Inspired by a friend during the discussion of the origin of a particular quote:
"You can always attribute a quote to Churchill or Twain. Everyone else does."
 – Abraham Lincoln

"I felt a disturbance in the Force..."

Hot Topic: There is no escape. Don't make me destroy you.
Hot Topic: ThinkGeek, you do not yet realize your importance. You have only begun to discover your merchandising power. Join me, and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring geekiness to the retail mall world. 
ThinkGeek: I'll never join you! 
Hot Topic: If you only knew the power of the Tween Side. Ars Technica never told you what happened to your owners. 
ThinkGeek: He told me enough! He told me you killed them! 
Hot Topic: No. I am your owner. 
ThinkGeek: No. No. That's not true. That's impossible! 
Hot Topic: Search the stock transactions, you know it to be true! 
ThinkGeek: [anguished] No! No!

A Different Kind of Stress

Our two youngest invited a couple of fiends over to spend the night.  Anticipating a house crammed full of noisy pre-teen girls, I promised Eldest Daughter that we would vacate the premises and spend some quality time together.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten that while we all have the day off tomorrow, it was still Sunday...

By the time we headed out the door, we missed the window of opportunity to get to the half-price book store before it closed.  As well as the window to get to the most local Barnes & Noble before it closed.  Ah, well.  There's still the comic book store at the mall, which was... closed.


We barely managed to get into and out of the local hardware store for a purchase before it closed, as well.  Ended up at Coffeebucks, where ED got herself a slightly-coffee flavored liquid candy bar.  A long talk about school, college plans, and peers followed.  It ended up with me uttering what, in hindsight, are probably the most terrifying words I have ever spoken aloud:

"So," I said.  "Do you want a driving lesson?"

Twenty minutes later, we were in a deserted parking lot, and I was instructing Eldest Daughter in the fine (yet surprisingly commonplace) art of controlling a one-and-a-half ton piece of steel and plastic wrapped around a tank of explosive liquid.

She did just fine, really.  It will probably be a good while before she's ready to be on the road, though.  I suspect that she will master the mechanics of driving long before she masters the kind of focus that she will need in order to be a good driver.

We ended up the evening getting a bite to eat and talking more about friends and personal relationships.  All in all, a very good time. It was only on my way home that I realized that getting into the car with a completely untrained driver was less stressful, for me, than spending the evening in the same house as a gaggle of little girls.

Not sure exactly what that says about me, but I am pretty sure it says something.

Some Commendations

Still in house-obsessed mode.  I have heard say that people are ten times more likely to complain than compliment, so I figured I should make an effort to note the insurance-related organizations and people we have interacted with positively over the past year.

First round of kudos go to our insurance company, Mutual Benefit.  I can't say enough good about these folks. You know all those horror stories you hear about how insurance companies treat their customers after a major disaster? Not even a hint of anything like that. These folks did right by us, and even went above and beyond what they were absolutely obligated to do. Highly recommended.

Next up is RE/CON, the group that Mutual Benefit brought in to handle our fire investigation. Absolutely top-notch people. Bob Ryhal in particular deserves commendation for his dedication, professional attitude and calm demeanor (especially while while interviewing us and our girls about the circumstances). I'm not sure how many folks reading this will ever need to talk to a professional investigative service... but if you do end up in that situation, I'd recommend RE/CON.

And, finally - the company that handled our claim with Mutual Benefit, Vericlaim. Pat and Scott Bonnani (a father/son team) were our adjusters, and were absolutely, positively, 100% amazing. The amount of effort they put into our case was impressive. I called Pat at one point, and although I hadn't talked to him for two weeks and caught him in a parking lot between meetings, he was able to rattle off a string of pending payment numbers for me down to the dollar - and apologized that he couldn't be more accurate than that! The diligence and effort that Pat and Scott put into handling our claim were a comfort, and made a HUGE difference in our lives over the past year.

Making a Racket

I get to rock out with one of these guys periodically.  If I ask nicely, he's happy to play some of my all-time favorites - "Be Thou My Vision" or "Like a River Glorious".  Acoustic, even.  That's the way he rolls these days, playing music for the worship service down at the local rescue mission, or before our Bible study up at the veteran's center.

People change.

"I wish I had an eagle like you..."

Everybody's jumping on the circus train.
Some jump high, some jump off again.
And the razzmatazz is rolling, women folk unveiled.
All truths to light, all crosses nailed.

Aiming high where the eagle circles,
Where he keeps his tail feathers clean.
And wonders "Am I still a free bird?
Or just a part of the machine?"

They hitch their covered wagons and they roll out west.
Politics in the pockets of their Sunday best.
Shaking hands, kissing babies, for all that they're worth.
They promise you gold, promise heaven on earth.

Still, that old bald eagle circles,
It's not the first time that he's seen
His reflection in the eyes of innocence.
He's become just another part of the machine.

Part of the machine.

I wish I had an eagle like you
To look up to.
He could be my wings to fly in a big bird sky
Up above the whole machine.

Part of the machine.
Part of the machine.

Smart guys aren't running they're home and dry.
Up in the mountains where the eagle flies.
They wouldn't take that job offered on a plate.
They got to fly with the eagle, and he won't wait.

Looking down on the smoke and the factories
Till the truth creeps up unseen.
They see themselves in the faces of their children
And realize they too are part of the machine.

Part of the machine.

I wish I had an eagle like you
To wake up to.
He could be my wings to fly
In a big bird sky, hey
Let's be part of the machine.

Part of the machine. Part of the machine.
Part of the machine. Part of the machine.
Part of your machine. Part of your machine.
Part of your machine. Part of your machine.

Consumed by House Schtuff

Crunch time.  It is the final two weeks of the build, so on top of everything else, we have to start planning to move.

It is a happy time, but incredibly busy...


From a friend of the Book of Faces:
Saw "Avengers: Age of Ultron." Very realistic movie. Ultron decides that the human race must be destroyed after he spends a few minutes on the internet.