Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Further Adventures of My 30 Foot Yellow Car

They washed my bus last night!

The timing of my route went too well, yesterday. Plus I forgot to hand in the results. So I figured I could do it today to get more accurate results, but today went just as well- if not better.

Dah is back to school. She had a birthday present for Leesha. Then I had to explain what generous meant.

This computer is starting to die, I think. It took almost 15 minutes to boot up. This started me off in a foul mood for my 1.5 hours at home. On top of that- the phone ran more than ever in this period of the day. Grumble grumble. Oh, I have it so bad.

The Noon route went rather well which brought be back around. Those kindergartners are so darn cute.

Then I went to the Source for comic books. I was happy after that. I picked up an old AD&D comic from DC from way back in the late '80s and a new comic for Leesha.

I have been selling a YTB company profile document on eBay for $.01 for the last few weeks just to get company information in the hands of people. I sold many. Most people purchased them for the sake of trading feedback, unfortunately. That wasn't my motive, but it was a nice side effect. It caused my account to surface on eBay admin radar and they pulled the remaining auctions off. Then they removed every feedback I received for selling those. I guess that didn't work out. I thought I was onto something there. BLAST!

Today I had a stupid song stuck in my head. I cannot recall what it was and I'm not putting any effort into trying. It had been irritating me so much that I figured programming KTIS into my Jeep's radio, on the way home, would help. It took 1.5 songs before I was searching again. Then I found Solsburry Hill by Peter Gabriel and right at the beginning of the song, too! That was the best way to see the day out.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Adventures of My 30 Foot Car (not really)

The new stop on the Murry route was already removed. Never even saw the kid.

However, new kid on 2nd route was there, and everyone on the bus already knew him. Apparently, he just moved to a different house.

Boqua came to school in spite of yesterday. Boqua and Dah are no longer the first kids on and the last kids off the bus.

There are time issues almost every morning on the routes as scheduled so dispatch had me write down the times that I arrive at the stops so the school district might have an easier time changing things. Well, of course all ran almost too perfectly smooth and there was no timing issue today.

I had a hard time trying to decide what to do for this afternoon. I figured it was too cold to nap, but it was sunny out. I figured I could just go try it and if it was too cold, I could let the bus idle while I took a quick nap. Well, it turned out to be warm enough on the bus to nap without the engine running. Of course, I parked in my usual spot to take advantage of as much sun as I could and surprising enough, the greenhouse effect overcame the windchill.

Small group was goofy tonight. We kept laughing about everything. I think half of the crew were too tired and were getting slap-happy.

Eric stayed later and we talked geek stuff like Battlestar Galactica and Firefly. Looks like we might go for Mike's invitation on Thursday.

Monday, January 29, 2007

World of Warcraft and Don't Puke on the Bus, Please

There were changes on both routes today adding students (and time) to each. Yet, neither of the new students were there when we went to pick them up.

Its cold, however, very pleasent, today. I don't know if its lower humidity, higher humidity or what but something is different and its great.

The first pick up for Wellstone used to be Dah, her brother- Boqua, and their cousin. Today it was only Boqua and he returned my CS Lewis Prince Caspian CDs.

When I returned home I watched South Park episode about World of Warcraft that I had been downloading lastnight. WOW is an online computer roleplaying game. You make a character, pay a monthly subscription and play. Everyone you encounter in the game is someone else also playing the game. I've heard its pretty cool. Anyway, this episode of South Park was probably almost half produced using computer graphics from the actual game. It pointed out how people who have no life are obsessed with this game. "How do you kill something that has no life?" "Gentlemen, this may mean the end of the world... of Warcraft". Again, South Park hits a home run when it comes to truth.

The Wellstone route home, today, Boqua was walked out to the bus by a teacher. She informed me that he vomited about 10 minutes earlier and may need to use the bus' bucket. Great. I see, now, why no one else was at his bus stop. Boqua is the very last student to be dropped off. I figured I'd just run the route backwards, run it the same way I do when picking the students up for school. See, the last students picked up in the morning are the first ones dropped off in the afternoon. In the end, Boqua made it home without a problem. I suspect this is why Dah and her cousin weren't on the bus this morning. And I don't expect any of them tomorrow.

