Philadelphia and New York

Wednesday, August 10th, 2005:

me: i’m driving to new york tomorrow
cal: Gee…
me: 16 hours of driving. it’ll rule!
cal: what for?
me: with 2 kids!
cal: That’s a long drive to make out with a chick
me: nah, this is for the kids. i could make out with a chick after they leave.
cal: Sure it is
cal: The kids LOVE New York
me: it is. i’m moving to oregon. they won’t have many more opportunies to see nyc.
me: free lodging makes it affordable
cal: Sounds like a pretty good rationalization

Like I would drag the kids 16 hours in the car to a place they don’t want to go just so I could see a girl. This vacation is 100% for the kids. I only have them for another 20 days and I wouldn’t go and waste a week of those days if I didn’t think they wouldn’t enjoy it. Like I can’t just go and see Jammie in September. The kids and I sat down and discussed where to go and NYC is the place that all of us decided on. I didn’t talk them into it. Cal has known me for 1/3 of my life. I challenge him to come up with 1 example of me putting a girlfriend before the kids. Cal is my best friend and I love him. But what a fucking jerk.

So all that aside…I’m leaving for NYC tomorrow. We’ll most likely make 1 stop for the night instead of driving straight through. I’m trying to find a good place to stop in between. Jammie recommends Philadelpia but that’s still 14 hours from Alton. I’m looking for more of a 1/2 to 2/3’s of the way to NYC kind of place to stop. I’m guessing it will either be somewhere in Ohio or western Pennsylvania.

Thursday, August 11th, 2005: Woke up at 6:30am and was on the road by 8:00am. The kids were great in the car – just played video games and watched TV mostly. We watched (well, I listened mostly) Austin Powers, Ozmosis Jones and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. For lunch we stopped at a Wendy’s in Columbus, Ohio. The trip went by surprisingly fast. Made it to Somerset, PA around 8:30pm and found a hotel. Tomorrow we’re planning to hang around in Philadelphia for awhile, then get to NYC in the evening.

Friday, August 12th, 2005: Drove to Philadelphia. It took about 3.5 hours to get there. Then getting through downtown traffic took another 30 minutes. Finally found parking and started walking towards the Liberty Center. Security was insane. They had sections of grass all blocked off and were screening people and making them go through a metal detector just to walk up to the Liberty Bell. The line was super long so we decided to skip it. We got a glimpse of the bell through a window. Went to a visitors center and looked around for awhile, then got on a tour bus which gave us all the basics of Philadelphia in about 80 minutes. It even drove into the Delaware river.

Emily on the tour bus/boat Payton and me on the tour bus/boat
This is Dana Barett’s apartment from Ghostbusters. The one that the marshmellow guy attacked. Taking a break from our walk back to the car.

After the tour, we got back in the car and left the city. As we approached the end of New Jersey I missed my exit and instead of turning around, I just decided to take the next one. This took me into the Lincoln Tunnel which made my very first New York experience involve dealing with Manhattan traffic. I’ve done plenty of big city driving before but I’m pretty sure I never want to drive through Manhattan ever again. We got to Jammie’s house around 8pm. Our total drive was just under 1,000 miles and gas cost approximately $85.86. I may have forgotten to get a receipt once so maybe it was more like $100 even. But still, not too bad considering gas prices were between $2.00 and $2.50 per gallon.

Saturday, August 13th, 2005: Me Jammie and the kids spent all day in NYC. After having some breakfast/lunch at Mcdonalds, we went to the seaport and watched a bunch of street performers, visited an 18th/19th century toy display, bought a few souvineers, looked around a Sharper Image store, visited Toys R Us (the largest in the world, Jammie claims) and ate supper at Mars 2112 which was a cool Mars-themed restaurant. Got home at 10pm, all nice and exhausted. Jammie gave me my very own Metrocard today! She’d lost hers earlier in the month, then found it. So I get the extra one to use all week.

Jammie and an alien from the restaurant Walking back to the Subway from Mars 2112 Alien guy and Toni share a cigarette after a hard day in NYC

Sunday, August 14th, 2005: Jammie, me and the kids spent all day at the science center in Jersey City. Stopped by a pizza place in Jersey City for dinner, then back to Jammies.

Payton was really into this computer that drew things with a laser. Emily and Jammie playing virtual vollyball with some blue screen video game thing

Payton and a lizzard Jammie holding a live cockroach

Monday, August 15th, 2005: Worked a bunch this morning while the kids played on the net and watched TV. We drove to McDonald’s for breakfast, then went to the park and for a long walk around the neighborhood. Around 5 we took the subway to Jammie’s work to pick her up and I got introduced to a few of her coworkers. Walked around Union Square for awhile, played at the parks, then Jammie took us to see Slava’s Snow Show at Union Square Theatre. It ruled and the kids loved it. Near the end of the show, there was a blizzard in the theater, which is why most of the pictures below have tons of “snow” in them. After that we stopped at some cafe for sandwhiches. Got home at midnight.

We were the last few people in the theater before we left At the cafe afterwards

Tuesday, August 16th, 2005: The kids and I spent most of the day visiting the Statue of Liberty. Then we walked forever to find some kind of Sony Wonder place that Jammie suggested but it ended up closing right as we got there. Hung out on the sidewalk for about 30 minutes, then went and found Jammie.

Kids posting with some guy in a Liberty costume in Battery Park This is about the best I could do with a picture of Emily and Payton in front of the statue. A slightly better shot of them in front of the Statue while taking the boat home. Even though it’s the back of the statue. Posing on some immigrant statue.

We all went to downtown to meet RTF and Murd0c. After nearly a decade of knowing RTF, I finally got to meet him. And after meeting murd0c this time, I didn’t end up fleeing the state in fear of the police. So it all worked around really good! I also got to meet I-ball, MikeTV, Enamon and RTF’s sister Fina.

We hung out for a few hours at some restaurant, which I’m told is the 2600 hangout after the 2600 meetings. At some point, Jammie and Emily left for about 45 minutes to play in some nearby park. RTF presented me with a framed original drawing of his winning entry from one of the PLA contests. And I presented everyone else with old school PLA stickers.

Me, Jammie, Murd0c, RTF and Emily Murd0c, Mike TV and RTF I-Ball desperately trying to connect to a wireless network.

Murd0c & Emily use the golden pay phones Me being gay with murd0c RTF, me and murd0c

Payton battling RTF outside the restaurant Emily and Jammie Emily, Jammie and Payton on the train home.

Wednesday, August 17th, 2005: Did nothing all day until Jammie got home from work at 3pm. Then went to Breezy Point and spent the evening at the beach. Had dinner with Jammie and her dad at a pizza place.

Emily boogie boarding Jammie boogie boarding

Thursday, August 18th, 2005: Jammie’s dad took the kids to some science center/museum thing today while I hung around the house. When they got back, I took the kids to Central Park to meet up with Jammie. Hung out with her for about 45 minutes, then she had to leave for a concert. The kids and I wandered central park for another hour and rode the carosel. Took a train to Times Square and had dinner at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, stopped by Mars 2112 to pick up a new plush alien (Payton lost the one he bought earlier in the week), stopped by a pharmacy for asprin (I’d had a headache all afternoon), then hung out in Toys R Us (the biggest in the world) for about an hour.

Taking a rest in Central Park Times Square

Took a train back to Central Park and eventually met up with Jammie after her concert ended. Got to meet her friend Rob and some other guy whose name I can’t remember. Walked to the train station and went home. We were all 4 extremely exhausted and fell asleep immediately after Futurama.

Friday, August 19th, 2005: The kids and I went to Jammie’s work to pick her up, then she took us to the Empire State Building. Got back home by about 5 or 6pm and stayed home the rest of the evening since we’re all pretty much exhausted from our busy week.

