grandma Evelyn” who died a couple years ago.  Now I know logically that there was a non-psychic explanation, but when you answer a call like that, part of you really wonders what to expect.  They were calling me back.  “Are you a nursing home in California?  Sorry, I still had her programmed in my phone all these years and I must have butt-dialed it.”

Since then, I have become familiar with the “Lock” feature on my phone.

Sunday, April 24th, 2011
4:20 am
The answer to what?

Originally published at Ken's Ten Thousand Things. Please leave any comments there.

My 42nd birthday was one I will always remember.  Mer and I were going to go to Taffy’s, but they don’t take credit cards and we didn’t have cash on hand so we went to Shanghai Buffet instead.  Just a pleasant day … then Christina met up with me and after picking up a couple her friends, we headed to Woody’s where her friend Dave was celebrating his 31st birthday.  He was already lit, shaking my hands every few minutes, and Christina bought me a beer.  I refused to do shots and ended up drinking a Diet Coke, not finishing the beer.

After a while, we grabbed some Mighty Taco drive-through and ate it at the top of the playground equipment in a park, perturbing the community watch folks a bit (a non-official car shining a flashlight at us).  Christina wanted ice cream so we ended up where everyone else eventually does — the Denny’s on Ridge that used to be a Perkins.  When the waitress asked “what high school did you go to”, I asked if she meant one of them or the “creepy old guy hanging out with kids”.  She meant me.  Yep, same school.  “Melissa” … I feigned recognition but she didn’t buy it.  “Your prom date!”  Whoa … Junior year flashback.  Still didn’t recognize her but took her word for it.  We caught up about her family, and I of course introduced my daughter, who thought it was pretty wild.  I got in after 2am, far past my bedtime.

The whole thing reminded me of the high school life i didn’t quite have the first time around. 

Yep, a birthday to remember.

Saturday, March 26th, 2011
3:51 pm
Two Holidays and a Funeral

Originally published at Ken's Ten Thousand Things. Please leave any comments there.

We don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day really, and in any given week we could be broke and not able to do anything anyways.  But I was inspired. There was some story on the radio of a couple that meet each other Valentine’s Day cards. Apparently, merry was inspired as well, as she made me one. I’ve made many cards in my time, but it’s not my favorite gesture and I thought of something more appropriate for women with cycles of the seasons with boxes of holiday decorations going to and from the attic. I made her paper-doll-style decorations that I affixed to the banister.  It went over splendidly, and I even agree to make new ones next year, partially as an object lesson on not hoarding.

St. Patrick’s Day was more placating me than her. In most moods I could care less about the day, but now that I live in South Buffalo it almost seems like an obligation to do something, even if you’re not Irish. And for everyone around us, that something means going to a bar. Apparently, many neighborhood denizens wake up drunk that day. I had no intention of following suit of course, but decided it was about time to put in an appearance. I dragged Merry toolbar named Manny’s, recommended by my teller at the neighborhood bank.

We walked for several blocks and there was electricity in the air (along with a few stumbling people).  We ended up with complementary fries and they didn’t charge us for drinks, probably because they were non-alcoholic. I didn’t have a taste for it, but if they would have had green beer, I would’ve tried it. She sang along to some traditional Irish hymn, and I quietly grooved to its more modern equivalents in between. It was just satisfying to be out and about with neighbors I had still not met. We were the new kids on the block for sure, and I sort of longed to be part of a community where everyone knew each other. Maybe someday, but that will depend in part on showing our faces more regularly at local establishments.

Earlier in the day, I was looked at strangely by varous locals and a cashier commented about looking for a pot of gold after seeing me.  It didn’t matter that I wasn’t wearing a lick of green and I am of average height.  My vest sweater over dress shirt with golf-style cap apparently made me qualify as a leprechaun.  I wished I had a picture of me in front of the house, posing for a motivational poster that reads, “I’m Not Irish: I Just Live in South Buffalo”.

Lastly, a week ago, I attended my second of two funerals this year. It was the father of a friend, and I ended up filling in as pall bearer at the cemetery. The deceased was a brilliant man interested in everything — I wish I could have known him. In fact, he was on the Buffalo team for the Manhattan Project and helped invent the uranium rods that are used to this day in nuclear fission. What a small world this is. I guess I’ll have to show my face more often in the global neighborhood as well.

Friday, March 25th, 2011
3:05 pm
A Long Winter

Originally published at Ken's Ten Thousand Things. Please leave any comments there.

Earlier this week, I saw the biggest snowflakes I had ever seen. No kidding — they were the size of half-dollars. It was beautiful, but enough is enough. I can hear the birds, and I went out once or twice without a jacket in between flurries. We still have a mound of ice on the back porch shielded from the sun (it almost reached the back door window for months), and I had to chop some of it out of the way so we could use the grill for the first time this year (shishkabobs).

