Category Archives: Home

I noticed a few days ago that the remote to the TV went missing. Also missing, was one of the PC remotes for the TV PC. It’s not uncommon for things to go missing in the somewhat messy living room, but I was surprised when after I cleaned the room up both were still missing. I have another PC remote, so that wasn’t a big deal. The regular TV remote, though, that stung. especially since I was planning to subscribe to Netflix and wanted to use some of the features of the Smart TV. I do have a couple apps on my phone, but they’re kind of a pain for anything involved. Which using the Smart TV is.

Knowing that one can never have too many remotes, I went ahead and ordered one from Samsung. It was set to arrive on MLK Day because Amazon doesn’t give a crap what days the Postal Service considers holidays it just wants them to get it done. Unfortunately, whoever delivers on off-days won’t deliver to our house, meaning that it was stranded at the post office.

I made due with the app on my phone. But I did resolve to get the living room in working order. And so I did. While vacuuming the sofa, I discovered there was a hole in the lining somewhere. And at the bottom I felt a couple lumpy things that felt an awful lot like remote controls. The sofa had really eaten them. I ended up putting the sofa on its side, which Lain thought was the coolest thing ever.


“I’m in a cave!”
“I like it better this way. Is this a cave? I’ve never seen a cave before!”

She also set up the cushions and a couple other things and hopped back and forth across the room (after the sofa was put back upright) and told me how she was “crossing the river.”

Lain, as I think I’ve mentioned, doesn’t walk much.

Her talking about the cave and the river made my day. Moreso than finding the remotes. And five books. And some keys to something.

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Seattle is cracking down on greedy landlords:

After many months of process, the Seattle City Council voted 8-0 to restrict move-in fees imposed on tenants, and give renters more options in how they choose to pay these and other costs associated with moving.

The legislation is part of what Councilmember Kshama Sawant has called a “Tenants Bill of Rights” — a methodical unveiling of renter-friendly laws that, when taken together, can be viewed as a complete package.

Sawant introduced the legislation last summer with the Washington Community Action Network, a local advocacy organization. It takes several unprecedented steps. For one, it restricts the security deposit and non-refundable fees — often labeled as cleaning fees — to one month’s rent. Second, it will allow tenants to pay the security deposit as well as last month’s rent in installments.

What’s interesting to me about this battery of regulations is how it runs almost the opposite of the problems I’ve seen with dubious landlords back in Colosse. Back there, it was never really an issue about what they would do to you when you moved in, but rather what they would do once they had you. After you’d moved in.

A long time ago I was chatting with a newly-wed friend from Canada who was apartment hunting. He was frustrated because they couldn’t find a good place. Worse yet, the places he did find wanted a six month or year-long lease. I wasn’t quite sure the issue when he said that, though. Was he looking for something longer? No, he was aghast at the notion of signing a lease. Only unscrupulous landlords in Toronto did things like that. If their apartment was good, then why would they want to lock you in?

This was the opposite of my view, to a degree. We always wanted a lease because a lease locked in the rent. As long as you were on that lease, they couldn’t raise it on you. And after that, it was often open season. And that, rather than the things Seattle is seeking to regulate, was always the issue. They would have low introductory rents, often with the first month free or 30% off the first three months and whatnot. The goal to get you to move your stuff in. Then, once you’d moved your stuff in, they would often had some formula explaining how much they could gouge you for to line their pocketbooks without tipping you towards moving.

Rent going up after the end of the lease was norm, even if rents for new tenants was holding steady and introductory offers were getting better. So the very things that Seattle seeks to combat, gouging them at the move-in, was really a non-starter. If I’d wanted to regulate the Colosse market, it would combat the opposite thing as Seattle.

Which makes sense, to a degree, because of the different markets. The Seattle rental market is pretty tight and therefore being able to find a place at all can be a challenge. That, in turn, gives landlords an awful lot of leverage. Meanwhile, in Colosse, expansion occurs in all directions and there is not shortage of places. So to get you to notice them, they need to have big signs saying “First month free!” or something of the like. The only time they do have leverage over you is once you’re moving there. So that’s when they turn the screws to subsidize the people that just moved in.

