Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Ho Ho

Well, it’s Christmas morning and millions are awakening to see what Santa brought them.

I’m likely, at this moment, frying up sausages and eggs and trying to restrain my daughter from digging in to her presents before we have breakfast.

Yeah, this is a blog written the day before.

Not much to say except,

Happy Holidays!

Now, go enjoy your family and friends!

Oh, and get out the board games!

Until next Sunday . . . which, incidentally, will be in 2012.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

tree up output down

As promised to our little one, not so little anymore, we put up the tree yesterday.

And despite my grumping the whole time (I am the "Grumpy-Daddy" after all - I have an image to uphold) it looks pretty darn good.

There is even some snow on the ground . . . Okay, more like a dusting with rain on the way tomorrow.

Sigh.

I kinda miss the Christmas Winter Wonderland I grew up in. It was usually about 20 or 30 degrees below Fahrenheit this time of year and there was at least a foot, if not more, of snow on the ground.

And I’m using Imperial measurements . . . yeah, I’m so old that when I went to school (uphill barefoot both ways) we learned the Imperial system. Metric crept in sometime during the later stages of my stay, but I mostly ignored it.

Anyhow, it looks like another green Christmas around here. Not as bad as the year I got the lawn mower out and mulched leaves Christmas day, but still. Cold and snow would be a nice touch.

And a weird thing is going on between Windows 7 and Wordperfect 11. Some kind of power struggle I think. Win 7 makes changes to my system, then Wordperfect 11 wants to change stuff back. Has to do with keyboard defaults or something.

Kind of annoying since Wordperfect is my word processor of choice. Why can’t these two programs just get along already . . . sheesh.

Or maybe a virus?

But I scanned the hell out of my computer - twice - and nothing was found. Of course the word processor is “old” and a 32 bit program while Win 7 is running 64 bit . . . and I know just enough to spew things like that without knowing why the two don’t play nice.

No cool videos to share this week either.

Or music . . . or short stories . . .

Yeah, the last half of this year has left me in a desert creation wise. I don’t think my music creation program even works with Win 7 64 bit. Not sure what I’m going to do on that front. Maybe I’ll have to invest in another more modern music creation program.

And as for the writing I’ve started two short stories . . . and, well, that’s about where I’ve left off.

Tennis though is screaming ahead. I play three or four times a week. Ooh, and my ribs are almost healed now. Just another week or two of pain killers when I hit the courts and then maybe I can play without them.

Well, not much more to relate this week. It’s been pretty quiet. And yes, I do have all my presents bought and wrapped. Go ahead, hate me.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, December 11, 2011

so damn cool

Yes, I am easily amused as you will see later on when I post a couple of links.

Ooh! ooh! - this week I got an upgrade to my computer system which included an upgrade from XP to 7.

I was apprehensive at first, but now that I’ve had the system installed for a few days - I’m quite liking it - a lot. So many more cool things to play with that XP just never had. And I swear my computer is acting way more civil than it ever did before.

And, to put the icing on my computer cake I also scooped a 2 dollar 15 inch LCD monitor which is now the second monitor I have hooked into my new system. Yah, I got it at a yard sale, and it works perfectly.

How, I mean how, did I ever get along with only one computer monitor in the past?

Now, as hinted at in the opening, here are two little videos I found to be quite amusing.

The first here is Cello Star Wars.

Since both girls in our household play this instrument it was particularly amusing to me - and them. And yes, both of them WANT an electronic cello - and for only just over 3 grand they can each get one . . . or not!

I absolutely love what can be done with the electronic cello and if I had the means I would get each of them one. They sound just so damn cool!

The second bit of amusement is this little Sabrina and Salem video.

If you liked Sabrina the Teenage Witch at all you will like this little video.

So here it is. The Reunion of Salem and Sabrina.

Did I also mention that with high speed now I’m listening to internet radio . . . 80s music of course.

Um, yeah. I have this problem when it comes to music. I love all types of music, but for some reason I just LOVE the stuff produced in the 80s. I’m a product of my age I guess.

What I find really amusing is people born in the 80s can legally drink now . . .

Where the H did the time go?

And lastly I have to mention tennis, because what would a blog post from me be without that vital bit fo sharing?

I’m mostly recovered from my mishap, and will be playing today. I did a tennis aerobics yesterday and felt only slight twinges of pain. Nothing a few pain killers shouldn’t cure during today's doubles match.

Well, the clock on my second monitor (so cool!) is showing me that it’s time for me to bail.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, December 04, 2011

this hurting unit

Yup, I’m not in great shape today for one very good reason.

It was not from drinking.

It was not from a virus.

It was from slipping on a taped line on the clay courts Friday night while going for a shot. I slid out of control and ending up tumbling ungracefully first onto my elbow and hip and them flopping like a landed fish hard onto my back.

It looks fun when you watch a professional tennis player lunge for a ball and tumble across the court only to bounce right back up and finish the match with aplomb . . .

Well I did get back up and finish off the match, but I knew that my body was going to pay for that little maneuver - and boy was I right.

I can’t help but spend several sentences griping about the stupid taped lines on the clay courts. This is not the first time I’ve slipped on them. They suck, have no grip whatsoever, and literally drive me nuts.

Yes, I was raised on hard courts where the lines were painted on just like the rest of the surface. Clay courts are my least favourite court surface, but I don’t really have much choice unless I want to drive another half an hour farther to get to them.

That would be 45 minutes one way - in the winter . . . no thanks.

Besides, I really like the club I’m in. Great people, great coaches, but slippery, dangerous lines . . .

I wish something could be done about the traction of the tape. I just can’t believe the professionals would put up with the type of taped lines we have.

So, I’m sitting here in pain today as a case in point.

Anyhow, griping session over.

The fact is I had to cancel playing doubles today because my hurting body is just not up to it. Maybe after a week of rest I will be healed enough to get back out and play my hard hitting aggressive game.

Old age, my friend, is a very sad state to be in physically. Still, mentally all is roses.

Oh, I did do well last Sunday coming in second on court one just in case you were following my progress.

Well, I’m off to pop some pain killers.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, November 27, 2011

one on one

Well today is tennis doubles day again . . . but with a twist.

Today I’m the number one ranked player on court number one.

Yikes!

There are six courts, so if you do the math that means I’m sitting on top of 23 other guys . . . and yes, that does not sound right, but you know what I mean.

So what did I do differently last week to land me in this prestigious position this week?

Three things.

First, I had new strings in my old racket and that helped. Those old fifteen-year-old strings just weren’t cutting it anymore.

Second, I’ve been consistently going to tennis aerobics for weeks and working on all of my strokes. Repetition is one of the keys to tennis success - just ask Monica Sales.

Third, the use of drugs . . . namely Ibuprofen. Yup, when my body does not feel the aches and pains of old age I move much better on the court.

What all this did was add up to me moving much more quickly and smoking shots on court last week and coming out on top this week.

Hard to say what today will bring as I’m not nearly as consistent as I was twenty five years ago, but like Sampras said (paraphrased) before playing Raonic this past week, “I’ll do my best, but I’m not that young anymore.”

Well enough with the tennis.

I’ve been invited back into the hallowed halls of formal education to talk to kids about writing . . . and I’m feeling the guilt.

Oh, I’ve been dabbling lately, but nothing like the writing output of my past. Like I’ve mentioned before that my high-stress, high-irritation lifestyle has ended and the need to vent has greatly reduced my written output.

Still, I’ve had past success and still come up with a short story or two, and hence the invite.

I’ll be heading into a grade 8 class to read them one of my stories, then talk to them about what it’s like to wordsmith and try for publication.

Not sure of the exact timing on this one, but it should be fun. I’ll have to pick one of my less graphic horror stories to share, but I’m looking forward to it.

Well, that’s about it for this week. Time to pop some pills and get ready for the big match . . . well, big in my head anyhow.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, November 20, 2011

back and back again

So I’ve been playing Left 4 Dead with a friend, trying desperately to complete the very last mission “The Sacrifice” and it’s been hell.

Also, my back is acting up crimping my tennis game.

On the game front, we finally managed to complete “The Sacrifice” once, after about six tries.

We switched characters to so my friend could get the same achievements I got . . . and you are rolling your eyes and wondering “WTF are you babbling about” . . .

Okay, enough with the games.

My back, never the pillar supporting the earth at the best of times, has been causing me issues the last several days.

I hurt it but good twice in my youth. Once doing drills for badminton (I was on the University team) and once previously playing - you guessed it - tennis.

And now that I’m not so young anymore those old war wounds creep into my life every now and then to remind me that I was not a kind and gentle person to my frame as a young man.

Ibuprofen takes the edge off, but does not make it go away.

Probably intense physiotherapy and an operation would cure it, but who has time or money for that kind of help?

No, it’s better for me to live through the agony and, as it’s done in the past, it will eventually tone down and mostly just go away.

At least that’s my hope.

As well the osteoarthritis I have in my mid-back and neck don’t add to the enjoyment of sports much either, but that is a separate issue and mostly doesn’t bother me.

Have I ever mentioned that getting old SUCKS! . . . I know, I’m a broken record . . . if records have bad backs and osteoarthritis, that is.

So I’ll stop the moaning now and get on with how my old rackets are performing. The Max 200G is still tops in my book and both of them now how new strings which is making a big difference.

I played two weeks ago with one of them and the strings, I kid you not, were like fifteen years old. I played like crap. It was no wonder. I felt like I was hitting balls with a fish net instead of a strings.

Anyhow, they are all better now.

Now, if only my back could be repaired as easily . . . oops! - moaning again. Stopping. Now.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, November 13, 2011

winterizing

Hate to say it, or think it, but I’ve been winterizing the past week.

The yard is cleared of dead leaves - mostly mulched - and both cars have their winter treads on. I even dragged my snow shovel out from under the rubble heap I call a garage which was cleared to allow a car to fit in it. A novel idea I know.