There were only three students on the after-school route. That made things easy.

Rob called to chat because he was on call till after midnight and was bored. We chatted for a while till I went to bed.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

How this very cold day went

As usual we went to the 11:00 service at Woodland Hills. It was a very good message entitled Kingdom Healing and was about how Jesus healed vs how Christians today go about healing ministries. Based out of Luke 4:31-40. Best line from the sermon was a quote from St. Francis of Assisi:

"Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words."

I've made this quote my signature on my web forum.

Our small group coach, Mike, wants to have Eric and I over to watch an episode or two of Firefly. We're thinking Thursday if it happens this week.

Apparently, during the service, Eric got called to work for some heater issue. After church Cara and I went out to lunch with Keesha. We were hoping to hook up with Eric after he was done, but his job took too long. Keesha recommended the Grand Buffet down on Robert St. south of St. Paul. It's been a long time since I ate at an asian buffet. It was quite fulfilling. So we took Keesha home since we didn't have Eric. She didn't have keys to get in either, so we left her on her porch to wait for Eric (who was done by then and only a couple of minutes away, so she lived... I hope)

Cara and I headed over to Leesha's dad's house where he was hosting her birthday party. They were in the middle of a movie in the movie room (that room was very cool, by the way). I didn't feel like watching so I made my way back out to the lobby to read my new novel (see last post), which I was clever enough to bring- suspecting something exactly like this. Leesha's party looked like it went pretty well. She had a flock of girls from her class over for that movie and then they played Twister. Her dad's wife, Bri, has twin sisters who were also there. They're twins with each other, not with Bri. Leesha's half brother, Zech, was also there and perhaps a mite overwhelmed with all the girls there.

This evening I came across a website during a Google search for 'Christian D&D gaming'. The site is called and is the site for freelance writer James Wyatt who contributes a lot for the D&D Eberron campaign setting. How about that?! That's what I've been reading lately. Wyatt was a Methodist Pastor for several years.

By the way - Eric came home about 4 minutes after we dropped off Keesha.
Dungeons & Doctors

I'm feeling much better today.

Yesterday was pretty laid back. Went downtown Minneapolis for a nice long session of D&D with Rob, Pat and Paul. We're starting a new game run by Rob so we spent the first half building characters and just talking about anything- and we covered almost everything. The last couple of hours we actually played a little. Got the feel of our characters and how they'll work together. Rob is setting the game in AEG's publication- the World's Largest Dungeon. Should be fun. It was good time.

We all left just before 5:00. I stopped on they way home to pick up a novel. I bought the 2nd in the Eberron: Dark Dreaming trilogy- The Shattered Land again by Keith Baker (I just chatted with him a couple of days ago).

Cara was still out with her mum when I got home. After she arrived we had dinner and watched three episodes of Doctor Who. The last two of the first season and the first one with the new Doctor. Cara is really getting into this show. That pleases me.

Tomorrow is Leesha's birthday party. Not sure how that's all going to play out, but half the reason I got that book is if I'm expected to be there for a long period of time.

All in all, I'd say it was a rather high Geekflag day.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Day off

Time to get over this cold. Did laundry, posted some comics on eBay and caught up with some other stuff. Listened to a lot of Bowie, read OOTS.

In the mail, today, we got a package from Willis West (Greg's household). It's a DVD presentation of photos from Christmas. Greg produced this complete with a Star Wars text crawl + John William's music and photo montage with music including Chuck Mangione. What a great gift. Thank you, my brother.

Our house was full of relatives celebrating Leesha's and David's birthdays. We had Delane and Ron, Rubin and Donna, David and Darlene, and Cara, Leesha and me all for dinner in our living room. It was a very nice time. I gave Leesha her Gameboy. She was thrilled to get it.
It was a nice time. However, my cold peaked around this time and I was struggling to maintain the energy to be social.