But while things were very snow-covered and very frozen, I decided to shovel a “virtual driveway”.  The constant plowing and replowing crowded the edges of the usable pavement closer to each other with each pass, to where there was little chance of making it down the street if people parked on both sides.  I chopped what I could, but having one less car on the street (and not parked the heck-and-gone away) was a bigger incentive.  I figured if the parking police drove by, they’d never know there wasn’t already a driveway there.  Heck, the neighbors weren’t so sure there hadn’t always been one!

This winter also marks war against the quirrels. They were not content to steal all our strawberries (and many tomatoes) last year. It has escalated to sabotage. When the winshield wipers failed, the mechanic extracted caches of frozen balck walnuts — a tree no to be found over the street but f rom a neighbor’s back yard. I know this well because we’ve found their leftover shells in mounds on our deck more than once. It cost $300 to replace the motor.

Since then, we hired a mercenary, or so we hope. More of an adoption, actually. We’ve been cultivating a relationship with a local stray, Sven (the next-door neighbors call him Tiger), and have been feeding him daily to stick around. When a huge, REALLY cold storm was coming, I hastily built a dog-house of sorts, usable for Elmo in the summer. Not having time to shingle and roof it (yes, my wife insists I do this eventually), I stapled scrap plastic to it.  It definitely saved him from the storm, but in better weather, he prefers to sleep in a basket outside our living room window — a lot. One of our indoor cats, Berta, seems to seek him out and keep him company much of the time, visiting prison-style on the other side of much glass.

The day he brings a dead squirrel to the door will be the day he eats expensive canned food.

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
4:20 am
UCF: Abstract Messiah

Originally published at Ken's Ten Thousand Things. Please leave any comments there.

Now that it’s no longer a secret from my daughter, here’s the news: I was in a movie.  Yes, it was nearly no-budget and to be released straight to DVD after showing at one or more film festivals, but I finally did it.  Unlike Christina, I never did Drama Club or school plays, but always wondered what it would be like to do theater of some kind.

My friend Bryan Patrick Stoyle from the North Ridge Staw Wars fan club was in charge of casting for a project of the Key Pixel gathering of filmmakers.  He kept begging people to try out — they needed a lot of actors and extras.  After seeing his post a half-dozen times, I figured what the heck.  For the audition’s paperwork under “experience”, I just wrote one word: “Life.”  I never did Musical Theater in high school, mostly because of the huge time commitment, but sat in for a reading once and was promised a speaking part if I wanted it.  I didn’t — I knew it was a lot of work from my friends who WERE in school musicals.

Anyway, I got an actual speaking part with two scenes and an actual character name, Harold Hoover, Governor of the Toronto Republic.   The first scene shot for the film was with me added in as a holographic image (I read the lines off camera and then reread them for adding later).  The filming I was involved in was at the Larkin building and a model / talent agency in Williamsville.  For the latter, I even brought my own props (a globe and a flag for my “office”, and I even rewrote a few of the lines and they let me get away with it). 

The mosty amazing thing was the people.  Once you show up, it’s like they all knew you your whole life — you were just accepted as you were, as a member of the tribe.  I made new friends that I know I will run into again over the years.

I was worried Christina would think it was lame.  All she knew was that we were going to a theater, and that it was important to me — a project I in which knew people involved.  When she realized I was going to the cast party, she assumed I was an extra.  A jab in the ribs from her when holographic me showed on the screen indicated surprise.  Afterward, I bought her a poster she wanted and she asked me — and only me — to sign it.  Then she grabbed my complimentary premiere cut DVD and grabbed a few friends to watch it with at the house while Merry and I were out.  I remember telling her afterward that the movie was filmed about a month before she told me I needed to get out and do interesting things more often, LOL.

Now I can’t wait for it to be enetered into the IMDB– the actors will also have their own listing, something to tell the grandkids someday, even if I don’t ever do another movie.  But I think I will.

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011
10:03 pm
Old Furnace, New Furnace

Originally published at Ken's Ten Thousand Things. Please leave any comments there.

Thursday night, our furnace started making noise without making any heat. It’s may have done that once or twice before, and turning it on and off fixed the problem. Not anymore. I called an associate from the Professional and Businessmen’s Association, Robert Nowak of R. A. Nowak Heating and Air Conditioning, who came over almost immediately and diagnosed the problem.

