Category Archives: Home

Most months, we don’t really run low on our data plan. We’ve had maybe two months or the last twelve where I’ve had to say “We need to cool it” for the final week.

It’s going to take something Herculean this month to avoid going over, because everything converged into a single billing period.

The first thing that happened was a stupid error on my part. I was downloading Wikipedia when I left to drop Lain off at preschool. The result was that on the very first day of the plan, we lost 20% of our usage for the month. Last month – one of the two where we had to cool it – we ended at 9%. So right off the bat, there were going to need to be some adjustments. The second thing is that we had a storm and it took out our Internet, and made it more unreliable than usual. Actually, for about 48 hours it was deader than dead. Then it was extremely unreliable to where I could do emails and Twitter but that was about it. Now, a good portion of our data usage in general is compensating for our unreliable home connection. So when we need to “cool it” we usually just accept the unreliability. But you can’t do that when it’s out entirely, or nearly so. Oh, and Monday was Procrastinators’ Tax Day, and we procrastinated. The Internet should be working again at the end of the week, but then the last one is that I agreed to help Decision Desk HQ with vote totals in a nearby county for the Virginia gubernatorial race. And, of course, I’ll be using my own data. That’s on 11/7, which is the second to last day of the billing period.

All of this is screaming for us to go with an Unlimited Plan, but money is kind of tight right now and we just can’t justify the price hop. We’re on the highest data plan otherwise.

The phone companies are working on the rollout of 5G. I’d rather they work on the bandwidth of existing networks so that using data is less expensive.

Category: Home

My efforts to quit vaping came to the do-or-die phase at a pretty bad time. Basically, right when Clancy was resigning. That was leaving me in a pretty bad place because it was high-stress and I had no coping mechanism. It wasn’t through sheer grit that I didn’t turn to vaping, but rather where I was in the Welbutrin cycle. Long story short, I could vape all I wanted, but my nicotine receptors were scrambled and it wouldn’t do any good. I still vaped, but the whole puffing-to-no-effect was causing its own anxiety. So I basically had to make the decision whether to stop taking the Welbutrin or stop vaping. I just couldn’t keep doing both.

I decided to stop vaping. The first thing I did was order a Nintendo Wii U. Back before I smoked, playing basketball outside was the way that I found my zen and organized my thoughts. Due to the peculiarities of the house, I couldn’t set up a hoop here. Nor was there space for my backup plan, a pool table. But I had been circling the Wii for a while because it has some indoor activity stuff that could serve the same purpose.

Until I started taking it again, I’d forgotten one of the primary effects of Welburtin is that it reduces the need for sleep. I need about six hours a night usually and Welbutrin makes it so that I have trouble even getting that much. It’s an effect that subsides with time, but it takes a while. In this case, it leaves me with ever-more time to be awake and not vaping. At a time when I desperately want time to pass to that I can get over the hump, there are suddenly more hours in the day.

It was, it turned out, remarkably successful. Instead of vaping, I’d play one of the games from the Sports Resort package. I ended up doing a lot of it, in fact. So much so that with each progressive day, my muscles were more and more tired. Not in a bad way, though! I could just feel it. On the fourth day, the Wii Fit package arrived. For those who don’t know, the Wii Fit is the exercise program. It’s more physically intensive than sports.

I got the fit to help distract me from the vaping. Which it did. Just not at all in the way that I had imagined.

I had been playing Wii Fit for about 90 minutes when I jerked my back something fierce. It wasn’t too bad at first, but it kept getting worse. And worse. And worse.

When your back hurts, your body generally compensates by using other muscles. Which is all very well and good… unless all of your other muscles are three days into utter exhaustion. Then your legs and arms simply don’t have the energy to compensate. It then throws more burden to the back, which then spasms. And round and round it goes.

The second day was pure agony. I cannot remember the last time I felt so much pain. Clancy could not remember ever seeing me in that much pain. I was in a place where I was slouched on the sofa and I literally could not move enough to either sit up on it or lay down on it. Clancy tried to move my legs for me and that was even worse. And with each spasm, the muscles would tighten more, which lead to more spasms and more muscle tightening in a really vicious cycle.

Among the few things that helped was showering. So once I was able to get up and move around – which did happen eventually – I went into the shower. Clancy literally had to help me get dressed afterwards.