Tomorrow, Rob is DMing a new game.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Mr. Baker, Written Up and Slumberland

I have a cold.

I got Dah hooked on Narnia today. She asked me to lend her the Prince Caspian radio drama on CD so I took that in for her. I was telling her all about the series. She only was aware of the movie.

Now for some cool geekflag news. I had an online conversation with the creator of the Eberron campaign setting, Keith Baker. One of the characters in Eberron is named Greykell Ir'Ryc. Greykell is a woman who used to be a soldier for a country that doesn't exist anymore. She appears in the novel City of Towers as well as the only Eberron comic so far- Eye of the Wolf- both written by Baker. I want to know more about this character and did a google search for her and look what I found:

I just received my birthday present from my brother Keith.... it is probably one of the most amazing presents I have ever received in my entire life.

See Keith snuck "me" into a book a couple of years ago. A minor character named (strangely enough) Greykell (Captain Greykell Ir'Ryc if you want to be technical) who wears an eye patch, is an older mentor type to heaps of people and who (sadly) isn't such an exciting character that everyone in the known universe wants to make a movie about her or anything.

BUT!! She's apparently cool enough to have a comic made out of her. That's right!! "I" am the star of a one-off comic, written by Keith, presumably available in the comic shops now. Go out and buy the adventure of Greykell!! Get your friends to buy copies. If this sells well then there will be more Greykell stories.


I have to get a copy of the "other" cover since it's done by someone I also know, the entertaining and talented leemoyer, but in the meantime... BUY THE COMIC!!!!

Eberron: Keith Baker's Eye of the Wolf from Devil's Due Publishing dated August 2006.


So I wrote a private message to Keith Baker on the WotC forums (Keith is the creator of Eberron and author of these books) and asked him if Greykell is based on his sister. Here's what he said:

Default Re: Greykell Ir'Ryc

Originally Posted by Moebius
Can you confirm that Greykell is based on your sister?
Yes, it's true. It's pretty much just as she describes. Greykell as presented in City of Towers is fairly directly based on Greykell the person, which is to say that I used her as an inspiration for the character's personality and dialogue as well as using her name. RL Greykell doesn't have an eyepatch, but she's a huge fan of Snake Plisken (Escape From New York), so I decided it would be fun to give her an eyepatch. At some point I was talking with Greykell the person and jokingly said that I should write my next series of novels about Greykell the character and her experiences during the Last War. Then the opportunity to work on the comic came along, I was considering various plot ideas, and it occurred to me that it could actually make a pretty good story! And the rest you know...
Keith Baker
Eberron Designer
Come visit!
Want to talk about the Eberron novels? Now, you can do it here!

So there you have it. Kind of cool.

I saw a 5 Eyewitness News truck at Johnson Elementary school, today, as I dropped off my bus aid after my noon route. I went over and said hi to the photog. He recognized me and I knew him, but he was one of those photogs that I never got to know his name. He was there for some story about St. Paul schools now serving tater tot hot dish- breaking news!

I had to write up a couple of students today- first write-ups of the year. The Christmas Story kid and his sister were fighting even after being separated. I told them that if they continued, they'd be written up. They continued. And right before they got off the bus, too. What a waste. I think the sister is going to be kicked off the bus for a while. This is far from her first write-up.

After work I went over to Cara's folk's house. They suddenly served dinner, but the real reason I was asked to come over was to help her dad bring a new box spring back to Slumberland and take a smaller one to the house. That's what we did. Cara went to Leesha's parent-teacher conference. Leesha is staying at their house tonight.

no work tomorrow

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Gameboys, Playstations and RPGs

A few days after Christmas vacation ended my buddy, Dequan, from the elementary school route lost his Gameboy. It seemed like another kid on the bus, Carry, stole it. Dequan always is getting in trouble. He seems like he is starved for attention and how he goes about getting attention puts him on opposing sides with most people. So he's always getting in fights or pissing people off.

