Friday, March 30, 2007

Kwazimoto and the demon

Kwazimoto quietly watched the human who looked more like he belonged on the piers of Booty Bay than wandering around the lava pools of the Burning Steppes.

"Franklin the Friendly, huh?" said Kwazimoto to himself. "If you're so friendly, why do you smell like a demon?"

A few days earlier Kwazi had carefully approached Franklin and engaged him in conversation.

"Lava?" said Franklin. "Pay no mind to all of that, friend. Look around you. Take in the joys that nature has to offer."

"Er...ok," Kwazi replied, as the hairs on the back of his neck stood up.

Franklin looked down at Kwazi, smiling affably, but every one of Kwazi’s Hunter instincts was screaming at him that this was not someone to trifle with. Rex, Kwazi's Tiger companion from Durotar's Echo Isles, had begun growling at Franklin as soon as they'd approached. Kwazi had placed his arm over the Tiger's neck but that had only lowered the volume of the big cat's growl, not stopped it completely. In fact Rex didn't stop growling until long after they'd left Franklin, still smiling and looking after them as he stood among the lava pools...and Wyrmkin...and other beasties, which all gave him a wide, respectable berth, as if they too knew that Franklin was more than just a mere man.

Kwazimoto had returned to Lakeshire, got Rex settled in with Penny at the Inn and then had Verner Osgood check over his armor and equipment.

"Everything is in excellent shape, Kwazi," Verner had said to the Dwarf when he'd picked up his armor. "Why, you could probably take on a demon single-handed with nary a scratch to show for it!"

Verner had been chuckling at his own joke until Kwazi growled, "Good, because I'm about to do just that."

Only then had Verner looked around and noticed that Rex, who had a habit of not being there unless you really looked for him, really wasn't there.

"You're heading north?" he'd asked Kwazi, already knowing the answer. "You're after Klinfran?" Kwazi just nodded as he buckled on his mithril vest. Very serious now, Verner sought to reassure his old friend, "your armor really is in great condition, you know. And the action on your rifle is working as smooth as silk. Your gear will not let you down."

"Aye, Kwazi replied, "and that's how it should be. This is a test of my abilities, not my gear." And being a dwarf of little words he'd said nothing more as he mounted up and rode away than "Be seein' ya."

Leaving his Ram at Morgan's Vigil Kwazi had trekked across the Burning Steppes to Blackrock Mountain, and there, just south of the imposing monolith, he again found "Franklin the Friendly", wandering among the lava pools, Wyrmkin and giant spiders.

Kwazi watched and waited and when "Franklin" was more on his own and the nearby beasties were not so close he began his approach. Kwazi prided himself on his stalking skills, and he was positive he'd dislodged not even the smallest pebble, yet Franklin still turned to face him as if he'd known the Hunter was there all along. Despite the heat from the surrounding lava pools, under Franklin's gaze Kwazi's blood ran cold and he knew his instincts had not let him down.

"Greetings, friend. Lovely weather we're having," said Franklin.

"Can it, demon! I know who you are!" growled Kwazi, then he quickly backed away as Franklin's face darkened then began to change, along with the rest of his body.

With a roar that echoed off the surrounding mountains Klinfran the Crazed tore away his human disguise, revealing his demonic self to the Dwarf that had so brashly challenged him, who promptly shot him in the face. The demon was stunned for several seconds and this gave Kwazimoto all the time he needed, to turn and run.

And the words of Kwazi's mentor came back to him in a rush, far faster than he could have recalled them while sitting down over a pint.

"The Hunter does not use strength of arm to win the battle, he uses his mind.
The Hunter picks the site of battle, and if he cannot, he picks the time.
The Hunter who makes his opponent fight the Hunter's fight will always win, regardless of strength of arm.
The Hunter uses his speed and agility to wear down a stronger, more heavily armored foe.
Just as there is no dishonor for the Rogue to attack from behind, with devastating blows that stun and immobilize his opponent, so too there is no dishonor for the Hunter to attack from a distance and never give his opponent the chance to strike back."