Saturday, August 20th, 2005: Jammie’s dad took us all out for a goodbye breakfast. Said our goodbyes and got on the road by noon. Managed to get through Manhattan traffic in just over 20 minutes this time. Drove until about 9:00, then found a motel in Ohio.

My synopsis of the vacation: New York rules, Jammie rules and her dad rules. And everything just rules. I think my only real complaint about New York would be the traffic. I’ve never driven in a place where people have such complete disregard for traffic laws. You’ll see an entire block of people double-parked and people constantly cut you off or force you out of your lane. Driving is just insane there. But they make up for it with awesome public transportation so I guess it all works out. Thanks, Jammie, for creating such a kickass vacation for us! Now to update my map

Sunday, August 21st, 2005: Got back to Illinois at about 8pm. Or maybe it was 7. These time zones confuse me. Didn’t do anything the rest of the evening, just picked up my mail at the neighbors, drank milkshakes and watched TV.

Lots of Summer 2005 kids stuff

Wednesday, July 13th, 2005: Happy Birthday, Payton! Went to my parents this afternoon for a birthday party. Payton got an RC car, an RC hover disc, Pac Man World for Gamecube, Fairly Oddparents for PS2, a Lego car from Jammie, a Lego kit from my parents and some other random small things. The lego kit included a motor and let you build various animals, including a robotic monkey (pictured below) that climbs along a string. Here’s video of it. This evening we went to Casey’s baseball game.

Payton and his cake Payton opening more presents while Emily assembles his Lego car Robotic Monkey

Thursday, July 14th, 2005: Today I took the kids to Wal-Mart. Normally I avoid that store at all costs, but Payton really wanted some toy from there and had birthday money to blow. While they were in the toy isle, I stopped to look at shoes. And a mother and son comes down the isle, arguing with each other. It went something like this:

(whiney voice) “Moooom, I don’t want any new shoes!”
“Your need some new shoes, the ones you have look horrible.”
“But I don’t LIKE any of the shoes here!”
“You need new shoes and we’re buying new shoes today.”

They argued back and forth like this pretty much the entire minute that I was in the shoe isle. But here’s sad part – the son was my age. He looked like a completely normal guy and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t retarded. But he was arguing with his mom about shoes like he was a bratty 5-year-old. Only with a lot more cursing. I shoulda snapped a picture of them.

Later we went to Burger King for lunch. I was hanging around the counter for a few minutes, waiting for somebody to take my order. I decided to show off for Emily and reinact a scene from Family Guy. I grabbed the microphone at the register and said, “Hey, is this thing on? TESTICLES!” Only I didn’t actually push the button on the mic. Emily smiled and said, “Dad, I think she’s ready to take your order now.” I looked over and the cashier is staring at me from the other register. Luckily she seemed somewhat amused by it and didn’t treat me like a bratty 5-year-old for playing with the mic.

After Burger King we went to Target, home for awhile and then to swimming lessons. This evening I taught Emily how to skateboard! She bought a skateboard at Wal-Mart today and this evening she decided to go out and try it out. She came back in 3 minutes later saying she couldn’t stay up on it. So we went out for maybe 30 minutes and I taught her how to stand and ran next to her on it and caught her a few times. A very nice father-daughter moment. Tomorrow we work on turning and I’m gonna loosen her wheels a little. She ended up staying out until 10pm, skatboarding with neighbor kids and then my neighbor Bethany took her to McDonald’s for a Sundae.

Tonight me and the kids watched adult swim and got to see the actual episode of Peter from Family Guy yelling into a fast food mic. I guess it was a new episode and they were just playing the commercial for it all week. It was so nostalgic, seeing Peter reinact my Burger King thing.

Saturday, July 16th, 2005: Went to the mall book store with the kids. Bought the new Harry Potter book, Matilda, a calendar for Emily and a couple of books for each of them. Then went to Steak N Shake for supper.

Sunday, July 17th, 2005: Took Emily Payton and Casey to see Fantasic 4 at Eastgate today. Mowed most of the lawn this evening.

Monday, July 18th, 2005: For some reason I thought today was Tuesday and I took the kids to the Y for swimming lessons. I’m an idiot. Since we were in downtown Alton, we went to the riverfront park for awhile and chased geese around.

Tuesday, July 19th, 2005: Me and Emily got haircuts. Took the kids to swimming lessons this evening.

Wednesday, July 20th, 2005: Woke up at 7am, took the kids to get donuts and then to my brothers house. Me, him and Bruce put up a new ceiling in his room today. Went home and worked for a couple hours, then took the kids swimming all day. Had Little Caesar’s for supper.

Friday, July 22nd, 2005: Two and a half years ago i wrote an article on raving about how great the Vonage internet phone was. In the article, I put referal codes for people to click on so I’d get money for people signing up. Yesterday I got my first check! $50! And it only took 2.5 years! I rule. That not quite as bad as when I signed up as an affiliate with in the late 90’s – my earnings are up to about $12.00 on there today. I have to get up to $25 or $50 to have a check mailed to me.

So my week hasn’t been too exciting. I’ve worked, played, ate, etc. A couple days ago I got up at 7am to go help my brother drywall, then me and the kids went swimming for the day. I spent 4 straight hours in the water, got burned a little. Started the new Harry Potter book that day which so far isn’t too bad. Hrmmm, what else…Jammie and I hijacked murd0c’s journal yesterday which is rather amusing.

This evening we went to Shirley’s house – she was my babysitter until I was about 13 but I still manage to visit her a few times a year. Hung out at her house for about an hour, then went to Wal-Mart and home. Emily rules – the lady in front of us had about 20 items in the express lane so Emily loudly counted each item as it was scanned. They looked back at her a few times.

Saturday, July 23rd, 2005: Went to a birthday party for Tami’s daughter Alexis. That lasted a few hours, then went home. Took Tami’s kids with me, though, and they spent the night. Had some pizza for supper, sat at the laptop working on web site junk all evening. Gotta love Payton’s shirt in this picture:

Monday, July 25th, 2005: Today’s weather forecast: “Very hot and humid. Mostly sunny. High around 101. Highest heat index readings of around 115 in the late morning and afternoon. Southwest wind 10 to 15 mph.” OMG HOT! I wonder if it’s safe to hang out in the pool all day when the temperatures are like that. I think that’s what I might end up doing.

Yesterday Tami came and picked up her kids around noon. Then we went to Target for groceries and to buy another birthday present for yet another birthday party. The kids went to this one by themselves and I stayed home. After the birthday party, Beth took my kids and hers to her parents for swimming all day. They didn’t get home until around 8pm. I spent most of the day staring at my laptop screen, working on website stuff. I completed my very first PHP-enabled page!

For the past year I’ve been wanting to insert PHP code into certain parts of Every time I’ve tried, I’ve failed. I chalked it up to me being stupid. But then I registered and had it hosted through Go Daddy and every PHP thing I’ve done on there has worked flawlessly. So it’s the host that sucks, not me! Which is nice to know. What really sucks is that I don’t understand exactly WHY most code doesn’t work on If I knew that, maybe there’d be a way I could work around it. I’d have so much cool stuff on by now if things would just work right. I really want to create user accounts, themes, shoutbox, instant messaging and integrate the comments system into it all. But nothing seems to work.