I’m all set for snow - not that I’m looking forward to it.

Still, with the change of weather this means an end to lawn mowing for at least four months.

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate mowing lawns? . . .

Thought I would share two comments the head tennis pro at my club said about my game last week.

Number one comment - “If I had you backhand I would still be on the tour” - like, okay then, maybe my backhand is not as bad as I thought. He is not the only one to make this comment to me.

Number two comment - you hit the ball harder than anyone else at this club - um, okay then. When I’m in my groove and connect with the ball well I tend to generate a whole whack of power.

You see, once upon a time I was really good and even today I can still bring forth a glimmer of past glory.

But I really do need to try and not play like I’m twenty anymore. That will lead to injury, and at my advanced age, I don’t want or need that.

So, the plan . . .

Yah, you knew there was going to be a plan.

. . . learn to take some pace off the ball and generate more topspin. The same head pro said to practice using some of the power I generate on my flat ground strokes to create more topspin and less blistering speed.

Hmm, hard for me to wrap my stubborn head around this concept as I’m pretty stuck in my old playing ways.

Still, what he says has great merit and I really should heed him before I pull or strain something beyond repair.

So, I will give his advice a go and see what comes of it.

It’s going to be a bit hard for me to tone it down a notch, but this old dog needs to learn these new tricks before I ruin what’s left of my body.

And I’m starting the plan this very day during my doubles match.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, November 06, 2011

mulch or bag

It’s that season again here when our yard takes on the appearance of burnt orange and dull red.

Yup, our three large maple trees have spewed their load across our lawn and I have the option of bagging or mulching those thousands of brightly coloured decaying leaves.

I prefer to mulch since all the nutrition that got sucked from the soil can go right back in again for next year’s leaves. Then again, bagging is a way more fun activity for the family, and today’s weather is going to be divine for that activity.

Not sure if mulching is the best thing to do since we have some recurring fungus on our maples that produces black spots on the leaves. Seems that mulching the leaves just keeps the fungus close to the trees and the cycle repeats itself all over again which it has done for the past six years.

Well, I don’t need to decide right this minute as I have a match of tennis doubles first in a few hours.

And speaking of tennis, I popped two strings on my old racket yesterday at the same time while pounding an overhead.

I may have to use my backup racket today if my main one isn’t strung in time.

The sad thing is, I’m on the top court today with the top players and I’m going to be using my backup racket. Not ideal.

And speaking of computer games . . .

Okay, I was thinking of them, not speaking of the, . . . still . . .

Been playing Left 4 Dead the past week or so and I must say it’s pretty intense and loads of zombie blasting fun. It’s even more fun when you play online with a friend, which I’ve also been doing.

The sucky part is the fact that the achievements on Steam seem to be broken. I’ve completed quite a few of them and not gotten credit for them. A quick check on the intertubes had me finding that I’m not the only one.

Oh well, the game itself works fine, but it would be nice to see the achievements racking up as I make them.

Oh, a solution just occurred to me. I can bag some, and mulch some.

I’m going to enjoy this day. I find autumn the most awesome time of year.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, October 30, 2011

hollow tween

No, the title of today's blog is not a typo, but rather an observation of late.

You see, my tweenage daughter is growing at an alarming rate and her food consumption this past month has been startling to say the least.

No matter how much she packs back at meal time she is always hungry and continually searching the larder and fridge for “something more to eat because I’m starving!”

Okay, then.

If you are a parent, you will sooner or later run into this incredible phenomenon.

Just hope that when this occurs to your kid/kids that your bank account can support the extra drain on your grocery budget. Think one and a half to two times normal.

It’s kind of funny to observe.

And speaking of Halloween, which I wasn’t but am now, our family attended a Halloween costume party last night.

We were wusses, and didn't dress up. The theme was “drinks” and there was a wide array of creative endeavours, except for us . . .

I simply stated that we were that popular drink “the wet blanket”, a triple . . . because we are three . . .

. . . um, yeah, pretty lame.

Just didn’t get into the mood of dressing up. Had the idea to go as a White Russion and my wife as a Black Widow and my daughter as a Zombie . . . but this was only in my head and never left the metal drawing board.

So I spent most of the evening in the “lounge” area next to the fire observing the cats, which I’m pretty allergic to.

And yes, the chair I was sitting in was a rocker type, but no, I didn’t fall asleep and have drool on my shirt . . . I need to be a little bit older for that sort of behaviour . . .

And because of last week’s post I shouldn’t mention that I’m playing an older game which is new to me and extremely fun . . . Left 4 Dead.

Zombie apocalypse mayhem in a first person co-op shooter format. I’ll say no more about it here at the risk of being labeled fanatic . . . damn fun though . . . oops, I said more . . .

Anyhow, it’s pen and paper game day and as I’m running the campaign I should review a few notes before I head out this afternoon to amuse some friends.

Oh, and tennis again this morning as well. What else.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, October 23, 2011

not addicted already

It appears that I share a controversial “activity” with one of my good friends.

It’s called playing computer games.

And it seems that because we do it, we are labeled by our significant others as some sort of deviant sub-cultural game-obsessed layabouts with a severely debilitating and harmful addiction which can only end in ruin and they wish nothing more than for us to just quit playing computer games altogether.

Okay, let’s define addicted then.

In their minds I think addicted means anytime we are on the computer for more than thirty seconds playing a game.

My definition of addicted - 8 plus hours of gaming a day, every day, seven days a week while neglecting the basics of life such as eating, sleeping and personal hygiene.

Yes, there is a wildly huge gap between those two interpretations of gaming addiction. And yes, no matter how much “work” we gamers do around the homestead we are still spending WAY too much time playing computer games and really need to stop.

Sigh . . .

Counter-arguments like, I did the laundry, shopping, painted the house, cooked the meals, did the dishes, vacuumed, took the garbage out, mowed the lawn, dusted, scheduled and took the car in for maintenance, paid the bills, did the banking, drove our child to practice, plus ninety other things I can’t think of off the top of my head, just seem to account for the cubic product of squat all.

The most annoying thing which can happen to the casual computer gamer, which I define myself as, is during a day when only 27 out of 28 tasks get completed and the gamer gets “the look” and “the lecture” - what, you couldn’t get task 28 done because YOU WERE LIKELY ON THE COMPUTER PLAYING GAMES . . .

Grrrr, arrgh . . .

This unjustified attitude stems, at least in my opinion, from the fact that the non-gamer perceives computer games as not fun, and therefore, undoubtably are a “waste of time.”

I can sort of see that point of view. Sticking pins into the tender parts of one’s body repeatedly strikes me as not fun and a waste of time, and if somebody I loved was doing this most every day I would likely think they have a problem and would wish them to stop doing it.

However, playing computer games is not the debilitating and mind-rotting exercise people who don’t play think it is. It can be relaxing, entertaining and sometimes even educational. Hell, don’t kids at school learn better when their work is made into play as opposed to a rote style repetition of facts?

I suppose I will never convince those with set minds, and I’m not going to “quit playing computer games” just because somebody doesn’t like it when I do.

Still, it would be nice if we could all just live and let live . . . now, some household chores await, then afterwards - game on!

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, October 16, 2011

too old for this S___!

So, after playing two hours of singles tennis last Sunday I’m beginning to understand the phrase, “I’m getting too old for this shit!”

Waking up for four days afterwards in pain, unable to do the simplest thing, like bend more than two degrees without pain, really puts a cramp in your lifestyle.

No more singles for me, that’s a given.

The person I was playing was at least a decade younger than I, and he was complaining during the match of shoulder problems. I was getting tired to be sure, but on the court I wasn’t feeling particularly bad.

Of course the curse of old age, and perhaps a byproduct of it, is the aging brain apparently doesn’t know damage is being done to the aging body while the damage is actually happening. No, it’s only a day or two later that the body deteriorates to the point of pain and the old brain then must think back on what the hell could be the cause.

And the really rotten part of the deal is, unlike twenty years ago, when you develop a nagging ache or pain it sticks with you for f___’n weeks!

So, here I sit, one week after those two hours of hard single’s play, and I’m about seventy-five percent functional. I know, if I don’t push it, that I could be around eighty percent by next week.

Yes, middle/old age sucks the big kielbasa!

On the upside - yes, there is one - I finished and read my latest short story to our reading group last night. I was mostly happy with it and it did elicit some comments so must have been partially amusing to some.

My plan - I know, there is that four letter word I like to use here, again - is to have a new short story ready to read each reading group gathering instead of relying on my NaNoWriMo spewings from like five years ago.

Oh, I’ll finish reading my novel to the group just so they can have closure on the whole thing, but I’m keen on honing a bunch of new tales.

And yes, I am playing tennis again today. But it’s doubles which is literally half as much pain as singles, maybe even less than half.

Oh, and as a quick side note - my daughter did in fact have Scarlet Fever, the real deal. Thank goodness we live in a time where we are past the leeches stage and into modern antibiotics.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, October 09, 2011

turkey fever

Well this is the long weekend for turkey chomping here in Canada and the weather is absolutely amazing.

Sun, warmth, and Scarlet Fever . . .

Yeah, the best weekend we’ve had in 2011 and my daughter comes down with strep throat complete with strep rash heading for a date with Scarlet Fever.

Thank goodness for modern medicine.

So, this puts a bit of a crimp in our grandiose Thanksgiving Day plans. But upon further reading, if my little one gets on the meds today she should not be contagious by tomorrow.

But this little complication is not getting me down and I continue to dominate on the courts with my old tennis racket.

Even my wife (we did tennis aerobics together yesterday) says I’m hitting the ball better than she has seen me do all this year.

Sounds good to me and I did feel like I was pretty much in control of the ball most of the time. The few times I sent a shot wild was when I was trying to kill the thing like Nadal or Federer. I need to learn to leave those type of shots to the professionals.