Kwazimoto knew of Klinfran's reputation and his extreme hatred for Hunters, especially those seeking to test themselves against him. "But do we seek to battle Klinfran because he hates Hunters?" Kwazi thought to himself. "Or does he hate Hunters because we repeatedly banish him to his home plane?"

But those questions were irrelevant at this point in time and best pondered, like his mentor's teachings, over a pint of Thunder Ale at the Kharanos Inn with his good friend Jarven.

Knowing he'd gained some ground on the demon, but also fully aware of its unnatural speed and strength, Kwazi stopped for a second. Spinning around he shouldered his rifle and took aim. For anyone else such a shot would be impossible. Kwazi had just run fifty yards in less than five seconds, and now he was attempting to accurately shoot his rifle at a fast approaching target. Admittedly it was a huge target, standing well over ten feet tall, but the size of this target worked against the ordinary shooter because this was no ordinary target but a very large and angry demon. But Kwazimoto was also not an ordinary shooter; he was a Hunter, and he'd been training his entire life for this very moment.

Even at the pace he'd run it fifty yards was nothing to a Dwarf who could run all day on a hunk of Dwarven Mild sandwiched between two slices of Myra Tyrngaarde's legendary Cornbread. In just a couple of seconds, despite the demon looming ever larger in his sights, Kwazimoto's breathing and heart rate slowed. His rifle stopped bouncing around and the bead on the front of the barrel settled down into the notched blade at the rear, and both sights were aligned perfectly with the demon's massive chest. If the sights did bob slightly with his heartbeat they were in synch with the bouncing stride of the fast approaching demon, and the front bead remained centered on Klinfran's torso.

Kwazimoto never consciously squeezed the trigger, the Hunter never does; his body just knows when the time is right and it takes the shot itself. The rifle kicked in his arms and Kwazi knew his shot had been true; he didn't need Klinfran's angry roar to confirm that.

Once more Kwazi turned and ran with the demon hot on his heels and he quickly settled into a rhythm. He didn't count the steps; like his body knowing when to shoot, his Hunter instincts just told him the time was right, and time after time he stopped, turned, and paused for a second. Then the rifle barked and Klinfran roared and Kwazi turned and continued running.

The demon chased the Dwarf all the way across the Burning Steppes and Kwazi was shocked when he recognized the path leading up to Morgan's Vigil. They'd run so far and he'd shot the demon so many times and still it kept coming, but the Hunter never gives up. To give up is to die (or at least fake it convincingly).

Kwazi stopped, turned, aimed and fired and Klinfran roared, but Kwazi stood his ground, reloading and firing again. Klinfran charged in as Kwazi reloaded a third time but still he didn't turn and run. At literally point blank range Kwazi fired a round directly into Klinfran's face and the demon stopped in its tracks, stunned.

For several seconds Klinfran wandered aimlessly in much the same manner as its human counterpart had earlier wandered around the lava pools, and Kwazi took this opportunity to dodge around the demon and start running back towards Blackrock Mountain. But as he ducked under its arms Kwazi took note of the black blood that covered the demon's chest, and he knew Klinfran couldn't have much left in him.

An angry roar told Kwazi that Klinfran had regained his senses but the Hunter had likewise regained his lead and the demon could do nothing but continue the chase. Once more Kwazi settled into his rhythm; run, stop, turn and shoot, turn and run again. But each time he took aim he could tell the demon was slowing down, and then the little voice inside him spoke up, and he stopped and turned and took aim.

The rifle barked but Kwazi stood his ground, reloading and taking aim once again. As Klinfran staggered towards him Kwazi settled his rifle's sights on the demon’s chest, his rifle barked, and time seemed to stand still.

So keyed up, so full of adrenaline was he, that Kwazi could almost see the thorium round as it left his rifle and flew towards Klinfran. In that split second Kwazi wondered if the demon with its supernatural senses could see it, or if it just knew its doom was once more at hand.

