Gaston and Me

It took me about 4 hours and 45 minutes to get home last night. I happened to reset my odometer before the trip. Total mileage on the odometer when I got back: 16.0.

Why was I out in the first place, you might ask? I was at the dentist. For 2 1/2 hours getting impressions done. Again.

Yes, it was a really fun day.

On a side note, I would just like to say that people who abandon their vehicles in the middle of the road, hurricane or no hurricane, suck. A lot. At least have the decency to push your vehicle out of the [bleep] [bleeeeep] [bleeeeeeep] [bleeeeeeeeeeepity] [bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep] way.

Odd Thomas

Sometime during the week of Cousin Camp, I finished Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. I saw this book at a K-Mart one day and thought it sounded kind of interesting after reading the jacket, and then later at the Green Valley Book Fair I picked up a copy of the hardcover for like $7.

This is the first Koontz book I’ve read, and since I’m such a big Stephen King fan I thought I wouldn’t like it very much, but it turned out to be pretty good. I’m ashamed to admit that I was utterly suckered by the ending, even though it should have been completely obvious since the clues were everywhere. The parts where Odd dealt with his mother and father were a bit out-of-place, I thought, and a lot of the time I felt like Koontz was refering to events that had happened in previous books. Perhaps this Odd Thomas guy has even been a recurring character. That was the sense I got, at least. Either that, or Koontz did a masterful job of depicting a character that had a rich history.

I don’t know if it was just this book or what, but Koontz seems to have a slightly pretentious writing style. I generally prefer the keep-it-simple approach to writing. It wasn’t a distraction though since the pacing was pretty quick. The style of the first-person narration made me think the character was a lot older than 20, though. No 20-year-old born in this television-soundbite-dominated day and age would write like that.

Anyway, overall I found it “delightfully quirky.” It was humorous, grotesque, strange, and scary.

Random House’s Odd Thomas Site

On Another Note

The !@#$!@3 !@#$!@#4 !@#$$@!!@# that owned uvtek.com RENEWED IT UNTIL 2013!! !@#$!@ !@#$!@#$ !@#$. And !@#$!@# !@#$!@#$. They aren’t even using it!! It’s just a reserved page!! What a bunch of !#$!@# !@#$!@ !!@#$@!

Day 7 Report

The final day of Cousin Camp dawned at approximately dawn. The cooking and cleanup work began soon after. The mission: Get the house ready for the mob of people arriving at 11:00 for Jordan’s birthday party. The kids threw everything into the effort (well, mostly).

I personally did not get up until some time after dawn, so I missed some of the cooking, cleanup, and decoration work. But I did get to vacuum and cleanup the back porch.

People began arriving at 11:00, and they just kept on arriving. This day would test the very foundations of our house, as it had never before contained so many people. We soon discovered that there are quite a number of bottlenecks in the traffic pattern of our house layout. (At least I did.) We also discovered that leaving the back door open to facilitate easier entry and egress resulted in some uninvited guests: the Flies. Fortunately, I am a skilled Fly Hunter from my days in Powhatan, so I have been thinning their population quite skillfully.

Cynthia’s brother Greg cooked some awesome steaks on two grills, other people brought awesome food, Cynthia cooked awesome food, Samantha ground up some awesome ice cream in the ice cream makers (amazingly avoiding a fatal electrocution from the ice makers sitting in puddles of water next to the electrical outlet). Basically, the food rocked.

Well, except for the birthday cake from a certain pastry shop which shall remain nameless. Let’s just call them, the “Westhampton Bakery.” These are the people that made our wedding cake, which rocked, so we were a bit perplexed about the stunning mediocrity of the birthday cake, which wasn’t even ready when Cynthia went to pick it up.

Fiona did not particularly enjoy the event because she was locked in her cat carrier in a back room, yowling in misery. Apparently Aunt Barbara is terrified of cats because of a childhood cat-related trauma or something. (Really.)

After we ate and attempted to play a game roughly resembling volleyball without any rules, Jordan got a bunch of cool presents, including one from her grandmother wrapped in a Victoria’s Secret gift bag. Yes, you read that right. Strangely, nobody found this particularly odd.

After all this, the kids packed up the majority of their stuff and went back to their respective homes. Cynthia was sad, and I tried to pretend to be sad, too. Just kidding! Really. No, stop laughing, I mean it. Truthfully I was just getting used to the kids being here, and the place seemed pretty empty last night.

Tristan was pretty sad too, since he had to go back to sleeping on the floor.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled lives.

Pictures from Cousin Camp

Day 6 Report

Today isn’t really over yet but I suspect that everyone will be too tired to do much else when they get back.

Today featured a surprise guest-appearance from Cynthia’s brother Jeff. Cynthia, Jeff, and the kids went to King’s Dominion about 11AM and I joined them around 2PM (after a series of debacles in getting to the parking lot). Jeff and Dennis (and even Jordan once) rode the big scary rides. I rode the Avalanche, which looked a lot slower than it turned out to be but which was actually pretty fun, and I rode a Big Spinning Swing Thingy, which looked fairly safe but was actually pretty vertigo-inducing. We spent a great deal of time walking and waiting in lines. (I was there about 5 hours, and I spent a grand total of less than 15 minutes actually riding rides. Probably closer to 5 minutes, truthfully.) Anyway, I came back about 7PM with a splitting headache, but Cynthia is staying until the kids wear out.