The ball bearings were shot in inductor fan, and without it, there was no way of telling what else might not be working. It was a few hundred dollars to play roulette, but we decided with it being 17 years old (and a lot of carbon build up and moisture issues inside) it made sense to replace it here and now. The catch was he was unable to do it until Monday. It was already 54°F that morning, and it dropped down to 48°F, with the basement stable at 40°F.

A shout-out on Facebook brought offers of space heaters on loan, and we grabbed four of them from our nearest friends, Bob and Susan Hubbard. Together, we were able to bring it up to 58°F on Saturday (even with them off at night and when we weren’t home) and up to 62°F on Sunday (it was warmer outside, around freezing), not farr off from what we set the thermostat at when it’s actually on.

It was only days earlier that I convinced my wife not to turn the furnace off completely at night when it was this cold. I woke up to find it 46° and the basement was 33°. No harm, no foul, but it was a wake-up call. I also realized that the window vents were open a bit too much and closed them. For some reason I checked the attic, which is often below freezing, and closed the back windows I didn’t realize had been opened over this time.

Anyway, come Monday, Bob’s nephew and son managed to take out the old furnace and install a new one by evening. It was so rotted out that there is no question we made the right decision by replacing it. They also — at no extra charge — put the furnace on its own line, which it should have been in the first place. To be fair, I did have 12gauge wire and a breaker available to save them the trouble. Over the weekend, we had tripped the breakers with all the space heaters, and it was a blessing that we had mapped the electrical circuits of the house when we first moved in.

The nice thing is that it Ken, Bob’s nephew, didn’t mind my keeping him company and asking a lot of questions. There is no question who will handle our furnace from now on. Hech, he even vacuumed the floor, which was pretty bad to begin with before he got here. And most importantly, I convinced my wife to let the furnace do its job and not turn it on off anymore. And after this weekend, I don’t think I’ll be complaining any more about the thermostat being set to 65°.

Sunday, January 9th, 2011
11:48 pm
A Dream Come True

Originally published at Ken's Ten Thousand Things. Please leave any comments there.

After hearing family stories of holidays yore, I always wanted big family get-togethers myself but my Father was an only child and most of my relatives also have small families, spread out thin.  Yesterday, I held my 25th “Little Christmas” party, a tradition I started in high school to have a holiday celebration with those close to me outside my immediate family — mostly those who are family to me by choice.   The number of people that includes has for the most part grown over the years, but they all share some degree of kinship through me and each other.

Something about yesterday was just … well … perfect.  We didn’t invite everyone we intended, but had a full house.  Merry made my mother’s recipe for chicken cordon blue, and some people brought other edibles.  We exchanged some gifts along with the traditional oplatki and wishes for “Peace, Love, and Happiness” (or alternative some other variant of the traditional “Health, Wealth, and Happiness”).  I snapped some pictures amidst covered faces and groans, and we retold the adventures, good and bad, of past Little Christmases.  Catching up and reminiscing were the activities of choice.  Christina had to work and came in the time people are usually gone, but most people stayed much later this year — even after midnight!

I was in particularly good spirits and my humorous comments during passing out gifts and such were appeciated without reservation.  It was the perfect end to an overall relaxing holiday season — it’s the day I close out my yearly photo archives and get truly ready for a new year. 

It didn’t hurt I got paid by clients in healthy amounts earlier, and I felt satisfied I helped with the event by taking care of my wife’s list of last-minute shopping errands the day before.  I shoveled a “virtual driveway” on the lawn to park one of our cars (who would know to give us a ticket?) and the other was parked around the corner to make room for guests.  Piles of shoes filled the foyer, coats pressing the pegs to their limit with our bed as overflow.  But nothing seemed in the way — there was enough room amidst kitchen, living room, and library-under-construction for everyone to sit and move and mingle at will.  I even figured out how to use the XBOX to play my Christmas MP3 collection.  And in typical fashion for us, we ran out of butter instead of alcohol — due to the demand, not supply of each.

We’ve had a few parties this awesome, but for me, this was one of the happiest days of my life.

Now that the house is settled and we’re taking down the decorations {sigh}, I realize fully that this is what life is all about — not the struggles, or even triumphs per se, but the sharing of them in good company in one’s own home.  All those elements have come together — the harmony of a full hearth — and the realization that in an unexpected way my dreams have come true.  I don’t need lots of kids of my own or cousins by blood or law.  I have a family — a BIG, loving family — that makes the home more than a necessary refuge for a few souls, but a gathering place for loved ones in such abundance as I could only envision of times past.  Such things, against all limits of hope and expectation, are confined to the past no more.

Saturday, January 1st, 2011
3:34 pm
2010 Recap

Originally published at Ken's Ten Thousand Things. Please leave any comments there.