Now, the Himmelreich-Truman household is actually a drug den. Clancy gets medications for various things and she fills them whether she has to use them or not. The same is true of me. The Welbutrin I’d been taken was prescribed in 2010. So when something like this happens, we have options. This was especially true since the medicine cabinet was thrown at her when she busted her kneecap. She asked if I wanted to take some muscle relaxers. I asked if they were addictive and she replied that they weren’t but that she never took them because they made her feel loopy and dull.

I said that I wanted all of the muscle relaxers in the universe.

I came close to actually taking the Vicodin, which is addictive. I was in that much pain. It didn’t quite reach that point. Things did gradually start getting better, slowly. It was two steps forward and one step back. I put myself and my daughter at risk trying to drive her to preschool when my back was not in good enough shape that I could sit freely in the car seat (I basically used one of my two arms to prop me up). That was a step back. But showering twice a day and taking the drugs would represent a couple steps forward.

It’s been almost a week now since that happened. The nice Wii that I bought has barely seen any use as new games that I ordered before the injury started arriving. The biggest lag has really been that I have nowhere to distribute the weight, too. My arms are better, but my legs are still really sore. My back is almost better, though the legs keep pushing weight in that direction. The biggest bullet dodged was that throughout this entire thing, I never needed to use the can for serious business. That felt like a ticking timebomb about to go off because pushing excrement through requires pushing some of the same muscles that were spasming. Somehow – probably related to the diet – I went four days or so without needing to go.

I eventually had to stop taking the Welbutrin because I wanted to keep waking hours to as much of a minimum as I could. And vaping wasn’t really on my mind. Which turned out to be a real upshot because the big thing that I was trying not to do was really kept out of a mind that was crowded with physical pain and preoccupation.It has really only started to hit me the last couple of days that I have been well enough to go back to it (but not wanting to). At this point, it’s a longer trip to go back and restart the habit than it is to plow forward.

One last side effect of all of this is that it has forced Lain into greater independence. As a matter of routine, I carry her to the car and from the car into the church for preschool. But since I couldn’t, I forced her to walk. She, in turn, has taken to asserting her independence more and more. When Clancy busted her kneecap, Lain was really quite scared of her. She’s a little bit older now, though, and seems to have adapted to my malady well. She was even fetching my cane while I was needing it.

As things presently stand, my back is in pretty good shape but my legs are as sore as they’ve been in a long time.

So, none of this has gone as I had planned, but it does seem to have gotten me over the hump. It has even helped with the diet as going to the kitchen and getting something to eat was suddenly an ordeal. My calorie intake dropped from 1800 to 1500 or so and I was in too much pain to be hungry.

There is no grand lesson here, other than that if you have an MD wife telling you to take it easy with the active video games, you should probably listen to her.

Unless you’re desperate to kick a habit.

Category: Home

I noticed a few days ago that the remote to the TV went missing. Also missing, was one of the PC remotes for the TV PC. It’s not uncommon for things to go missing in the somewhat messy living room, but I was surprised when after I cleaned the room up both were still missing. I have another PC remote, so that wasn’t a big deal. The regular TV remote, though, that stung. especially since I was planning to subscribe to Netflix and wanted to use some of the features of the Smart TV. I do have a couple apps on my phone, but they’re kind of a pain for anything involved. Which using the Smart TV is.

Knowing that one can never have too many remotes, I went ahead and ordered one from Samsung. It was set to arrive on MLK Day because Amazon doesn’t give a crap what days the Postal Service considers holidays it just wants them to get it done. Unfortunately, whoever delivers on off-days won’t deliver to our house, meaning that it was stranded at the post office.

I made due with the app on my phone. But I did resolve to get the living room in working order. And so I did. While vacuuming the sofa, I discovered there was a hole in the lining somewhere. And at the bottom I felt a couple lumpy things that felt an awful lot like remote controls. The sofa had really eaten them. I ended up putting the sofa on its side, which Lain thought was the coolest thing ever.


“I’m in a cave!”
“I like it better this way. Is this a cave? I’ve never seen a cave before!”

She also set up the cushions and a couple other things and hopped back and forth across the room (after the sofa was put back upright) and told me how she was “crossing the river.”

Lain, as I think I’ve mentioned, doesn’t walk much.

