Sunday, October 29, 2006

1.21 gigawatts of power.

First, still no word from China.

And now, my weekend:

Interesting things flash through one's mind when one's armpit is on fire.

What these thoughts were I can not tell you as it was not my armpit. My thoughts were pretty much, "Dude, your armpit is on fire." followed by, "I wonder what that tastes like."

Uh, not his roasting armpit. I was wondering what the tiki-torch fluid tasted like that all the fire-breathers/fire-jugglers were using. Apparently plastic bottles of petroleum distillates are available in the 16th century.

Yeah, lacking any word from China we decided to fire up the Honda's flux capacitor and head back five centuries. What better break from the stress of modern life than to visit a place where the only drinkable water came in the form of ale? Woo hoo!! Yep, it was time to go to the Texas Renaissance Festival. Ah, Music! Food on sticks! Chainmail bikinis! Swords! Fairies! Pirates! Chainmail bikinis!

It doesn't get much better than that. I took my first day of vacation since LAST THANKSGIVING and we headed up to the site after lunch. Misseswether requires a fairly high level of creature comforts when camping so the Honda was packed to the gills.

The big wooden box is my magic camp crate. It holds just about anything you need to set up camp (excluding the tent, sleeping gear and the portaprivy). Better still, you can set it upright and the big lid flips over to become a food prep/work surface. A second shelf unfolds from the back along with a paper towel rack and inside shelves and boxes hold the gear. I designed and made it myself. I'm sinfully proud of it!

As Ren-luck would have it we ended up parking right next to some fellow members of the on-line RenFest forum. Catherine D'Artois's family and mine quickly bonded and spent most of the faire together. She and her family are amazing cooks and she made the best venison chili I've ever tasted. The secret ingredient was...(e-mail me for the answer). Miniwether bonded instantly with their young children. They played for hours with pine needles, sand and a really big millipede.

Us and them.

We had our camp set up by 4pm but every minute it seemed like another few groups were trickling in. By 8pm however this trickle became a torrent and by Saturday morning well over 1,000 people were on site. In the past we camped up in the "family-friendly" section but this time we decided to try the main camping area. Anything pretty much goes in the main area.

Hence the burning armpit.

Mini- and Missewether crawled into their sleeping bag about 10 pm but I stayed up. Being a light sleeper sucks when you are surrounded by pounding rock music, flaming people, pulsating lights, loud generators and a very ugly breakup between a boyfriend and girlfriend. Actually, that last part was pretty entertaining. The sky was clear causing the temperature to quickly drop down into the high 40's which meant just about everybody was bundled up. A few drunken souls decided to uh, open up to the cool weather, but they were not the type anyone would care to see displayed in such a manner.

Attending the faire on Saturday was it's usual magical trip. Where else can you go and see a centaur trot by or lean against a wall only to discover it's the side of a very large dragon?

This is already Miniwether's fourth faire and she was pumped up. People find her incredibly cute and for some reason just give her stuff. During the course of the day she got money, jewlery, candy, hugs, a hat, assorted fairy stones, and her picture taken many times. As you can see, the large amount of sugar had a rather potent effect on her.

Even a three-year old can metabolise that much sugar without crashing. The end result was 73 minutes of Miniwether asleep in my arms. This worked out well because while she slept we could check out shops and such that would otherwise have to many fragile objects to risk taking her into. On the other hand, after the first hour of holding her the left side of my face went numb. I should probably have that checked out.

I like shopping (ohh, shiney-pointy!) but some of the acts are definately a must-see. Sound and Fury are by far the funniest performers there. For music you can't beat the Star War's influenced Celtic sounds of the Brobdingnagian Bards or gypsy sounds of E Muzeki. Misseswether loved the music, food and the amazing garb of cast members and playtrons (garbed visitors).

Miniwether loved the fairies and they loved her.

I loved Misseswether and Miniwether most of all.