The big event this year in my life was the passing of LadyBug.  It hit me a lot harder than I would have imagined, and still does. 

I did a lot more writing this year, almost all blogging based on Facebook discussions, which I spent quite a bit of time on.  As written earlier, I used firearms for the first time, made my first snow angel at Parkview, and braved data crashes like never before.  I also got my first bee sting.  I discovered the full joys of sushi (especially the now famed “Spicy Jumbo Lump Crab Brown Rice Roll”), as well as the fact that my eyesight isn’t what it used to be — I actually beenfit from a magnifying glass now, compared to never needing one for anything, no matter how small, ever.

And this is the year I came to grips with hoarding.  I’m slowly letting go of keepsakes with forgotten meaning, extra sets of tools, excessive backup CD- and DVD-ROMs, old software, instruction manuals, and generally not saving every little thing.  I was never messy, and the archiving was mostly digital (I finally ended my 219 construction photo album), but my whole mindset is stronger and more aware now, slowly unburdening me from psychological attachment to the physical aspects of the past.

I had a record year (TWO big projects, a record in itself), but don’t know where the money went (except for playing catchup on taxes).  I filed my first lawsuit in small claims, only to cancel it when someone resumed payments on their account.  But I didn’t catch up on things to where I would reward myself by getting the materials to finish the library.

I got to wear my collar a bit more than usual.  An odd Mother’s Day memorial at a cemetery, and three weddings this year, two being very short notice.  Wonderful times with wonderful people and friends, old and new.

The new year?  I’m hoping for no new pets (if we can help it), finishing at least half the library shelving wall, a new beam in the basement, and writing a lot more metaphysical stuff.  I’d also like to see Christina living on her own in Fredonia for both altruistic and selfish reasons.  I’m not looking forward to upcoming taxes, but decided I’d rather make more money than pay less.  I will try to avoid weighing myself down with worldly injustices in politics, religion, and consumerism (often overlapping), but am leaning toward sedition with regards to the Feds crossing the line against citizens on too many fronts.

But writing and side projects are the key to “if you want something [more or] different, you need to do [more or] something different”.  I need to heat up a Cafe Press or something similar, and just write a darn book — even if it’s a personal encyclopedia

Monday, December 27th, 2010
8:14 pm
A long end of the year …

Originally published at Ken's Ten Thousand Things. Please leave any comments there.

The holidays were great, excepting my battle over the stresses of the ridiculousness of recent politics and lamenting various other injustices.  (I really should stop reading the news.)   But the last couple months were much more trying.

When my hard drive first crashed, I was quite grateful that I had an online backup of my system. It was a physical hardware failure, so there was no way to recover any data without spending a fortune. The only problem was I chose not to back up my business e-mail archive for some reason, possibly to save constant processing from changes, so I lost 10 months of Kentropolis e-mail since the last (DVD) backup, excepting sent items not categorized. This was also where I realized how much crap I was saving for no reason — virtual hoarding. I’ll write about that another time.

Here’s the kicker: after recovering all the files with physical backups and on the datawell (shared external hard drive), but before I could finish a full online backup again, my system went to heck in a hand-basket AGAIN. All my search results were hijacked, along with pop-ups (which I never get), system errors, and freezing up any time I attempted to use the web. Without my permission, a program called “Whitesmoke Translator” demanded I sign in and use their software. Uninstalling it didn’t help. In fact, system restores made no difference, and system management wouldn’t even show a partition for the drive with the operating system!?!

During this second crash in a month — something that is only happened once or twice before in my whole life — I ended up with a nasty cold, and our neighborhood was quarantined by nearly 5 feet of snow overnight. It took three days and nights of front loaders and dump trucks just to clear the road enough for snow plows to get through! We were ground zero for collosal Lake Effect.  In a way I suppose that this convergence was good, since any one of them would have taken me down for days in terms of business anyway — they may as well happen all at once, and only once.

In the end, my friend Paul at Aspire Technology Solutions was able to repartition the drive me, and with his advice, I used Acronis disk imaging softwareto make incremental backups of all my installations so that I could swap out the disk image instead of having to reinstall everything over and over again. This proved more than fruitful, since Whitesmoke kept showing up on my system, which coincided with my browser crashing each time. I even contacted their company and gave them a piece of my mind — they were less than responsive in spite of my generous level of politeness. I’ll probably write about the experience in detail on Geeks Bearing Gifts.

On top of everything, unforeseen expenses attacked me. To finish the major project I’ve been working on, I had to eat into my profits to have the project completed with additional details I did not realize the software could not already do. A flat tire in East Otto wasn’t so bad though — a snow removal crew spotted it while in eyesight of the local mechanic, who didn’t charge me to attempt a repair and arranged for me to get a used tire substitute in Springville.

