Friday, December 20, 2013

Captain's Log, Day 118: Detailing Decoration Dilemmas

          "Grab the end of the lights!"
          "I got what?"
          "Now you get in the bucket, I lift you up to the roof, and you put them on!"
          "Wait...I gotta be in a bucket with him??"
          "Ohh, just do it..."
          With some slight pushing and shoving, Nemesis and I climbed into the bucket of the tractor. Dad throttled up and raised the bucket towards the roof. I maintained a death grip on Nemesis and the bucket edge. Nemesis gave me a quizzical look. "Why--?"
          "If he tips us out and I die, you're coming with me," I told him.
          "You really think that's a good idea? If I'm there, I'll tell St Peter the truth, you know," Nemesis pointed out logically.
          "Good point." I laughed and let go of my brother.
          We lurched to a stop in front of the roof. Nemesis held up the lights and I started strapping them into place. After a couple minutes, Dad re-positioned the tractor so we could continue down the edge of the roof, a move prompted by me almost falling out of the bucket trying to reach the next section.
          Fortunately, it didn't take too much longer to hang the lights, which was good because it was COLD out. When we were done, Dad lowered Nemesis and myself down towards the ground. When we were halfway there, he tipped the bucket. Nemesis and I were wise to his ways, however, and opted to bail out. We took off for the house before he could start chasing us with the tractor.
          Inside the house was crazy. Girls were running back and forth with lights, greenery, stuffed Santas, and cookies. Nemesis and I helped them put away a few cookies. We made quite a dent in the supply before we were discovered and forcibly ordered out of the kitchen. Pragmatically, we departed to untangle more lights and steal a few strings for our room.
          "Hey, guys, we need to set up the Christmas village!" Quill yelled at us a few minutes later.
          Nemesis and I returned from our now-glowing room (glowing because of lights, not nuclear waste, although the second guess would have been just as likely) carrying half of the Christmas village in one go because we were competing to see who could carry the most boxes the longest. Mom intercepted Nemesis just before his stack would have collapsed. "I won!" I yelled gleefully.
          "No fair!" Nemesis complained. "Mom interfered!"
          "You should have avoided the obstacle," I pointed out.
          "New rule: you're limited to three or four boxes each," Mom informed us, graciously ignoring the fact that I'd just referred to her as an obstacle. "You need to be able to see coming up the stairs."
          "Vision is overrated," I muttered, accidentally knocking my glasses off my face and then stepping on them when I tried to find them. Being used to such occurrences, I bent them back into shape and stuck them back on my face. "I'll set up the table!"
          As always, it was my duty to set up the Christmas village, a duty I defended fiercely. The final results usually looked pretty good, so I was never ousted. Everyone helped, but worked under my direction. Squirrel tried a hostile takeover once; the rebellion was promptly quashed when I hurled a box at her.
          Then, after dinner, it was time for decorating the Christmas tree. Everyone had their own box of ornaments that they put up, with only the traditional squabbles occurring.
          "Radar, that's my bird!"
          "Squirrel, you do this every year. This is my bird. Paws off!"
          "Quill, tell him it's my bird!"
          Quill looked up from where she was meticulously organizing her ornaments by size, unlike the rest of us who were just throwing ours on the tree without thought to order. "Actually, Squirrel, it is his. We do go through this every year."
          "Mom!" Squirrel appealed to the higher authorities. The higher authorities held up her hands in the universal signal for "Don't look at me; I'm staying out of this one." Squirrel huffed. "Fine, you can hang it up this year."
          "And next year, too," I pointed out, laughing before I faceplanted the tree trying to reach a high branch.
          "Mom?" Nemesis peered around the tree. "Radar's hanging all of his ornaments on this side of the tree again."
          Mom peered over her glasses at me. "Could you spread them around the tree, please?"
          "Nope," I replied cheerfully. "This way, I don't have to hunt for them when we have to take them down!"
          Mom sighed, giving up on a lost cause. "He's his father's son," she announced to the world in general, with a pointed look at Dad, who was doing the same thing with their ornaments. Dad thought for a second before moving one of their ornaments to the other side of the tree, commenting, "I don't do that! See?"
          Everyone laughed. "I'm done!" I announced.
          "You're kidding." Nemesis stared at me in disbelief.
          "Does anyone need help?" I asked.
          "Sure, I do," Quill told me. "Can you hang this up high?"
          "No problem," I told her. "Which side is yours?"
          Quill rolled her eyes. "I'm a sane person. I don't have a side. Just put it up high, please." She picked up four or five ornaments and began walking around the tree, looking for good branches.
          A few minutes later, we were done. We all paced around it for a few moments, admiring our work.
          "You know what we have to do now?" Quill finally asked at length.
          "Way ahead of you," I announced proudly, running to the closet to pull out my presents for everyone else. I placed them under the tree proudly. "There, now it's a Christmas Tree!"