I did manage to be top dog the last 2 out of 3 times playing doubles out of four players, and came a close second just Friday. Yeah for me!

And, as I twitted two days ago, I finished another short story. Not sure if it’s going to appear here soon as I need to edit it several times to make it as good as it can get. I will be reading it to our writing group come next weekend though.

I’m not particularly excited about it, though it does have a few moments I like and has a certain level of creepiness to it.

I’ve been having a heck of a time concentrating the last month on getting my writing accomplished and the music creation has fallen through the cracks as well.

You think this lack of creativity is at all related to high-speed internet?

Another month or so and the infatuation of watching videos and game reviews online should fade. And once the crap weather arrives I should be back to producing more intellectual goods.

On the computer front my old machine got some upgrades for free. 4 extra GIG of ram and an 80 GIG hard drive to boot, thanks to Flaming Sasquatch!

Well, I should attend to the feverish offspring and get to doing some housecleaning as we are supposed to have guests for turkey times tomorrow.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, October 02, 2011

USB bandwidth exceeded

So I had this error message this morning after booting up the device. Seems some USB device was sucking more than its fair share of bandwidth and Windows didn’t like it.

Problem is, the only two USB devices I have hooked to my device are the keyboard and mouse.

Hmm. One of them was not playing nice.

Oh well, everything seems to be working fine now and so this blog post is being written without further incident.

And I just have to mention the fact that I played awesome tennis this Friday morning scooping all three sets (total of 9 games which consists of 8 games plus a tie-breaker for the 9th) of doubles with these scores. 7:2, 7:2, 6:3. No, I’m not going to tell you how badly I can suck on off days. Let’s just say there were a couple instances where I didn’t even get close to my daughter’s age in games and leave it at that.

The old Max 200G tennis racket is working its charm and, even though I have 2 already, I’m looking to get one or two more so I can play with them well into my 80s . . .

. . . if I live that long, that is.

Also, with regards to my writing, I’m almost finished my latest creepy tale. Our next gathering for reading night will be Oct 15th and I’ll read it to our group then.

No more water leaks in my basement this past week either - bonus!

The weather, though rainy today, is looking great for the balance of next week starting on Tuesday which means I get to pruning the raspberries and painting the main floor window sills of the house before the snow flies.

Isn’t my life just to die for . . . or should that be, to die of?

On the gaming front - I finished Portal. That is one sweet game made even more so by the fact that Steam gave it away for free a couple weeks ago. So, free game which was awesome. And it only took my 5 hours to beat it which was a nice length without getting tedious.

And can you believe I’m still using Windows XP? I know the operating system is ten years old, but I really like it. All I need to do for the next while is scoop a couple more GIG of RAM, slap on another hard drive for extra storage space and I should be good until sometime next year before I break down and get Windows 7.

Isn’t my life just the bomb? . . . okay, maybe a stink bomb.

Well, it’s back to chores around the abode and some breakfast.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, September 25, 2011

balls up

That’s what the tennis instructor always says at the end of our tennis aerobics session . . . and yeah, I laugh inside each time I hear it.

Still 12 years old I guess.

So, I’ve been playing tennis 4, 5 times a week now for a bit and starting to feel like I can hit a few shots the way I used to.

My old racquet is performing well and my wrist injury is pretty much gone. I did hurt my left knee a bit, but it’s more a slight annoyance than a hindrance. I should watch that I don’t do myself some serious injury though. Still I can’t help but get out on the court and try somewhere close to 100%.

But, us old guys can still move on the court despite the advancing age thing. Case in point, take a boo at This Video.

Mac is 48, and Edberg is like 41. Watching this I was like - holy crap can these two still play the game even in their forties.

So, there is still hope for me as I’m about that age. Main point is, I still enjoy it and watching these two has inspired me.

And speaking of Steam . . . oh, sorry you can’t read my mind . . .

Anyhoo, I upgraded my high-speed to the next level which is 4 times faster than the light high speed we’ve had for the last month. So, bottom line now is instead of 12 times faster than my old dial-up connection I’m now clocking in at 48 times the old speed.

That, to me, is how it should be. Let’s me watch the tennis videos I want, when I want.

But back to Steam. Got all the Company of Heroes games for under 10 bucks. And, with the new improved suck down speed I was able to play them pretty much same day I sucked them down.

Even on the old high-speed it would have taken like 36 hours to download instead of 9.

I know I keep going on about this, and now I’ll shut up about it already.

And I’ve been slowly developing a short story of creepiness which I really hope to have ready for or next reading night gathering.

Well, I must go watch some paint dry and get the lawn mowed before the week of rain heading our way.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, September 18, 2011

new elbows

For those of us, including myself, that have had to suffer with leaking elbows, there is an easy and simple fix for the problem.

Oh, I should clarify which elbows I’m talking about; they’re not the ones on my body, but the ones in the basement of my house that seem to spring a leak on average about once per year.

The plumber that came over to do the job of repair was extremely helpful and clued me in to a little secret - well secret to me anyhow - of what to do when those pesky leaks appear.

His solution for me?

Go to Canadian Tire or Home Hardware and buy “LynCar Easygrip Push Fit Fittings.” These simple push fit fittings are easy to install (as he showed me) and good to 200psi and 93 degrees Celcius. All you need do is remove the offending leaking elbows and push on these handy little guys and voila - instant leak fix. And the added benefit is - no soldering at all!

They come in a wide variety of configurations too, not just elbows.

Very cool and fast and inexpensive - five bucks a fitting. The next time I get a leak which will, given this house, be about a year from now I’m getting myself a pipe cutter and these fittings.

And I’ve pretty much decided that I’m sticking with my old Max 200G racquets from now on.

I had an awful day playing doubles with my new Maxply Friday and am pretty much giving up on them. They are hard on the elbow (too much shock transfer) and hard to control. Another player at the club has the same racquet and was experiencing the same frustrations with it as me.

It's also pretty hard to generate topspin with the Maxply, unless you wind up like Nadal to hit the ball. I've always played a flat, hard, low ball (like Conners) and this racquet has just too much power for me to keep it under control - ala needing much topspin to keep the ball in court without flying long.

So, it’s back to my less powerful, but much easier to control, Max 200G.

But the trouble is the Max 200G is pretty hard to find anymore at a decent price. I have two, which is good, but I want to get another one or two more. Seems the going price for this antique racquet is anywhere from 150 to 300 bucks a racquet.

Holy overpriced Batman!

I mean, this racquet is 30 years old and there were about 2 to 3 million of them produced! Should be getting them for a dime a dozen. Just goes to show you how popular they still are I guess. Or people have a far too nostalgic connection to this racquet that McEnroe and Graff made into legend.

Well, the clock on the wall informs me I’ve taken up enough of your time.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, September 11, 2011

hmm upgrades

Every time I blink it seems to me that the computer industry jumps ahead about ten steps - and yes, I am Mr. Dinosaur when it comes to keeping up with the latest tech.

My needs are not great when it comes to PC computing. As long as my rig can play games that are fairly recent (Fallout 3, etc), handle music creation programs and word processing, I’m pretty happy.

My wife needs a new device though and is going to get one of those fancy mobile units, laptops I think you call them, for her needs. My daughter will then inherit her old desktop and I’ll end up beefing up my current machine to handle the up-and-coming PC computer games which are not even going to support Windows XP.

Nuff said about techy toys and tools.

The water leak I’ve been dealing with was not solved with the wonder-tape repair. I kind of wondered how well that would work - and it just doesn’t. So, I’m going to have to break down and get the plumber in soon.

*sigh*

On the upside we had a fun game of Arkham yesterday against Yog-Sothoth. And we absolutely had our butts handed to us during the end battle against the bubble-bath-beast. It was not pretty, not pretty at all.

And I had an opportunity to help a fellow player close the final gate, which would have won the game for us, but I clued out and didn’t notice I had that particular spell at the time it was needed. I did get six spells at the same time during the turn before and, I admit, I didn’t really read them all too closely.

On the tennis front I’ve been at it four times again this week and feeling pretty good. My wrist seems to have finally sorted itself out and gives me almost no pain anymore. I’m on the courts again today and looking forward to the workout and smacking the fuzzies.

And with the coming of the new computing toys, I think I need to do a major de-clutter of the house. Our basement is filling up with stuff again and my lair seems to be almost bursting with accumulated things.

I have to get serious about getting rid of things and just let-then-go. I hang on to way too many things for way too long. This is not a good thing. I think this week I’m going to do a huge purge and take it all to sell at auction this coming Saturday.

Wish me luck.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, September 04, 2011

leaks and geeks

One drop of water every twenty seconds - not so bad, right?

Yes, I timed the latest pipe leak in the basement. I’ve removed the “stupid” drywall on the ceiling from the previous owners and found a very tiny drip coming from another 90 degree angle in the water pipes.

This would be leak number four in seven years - Five if you count the drip every minute from a 90 degree bend in a water pipe in the furnace room - which I don’t - yet.

I’m thinking of getting me some of that self-sealing leak tape and giving it a go. It costs about 8 bucks a roll as opposed to a 150 dollar plumber visit.

And to change the subject, because I’m now tired of it - man I wish I could be at DragonCon.

I am getting such good vibes from the pictures posted on Twitter and have seen many a cool pic of people going all out for their favourite shows/actors. Very inventive and very cool. But from the horrible experience I had a FanExpo in Toronto last year I’m staying clear of huge gatherings of geeks - perhaps for good.

Also on the 90's geek front - I downloaded my first Steam game (because now I can) and gave it a whorl. King’s Bounty: The Legend. And hey, what a fun game. It’s a combo of Heroes of Might and Magic and say Warcraft 3.

The best part of the game is the arena battles, ala Heroes, where you pit your units against the computer’s units on a hex grid and try to off each other. Very fun 3D kinda chess like in Star Wars . . .