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Category: Home

Sitting in the Linky Friday queue is this item:

The Christian Science Monitor has a good article on grandparents raising the children of their opioid-addicted children. My wife runs into this a lot.

As it happens, this has hit a bit closer to home than that.

My brother Oliver has a new daughter. Tentatively. They have apparently applied for and gotten custody of his niece, Nora. They are hoping to make it permanent. Oliver’s brother-in-law in apparently (back) in jail, and the baby’s mother has a rather serious drug problem. His mother-in-law might take Nora in, but has her hands full with another grandchild.

Nora’s mother is expected to contest the adoption. She’s lost Nora a couple of times, but gotten her back each time. This time the judge said that either the kid was going home with Oliver and Kelsey or was going into foster care. She actually had to think about it, apparently, before agreeing to keep Nora in the family. (I don’t know the timeline, but my impression is that they did not apply for the adoption until after this).

We haven’t inquired too much into whether the problem was neglect or abuse. All that was said was that she was “treating Nora badly.” Kelsey approached Oliver about adoption and he was completely on board with it. They’d only planned for two kids (which they presently have), but family duty and a quickly-obtained love for the child added a third.

It’s a pretty sad situation, though Nora is cute as a button and is apparently getting used to the new arrangement.

So, basically, drug addiction sucks. Sometimes I’m glad the CPS gets involved. I’m happy for Oliver, Kelsey, and especially Nora.

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One of Lain’s favorite words is, unsurprisingly, the word “No.” Which is typically, but it’s really her favorite word, above and beyond what is typical. At some point, it’s like she learned that she could engage in a conversation simply by putting the word “No” in front of whatever we said. Sometimes, this works like you might expect.

“Are you ready for a bath?”

“NO bath!”

Which sounds like defiance, though when I would go upstairs and start the water, she would rush upstairs because a path sounded good to her. I would say that she didn’t know what the word “no” meant, but she does and she uses it in context as well. She just likes saying no. Sometimes I call her “Our little contrarian.”

To which she responds, “NOT your littew contwawian!”

It was a big deal when she finally uttered the magic word. “Yes.” Never has a new word been more welcome! Now when she does want something, she will say it reliably. When she wants to be difficult, or doesn’t care, doesn’t want something, or just wants to make conversation, it’s “No” or “Not.”

This is where her having multiple names is inconvenient. It was a bit of a problem early on because she was slow responding to her name. She goes by Lain foremost. Her full name is Helena or Helena Mary. Sometimes we call her “Helly.”

She’s used this to her conversational advantage.

“It’s Lain!”

“Not Lain. Just Helena.”

“It’s Helena!”

“Not Helena. I’m just Helly.”

“It’s Helly!”

“Not Helly. I’m just Lain!”

And on and on.

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A couple quick anecdotes:

The other day, there was a bug sitting next to me on the sofa. I swatted it and immediate regretted having done so. I don’t know what kind of bug it was, but it was a big with a bite. More specifically, it got its final revenge with a sting. Hurt like crap, but only for a little bit.

I didn’t think about it again until about 24 hours later, when I found my index finger itching like the dickens. It wasn’t until I looked down and saw that the finger had grown to be twice the size of my thumb. It took me a few minutes to make the connection to the bug I swatted. I still don’t know if that was responsible, but it seems like it was.

The weird thing about the itch is how I just couldn’t scratch it. Like I could scrape my fingernail on it, but I wouldn’t get the satisfaction I might get with a chigger bite or even dry skin. It was just… numb. It’s hard to explain precisely how annoying that is. I contacted Clancy to ask if I had anything to worry about, and she said not. Sure enough, after a day or two it went away.