Kwazi had defeated many foes before facing down Klinfran, in fact three other mighty demons had already fallen before him, but Kwazi would remember this moment for the rest of his life.

At every retelling of this tale Kwazi would recall that as that final round streaked home, that Klinfran the Crazed, the mighty demon, had looked afraid. He always wondered if he'd imagined it but he couldn't shake the feeling that as he'd fired that final round Klinfran had started to turn, as if to run from the Hunter.

The old saying was very true, Kwazi thought to himself. Don't run from a Hunter, you'll only die tired.

* * *

If you enjoyed this story I've also written a 4-part series based on Kwazimoto's early years: Click here for part I of Becoming the Hunter.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Dawn of War

If only this were a movie.

Ok, so it is a movie, but it's only the intro movie to the Warhammer 40K:Dawn of War PC game; it's not a real movie :(

On the plus side, it's the rare hi-rez version of the intro movie, so once it starts playing in Windows Media Player hit Alt & Enter to go Full Screen, turn the sound up on your speakers, and enjoy two (very violent & bloody) minutes of Space Marines fighting Orks. Please note the file is 23Mb in size, and might take a while to download on a Dial-Up connection.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The weekend so far

Friday was my day off, which usually means I do stuff for Liz. Still not sure how that works. I put in my 80 hours (every two weeks) at work, eight 9-hour days and one 8-hour day so I get every other Friday off...but somehow that day off is not mine to spend as I wish. Aah, well. We did a bit of shopping, found a couple of the Flower Girls dresses for Mum's upcoming wedding, had dinner at what used to be our favorite Sushi restaurant but which has been usurped by another Sushi restaurant (I still like it though) then picked up the kids from Church.

Saturday JE had his T-Ball game where he was awarded the Game Ball (I have a sneaky suspicion every kid will have at least one Game Ball by the end of the season ;) then after dropping the kids back with the in-laws we met Xinh at a Japanese BBQ place in Pasadena. I wasn't impressed by the service, or the food. They brought out raw food and we had to cook it ourselves! Good Lord! I did a great job cooking so I gave myself a big tip ;)

Afterwards we did more Flower Girl dress shopping, and visited 3 more Burlington's, or was it 2 more? I lost count. But after driving around for hours we finally had three of the same dresses in the correct sizes.

I was glad to get back home.

This morning I got up early (for a Sunday) and met the gang at Angeles Range for some shooting. After firing a clip from my two coworkers' .40s, one a S&W and one a Glock, I much prefer my Beretta 96G. The Glock is very light so the heavy .40 tosses it around too much for my liking. The trigger pull of the S&W was too long, and it wasn't even shooting double-action; it was a looong trigger pull. I didn't like it. The heavier slide on my 96G tames the wild .40 better than the light Glock, and Beretta also gave the 96G a lighter trigger pull. It's not a hair trigger, but it's still a fairly short pull. It just reinforces what I've always believed; Beretta make bloody good firearms.

The chap next to me at the range had one of the biggest handguns manufactured (at the moment), the S&W 500. The clip below doesn't do this baby justice because there's too much background noise to really hear this hand cannon going off.



The following picture, blown up to full size, shows the S&W 500 a little more clearly.


After sending about 200 rounds downrange I packed up then stopped by the rifle benches where my buddy Felix had his arsenal set up, including both .50-caliber rifles that you've seen earlier (& can see again here). I said g'day but he had his hands full trying to extract a live .223 round from his Armalite that a buddy had managed to jam up into the receiver. They finally got it out after a struggle (using a screwdriver), then I saw someone else using a hammer to knock loose the bolt on a .50 and an unfired shell popped out, spraying gun powder everywhere but leaving the .50 round still lodged in the barrel of the rifle. They were not having a good morning so I took my leave and headed back to the safety of town and home.

I have tomorrow off in honor of Cesar Chavez Day (which is not until Saturday next weekend), but apparently Liz has activities planned for me. I hear Ikea is on the agenda. Hooray! Sarcasm? What sarcasm?

