Camp Linux

I have no idea why things seem so busy lately.

I had a four day weekend, as RocketBoy was off school and apparently we’re not legally allowed to abandon him alone yet.

Saturday/Sunday was his first cub scout camping trip to the luxurious (seriously) Scout Reservation up near Blairsville. I’ve been to two of these reservations now, and they’re simply spectacular, like a super well-tended national park.

We headed up directly after Uncle Grampa’s on Saturday, about a two hour drive. RocketBoy and I split the time graciously between my Spanish-language rock and his Lion King Soundtrack.

They have these platforms at the site with metal structures so you can set your tent up off the ground, and throw a tarp over it in case of heavy rain. Modern tents are fantastically easy to set up versus the nightmare of the ones from my youth. Rocketboy and his cohorts spent the rest of the time running around with sticks and dirtclods, alternately searching for animals or shooting each other with their laser vision or flame hands or whatever.

We inexperienced dads barely figured out the motley collection of camping stoves (almost universally wedding gifts that had never been taken out of their original packaging) and got the hotdogs and beans cooked up before the 6pm packwide meeting.

The pack meeting was at a fantastic outdoor amphitheater that overlooked the main lake. Basically, each den performed skits, probably the same skits that have been performed for decades. But they still slayed. Ask RocketBoy, he’ll give you a rendition of each, if you can understand what he’s saying through his cracking up. RocketBoy’s troupe did a song they learned on the first day that involves fast food restaurants and Star Wars characters.

To finish off the evening, the Pack Leader told a joke about Weebles. And we’re all like, dude, these kids have no idea what a Weeble is. So the adults laughed politely.

The rest of the evening was more running around the campsite with sticks, s’mores, ghost stories… everything standard.

We crashed sometime around 10ish, and there began the Worst Night of Sleep in my Life. Some critical supplies we forgot: pillows, sleeping mats. Because I tell you, a wooden platform for a tent sounds like a great idea until you try to sleep on it.

In the morning, we had some breakfast bars, more running with sticks, and then packing up. RocketBoy and I were in no particular hurry, so after we loaded up the car, we drove around the reservation a little bit and stopped off by the lake to wander around.

It was a blast. We totally have to do it again.

RocketBoy was fairly successful in his Scout Popcorn sales, but not enough to get the Marshmallow Blaster prize. Next time… next time.

As part of the fallout of the robbery of several weeks ago, I’m replacing the stolen DVD player (and one of the stolen computers) with a Media Machine, otherwise known as a computer with a TV tuner card, S-VIDEO out, and Linux with MythTV. Essentially, an open-source TiVO.

It’s a labor of pain and love.

Cut for Boring Technical Details

Various and Sundries

The kids have been in Kentucky this week. I don’t know that I’ve spent the time as wisely as I could, but probably properly.

We got home late Sunday after many setbacks in departing Kentucky, though with a cooler of leftover pulled-pork and chicken bbq.

Monday night I had my second Karate class at the Atlanta Cuong Nhu center, which is down near Dad’s Garage Theater. This is the place where RocketBoy has been going for a few months now with varied success. He suggested I start taking classes and promised to help me, so I thought that sounded like a good idea.

The people are very nice, and I feel energized (if physically tired) after the classes, so I believe I’ll stick with it.

Tuesday night, with the kids gone and both steakums and I free of obligations, we of course headed straight for the bedroom… where I scrubbed the master bathroom to within an inch of its life and Stacey began her cleaning and organizing of the rest of the house.

Later, smelling of cleaning supplies and sweat, we put our feet up on the couch, drank some wine and watched a couple episodes from Weeds, Season 4, Disk 1.

Last night, Stacey had to work, so I did what any bachelor-type guy would do when confronted with a free evening… ordered pizza, de-molded the bathroom ceiling, watched Spanish language television, and folded laundry. Are you with me, guys? Right?

I’m actually delighted with the discovery of the Spanish language stations. I don’t think our TV has ever been tuned to anything except PBS, Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel. All of the grown-up TV1 watching is either done through Netflix DVDs or Hulu.

I watched Un Gancho al Coraz√≥n (literally, A Hook to the Heart, but I think hook is used as an expression meaning attraction), a telenovela that just started airing in the US. I just barely understand what’s going on. I’m going to have to figure out how to record this stuff. Ironic, since I spend my days designing DVR settop boxes.

Also, I caught a couple episodes of House via Hulu. I totally understand what’s going on there.

The kids are coming back tonight, and Saturday we depart for New Jersey to visit the wily Italians for 8 days. Only, my brother-in-law sold his pizza shop, so I’m not entirely sure how we’re going to eat.

Lest anyone was thinking of robbing our house while we’re gone, know that we’ve got dog/house sitters. Assuming, of course, that the dog doesn’t drive them out through annoyingness. I know the dog is driving me to New Jersey after a week with no kids to entertain him.

We checked in with the kids each day, mostly to make sure they hadn’t tied up my parents and left them in a closet. They bought RocketBoy a new bike without training wheels, and he’s been practicing that, while Scout has taken to RocketBoy’s last bike like a pro. Also, they went fishing (no catch this year) and to a park in Frankfurt with a waterfall you can walk under.

And some sort of dinosaur park. Scout reportedly rode a blue dinosaur.

So they haven’t missed us one bit.

I’ve missed them. The house just feels wrong.

Albeit, clean.

1 I originally wrote adult TV, but that just sounds like porn regardless of context, doesn’t it?

The First Third of Summer

RocketBoy’s final swim meet was last night. Not his most stellar performance, but he had a strong start. He was two lengths ahead of the swimmer next to him, but squandered it in the last 5 feet by more or less stopping and looking around at the other lanes to see whether he was winning.