The second thing involved a bug that was flying around the door in the downstairs at a point when I was trying to get in. It was like the thing was on crack, just going everywhere. The dang thing flew down my shirt!  I knew if it got inside it would drive me crazy. So I basically just stood there outside waiting for it to… I don’t know, do something. Go away or something.

That was when Lisby earned her keep. It flew down by her and she ate it.

The night after that, Lisby inexplicably woke me up at 4am to go outside. I took her out, she peed, and I came back in and went back to bed. I hadn’t even gotten back to sleep when I could hear her making the Conspicuous Sitting noise that she makes. I ignored it until she started whining. Grumbling, I took her out.

She proceeded to get a drink of water from the plastic pond.


Since she ate that bug for me the day before, she gets a freebie. That was it. (She did, after about ten minutes of slurping, poop.

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Earlier this week, Clancy and I got a wedding gift from her grandfather. We were married more than ten years ago, and he’s been dead for ten years. Right around the same time, not coincidentally.

Her grandfather was not able to attend the wedding, due to his declining health. I never met the man. His relationship with his kids was troubled, but he tried not to let that interfere with his relationship with his grandkids. So we got a wedding gift, and he let it be known that he wanted the airfare of his grandkids’ trip to his funeral covered. Clancy couldn’t go because she was a medical resident and didn’t have the time off, but the other two went.

In any event, a week after the wedding, he died. Immediately afterwards, Clancy’s uncle put a stop payment on all checks. What followed was ten year lawsuit the likes of which I have never seen. There were basically two wills, and my father-in-law sought to invalidate the latter one on account of undue influence. Uncle Rick is something of a strange bird, possessing both a law degree and a medical degree and being flat-out broke teaching business classes (did I mention he has an MBA?) at a community college in Colosse. It takes a very strange bird to manage to do so little with so much.

To say that the lawsuit was contentious would be an understatement. There was a point at which it was being discussed that I would fly down there to deliver a subpoena to him. The sheriff’s department didn’t do subpoena work for civil cases. There were private servers, but it was apparently standard practice to try a couple of times and if no success then simply give it back and move on to the next one. While being a process server in Deltona is not difficult, the laws for service are pretty rigid (no misrepresentation, no trespass, etc), so it wasn’t worth their time to try too hard. Since her uncle didn’t know what I looked like, and I could be persistent, maybe I could go down there and deliver it to him. It turned out to be unnecessary, but that was where things were about four years ago.

The whole thing ended up costing all parties involved more than the estate was worth. I didn’t realize how much it was costing until it was settled and suddenly the Himmelreich’s were spending money like drunk sailers. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it was definitely a change. Which made sense when I thought about it. He had a generous state pension, but the court costs were both creating a drag and created a degree of financial uncertainty.

Late last year, the case was settled in my father-in-law’s favor. It became apparent about five years ago that he would win, but Rick continued to foot-drag. Since then, my father-in-law has been executing the will. Undoubtedly, the most enjoyable part of which has been things like making sure that we get our wedding gift and her sisters get reimbursed for flying down for the funeral.

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My father-in-law has some false memories. At least once a visit, he mentions having changed his share of diapers. The only problem is that… it isn’t true. In fact, Clancy’s mother can’t remember him once having done so. Which doesn’t mean that he never took part in the changing of a diaper, but probably means that he never actually changed one. The first couple diapers are the hardest ones, and if you don’t know what to do and your spouse does, you get help! And if his wife did help him, she would likely remember that.

I find his need to have created this memory to be an interesting thing. Perhaps it’s related to a need of having taken a larger parental role than he did. He was a division-of-labor person, though, which meant that he viewed his job as bringing home the paycheck and his wife’s job as taking care of the childrearing. Which was not an uncommon deal at the time, and is not an unfair deal, but that was the deal and it did not involve him changing diapers, bathing the kids, or anything of that sort. It involved disciplining and helping with homework, for the most part, as well as playing with them and going to organized events as time permitted.