And our family had one last kick at summer fun before school begins again. We went to Canada’s Wonderland.

My wife and I chaperoned so got to sit around for 8 hours looking at people (most wearing flip-flops) and being bored, and occasionally getting rained on. My daughter and her friend went on rides and then couldn’t decide on the same rides by mid-afternoon.

Yes, trouble.

My wife and I were getting irritable from the continuos crowds and the blasting music from the grounds speakers located, it seemed, every ten feet.

By five we’d had enough and called it quits. Not a great day, not a dud.

Next year I’m going with my daughter only to avoid the “friend” issues. I just hope I don’t have a heart attack, what with me getting up there in years. Have you seen some of those rides - holy heart attack batman.

Anyhow, the clock on the wall indicates that I’m through for this week, and so . . .

. . . until next Sunday.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

celebration

Today my daughter has a big celebration for her rep baseball season. There will be fun, games and pizza.

It interfered with my D&D gaming day today though. But hey, when you have kids, you tend to put them first - even when they want you to . . .

Also, I’m a bit fried from the four day vacation I just got back from visiting relatives in Ottawa. I like my brother-in-law and his kids but it’s always a drain being in another house. I did make a darn good batch of perogies though while I was there.

And I guess I better get to mowing the law before the snow flies. It’s getting to look a bit like a wildflower meadow.

I must say I’m enjoying the high-speed internet. I’ve gotten to watch a bunch of videos of things I’d heard about but never had a chance to see because of dial-up. And researching new board and computer games is a snap now. Hard to believe I lived with dial-up for so many years.

I’m getting ready to do a major purge of my lair too. Seems there is way to much stuff in here with me and a lot of it needs to go. I’ll box those items which I never seem to touch anymore and off there will go to auction where they will quickly be converted into cash and somebody else can have them to help clutter up their house.

The two small water leaks I have in my pipes in the basement I’m thinking of trying to fix myself with this funky self-sealing tape I saw at CanTire. It’s worth a try, and even if it fails I’ll only need to call in the plumber anyhow which is what I would have done in the first place.

Well, this week seems to have just gone by with me accomplishing next to not much. I’m hoping with the return of routine, which starts with the beginning of the school year in a week and a half, I can get more into the swing of things and maybe even get producing more music and short stories.

We shall see.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, August 21, 2011

higher faster stronger

Isn’t that the Olympic’s official slogan or something? Maybe what Superman has printed on his underwear . . .

. . . anyhow, it seems to apply to my state of being this past couple of weeks . . .

. . . yes, I know I missed last Sunday, but I have a reason for this.

You see, my wife and daughter needed a lot of help packing for their 10 day trip which coincided with that missed Sunday morning - and then after that was done - it decided to turn all thunder-stormy the rest of the day and “poof” the opportunity for my regular Sunday post was gone.

The following days had me getting high-speed internet installed which was pretty nifty and went well - except my main computer (the one in my lair) was not connected to it. Only the main floor old device, with the uncomfortable chair, had the cable attached. And it took me a day and a half to get it all updated and de-virused. And it’s still only partially functional.

And besides, I just didn’t want to sit in that uncomfortable chair any longer than it took me to check my emails and watch a few computer and board game video reviews . . .

Okay, I may have been excited and distracted by the fast pretty lights the intertubes can display if you have the power, and the blog post sort of got forgotten about . . . until today.

After a week of dial up in my lair, and high-speed upstairs, I decided to get me a 75 foot ethernet cable and run it down to the lair - and oooohhh, this worked perfectly and is good. This is the first post coming to you from my high-speed lair.

I know you can’t tell, and you have probably had high-speed for about a decade now, but it’s big news for me.

But all this frenzied internet activity related stuff did not stop me from playing a lot of tennis - which I did.

The old racquet continues to work well, but with my wrist almost healed now I switched to the new ones again yesterday. All seems to be okay - for now.

And just to cause me more irritation, one of our pipes in the basement has decided to start leaking. I cut out some more drywall in the roof and have a bucket catching the drips - soon I will call the plumber over to replace the faulty elbow.

And my car problems seem to have vanished. The fault light I got on the Kia has gone away never to return even though the dealership was trying to convince me to let them perform a 600 plus bucks worth or repairs - including a transmission service . . . Dude - the transmission has nothing to do with an emission fault.

No, I plan on never going back to any Dealership for any service. They have this agenda of sucking as much cash out of your pocket as they can get away with. If you are not car savvy, you will waste a lot of money on unnecessary repairs -so beware.

Well, my space is filled up.

I’ll try not to miss another week - but life sometimes interferes with my idyllic fantasy world . . .

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, August 07, 2011

on speed

Well, hold your breath for this astounding announcement . . .

. . . I’m switching to high speed internet sometime next week!

Yeah, well then.

Maybe for you this is no big deal since you’ve likely had high speed internet service since about 1998, but for me, on dialup since forever, this will be revolutionary.

I’m always about the last one to jump on the latest tech bandwagon.

My cell phone is used only for emergencies. It can’t text, take pictures, surf the net or launch nuclear missiles . . . see what I mean.

. . . and I only got it a few years ago.

But old tech does not mean bad tech. Case in point is my 1980 tennis racquet, Max 200G, which has been working very well for me the past week and a half. Better, in fact, than my new tech racquets.

I’ve won both top courts this past week using my old Max 200G, whereas my new higher tech racquets I’ve been struggling with for the past three years.

Okay, maybe not the best example, but the one I’m sticking with.

Anyhow, I’ll soon be able to surf the net like a normal person and not sit around for hours waiting to find out if my computer has locked up or is just taking its sweet time downloading a file.

And speaking of tennis . . . well maybe I was just thinking it loudly . . . I’m off to the Roger’s cup next week to have a look at the ladies play. I’ll be snugly housed in a VIP suite and even have a VIP parking pass.

Don’t ask how much the tickets cost.

It should be a blast. I have to remember though to take my glasses with me or I may not be able to tell Sharapova from the chair umpire. Old age has it drawbacks as well as rewards.

And to totally switch subjects, my new old car has decided to give me grief with an engine light fault and every time I start it there is this faint smell of petrol. Something in the emission’s system has decided to die. Fortunately, I contacted the dealership and they tell me the car still has 2 years full warranty on it, so the repair will be no charge.

That I can handle.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, July 31, 2011

in with the old

Well, I’ve been playing with my new Dunlop Maxply McEnroe tennis racquets now for three years.

So, for a hoot, I decided to play with my old Dunlop Max 200G, the racquet I used from about 1980 up until three years ago when I switched to the Maxply.

Yesterday I hit with the 200G again and hell, it felt good.

Strange thing though. My forehand had less power to it than the Maxply gives me, but the backhand I found was comparable in power but with way more control. My serves and overheads likewise suffered in power but otherwise I had no difficulty whatsoever.

You see, the Maxply is stiffer than the 200G and with a larger head which theoretically produces more power. And it does, for every stroke for me, except the backhand. Strange, but then again, strange is the normal for me.

So today I’m going to use my 200G during my doubles match and see how I do with it. Another factor with the stiffer Maxply is the fact that my wrist, which I hurt about six weeks ago, is still not completely healed. The 200G, being more flexible and slightly heavier, transfers less shock to my arm during strokes and so is better for now while my wrist recovers.

And since all those not interested in tennis have now fled, I’ll change the subject to - auctions.

I took a huge load out to an auction barn to be sold off yesterday and the house feels just a little bit less crowed with this “stuff” gone.

Funny how much stuff a house can hold. And no, my garage still fits a car and has not turned into a suburban storage unit. I collect a lot of stuff, but not that much.

I’m actually thinking of posting twice a week here instead of just once as well. Now, don’t get too excited about that news. The second post with only be a backlog of book reviews I’ve written the past few years which used to reside on Reader’s Den which is now long defunct.

On the home front our front steps are now installed and solid as a rock. Funny how we lived with that crumbling, teetering deathtrap of a step system we had before.

Well, seems like the day is already slipping away, so I best get at some necessary tasks before I hit the courts and then head off to game day where I’m running a casual D&D campaign to save the world from, what else, evil.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, July 24, 2011

solitary refinement

I’ve had the entire week to myself, to reflect, stir the muse, and BBQ hot Italian sausages.

You see, my wife and daughter went of with my sister-in-law and her kids to a cottage for a week’s vacation.

It’s been a while since it was just me and the four walls.

The walls haven’t changed much.

Being the planner that I am, I’ve had a long while to sit back and decide what I want to get done before old age claims me.

And by old age, I mean sitting infirm in a chair mostly blind and deaf wearing Depends and drooling on myself. Not a pretty picture, but pretty close to the inevitable reality unless I just up and expire from heart failure or cancer. Both of which I’m trying to avoid by exercising and eating good things as much as possible.

So, what has this week of solitary confinement done for me?

Well, for one I finished watching Heroes. I saw many flaws in the show’s logic, but overall I was okay with it. It didn’t speak to me on too many levels and the fourth season, which I was really hoping was going to rock my socks, only managed to create a slight static cling effect. In other words - Meh.

I think it was because Hiro had a relatively small part in the fourth season and he was my favourite character as I’m sure he was with many other fans. But getting time travel stories to work out awesomely is a tough task at best.

I also managed to go to an auction and gather more goods for my wife. She teaches and needs baubles to hand out to kids for appropriate classroom behaviour. I managed to scoop a huge box of colourful butterfly erasers. Huge being around five hundred or so - no I am not going to count them.

Also had my good friends over during the hottest day of the week to play Arkham Horror. And we were up against Cthulhu himself - but we smoked him by closing all the gates before he could come pay us an unpleasant visit.

