A cool, cloudy day

Most of yesterday evening I spent venting on the phone to friends. Today at work was calm and uneventful.

I applied to volunteer with the American Red Cross maybe a year and a half ago. I’ve been down there to talk to them on 4 separate occasions, but they’ve never really followed up with me. In fact they didn’t even call me during Hurricane Ivan. Today someone called me. I’ll give them a call later this week.

My family is coming to visit in March.

I can sleep at my desk…

A slow but productive weekend at work. I am researching wet pine savannas for a campfire program next weekend. It’s like being in college with all the reading and typing. I’m not very excited about this program. I don’t like show-and-tell type stuff; it makes me feel like a buffoon. I like taking people into the park and showing them what’s cool about it. This is just pandering to the TV crowd.

I’ll have to stay away from the “regular coffee” at the coffee place. I was up half the night.

Did a water exchange for my aquarium. Part of my reformed effort at better aquarium care. It looks so much nicer with the algae scraped off the glass. I bought a couple of algae-eaters to keep it under control, though I’ve had trouble maintaining them in the past.

On caffeine

A boring day at work, a boring night at home.

Though I stopped at the coffee place for a few minutes, had a coffee and listened to some live R&B. Their espresso machine was broken; it seems this means that not only espressos, but cappucinos, chais, cafe au laits, and hot chocolates were unavailable. So in exasperation I asked for “just regular coffee please.”

I am not a coffee-head, so if I have to drink regular coffee, I’ll take it plain and black, like my women (kidding) (kind of).

I’ve been taking in a fair amount of caffeine lately! I don’t like the way a caffeine buzz feels, but I guess I like feeling awake. Except when I’m trying to sleep, then its a pain. I have no trouble falling asleep on caffeine. It’s staying asleep that’s a problem. I wake up and I can hear my nerves humming and my heart racing. That’s nasty stuff.

Properly amphetimined, I hit the gym for a half hour or so. I have to train for my pack test next month, so I’ve made a return. The complex is stalled on its renovation: only a few lights work, some of the equipment is missing, the electrical fixtures are unfinished, and the remote to the TV is missing. So I have to watch whatever’s on. Tonight, it was Comedy Central. I watched the end of “Crank Yankers,” twisted prank-calls reenacted by puppets, and “Drawn Together,” with archetypal cartoon characters in a reality-show house. I did a lot of laughing in spite of myself.

Wow, I write more on caffeine.

This and that this week.

The last couple of I’ve been spending much of my free time catching up on the millions of little errands I let pile up last fall. I’ve put a fair dent in the list. Today I spent some time talking to a realtor and a mortgage loan officer. I’m still thinking about buying a house.

Financially I’m in a position to handle the purchase, the question is whether I will live here long enough to make it make sense. Or alternatively, if I can a viable absentee landlord. Not sure I want to do that.

Finally I cleaned up my aquarium, which I’ve been minimally attentive to for a few months. The thing was looking very ghetto. Like a place fish wouldn’t want to raise their kids. I even bought a few new fish.

I spoke to L. again Wednesday night. She’s not angry with me any more. I’m glad because it was much too trivial. She started her new job and might be moving to California within a few months. If she does she could stay as long as a year. Good news; I just have to find a way to visit her a lot.

Last night I watched “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” on DVD. Pretty good! I’m something of a Charlie Kaufman fan. I’m reading now that he wrote the TV show “Get a Life”. Does anyone remember that? With Chris Elliott? I thought that was the funniest damned show for a while (I was a teenager). I remember one episode where he tried to bribe a cop with his pocket change. And another where he started an outreach program for inner city youth but couldn’t relate to them at all. Haw.

New Year resolve. Let’s see how long it lasts.

Today I led a short birding walk around the bayou. It was fun, there were tons of different birds. Since this week the park is 34 years old, we offered refreshments after the walk. The next program I have to get ready for is an evening campfire program in two weeks. Even though campfire programs are staples of National Parks, I’ve never done one before. I’ve never even started a fire.

I finally got my bedroom straightened out yesterday. I had a rare Saturday off and chose to spend it doing that. But I’ve “resolved” to start out the New Year with a clean and orderly apartment. It’s make-up for last year, which I lived out in apathetic sloth between my trips to Argentina and Utah. I even visited the gym last night before I went to bed.

What was I thinking…

Last night I got the idea into my head that I would rearrange the furniture in my bedroom. I have this cheap, badly designed, unwieldy computer desk that is really hard to move, and it took me all evening to disassemble the computer, clean off the desk, take it apart, move it into the other corner, and put it all back together. My room is still a disaster area, since much of the clutter that had been squirreled away over the last two years is now all over the floor.

I dragged the matress out into the living room last night and slept out there. Of course the aquarium filter needs cleaning and makes a lot of noise, so I didn’t sleep very well. My list of a lot of little things to do is still quite long.

Tomorrow I have to take my emergency responder test to recertify for another three years. Not too worried about that, but I’ll crack the textbook for a little while before bed.

In addition, the Argentiniana called this evening. There was some drama; one of those things involving putting my foot in my mouth.