Wednesday, July 27th, 2005: Our cable internet has been spotty since Friday or Saturday. Every day it’s been up just for a few minutes at a time, then it’s down for an hour. Occasionally it works but it’s never for very long. Until the evenings, then it seems to work just fine all evening and all night. But as soon as morning is here, it’s down. For the past 2 days I’ve been using my cell phone as my internet connection during the day. The bad part is that the cable company doesn’t believe me. I tried calling them on Monday and was finally hung up on after being on hold for 10 minutes. So I tried again yesterday. I held for 5 minutes, got a person, they took a report and then they transferred me to repair. I held for another 10 minutes, got a guy in some other department and he transferred me to repair. So I held for another 10 minutes and talked to repair.

I explained the problem to him, assured him that it wasn’t on my end since the neighbor’s internet was out too. He asked me to try a website. I did and it just happened to be working at that time. I should have lied because he then became skeptical of me. He wanted me to go through all the standard troubleshooting routines with him – unplug the modem, disconnect the router, reboot my computer a hundred times, etc. In the end, he refuses to send anyone out. My new theory is that the outage is being caused by the heat since it’s only down in the daytime but works perfectly at night. It’s been in the upper 90’s all week. Currently it’s 68 degrees out (10:00am) and the internet is working. The high today is 80 degrees so we’ll see if the internet holds up. Maybe I can just aim my garden hose at the cable stuff on the telephone pole to cool it down whenever it stops working.

Yesterday I started clearing out my basement. I gave away probably 20 old computers to a neighbor, 10 monitors, a bunch of ISA/PCI cards (apparently they read my ramblings – hi Beth & Ryan!). I gave away an old kitchen sink/counter to another neighbor and I’ve stacked a bunch of ceramic tiles on the porch to list on Freecycle, which I’ll probably do today. I’m probably going to visit NYC next month so my goal is to completely empty out the basement (aside from my office) before I go. Today I have a bonfire planned to get rid of the piles of scrapwood. It’ll be a nice night for it since it’s cooled down so much outside.

We also had swimming lessons yesterday. Payton is getting pretty good with everything. He used to cry when they’d make him jump in the water and eventually the lifeguard would just push him in. Now he just jumps in on his own immediately. It seems like he actually likes it, although he tells me he just does it so they’ll leave him alone about it.

Wednesday, July 27th, 2005: Beth took Emily and her kids on a walk to the park. A little later, me and Payton went on a walk towards the park too. It took about 20 – 30 minutes to get there. Hung out at the park for awhile, then went across a field and into some woods for a small hike. Once we reached a muddy creek, we turned around and went back. There were 6 kids with us – Emily, Payton, Makenzie, Tristan, Gage and some other 4-year-old whose name I can’t remember. We started walking down Aberdeen, towards the One Stop for sodas. It probably took 30 – 40 minutes to get there. Hung outside for awhile, drinking sodas, then started for home which was another 20 – 30 minutes away. We were going to spray each other down at the car wash since it was kind of hot out, but all the bays were full so we gave up on that idea.

Payton Emily

I came home and started working. 30 minutes later I hear water running so I go outside to see all the kids soaked with the hose. So I get out their slip-n-slide and they play on that for the next hour. After the kids were inside and dried off, we went grocery shopping at Shop N Save. For the evening, we planned a campfire in the back yard so I could burn up a bunch of the scrapwood in the basement. When we got home I started lugging it all outside. Mac and Beau came over to ask what I was doing and they decided to help me. Within an hour, we had the basement completely emptied of scrapwood. And that was a lot of wood.

We also carried an old bench outside to be burned too. Once we got a small pile started burning, everyone showed up. It amounted to about 3 adults and 10 kids, roasting marshmellows, hotdogs and smores. It was fun but didn’t last too long. Me and Beau were the last ones left so I got bored and put out the fire with the hose and we went inside. I still have a huge pile to burn which maybe I’ll get done this weekend. Or maybe I’ll just put all the wood on Freecycle and somebody can come and take it from me. I just need it to be gone.

Here’s the pile of wood created by me, Mac and Beau Emily’s guest list – she was trying to figure out how many chairs we needed The burning bench – aka the camp fire.

A couple days ago, Jammie was talking to Baconstrips on the PLA Voice Bridge and he tried to get Jammie to send him a free PLA t-shirt. Me, being the incredibly nice guy that I am, decided to go ahead and send him a free one. But I didn’t want to blow $10.00 on Baconstrips so I compromised by busting out my Sharpies and making him a customized PLA Harley shirt. I spent about 20 – 30 minutes on it which is more time than I spend on real PLA customers! Here are the pictures of it…

Back of shirt – I didn’t have the patience to write out the original shirt text so I shortened it with a little personalization. Front of shirt – incidentally, the APC shirt at RBCP’s Closet is no longer available.

Thursday, July 28th, 2005: From this post on Cal’s: “why the heck would you be hanging out w/ an “X”!!! Nice guy or not that’s just plain ‘ol strange behavior in my book.”

That’s in reference to me and Jammie hanging out with her ex-boyfriend in St. Louis. Is hanging out with an ex really that strange? I’ve stayed friends with many of my exes. I still talk to ex-girlfriends from high school online regularly. (Exes from 15 years ago!) Other exes of mine are married and our kids are good friends together. And most of my long-term girlfriends inevitably end up meeting a few of my exes. My ex-wife used to go to yoga with an ex-girlfriend of mine. In fact, I used to hang out with my ex-wife’s ex-boyfriend from high school. Maybe I am really strange. Or maybe it’s really normal.

Today me and the kids went to Subway for lunch, had swimming lessons and had another campfire & marshmellow roast. Still haven’t made much of a dent in the big pile of wood. But the kids across the street are using it to build a skateboard ramp in the middle of the street.

Built the kids stilts today out of coffee cans and wire. Emily trying out the ramp Campfire

Friday, July 29th, 2005: Work has been really really slow lately. I spent most of today burning lots of wood in the yard while sitting on the deck with my laptop. Made sort of a dent in the big pile of wood but I’ll probably still be burning for another week before it’s all gone. I put it on Freecycle the other day but nobody came to take any of it. Me, Emily, Payton and Casey went to see Sky High in the afternoon. Also, I registered for Jammie today. She really needed a domain. So go there to read all the latest updates on her…from 2001.

Saturday, July 30th, 2005: I read about 300 pages of Harry Potter 6 today. I’ve done nothing else pretty much all day. The kids were too busy for me most of the day, with their friends being here. Payton and I went to Quiktrip for some chips and soda at some point. And we all watched Eight Legged Freaks on cable this evening which was hilarious.

Monday, August 1st, 2005: The price for a U-haul truck from Illinois to Oregon is $2,500! The smaller size truck is something like $1,800 but still…that’s expensive! They said the trucks get 10 miles to the gallon which I think would come to another $600 just for gas out there. So right now, a huge yardsale at the end of this month is starting to appeal to me. Most of my furniture is cheap pressboard-type stuff anyway. I can buy brand new cheap pressboard-type furniture once I move! Oh yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m moving to Oregon soon. Like 97.9% sure now. And the idea of leaving everything I own behind and starting fresh with it all is kind of appealing to me.

Jammie convinced me to try out to sell my furniture. So I set up an account, put up a few classifieds and I’ve already gotten reponses for things. I showed Emily the ads and told her that over the next month, our furniture was likely to start disappearing. She said, “Well at least you’re not doing like mom and telling me that you’re just trying to make more room in the house.” Apparently Emily is still a little bitter over her mom tricking her with the move last year. Anyway, yeah, Craigslist rules. Much better than just giving things away on Freecycle. Thanks, Jammie!

Saturday, August 6th, 2005: Been selling/giving away lots of stuff this week. This morning some girl stopped by to pick up my treadmill and gave me $75 for it. Then my brother came by and we moved the piano (which he gave to me 5 or 6 years ago) back to his house. Yesterday I gave away my 42″ TV to a friend (it was old) and sold a DVD/VHS cabinet for $15. Plus I gave away a big shelf and clothes rack. The house is slowly starting to look empty. Today Emily, Payton and I spent the day at the City Museum. I think we got there around 2pm and lasted until 10pm there. My feet/legs were a little achey all day, I guess from all the heavy moving I’ve been doing this week, so I wasn’t too energetic. I brought my PHP book to keep me company.