Cheers all,
Cap'n John.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

One for the ladies

Now I know I said a good Blog isn't made by throwing Youtube videos up, so I'm not just doing that ;) Yes, it's a Youtube vid, but this post is not just the clip, so I'm not violating one of my tenets for a good Blog :P

The following video is a current favorite song of mine. It's Josh Turner's "Would you go with me", and I must say, Josh seems just a little too smug for someone singing a love song. But I think I know why. It's coz Josh has an amazing vocal range and can not only sing Tenor but, please excuse the blasphemy, God damn if he can't also go so low he could be a world champion limbo dancer. The man has a deep voice. And I mean DEEP. And he knows it. And that's why he's such a smug bastard. I still love the song though. Enjoy ;)



And here's Mika's "Grace Kelly" that Lyndon mentions in his comment. Bloody hell, but if Mika isn't deliberately trying to sound like Freddy Mercury it's one hell of a coincidence.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I love comics

The reason I probably like WoW so much is the escapism that comes from being immersed in the game's world. That doesn't mean I hate my life, it just means for a brief period of time I get to be "someone else", a Hero capable of great feats, which is a lot more exciting than being a cockroach.

I love comics for the same reason. For a few pages you can slip into the life of Superman, Batman, or one of my childhood favorites, Captain America. In 1990 "they" made a Captain America movie that is apparently marginally better than the Punisher movie. That's the 1989 Punisher movie with Dolph Lundgren, not Thomas Jane's Punisher, which rocked!

Given the recent popularity of comic movies I'm surprised this didn't happen sooner, but apparently a new Captain America movie is in the works. Blade was awesome and Spiderman was a resounding success, but the Famous Four wasn't that hot and I don't think Ghostrider did too well, either. I really hope they don't fuck up Captain America.

It's bad enough that Steve Rogers, the man behind the mask, was apparently recently shot and killed by a sniper. They couldn't let him hang up the shield (one last time) or go out fighting a la Superman vs Doomsday; The writers had to kill him off from a distance, which admittedly is how I'd prefer to fight Captain America because the man is...was a highly proficient martial artist.

I wonder how this decision will affect the movie. Long time Captain America fans may protest the death of their hero and let their bums do the walking by not seeing it. I was excited to see a remake was finally in the works, but most likely I'll put this one on the Netflix list and if I like it, I'll buy the DVD. Then again, JE will be 8-years old in 2009, so if he seems interested I might take him to see it.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Another "irrelevant unless you WoW" post

Wolfgangdoom (Shout Out!) posted a comment to my Ashamed of WoW entry where he mentioned something that got my creative juices flowing...that's not as dirty as it sounds :D

Wolfgang compared us gamers talking WoW at work to fellow coworkers talking about their sports team and dissecting their team's weekend performance as if they were the managers, when really they're nothing more than a fan who spent $60 on a jersey, with, as Wolf stated, "someone else's name on it."

In WoW (and most likely other MMORPGs) most players belong to a Guild, and most Guilds have a Tabard. The neat thing about WoW's Tabard is if you change Guilds and the new Guild has a Tabard, the Coat of Arms on your Tabard changes to match that of your new Guild. You don't need to buy a new Tabard, and you don't have to worry about looking out of place when your Guild goes on a run because you're automatically wearing the correct colors.

Most Tabards, WoW's Tabards in particular, are throwbacks to days gone by and so look like what you'd expect to see on Athos, Porthos, or Aramis. On a fanatasy hero that's completely acceptable garb, but perhaps a little less so in today's times. However, there's literally no reason why a Tabard could not be cut in a more modern, stylish fashion that wouldn't have people pointing and laughing, after all, a stylish Tabard with a coat of arms on the front could very well pass for a sports team's jersey. And that's what got me thinking, although this idea will go no further (for me, at least) than this Blog.

