Overheard in the Kitchen this Morning

While playing the Moulin Rouge CD, I commented to Wee Bot that the movie had great costuming, beautiful sets, a creative and well-executed sound track, and a really crappy story.  I told him that the songs were all old songs rearranged for the movie and that the voices on the CD were actually the actors in the movie.  He thought that was cool.

“So,” he asked, “what was it about?”

Indicating points with my fingers, I explained, “Dude falls in love with the wrong girl.  She doesn’t return his affections.  Then, she dies.”

“That kind of sucks,” he commented.

“Yes,” I affirmed, “yes it does.”

And with that, I’ll leave you with Nature Boy as performed by David Bowie, which is why I put that CD on this morning in the first place.

Incidentally, does anyone remember this hilarity?

It Would Have Been a Good Day to Un-Quit

Jennifer felt sick this morning and so stayed home today.  She’s spent her day working on some web work for my stuff because she’s awesome like that.  Care for a sneak peek?  We’re planning on updating The Holster Site with a similar look, and I’ll probably do the same thing here.  Initially, I attempted to keep a separation between my personal blog and my professional online presence, but that kind of fell apart with various online connections.  It just wasn’t worth it.

Anyway, I’m afraid that Wee Bot may be getting sick as he’s been quite a handful today.  He has a hard time controlling his emotions anyway, but he’s been downright weepy today.  It’s really frustrating when he cries over stupid stuff, and I really believe it’s just a phase of some kind, but I try very hard to reason it through with him and help him gain some perspective on it.  “Why are you crying?  Is that worth crying about?  Then maybe you shouldn’t react that way.  Can you think of a better way to express your disappointment?”  I definitely resist the urge to say, “QUIT ACTING LIKE A TEENAGE GIRL!!!!!!”  Additionally, he’s had a rough day with virtual school.  He’s been extremely hard-headed about some of the concepts in his lessons today.

I was about this close to depositing my Bernina 830 Record on the front lawn by way of my studio window.  I’ve been working on this really cool, experimental, thigh holster for a blogger who is married to another blogger who will wear her snubby under her skirt in said thigh holster.  It really is turning out sexy.  Most of these things are black nylon, but this one is much more like lingerie.  For the strapping, I was using the Bernina sewing machine to stitch a Lycra tube that a heavy duty elastic strap feeds through.  The Bernina was dropping stitches and generally acting like a pain in the butt.  I called the Bernina store for advice.  The employee I spoke with advised that I use a smaller needle and a different stitch cam.  She also told me that Lycra is notoriously difficult to sew.  The smaller needle and stitch cam mostly solved the problem.

I decided to use a different thread, and had to empty a bobbin to do so.  I had a Bernina bobbin loaded up with Kevlar thread and decided to offload it to one of my Consew bobbins as the Bernina hates Kevlar thread and I’ve got a bunch of empty Consew bobbins.  I didn’t want to just throw it out because the Kevlar is pretty pricey.  I probably should have made sure there wasn’t a bobbin in the Consew, because as it was winding the bobbin, something in the shuttle caught the end of the thread that was in the bobbin in it, and wound it around the shuttle about a jillion times and jammed the machine.  I had to open it up and disassemble that part of the mechanism so I could un-jam it before I could finish winding the other bobbin.

Once I finally had an empty Bernina bobbin, I started winding it with this very fine nylon thread I wanted to try.  There was something wrong with the tension on the thread though, and I had the bobbin half full before I saw that it was not wound properly and I had to unwind what had wound and rewind it.  Of course, the thread tangled and I had to throw a bunch of it away.  It didn’t fill the bobbin, but it gave me enough to work with to do the project.  Annoying,  but good enough at this point.

The finer thread went ahead and fixed the Bernina’s previous problem with missed stitches.  But, then the machine started jamming on a wad of thread it was making on the bottom side of my material, as though the tension was screwed up.  I unclogged the machine for about the sixth time in a row and lost my temper.  Rather than pick stitches out of my material again, I took my sewing shears and hacked the errant end off the Lycra tube.  There was plenty of length for me to work with – I usually leave myself lots of margin for error.  When I fed it through the machine again, the Bernina behaved like an angel, as though the problem had actually been that specific section of fabric.

Yeah, I do all the manly stuff around here like cooking and sewing.  😛

Needless to say, I’ve been working on these straps all day.  And, I haven’t finished them yet.  It should not have taken me all day to make these stupid straps.  I can’t afford to work like this.  I’ve pretty well decided that I just don’t like household sewing machines.  I’m seriously considering selling my Bernina and Husqvarna Viking and putting the money towards an industrial serger.  Any time I’m not doing a straight stitch, I find myself wishing I had a serger.  Anyway, between having a sick wife at home, a frustrating kid, and unbelievable equipment issues, I sure could use a smoke.  I’m still not giving up though.  I’ve worked too hard at it to give up so easily.

