Mrs. Lockard is in a slow spiral downward. She’s up to about 2 hours between meds, which is a frightening pace, and she’s unable to use a straw. They are forced to squirt the medication into her mouth with a syringe. Then, sometimes, she spits it back out. Jen’s not sleeping well, hasn’t left the house in a week, and dangerously close to murdering a few family members. (Mercy killings, in my opinion.)

I’m going to head down there tomorrow afternoon, and do some shopping to stock the house with some food. Then I’m going to rent a room at the local Holiday Inn and check my wife in for a 12-hour nap.

Lest you think I’ve been spending all my time surfing the internet this week, here’s a pair of screen captures of this week’s work:

Tank 1 (the low-poly version for the game)

Tank 2 (which actually has treads.)

The treads I’ll paint next week.

Date posted: December 30, 2004 | Filed under art/design, family | Leave a Comment »

Mrs. Lockard is worsening. The nurse administering the meds gives her a couple of days at most. Jen is exhausted from dealing with both the family and her mother, and fighting off a cold.

All By Myself. Whenever Jen is away, I seem to revert back to my bachelor ways, which means I eat whatever is left around the house. Last night my feast consisted of a PB&J sandwich, the rest of the Doritos from Thanksgiving (our house is so dry, they were not even close to stale) and a glass of grapefruit juice. Now, before anybody gets upset, this is not a cry for help: usually when I’m alone, I try to fill up my time with projects that wouldn’t normally fly while Jen is around. (Would you want your husband sanding drywall outside your bedroom door at 11:30pm?) Thus, there’s not a whole lot of time to fuss with food. Unfortunately, the hallway repair project is drawing out longer than hoped—the walls have been abused so much that it’s taking longer than expected to smooth out the craters. By the end of this week, though, we should have new outlets on both sides of the hall and on the stair landing, as well as primer on most of the walls.

Because of an inexplicable lapse in New Yorker deliveries, I started reading The Lovely Bones last night before going to sleep—it looks to be good so far. I was joined by three very lonely cats, who proceeded to hootch up on me so tightly that I was effectively stapled to the bed. We all miss Jen.

OK, and now for some humor. This blog is one I’ve been following for about a year now, and it never ceases to make me laugh. Check the archives, too- you’ll snort your Quik through your nose, I promise.

Quick links. Protect your privacy. | Tsunami | Bye, Jerry. | Finally, another creative use for the iPod.

Date posted: December 29, 2004 | Filed under books, entertainment, family, humor | Leave a Comment »

Many thanks to the Cauzzis, who invited me over last night for yummy pot roast and trivia. An evening with friends was exactly what I didn’t know I needed.

10:41am. No word on Jen’s Mom this morning. The phone rings and rings, which means somebody’s on the other line and not picking up.

3:39pm. Holding steady, no changes. Jen is tired, and fighting off a cold of some kind. We’re spending New Year’s down there.

I’ll have to look into this a little further when I get the iMac music server back online: the free ShoutCast music server works with unlimited clients. How it works with clients I have no idea-if it’s a central playlist-oriented setup, I’m not interested, but if it’s a library-oriented setup, like iTunes, I’m very interested. The site is pretty vague about, well, everything, so I’ll have to set it up to try everything out. More on that later.

Date posted: December 28, 2004 | Filed under family, friends, geek | Leave a Comment »

Jen and I loaded both our vehicles up with a new La-Z-Boy, six people worth of presents, one pie and two quiches, a dozen banana nut muffins, the coffeemaker, a gallon of homemade stuffing, and her brother sans luggage after his flight arrived late at Reagan National. We got into Pax River at about 9pm.