Today I put some pressure on Carry about the Gameboy. Carry brought it on the bus for some reason. I told him it seemed very much like he had Dequan's Gameboy and that if it was Dequans, that he ought to give it back to avoid serious problems. He claimed he got it at GameStop, but in the end he did give the Gameboy to Dequan (which yields his guilt). I had him stay on the bus after everyone got off to tell him I thought he made the right choice. He still stuck to his story that he just bought the Gameboy, but wanted to give it to Dequan anyways.

Carry looks just like the kid from Christmas Story

On my activity route (activity routes are for kids who stay after school for whatever reason) there is a boy named Victor who has made it clear since I started on the route that he doesn't like me. Tonight, I think I won him over. It started by me asking if he had a Playstation or an XBox. He has a Playstation II. Asked him what was his favorite game. Star Wars.
All I had to do was set the hook.
All the way home we talked about it. He even moved from mid-bus to right behind my seat. Thank you, Mr. Lucas.

I got a Christmas gift from Cara's folks. Well, they asked what I wanted and bought it for me. Anyway, I added to my growing Eberron book collection with Sharn: City of Towers book which came with an Eberron soundtrack. I guess where ever Darlene bought it had to order it and she got it today. These books are very high quality. Thank you Sorleys. (note* this book is different than the novel I posted about on the 21st. It is about the same place, however this book is a resource about Sharn, the other book - just City of Towers, is a novel that takes place there)

Last day of work for the week, tomorrow for we have Friday off!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Today is Leesha's 9th Birthday!

I remember my 9th birthday. Its one of the only childhood birthdays I do remember. Mom and dad and Greg and I took one of our marina's houseboats out on the chain for the evening and overnight. We anchored off of the little island on Scattering Rice Lake, I think. I remember I got a Star Wars action figure for my birthday. Ree Yees I think was what his name is. Greg got a Star Wars guy, too. Chief Chirpa- our first ewok figure. Brothers getting something on the other's birthday seemed logical back then.

Dah is back. She must've been feeling ill yesterday because she is back to her normal self again and that pleases me.

A couple of weeks ago I made a mix CD for my brother of all David Bowie music. So that's what I've been listening to a lot lately. Because of that, all day I've had music and dialog from the movie Labyrinth in my brain. I've been craving that movie again for a while now.

After dropping off the last students this evening, dispatch called for me over the radio- "Base to 192, Jeff?"
"This is 192, go ahead".
"See me when you get in tonight"
"10 4". Now my mind starts up. What could I possibly have done to get the attention of dispatch? Did I get tagged for speeding? Has my temporary license expired? What did I do? I park, sweep out the bus, clean up everything and make the trek across the parking lot to the office. When I get in, Peter in dispatch throws a paper at me. I look at it and it is a check! Monarch Bus Services have a policy that if you are on time to work and all your stops and schools every day- you get a $.60 bonus for every hour you work that month. That is what I received tonight.

Before I went home I delivered an eBay package and picked up a birthday balloon.

When I got home, Leesha was on the phone with my folks. A bit later I got to talk with them, too.

We studied Matthew chapter 23 tonight for Small Group. Our group has developed a thing where we serve food for everyone (who wants to partake, about half eat before) and anyone can bring food to add to the bounty. We will socialize while people arrive and help ourselves to the food. Tonight, Steve and I ate in the dining room while the rest of the group ate in the living room. I could overhear Rob joking about saying the line from Labyrinth about the Goblin King taking his baby away. So from the dining room I reply, quietly - "did he say it?!" and to my delight Rob caught it.

It was a good night for discussion. Talking about Jesus and his smackdown on the Pharisees. We pretty much got through the whole night without talking about poop- but that's because Rauchwarters weren't there.

Almost as soon as we were done with group, Cara went to sleep. She was wiped out.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Boring Morning, Busy Night

Humdrum morning. Dah almost didn't say a word all the way to school and she slept on the way back. I think something's wrong with her.