I’ve played tennis five times during this week as well. And it’s really taking a toll on my aging body. I have back aches, ankle aches and a pain in my neck muscles and my wrist is hurting me again just when I thought it might be getting better. This getting close to 50 thing is really starting to bother me. Still, others at the tennis club are 70 plus and they are still playing so I should not grumble about my ailments too much.

Our steps were professionally replaced this week too, so nobody needs to break a bone falling down them now. Or if they do break a bone falling down them it’s going to be their own fault and not the fault of the steps.

Can you see I’ve been avoiding telling you what I’ve managed to come up with during my down time?

And no, it’s not finding a job. That chapter is closed.

What I've realized, and not for the first time, is that it’s all about doing what you like every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes. I know, not exactly earth-shattering and not exactly anything I haven’t figured out before. But it really is the key to staying mentally and physically alive.

The strange thing about this not-new revelation? Actually making yourself do it. Really enjoying the moments that make up the activities and celebrating those times as they happen takes planning and energy. So, I'm getting my sleep and making my plans.

You only get one life and I find a lot of people like to live either in the past, or harp on the injustices of the present, or cling to their belief that the future will be so much better. I don't want to be one of those people.

Bottom line for me?

Enjoy the moment. Do what I like to do. Have compassion. Love my family.

I know what you are thinking with one finger down your throat - dear god, don’t ever let him be alone for another whole week!

Don’t worry, my family returns from vacation today so next week you will be spared my too-much-time-alone ravings.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, July 17, 2011

snake oil salespeople

Buyer beware . . . etcetera . . .

This blog may contain some words of wisdom, a dollop of griping and explain the alarming stain on my driveway.

Just so you know.

Don’t you just hate dishonest people? You know the ones - the ones that would sell you their grandmother for a fast buck, tell you a whole load of made-up-shit and grin the whole time while they hope you will eat it up.

I hate those kind of people with a burning passion.

This past week had me caught in a web of snake oil salespeople, but it ends well, so bear with me.

Our van needed an oil change and we brought it to the place we bought it because they gave us a coupon to have it done for free the first time.

Hey, free is good . . . right?

Um, that all depends. You see we took the van in, waited an entire hour even after having an appointment. C’mon guys, I was thinking, a frik’n hour? I could do this job in my driveway in ten minutes if I had the tools!

Anyhow, it was done, I brought said van home, and thought all was good to go.

Until the evening of the trip when I moved the van to install the third row of seats.

What did I find on my driveway? An oil patch. WTF!

Being mechanically inclined (I do have a degree in Mechanical Engineering after all) I slithered under the van to have a look. Sure enough oil was dripping, slowly, from the oil pan plug. The van was scheduled to make a long trip beginning at dawn the next day.

I may have mumbled a few choice words under my breath so as not to alarm my family unduly.

I’m not sure I fooled them though. Seems the Dealership either didn’t tighten the plug, or stripped the threads on it. Either way, this was not a good situation.

I angrily took up the no charge bill and gave it a read. Bad move as this only stoked the fires of rage within. The written up part of the bill said our intake gaskets and intake plenum gaskets needed to be replaced as they were leaking - and the throttle body needed cleaning. WTF!

I decided then and there that this Dealership’s service department sucked, was dishonest, and I wouldn’t be bringing it back to them even for a mountain of free service coupons.

The good news - we took it to our local highly-recommended in-town mechanic and he fit us in as soon as he opened in the morning. He took my wife under the van on the hoist, showed her the loose oil plug which he then proceeded to tighten. Problem solved.

The mechanic also read the report on the no charge bill and popped the hood to inspect the engine for the indicated problems. After about ten minutes of doing mechanic type things, he pulled his head out from under the hood and said nothing at all looks amiss to him and the gaskets are definitely not leaking.

Sum total of this local mechanic’s time and efforts - he said don’t worry about it. No charge.

Chalk one up for the good guys. Seems the snake oil salespeople at the Dealership were looking to suck us in to a costly, and unnecessary, repair. All they did was ensure that we would never again use them for anything related to vehicle service.

End of tale. See, only a wee bit of griping, and a much better outlook for vehicle service in the future with our local, honest mechanic.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, July 10, 2011

retired stay at home dad

Well, I may as well admit it - I’m a stay at home dad, and I’m retired.

When I first left GM there was ample talk, rumours, and desperate hopes, on the part of many people we know, that I would spring right back into the work force and do my part as a middle-aged male to keep the economy rolling and join the heart attack statistics like a good tax-paying citizen.

Sorry to disappoint, but I tend to follow my own lead and not what society dictates for me.

You see, I view success as not how big your bank account is, or how much crap you can accumulate, but on how your offspring turn out. Being a parent is a full-time job.

As my daughter grows older it seems she needs a parent at home just as much as when she was a wee one. Kids need love attention and guidance, not more electronic gadgets. They need your presence, not your presents.

My staying at home, and being retired (which is a joke since I do a ton of work around here) is only a roll reversal between my wife and myself. Funny though how so many people still have their heads stuck in dark places and can’t understand why anybody of my age, especially a man, would not want to be out there earning dollars.

I find this general attitude sad. And as I see it the result of this “money is the only thing” society leaves a lot of kids babysat by their Wii’s and X-Boxes and Ipads with both parents too tired at the end of their oh-so-important money-making workday to spend any useful time with their kids.

Then, to make matters worse, because the double income parents have lots of cash to burn from their all important careers they compensate their kids for not being around with copious undeserved gifts turning them into spoiled gotta-have brats.

Sadder and sadder.

But hey, to each his own. And with our society set up for double incomes (look at the cost of everything) it’s virtually impossible for a modest one-person-working family to get by on. Gone forever are the days when one parent could work and one could stay home and bring up the kids.

Well, enough of me sitting on the soapbox and griping about how things are - it’s time to spend some more time with my child.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, July 03, 2011

back on the band wagon

Remember I was going on about Guitar Hero a while ago . . . well I’m still playing the games, just not going on so much about them until now, again.

And to that end I’m picking up the new versions of the drums, microphone, another guitar plus the Beatles game and Band Hero itself - all for way less than half the original price.

I love pre-owned stuff that people sell at super-discounted price.

Retail is for those with all kinds of money to burn. My money can only handle the occasional singe, so I need to watch it pretty closely.

On the tennis front it would appear my wrist issue is pretty much sorted out. It only irritates me now instead of causing pain. The week off from hitting the fuzzy yellow balls did indeed help. Like I posted before though, middle age is the suck!

This past long weekend, which I guess is still ongoing, I was/am very busy. I officially got a year older, fixed my old BBQ, played tennis three times, watched the local fireworks with my family, and ate a huge cherry Sunday from DQ.

Don’t you just wish your life was filled with such excitement?

Um . . . yeah.

I make it sound dull when in fact is was pretty darn fun. Couple that with the fact that today I’ll be playing tennis again and later on picking up all that Band Hero stuff and it’s all good. Tonight I’ll be rocking the drums to Rebel Yell . . . or Yellow Submarine.

And speaking of rocking, boy do I like Delirium. It’s just the type of music that speaks to me like Alan Parsons does.

Well, I have to get ready to hit the courts again soon so I’ll leave off.

Happy Canada Day long weekend for us Canadians, and Happy Independence Day long weekend for those of you in the USA.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, June 26, 2011

only hurting myself

It really pains me to write this, but . . . I won’t be playing tennis for a whole week.

Actually, it would pain me more to play without this break since I hurt my wrist . . . three weeks ago. I’ve been telling myself, every time I play, that the pain I’m feeling will go away. But hell, it just keeps hanging in there.

The one thing I really dislike about this getting older thing is the fact that I don’t recover from injury like I did in the good old days of my youth. Something like I’m suffering now would have been cured pretty much overnight. Now, it’s been almost a month and still there is aching and pain.

Middle age sucks!

Oh sure, I may be more wise, be more financially secure and all that crap, but boy do I wish I could have back my 20 year old frame to handle the physical demands of my world.

Alas, it is not to be. And with that realization I need to do things, horrible things, like take a week off smacking the yellow fuzzy around the court in the hopes that my minor ailment will pack its bags and get the hell gone.

A lot of the people I play tennis with are around the same age or older than I am - call it a slice of our current demographic - and they tell me the same thing, which I don’t want to hear. Get hurt, wait a good month, sometimes months, for the injury to sort itself out.

Sigh.

So today will not be a day of tennis, but a day of slaying, killing, and general delving into the destruction of evil instead. Oh, I mean D&D.

I’m running a campaign again. Our gaming group sort of stopped this silliness about two years ago, and I thought I would start it up again. And today is the kick off.

All I can say is the campaign I’m running is a manufactured one (meaning a bough module) that will take characters to level 10 where they will confront themselves in a cave . . . oh, wait, that’s Lucas . . . um, they will confront the ultimate evil and either vanquish it or die trying.

Good, clean, intellectual non-physical fun.

Oh, and on the trying to not hurt myself front I purchased a new lawn mower. It’s a corded type and it weighs about one tenth of my old rechargeable unit. My back rejoices at what my mind did for it.

And on the reading front I’m currently going through Albert Speer’s “Inside the Third Reich” and yes, it is fascinating. I seem to have this problem of not getting enough information on the reasons behind why German citizens threw out their collective brains in the 1930s and continued to do so right up until the mid 1940s. If you are interested in the inner thinking of Germany during that time Albert gives a pretty darn good look at it.

Well, I’ve rambled on enough and I don’t’ want to strain my wrist too much more.

Old age, can’t shoot it and . . . oh, wait . . . nevermind.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, June 19, 2011

daddy day

Seems to me I was supposed to have this relaxing Father’s Day which was to include getting a new BBQ since our old one died a couple of years ago.

But I forgot that today I’m playing tennis for two hours right smack dab in the middle of the day.

I love playing tennis, but this puts the thumbscrews on the family plans. I forgot to write my tennis activity on our activity calendar so the day looked completely free. My bad.