If my father changed diapers, he never mentions it. I wouldn’t be surprised if he did, but it was not a part of their division of labor. What he did do, though, was give us baths. When this started, Mom was a bit taken aback because she figured that would be something that she would do. It hadn’t been discussed, but apparently Dad did it because his father did it for him. So naturally, that fell in the Dad realm. There are also logistical reasons also why it does make sense. Basically, for the same reason that Clancy more often than not reads Lain her bed-time stories. Since she misses out during the day, it’s a chance for some concentrated quality time. In a break with the Truman tradition, I do the bathing. Often because I’m getting started while Clancy is settling in arriving home after a long day at work.

Acculturated has a couple of pieces, one by Jonathan Last and another by Ashley McGuire, on Ashton Kutcher’s desire that men’s restrooms should have changing tables.

Honestly, it’s not really a problem I’ve had. Or perhaps I simply take for granted that men’s restrooms won’t all have changing tables. I figure, perhaps wrongly, that’s true more generally. When I don’t see one, it’s usually because it’s a small bathroom. Or, at least, I don’t see a good place where one should go and yet is not there. There could be an issue with the original layout of men’s and women’s restrooms where the latter are larger and therefore are more likely to have the space to begin with. That would be a grandfathering problem. Either way, experience is kind of built in.

I change Lain’s diaper around 99% of the time, even when Clancy is around to do so. I’ve become quite the expert at doing so quickly. Lain also seems to put up less resistance when I do it, for whatever reason. Last writes:

Fathers run the gamut in terms of what duties they assume. My wife and I don’t keep score, but I do a lot of diaper changing. Because we’re all hostage to our own experiences, I assumed this was the norm. Then a few years ago I found out that one of my friends does zero diapers. As in: None. Through two kids. This arrangement seemed freakish and weird to me, but his wife doesn’t mind and his kids turned out great and they’re a happy, wonderful family.

By the same token, I always assumed that husbands and wives fight through the midnight feedings and sleep training wars side-by-side. But then another buddy of mine admitted that every time his wife had a kid, she and the baby would spend the first several weeks in the in-law suite in their basement. This way he could stay upstairs in their bedroom and get enough sleep to handle the other kids and his day job. When he first told me about this arrangement, I was kind of gob-smacked. I didn’t think marriage could work like that. But some of them do. And they can work really well. (When I joked with him about his wife’s omni-competence, he deadpanned: “She’s like a Terminator sent back in time from the future. And I’m just hoping her mission is for the good.”)

When Lain was tiny, Clancy did almost everything. Which sounds great, but it strained her and left me feeling pretty bad considering she had to get up and go to work in the morning and I did not. I offered pretty regularly to help her, the logistics of it all were that it made more sense for her to do most of the tasks. A lot of them involved her boobs, which give milk in a way that mine do not.

It also had to do with how we were raised. Women, it really seems, are raised to be childrearers in all sorts of subtle ways that men are not. While I had to tendency to assume that her knowledge of the intricacies of taking care of a little one involved her medical training, she has assured me repeatedly that they do not and it’s just stuff she has picked up over the years. Guys don’t especially talk about these things even in passing. So even the things that did not involve boobs, I just hadn’t the slightest clue how to do. And no matter how we handled our domestic arrangement, there are just instinctual or conditioned assumptions about who will do what. They’re hard to unravel.

Over time this faded by necessity and I simply had to start doing more because I was around and she wasn’t. I have the added benefit of having a poor sense of smell, thus making diaper-changing (for instance) a comparatively Trumwill-friendly activity.

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{This post is a modified version of an OT post. Here, I’ve cut down the portions that appeared here previously.}

The Day Before

Lain has speech therapy on Thursdays, and so we go to the elementary school that morning. Some kids are trying to taunt admin about the schools being closed on Friday. The office folks say the kids are dreaming.

That night we get an automated call. School is canceled for Friday the 22nd.