Payton and a snake, getting ready to attack him from behind Payton walking across a pit of water
I painted on Emily a flower, sunshine and a butterfly. Phear my artistic skills. And for Payton, a snake.

Monday, August 9th, 2005: I asked Emily and Payton if they wanted to go swimming today and, of course, they said sure. So we start driving and Emily asks why we’re going the wrong way. I tell her I’ve got to stop by somewhere else first. 20 minutes later, as we’re still going in the wrong direction, she says, “We’re going to Raging Rivers aren’t we?!?” So it was almost a surprise. They thought we were just going to the community pool, as usual.

This was my first trip to Raging Rivers, even though it’s been a mere 30 minutes from me for most of my life. It was a great place, albeit hella expensive. Was $50 for all 3 of us to get in, $5.00 to park in their parking lot, $25 for nachos, hot dogs, chicken strips and drinks, $3.00 for a locker. So in the end, it was 3 or 4 times more expensive than going to the local pool. But we had a great time. None of us had ever been in a wave pool before, which turns the entire swimming pool into a giant mosh pit. Then there was the “Swirlpool” which shot you into a giant funnel, spun you around and dropped you into a pool of water. I was somewhat terrified on my first trip through it but after the first time, Emily and I took another 4 or 5 trips down it.

Their waterslides sucked. They were longer than Wood Rivers but much much slower. We saw the kids’ swimming teacher from the Y who said hi to them. She was a lifeguard there. We also saw my old friend Sheila, who I enjoyed being rude to, and her kids. Hrmmmm, guess that was our day. We stayed until they closed, then drove to McDonald’s/Taco Bell for supper. Here’s some pictures.

This is a shot of most of the park. That’s the Mississippi River in the background. This is the kid section. I couldn’t get Payton to stop for a picture, but he’s seen underneath the structure, in the middle Payton and me

Summer with the kids

Sunday, June 19th, 2005: Made it to the plane on time. Had a layover in Phoenix for a couple hours. Got home in the evening. I need groceries. Here’s some pictures from the trip – we turned some cute yapping dogs at an airport gift shop into killer dogs by sticking other animals into their mouths. The rest are just random hotel and airport pictures. Payton chopped off our heads in the picture of me and Emily.

Payton’s best quote during the flight: MAYDAY! MAYDAY! WE’RE GOING DOWN! I told him to shut up before the air marshals tackled us.

Monday, June 20th, 2005: Saw Sharkboy & Lavagirl with the kids tonight. And wow, it really sucks! I normally like kids movies and I loved the Spy Kids (same director/writer) trilogy. But this was just horrible. I didn’t even like it a little. What a stupid movie. Plus I can’t view 3-D images because of my screwed up eyesight so I didn’t even get to enjoy that part of it. The popcorn sure was good, though! Had some Sonic shakes afterwards, watched a little Eerie, Indiana and went to bed.

Tuesday, June 21st, 2005: Worked, went to city hall to get inspection stuff for the new renter, played videogames with the kids, went to my parents for a few hours. Came home and watched some Eerie, Indiana. They’re both really loving that show.

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2005: Saw Herbie at the theater. It was good, in a cheesy Disney family comedy sort of way. Especially compared to Sharkboy and Lavagirl.

Thursday, June 24th, 2005: My bike has been stolen! Somebody has taken it off the deck at some point this week. It’s not a big loss, really. I bought it at Wal-Mart about 5 years ago for under $100 and I’ve been thinking about replacing it soon. It just sucks that it happened. In my 8 years of living here, I think this is the first thing that’s been stolen from my property. I never lock anything up. I’ll have to drive around the roads behind my house tomorrow and see if it was dumped in the woods – the bike’s front wheel was a little messed up and they wouldn’t have gotten very far trying to ride it away. I went out to repair it this evening when I noticed it missing. Anyway, grrr! That’s my half hearted attempt to be pissed off about it.

Today the kids and I had lunch at Subway, then walked to the bank and post office in the mid-90’s heat. Late this evening we drove to downtown St. Louis to pick up El Jefe at the train station. And he didn’t show up! His train arrived but he wasn’t on it. I officially don’t like El Jefe now. You suck, El Jefe. I don’t know why he wasn’t there but I guess it was too much effort to call and let me know that he wasn’t going to show up. I haven’t felt this stood up since the murd0c airport incident. Me and the kids arrived back home from St. Louis around midnight, feeling crushed and defeated.

Friday, June 25th, 2005: Today around 9am El Jefe called from the Greyhound station and I went to pick him up. I guess his train was delayed by 4 or 5 hours yesterday so he missed his connecting train. Apok0lyps was supposed to contact me to let me know not to show up last night, but he didn’t. I really like hating Apok instead of El Jefe. El Jefe answered a ringing pay phone at the Greyhound station as I arrived and it was someone thinking they had a doctor’s office, calling to confirm an appointment. He was nice enough to move their appointment up a few days ahead of schedule. When we get together, weird phone stuff just happens. We don’t even have to try anymore.

This afternoon I took the kids to the pool. Stayed until closing time and went home. Across the street from the pool is my favorite old 7-Eleven building which I snapped a picture of here.

Monday, June 27th, 2005: Worked most of the day. Took the kids (plus Casey) to Wendy’s for lunch. Didn’t really do much over the weekend. I remember spending a couple hours in a McDonald’s at some point, reading my book – the Steve Jobs biography. We were going to go swimming but decided against it since rain was in the forecast. We visited my ex-babysitter, Shirley, on Saturday. She always calls me to take her to Wal-Mart. This time she wasn’t feeling up to going out but wanted me to go there and pick up a paper shredder for her. So that was my weekend – picking up paper shredders for old people and hanging out at McDonald’s.

Oh yeah, I bumped into an old friend yesterday who I hadn’t seen since about 1991. I have old “friends” from my teen years approach me every once in awhile and I rarely remember them or even care to. But this one was nice – we caught up with each other for the minute walk to our cars. Her name was Staci and I used to work with her at Eastgate. My parents, for whatever reason, decided to name their new puppy after her back in 1990. I refrained from blurting out that the dog she was named after died recently.

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005: Hung out at the swiming pool until closing time. Casey came with us. I remembered to bring a book this time, but I spent all but my last hour in the water. Some guy at the pool asks me, “Hey, are you Brad Carter?” I cautiously agreed that I was Brad. He claims he went to high school with me, but his name didn’t sound at all familiar to me. He named off all these people I used to know. Apparently we never said a word to each other but he knew who I was. He said, in quite an apologetic fashion, that it took him about 32 years to realize he didn’t need to be an asshole to everyone. So maybe he used to beat the shit out of me and I’ve just repressed the memories! It was an odd encounter, though. I guess just odd because I couldn’t place his name at all. Even though I suck at remembering faces, I can recognize most names from my past.

Yesterday, or maybe it was the day before that, I cleaned the hell out of my kitchen. And I promised Jammie that I would create a journal entry that made my cleaning adventure sound like the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me. But I’m sorry, Jammie, it’s just not in me. I made a couple of half-hearted attempts in this paragraph, but I just can’t do it. It’s a nice change, though. In the past year I’ve pretty much abandoned most of my house. The kitchen was covered in dust, grime, cobwebs, etc. I had the kids’ rooms completely closed off and the air ducts sealed up. The entire house, while not exactly messy, has just been collecting dust for a year. Except for my room, which I rarely left. When I’d step out of my room in the winter, I’d be greeted with 50 degree drafts. Anyway, the kitchen is all sparkly now. And the rest of the house is slowly getting there again.