So, I’m going to be a busy boy today, and a tired one as well while my family tries to think of things to do for me while I’m not around.

Then, when I get back from the courts, my daughter is off in the late afternoon to a friend’s house to work on a school project.

And is it really true that humans will exceed the ten billion mark by 2100 . . . that’s just, well, a recipe for complete global meltdown. Just think of how many more dads there will be then, and how little food to go around.

But, that is a long way off and is a time I will never see unless medical science makes such incredible leaps as to allow me to live another 89 years . . .yeah, not gonna happen I think. At best, looking at the law of averages, I’ve got another 30 tops, 40 if I eat my greens and exercise and avoid bullets.

Even my daughter doesn’t stand good odds of seeing that date. And, hell, isn’t the world supposed to come to some kind of final close in 2012 according to the ancient Mayans anyhow?

I see you rolling your eyes along with me on that one. What is it with the human race always wanting to predict its ultimate demise?

And, technically, as of June 1st, I‘ve been away from cubicle hell for two full years now. I’m looking, feeling and smelling better than I ever have the past two decades plus. Best decision I ever made with regards to “what I want to be when I grow up”.

Either that, or I’m delusional, which may be the case. Still, at-home-dad suits me to a T, and my family agrees.

Last night we had an outdoor reading night. It was pretty damn neat, but I must confess my short story was not complete and I didn’t want to read the first part of it and then leave it hanging. I can tell you the title of it - “Pieces of Hate”.

I’ll say no more about it now except it is, yup, another creepy tale.

Well, seems this day includes many a thing to do and will be chopped up into incovenient time chuncks, so I best be getting at it. Being a dad is great, and I’m going to make the best of this, my day, and so should all you other fathers out there.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, June 12, 2011

greener grass

Seems most of us are always looking for greener grass . . . for me, I don’t look for grass at all. In fact I hate grass unless it grows wild on the Serengeti.

Which leads me into a mission I must undertake this week before my lawn starts to resemble a Brazilian rain forest.

I need a new lawn mower. It’s not that my old one doesn’t work anymore, it’s just that it’s too damn heavy for me to push around without risking serious injury.

It’s one of those rechargeable electric ones - problem is its battery is about forty pounds. Couple this with the already forty pound unit sitting on four small wheels and it’s murder on my middle back.

And my back needs to be in working order if I’m to continue to play tennis in the future. So, I’ll be off to get a light-weight plug in model with big honking wheels - I’m thinking 15 inch.

Enough of my lawn and back problems.

On the creative front, I’ve started in on another short story this week. Yup, it is creepy. Yup, it involves pain, suffering, deceit, lies, no sex, but organ transplants. Enough said.

Also this week I scored big at the local auction. I picked up several new board games: Axis and Allies, Scene It Deluxe Edition, the original Trivial Pursuit. With them I also scooped 6 brand new unopened computer games for . . . wait for it . . .

. . . 13 bucks.

Now, my current Axis and Allies game sports double the plastic bits - hey, these things get me excited . . . okay, my life may be sad, but you are reading this, no?

And one of the computer games is Painkiller. It’s a first person shooter from the mid 2000's. Runs absolutely flawlessly on my killer machine. It’s a good shooter that you can swallow a few hordes of enemies at a time.

On the book reading front I’ve started and aborted two in recent days. One was “The Gardens of the Moon” be Stephen Erikson. Just didn’t want to wade through another 600 pages after already reading 200. Also, the series seems to be pretty much endless and each book seems to pack in at least 1000 pages. Gave it a try. It failed for me.

The other aborted book was the sixth part of “Douglas Adams” “Hitchhikers” series. I know what you are thinking - hey, the guy is dead and there is no 6th part. Well, true. But that didn’t stop publishers from hiring the “Artemis Fowl” author to try his hand at one.

Another fail. Lots of homage stuff to Adam’s original material but, hey, when I want tears of laughter running down my cheeks I’ll just pick up my original Adam’s copies and read them again.

Well, I can see by the length of this post that most of you have already left for greener internet pastures.

So, with nothing more left to relate, I’ll be off lawn mower hunting.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, June 05, 2011

adult games

Yes, I frequently play them . . . and I think everybody else should too . . . well, adults, I mean.

And by games - I’m talking board, electronic, sports and role playing.

As you may have gathered from twitter and right here I play a lot of tennis and yes, I love it. Not gonna have a career in it, but love it all the same.

And board games I adore too. The bigger, with more bits, strategy elements and cards etc. I get immersed in when I can find other like minded nuts to participate with me.

Then there are the electronic versions. Lately I’ve been absorbed by Plants vs. Zombies. Damn fine game if ever there was one.

If you haven’t seen the Plants vs. Zombies credits, especially the music video, you need to. It’s absolute genius and doubly great if you’ve already played the game. However, you can still enjoy the credits even if you’ve never played the game. Go, find it on YouTube right now and watch.

And our group D&D sessions should be starting up again this month after about a year or two hiatus. Been too long, but going to be fun. Oh, and I’m not big on the playing a role part, but the imagination and creation aspects of the game are enough to carry our group along nicely.

So I know what you are thinking - this guy doesn’t do a lick of work! Well, contrary to that opinion, I keep the household in order.

If you think that is not a lot of work, well buster (or busterette) have I got news for you.

Okay, maybe I spend a bit more of my time playing vs working, but hey - I already spent 20 years locked in the “cubicle from hell”, so I deserve it.

Which reminds me now I have absolutely zero ties to GM now. What a relief. I don’t own any of their products, and never will again, and have no financial binds through pension etc. I took my cash out of them and invested it myself. Would you trust a company that went bankrupt once to handle your pension cash?

Well, I can see by the clock on the wall that it’s time for me to ga . . . er, . . . do some, um, housework.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, May 29, 2011

you cannot be serious

What's this?

Why a tennis player's autobiography review, of course.

You Cannot Be Serious, by John McEnroe with James Kaplan, published in 2002.

This autobiography of John McEnroe is titled after one of his famous outbursts on the tennis court. And yes, if you didn’t already know John was one of the all time best tennis players ever in the early eighties.

I’ve read where other reviews of this book which say he skims the surface of his life, never really digging deep down to reveal himself. I think I disagree with that. I mean how much do you really want to know?

He gives plenty of insight into his behavior on and off the court and in my reading through it, john just seems a bit screwed up and private - but wouldn’t you be after rocketing into stardom before you were twenty then slowly riding the crest downward?

I found it a pretty satisfying journey through his early years right on through to his dreams of becoming a rock star (not gonna happen), and his love of art and opening his own gallery in New York. Still, he is a passionate man, and I followed his entire career from 1977 on through to his retirement in 1992 and still keep an eye on him in the seniors tour today.

I was even a security guard at the player’s lounge in 1986 at the Canadian open and watched him walk in (looking at nobody and moving quickly) then taking a seat. Hanging about a while then walking out again (still looking at nobody and moving quickly). He was an enigma, but one hell of a good tennis player.

He lost to Seguso in the third round of the Canadian open while I was working lounge security. I watched that match whenever I had a break, and couldn’t believe my eyes. Mac was struggling, hitting balls out, playing like absolute crap. With my 6.0 ranking at the time, hell, I may have been able to beat him (yes, delusions of grandeur.)

It was interesting, to me, to find out his relationship with Tatum was going to hell around that time and it’s no wonder he didn’t want to look at anybody. I didn’t dare ask him for an autograph - yeah, he was that cold.

Still, if you followed his tennis like I did, you will find this a fascinating read. If you weren’t into tennis back then you will most likely find this a bit on the dull side not knowing the names of the day, the matches he won or blew, his relationships with Borg and Conners, etc.

So, my verdict is - if you saw the matches back then and you liked Mr. McEnroe’s tennis - pick if up and relive the incredible journey. If not - well, just pick up his two Wimbledon Finals (1980 and 1981) against Borg and enjoy true tennis talent.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

short story: Above the Crowd

It’s been a while since I posted a short story . . . so I thought now was a good time.

Ever been beat by a girl? Your male pride kicked squarely in the man parts?

Sit back and enjoy the ride through the eyes of Jake, the best assassin and thief around . . . or so he thinks.


Above the Crowd
by Paul Darcy

The dying man, face masked by shadow, hung upside down from the rafters. The acrid scent of fresh-spilled blood permeated the air while multitudes of flies buzzed in chorus. Jake, the best in the business, hadn’t known anything was amiss until he’d arrived in the dark bedchamber to assassinate this man himself. He surveyed the scene with an irritation bordering on anger. Someone took down his mark! Someone was out to undermine his reputation.

A drop of blood struck the floor.

Jake cleaned under his short fingernails with the point of his dagger. Its honed steel edge was clean, and he hated that. He’d failed. Could he, in good conscience, even consider collecting his standard fee?

Pulling a small figurine out from an inner pocket of his tunic, he caressed it with thumb and forefinger. “Ibrilis,” he whispered, “who committed this slight against me without my knowledge? Please, guide my hand so that I may find the truth.” The figurine was a representation of Ibrilis, god of thieves and assassins. Made completely of polished obsidian, like Ibralis’ black-as-night cloak of office, the figurine reflected the room’s dim light like a beast’s black pupil.

Jake tucked the figurine back underneath his tunic. Then, leaving the mansion through the access panel in the roof, he ascended into the chill night air. On the roof’s cold slate tiles, he sat for a moment in silence and surveyed the city scape.

The rooftops were Jake’s home. He avoided the streets below, which were crawling with unhealthy humans trying to get by, waiting for somebody like him to send them on their way, for a price. The moon, a mere crescent, made for the perfect night to travel above the city unnoticed.