The day came to a close with some of the best fireworks in Texas. Amazingly, these are all launched by just a few guys running back and forth with torches. No electronicaly fired/computer controlled stuff here!
Fire1 Fire2

Fire3 Fire5

Fire6 Fire7

Fire8 Fire4

After that it was time to leave. As usual the Celtic pipe/drum band Tartanic was blowing out tunes in the parking lot. We danced to them for a while then headed back to the camp.

MoshTartanic Done

Once again the girls went to bed early while I and another dad tried to regain our youth amongst the throngs of costumed partiers, firebreathers, drummers and dancers. Several RV's were showing movies projected onto their big, flat sides. Very cool, but it didn't take us long to realize this was a much younger person's game and we returned to our small fire. Soon after I slipped into the tent with my family as the party continued around us.

The next morning revolved around a slow, easy packing of the camp. The faire continued but many campers were heading home.

When Miniwether realized we were about to leave she burst out crying. She was inconsolable. Through her tears she told us that she didn't want to leave the her friends or the fairies and that we should move our house to the faire. I agreed completely and I suspect so would Citibank Visa. Alas, she gathered hugs from everyone around and then, still weeping, climbed into the Honda. An hour and five hundred years later we arrived home. What a great trip.

Adventure! Excitment! Time-travel!

p.s. and still no word from China...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Closed for the weekend.

Well, the adoption agency over in China has closed for the weekend without sending our referal. I guess now it'll be sometime next week.

So, in keeping with Tales of Miniwether, here is a picture of she and I during the Moon Festival back on Oct. 15th.

Peace, out.

Waiting! Waiting! Waiting!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Still no word from China

So here's a picture of Miniwether from her first night with us.

My dad used to tell us bedtime stories about Snoopy and the Red Baron and I wanted to continue that tradition. So Miniwether's first stuffed animal was Snoopy. Every night while brushing her teeth I tell her a story of Snoopy and Luke Skywalker battling Darth Vader and the Red Barron. Hey, things change generation to generation.

Currently I'm searching for a stuffed Woodstock to give to the new child.

Waiting! waiting! Waiting!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Oops, we did it again...

Back in 2004 I climbed the Great Wall of China outside Beijing on my birthday.

We also checked out a few temples...

hung out in Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City...

and toured the Summer Palace and the Ming Tombs.

Several thousand years of history flashed by us in just a few days. It was awe-inspiring, but it wasn't why we were there.

Two days later we flew deep into the northern heart of China, to a city called Lanzhou. It was on top of a mountain near the edge of the Gobi Desert. It was a desolate city of only four million people (in China a city that small barely makes it on to maps).

But in this city we would reach the goal of three long, hard years of waiting, paperchasing and praying. While we were flying to this city a bus was making its way through the mountains from a place even more remote. We reached our hotel just a few minutes after that bus. We rushed down to the hotel's ballroom. The room was filled with people and we had to fight to try and get across it. We could see our goal but mo matter which way we turned someone blocked us. We were ready to scream in frustration!!

Then finally an opening appeared and we raced the last steps. Before us stood a small woman holding a baby tightly wrapped in several layers of pajamas. With a smile she hand the child to Misseswether.

The journey didn't end there. It took another two weeks spent in assorted government offices across China before finally being able to return home. By the end we were exhuasted both mentally and physically. This adventure had been the hardest thing I have EVER done in my life. And remember, my life contains such things as having all my ribs broken and getting a silly Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry, neither things were walks in the park. Getting Miniwether burned us down to the soul but it was worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears.

Well, sometime in this coming week we'll getting another letter. In this letter will be photographs and the medical history of another baby girl somewhere in China. A few weeks later we'll board a plane and fly there to get her. It'll be two-three weeks of government offices, ancient temples, beuracrats, strange food and stranger bathrooms. It'll be a hell of a trip. I can't wait!!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

1 for, 3 against

Well, I'm starting to get complaints about my Halloween decorations. Three sets of parents have commented that it's too scary.