Grade Schoolers 1, School Administrators 0

Day of Impact


The Second Day

No word from Jules. It isn’t a storm in the sense that you might think about, but the snow keeps coming down with a very impressive consistency. (more…)

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On Thursday I went to the school for Lain’s speech therapy. While there, some kids were debating with an office administrator over whether or not there would be school on Friday. The kids were saying that they were totally going to have a snow day. The office administratos said nope they would be showing up to go to school.

Grade School Students 1, Grown-Up Office Administrators 0

Local speak for "Fewer people in this line."

Local speak for “Fewer people in this line.”

Clancy was the one who ended up doing the pre-snow shopping, mostly because she was already going to be doing the shopping. It was… as you might have figured. Even before the Washington Post explained that people inordinately seek out junk on such occasions, Clancy reported that only the healthy stuff was left on shelves. Some of that is the general phenomenon, but some of that is where we live. There is a helpful sign above the line with the fewest people waiting in it.

One downside to shopping in a store that has been picked clean is that you’re disproportionately likely to get rotten stuff. Turned out the coffee cream Clancy got was bad. We discovered it in the nick of time before I had any. I’d notice when I poured it that it’s composure was… odd. I assumed it had something to do with freezing at some point in the process. Clancy confirmed through a little taste that it felt bad. But I don’t think I’d had any.

How would you like to be the product manager for that last loaf of bread. When a snow storm is coming, and everybody is looking for something and… oh, god, not that. That seems like an “It’s back to the drawing board” moment.

The snow started falling right on schedule. It was supposed to start falling at about one, and there was no snow at 12:45 and it was snowing at about 1:10. That’s… pretty ridiculously precise.

I had planned to do a series of Hit Coffee Mug Shots, with the mug in the same place as the snow accumulated. I wasn’t sure exactly how I would handle it on the site, but it seemed like an interesting concept. Then the weirdest thing happened…

At around 12:45 I was outside vaping and drinking coffee. Suddenly, I wasn’t interested in vaping anymore. Just as suddenly, I didn’t need coffee anymore. I needed to just… go inside, or something. Then I needed to go to the bathroom. Then I needed to vomit in the toilet. Then I needed to collapse and lay there next to the toilet for a little while. If you’ve ever had a “motorized vomit” (where not only stuff comes out, but your body is aggressively sending it up), you know it takes a surprising toll on the body (well, it’s not surprising because you know, but anyway…). But I just laid there, in the bathroom, by the toilet for maybe fifteen minutes.

I did eventually get up and moving again. Still not feeling well, but… sigh… I had to do some chores. That involved going down to the mailbox (expecting some ejuice, which shouldn’t be left in freezing weather) and also throwing some salt on the extensive and steep drive way. I get out and the snowing had begun (which is where the 12:45 and 1:10 comes from). That is unpleasant under regular circumstances, but moreso when my body still feels like it’s going to crumble.

It’s really kind of weird how I can go from feeling perfectly fine, to perfectly sick, and then… a couple hours later I was perfectly fine again. Hungry, even. Still don’t know what the heck that was all about. Clancy had some of the rotten cream, too, and didn’t suffer from any of the adverse effects, so it’s not clear that’s to blame. Especially since I don’t think I had any.

By the time all of this was done, there was so much snow on the ground that the Hit Coffee Mug project was ruined. As well as my appetite for coffee.

Somebody, though, thinks it’s a gas:


No school tomorrow, either. Grade School Kids 2, Grown Up Administrators 0

No word yet from the plow guy. Didn’t take my call. I can only imagine how busy he is. So a shoveling I have been.

The good news is that if I slip and fall, I’m not falling far (this time):



I have no idea how I am going to get Clancy out of here for work on Tuesday.

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Greetings from Stonebridge a fictitious city in a fictitious state located in a tri-state area in the interior Mid-Atlantic region. We're in western Queenland, which is really a state unto itself, and not to be confused with Queensland in Australia.

Nothing written on this site should be taken as strictly true, though if the author were making it all up rest assured the main character and his life would be a lot less unremarkable.

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