Her talking about the cave and the river made my day. Moreso than finding the remotes. And five books. And some keys to something.

Category: Home

Seattle is cracking down on greedy landlords:

After many months of process, the Seattle City Council voted 8-0 to restrict move-in fees imposed on tenants, and give renters more options in how they choose to pay these and other costs associated with moving.

The legislation is part of what Councilmember Kshama Sawant has called a “Tenants Bill of Rights” — a methodical unveiling of renter-friendly laws that, when taken together, can be viewed as a complete package.

Sawant introduced the legislation last summer with the Washington Community Action Network, a local advocacy organization. It takes several unprecedented steps. For one, it restricts the security deposit and non-refundable fees — often labeled as cleaning fees — to one month’s rent. Second, it will allow tenants to pay the security deposit as well as last month’s rent in installments.

What’s interesting to me about this battery of regulations is how it runs almost the opposite of the problems I’ve seen with dubious landlords back in Colosse. Back there, it was never really an issue about what they would do to you when you moved in, but rather what they would do once they had you. After you’d moved in.

A long time ago I was chatting with a newly-wed friend from Canada who was apartment hunting. He was frustrated because they couldn’t find a good place. Worse yet, the places he did find wanted a six month or year-long lease. I wasn’t quite sure the issue when he said that, though. Was he looking for something longer? No, he was aghast at the notion of signing a lease. Only unscrupulous landlords in Toronto did things like that. If their apartment was good, then why would they want to lock you in?

This was the opposite of my view, to a degree. We always wanted a lease because a lease locked in the rent. As long as you were on that lease, they couldn’t raise it on you. And after that, it was often open season. And that, rather than the things Seattle is seeking to regulate, was always the issue. They would have low introductory rents, often with the first month free or 30% off the first three months and whatnot. The goal to get you to move your stuff in. Then, once you’d moved your stuff in, they would often had some formula explaining how much they could gouge you for to line their pocketbooks without tipping you towards moving.

Rent going up after the end of the lease was norm, even if rents for new tenants was holding steady and introductory offers were getting better. So the very things that Seattle seeks to combat, gouging them at the move-in, was really a non-starter. If I’d wanted to regulate the Colosse market, it would combat the opposite thing as Seattle.

Which makes sense, to a degree, because of the different markets. The Seattle rental market is pretty tight and therefore being able to find a place at all can be a challenge. That, in turn, gives landlords an awful lot of leverage. Meanwhile, in Colosse, expansion occurs in all directions and there is not shortage of places. So to get you to notice them, they need to have big signs saying “First month free!” or something of the like. The only time they do have leverage over you is once you’re moving there. So that’s when they turn the screws to subsidize the people that just moved in.

Category: Home

Every once in a while, I’m lucky enough to find an author whose books or essays or short stories captivate me, and I want to read almost everything by him or her that I can get my hands on. For me, here are some of them:*

  • Ernest Hemingway
  • C. S. Lewis
  • George Orwell (nonfiction only, not too impressed with his fiction)

The problem is that I like them so much that there comes a point in reading them where I realize I’m hitting the limit and running out of their works. I read them, but realize the end is coming soon when finding things they’ve written becomes more and more difficult.

And now I’m adding Tony Judt, the late historian of 20th-century Europe. I’ve read Postwar, I’ve read a short set of biographies he wrote about Leon Blum, Albert Camus, and Raymond Aron. I’m now plowing through some compilations of his essays. There are still a couple of monographs by him I can read and, I hope, a few more compilations of essays. But alas, I’m hitting the limit.

Question for you all: Do you have such authors in your life? It doesn’t have to be an author, either. I suppose it could also be an artist, or director, or musician, or other type of creator.

*It’s not lost on me these are all men. That may or may not be significant.

Category: Home, School

What happens when a toddler discovers magic markers…


Costume time!

In lieu of trick or treating, we went to an event downtown. That worked out pretty well because she was fascinated by the concentration of unusual activity. Also, there was a bouncy castle that she got to play in for a little while.

If you’re wondering how I dressed, I went as “Batman But You Can Call Me Bob.”

Category: Home, Theater

“Do you want a banana?”

“No banana.”

“Do you want an apple?”

“No appoh.”

“Do you want turkey?”

“No tookey.”

