Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Another Funeral

We're still recovering from our whirlwind trip to Michigan over the weekend for my grandfather's funeral. 2014 so far has seriously sucked. Not that his death was completely unexpected; the guy would have been 101 in April. He had declined severely over the last few weeks, and was basically bed-ridden and helpless, something he would have hated. Knowing that doesn't make losing him any easier, but it does. (Anyone who has been through this scenario knows what I mean.) We did get to see some of my family that we haven't seen in several years, but we would have much preferred it to be for something other than a funeral.

This happened just as both of us were revving up for the busy time of year; Debbie with peak cruise season and me with taxes, hence the 72-hour trip from hell over the weekend so we could both get back to it. My work is still trying to get everything set up and procedures in place before the real crowds hit towards the end of this week and next week. It's slow going as the people supposedly in charge seem to be mostly MIA thus far. I'm stuck in a little booth across from the bathrooms at Walmart for this season. I covered for people there a couple times last tax season, and it can get pretty crazy. This go-'round we have two computers so a second person can jump in when needed, which should help keep the line shorter. Last year, I had at least a dozen people give up and walk away because the line was too long. Then again, I just found out yesterday that one of the four people that were supposed to be working just bailed on us, so that second computer will mostly be there as a prop. Looking for knowledgeable tax preparers after the start of tax season is like looking for virgins in a brothel.

Debbie's busy season has so far been... well... uneven is probably the best word. It seems like she is either insanely busy or the phones are completely dead. Of course, the lunatics always make a showing, like the lady this morning that insisted that there had to be a cabin on a sold-out cruise because she really wanted to go and what do you mean by "sold out"? How can a cruise be "sold out"? I was trying to clean up last night's dishes while this insane conversation was taking place and almost had to leave the room. Holy. Crap.

And that's pretty much all I have to report at this point. Later.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Make Up Yer Mind!

Last weekend, our high temperatures were the 80's. Then we dropped, with high's barely in the 40's. On Friday, it was back up in the 80's. Now something else weird is going on; clouds, high winds, rain (in the so-called dry season), and nighttime temps low enough the heat kicks on and daytime temps high enough the AC kicks on. Everyone we talk to has some sort of lingering respiratory infection.

But at least it hasn't snowed.

I was able to finish cleaning up after the last couple landscaping projects and get the "yard" to a place where I can ignore it until after April 15th. I have some early morning running I need to do to get set for tax season, then I hope to have time for some photos. If I do, you'll be the first to know.

Speaking of photos, I had my parents bring some of my dad's old family photos down here so I could scan them in before they deteriorate any further. Most of them date back to the late 1800's and early 1900's, and haven't exactly been properly cared for. Some have names and dates, but many of them are anonymous photos of people no living person can identify. I did find one interesting bit; it seems Harry Potter was one of my ancestors:

(Actually, I think it was an early photo of my grandfather.)

We did something different-ish on Sunday. We were at Disney World, which isn't different for us, but instead of our usual agenda, we were there to see Debbie's cousin Beth running in the annual Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge. This was taken just past the half-way point in front of Animal Kingdom:

Pretty bad that she looks less tired after running 13 miles the day after running a half marathon than we felt after just standing on the side of the course for an hour. We also saw her at mile 25 in Epcot, but Debbie threw all our stuff at me and took off down the course running with Beth, so I didn't get a photo. She hasn't posted anything as of me typing this, but I'm sure she'll have all the gory details on her blog.

The most entertaining part of watching a marathon is the crazy get-ups people wear. Isn't running a marathon enough of a challenge without trying to run it while dressed up like a fairy? And you're a 6'10" guy? I'd like to give a couple special shout-outs: Wonder Woman - I'm sure your barely-legal costume made every guy's day. It certainly woke me up.... And to the two guys in full-body costumes (one was Shamu, the other was Tigger), congrats on not collapsing in the middle of the course from heat exhaustion. Seriously, we both broke out in a panic sweat just watching you run by.

Well, I need to get cleaned up and out the door. Besides, Google is driving me crazy today with all the errors. I've gotten a dozen pop-ups that Google couldn't auto-save my entry, and I've tried to upload a video three times. More later.

Later: Not sure what Google's problem was earlier, but everything seems fine now. Anyway, speaking of crazy get-ups, no one knew what this guy's deal was, but he seemed to be having a great time running a marathon wearing a sousaphone:

I was planning on getting some work done outside today, but instead spent most of the afternoon at my parents chatting. Tomorrow is a remote possibility, but it's supposed to rain all day (not that the weather liars ever get it right). After that, it's Tax Season!!

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Happy New Year!!

Well, the new year isn't getting off to a very good start. My Aunt Wanda passed on December 31 around 10:30am. She had been in and out of the hospital several times in recent weeks with severe COPD, so it wasn't a complete shock, but still.... My parents took off for Michigan like they'd been shot out of a cannon, and arrived New Years Day after driving for 23 hours straight. They called us when they arrived and informed us it was smooth sailing, other than getting lost twice, going the wrong way once, and oh yea, there was that white-out that lasted for several hundred miles. Smooth sailing....

Obviously, our New Years Eve celebrations were a bit subdued. We had tickets for a party here in the park, so we did go and do that. New Years Day was a movie marathon combined with cleaning up some of the Christmas decorations. We decided to leave up a string of clear lights we have inside. It was nice to come home to them anytime we got back to the trailer after dark. The way the light switches are laid out in this place means we have to walk quite a ways before we get to one; that string of lights in the front window will save some wear and tear on our toes. The outside lights are still up mainly because all it has done for the last couple days is rain. The schmutz is supposed to blow out tonight, so maybe tomorrow I can get those things taken down and put the Christmas stuff back out in the shed.

Other than that, not much going on. I've been trying to wrap up yard projects before I get disappeared for the duration of tax season, but the weather has been decidedly uncooperative. I need to make a big push this weekend, and maybe even have some photos to post here. No promises, but it could happen.

It's a new year, and so it's the traditional time to make resolutions that we won't keep and predictions that generally won't come true. Last year, our only resolutions were to not end up living in a dumpster and not kill our bee-otch neighbor. We lived up to both of those, which goes to show that being a success is mostly about setting the bar extremely low. In fact, we did so well on both of those that they will remain our New Years resolutions for 2014.

w00t w00t; low expectations!!

As far as predictions, I was 100% for 2013, only because they were such wide-sweeping generalizations that nothing short of the Apocalypse or New Jerusalem would have proven me wrong. And yet, that is the point; we are rerunning the 1970's malaise, the next step down in the catabolic collapse of the US and our economic allies. That means we can look forward to big shocks, followed by periods of stabilization, and even modest recoveries. What it doesn't mean is that we can party like it's 1999, or wait for Jesus to come and save us (either the Jesus of the New Testament, or our new, replacement Jesus of infinite progress). We're stuck dealing with the consequences of our own actions; consequences which will most-closely resemble Ol' Aunt Mertabel doing her annual, slow-motion tumble down the stairs after getting a snoot full of egg nog. It starts with a loud, "Oh Lord!", crash, bang, thud, then a pause where she almost regains her balance, then a "Help me, Jesus!", thud, bang, crash, rinse and repeat until she finally hits the bottom of the staircase 25 minutes later. What we're living right now is that second round of bang-crashing which will be followed at some point in the future by a pause in the general downward trajectory, maybe even a slight bounce off the bottom, then another God-have-mercy moment sometime in the 2020's. The final splat will be witnessed by the grandchildren of the grandchildren of everyone reading this.

Have a happy 2014!!