Jake suddenly caught a motion out of the corner of his eye two roofs away. He stopped, tense, alert and aware. Still as a gargoyle, he sat using every sense to study his surroundings. Three seconds of intense concentration revealed nothing but the cooing of pigeons, the soft sigh of the wind, the scent of wood smoke, the faint stamping of horses hooves somewhere below in a nearby alley. Apparently, nothing up here but Jake and the birds. But Jake trusting his instincts. He wasn’t the best and survived the longest because he’d ignored them. Someone, likely the usurper of his contract, was up here with him.

In a flash he was off, making of himself a moving target, harder to hit. Harder to hit, but not impossible. He knew this from experience, having been several times both hunter and hunted.

Jake’s soft leather shoes touched down on a roof ten paces away, the space below stretching twenty feet down to the hard, cold cobblestones. At a full run he took to the air once more. On his left several rooftops away, a flicker of shadow passed before the crescent moon, then was gone. After jumping six more rooftops, he slowed, stopped, and positioned himself with his back against a chimney. The exertion left him breathing hard. The entire time his dagger never left his hand.

His chest expanding and contracting smoothly, Jake scanned the immediate rooftops for signs of pursuit, anything out of the ordinary. But, as before, he could sense nothing amiss. The rooftops appeared as desolate as death itself. With satisfaction, he reminded himself that no person could follow him across the top of the city. Noone could match his skills on the rooftops.

Beginning to relax, Jake took a long deep breath. A slight smile formed on his lips, then froze in place. Cold steel pressed against his throat. He knew enough to surmise that any sudden movements could end his life. Unmoving, he cursed himself for being taken completely unawares. Damn this person was good. Too good. And he should know.

“Hello, Jake,” came a sweet woman’s voice. It was not a voice he recognized. His silent curses intensified. Not only was he trapped, but he was trapped by a woman. Then it struck him. Nobody knew his proper name. Reaper was, or so he thought, his only moniker.

He contemplated a sudden strike. With a quick twist he might be able to strike out with his dagger before his throat was fatally slit. At the slight tensing of his muscles, he felt added pressure from the blade and knew his immediate thoughts were anticipated. He could feel the slight discomfort of a shallow razor-sharp cut on his throat. That plan would fail. He must try another method of extrication.

“Let’s talk about this, shall we.” Jake said, doing his best to conceal any signs of fear in his voice. His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down against the cold blade as he swallowed. A small trickle of blood dribbled down the inside of his neck creating a warm wet finger pointing toward his heart.

A sweet chuckle escaped his captor’s lips. “Yes, we shall.” Quick as a cat, she flicked the blade from his throat. Before he could react, the woman sprang to the top of the chimney he leaned against. Jake wiped the blood from his neck. The wound was superficial. Peering up into the night, he wanted to see who could have taken him so easily.

A woman, slight of frame and clad in black, perched on the lip of the chimney several feet above him. She appeared to be studying him, waiting perhaps for him to make the next move. Smiling down at him, she made Jake uneasy. He gave up any thought of sticking a dagger in her. She was too quick, too alert, and he was a fast learner. Conversation might prolong the moment, allow him to learn who he was dealing with, maybe help him regain his balance.

“You seem to know my name,” he said, “but I don’t know yours.” He didn’t expect an answer, but if she did he expected her to lie.

“Bri,” came her instant reply.

Jake racked his brain for any reference to a thief or assassin by that name. Nothing came to him. The closest was Brak, but he was a large fierce man from the northern wilds, and this person, no matter how clever the disguise, was certainly not he.

“Well, Bri,” he said, “what can I do for you?”

Bri flipped her dagger from hand to her fingertip quicker than Jake’s eye could follow. He was about to spring to one side if she made ready to throw it, but instead she kept it balanced, spinning, on the end of her middle finger. Her smile broadened, revealing white teeth reflecting the moon’s pale glow. “Well,” she said flippantly, “I hear you’re the best. Care to put that to the test?”

So, Jake’s reputation was not unknown to this woman. “What did you have in mind?” he asked, mesmerized by the spinning blade balanced on her finger. He could perform that trick as well he knew, given enough time and practice. It seemed a pointless exercise, but he did have to admit that it was impressive.

“A little competition between us,” Bri said flicking the dagger, in the blink of an eye, back into a sheath just inside the folds of her cloak. “Three categories, best two out of three wins it. The reward for the winner is that the loser will do, to the best of his or her ability, what the winner wants. What say you?”

Jake thought a moment about her proposal. If he won he would demand of her the reasons for taking out his assigned victim and who, if anyone, had put her up to it. He was convinced she’d done the job, and he wanted answers. He assessed her: small, attractive and obviously skilled. But he seriously doubted her ability to beat him in fair competition. In the past he’d been challenged by, but never bested, by another assassin or thief. Whatever the test of skills, Jake was the best in the land, and he knew it.

“Very well,” he agreed. “What are the categories?”

She was obviously pleased that he’d accepted the challenge for her smile broadened making her more attractive. But Jake knew the prettiest snakes and spiders were often the most deadly poisonous. “First,” she said, “a footrace across the roofs. Second, a dagger throw. And lastly, lock picking.”

Jake relaxed. He’d have no problem with those, he thought. “When do we begin?”

“Now,” she said laughing, “first one to the water tower wins the footrace.” And with that she leaped clear of the chimney and was off. Cursing himself for letting her get the jump on him again, he raced off across the rooftops faster than ever.

Knowing the rooftops as he did, Jake took the quickest and clearest route to the water tower. The entire five minutes it took him to cross the town on the rooftops he did not see or hear her once. She likely ran into one of many dead ends and was struggling to find another way around. His grin grew as he saw the water tower three roof jumps away. She was still nowhere in sight.

With a last great leap, he cleared the final roof and alighted on the railing surrounding the tower.

He looked back towards the roofs, waiting for her to come into view.

“Not bad,” Bri’s voice emanated from behind him and higher up the tower, “but I win.”

Incredulous, Jake turned around and spotted her crouched further up on the tower supports. Not possible, was all he could think while his outward expression betrayed no hint of inner turmoil. He’d raced straight here, running full out, hadn’t slipped up once and followed the quickest direct path. He was also a head taller than her and could not believe that she could have outrun him, however athletic she was. Despite his disbelief, here she was. She’d obviously tricked him. The horse he’d heard earlier in the streets below. Of course! That must be how she’d beaten him here. Overlooking the obvious, he’d fallen for her trick and was made to look a fool.

Bri jumped down beside him, and he reflexively placed his back to the structure, dagger at the ready. Observing his reaction with insouciance she smiled and said, “All right, if you insist on going first. The target is over there.” She pointed and he followed the line of her delicate finger. Discernable in the dim moonlight, he could now see what she was pointing at. The target, a small wooden plaque, was perhaps two hand spans in diameter and painted white. A blood red dot marked its center.

“Three tosses,” Bri instructed. “Closest to the center wins.”

There could be no tricks this time, and Jake was an expert marksman with a throwing dagger. No man ever bested him in such a competition. Of course, he’d never competed against a woman before, but that should not affect the outcome.

Settling his nerves, Jake approached the calm inside himself which served him best during tests of skill. Taking one deep breath and exhaling it in a controlled manner, he threw his first dagger and watched it plunk into the wood, three fingers below center. He pulled another dagger and let fly with improved aim. This one impaled the target a mere finger span to the right of the red dot. Concentrating harder, and settling deeper into calm, he loosed a third dagger. With complete satisfaction he watched it impale the dead center of the target cleanly piercing the red spot. Let’s see her best that, Jake smugly thought to himself.

“My, you’re an accurate one, aren’t you?” Bri’s tone was glib, but Jake knew there was no way she could do better than perfect. She possessed a lot of bravado and bluster, but the blades would decide. Despite his self assurances however, he felt uneasy by her self-confident manner.

He moved aside making room for her to throw from the same spot. Bri smiled, pulled out her first throwing dagger and again twirled it on her fingertip. Impressive, he thought, but her fingertip was not the target.

Quick as a cat she let fly her dagger and he heard it thunk into the target. Jake grinned. It was a good hand span to the left of center. She looked at him with a false pout, pulled another dagger out from under her dark cloak and tossed it. It whistled through the air and again thunked into the target. It landed closer to the center this time, but was still three fingers above the red dot where Jake’s dagger triumphantly jutted out.

“Never was much good with my off hand,” she remarked pulling out a third dagger. This time, instead of her right hand she switched to her left. She adroitly flipped the blade around in a kind of hand-dagger-dance. The motion of her hand and the spinning blade were faster than Jake could follow. At the end of a complicated series of moves, Bri caught the dagger by its blade, arched her elbow back and let fly the weapon. This time, instead of a wooden thunk, he heard a metallic clank and watched in disbelief as his dagger was bent away from the middle of the target and hers was there in its place. A moment later his blade, knocked loose, fell out of the target altogether and clattered on the cobblestones in the street below.

“Well,” she said with obvious glee in her voice, “seems we both hit dead center. You were first to the mark though, so I’ll concede this one to you.”

Crestfallen, Jake could think of no appropriate comeback. By rights it was a draw, but he went along with her logic. She must have, after all, cheated on the footrace. He observed her face, eyes reflecting the crescent moon in each iris making them appear catlike. Judging by her body language and impish grin, Bri was enjoying herself, and he, wanting to dislike this upstart, found himself strangely intrigued by her instead. One category to go. He would not let himself be bested by a mere woman.

Jake followed her to the target where they gathered their daggers in silence. The one on the cobblestones below he left. Retrieving it would feel to him like an admission that she’d beaten him, again. Good throwing daggers could be replaced. His pride was not so easily restored.

“Ready for the last test,” she said, then quickly added, “of skills in our competition?” This time the look she flashed him was that of hunger, like a trapper finding his snares loaded with game. He suspected it was the same look she gave her victims the moment she slipped a dagger between their ribs.

Looking away from her Jake said, “Why wait,” with all the bravado he could muster. Lock picking was another formidable skill he possessed. His long years of practice had honed this particular talent to near perfection. No prison cell or lock made could defy him for long.