{Stops. Thinks.} “Do you want Hillary Clinton?”

“No Hiyary Kyinton.”

“That’s my girl.”

Category: Home

It’s no fun dealing with a sick dog, which is one of the things that we’ve had to deal with lately.

Even when healthy, Lisby lays around the house a lot. So it’s not always easy to tell when she isn’t well. In this case, the illness took the form of an inflexible bladder. It first started by waking up in the morning and finding a puddle on the carpet. Then it started seeming like we were having to take her out and awful lot. It got really bad when I would ask her if she needed to go out, I’d start getting my shoes on, then she would just pee on the floor while I was doing so. (As near as I could tell, saying “outside” caused her to relax her bladder… which left her unable to hold it for even a couple minutes.)

By the Sunday, she was vomiting and her lack of energy had become really evident. She’d become seriously dehydrated.

It turned out to be a bladder infection (we’re pretty sure). It took quite a while for her to rebound, but she did.

What’s kind of funny is how much having both a dog and a little one prepares you for the handling of a lot of urine-related issues.

Especially little Lain.

naturesmiracleWe had a lot of difficult getting Lain to sleep at night, and one of the things we relied on was milk and later water. The problem with this was that she would overwhelm her diaper. Even if I changed her diaper at three in the morning, by morning it would be overwhelmed again. Dealing with extant urine had become a part of life. That situation resolved a few months ago, but dealing with Lisby gave me flashbacks, as I was setting my alarm for three in the morning to take the dog out.

The good news is tha the solution for all of the above is about the same. When we first got Lisby, one of the things I immediately got was some urine-cleaning solution. Turns out, it works for baby urine, too! And spilled soft drinks.

Category: Home

Problem: Dogs like to look out the window, but are too short to do so without standing on their hind legs.
Solution: Build a window seat for canines.

So my wife asked, “Do you think you could build a bench so the dogs can sit and look out the window?” Why, of course I can. And what’s more, I have nearly all the materials I need right on hand, in the ridiculous amount of scrap lumber stored beside my shed, some from finished projects, some from projects that never got finished (or even started, beyond a trip to the lumber store), and some from the bunkbeds I built eight years ago and tore down last year. And so it began. (more…)

Category: Elsewhere, Home

So it snowed a little bit today, but mostly it was cold and rainy. When I went to the store, I had to pull over because rain was falling on the windshield and immediately sticking, to the point that after a couple of miles, I couldn’t see anymore. I ended up turning on defrost to the maximum. By the time we got the store, Lain and I were both sweating and she was crying from the heat. But I could see!

That’s not actually the story that this post is about. The story is…

So Clancy is spending the night at a neighbor’s house. About one tenth of a mile from here. Worry not for the Truman-Himmelreich marriage. She’s there because she can’t get here. She drove up our street, which has an incline, and the car decided that it could go up no further and decided to go back down again.

This is the incline:


She can walk a bit, but for the most part is still on crutches. We decided that she should not tread up an incline that the car could not. So she’s down there.

After putting Lain to sleep, I needed to let the dog out. While the dog was out, I decided I would throw some salt on the driveway. After taking care of the area immediately in front of the house, I decided to see if I could make any progress on this part:


Given the level of ice, you might have some sort of idea what happened next. Sure enough, I lost my balance. No, wait, losing my balance isn’t quite right. What happened was that I started shifting. Surfing, as it were. Except without a board. And on ice and concrete instead of on water. Realizing what was happening, and that there was no stopping it, I decided that the best course of action was a controlled fall, and then laying flat on my back in case I got more traction and to make sure I wouldn’t lose my balance.


Above you see three arrows. The red arrow is was I was when I started. The blue arrow was where I ended up. The green arrow is where the incline was such that Clancy’s car couldn’t make it. In between the blue arrow and the green arrow is apparently a place sufficiently level and/or ice-free (I don’t remember, my mind being distracted by other things) that I didn’t slide all the way to the street below.

Here’s another view, a picture actually taken not far from where I ended up in fact:


When my hands heal, I’ll probably think it’s funny. Under different circumstances, it might have actually been fun. When I was going down, it made me think of those waterslides that you lay on your back and slide down with a gush of water. Except, once again, ice instead of water. And a driveway instead of a tube.

Category: Home