Monday, May 28, 2007

'Twas a good day...

...although I got no sleep. None at all.

I got off work Sunday morning at the usual time. Filled my tank for $2.99/gal- it had gone up to $3.25 at some stations for a couple days, but it's right around $3 if you know where to look. And I've taken to filling my tank twice a week, so I don't worry about running out. My gas station of choice is in Greenville. I work in Greenville, but I live 20 minutes away, so I don't like to have to put $5-10 in to carry me till I get to Greenville again.

So I get home, it's about a quarter to 7 (AM). I'm not really tired, though I was the night before. I'd drank another of those WWE RAW energy drinks, and while it didn't do anything for me at the time, here I was 10 hours later with no desire whatsoever to sleep - and I'm a guy who loves his sleep. I'm not really endorsing it, but the stuff does seem to offer energy in the long term, so next time I have to drive more than 8 hours in one stretch, I might grab another 4-pack.

It's about 11AM when I decide to turn in, but I'm not really tired. Instead I wake my wife up, gently as I know how. Turns out she's not all that tired either, so we decided to make the most of the day. She'd gotten about 5 hours of sleep, and me with no sleep at all, we made our plans. They changed a time or two, so I'll just focus on what we did do.

We got in the car, drove up to Jen's sister's place, pick her and our nephews up - they're 4 and 7. We went to Burger King for lunch, but we didn't eat then. Instead we headed east, past Bath (which is supposed to be the oldest town in North Carolina), past the even smaller Bayview, to the free ferry. For whatever your purpose, the state of NC funds free ferries across some of the waterways in this state, and this one we ride purely for the fun of crossing a river. If you look at a detailed map of North Carolina, follow I-40 through the upper-middle of the state to Raleigh, the state capital. Continue west along 264 through Wilson, to Greenville. Follow that west and you'll come to a great river - you can either end up on the north or south side. Coming home I'm south of the river. Coming into the town of Washington, from Chocowinity, we cross the river where it's still narrow. Following the river (a sound now, I think) along the northern bank is where we come to the northern ferry terminal, and the southern one is in Aurora, NC, east of Chocowinity on the southern bank. Aurora's farther from Chocowinity than Bayview is from Washington, I think - so I think the ferry goes a little southeast. But all in all it's a fun trip.

So we get back to my sister-in-law's place, drop her off and sort of trade her for her boyfriend (of 6 years, they're just about commonlaw married - I just call him my brother-in-law anyway) who has to go to his mother's to work on a car, which is just on our way. The ferry was a surprise to the kids, who had never been on one, but the real surprise is at the new theater in Greenville - where we're going to see Shrek the Third.

Of course, the movie was good - seemed about on par with the last two. Wasn't quite as good as the second one, which I remember as being amazing, but a little better than the first one, which I remember as being sort of average. I like the series; they're fun to watch.

We made an extra stop at Barnes & Noble, one of my favorite stores, being a somewhat avid reader. I wanted to pick up the K-PAX books by Gene Brewer. Maybe you recall the 2001 movie with Kevin Spacey about the mental patient, Prot (rhymes with throat, not tot) who believed he was an alien, and gradually convinced his fellow patients and even the doc? I'd seen it when it first came out, bought it on DVD when it was new, but never knew there was a book, or series of books. Just a week or so ago, though, I watched it again with my wife, who hadn't seen it. She looks it up on IMDb - she looks up all movies she sees on that site - and reading the trivia and all she learns about the books. I've always been fascinated by Prot's story, but never thought to see if there was any more. Just looking at Brewer's site, I get the impression he's going to be writing above my level, but I'll give the first two books a shot anyway. The third is a trade paperback only - twice as big, twice as expensive. I'd pay the price if the book was good, but I'm most comfortable with mass-market paperbacks (what most people envision when they think "paperback book"; trade paperbacks are almost or are the size of hardcovers, which I don't read because of the awkward size).