What if you could buy a modern, stylish looking Tabard with your Guild's Coat of Arms on front? And instead of someone else's name on the back (ok, it's sort of someone else's name), you'd have the name of your Main Character, along with the very distinguished (in WoW at least) #14. As I said, irrelevant to anyone who doesn't play WoW, and even if you do WoW you may not get the significance of #14 ;)

While the number of WoW subscribers is allegedly 8,000,000+ (@ $15/month that's $120,000,000 Blizzard earns every month, or $1.44 billion ((if you're an American)) in a year...from just one of the games in their stable) the market for Guild Tabards would be considerably less than that number, drastically less. I could see Tabards being bought by a group of close, RL friends, or perhaps by a Guild that has a BBQ/Get-together of some kind with members flying in from all over the country that want to be able to ID each other. But I really don't see a huge demand for them, so it's not something I'd pursue even if I had the necessary resources. Besides which, Blizzard already sell t-shirts, sweaters and jackets with the Alliance and Horde Coat of Arms on them, so most of the Tabard market is probably already tapped out.

But it's an interesting idea, if you WoW ;)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Fo' shizzle ma drizzle!

Big Shout Out to Mike250 for hooking me up with Gizoogle, which I promptly used on my last Blog entry. So without any further ado, here's how my Blog would have looked if it had been written by the one and only Snoop Dogg.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Can Blogg'n makes you a bitch writa�?

First of all you have ta want ta be a conscientious playa n not just throw drug deala a bizzay of words, pictures n Youtube clips n call it a bizzy n shit. Thizzay you have ta watch yo spell'n n use punctuation correctly. Finally, like a good essay, yo blizzog entry should have an introduction, a body, n a conclusion.

The title of yo bizzle entry could almost be considered an introduction, albeit an extremely brief one; Realistically though it's nuttin' more tizzle tha topic you're going ta discuss hittin that booty. Yo introduction will be in tha fizzirst paragraph, n if you want ta gizzy tha motherfucka attention n hold it you need a good introduction. Although even tha bizzle introduction in tha world won't hold tha attention of somebody who's not interested in read'n tha topic `bout which you've chosen ta blog . Hollaz to the East Side. Thiznat doesn't mizzle you should shape yo blog ta attract nigga frizzom all walks of life like old skool shit. If you're blogg'n `bout thermonizzles technology coz it's tha field in whizzich you wizzy n you find it fascinat'n, bizzy `bout it. You'll attract like-minded gangsta (and tha occasional anonymous poser who calls you all geeks) n you'll enjoy tha discussions tizzle evolve. Thiznat wizzy makes you want ta continue ridin' n tha more you write tha playa you will get.

Basically you should strive ta ensure T-H-to-tha-izzat you have some semblance of an introduction, even a brief one, which introduces yo topic or helps ta griznab tha reada attention. The body of yo blizzay can be as shizzort as jizzle one paragraph, or run on fo` several (or many) if tha topic of choice warrants a lengthy discussion so sit back relax new jacks get smacked. Finally yo conclusion wizzay summarize yo topic n let yo crazy ass nigga kizzy thizzay they've reached tha end of that particizzles post . Drop it like its hot. Follow'n these simple rules wizzay makes you a betta writa, biznoth as a wanna be gangsta n in real life fo my bling bling.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Can Blogging make you a better writer?

First of all you have to want to be a conscientious writer, and not just throw together a bunch of words, pictures and Youtube clips and call it a blog. Then you have to watch your spelling and use punctuation correctly. Finally, like a good essay, your blog entry should have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

The title of your blog entry could almost be considered an introduction, albeit an extremely brief one; Realistically though it's nothing more than the topic you're going to discuss. Your introduction will be in the first paragraph, and if you want to grab the reader's attention and hold it you need a good introduction. Although even the best introduction in the world won't hold the attention of somebody who's not interested in reading the topic about which you've chosen to blog. That doesn't mean you should shape your blog to attract readers from all walks of life. If you're blogging about thermonuclear technology because it's the field in which you work and you find it fascinating, blog about it. You'll attract like-minded readers (and the occasional anonymous poster who calls you all geeks) and you'll enjoy the discussions that evolve. That will make you want to continue writing, and the more you write the better you will get.