Mrs. Lockard is installed in the family room, in a portable hospital bed. She is pretty much immobile. Her sleeping, feeding, and waking are controlled by a pharmacy’s worth of medications, administered dutifully by the family, and recorded in a book. She’s mostly awake for a short while in the mornings, and then more pain medication is administered so that she can be moved from one side to the other. Moving her is a three-person operation, which involves arranging her legs, which she can’t control, her torso, which she can’t move, and her head. There is very little dignity. A specific method is used to arrange her feet, legs, and back, so that she can spend eight to twelve hours laying in one position. Mercifully, there is a catheter, so moving her to the portable commode is not necessary anymore. She spends most of the day in a twilight sleep on one side (laying flat is impossible now), drifting in and out as people sit with her. This morning, she did not remember opening any of her presents, nor did she remember anything else about Christmas day. We showed her all her gifts again, and she talked with her sister for a few minutes on the phone before tiring out. When I left this afternoon, she was drifting, but she made me promise to come back again so I could see her.

The rest of Christmas was as normal as we could make it: presents under a real tree, carols, a six-course Christmas ham, a shipping container’s worth of cookies, pastry, pie, and homemade 180-proof bourbon balls. I’m hoping my wife will bust out the gaulette iron this week and whomp up a batch. I’m going to have to bring a bottle of Four Roses whisky back down with me next weekend. I also may have to pick this up now that Christmas has passed…

At the risk of getting sappy here, I’m just going to ask everybody to keep a kind thought in your heart for Jen’s mother and her family. Gather your loved ones around you this holiday season, keep them warm and safe, and hold them close.

Date posted: December 26, 2004 | Filed under family | Leave a Comment »

So the holidays are bearing down on us, and we are scrambling to get last-minute things done before the 25th. We erected a small fake tree last night (we’re not chancing a real tree if we’re not going to be around to see it) and decorated it with some of the ornaments from our collection. I bought some garland at the store last week, wired it together, and hung it over the entryway to the living room. There are some things, though, that we don’t have that remind me of the seasons of old…

  • Pine. My parents had one of those old-time Sears humidifiers for the house, which was filled dutifully every night. Along with three or four buckets of water each evening, they added a capful of Pine-Sol to the mixture to give the house a decidedly original odor.
  • Perry Como and Bing Crosby on vinyl. I have them both on the iPod, and I can pipe them into the stereo whenever needed, but there’s something old-skool about hearing LP’s on the big console record player my dad used to have.
  • Tinsel. Remember when that stuff was big, and everybody had it? I’d bet a bunch of people still use it, but I personally haven’t seen it in the stores in about five years. I remember vacuuming the house in 1988 and finding tinsel from 1984 still stuck under the furniture.
  • A Christmastime when every other commerical was not a diamond/jewelry commercial. Or was it always like that?
  • The days before “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.” Corrolary: When “Band-Aid” was new, and it was cool to be an activist rock star.
  • Big Lego sets for Christmas. Many a Christmas day I spent on the floor in front of the tree, building directions spread in front of me, ripping open little bags of plastic parts and assembling the kits. Legos still rock the world.

What’s Christmas to you?

Date posted: December 23, 2004 | Filed under family, history | Leave a Comment »

After jointly checking out the gift for Jen’s Dad, we decided to upgrade to a different color and style. (It’s hard to accurately decribe a color and pattern over the phone.) After dinner and a few phone calls to check in on the patient, we decided to spread our private holiday out over the next three days by opening a gift each evening.

Sometimes I Forget. I’ve been slowly trying to get an online comic off the ground over the last month, and trying various work methods to see which one feels the best. I cut a panel with scratchboard, and scanned it. After testing out an intuos tablet and using the pressure-sensitive brushes, I went back to the old-skool method of making a copy and using a combination of white-out and black pen to refine the artwork. There are some things which just feel right, and I’ve gotten so far away from making art with my hands that I forgot how good it is. So if anybody needs a stocking stuffer idea for me, here are a few hints: some correction pens (fine point) and my black pen of choice (V7 Fine). At some point in the next month or so, I’m going to finally spring for a decent copier, and that will speed up the process. I’ll start posting some panels soon, promise.

