Monday, May 29, 2006

Step one is (not) optional

(Wise quote from Jess's uncle: "If you're going to be a home-owner, you better get comfortable with killing things.")

Based on personal experience, here is how best to remove an infestation of gypsy moth caterpillars. There are several things you must have at your disposal, first:
  • A large pruning instrument, for removing branches of trees where the caterpillars have made their tents.
  • Materials for building a small fire. Kindling-level is fine here.
  • A fire accelerant will be handy.
  • Something to start the fire.
  • Obviously you must locate your caterpillar tents.
Now, the actual methodology:
  1. (This step is optional [not really].) Build a small fire. Leave kindling to catch.
  2. Go forth and prune your trees, gathering the afflicted tree limbs.
  3. (This is step is optional) Spray nests with fire accelerant (WD-40 works).
  4. Place limbs over fire so that nests catch and burn caterpillars.
I can't say what comes after that, because we skipped step one. Our method was more like this:
  1. Go forth and prune your trees, gathering the afflicted tree limbs.
  2. Place cardboard under tree limbs.
  3. Light cardboard on fire.
  4. Add accelerant after realizing fire is taking forever to start.
  5. Caterpillars realize things are heating up, crawl out of nests by the hundreds, and take off running.
  6. You alternate crushing the fleeing caterpillars with your feet and spraying the whole scene with WD-40 to help the fire spread and do its work.
  7. Disgusted, nauseated, and perhaps a little scorched, you hose down the impacted area.
  8. You scuff the caterpillar guts off your shoes later.
So, the moral of the story? The fire better be hot enough to kill those bastards before they have a chance to notice it, or a simple sweep and clear becomes a total clusterfuck.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Happy Anniversary

So, tomorrow Jessica and I celebrate 12 years together.

Don't worry, I'm not going to jump off of a balcony.

In fact, we're playing it pretty low key this year. Yesterday we ran some errands, did some shopping, and had separate evenings (Jess had a mini class reunion from her collge friends; I ran Scarlet Strat in WoW). Today we went out for breakfast, and took a leisurely drive down route 9 to Easthampton (via Amherst, Hadley, Northampton). We drove down the streets we used to live on, cruised through our high school parking lot, and looked up at the mountain where I proposed to her.

Not bad, if I do say so myself.

Then we hit a graduation party for her cousin Sara, who just finished at Westfield State and is hoping to start teaching soon. It was nice, as always, to see family. It helped that the weather cooperated, as baking in the sun made even Bud Light taste refreshing (notice I didn't say good).

We're getting old, you know.

I've been a part of Jess's family for much longer than we've been married. I was a near-permanent fixture at their family events back when I was in high school, hanging around with Jess's brother Steve. So I've literally seen these kids go from toddlers to high school graduates and beyond.

And somewhere in New Hampshire, a young cousin of mine, related to me by blood, is graduating high school this year. We're invited to his party, though I haven't seen him since ... well, let's be generous and say 7 years. Could be ten.

And I probably won't go. Because while Jess's family may be kooky, they're a family. They fight, but they love.

My family is nothing like that. My aunts haven't spoken to my grandparents in years. Every single time they meet it's a major dramatic production. If we go to this party, we'll be spending time with all three of them (my mother and her two sisters) at the same time.

I don't know if I can handle that much of my family. The one I was born into.

It's really not a happy thing to think about.

So instead I'll focus on the positive. Twelve years of building my own family, with someone who no matter how different we are, is perfect for me. And through some magical coincidence, I'm perfect for her too.

Works for me. Happy Anniversary, Dave & Jess....

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

This place sure has gone downhill

I mean, come on, Dave.

Your profile picture is now a broken URL. You haven't posted in two months. You can practically see the dust bunnies. And six months ago you were seriously thinking of buying a domain name because you were blogging regularly enough that you felt comfortable having a more permanent home for the content.

So what gives?

I don't know. For a few weeks, I loaded up this page every day and stared at it trying to decide what to write about. And then I stopped altogether. I haven't even missed it.

But three things happened to change that.

First, an online friend of mine offered me some workplace advice, based on her own experiences in a situation similar to one I find myself in. On a whim, I went to read her blog and it was really a cool experience -- just reading stupid random stuff about playing hockey and dancing and the trials and tribulations of work and all that. I realized that I missed having an outlet for talking about that stuff.

The second thing is that my buddy Clint said, "Hey, it's been two months." So, yeah, fine.

The third is that I just got back from JavaOne, where everyone talks about how we're in the middle of this revolution from the Information Age into the Participation Age, and how everybody's a publisher of content now. And I'm thinking, yeah, I dig that idea. In fact, I publish content ... like every two months. Shit.

So, there you have it. A rebirth of blogging.

So what's going on in my life? What's the context for future postings which I'll try to make more regularly?
  • After treating my body like shit for almost a year, I'm finally realizing that I can't keep it up. I've started working out again, from square one, because I've come to peace with the fact that I've lost most of the fitness I gained in the last push. After only a couple weeks of it, I've started to realize how much I miss it, and I'm a little bit depressed at how far I let myself go.
  • My World of Warcraft guild is going through some very tough times, after withdrawing from a raiding alliance due to conflict of vision. Things are very bumpy and we're not sure what the future holds.
  • Our home continues to improve. Jessica has spent significant chunks of time working on the outdoors, setting up little flower gardens and whatnot and watering them faithfully. We've finally bought and used a lawnmower. We're looking at carpet and flooring options.
  • Things are changing at work. I'll write more once things have been announced to my team (on the off chance someone from work stumbles onto this), but I'm likely to be changing responsibilities fairly soon.
  • Our 12-year anniversary is coming up and for the first time we're not traveling anywhere to celebrate. Just day trips.
  • Wedding season is coming up -- got a bachelor party to go to soon, and another to plan before autumn.
  • My mother is alive and well and living in her own apartment, and coming to grips not just with her health issues but also financial ones.
I'm sure there's more, but that's a quick update. I promise to come back, if for nothing else than to gripe about how hard it is to start focusing on fitness again after months and months of ignoring it....