Well, B&N didn't have the K-PAX books (for shame!) but I had them order it (no obligation, the guy told me 4 times) so I picked up a Sudoku book. I'm really getting hooked on those puzzles. Even the easy ones tweak my melon. I picked up a variety-puzzle book at the store last week, and solved the first Sudoku after a couple hours. After getting one cell on the second one, I spent a few hours, not finding any more. I eventually cheated and got a few answers, but felt bad about it. One of my co-workers (who we call Fireball) had a Sudoku book (almost got that one, as a matter of fact, but wanted to be different, so I didn't) and I copied the Sudoku for her. She started to do alright but made a few mistakes, and eventually got frustrated with it and tore it up. Think you're good at Sudoku? I'll put it up here. You'll have to copy this to Excel or write it down or something, but here you go.

8 _ 4 _ 6 _ 5 _ _
_ 6 _ _ 7 _ _ 1 _
7 _ _ _ _ 1 _ _ 9
_ _ _ 8 _ _ _ 3 _
3 _ _ 6 2 4 _ _ 5
_ 8 _ _ _ 3 _ _ _
5 _ _ 1 _ _ _ _ 2
_ 4 _ _ 3 _ _ 5 _
_ _ 1 _ 4 _ 7 _ 3

So there you have it, nice and purty. Looks easy enough with four already done in the middle and two corners. I'll give you a hint: the opening move involves placing a 1 in the upper left box. After that - have fun.

If you don't know Sudoku, it's simple. There is no guessing - it's all logic. There is no math - the numbers' relationship to one another is entirely irrelevant. If you can come up with 9 symbols, or letters, you could use those. Anyway, each row and column must only contain one each of the numbers 1-9, and the nine sub-squares must also contain 1-9. So to place that first 1, we have to see where a 1 CAN'T go. The 1 from that upper-middle square takes out the whole bottom row, and the 1 in the upper-right square eliminates the middle row. That leaves one cell, and it's the right one. You can try to solve a Sudoku by line, by column, by square, or just do what I do and go around the board looking for the next move by simple elimination.

Wow, what a tangent. So I get that book, and of course I'm starting to feel the effects of being up so long without sleep. So I stop in the adjoining Starbucks, and pick up a white chocolate mocha, Venti size (that's Large in Starbucksian), with a double shot of espresso. The lady told me there was already a double shot, so I had her put 4 in. I was of half a mind to ask for 10.

So I get back to the car, and we take the kids to the store to see their mom (she works there) then drop them off. Jen and I go to Taco Bell but on the way she decides she wants something else. I get my stuff - if you want to try something great at the Border, tell them to put Baja sauce (or Jack sauce, at some) on your favorite menu item. It's the sauce on the Baja gorditas, a spicy mayonnaise-based sauce (like thousand island) but with pureed peppers and other hot stuff. It's especially effective in bean burritos, but make sure they also put the red sauce that's supposed to be in there - those beans dry out fast.

So she wants Stromboli, which I can't tell the difference from a Calzone, but whatever. She orders that, gets her Italian fix, and we sit down to watch another movie. Epic Movie, just came out - we didn't think it would be all that good and it wasn't, but I was so tired I didn't want to see a good movie, I just wanted something to focus on to keep me up. My target sleep time was midnight. I dozed a little in the car, I dozed a little during a part of Shrek 3, and I dozed off maybe a third of Epic Movie (it wasn't hard, the movie sucked). And I made my target bedtime of midnight.

And then I woke up around 8am. Between writing this and a couple miscellaneous tasks, here we are at 9am. Jen's mowing the lawn, and I might catch a quick nap - or not. Either way, we're going to her sister's again. My plans involve a few games of pool and some beer, but Jen's thinking volleyball or badminton. I'm thinking the four of us at the Blackjack store around a pool table or 2, but Jen's thinking of the girls and the guys going off their separate ways. That would work, but John and I shoot pool by ourselves just about every Monday. These two sorry sons-of-...well, you know - at work keep talking big at work but can never make it down there to give us some variety and challenge, so I'd like to shake it up a bit. Later, I'm going to make my famous Jambalaya, and Monday Night RAW is on at 9.


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