Busy night.
After work I gave a guy a ride to a bus stop. As soon as we leave he tells me that the bus already left the spot he wanted me to drop in off at. So we ended up behind it, pursuing it to its next stop. A ways off my course home. Oh well.
Next I picked up a couple of things for Leesha's birthday present. Her gift from me is a Gameboy Color. I was going to find one for sale and was talking about it on the bus before Christmas break when one of the kids on the Middle School route said he'd just give me one of his. And he did! So, tonight I picked up a couple of games for it. We shall see how well she likes the Gameboy and how well she takes care of it.
Then I stopped to get some shipping supplies for eBay sales. It was almost 9pm when I got home.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Bi-Polar Weekend, Switchers, Wet Hair and the End of a Book

As covered in the last entry, we went to the Bomberg's house on Friday night. Saturday was spent with our former Before-You-Say-I-Might class mates for our first reunion since we've all graduated and married. The nature of the two visits- Friday night vs Saturday- made for a bi-polar weekend.

One foundational factor with Friday night is that the Bombergs are Jewish. Now, don't take any of this the wrong way. But, that is a line between us that will never go away. There will ALWAYS be that difference. Saturday, that line doesn't exist. Friday there was a level of discomfort the whole time (at least for me). It was a biding of time till its over. Saturday was more of a time that you don't want to leave. There was a genuine relaxation. Its very interesting to have both experiences on the same weekend.

This weekend was my monthly service to Woodland Hills. Every third weekend I fulfil the media crew's switcher position for all three church services. There are several people filling various roles for each service and about half are on a monthly rotation. The two camera people are on the same schedule as I am so I will almost always end up with the same team- which really works out nicely.

This week's sermon was by Brenda Salter-McNeal and was about Jacob wrestling with the Angel. I really like that story. Its a brother story.

It also is from Genesis which I think is my favorite book in the Bible. Its in the last 10 years that I realized that a good chunk of my favorite Bible stories are related and sequential. Isaac, the same little boy that was almost sacrificed is the same old man who gave Esa's blessing to Jacob. Jacob becomes Israel, the same old man who was moved to Egypt at the end of his life. Israel's sons are the origin of the 12 tribes. No one pointed these small factoids out to me or I didn't put it together until recently. I love that book.

The one problem with switching at church is that I'm left mentally wiped out. This afternoon Cara had to work so it was just Leesha and me. Soon after Cara left, I crashed. Leesha took as shower and I took a nap. When I woke up she was not in the house. I looked outside and she was finishing up sweeping the entire driveway! I was impressed and thanked her, then scolded her for going outside right after bathing with her hair all wet.

I finished reading a book today. An Eberron novel- City of Towers by Keith Baker. Eberron is a new D&D campaign setting that has gained my interest lately. This novel is written by the guy who gave the setting life. They describe Eberron as Lord of the Rings mixed with Indiana Jones mixed with The Maltese Falcon. So basically its fantasy with elves and dwarves, but with pulp adventure and noir. I liked it and will probably be reading more.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Bugs, Buses and Bombergs

I believe there is some sort of spirit that influences one's day. It may manifest in small ways- like stop light timing. Today has a good spirit. Everything was falling into place as it should today.

Some drama on the elementary school route this afternoon. Dequan is a kid with some self esteem issues. Somehow he sets everyone against him. This kid ends up in more arguments and fights than anyone else. He is so hungry for attention that he saps my energy more than any other kid on any of my routes. Today, he decided to take Dah's seat on the bus- the seat directly behind my seat. When Dah got on the bus and she saw that her usual spot was taken she went back further and got real quiet. It was difficult to tell, but she seemed more upset than I think she should have been for just a seat.

About half way through the route we ran into trouble on University and Dale. There were maybe 8 police cars in that area with crime tape and all sorts of action. They were redirecting traffic so I altered the route and took the remaining kids home all out of order which caused all sorts of questions and complaints about going home from them. I enjoy deviating from the route sometimes.

Cara picked up my check today.
My CD player in the jeep is pretty much dead.