Thursday, June 30th, 2005: I mowed the lawn today and it’s a THURSDAY! Isn’t that nuts?? Who mows their lawn on a THURSDAY?? I’ve been consistantly mowing my lawn only on Saturdays and Sundays for 8 years now. And I didn’t even have a valid reason for doing it. I just did it, completely out of the blue! Sometimes I think I’m just insane! It was overdue for a mowing but I could have just waited a couple of days and done it on Saturday like a normal person, but not this crazy man. I got out of the mower and spent a complete hour doing the entire lawn. I haven’t felt this crazy since I mowed the lawn on a Monday back in 1998. My neighbors probably all think I’ve lost my mind.

Friday, July 1st, 2005: Went nowhere today. Well, except to Little Caesars for some pizza. And a walk around the block with Payton. And I won’t get into the insanity of weed wacking my sidewalks on a Friday. Yesterday I registered and that’s where my homepage is now located, in case you haven’t noticed. I’m so annoyed by that hyphen! Damn you, Brad Carter from St. Louis.

Saturday, July 2nd, 2005: Have a birthday party today for one of Emily’s friends. Went to Target to buy a present, then across the river to buy some fireworks. Went to the party around 5pm and stayed until about 8pm. Lit off a few small fireworks when we got home – just snakes and smoke bombs.

Fireworks! Back of my house – I should probably chop these down but they look so cool Emily playing touch football Emily comes in 2nd in a 3-legged race

Sunday, July 3rd, 2005: Watched the fireworks at the Alton bridge from the police station. After that we went home and shot off a bunch of our own. I didn’t get any pictures so to compensate, here is a picture of me eating some Gerber baby food:

Payton was giving me all kinds of shit about this. A TV commercial came on for Gerber life insurance (I think it was Gerber anyway) and he’s like, “Everyone who eats baby food, watch this commercial!” and turned his head away. “Oh, looks like you eat baby food, dad!” Then at the end it said you could get $50,000 in coverage and he tells me, “Hey, you could get all that money…since you eat baby food!”

April Entries

Wednesday, April 6th, 2005: This evening we took the kids to the park for awhile and then to see Meet The Fockers at the theater. Also stopped by Arby’s for supper.

Sunday, April 10th, 2005: Woke up around 8 or 9 in my cheap crappy motel. Started driving and got into Alton at 11:15am. Visited Shirley & Richard for awhile, went to Walgreens to get my pictures developed, to Alton Square, visited my parents. Jodi came over to visit.

Sunday, April 17th, 2005: Tami (from the bank, not my regular friend Tami. Damn, this is going to be confusing for journal writing. I’ll have to dump one of them or insist that they change their name…) called me at 9:30am and we talked for awhile. She ended up going with me to Edwardsville to pick up a birthday present for Emily. Got Metal Arms for Xbox for Emily’s birthday. Went to Tami’s house and watched Catch Me if you Can.

Friday, April 29th, 2005: Today Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was released. I was going to go alone at the 1pm show but Caerie IMed me and I ended up meeting her at the theater. Was a great movie. Went home and worked the rest of the day.

Saturday, April 30th, 2005: Got up at 6:30am and drove to Troy. Doing a fundraiser all day for the band, selling buttons. Stayed there until about 5pm.

April Entries

Wednesday, April 6th, 2005: This evening we took the kids to the park for awhile and then to see Meet The Fockers at the theater. Also stopped by Arby’s for supper.

Sunday, April 10th, 2005: Woke up around 8 or 9 in my cheap crappy motel. Started driving and got into Alton at 11:15am. Visited Shirley & Richard for awhile, went to Walgreens to get my pictures developed, to Alton Square, visited my parents. Jodi came over to visit.

Sunday, April 17th, 2005: Tami (from the bank, not my regular friend Tami. Damn, this is going to be confusing for journal writing. I’ll have to dump one of them or insist that they change their name…) called me at 9:30am and we talked for awhile. She ended up going with me to Edwardsville to pick up a birthday present for Emily. Got Metal Arms for Xbox for Emily’s birthday. Went to Tami’s house and watched Catch Me if you Can.

Friday, April 29th, 2005: Today Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was released. I was going to go alone at the 1pm show but Caerie IMed me and I ended up meeting her at the theater. Was a great movie. Went home and worked the rest of the day.

Saturday, April 30th, 2005: Got up at 6:30am and drove to Troy. Doing a fundraiser all day for the band, selling buttons. Stayed there until about 5pm.

Idaho and Oregon

Sunday, March 20th, 2005: We all went to some fancy restaurant in Couer D’Alene to eat lunch.

Saturday, March 26th, 2005: Went to Fred Meyer to buy eggs and donuts. The kids dyed eggs and we hid them around the house for them a few times. Went to Applebee’s for supper.

Sunday, March 27th, 2005: Took the kids back to Oregon today. Left around 10am and drove until about 6:30pm. The drive sucked since it was raining and there were a lot of wrecks. After I dropped the kids off at Colleen’s, I went to Taco Bell for some supper and then started driving back to Idaho again. Got really tired around midnight and stopped at a motel in Kennewick, WA.

Nov/Dec 2004 – Picking up the kids from Oregon

Friday, 11-5-2004: After work went to the Galleria for the 2600 meeting but nobody was there. I didn’t feel like waiting so I walked around the mall for awhile and then left. On the way home stopped by Barnes & Noble and Home Depot.

Saturday, 11-6-2004: Tami came over and helped me paint the apartment next door. We did 2 bedrooms and the living room. Later I went to her house and we went bowling. Her friend Denise met us at the bowling alley. After that we went to Roper’s Regal Beagle for a few hours, then I came home.

Wednesday, 11/10/2004: Painted the kitchen in the apartment next door this evening.

Thursday, 11-11-2004: At 1:30pm my parents and brother picked me up and we went to Longhorn Steakhouse to eat. Randy came over this afternoon to fix my furnace but we didn’t get anywhere with it. Still broken.

Saturday, 11-13-2004: Finished doing a bunch of painting on the apartment. Went to Jamestown Mall and did some clothes shopping. Got new pants, a shirt, belt and some hooded sweatshirt things.

Sunday, 11-14-2004: Did a little work on the apartment next door in the morning. Then went to Hazelwood to meet Caerie and go rollerblading. Did that for a couple of hours and then headed home. Stopped by Jamestown Mall on the way home to exchange a belt I bought and went to see the movie Shall We Dance.

Wednesday, 11-17-2004: After work I went out with Jodi. She just moved here from California so I gave her a tour of Alton. We went to the Piasa Bird, downtown, the smallpox memorial, Lovejoy cemetary and her house. Also went to Applebees to have supper.

Saturday, 11-20-2004: Worked on the apartment a lot during the day. In the evening me and Tami went to Jamestown to see National Treasure. Then came to my house and watched some TV and Serendipity.

Thursday, 11-25-2004: Thanksgiving. Read a book of mine all morning. Went to my parents house for Thanksgiving lunch. Came home at about 2 or 3pm and spent my entire day/evening reading my book. Finished it at 11pm, playing on the internet for awhile and went to sleep.

Friday, 11-26-2004: Worked on my bathroom. Got a light and switch wired in there finally. And put up a few studs for a wall which will be a closet. Actually I think I did some of this yesterday too. This week is a blur.

Saturday, 11-27-2004: Did nothing all day. Slept until 9 or 10. Visited my parents. Went to Lowes. Ate at Wood River Subway.

Sunday, 11-28-2004: Worked on the bathroom a lot today. Got the closet door up in it and a bunch of drywalling done, including the ceiling.