Basically you should strive to ensure that you have some semblance of an introduction, even a brief one, which introduces your topic or helps to grab the readers attention. The body of your blog can be as short as just one paragraph, or run on for several (or many) if the topic of choice warrants a lengthy discussion. Finally your conclusion will summarize your topic and let your readers know that they've reached the end of that particular post. Following these simple rules will make you a better writer, both as a blogger and in real life.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Shaving, and learning to live again

I prefer to shave with a blade, but during the week I can't shave in the morning unless I want to get to work late (getting up even earlier is not an option ;), so I either shave in the evening or I use my electric razor at work when I get in.

Now I don't care what Mr. Kiam promised you, no electric razor can shave as close as a blade, and I much prefer a blade shave to an electric razor shave. I'm thinking I should bring a blade to work though, because while I was halfway through my shave this morning I thought "What if the power in the building went out now?" And the answer is I'd be there with half my face still covered in stubble.

Way back in High School one of my classmates accepted a bet from a friend to not shave for a month, and by the end of that month he pretty much had a full beard. I've known a few people like that, who could shave in the morning and by the evening look like they hadn't shaved at all that day. One guy I worked with would occasionally shave off his very full mustache at the start of the week and by the end of the week would have a full mustache again. So my classmate didn't shave for a month, but when it came time to pay up his friend offered to double the bet if my classmate would shave off half his beard and leave it like that for a week. I think that might have been his cunning plan all along, but he needed my classmate to have a full beard to pull it off. I think the wager was $50, doubled to $100, which was a lot of money to a 16 year old in the mid '80s, so my classmate accepted and for the rest of the week he wore half a beard.

I'd rather not have half a beard at work, even for a day, so I think I'll bring a blade razor in to work, just in case. Maybe I'll shave with it, too, instead of the electric. Because I normally use a blade my face doesn't like the electric razor, so it feels all hot and itchy for a while, even after using an Aftershave Moisturizing Balm

"A balm? Quick, throw it in the trough!" Obscure Monty Python Reference :)

- - -

So I've been feeling rather melancholy as of late. That's usually what happens when my old life resurfaces and reminds me of what I left behind. When my Uncle said he'd told my Dad about JE (3 years ago when he last visited Australia), Dad had said it wasn't fair, meaning we were over here and he was there, and he rarely got to see me or my son (in fact only once in 2001). My Uncle agreed but reminded Dad of his own situation. My Uncle lives in Cleveland with his youngest of two daughters. His older daughter lives in Melbourne, Australia, and has five children. My Uncle has never seen three of his own grandchildren.

That's one of the things that tears me up over my Dad, how he never got to see my daughter. Sure he saw her pictures but he never got to see her or hold her. And it's not fair, but sometimes that's just the way life is. And this is something I really need to come to terms with, before I can get over my father's death. Nine years ago I made the choice to leave my old family behind, move 10,000 miles away, and start a new life with my wife and her family. I didn't have to make that choice, but in a way, I also feel like I had no choice; it was just something I had to do, because living the rest of my life without Liz was not an option. I also still need to come to terms with that as well. Yes, nine years later I still have not fully accepted that decision, but I'm here now, I'm here to stay, and that's not going to change, so I need to accept it.

It only occurred to me later that talking to my Uncle was like preaching to the choir. Everything I'm going through, he's already done. He also left his two teenage daughters behind and moved to another country to be with his new wife, although his younger daughter later followed him. I told my Uncle that Liz and I sometimes talked of retiring to Australia, but I really can't see that happening. How can you move to another country and leave your children and grandchildren behind? I said to my Uncle. Well, he never sees his grandchildren (his younger daughter doesn't have kids) because they live in another country. The only way we'll retire to Australia is when JE and Amber get older if they say they want to go live in Australia, and we'll follow them.

I'm writing this down here because while my Blog is accessible to the general public, I don't always write for you; I sometimes write for me. Putting my thoughts down in writing helps me get them straightened out. This is a decision making process I use, because with everything written down I can clearly see what my choices are and the benefits from each choice, and more often than not I'll know what I plan to do before I even finish writing.