I was in a mood when I got home. Hadn't even stepped in the house when Leesha unloads on me all about some bug in the basement. After I unloaded all my layers and stuff, used the bathroom, kissed my wife I went into Leesha's room to tell her she might want to give Dah a call to make her feel better. Leesha's reply was something about that stupid bug. I asked if she even heard what I said. She said she did, but then continued about that bug in the basement. So I gave up trying to talk to her. She's obsessed with it. Shortly after that her dad came to pick her up.

Very soon after Leesha got picked up Cara and I went to the Bomberg's house for dinner and just to hang out. What can I say about this visit. We've been with them before and had a really good time. This time didn't measure up to those visits. Kristin threw a mini fit while playing Phase 10 when Matt tried to point out she was playing incorrectly. It was awkward. After the game, Cara and Kristin went through a HUGE collection of maternity clothing while Matt kept nodding his head back and forth in some strange attempt to act not sleepy while I channel surfed. We had been trying to get together with them for a long time and maybe this was too short notice or something, but it just felt forced to me. And we didn't leave till after midnight. It was nice to see Sadie (I'm horrible).

Tomorrow we see the Jankoviches.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Comic Book Day and The Voice that Relaxes

We had a Safety Meeting at work today so I was unable to go home. This disrupts my routine which is good and bad. I love to go home and relax turning the heat and the radio up, but I am also a fan of change.

Since there was no work or postal service on Monday, that makes today Comic Book Day!

It's usually on Wednesdays, but not today, that I go to The Source and chat with the guys working there about whatever- usually Hans. Hans and I trade music a lot. We have many similar interests which go beyond just music. Today we talked about The Gunslinger series by Stephen King and how Merlin/Randall Flagg (of the Stand) was very similar to Tolkien's wizards and even Lewis's version of Merlin in That Hideous Strength. He lent me another album by Transatlantic. In turn, I gave him a copy of Ayreon - The Human Equation. Transatlantic was a lighter prog band that featured Neal Morse who left the band and went on to do solo stuff as a christian musician.

I got gas for the Jeep today at $1.86 a gallon!

Dah is a young girl on the elementary school route I work. She has taken a liking to me and always sits right behind me and chats away about whatever. One day Leesha ended up riding the bus with me all day. She and Dah became friends, but they can't seem to connect by phone since. Today, Dah wanted to sing songs that she made up right there on the spot. I allowed her to go ahead. The odd thing about it (and what makes it blog worthy) is that when I would allow myself to focus on her voice, I found it very relaxing. It only worked on the songs she made up. The only other song she knows (that I recognize) is Whitney Houston's Greatest Love of All and I found that that song doesn't relax me at all- even if its sung by Dah.

As soon as I got home dinner was served. As soon as dinner was done, Leesha was on her way to bed. Our schedule is brutal. Seems like there isn't much time with her.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Buses Don't Fit at the Post Office

I had to pick up a package at the post office, but to get there during their open hours I had to park the school bus in the parking lot. It was early so it ended up being no problem. But still. 30 foot vehicle, come on!

I heard "Another Brick in the Wall part II" on KQRS tonight and now I want to listen to The Final Cut.

I'm coming up to the end of the book I've been reading for the last week and a half. Its a D&D book from the campaign setting Eberron. Even thou this is the first ever Eberron book I've read, it still feels like the old Forgotten Realms books I used to read in High School. Its light. And fast paced. As apposed to George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series (which is way better, but much heavier- in content and actual weight!).

Got a good nap in on the bus this afternoon. In the mid 20's and sunny makes for a very comfortable bus as long as you park east/west.

I'm trying to write every day this year. I'll develop a format in time to come. This is just a mashup of ideas just to get them down.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

It has been a while.

Today, I saw an eagle standing on the ice on the Mississippi River at the intersection of Jackson Ave and Werner Rd. An eagle in downtown St. Paul. What do you think of that?

There has been so much. Its too much to cover with one entry. You are going to have to keep coming back to absorb it all.

The big news as of late is that Cara is 14 weeks pregnant!


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