I still don’t know where all the money went this year — this was the best year ever for Kentropolis. Maybe it’s playing catch-up with taxes and other expenses from previous years. I have yet to sue E G Tax for over $1000 they cost us losing my tax return in 2008. Talk about a positive new year’s resolution {sarcasm}.

We never did get a start on building the wall shelving for the library. This kind of annoys me, since the last headway we’ve made, apart from painting the last wall, was about a year ago. In preparation, we’ve boxed up countless books, and have many more to go, but it always seems that the ones in boxes are the ones that I’m looking for. I don’t want this to drag on more than a few months if possible.  We’ll see …

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010
9:00 pm
13 Years, A Lucky Number for Us

Originally published at Ken's Ten Thousand Things. Please leave any comments there.

The last few weekends have been a wonderful “Anniversary Month” for Merry and I.  We went to the Ellicottville Fall Festival and took a detour on the way home to Pumpkinville, where they based the helicopter rides we were seeing all day.  We ate a bit too much early on to run the gauntlet of food stands at both, but we bought gourds (since only one was harvested from our own plants), and looked extensively at items falling into the two categories of crafts in our lives — stuff Merry can make, and stuff she can ask ME to make.  We ended up parking far away at EVL (the car sticker designation for “Ellicottville”, which I simply pronounce “evil”, out of humor but not ill intent, of course), but the extra walk was pleasant.

On Monday of this week, we went to Canada specifically for Swiss Chalet, but ended up enjoying a tour of Clifton Hill and Niagara-on-the-Lake.  I’ve given a lot of thought lately about my relationships with people close to me and we talked about that, the main point being I love my wife so much that it heightens my sense of mortality in some ways, that life isn’t long enough to spend with her.  That, and still mourning Lady Bug.  The other day, I could have sworn I smelled her on my lap …

Today, we went shopping at ate sushi at Wegmans.  I recently realized it was only this year that I would even touch it — now I look forward to it and even go out of my way for it, ESPECIALLY at Wegmans.  Of course, after we gorged ourselves with that and lobster bisque, we found ourselves passing one free sample stand after another.  In the end, we spent a little more than usual to have swordfish tonight (liked it) and a few things for a client couple coming over tomorrow.  Hopefully we can talk then into staying for dinner!

Friday, October 22nd, 2010
7:40 pm
Paving the Yellow Brick Road

Originally published at Ken's Ten Thousand Things. Please leave any comments there.

Okay, it was more of a peach color, but the parts of this century old street that showed was really a simple pleasure to walk on.

A few weeks ago, new street signs indicated a change in the alternate parking days, from 4pm Sundays and Wednesdays to 6pm Mondays and Thursdays.  The problem was they posted “Do Not Stand” bills along the side of the street with dates coinciding with the side we were supposed to park on.  In other words, they wantesd everyone off the street period.  After a week went by and they posted new bills repeating the same game plan, I started to wonder if they made a mistake and were simply trying to get us to follow the new rules.  During these weeks, we parked a block away in a commercial lot and got a bit more exercise going to and from the cars.

A day or two before my wife could no longer curb me from tearing down the signs, indications of actual street work began.  Over the next two weeks, they stripped off the top layer of pavement (down to the brick in many spots), scrubbed it a few times more, and then poured on a few inches and flattened it with a steam roller that made to ground sizzle.  Many of us neighbors wished they had restored the brick, or left it like a few streets over had been for years, but one of the workers explained to me that it costs more to repair a small bricked area than to repave the whole street.  {sigh}

And I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed watching the work.  Other neighbors stood outside those short intervals they actually made progress on our particular block.

Repaving Our Street from Ken Stuczynski on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
5:09 pm
A Perfect Start for Fall

Originally published at Ken's Ten Thousand Things. Please leave any comments there.

Well, I’ve done a few firsts. I got stung by a bee (fortunately I got the stinger out immediately so there wasn’t much swelling).  And I finally launched the pilot for my Earth 2 Mouth project.  There were five of us, Michelle and people from her church, along with Katie from Native Offerings farm where we worked, then preparing and serving food at Friends of Night People.  We had quite a bounty, and the left half of it behind to be served another day.  Everyone seemed to have a great time.  Sure I almost got heat stroke (it tied the record temperature that day in East Otto) and was exhausted and sore at the end of day, but I would do it all over again.  In fact, I plan to.