In putting something down in writing it also helps me come to terms with the situation, because I'm forced to confront it. There's no ignoring it, no pretending the problem doesn't exist. It's here, it's real, and I must deal with it because it's not going away until I confront it.

The first time I wrote this I teared up writing about my father never getting the chance to hold my daughter. That still makes me sad, writing this now, but after rereading what I wrote I'm more at peace with it. I've begun to accept it. I miss my Dad, a lot. I will always miss him. I also still miss Jonno, my best friend who died over 15 years ago at the too young age of 19. But I long ago came to terms with Jonno's death, although visiting his grave would still bring me to tears. That's only human, to mourn the ones we love. And it's human to move through your grief, then beyond it, and accept the death of your loved ones and resume living your own life. It's not long ago that my father died, only two years ago in fact, almost to the day. It took me quite some time to get over Jonno's death, or rather, learn how to live my life without my best friend there by my side. While I've been living the last nine years of my life without any of my family here, they've always been no more than a phone call away. Everyone is still just a phone call away, except for my Dad. Had to pause there to regain my composure. I really shouldn't be writing this at work but I just feel I need to get it out now, right this minute. It's like I'm at a pivotal stage of my grief, and getting this down right now is going to help me tremendously.

I honestly don't think I'll ever "get over" my Dad's death, instead I'll learn how to live my life without him. This is like the decision I made (and didn't make) nine years ago. I will learn how to live my life without my father, because the alternative is not an option.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The weekend in review

Friday morning was Liz's first big day out, other than post-op check-ups. First we dropped JE at school then it was off to LAX to pick up my Uncle and his wife...I guess even though she's his second wife she's still my Aunty, she just doesn't like us calling her Aunty, so it's usually Uncle Peter and Pat.

Due to their flight leaving Tullamarine late we were actually pretty much right on time to pick them up, even though we were late getting there, too. As I swung around the corner passed Tom Bradley in the left lane, heading for the parking lot, Liz looked over at Terminal 4 and said "Isn't that them?"

One glance to my right was all I needed and I did a blockie around the parking structure, cut a couple of other cars off and was shortly pulling up in front of my father's youngest brother.

The 15-hour flight was taking its toll upon Uncle Peter and Pat, but they were determined to tough it out and get back on US schedule, so after lunch I suggested a game of cards. Cribbage was Uncle Peter's game of choice, so I hunted down our Cribbage board and a full deck of cards and we played the afternoon away. Pat, who'd been teasing Uncle Peter about him nodding off, decided to rest her eyes a bit on the sofa and she was soon snoring away and talking in her sleep. JE came down and wanted to play, so with the first game finished we dealt him in (it was a 3-player board) and with us helping him (and me not making 15 pts when I could have) JE won the very first game of Cribbage he's ever played. But the waterworks I was avoiding by letting JE win still appeared when he said he wanted to play something else, and Uncle Peter and I said we were going to play some more Cribbage. They shut off pretty quick though, and we shortly heard him pottering about upstairs with some game or another.

Saturday morning we were all up pretty early. JE and I took Uncle Peter and Pat back out to LAX then raced off to his first T-ball game. On the 105, close to the 605, the gas light came on, but I figured we had enough to get us to JE's school where I thought his first game was. Little did I know that the route I was taking to get us there took us within two blocks of the actual location of his game, and that we would have been on time if I'd double checked the location before leaving.

We arrived at the school, got JE's cleats on, raced down to the baseball field to find the Dodgers and the Red Socks warming up for their game...not the Blue Jays. Oh boy. Time to get gas and find out where we needed to be. So ignoring a popular Urban Legend, while pumping gas I was on my cell phone finding out where we needed to be and how to get there.

