Category Archives: Home

Most months, we don’t really run low on our data plan. We’ve had maybe two months or the last twelve where I’ve had to say “We need to cool it” for the final week.

It’s going to take something Herculean this month to avoid going over, because everything converged into a single billing period.

The first thing that happened was a stupid error on my part. I was downloading Wikipedia when I left to drop Lain off at preschool. The result was that on the very first day of the plan, we lost 20% of our usage for the month. Last month – one of the two where we had to cool it – we ended at 9%. So right off the bat, there were going to need to be some adjustments. The second thing is that we had a storm and it took out our Internet, and made it more unreliable than usual. Actually, for about 48 hours it was deader than dead. Then it was extremely unreliable to where I could do emails and Twitter but that was about it. Now, a good portion of our data usage in general is compensating for our unreliable home connection. So when we need to “cool it” we usually just accept the unreliability. But you can’t do that when it’s out entirely, or nearly so. Oh, and Monday was Procrastinators’ Tax Day, and we procrastinated. The Internet should be working again at the end of the week, but then the last one is that I agreed to help Decision Desk HQ with vote totals in a nearby county for the Virginia gubernatorial race. And, of course, I’ll be using my own data. That’s on 11/7, which is the second to last day of the billing period.

All of this is screaming for us to go with an Unlimited Plan, but money is kind of tight right now and we just can’t justify the price hop. We’re on the highest data plan otherwise.

The phone companies are working on the rollout of 5G. I’d rather they work on the bandwidth of existing networks so that using data is less expensive.

Category: Home

My efforts to quit vaping came to the do-or-die phase at a pretty bad time. Basically, right when Clancy was resigning. That was leaving me in a pretty bad place because it was high-stress and I had no coping mechanism. It wasn’t through sheer grit that I didn’t turn to vaping, but rather where I was in the Welbutrin cycle. Long story short, I could vape all I wanted, but my nicotine receptors were scrambled and it wouldn’t do any good. I still vaped, but the whole puffing-to-no-effect was causing its own anxiety. So I basically had to make the decision whether to stop taking the Welbutrin or stop vaping. I just couldn’t keep doing both.

I decided to stop vaping. The first thing I did was order a Nintendo Wii U. Back before I smoked, playing basketball outside was the way that I found my zen and organized my thoughts. Due to the peculiarities of the house, I couldn’t set up a hoop here. Nor was there space for my backup plan, a pool table. But I had been circling the Wii for a while because it has some indoor activity stuff that could serve the same purpose.

Until I started taking it again, I’d forgotten one of the primary effects of Welburtin is that it reduces the need for sleep. I need about six hours a night usually and Welbutrin makes it so that I have trouble even getting that much. It’s an effect that subsides with time, but it takes a while. In this case, it leaves me with ever-more time to be awake and not vaping. At a time when I desperately want time to pass to that I can get over the hump, there are suddenly more hours in the day.

It was, it turned out, remarkably successful. Instead of vaping, I’d play one of the games from the Sports Resort package. I ended up doing a lot of it, in fact. So much so that with each progressive day, my muscles were more and more tired. Not in a bad way, though! I could just feel it. On the fourth day, the Wii Fit package arrived. For those who don’t know, the Wii Fit is the exercise program. It’s more physically intensive than sports.

I got the fit to help distract me from the vaping. Which it did. Just not at all in the way that I had imagined.

I had been playing Wii Fit for about 90 minutes when I jerked my back something fierce. It wasn’t too bad at first, but it kept getting worse. And worse. And worse.

When your back hurts, your body generally compensates by using other muscles. Which is all very well and good… unless all of your other muscles are three days into utter exhaustion. Then your legs and arms simply don’t have the energy to compensate. It then throws more burden to the back, which then spasms. And round and round it goes.

The second day was pure agony. I cannot remember the last time I felt so much pain. Clancy could not remember ever seeing me in that much pain. I was in a place where I was slouched on the sofa and I literally could not move enough to either sit up on it or lay down on it. Clancy tried to move my legs for me and that was even worse. And with each spasm, the muscles would tighten more, which lead to more spasms and more muscle tightening in a really vicious cycle.

Among the few things that helped was showering. So once I was able to get up and move around – which did happen eventually – I went into the shower. Clancy literally had to help me get dressed afterwards.

Now, the Himmelreich-Truman household is actually a drug den. Clancy gets medications for various things and she fills them whether she has to use them or not. The same is true of me. The Welbutrin I’d been taken was prescribed in 2010. So when something like this happens, we have options. This was especially true since the medicine cabinet was thrown at her when she busted her kneecap. She asked if I wanted to take some muscle relaxers. I asked if they were addictive and she replied that they weren’t but that she never took them because they made her feel loopy and dull.

I said that I wanted all of the muscle relaxers in the universe.

I came close to actually taking the Vicodin, which is addictive. I was in that much pain. It didn’t quite reach that point. Things did gradually start getting better, slowly. It was two steps forward and one step back. I put myself and my daughter at risk trying to drive her to preschool when my back was not in good enough shape that I could sit freely in the car seat (I basically used one of my two arms to prop me up). That was a step back. But showering twice a day and taking the drugs would represent a couple steps forward.

It’s been almost a week now since that happened. The nice Wii that I bought has barely seen any use as new games that I ordered before the injury started arriving. The biggest lag has really been that I have nowhere to distribute the weight, too. My arms are better, but my legs are still really sore. My back is almost better, though the legs keep pushing weight in that direction. The biggest bullet dodged was that throughout this entire thing, I never needed to use the can for serious business. That felt like a ticking timebomb about to go off because pushing excrement through requires pushing some of the same muscles that were spasming. Somehow – probably related to the diet – I went four days or so without needing to go.

I eventually had to stop taking the Welbutrin because I wanted to keep waking hours to as much of a minimum as I could. And vaping wasn’t really on my mind. Which turned out to be a real upshot because the big thing that I was trying not to do was really kept out of a mind that was crowded with physical pain and preoccupation.It has really only started to hit me the last couple of days that I have been well enough to go back to it (but not wanting to). At this point, it’s a longer trip to go back and restart the habit than it is to plow forward.

One last side effect of all of this is that it has forced Lain into greater independence. As a matter of routine, I carry her to the car and from the car into the church for preschool. But since I couldn’t, I forced her to walk. She, in turn, has taken to asserting her independence more and more. When Clancy busted her kneecap, Lain was really quite scared of her. She’s a little bit older now, though, and seems to have adapted to my malady well. She was even fetching my cane while I was needing it.

As things presently stand, my back is in pretty good shape but my legs are as sore as they’ve been in a long time.

So, none of this has gone as I had planned, but it does seem to have gotten me over the hump. It has even helped with the diet as going to the kitchen and getting something to eat was suddenly an ordeal. My calorie intake dropped from 1800 to 1500 or so and I was in too much pain to be hungry.

There is no grand lesson here, other than that if you have an MD wife telling you to take it easy with the active video games, you should probably listen to her.

Unless you’re desperate to kick a habit.

Category: 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.

Category: Home

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.

Category: Home





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.

Category: Home


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.

Category: Home

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.

Category: Home

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.

Category: Home

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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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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