Date posted: December 22, 2004 | Filed under art/design, family | Leave a Comment »

Last night I ran around cleaning up my messes around the house, awaiting Jen’s return from her parents’ place. I plugged a vodka tonic in and let her talk for a couple of hours, and she went down hard at about 1am. This week we have a few minor gift items to wrap up, and we’ll celebrate our own holiday outside the vortex on Thursday evening.

Here’s something to read and think about as you throw that credit card down to pay for sparkly presents under the tree.

Looks like everybody’s doing their top ten lists already; I’d have one for you here, and it would be nothing but new 2004 music, but money for new CD’s is a luxury, which means I am at the gentle mercies of rich and generous friends. I’ll attempt to give you an unordered list here with stuff I’ve found in 2004, which is almost as good as the real thing.

  • The Presets, Girl and The Sea (via MP3Blog.) Catchy, bleep and drum-machine pop with strong melodies and instrumental breaks. Somewhere between Howard Jones, New Order, and a sprinking of the Fixx. But better.
  • Styrofoam/Death Cab For Cutie/Postal Service/Dntel – I’ve written about it here before, and you’ve most likely heard it already. Just get some.
  • Franz Ferdinand – Yeah, again, you’ve heard it before. Good stuff.
  • The Secret Machines, Now Here Is Nowhere. Good alterno-prog rock-type-stuff, with vocals that balance on the edge of annoying.
  • The Go! Team, Thunder Lightning Strike (via MP3Blog.) There are no words to describe this, other than hyperactive cheerleader multiple-personality disorder. Clap yo hands.
  • Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, Shake The Sheets. Excellent stuff. Sort of a newer, 2000’s Look Sharp era Joe Jackson.
  • Skalpel, Sculpture (via MP3Blog.) Very ambient, quiet, jazzy mood music. I’ll be buying the rest of this one.
  • Spacemonkeyz vs. Gorillaz (via MP3Blog.) I’ve heard one track from this, but the play ranking on my iPod tells me the rest of the album is most likely worth the price.
  • The Killers, Somebody Told Me. The standout track on this album. The one I played over and over again.
  • Probot – One half annoying, the other half inspired. Lemmy’s track is the gem on this one, but, hey man, he’s Lemmy.
  • The Shins, Chutes Too Narrow. – Thanks Rob. Good stuff, this.
  • The Stranglers, Golden Brown (via MP3Blog.) – The first song ever to convince me that harpsichord might not be evil after all. You’d really have to hear it.
  • Air, Talkie Walkie – besides being straight-to-commercial fodder, there are a ton of good tracks here. Mike Mills was in heavy rotation this fall.
  • Kings of Convenience, Quiet Is The New Loud. A Scottish Simon & Garfunkel. Beautiful music.

Got something to add? Drop me a line.

Date posted: December 21, 2004 | Filed under music | Leave a Comment »

This weekend, I…

  1. Sanded the shit out of the upstairs and downstairs hallway. I put at least four and a half gallons of drywall mud on the walls, and sanded at least half of that back off. It’s almost done.
  2. Found some more Christmas presents for certain people. The Target was packed full of holiday zombies, slowly circling the aisles and getting in the way. It took me 20 minutes to get out of the parking lot.
  3. Coordinated long distance with my wife over her father’s present, and put it on hold until she gives the OK.
  4. Staked the tent over the Scout down. Good timing, too—with last night’s snow and cold snap, we have gusts of 40mph today. (I still think that thing is going to blow away into the next county, though.)
  5. Began running new electrical wiring to the hallway—while I have the kickplates off, it’s an easy thing to cut a square and stick an outlet box in, and going through the floor plate is a zillion times easier. This will be so much easier than doing the upstairs…
  6. Did the laundry in our own washing machine; with the help of some Oxy-Clean and laundry bluing, the rust in the water hasn’t stained our clothes as far as I can tell. Which is good, because I hate the laundromat.
  7. Attended the Breakaway Christmas party, which was held at the Cloisters, a very pretty manor house-turned formal hall (not to be confused with the Cloisters in New York City, which is frickin’ amazing.) It was beautiful, catered by the same folks who did our wedding, and a mellow good time. It’s frightening how many people this company has hired in the last six months, and how much that reminds me of my first six months at Cidera.
  8. Cleaned up the house as much as possible for Jen’s return. She’s leaving Dysfunction Junction today to come back home, and the least I could do was make our place as peaceful and calm as possible.
  9. Missed my wife. This has not been an easy Christmas.