Tomorrow is the Cousin Camp grand finale, featuring a birthday party for Jordan and a whole bunch of visitors.

Day 5 Report

I got a little behind on the reporting but I’ll now bombard you with information.

Cynthia, her mom, and the kids did indeed make it safely to Spring Hope, NC and back, and a good time was had by all. There was a lunch. There was some Slip n’ Slide activity. They visited a pig and chicken farm. The kids, including a gaggle of cousins from the Spring Hope area, stayed up late Wednesday night making up games and generally doing kid-like activities. Everything was loud and chaotic and fun. During this time, Cynthia learned a new card game called “Garbage,” which she migrated back to Richmond and taught to me. The kids slept late the next morning. Samantha sustained a minor finger injury reportedly while scoring “a point” in basketball. They returned home about 4 o’clock Thursday, and then Samantha was promptly shipped off to Patient First(-After-Waiting-An-Hour) where she got a little splint thingy for her finger. I finally got to go out to the Ukrops for ice cream.

Cynthia took the camera down with her so I hope to have pictures of the trip at some point. Probably I’ll just make a big album of the whole Cousin Camp experience.

Day 4 Report

There isn’t much to report about day 4 since Cynthia hasn’t called or left a message for her poor, neglected, worried, forgotten husband yet. Presumably, they all made it to Spring Hope in one piece and are having a grand time down there.

Day 3 Report

Here’s the wrap-up on day 3: (Only 3??)

Mattie survived her big night away from home. I went to work. Cynthia and the kids went to Lewis Ginter and played with some butterflies. Mattie did her photo-shoot, which was apparently some kind of gig where she dressed up in Christmas clothes for some forthcoming catalog. The kids gave Cynthia some earrings and a dragonfly. Mattie beat everyone at Candyland. I devised a veritable fortress of network security, with at least four layers of encrypted password keys, to protect the web services I’m developing at work from unauthorized usage. The kids played with a Slip n’ Slide. Samantha was stung by some form of insect (don’t panic, she is fine). I stopped by the Chinese place to pickup an order for enough food to feed approximately 458 people. (Seriously, how does an order for Cynthia and I cost $9 and an order for Cynthia and I plus three kids cost $45??) The Chinese guy felt so sorry for me having to shell out so much of my hard-earned dough that I got 4 free cans of Pepsi. The kids swarmed around me like ravenous dogs when I got home, and Cynthia yelled at me when I tried to inform her of this while she was on the phone. We ate at the table like civilized people. I retreated to the safety of adding multi-user network support to my mistake-program, while Cynthia and the kids watched Shrek. There was a lot of commotion and singing during the end credits, but I didn’t dare venture out to see what that was all about. I think Cynthia is making cookies, too.

Tomorrow, Cynthia, her mom, and the kids journey to far away Spring Hope, NC (yes, that’s a real town) to visit even more cousins and spend the night.

Day 2 Report

Mattie triumphantly returned this morning at the ungodly hour of 7:30 for another grueling day of camp. The other kids, too, were awake at the aforementioned ungodly hour, if not before.

Since I was at work most of the day, I can only report this second-hand, but the troops (including the most trooperest of them all, Cynthia) went for some biking, lunch, and a trip to the Children’s Museum today. Then it was home for a sit-down dinner at the table. Tonight I was a little more sociable, and did not have to resort to the headphones at any point. I even persevered through the loss of a temporary crown during dinner without anyone finding out! (Don’t worry, it always comes out; I just glue it back in and move on. But the thought of having to explain a temporary crown to a bunch of kids is a bit daunting so I was happy to deal with it on the sly.)

Mattie decided to stay the night, and is currently upstairs sleeping, along with everyone else (who did not help in the process of getting Mattie to sleep, I might add, much to their woe in the morning…). If I’m not mistaken this is Mattie’s first night away from home, so this is a big deal for her.

Tomorrow’s schedule includes a trip to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, and there is something about a modeling gig for Mattie, which I will have to find out more about because it seems a little unusual for a 5-year-old to have a modeling gig at Lewis Ginter.

Day 1 Report

It is nearing the end of the opening day at Camp Forest Brook. The kids arrived around 5 o’clock.

Cynthia’s tacos seemed to be a big hit with the kids. However, a big storm came through and prevented me from going out to get some ice cream for dessert (darn).

Most of the kids then played hide and seek for a while. Some of the kids played with recorders for a while. I decided it would be an excellent time to put on some headphones and listen to Queensryche.

Dennis and Samantha are currently watching Spy Kids (ah, television… the greatest invention of the 20th century…). Mattie Mae (who just turned 5) decided that she would prefer daytime camp activities, so Cynthia is taking her back home, with Jordan accompanying her.

Tomorrow’s scheduled activities include: 1. Me going to work! 2. Cynthia and the kids either going to the Children’s Museum or King’s Dominion, depending on the weather. Since there appears to be a tropical storm grazing the coastline tomorrow, my money will be on the Children’s Museum.