Too scary?!

Okay, maybe a little scary.

Very scary!!

On the other hand, one parent came over to tell me he and his kids loved the decorations. *sigh*, I'm sure he meant well...

Most of the parents of Miniwether's friends won't let their children enter our house through the front door right now. They make Misseswether open the garage door for them instead. I take that as a compliment. Meanwhile Miniwether thinks it's all great fun. She loves the skulls because "They are happy and smiling all the time! They must be very friendly.". While I was putting up the cobwebs I heard several cars screech to a halt. Looking over I saw Miniwether waving at the drivers with a severed limb. I LOVE THIS GIRL!!!!!

Last night we when looking at other people's decorations. Miniwether didn't like anyone else's because they weren't spooky. I REALLY, REALLY LOVE THIS GIRL!!! I'm thinking of sticking a fake (but very realistic) severed hand in her school lunch bag. That's be funny!

With the cool weather rolling in it was time to pitch the tent again. This time it was only in the backyard as a weekend full of social engagements prevented us from heading out into the real woods. Miniwether didn't mind. As long as she was in the tent with mommy and daddy and had a flashlight she could pretend was a lightsaber she was happy.

Backyard camping. Note: you are looking over my garden which is currently empty except for some new pea plants.

Happy campers (at least until Misseswether sees her picture here on my blog).

Jedi or Sith? It really depends on the time of day. Sidenote: this flashlight ended up still in the tent when it was packed away. Bummer, it's a really great flashlight.

Adventure! Undead! Love!

Note: There is an exclamation mark between "Undead" and "Love" so don't get all freaked out.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Oh, uh hello.

"For skin and solid surfaces, cured foam must be mechanically removed or allowed to wear off in time."
Warning on can of Great Stuff spray foam.

So, I guess you didn't believe my last post when I said my updates will be rather sporadic for the next few months. Couldn't get enough of me, eh? Cool.

Uh, unless your are one of those crazy, pet-rabbit-boiling sort of nutcases stalkers. In that case, way not cool, dude!

So, Great Foam. What's not to love about pressurized isocyanates? Sure, I'm currently typing this post with one hand while the other is stuck to a wadded up ball of newspaper, but our house is looking GREAT for Halloween. It's amazing what a person can do with several packages of fake spider webbing, a six-foot spider, the bones of several cows, a dead tree with skulls impalled on it's branches, a giant ghost, a magot-filled brain, bloody handprints, a severed hand, strobe lights, a child-sized skeleton sealed up in a clear trash bag, a fog machine, a life-sized zombie, and Great Stuff foam. I love the sound of tires screeching as drivers slam on their brakes to get a better look at the house.

Miniwether likes the severed hand.

The weekend was spent setting this stuff up. Being a perfectionist, I am still in the process of arranging everything. I spent almost two hours just stacking cow bones to try and get the most horrifying effect. I'm still not happy and will restack them again tomorrow. Misseswether thinks I nuts because I require my display to have a self-consistent logic. For instance, I won't put up tombstones because why would a house in the suburbs have a cemetary in its front yard? That doesn't make sense. Also, even though I love cyborgs I won't put one in the decorations as I feel they don't fit in a house inhabited by ghosts, zombies and assorted other undead monsters. Missewether refuses to play along and will only dress up as something cute and not scary. This absolutely kills me but a husband must make allowences. We've settled on her being a really cute witch because that fits in with the rest of the setup. *sigh*

As for adventures in this world, I planned on us camping out or at least having a bonfire in the backyard Saturday night. Unfortunately I forgot to turn off the water sprinkler and flooded our backyard! I was so bummed, it was a gorgous night, cool and with low humidity. Pitching the tent in 2" of mud was too much like Misseswether's childhood camping experiences and I didn't want to undo all the good camping experiences I've had with her. I was so mad at myself for drowning the yard. On the other hand, the plants are looking great.