Quitting Update

Last week, I had a little rant here concerning my tobacco habit.  I thought that I’d give you an update.  A week ago Monday, when I published the aforementioned post, I’d just finished my fourth cigarette for the day.  That evening, I did have a fifth one.  On Tuesday, I had one cigarette in the evening, and did the same on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  On Saturday, I smoked one of my brother’s cigarettes in the afternoon while we were out shooting, and then I had a small cigar that evening.  Yesterday, I did not smoke anything, but I did hit my cheapo e-cigarette a couple of times, not that it counts for anything.  I now understand why people recommend not buying one of the cheap ones.  If it does indeed release nicotine, it is in such trace amounts that it is pretty much undetectable.  So it’s not really any more comfort than a placebo.  I haven’t even bothered to use it today.

So, the last nicotine that I’ve really had was on Saturday evening.  And, I’m okay.  I haven’t yelled at anyone today, and I don’t feel like I’m sick or irritable.  Yeah, I miss my smokes and would really like to have one, but I’m finally feeling like not having a cigarette.  My relatives seemed shocked but supportive when I told them yesterday.  It’s been hard on Jennifer, but she’s been supportive.  Honestly, I didn’t expect this kind of success.  When I first brought it up last week, it was so flippant and off the cuff that I pretty much figured I’d have a fresh pack again in a couple of days. I would have bought more by now anyway – even if I hadn’t over-smoked last weekend.  I wonder if the girls at the smoke shop miss me yet…

Over the weekend, I discovered that visualizing the euphoria that comes along with the nicotine fix actually helps stave off the cravings.  Every smoker describes it differently.  To me, it’s like butter and tingly extremities.  It’s very much a tactile sensation in the fingers and toes.  I never much thought about how awesome it feels until I didn’t have it anymore.  Nicotine doesn’t affect everyone, of course.  Jennifer never gets the buzz or head rush, and will never be addicted to smoking because of that.  But for those of us who are sensitive to nicotine, it is quite euphoric.  I’m not going to lie – I already miss it quite a bit.  But, it doesn’t consume all of my thought like it did early on last week.  In fact, sometimes I’ll come to the realization that I haven’t even thought about tobacco in hours.

I can again smell things that I couldn’t for a long time.  When I’m with a group of people, not only can I smell anyone’s cologne, deodorant, and laundry detergent (or lack thereof), I can usually tell what they last ate and whether they own a pet.  Oh, and not only can I spot out the smokers in a crowd, I can usually tell you what brand they smoke at this point.  I assumed that I would regain some lost olfactory prowess, but I had no clue I’d see results so soon!

Caffeine helps with the cravings too.  I suppose the two stimulants are similar enough that they’ll largely interchange in my system.  I know that elevated levels of coffee don’t give me the shakes like when I had a constant stream of tobacco.  Caffeine also hasn’t been keeping me up at night (which is a first).  I’m drinking more coffee than usual, but that amounts to an extra cup some days.  Not a big deal.  I have been afraid of how quitting might affect me psychologically because I have surmised that my original start to smoking was self-medication for mild depression.  Although not necessarily unfounded, it seems that my fear turned out to not be an issue.

The short-term plan remains what it has been.  I’ve gone over forty hours with no nicotine, no crutch, no patch, no gum, pills, or any such stuff, and I’m in no danger of tearing anyone’s head off.  I may as well stay the course.  The long-term plan is different.  As successful as this has been so far, I’d like to leave my options open to having an occasional smoke once in a while.  Although I hate being subject to the addiction, I just like tobacco too much to not even consider the possibility of occasional usage.  I feel like I ought to have a good six weeks of cold turkey first though.  I’ve got one of my good cigarettes left and I think it would be lovely to have on Christmas if I can be good until then.  If it proves to be too hard to be a non-smoker who indulges in an occasional smoke, I’ll figure out something different then.  That’s not like playing with fire, is it?

Spreading Some Love

Peter, one of my old friends from way back, has just become a gun dealer – got all his papers in order last week in fact. You can check out his FaceBook page here, or his website at EdmondArms.com. If you are in the Central Oklahoma area and need a gun or accessories, please do keep him in mind. Also, if you would like to link to his website or like his FB page so other people know, I know he’d appreciated it. Peter is a good guy and he’ll make a great addition to our industry. So, if you can help him out, please do. Thanks, all!

I Think I Just Might Quit.