Thursday, 12-2-2004: Went out with Tami and her kids. Went to Godfrey McDonalds, Rock Springs Park to look at the lights and then to my house for awhile.

Friday, 12-3-2004: Worked on the bathroom drywalling for awhile. Went to the Galleria for 2600 but nobody was there.

Saturday, 12-4-2004: Went to Caerie’s house. We watched part of Star Wars Episode 1, then all of Episode 2. I forgot to mention to her how gay I think Star Wars is. Okay, I don’t hate Star Wars that much. I’d never seen Episode 2 before and it was interesting to watch. Afterwards we went to Applebees to have supper.

Monday, 12-6-2004: Suzanne picked me up around 7:00 and we went to eat at Steak N Shake. Walked to Patty’s house cause I was supposed to help Mark fix his computer but they weren’t home. On the way there I saw Debbie and she told me that Karen Banghart died today.

Tuesday, 12-7-2004: Went to lunch with Tami, then to Target and to my parents house to let their dog out. After work I went to her house and me, her and her kids went to see Christmas with the Kranks.

Saturday, 12-11-2004: Went with Tami and her kids to a mall in St. Louis for ice skating, go-cart racing, miniature golfing and video games.

Monday, 12-12-2004: Went to Jerseyville theater to see the Spongebob movie. Met Tami, Amy and all their kids.

Saturday, 12-18-2004: Got up at 7:30am and drove to Jerseyville to help Tami move her parents furniture. Ate breakfast at McDonald’s before I got there. Her parents took us to eat at Pizza Hut afterwards. Came home and cleaned up the house. Went by my parents house for awhile to pick up a disc from my dad. They got a new dog. Came home and cleaned some more. Gina stopped by and picked up her computer and paid me $20 for fixing it. Tomorrow I get to fly to Oregon and pick up the kids for Christmas break.

Sunday, 12-19-2004: Got up at 5:30am and started driving to the airport by 6am. All the flying was pretty uneventful. I had a layover in Minneapolis and the temperature was negative 8. I got to the Portland airport at 1pm. Colleen and the kids were there when I got there. Had to hang around the airport with them for almost 4 hours before it was time to leave. They were pretty good on the plane. We had a 1 hour layover in Denver and then got to St. Louis at midnight. Then home at 1am.

Monday, 12-20-2004: Worked throughout the day. Bonnie came over with Brianna and Christian and left them. Then I took them back to Bonnie’s awhile later. Took the kids to my parents house for a few hours. Had some Little Ceasars for supper there, went to the grocery store and then came home.

Tuesday, 12-21-2004: Took Casey, Emily and Payton to see the Lemony Snicket movie at Jamestown. Got a Sidekick II phone while I was there.

Thursday, 12-23-2004: Tami and her kids came over today. Tami baked cookies that the kids made from cookie cutters.

Saturday, 12-25-2004: I got up at 8am and woke up the kids for Christmas. This year they got radio control 4×4 trucks, a Mighty Beans race track, an art set, random stuffed animals, Boggle, Simpson’s Clue, Don’t Break The Ice and a few other board games and puzzles. They also got a few DVDs and Xbox games. After a couple hours, we went to my parents house for Christmas. They got even more toys and games there. Came home after awhile and just hung out at the house all day. I think I actually napped on the couch for awhile.

Sunday, 12-26-2004: Didn’t leave the house all day. Just hung around the house with the kids.

Tuesday, 12-28-2004: Picked up Emily’s friend Shelby and she hung out at our house all day and spent the night. Took them to Rock Springs Park to see the Christmas lights and feed the animals.

Wednesday, 12-29-2004: Took Shelby home around noon, then took the kids to my parents house to spend the day so I could get some work done. Emily ended up spending the night there. Payton came home and played video games with Casey.

August 2004 – Cal, Spessa, driving back to Oregon

Sunday, August 1st, 2004: My kids are going camping for a few days. Cal and Anita are visiting me so we found a theater playing Napolean Dynamite and went to see it. We all agreed that it ruled. After that we went to downtown Saint Louis to take Anita to the Arch. We didn’t end up going into the Arch since the wait was too long, but we did a lot of nothing instead. That was fun. Then we went to the Alton Belle Casino for supper and gambling.

Monday, August 2nd, 2004: Me, Cal and Anita drove to Fairview Heights to attempt some more Dash For Cash fun. It was a lot of fun but we didn’t get any really great footage. Instead of making people run, we tried to get them to dig through a trashcan to look for a secret code on a soda can. We also had some lunch, looked around Slackers for awhile and drove around town for awhile. Later that night, we finally got around to putting the new McDonald’s prank sign up. My neighbor drove us there and I installed the sign. Then we drove around the building and took a picture of it on our way out.

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2004: I woke up at 6:30, quickly got dressed and ran downstairs so I could go to McDonald’s and check on the sign’s status. Anita was downstairs and told me that she just got back from there and it’s still up. We drove there again so I could snap a picture of it. An hour later my neighbor calls me and tells me that it’s still there. Another hour later, Cal and Anita go there for breakfast and give me a call to let me know that it’s still up. I think it’s 9:00am by this point. Then at 11:00 we stop by there on my way to the post office and it’s gone! At least it lasted longer than I expected. Both the posterboard and the wooden sign are gone, leaving the original sign showing again. But the really weird part was around 6pm, my neighbor calls me and tells me that the entire sign is gone! It’s just 2 posts sticking out of the ground now. Either they’re sick of the fake signs being put up so they’re just going to take it down forever or they’re putting a new sign up.

We went to Applebees for lunch today and then to Jamestown Mall. Fun fun.

Sunday, August 8th, 2004: Today I was gonna take the kids to the zoo but they outvoted me and we ended up going to the Magic House instead. We took Braden with us and stayed there until about 5 or 6pm.

emily and braedon at the magic house

Monday, August 9th, 2004: Finished up work by noon and took the kids to the swimming pool for the day. Stayed there until almost closing. Then stopped by Blockbuster for some movies. Mowed most of the yard this evening while they watched movies.

Saturday, August 14th, 2004: Ryan and Allison were over all day and then they ended up spending the night. Ryan and Payton were quiet when I put them to bed but Emily and Allison kept me up until 1:30am with their giggling and talking. They claim they stayed up until 4am but I doubt that. Around 5pm, I left them all at Ryan’s house and drove to Hamel to pick up some bed matresses for the guest room. We’ve got company coming this week and I thought it’d be nice for them to have something other than a futon to sleep on.

Sunday, August 15th, 2004: Today I was tired all day. Besides staying up until about 2am, I woke up a lot during the night. Then my brother called me at 8:30am with a pointless phone call. I put the kids to bed early tonight. I used the excuse that they were fighting too much so they needed to get some sleep. I’ve been letting them stay up until 11:30 just about every night this summer to watch Family Guy, Futurama and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Those are some great shows. Overall I really hate TV, but cartoons just get better and better every year. I can’t believe I didn’t watch Futurama when it used to be on Fox. And I never saw an episode of Family Guy in my life until just 2 months ago.

Friday, 8-20-2004: Took all the kids to the city museum today. We stayed there from about noon until 5 or 6.

Saturday, 8-21-2004: We went to see the Robert Wadlow statue and chair today. Then to the cemetary to look for a Geocache. Then to the smallpox memorial.

Sunday, August 22nd, 2004: Me, the kids and the Spessas drove to Evansville, Indiana for the day. We visited some science & art museum, then went to Kentucky for supper. It’s been a busy week and I haven’t had much time to write about anything we’ve done. Probably on Wednesday I’m taking the kids back to Oregon.