And it was the start of a glorious weekend.  Saturday, we visited the cider mill, a pumpkin patch, and even shopping for stocks was a pleasant part of the day.  I went to a Facebook party in Hamburg (canceled unbeknownst to me) and instead went to Coyote Café for fried ice cream and a sangria for Merry.  Sunday was relaxing at home, and watching a movie (The Tooth Fairy with The Rock, Julie Andrews, and Billy Crystal) that was definitely better than the one the night before (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).

I’m also getting settled in to the new accounts I acquired from taking over the hosting business of Silver Star Sites.  This, and the landing for the first time ever a SECOND big project for the year, will put me on track to pay off back taxes, much of which was due to our old “Tax Lady” (Esther Gulyas)  losing our paperwork from 2007.  As soon as I’m paid up, I will be suing her, taking away her claim that I am doing so to fix my own “tax problem”.  It will probably take place at the beginning of tax season, which might give her the publicity she deserves.

Other than that, Alb3rt has been spending too much time on Farmville, but to be honest, I enjoy watching him play.  In our real garden, we’re harvesting the largest tomatoes I’ve ever seen — likely the same heirloom variety as the German Gems my Grandpa used to grow.  It was a great year, except the sunflowers never came up, and the ornamental squash don’t seem to be thriving.  From a scrap pile of an estate sale, I acquired some plywood, by which to make a strawberry rack, which Merry wants to be enclosed to protect from the squirrels.  the planks are too much of a pain to take into the basement, so I may build it outside before winter sets in.

Saturday, September 4th, 2010
9:36 pm
Where Did the Summer Go?

Originally published at Ken's Ten Thousand Things. Please leave any comments there.

Lately, when people ask me what I’ve been up to, I’m a bit puzzled myself how to respond.  My wife says I should say “fine” and leave it at that, but it always causes me to think back and answer the question, at least in my own mind.

I’ve been somewhat busy, and I know I’ve gotten a lot done — including organizing a lot of odds and ends I’ve never gotten around to — but I can’t put my finger on any real achievement or result.  Optimistically, I see it as a slow crawl forward from the chaos of countless notes to-do lists.  Realistically, here is a more qualitative and quantitative breakdown.

I haven’t gone much done around the house.  In the spring, I finished the railings, which was a huge project, and I reorganized the basement pretty well.  Oh, and rolled some paint on the cieling in the library I installed earlier, along with rewiring the chandalier and installing the medallion.  But without a budget, I haven’t done much else and didn’t put the workspace to use, letting it get damp without a working dehumidifier.  However, this last week afforded several hot, cloudless days in which I was able to stain the back deck.  I didn’t realize how mottled and gray it was until I saw it a solid orange-red.

And I am pleased that I was able to introduce to Christina, by her own prompting, to carpentry.  We used scrap wood to build a magazine rack, nicely stained, and I showed her how to use various tools, hand and electric.

Other than that, projects and payments have been up-and-down as usual, but I recently landed an auction website project that should round out my year nicely.  I even had to cancel my first small claims court filing, with the client resuming payments.  Now I just have to find an alternative to BNI, since they don’t seem conducive to my joining a chapter, even if a good one with my category open was available.

I think one of the reasons this summer is a blur is the amount of time I’ve spent on Facebook, especially in questionable debates, such as the “ground zero mosque” controversy.  At the least, it prompted me to do a lot of research on Islam and related modern geopolitics.  It also fine-tuned my skills at sifting past propaganda to get to the truth.  But I’ll write about that somewhere else, meaning the new home for my “Think, Think Again” blog at www.considerReconsider.com.  I’ve also helped Alb3rt start using Facebook, but unfortunately that means managing FarmVille farm on a daily basis.

Today, it’s almost like an autumn day, cool and windy.  It makes me realize I’ve had enough of summer, and Fall is my favorite time of year, as is Merry’s.

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010
6:16 pm
A Child, Me, Not Me

Originally published at Ken's Ten Thousand Things. Please leave any comments there.

There was a time when I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up: the guy who collected the shopping carts at K-Mart. (It was right up there with engineer, which I felt I was well-suited for, but not nearly as much fun.) It seemed we went there every week for one thing or another. I don’t recall anything we actually bought, but my Dad and I ate at the “Sandwich Shoppe” in the back as a matter of ritual.

They had K-Marts in Florida, too, and was one of the first places we seemed to go upon arrival, picking up odds and ends we needed for our vacation instead of taking them on the plane. For some reason, after dropping my daughter off at work, I simply needed to see through the eyes of that child again. I almost never go into one of their stores these days, but this time, I took myself back and engaged with an odd, satisfying joy the feeling I used to have, like the big store was a series of worlds I could explore at leisure. Time stood still and I didn’t have a care in the world.