We arrived just in time for JE to take his turn at bat (I think we missed the 1st Innings) and the game was on. I also scored a Blue Jays cap of my own (courtesy of the league), and with my new cap and navy blue t-shirt I pretty much looked the part of an Assistant Coach. The game was a lot of fun, some of the kids showed a lot of promise, one of the Angels (opposing team) made a catch but promptly dropped it, and every kid got to bat once during each Innings and run round the bases, even if they got run out, or struck out. How does one get struck out in T-ball? Simple, really. Swing and hit the tee three times, or not hit the ball further than 25 feet, and you're Out. But with this being a Just For Fun League there were no Outs. Highlight of the game was definitely one of our boys hitting the ball over everyone's heads and into the outfield. Highlight of the game for the kids was getting a Snackbar ticket after the game, entitling everyone to some candy and a soda.

After dropping JE with the in-laws the rest of the weekend was pretty uneventful, and by Monday Liz was feeling good enough that 5am saw me getting up and getting ready to return to work.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

T-Ball, week 2

Today was the first day of what is promising to be a very hectic weekend, if your weekend started on a Thursday, which mine doesn't, but sort of did, but let's skip the semantics coz it's not important.

This week has been 1/2 day week at JE's school, so he got off school today at 12:25pm. I picked him up, we grabbed some food at the local Chinese Food Court and headed home. At 3:30pm we tootled off to T-Ball practice and arrived right on time on account of someone choosing to have an accident 2 blocks from the field, which required the presence of a large Fire Truck with flashing lights, which meant the rush hour traffic felt compelled to slow right down and rubber-neck as they drove past.

We arrived at T-Ball practice in time to field some hits from Coach Jesse, then it was warm-up and stretch time, and I'm glad we did that, because then we split into two groups. One group hit the outfield and practiced catching, while Coach Jesse's group stayed in the diamond (along with yours truly) and practiced batting.

Now some of the kids were typical 6-year olders and I pretty much ran around between the pitcher's plate and home plate fielding little flubs of hits, but some of the other kids were batting machines. These kids had me running into the outfield as they belted balls all over the place. And it wasn't a fluke. For some of the kids a big hit was, but two or three of our kids can hit the ball, and I mean HIT it, consistently. One of the kids belted line drive after line drive and I barely had to move a step as he hit the ball straight to me time after time. Remember I said I was glad we warmed up earlier? I'm sitting here typing this and I feel like I'm 5 years younger, like when I still used to play football because my legs are SORE! I weighed myself after my shower and the scales tried to tell me I'm 191.8 lbs. I'm not sure whether or not to believe them because that's getting darn close to my High School weight again. But I'm glad I'm not still carrying around those extra 15 lbs I've somehow lost over the last few weeks or I'd probably be even more sore.

Practice ran for 1 1/2 hours (including a mini-game) so we raced home, stopping for food on the way, ate, changed, then headed back out to our Boy Scout meeting, dropping A. with the in-laws on the way. Around 8:30pm we were finally back home again but I still couldn't sit down and relax. After a shower I got JE into bed, read him a story, then had to change the sheets on his bed because my Uncle is staying with us tomorrow night before flying on to Cleveland so we're putting him in JE's bed (a Queen) while JE is sleeping in A.'s bed, A. is staying with the in-laws for the next 2 nights. Saturday morning I have to get up early to take my Uncle back to LAX then JE and I have to race back to Arcadia for our very first T-Ball game at 9am. After that I might be able to relax, maybe :P

For some reason I was thinking this evening about what my life would be like if I hadn't met Liz, and the chain of events would quite possibly have been something like this:

Lived with parents from '98 to '05 until Dad passed away. Continued to live with Mum keeping her company until '06 when she met her new man. Bought Mum's house off her in '07 when she remarried and moved out, then lived in the house I grew up in for the rest of my life, all alone, coz everyone left but me. Strangely, real life is almost exactly the opposite. Little sis and her husband currently live next door to Mum, or they will until Mum moves out later this year, when she remarries and moves in with her new husband. Older sis initially bought a house around the corner and later moved to Melbourne. Me, I met a girl and moved halfway around the world.

Life is strange, sometimes.