“I have a matching pair of Helkin locks,” Bri said, and Jake heard a rattle. Looking at her outstretched hand he could see identical locks displayed in her open palm. Exquisite, delicate and perhaps the best made in all the land, Helkin locks were known for their near unpickability. He’d beaten them before, but they were devilishly hard to crack. The Helkin’s small keyholes allowed little room to maneuver picks.

Bri extended her hand further towards Jake allowing him first choice of locks. Seeing no difference, and knowing their craftsmanship, he arbitrarily picked the one closest to him. Her other hand emerged from underneath her cloak. In it she held an exquisite gold-handled lock pick set. He pulled out his own trusty steel picks and waited, flexing his fingers in preparation.

“Go,” Bri said. Jake bent over his lock and set to work. She yawned loud enough for him to hear and out of his peripheral vision he saw her casually sweep a lock of hair from her face. Already he had three of his smallest picks working away at the Helkin’s inner mechanisms. She had yet to insert even one from her set. Trying to distract and fluster him, he suspected, but he would not allow her antics to disturb his concentration. He settled deeper into calm and ignored her as best he could.

Inside this lock Jake knew there were four separate tines that needed to be depressed before the inner cylinder would turn allowing him to ratchet it open. He’d already fixed two in place but the third was causing him difficulty. After a moment of fine manipulation he noticed that Bri finally decided to begin. He managed to secure the third tine. One more to suppress and then he could insert his dummy key and pop open the lock. With the skill and precision of a fine jeweler, a scant moment later, he set the forth time in place. No sooner had he inserted his dummy key when he heard the snap of Bri’s lock and looked up to see it open and swinging from her index finger which she was pointing at him. Her smile was positively radiant.

“I win,” Bri said. He snapped open his lock. This was impossible, being bested at what Jake thought was his game, made to look an amateur. But scanning Bri’s face he detected an expression he was not expecting. She was delighted to be sure, but she was observing him as if he were a treasure beyond compare instead of a humiliated foe.

“I’m impressed,” Bri said and sounded sincere, “you really are the best, and the best choice by far.”

Jake was confused. “What are you talking about? I’m ready to uphold my end of the deal, so ask what you will of me, and be done.”

“Oh, don’t be upset, Jake,” she said then she sidled up beside him. “What you have done is almost beyond compare. In fact you beat me in all three categories, though only by the smallest of margins.”

“I don’t understand,” he said, “the foot race, the dagger throw and this,” he said holding up his own open lock.

“You will,” she said. And then Bri winking at him. Jake tried but couldn’t fathom what new mood possessed her. He was an expert judge of human character, but the loss of the competition and her mysterious demeanor were throwing him off.

Bri jumped from her perch and alighted on the nearest rooftop. “Follow me,” she said, and took off at a full run. Like two scudding clouds in a windstorm they raced across the top of the city. She was indeed fleet of foot and agile, but Jake, wanting an end to this mystery, used his formidable skills to keep a mere pace or two behind. It became obvious within a short while that she was leading him back to the place of his failed assignment. There was no doubt in his mind now, she was the usurper of his contract and she wasn’t finished with him yet.

Back at the scene of the crime, Jake watched Bri slip through the open access hatch in the roof of the estate. A moment later he followed her inside.

The darkness of the room was almost complete, but he could see that Bri was standing beside the inverted hanging figure. With her head cocked to one side, she studied the dying man. He joined her. It took a minute for his eyes to fully adjust to the dim light. The buzzing of the flies droned again, as if they were unusually near his own ears. He heard the soft splat of blood as it joined the large pool now at their feet.

Bri stepped aside and Jake, closer now to the hanging body, could discern the features of the victim. Blood trickled up the neck, a thin line of darker shadow on shadow, over the ramp of the chin, crossed the gap of a slightly open mouth, marking a trail across the curve of the cheek where it pooled for a moment in the left eye socket until it gathered enough to form a drop. Even upside down he knew those features well. He’d seen them every day in his polished brass mirror while shaving.

He took a reflexive step backwards before controlling himself. How could this be?

As if she’d heard his thoughts, Bri spoke softly beside him, “yes, it is you.”

Turning to her, Jake’s blood ran cold. Beside him stood not Bri, but the cowled figure of Ibrilis, black as night in the glistening robe of the King, or as he now knew, the Queen of thieves and assassins. He knelt down on one knee before her in reverence.

“Please don’t,” she said. “I was once as mortal as you. I too failed to win the contest against my predecessor. Of course it’s not possible for a mortal to defeat a god, but you did extremely well, considering. Better than I did, in fact, over a hundred years ago,” her voice trailed off and for the first time he detected an undercurrent of pain and suffering beneath her sweet flippant tones.

“What do you want of me?” he asked, rising to meet his deity.

“Well, Jake, you did agree to the contest. And I did beat you, so I ask you to do one thing for me.”

“What would that be?” he asked. His rattled nerves were settling somewhat, but he still stood in awe of Ibralis.

“I want you to take my place,” she stated, matter of fact. “One hundred years is quite enough, even for a god.”

Jake looked back at his body, his mouth mimicking that of his corpse. He could form no words in response, his mind taking in and coming to grips with what Ibralis had offered him. In the deathly silence one final fatal drop of blood struck the floor, the sound like that of a dagger piercing flesh. Striving all his life to prove that he was the best, to garner the admiration of his god Ibralis, it would seem that he’d succeeded beyond his wildest imaginings. Time appeared to stop.

Jake gathered his courage, “yes,” he said. Then louder, “yes, I will.”

He turned to look at Ibralis, but she was no longer there. The silence of her passing was deafening. Even the flies had ceased their buzzing, frozen in the moment. All that remained of her was the cloak discarded on the floor, a larger stain of black mimicking the one under his corpse.

With a flourish Jake lifted, then donned, the cloak of Ibralis. With one incredible leap he was outside running faster than the wind, the city a blur beneath him.

As Jake’s body grew cold, his spirit soared above the crowds.

The End

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, May 15, 2011

got me a new pair

Finally!

It’s been about five weeks of running around the clay courts on bald treads, but yesterday, after finding a pair of good quality clay court Head tennis shoes this week, I did an hour of tennis aerobics and the difference in grip was astounding.

Instead of slipping around the court, and subsequently tiring myself out needlessly, I had superior traction and used a lot less energy. I was therefore much less tired after the session.

Today I take to the courts for two hours of doubles.

I only hope the five hours of sleep I had last night doesn’t wipe out the good a new pair of shoes will do me on the court.

You see, last night was reading night for our writing group and afterwards we had a long drive home in the rain and the new old car.

The 2008 Kia Rio I bought two days ago, which still has a full 2 year 40,000 KM warranty attached to it, was our mode of transportation for last night’s outing. What follows will be my mini-review of said set of wheels.

Ahem.

The 1.6 litre engine does not have a lot of power and going up a long, long hill it sounded like a lawn mower hitting a thick patch of grass with the blade set too low. It made the hill, but performance suffered and we were definitely losing speed by the time we made the crest.

And as far as exterior road noise impinging on the interior, well, it was pretty high. The insulation is not great and you could hear the rain water slapping up against the wheel wells as well as rain pinging against the door panels when we were caught in a cross wind.

But overall, despite those two obvious limitations, I am really happy with it and it gets great gas mileage which is easy to take with today’s gas price gouging going on.

And the purchase price was absolutely rock bottom. I couldn’t be happier with the ride. And my daughter has christened it, Putt Putt. Okay, I’ll buy that name.

Well, as my brain is sleep deprived I will pass on only two more things today.

Thing 1. I’m working away at preparing a new D&D campaign for our gaming group. It will take lowly 1st levels all the way to 10th for the grand finale.

Thing 2. Okay, this is embarrassing . . . I can’t remember Thing 2.

This can only mean my brain has fallen back to sleep while my body continues in autopilot. To try to produce any more cogent written thoughts would be futile.

So . . .

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, May 08, 2011

mother slipping

Happy day to all you mothers out there the world over!

Now that that is out of the way . . .

. . . on to me.

I’m a bit of a mother myself anyhow . . .

So, my search for clay court tennis shoes is still ongoing, and not going on so well.

I’m still hitting the courts in bald shoes and - here comes the official excuse - I’m not moving as well as I could because of it. Yesterday at tennis aerobics we were doing side to side drills . . . and for me it was, slide to slide drills . . .

Our club has promised to get a new batch of clay courts shoes in . . . before it snows again . . . is what I’m thinking. I can’t wait.

So, I’m hitting the doubles courts again today to see if I can maintain my top court position. See, not doing so badly despite the lack of traction.

And I do continue to grumble under my breath while adjusting my game to clay courts. Clay never was, and still is not, my favourite surface. There is just no way to serve and volley effectively on clay. But, being indoor year round and inexpensive and close sold me on the idea of joining this club and I’m slowly regaining my old tennis form at least as far as getting in shape goes.

The funny thing to me is, now that I have four plus decades under my belt, getting back in top physical form is bloody tough. My ankles hurt (likely from all the sliding) and in the morning my body needs about twenty minutes to become fully functional again. This never, ever, ever happened when I was in my early twenties. I guess that’s why tennis players on the circuit burn out around age 30 with a few exceptions.

Oh, and the best players in the club, including the pros, play on Wednesday night. One of the pros asked me to join that league . . . hmm, guess I will and see how it goes. I promise to give a full account of my folly.

I have been unable to play Wednesday night because of family timing conflicts, as well as being too out of shape. But I’ve been working hard on conditioning and I feel now is the time to join that league, even though I’ll be sliding around the court until I find new treads.

Okay, I’ll shut up about my shoes.

Well, I hear the stirring of daughter making mother breakfast.

So, I’m off to join in the feast . . .

Until next Sunday . . .