Of course I went right for the toy section, except I couldn’t find it. I paused by the bikes and thought briefly about all the cool accessories I could put on mine, had I still had one. I took in the ales of unimportant grown-up stuff as if exploring the wilds of another culture, and the only thing different was that eye level was quite a bit higher today for me.

I took a second walk around the store, then sighed that I could find no toys. I didn’t bother to question anyone about it; it just seemed appropriate — it was meant to be. It wasn’t the place I was looking for anyway. I was really looking for myself, and I found him. But I was not him when all was said and done, and that’s okay.

I think my urge stemmed from an insight brought to earlier in the day. My whole life I have gravitated toward starting my own journeys rather than follow someone else’s. I studied subjects no one around me had much knowledge about, and preferred being a big fish in a small pond.

I used to think it was simply ego — the desire to be the center of attention, the alpha nerd, the fearless leader (“Which way did they go?!”). Of course, there’s always some truth to that. But my gut feeling was something else. When I switched grade schools halfway through my primary education, I went from known and loved classmate to ridiculed outsider. I never gave it much thought, and certainly didn’t know I had learned a hard lesson from it.

I’ve been too hard on myself, always keeping a critical eye on my own ego, even when I sleep. Now I see (and accept) I was putting myself in a position of player versus pawn for another reason — an emotional preference for not being the odd man out in every metaphorical gym class. I’d rather be in a position to inspire than be inspired, to be the resident expert helping others rather than sitting back, deferring such work at all times to my elders.

Socially, I’ve always tended to create a space (or club or business) from scratch that would be inviting to others, rather than succumbing to some pecking-order role out in the world. I don’t want to scratch my way over anyone to the top of anything. And I don’t want anyone else in my world to feel they have to, either.

Achievement and ego are no longer tangled up. This is freedom! Not only am I no longer beating myself up over achievements (or potential success), but can’t use it as an excuse NOT to achieve. I can push carts or own my own store — or both! I can accept being a teacher without hesitation, yet maturely acknowledge resistance to being the student I must always be.

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010
8:59 am
It’s done. Our Lady Bug has passed from this world.

Originally published at KenVille.Net. Please leave any comments there.

This morning, we had our Shih-Tzu put to sleep. We had her for 12 years; she was just shy of 20-1/2 years old. She wasn’t really a dog, but a person that expected to be treated like a princess. So we did.

Last weekend, we had decided it was her time, and it hit me really hard. the worst part was knowing after memorial Day weekend it would be the exact time. Knowing was the worst … thinking it was her last day, her last night.

Merry and I discussed it and said it was time for a while, me being in denial. She wandered about like a pinball more often than finding her blind little way, and we had her in diapers since around the holidays. We were even feeding her baby food, a mixture of powdered rice and jars, since she had a rough time picking up food with her teeth. They hadn’t been really cared for since she was 16 … then again, we had no idea she’s live this long and cleaning was pretty traumatic for her.

But after discussing all the possibilities, I finally came to grips with the situation, and Merry was relieved, as she didn’t want me to “hate her” if she took her in one day and Lady didn’t come back. I was still a wreck. However, Merry quadrupled her meds, and she was young again — VERY relatively speaking, of course.

All last week, I slept on the couch so I could be near her when she got restless, stopping her from getting stuck behind furniture. We cuddled a LOT, which for her means I was her warm pillow and a place to put her chin. Fine by me. She had a few good days left in her, and I’m glad we didn’t take that away from her. I think we needed that, too.

She was eating better — even solid food of all kinds, mostly people food, mostly by hand. She seemed to find her way around, much less upset when she ended up in a corner. We washed her, and even was able to remove a few recent mats and long hairs. Some days her posture was better than it had been for months. I even went for a tiny, 10-foot walk with her on the sidewalk in the back yard. We sat on the front porch, back deck, library, and above all made her comfortable.

But she was restless on and off some days, and cried when we changed her, especially the last couple days. She couldn’t sleep and wouldn’t really eat or drink late yesterday or this morning. Her smell indicated something very wrong for some time, and it became really noticeable just today.

So she got a well-deserved reprieve for a week, we got to say our good-byes in an everyday life sorta way, and she found ultimate rest just at the time we were all ready.

But this last week, starting the Sunday before last, was a period of growth for me. I had a lot of feelings, and the pain made me feel alive. I spent a lot of time away from my desk, and my saddening memories and thoughts of the future was an encouragement to live in the present. Carpe diem meets finding eternity in the small moments of where we are, here, now.

A lot of theological buzzings came forth in an urgent way, such as my own mortality and the mortality of all those I love. The nature of the soul … and the soul of an animal. The finiteness of experience, and my ever-present longings to relive other moments, sometimes to the point of letting slip by what’s in front of me, unappreciated.