I’m tired of smoking. I’m sick of my good clothing smelling like smoke. I hate bumming out cigarettes to other people because they know I’ve got good ones. I’m tired of spending the money. I’m tired of being subject to the nicotine. I’m sick of “cutting back” to a very manageable amount only to creep back up to more than I’m comfortable with. I’m fed up with trying to sneak them around disapproving family members just to be sensitive of their feelings. I’m sick of standing out in the rain and the cold and the +100-degree heat just because I’ve got to get that fix. I’m tired of that extra bulge in my pocket where I keep my cigarette case and lighter. I hate being tethered to the smoke shop because I can’t stand the cigarettes that they sell at the gas station. I’ve said before that if what I smoke was no longer available I’d just quit. I’ve threatened to quit if the price of the tobacco went up to certain benchmarks. My current cut-off is $10.00/pack. My smokes are sitting at just over $7.50 right now. Studies say that quitting by the age of 35 will lead to lifestyles as healthy as someone who never took up the habit, and I’ve had a long-term goal of quitting before my 35th birthday. I’m 33 now. I’ve intended to quit for a long time now, but knew that I simply didn’t have the motivation. I am not by any means required to keep it up for another two years or whenever the pack hits that magical $10.00-mark. I all but quit caffeine largely by accident, so it’s cousin stimulant should not be that hard as long as I’ve got the motivation. I’m flat-out pissed off at tobacco and I don’t have to take it anymore. But, dang it! I love my smokes! You’re probably wondering what brought this on. This weekend, I smoked like a fish. I don’t know how I went through that much tobacco, but I smoked a lot. No more. As soon as I publish this, I’m going to put what’s left of my cigarettes in my humidor and see what I can do. If I give into temptation and smoke them up before the weekend, that’s just tough. If I never touch them again, I’ll likely frame what I’ve got left and hang it on the wall.

Halloween Redux

This year’s was one of the better Halloweens in recent memory. The company was good at several gatherings, there was good food and drinks, good candy, and good people. Usually we don’t really get to do the whole “Halloween party” thing at all, and then it’s just the three of us for the ‘eve itself. I do usually make it a point to carve a pumpkin, and have come out with some pretty good ones over the years past. Many years ago, I bought a small lamp socket fixture thing and a novelty bulb to go in it. Instead of a standard filament, it has a pink-orange glowing skull and crossbones with a green glowing “DANGER” text over it. I’ve integrated this into several jack-o-lanterns for a pretty sweet effect that can’t be blown out by the wind. I decided to break it out this year.

I’ve been trying to get Wee Bot more involved in the planning and administration side of our plans, and this year’s pumpkin was a prime example. I told him that I wanted to put the DANGER bulb in our jack-o-lantern, so it needed to have wide open holes in it for visibility. What I didn’t tell him was that I was thinking about a skull-like theme. That is, until he said that he thought it should look like a skull. I was thinking a toothy mouth that extended nearly half the circumference of the pumpkin, from the equator down to almost the ground level, a notched hole of a nose, and two very open, round eye sockets located largely on top of the head. Here’s what I wound up with:

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And the light through the mouth:

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And the light through the eye socket:

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I was pretty pleased with how it turned out.

Jennifer and I attended several Halloweenish parties. We went steampunk-like at the Blogorado dress-up thingy, I dressed in a slightly modified steampunk costume for my brother’s and wife’s birthday bash (they’re only two days apart), we went to a school friend’s costume party all gothed out, but what did I dress as for Halloween night? Well, don’t you hate those people that go ‘as themselves’ for Halloween?

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I went as an evil robot, of course! There was a lot of grease makeup on me. I didn’t want it to smear, and I wanted to add a little bit of sheen for that plasticy look. So, I used one of my wax-based aerosol leather finishes. It felt really weird and probably gave me lung cancer, but it did give the right look and kept me from smudging all over the place. Well, it was also really hard to wash off.

On the night of, we sat in the front yard around the fire pit, eating chili, giving out candy. I walked around the block with B-I-L and his fiance, Wee Bot, and Baby Girl. Wee Bot and Baby Girl collected copious amounts of candy and were generally worn out by the end of the evening. B-I-L didn’t drink all of our liquor or make a scene with his parents, and everyone went home at an astonishingly early hour.

As we were winding down, the older kids came around. “Did you see what SHE was wearing?” I asked Jennifer, “Her butt was technically covered, but her garter straps were hanging out there. Her parents either need to be slapped around for letting her go out like that or for their lack of observation! They don’t even let girls her age go into the stores where they sell that stuff!” In all fairness, she was probably not a minor, but lied about her age so people wouldn’t hassle her about going door to door. This year, those types at least looked like they could be old enough for that much exposure. It hasn’t been so every year. It was inappropriate in any case. But, if that’s the biggest thing that I’ve got to complain about, it was a good celebration. Girls in slutty costumes will be with us every Halloween. All of our kids looked nice. And, we looked fabulous!

Funny

Last week, Peter brought attention to a good story concerning a very odd house shoe. I can’t help but get the giggles every time I think about this story. It’s not at all uncommon for people to have one foot slightly bigger than the other. Most of us are close enough from one side to the other that it is not an issue to wear off-the-shelf paired shoes. It is noteworthy that Monster Slippers even accepted a custom order with two different sizes paired. But, because of a misplaced decimal point, the factory made a size 1450 instead of a 14.5? LOL, what? Yeah. They actually built him one size thirteen and one size one thousand, four hundred, fifty. The shop supervisor must have been on vacation that day for the workers to put in the labor and materials for this truly monstrous slipper for the standard price of a human-sized house shoe. I wonder how many bags of poly fill they had to use. I also wonder what kind of special packaging and shipping provisions they had to make. The strangest part is that nobody bothered to contact the customer to clarify the order before they manufactured the bizarre pair. This is yet another reason that I’m not likely to ever sublet manufacture to China unless their manufacturing habits drastically change!