Wednesday, August 25th, 2004: Got up early, got everything ready to leave and was on the road by 10am. Drove all day, stopped for awhile to eat at Taco Bell, drove some more and then stopped in a South Dakota Motel 6. I forget which town, but it was a few hours before Wall, SD. We had planned to make it all the way to Wall, but wimped out around 9:30pm because of the heavy rain.

Thursday, August 26th, 2004: Got up at 6am and managed to get back on the road by 7:30am. Drove a few hours to Wall Drug and had breakfast there. We stayed there for another 2 hours, just looking at all their shops and kids stuff. Drove the rest of the day, stopping only for gas. I’ve got the TV and Xbox hooked up in the car again so that’s helping keep the kids entertained. Drove until 11:30pm and stopped in a motel in Butte, SD. I got separated from the Spessas a few hours ago so I assume they’re still driving. I should get there before noon tomorrow if we don’t sleep in too late.

Sunday, 8-29-2004: Got up early, packed the car, got the kids up and headed for Oregon. We started driving at 9am and got to Colleen’s house at 5pm. Me Colleen and the kids went out to eat at Red Robins, then I started driving to Portland. I went to Dignity Village to visit Jack but he wasn’t there. So now I’m in a Econo Lodge, watching 16 Candles and writing this.

June and July 2004

Tuesday, June 22th, 2004: Took the kids to see Harry Potter #3 which was pretty good. Much better than #2 which I didn’t expect since I didn’t really like book #3. I guess they weeded out all the boring stuff from that book. There’s something that I’ve kind of noticed ever since I read book #5…being a wizard or witch is completely pointless. You’re not allowed to do magic in the muggle world, your life is always in danger, grownups argue and fight like kindergarteners. In book #5 Harry had to choose a career path and all of his choices revolved around various magic things. There’s all these professions that involve regulating magic. It seems like, overall, magic is just a huge burden. I think Hagrid said in the first book or movie, “We can’t tell muggles about magic or they’ll be wanting to use it to solve the world’s problems.” What a bunch of selfish bastards. Lots of magic spells also screw up electronics which I think was explained in book #4. Or maybe it was just wireless transmissions. It seems like they just spend their entire lives learning magic so that they can work at magic-related jobs and defend themselves from people that are using magic to kill them. Do they even teach regular subjects and skills in their schools?? I’m not saying I don’t love the HP series, I just think that if it were real it’d be very pointless.

Saturday, June 26th, 2004: We went to the races tonight to see Casey and Ryan race. Guess we spent about 3 hours there. It got cold and I forgot to bring jackets. What’s up with the weather this year? I’ve only turned on the air conditioner a couple of times this month. It’s not supposed to be in the 60’s and 70’s in June. I want to go swimming. We did a bunch of other random things this week that I can’t remember. It’s been a really busy week but I can’t remember what happened. We saw the Garfield movie at some point which was better than I expected. Went to Casey’s birthday party at Pizza Hut, a baseball game. Hmmmm. I need to find time to write in this thing more often.

Wednesday, June 30th, 2004: Had Kristine’s kids all day. Took everyone to see Spiderman 2 which opened today. Great movie. So great that I went and saw it again 4 hours later! Me and Tricia decided to go out and saw Spiderman 2 again. Only this time we drove to Edwardsville and saw it in a theater with a bigger screen and much better sound.

Saturday, July 3rd, 2004: Did stuff all day. Lots of stuff. At dawn we drove to the Alton police station and watched the fireworks. We were kind of far away from them this year, but it was still good.

Sunday, July 4th, 2004: Did more stuff all day. Lots of stuff. At dawn we set off a bunch of fireworks. Didn’t get arrested.

Tuesday, July 6th, 2004: Went to Jamestown with the kids and saw Two Brothers at the theater. I hate animal movies, but the kids liked it. Went to a gaming center and let Emily play Halo Online for awhile. The gaming center didn’t even have the full version of Halo, it was a demo. I sure am complaining a lot.

Friday, July 9th, 2004: Took the kids to run a few errands with me. Instead of driving to them all, I parked in the middle of where we needed to go and walked to all of the places. I usually only do this when I’m by myself and the kids weren’t too happy about it. But it’s amazing how much fun a little thing like a walk can end up being for them. Between walking to the post office, Blockbuster Video, the bank, convenience store and Walgreens, we ended up buying water rifles for $1.99 each and playing in the uptown fountain for about 30 minutes. They were both soaked by the time we left so when they got home they continued to play in the hose for another hour. That’s good, cheap entertainment.

The other day I put an ad in the paper for our cat. I’ve convinced the kids that getting rid of her is a good idea. I’ve tried asking friends and family but nobody wants her. The 5A place says they have too many cats to take mine. The humane society says they can’t guarantee that they won’t put her to sleep. So I’ve resorted to an ad and it’s working pretty well so far. I’ve gotten 3 calls today and one lady stopped by. She seems very interested and promises to call me tomorrow morning with an answer. Here’s a picture of the cat – it’s the first photo on that page. Since the kids don’t live here anymore and the cat seems really bored without them (and I’m sick of the cat hair all over the house), it seems pointless to have a cat. I’m too lazy to take care of animals anyway.

Saturday, July 10th, 2004: Payton’s friend Braden came over for the morning/afternoon. We went to Riverview Park for awhile for a picnic of chips and soda. But mostly we just hung around the house all day playing video games. Yesterday we rented Ratchet & Clank Going Commando for PS2 and me, Emily and Payton are all addicted to it. For the past 2 days we’ve been fighting over who gets to play it. We’re pretty far into the game but I have no idea how much longer it goes on. I think it’s due back on Wednesday so I hope we can manage to complete it by then. Last year we ended up with a demo of the same game and we were pretty addicted to that for a few weeks. And that was just one level. I can’t believe it’s taken us a year to finally get around to renting it. I’m usually not into games but I love this one.

Emily’s got her friend Shelby spending the night tonight. Right now (it’s midnight) they’re in her room, singing songs to each other and recording them on my digital recorder. Hopefully they don’t erase them – that’s the kind of thing a parent can embarass their kid with when they’re a teenager. Muhahaha.

Sunday, July 11th, 2004: Today I was supposed to meet the infamous Roxanna but she stood me up. She was supposed to be in town, visiting a friend who lives nearby so we arranged to meet at Steak N Shake. I waited for awhile, then gave up, got a shake and left to do birthday shopping for Payton. Since I didn’t have the kids for the rest of the night, me and Tricia went out. Had some supper at Applebees and then went to see The Terminal in Edwardsville.

Saturday, July 17th, 2004: Took the kids to Target to buy toys. Their mom sent a $20 gift card for Payton’s birthday for him to pick something out. He picked a Spiderman Lego set. Emily got a $5.00 gift card and she combined that with some of her other money to get a $10 set of Pokemon cards. Payton’s birthday was earlier this week. He got a Spiderman web-blaster, a couple Power Ranger sets, a bunch of magenets and a few other things that I can’t remember.

Sunday, July 18th, 2004: Took the kids to the City Museum for the day. I also brought along their friends Mikey and Andrew. Watching 4 kids in that place by yourself is pretty exhausting! We came back home around 5pm. Took Mikey and Andrew home around 8:30pm.

Monday, July 19th, 2004: I worked a lot today. In the afternoon I took the kids to Blockbuter to pick out some games & movies. I ended up buying The Butterfly Effect on DVD for myself. It came with a bunch of extra scenes and a director’s cut with an alternate ending. Usually a director’s cut is interesting to watch but it doesn’t ever make the movie any better. And deleted scenes are fun too but you’re always glad that they left them out of the movie. That wasn’t the case with this movie. Watching the director’s cut made this movie so much better than it was in the theater. The extra scenes tied in perfectly with the alternate ending. And the ending was so much better, I don’t know why they used the other ending in theaters. I guess it wasn’t happy enough. I loved the movie when I saw it in the theater and now it’s even better. Everyone who’s reading this should immediately go out and rent/buy The Butterfly Effect on DVD. Go! NOW!