I remember doing that, too. And I remember not heeding my father’s advise on it as well. May the circle be unbroken.

At any rate, the 6th place ribbons are a pretty pink.

He seems to really enjoy swim team, so I guess we’ll sign him up for more swim classes this fall/winter/spring to polish up his technique.

Somehow or other, I’ve gotten myself signed up for a Karate class. RocketBoy peer pressured me. I had thought that I could take it at the same time as he on Saturday mornings with some other adults that are working at the same time, but apparently I need to do some beginner classes first on Monday or Thursday nights first to get up to speed.

Some vacations are coming up fast, and I’m really looking forward to them. Both Kentucky and New Jersey, including a vacation-at-home where both the kids will be in Kentucky. I am totally going to knock out some home projects those evenings, especially the kids’ clubhouse.

I’m reading my first George Elliot novel (Middlemarch) via, prompted by the Facebook Quiz question “Austen or Elliot?”, and so far I really like it, but I’m going to still say tossup between the two.

On an economic fit of geek, I note that one of the Middlemarch characters is struggling economically, and suggests moving from a 90 pound/year house to a 30 pound/year house, given that they have an income of 400 pounds a year. Which indicates that an optimal housing expense ratio for the time was 7.5%, as opposed to 22.5%. Or the 25% or 33% numbers I hear thrown around today.

Though, I assume the 30 pounds doesn’t include servants.

I feel a Big Ole Post about Health Care brewing in my head. Also, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. But not today.

Brief Holiday Notes, in the Form Of Facebook Statuses


Ryan is enjoying the Children’s Museum with The Kids.

Ryan is eating two chili dogs and a chocolate shake from the Varsity.

Ryan is building a fire.

Ryan is swinging on the ropeswing.

Ryan is half-watching Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

Ryan is, despite the dog’s best effort, putting the kids to sleep.

Ryan is drawing in 3-point perspective.


Ryan is up late and early.

Ryan is watching RocketBoy scream at Scout for messing up his “RocketBoy loves Scout” drawing.

Ryan is fighting with Scout for control of the compusknlclseaf

The Week Alone

Last week I set a number of tasks for myself whilst the family was vacationing in New Jersey. Now comes the time to check my work:

1. Regrout and seal the kitchen tile.

Done. Done and done. Yup. All done. May I never feel the need to tile anything ever again.

2. Fix the hall toilet.

Found the part I needed, didn’t need to replace the whole thing. Yet.

3. Buy a bow and arrow, finish creating the rope swing.

Did you know that the Sports Authority here in NorthEast Atlanta doesn’t carry bows and arrows? True story. I ordered a set online, but it hasn’t arrived just yet.

But I did buy a heavy bolt at Lowe’s, and who’d a thunk but it turns out I can throw a heavy bolt up 40 feet and hit a two fit diameter target area. It only took me two hours. I actually did it twice, but the first time the string I was using broke when hauling up the actual rope swing rope. The second time I just left the string there until I could get some medium-weight cord to haul up as an intermediate stage to the actual rope. And then I need to do it all again on a second tree. The end result is that rope will hang out at a 45 degree angle from each tree and meet in the center, and then hang straight down from there, forming a “Y”. A “Y” using about 80 feet of 1″ manila rope.

An observation on how the mind works: I spent the first hour wildly missing the target area until I took a second to visualize the bolt going over the branch the right way. The next two throws were very accurate, the second one hitting the mark. I felt like Lightning McQueen, chanting I Am Speed to himself.

4. Finish chainsawing up the fallen tree, and haul away.

Done. I estimate this tree was about 50 feet, comparing it to my measurements of the rope swing tree1. It took about 3 hours to finish sawing it into manageable size logs and branches and moving the pieces into the woods or the firewood pile. I declare I have never sweat so much, ever, except when I worked in the insulation warehouse that one summer. The insulation warehouse was itchier work, but I didn’t have to pull a tick off my leg at the end of the day, so… pros and cons.

So, 3.25 out of 4 not bad.

I also did a deep cleaning of the refrigerator, pulling out all the shelves for scrubbing and discarding anything that wasn’t recognizable or appetizing. Anyone have a guess as to how many bottles of mostly-full salad dressing we have in there?2

Every scrap of dirty clothes were cleaned and put away, and Scout’s dressers purged of too-small or out-of-season clothes.

I watched the first few episodes of Weeds, Season 1 via Netflix Instant Viewing. Funny.

A good week, but I have to admit I did not find as much joy in being on my own as I expected. I was awfully glad to see the gang when they got back.

Also, through no act of negligence on my part, one of the goldfish died. I replaced it with a identical fish. RocketBoy, if you’re reading this some years in the future, I apologize for deceiving you, but really, you’ve already spent more time contemplating mortality at age 5 than I would prefer you to.

Also, I didn’t want the nickname fishkiller.

1 When planning the rope swing, I used some sticks, paper and trigonometry to estimate the height of the target branch of each tree at about 42 feet. Using markings on the string I threw over, it showed almost exactly 40 feet. Let’s hear it for MATH. Who says you don’t use that stuff in real life?
2 Nine. 3 Italian, 2 balsamic vinegar. Three additional bottles mostly empty.

Grout & Peanut Butter

I am alone in the house this week. Which hasn’t happened… well, maybe ever in this house.

Friday night, RocketBoy had his friend J_ over while J_’s parents, steakums, my MIL and niece all went to see the opening at Georgia Shakespeare. So, I managed two 5 year olds, a 2 year old and a very excited dog for the evening. Everyone survived.