I did get some camping prepartions in though. Saturday night I worked on my "chuckbox". It's a big wooden box that holds all my camp cooking gear. It even turns into a cook-station. I'll put pictures of it up when it's done. I need to add a shelf and some handles. The thing is pretty heavy, but it should make camp cooking way easier and more organized. Of course, there's also the whole "I-have-the-best-camp-kitchen-in-the-campgrounds" ego thing coming into play. Oh yeah!

Anyway, here's a couple of pictures to hold you until I get the bones just right.

Big Ugly and the milk-cartoon kid.
BigUgly Missing

Adventure! Excitement! Screaming kids dragged to our door!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Ludacris Speed!

Things get busy for adventurers in the Fall here in Texas. The temperatures drop down into the comfortable 90's, the humidity falls below 85% and people emerge from their air-conditioned pods to reaquaint themselves with this thing known as "The Outdoors". After being locked up indoors for three months they stare upwards with blinking eyes, pale skins and big smiles as they soak in the sun which can no longer burn their skin off in seconds. Sure, the fire ants, venomous snakes, feral pigs, black widow spiders and meth-lab operators are still active, but their dangers fade away in comparison to being able to spend the day outdoors without carrying two gallons (16 lbs!) of sweat-replacing water.

Since things are getting busy I may not have time to update this blog quite as often with detailed stories of my adventures. With that warning in place here is a sample of my last week: A trip to San Antonio, attending Dragon Boat races here in Houston, then tailgating at the Texan's game. I'm really worn out.

San Antonio is an awesome place. It is beautiful, fun and easy to get around. Go there, gorge yourself on Mexican food, visit the Alamo, and hang out along the Riverwalk.

Breakfast 21 stories up.


Tower of the Americas.

Me and Miniwether up in the Tower.

Misseswether is a fraid of heights and stayed below. Look for the very small dot.

Miniwether wishing me luck before my presentation.

All three.

La la la bamba!

After a week in San Antonio we returned home to enjoy local fall festivities. Saturday morning Miniwether and I went hiking. She was really excited when she found the deer skull. She carried it all through the woods and wanted to bring it into the grocery store when we picked up lunch. It was tempting to let her but I figured the other shoppers my find this disturbing, especially if she was shouting the Hawaiian war chant I had taught her while we were in the woods (Hawaiian war chants are good for scaring away the feral hogs). I'd have pictures but the camera battery was dead.

After the hike it was time for the dragon boat races on Lake Woodlands!

Miniwether loves daddy!

Then this morning (Sunday) me and five neighbors set up our tailgating party in the Green Lot of Reliant Stadium. For the Houston-Miami game. Nothing says, "Ahhhhh" like beer and steaks at 9:30am.
Note the jumper cables being used to hold the umbrella in place (duct tape would have been overkill).

Close to far: the actor, the cop, the child development specialist, the current divorcee and the 21-year old chick he was wooing.

Me and my big, mean military machine neighbor. He had so much fun in the original Desert Storm that he stuck around through most of more recent one too. He'd still be there if a bad guy didn't get off a somewhat lucky shot. It put Big-Mean on a flight home for medical rehab and a heroes welcome. The bad guy ended up in a bodybag (uh, actually several. NEVER piss off a guy with the ability to throw hand grenades 60 yards with pinpoint accuracy even while bleeding).

While heading to our seats the escalator lurched to a stop causing my neighbor stumble and flay open his toe. It was wrapped in guaze and we stuck a condom over it to contain the blood. It required stitches but we waited until after the game to get him to the hospital. According to the doctor this was the wrong thing to do, but then he didn't realize what great seats we had.

The Texans win! The Texans win!

Okay, time to get some sleep (which one foolish member of our football group did while still at Reliant Center. The resulting pictures aren't really appropriate for this blog. They are VERY funny though.

Adventure! Excitement! Overwhelming number of activities!