Tuesday, July 20th, 2004: Finished up work early so me and the kids went to the swimming pool all day. Stayed there until almost closing time.

Saturday, July 24th, 2004: Went to a few yard sales today. The kids got cheap toys, a large box a Legos for $2.00 and I got a Sony Clie’ with a 128 meg memory stick for $30. I’ll be able to sell both items on Ebay for about $70. Free money! Emily ended up bringing a friend home from one yard sale and she’s been at our house all day. The temperature is pretty weird for July – it’s been in the mid-70’s all day. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be even colder. Weird, since it was in the upper 90’s a few days ago.

Friday, July 30th, 2004: Took the kids to see Spiderman 2 again. This is their 2nd time to see it and my 3rd. EvilCal and his girlfriend showed up tonight for a visit.

Saturday, July 31st, 2004: Went to the Alton Block Party with the kids. Hung out there for a few hours until they closed down the kids stuff. Watched a Blues Brothers tribute band play for awhile and then went home for the night.

Driving to Oregon to pick up the kids

Thursday, June 10th, 2004: Got up at 7am to leave again for Oregon. I’m picking up Emily and Payton and bringing them back to Illinois for the summer. It’s a 3 day drive back which is a pretty long drive for the kids so I’ve removed the passenger seat of my car and I’ve built a table and bolted it into it’s place. This table will hold a TV and Playstation 2 so the kids can play games and watch DVDs on the way home. Hopefully this will make the drive a little easier on them. They seemed to really hate the drive TO Oregon, but that one was 5 days long with no air conditioning so this one should be slightly better. We’re also going to make a pitstop in Montana for a few days which they should enjoy. Here’s a picture…

My drive didn’t get off to a very good start. I got about 90 minutes out of Alton and got a flat tire. Apparently I ran over something and it put a big gash in the side of the tire. This happened just 2 minutes before a Wal-Mart so I’m thinking that Wal-Mart is probably throwing spikes on the interstate in front of their store to help out with business. Curiously enough, Cal got a flat tire on his way to Texas last year and that was in front of a Wal-Mart as well! I pulled into Quiktrip and put the spare tire on and then drove to Wal-Mart. They told me it’d be more than a 2 hour wait to get a new tire. So I found a tire shop nearby and they had it done in just an hour. In the end, I lost about 2 hours of driving time and $70 for a tire.

Otherwise, the day was really boring, as expected. I ran into a lot of really bad thunderstorms. The radio kept warning of hail, tornados and damaging winds in Kansas but I managed to somehow miss all of it. I made it to about Cheyenne, Wyoming before stopping at a rest area for the night. I think that was at about 1am.

Friday, June 11th, 2004: It was cold last night! I wasn’t really expecting it to be cold since it’s June. The radio said it was in the 30’s so I had the heat on for a few hours. At least my car wasn’t covered with snow like last time, though. I got up at 5am and started driving again. Once again, a boring day. I’ve been listening to a lot of mp3s and a lot of talk radio. Before I left yesterday, I wrote on my back window with window paints which seems to be becoming a tradition with me. This time it says, “HAPPY NEW MONKEY!” and it’s causing nonstop stares as I drive. The stares are more of the “What in the hell…” variety this time. My window from last month simply confused people but I think the confusion this time is much more intense.

Happy New Monkey

While I was getting gas this morning I noticed a guy staring at my window. I said “hi” to him and he said “hi” back to me. I said, “Happy New Monkey.” He didn’t reply and avoided eye contact with me. Nobody has actually asked me what it means yet. They just stare and/or laugh as they drive past me. Right now I’m sitting in a truck stop diner outside of Boise, Idaho, eating waffles, bacon and writing all this. Maybe I’ll add something to the side window before I take off again. Or maybe not. I should reach Bend, Oregon by 8pm tonight which is where I plan to stop and spend the night. I don’t know what I’ll do all day tomorrow. Maybe visit the Saturday Market again or just play around on the net all day. My plan is to pick up the kids at some point and then leave early on Sunday morning. I think Kalispell, Montana is 10 hours away which is where we’re going.

Saturday, June 12th, 2004: I got to Bend last night. There were no rest stops that I could find and I didn’t feel like finding a good truck stop to sleep at so I just got a cheap motel for the night. I ended up waking up and leaving the motel at 6:00am or so. In the morning there was some kind of hot air balloon race happening. I sat outside of a Starbucks and played on the net for awhile, then started driving to Albany. I got there around 10 or 11am and picked up the kids. They wanted to get started on the drive so we ended up driving all day instead of hanging around Albany. We made it to Idaho before getting a motel for the night. The kids added some new drawings onto my windows – Payton put some Pac Man ghosts on each side window and Emily wrote “Beep Beep” hoping to make people honk at us. As I was driving through Portland, some guy honked and I looked over. He took his hands off the wheel to give me the peace sign which made his car just about swerve into the next lane. His wife grabbed the wheel to stop the car from going anywhere.

Wednesday, June 16th, 2004: I haven’t written much this week because we’ve been busy. We got to Montana on Sunday around 2pm and have been here since then. It’s been cold this week so we haven’t done a whole lot of outdoor things. Yesterday we went on a Geocache in Hungry Horse which involved about an hour of rock climbing. We’ll probably be leaving for Illinois tomorrow morning. Today we went to Norm’s News for lunch, a pottery shop to paint pottery, another geocache in Whitefish that we failed to find and then swimming in the lake by the geocache.

Thursday, June 17th, 2004: Me and the kids left The Spessa’s house around noon and drove all day. Right now it’s 11:00pm and we’re in a motel in Hardin, Montana. I went into the office and asked how much a room was and the lady told me $48.00 but she didn’t take credit cards. So I checked my pocket and only had $43.00 in cash. The lady told me that would be enough – she said she would just take the cash and not claim it on her taxes so it’d be like free money. Good thing I’m not an IRS agent! This motel is the worst I’ve stayed in this year…there are extension cords tacked all over the walls instead of receptacles built in, there’s no thermostat on the electric heater and I have to turn it on by turning on the circuit breakers (it’ll probably get really hot tonight!), the paneling is different colors every few feet, the light switches are all in bizarre places and extension cords are running out of my porch light to power my air conditioner and all the other porch lights. At least it’s clean and has cable!

Today I drove about 10 or 11 hours which is 1/3 of the trip. Tomorrow I’m hoping to drive from early morning until late at night. I doubt I’ll actually make it to Illinois tomorrow night but I’m a little hopeful. It’s slightly more than 22 hours according to my Street Atlas program but I always seem to do it a little faster than the program suggests. Maybe I can get there at 3am or something. I’ll probably end up in a motel in Missouri though. The kids have been really good in the car today, mostly just watching Futurama DVDs. Let’s hope tomorrow goes well too.

Friday, June 18th, 2004: It’s 11:00pm and we’re sitting in a Motel 6 in Mitchell, South Dakota, watching Johnny Bravo. We’ve still got 12 hours to go so I guess I’ll get home around 10:00pm tomorrow night, hopefully a little earlier. I’m tired of driving. Today we got a late start and made a lot of stops. We stopped at a cool place called Wall Drugs in Wall, South Dakota and wasted about 2 hours there.

Saturday, June 19th, 2004: We made it home at exactly 8:00pm. The drive was much easier today than it was yesterday. Payton’s quote of the day: “Daddy, how much Pokemon can you read before your head explodes?”

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