This was a spiritual wake-up call. I’ve found more balance inside and outside my head. I finished the railing, painted the accent wall in the library (burgundy), and took Pashy for a few walks.

And I will find balance between cherishing her memory and going on with the ebbs and flows of everyday life as she would expect.

Saturday, May 29th, 2010
10:57 am
When Life is Too Easy

Originally published at KenVille.Net. Please leave any comments there.

I was just thinking about how awesome my daughter is. But then I realized that maybe I was doing a disservice by telling her too often how proud I am of all the things she does or writes or says.

I’ve always been a cheerleader type for the people around me. I show my love by expressing my appreciation for who they are and what they do, no matter how subtle or seemingly mundane. Maybe they think I’m easily impressed; maybe they’re grateful someone took the time to notice them and not tell them they amount to nothing in life like some others probably have.

But not all acts of intended kindness are the right prescription for everyone. For some, kindness can be a cruelty.

Read the rest of this entry »

Saturday, January 16th, 2010
2:13 pm
No One Cares = Freedom of Expression

Originally published at KenVille.Net. Please leave any comments there.

Having just checked my site traffics statistics for my new blog, Think Think Again, a revelation is upon me. First, the number of visits is low, since I only promote this on Facebook. This is not unexpected. However, there were only TWO click-throughs in December from Facebook.

Meaning no one gives a fex.

{And yes, that is a real word, useful for highbrow cussing and scrabble.}

Even my own wife won’t read my blog, under the non-superfluous criticism that my verbosity is … ah, heck, there’s no one to impress or turn off … I use big words. My sentence structure is lugubrious, my arguments tedious, and I’m not sure I can care to change that.

One of my plans is to add images to my posts, which psychologically would make them more attractive at least twice as much, resulting in possibly FOUR visitors this months if I play my cards right.

chimpanzee-and-tiger-best-friendsSo here is a picture of a monkey.

It really doesn’t matter that my taxonomy is incorrect enough to drive the more zoologically educated mad with rage — what are the odds any of them are even here? Face it, you, lone reader whoever-you-are, read this far just to see what the picture was all about, didn’t you?

So I continue for its own sake, as you likely click away from this page.

And continue I must: Is attribution necessary, even if protected by a copyright held by a rich, lawyer-laden entity? (If a tree gives a swan song while falling in the woods and no one is there to hear it, do they have to pay royalties?) Is my usual list of analogies unbounded by fear of losing an audience I don’t have? can I truly protest too much?

Will my obsessive compulsion to comment on the primate’s oddly-chosen companion as “unperplexed” or dare I say “looks like a stuffed animal but clearly is not” loose it’s steam? Heck, no, I can mix metaphors and no flags will be thrown as there’s no umpire here.

I can add porn and make rude comments about your maternal genetic source. However, it assumes some certainty of a such a small demographic to have any import, and I have no idea who you are. Except that you are probably not my wife.

And with technology, I can date this whenever I want, past or future, the implications of which are probably astounding to me and only me and I could add many paragraphs about it. Not having a readership, my choice to do so or not is utter freedom without consequence!

Knowing few may ever read this, a secret is given up by the fact I write it:

Does a man with no audience chose sloth over plying their art, or do they aspire further, unfettered by the influence of criticism? Forget not getting paid. Would YOU do what you do in life if no one ever knew about it except yourself? Would you do it more boldly … or just not bother? (If someone IS reading this, I hope this is a useful thought.)

Is it about the hope of someone discovering a fossil of your temporal existence, giving it more than a turning over in their palm? Imagine you being reborn to someone you will never meet, becoming some meaning or encouragement in their own existence by a simple story, memory, song, business, idea, building, statue, article … a monument to you in any form that lives on.

I guess in no small part, I write to hear myself think. Sure, I want to reach out to others, or be forever preserved in some undifferentiable strata in the blogospheric sediments of my time.

But perhaps in the end, it about the choice of expressing my own existence, with or without any of those things. I blog, therefore … well, dear reader, if YOU exist, I leave it to you to finish the statement.

Sunday, January 10th, 2010
4:23 pm
Happy 20 Years, LadyBug

Originally published at KenVille.Net. Please leave any comments there.

She bumps into things, makes us get up early, pees on the floor, and is as demanding as any Chinese Dowager Princess could be expected. But we love her, and give her whatever she wants and needs. AKC certified as “Lady Flower II”, our shihtzu turns 20 years old today.

Yes, that’s probably a record somewhere (all of New York?), or at least easily in the oldest 1% of all dogs in the world today. The “oldest dog in America” died recently at 21, but there was an alleged 23-year-old (shihtzu) in Florida still alive.

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