Jen’s Mom is now installed in the back room of their house in St. Mary’s county. The doctors have concluded that there’s nothing they can do besides manage the pain, so a hospice nurse stops by daily to administer the happy juice. Two of the three sisters are home and are helping take care of her. As of yesterday she still wasn’t able to hold anything down.

Date posted: December 20, 2004 | Filed under house, projects | Leave a Comment »

Courtesy of our friend Dave (the Tunemaster), I’m grooving to Bran Van 3000’s first album, Glee. I had heard the single “Walking in LA” a long time ago, but never knew who did it until now.

I Feel Dirty. Point Your Missile…

Expectations. This year, instead of the usual dual-handmade J&B holiday offering, we’re keeping things decidedly lo-fi. Time is precious, and our attention has been elsewhere, so last night I took an idea from my first-grade teacher, carved a potato into a stamp, and made 50 cards while watching reruns of CSI.

Acts Of Contrition. Looks like my little hint yesterday went unheeded.

Date posted: December 17, 2004 | Filed under family, music | Leave a Comment »

NPR this morning was reporting on the recent problems the District of Columbia has been having in regards to bringing a major league baseball team to the city. Now, if you do a search on this log for sports content, you’ll come up pretty dry—and there will be almost no mention of baseball (except, maybe, the mention of free Orioles tickets.) I like the football, although I don’t arrange my Sundays around it; I like the baseball as long as the tickets are cheap, my beer is full, and I’m actually sitting in the stadium. Hockey is fun, but there’s none of that this year. I don’t write much about sports, but this story gets at the heart of something I’ve thought about for years.

Apparently, the mayor of D.C. promised MLB all kinds of concessions in the standard “We [the city] will roll over and pay both MLB and the team owners for the privilege of hosting this team in our city, as well as hiking taxes on our citizens to generate the money to build them a stadium” plan. Usually this deal forfeits parking concessions and other revenue-generating enterprises, involves knocking down a large amount of existing buildings, and leasing the city-owned land back to the team for $1. (See: Ravens Stadium.) The common wisdom is that the team’s games will bring revenue into the city via tourism, merchandise sales, and taxes. What it usually boils down to, in my opinion, is trickle-down economics—the team, owners, and MLB pocket the lion’s share, while the city is forced to sell bonds and further tax its citizens to pay for the whole thing, just so that it can claim a team (for a limited time. Just wait ’till those attendance records start dropping.) The city gets a pittance of revenue through stuff like payroll taxes on minimum-wage earning concessioneers.

In a rare, well-intentioned move, the D.C. City Council decided that it would sign a contract with an added provision that half the money to build a stadium would have to come from private financing, not the taxpayers. And, predictably, MLB lost it’s frickin’ mind. “WHAT?!?! We deign to offer you a baseball team (after having taken two away from you already) and you expect us to pay for some of it?!? HOW DARE YOU!”

I say: Fuck Major League Baseball. Go watch a triple-A team and save yourself some money. (Chances are, they’re not taking steroids yet.)

To a certain someone: You got so very, very lucky yesterday. You’d better show some contrition and respect for that, or I’m going to go absolutely mental on you.

I used to work here. Still do, kinda.

Date posted: December 16, 2004 | Filed under politics | Leave a Comment »