Friends from Alaska visit

My friend Lisa and her boyfriend Jimmy stayed here a couple of nights. They live in Alaska. I hadn’t seen her in forever and this is the first time I’d met her boyfriend. He’s a very nice guy. He took a look at my broken fan (he’s an electrician) and showed me some stuff with the plumbing.

Upon arrival Wednesday night, Lisa cooked up a crawfish etouffe (a Cajun dish) with the live crawfish they’d bought. After boiling the poor unfortunate little critters, Jimmy and I liberated the meat while Lisa made the roux. It was damned good too.

We took a hike on the Tuxachanie trail up at DeSoto National Forest yesterday. In over two years of living here, I haven’t yet hiked in that forest (a short drive from my apartment). Here’s why: it’s flat and wooded, and the trails are a straight shot. I don’t like hiking in the woods, especially coniferous ones. You can’t see much around you. Coniferous forest tend to be very sterile and monotonous because their decaying cause high acidity in the soil. Very little else grows there, and there is little wildlife diversity.

However, we had a very nice time on the Tuxachanie Trail. In addition to being flat it is very boggy, which makes the woods a little more intersesting. Jimmy likes looking under logs and in ponds, so he found a salamander, a couple of different frogs, a green anole (small lizard), and a gopher tortoise.

For dinner I cooked some crab meat-stuffed catfish from the Cajun meat store in town. Then we went for a drink down the street. This was a very fun weekend. They left this afternoon after lunch, and then I took care of some errands that have been piling up in my absence.

On cousins

Oh yeah, the wake… The last thing I did before getting on the plane yesterday was go to my grand-aunt’s wake. It’s a good thing I got in so late last night, because after two hours with a bunch of New York Italians in black, I would have had a pretty hard time plunging back into Mississippi.

Of course, I didn’t bring a suit with me. With the help of my dad, I improvised a polite outfit: a brown pullover sweater over a black turtleneck, brown slacks, and a black leather jacket. I looked like some sort of European.

There were cousins there I hadn’t seen in fifteen or twenty years. Some of those in my generation are married and have kids. I wouldn’t have recognized one of my cousins if someone hadn’t pointed her out- she was perhaps 10 when I saw her last, and her sister was a baby. Some of my dad’s first cousins were stunned to see me at 30. My grand-uncle looked really good considering the circumstance.

I don’t have any first cousins. Neither of my uncles ever had children. But because my dad’s parents both came from enormous, third-world sized families, I have tons of second cousins. My dad has so many first cousins that some of them are old enough to be his parents. There’s a senior cousin and she always comes to family functions. Anyway, the family is too big for me; it’s easy to lose track of people and lose touch, and usually its the first cousins who stick together more. I think if my dad had his way, we’d have a closer-knit extended family, but modern life is working against him. A lot of these people live as far away as I do.

Fits seamlessly back into real life.

I arrived back in my apartment around midnight. Instead of going to bed right away, I opened mail: bills, magazines, a few Christmas cards. The junk seems to have taken the holidays off. One fish is missing. I wonder who ate it.

Back to life today. Work was really boring and slow, as it tends to be this time of year. Looks to be a pretty undemanding schedule for the next couple of weeks. That’s fine, I’m not in the mood for anything more. I’ll be happy to show up and draw the paycheck while I focus on other parts of my life, such as what I plan to do with it this year and the next.

My friend Lisa from Alaska will be visiting along with her boyfriend later this week. I haven’t seen her in… five years. Wow.

Winding down

I’ll be finishing the trip with a wake. My dad’s aunt passed away, so we’ll be paying respects this afternoon before I go to the airport. I didn’t bring any clothes for a wake, though.

For Christmas, my mom got a Roomba. It’s a little, saucer-like robot that vacuums the rug. She was trying it out yesterday and it had her backed into a corner. It would be insidious if it wasn’t so ridiculous looking.

It’s 41 degrees here, 75 in Mississippi. Hmm. I think I’ll still miss the cold.

Death to 2004!

I’m back at my folks’ place after a few days in New Jerseystan. I had dinner with a bunch of friends on Thursday, and spent last night drinking with many of the same. I haven’t been that drunk in a few years. Haven’t danced that much in about the same, either (there is a strong correlation).

Speaking of stuff not done in years, Evrim and I got in an evening of bowling Wednesday night. I thought my arm was going to fall off after five games, but it felt okay the next day. My highest score was 105.

Tomorrow night I return to Mississippi. There’s been just too much leisure in my life the last month and half; I atone starting this week with a solid ten months of work. Though in fact my boss seems willing to be more liberal about scheduling leave, so we can burn up some of our “use or lose” time before the end of the year. In reality I suspect our precarious schedule might not be as accomodating.

However, I am looking forward to returning to Mississippi because I’d like to get back to the work of my life: planning my career, consolidating some of my finances, working on my website, trying my new digital camera, and figuring out a way to abduct the Argentine into the US.

Ah yes, and I won’t have to use my dad’s laptop there. The accursed cursor jumps around when I type too fast.