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Captain's Log, Day 117: Christmas Morning Tradition!

          Traditions are fun. Christmas traditions are always the best. Goofy Christmas traditions win hands-down.
          I'm not sure when this started, but it was a fact that by the time I was twelve, we Midway siblings had created our own tradition regarding Christmas morning and how it should be spent. A typical Christmas for me went something like this...
          IT'S CHRISTMAS!!! my brain screeched at me, jolting me awake at 6:30 in the morning. I snapped my eyes open to gaze around the room, noting the distinct lack of light, and gave a happy wiggle. Rolling over, I braved the Kracken under my bed to reach an arm down and fumble around on the floor for my glasses. I snatched them up an instant before a tentacle curled around my arm. An active imagination was a fine thing.
          My younger brother, Nemesis, must have already been up. He poked his head over the side of his bed, looking down at me. He occupied the top bunk, due to the facts that 1) I was lazy and didn't want to climb up there, and 2) I'd fallen off the top more times than I could count due to inherent clumsiness. "Merry Christmas, Radar!" he stage-whispered.
          "Merry Christmas!" I replied, grinning broadly and high-fiving him quietly. Nemesis' hair, like mine, was an absolute rat's nest in the morning, and his glasses were making him look like a rumpled owl. "What time is it now?"
          "6:32 and 14...15...16..." Nemesis told me, glancing at the wristwatch he had strapped to the rail on his bunk.
          I sighed. "I suppose we should let Mom and Dad sleep in."
          Nemesis looked about as happy with the path of patience and virtue as I felt, but nodded dutifully. "I wonder if the girls are up yet?"
          I gaze up at the slats on the underside of Nemesis' bed. "Probably," I mused, raising a foot and pushing up on his mattress. Nemesis made a small squeaking sound and rolled away from the sudden lump that appeared in his mattress. For some reason, that struck me as immensely funny, so I buried my face in my pillow to suppress the laughter that was dying wake the household. When I had caught my breath, I sat up. "Hey, Nemesis, I have an idea for a game!"
          The next thirty minutes passed pleasantly enough, with a quiet yet rousing game of "Avoid the Mattress Moles." Nemesis and I both had our faces buried in our pillow to suppress our maniacal laughter when the door creaked open. I poked my head around the side of the bed to peer at the door.
          "Oh, good, you're awake," Quill whispered, Squirrel squeezing under her arm and entering the room. "Merry Christmas!"
          Both girls had the same hair problem we did, multiplied exponentially by the amount. They looked a bit like angels who had gotten caught in a wind tunnel, the frilly nightgowns that were currently their favorite sleeping apparel probably restricting their walking more than they would appreciate for a pillow fight. I threw a pillow at them to test that theory. "Merry Christmas!"
          Quill caught the projectile with all the deftness of girl stuck with two brothers. Nemesis and I leapt eagerly out of bed. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" I asked everyone. There was much nodding and grinning, so I led the way out of the room and to the stairs.
          This is where the tradition really starts. There is a hard and fast rule that you DO NOT PEEK AT THE TREE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, with the rest of your siblings ready to quash the slightest temptation. We don't even go downstairs where the tree is, but instead wait on the stairs for Mom and Dad to wake up. Sometimes, we facilitate the waking up without ever actually admitting that we do so. There's a lot of whispering about what we think might be under the tree, and what our presents to each other might be. Nemesis tried to sneak down the stairs, but I put him in a headlock. Despite the muted thud that was created when we hit the banister, there was no sign of movement from the parents' room.
          I was getting hungry. Quill didn't help. "Dinner's gonna rock."
          "Lasagna!" I grinned.
          "Lasagna!" Nemesis repeated, finally shaking my headlock and heading back up to take his place at the top of the stairs.
          This, of course, sets off a chanting session, whereby we try (albeit in a lowered voice) to wake the parental unit by singing "Lasagna" in as many different styles as we can think of, but even our off-key whisper-yodeling isn't enough. I fell down the stairs to see if that would help. Nothing.
          "Nice," Squirrel congratulated me. I made a face, rubbing my shoulder. "Ow."
          "That didn't work?" Nemesis complained.
          "I think I should go now," I suggested, with a nod towards the bedroom.
          "No, not yet," Quill protested. Everyone else groaned. Nemesis' groan was louder than everyone else's, so I shoved him. He shoved me back, and we started wrestling on the stairs. Quill suddenly capitulated. "Okay, Radar, go ahead," she announced. "Make us proud."
          I leapt off my brother, saluted, and ran for the bathroom, which was right next to Mom and Dad's bedroom. I flushed the toilet several times before washing my hands with both the hot water and cold water turned up all the way. I walked back out with a huge grin on my face. "That oughta get their attention."
          We waited for a while, but nothing happened. It was almost 8:00 by this point, so we decided to send in Squirrel, as the youngest but second noisiest. She beat my record, though, when she accidentally (or so she claimed) sideswiped an open drawer with a resounding crash. We all high-fived her.
          "That was awesome!" I announced.
          "Shh! I think I heard something!" Nemesis hissed.
          We all froze. Nothing. I belched.
          "RADAR!" everyone hissed at me.
          "Sorry," I snickered, trying to figure out how I was able to pull that one off since I hadn't eaten anything yet.
          "Nemesis, do you want to try now?" Quill suggested.
          "How about if I just peek to see if they're up?" Nemesis returned, obviously not wanting to follow a performance as awesome as Squirrel's.
          "I guess so," Quill decided.
          "Maybe they've wised up to us," I suggested.
          Nemesis snuck towards the closed door. The second his hand touched it, we all heard Dad announce, "Come on in. I know you're out there."
          The three of us still by the stairs almost flattened poor Nemesis on our way into the room, yelling "MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!" at the top of our lungs.
          Like I said....traditions are fun.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Captain's Log, Day 116: DESOLATION OF SMAUG

          THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS. You have have been warned.
          And yes, I did go see part two of the Hobbit tonight. Given that my normal venting buddy decided to go to bed (LAME), I decided to use this as an opportunity to brush up on my writing skills. And to vent. All kinds of venting.
          First--and this cannot be understated--the movie was awesome. I pulled a Thor at the end of the movie, standing up and announcing, "I like this movie. ANOTHER!" I thought it stayed pretty true to the spirit of the book, and even the additions that were added *cough*Legolas*cough* were freaking amazing. To tell the truth, I was originally kind of ticked off that Legolas got added, but after seeing his fight scenes, I was sold. They were almost as good as Ironman's fight scenes (and from me, that is high praise indeed). My favorite part about them was that, unlike most fights, he didn't rely on just one weapon, nor did he stay in roughly the same ten feet of space. He was all over the freaking place, using his hands, feet, knives, and bow depending on where he was and what his surroundings were. Given that I try to practice combat like that, I can appreciate the level of difficulty involved in trying to even imagine such a fight, let alone do it or film it. (I don't care if they used CG and photoshopped Legolas' face in, it was brilliant.) The female elf that was introduced with Legolas, Tauriel, was pretty good herself.
          I will say one thing about Tauriel, though--I don't really know what the point of having her there even was. I thought originally that she was going to have something going on with Legolas, but there appear to be hints of some cross-species romance going on between her and one of the dwarves, which I think is unnecessary and kinda stupid. It also eats up WAY more screen time than it should--I mean, come on, we could either have a few more minutes of freaking DRAGON BREATHING FIRE or we could watch two different species try to sort out romantic feelings. Granted, I am a guy, but still. Useless much?
          Back to awesome: words can't justify how amazing Smaug was. Honestly, I can't imagine how he could have possibly gotten any better. Kudos to his designers. He was basically almost exactly as I imagined him, except that in my imagination he had front legs separate from his wings. A minor detail.
          Hmm, let's see...oh, right. I know the producers wanted this to be a big lead-up into the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but they probably could have just left that part of it alone. They introduced Sauron (or at least his eye) and Gandelf got trapped again...seriously, that guy needs to invest in some jailbreaking spells. I seem to recall him being slightly more capable in the books. Also, I spent a considerable portion of my time yelling at Bilbo for being stupid, mostly when dealing with Smaug. I mean, come on dude--you are facing down a fire-breathing dragon that really wants to eat you, step on you, char-broil you, or in some way reduce you down to your component atoms, and the first thing you do is take the ring off for a CHAT?? I mean, maybe you get some courage points for that, but you then spend the rest of the movie pretty much forgetting that you have it with you? IT MAKE YOU INVISIBLE. THAT'S KIND OF AN ASSET THAT YOU NEED, BUDDY. PUT THE RING ON. It's not scheduled to corrupt you until the first Lord of the Rings movie, anyway.
          Also of note: I think the dwarves should NOT have charged out for a death-or-glory confrontation and then retreated AWAY from their exit. Bad tactical decisions, guys. On the other hand, you made up for it in the furnace room (I'm a sucker for mechanics).
          Oh, and interesting tactical the producers, to end the movie on a cliffhanger like that. It's a good thing I read the book and know what's gonna happen next, or I would have probably hurled something at the screen. Like the chair I was sitting on. I don't care if it's bolted to the floor--I HATE CLIFFHANGERS.
          And the spiders were amazingly scary. I about crapped myself. Well done, animators. That's gonna haunt me in my nightmares.
          Still, overall, it's a great movie. Go watch it. And I don't want to hear ANYTHING about me spoiling the movie for you, because I warned you at the beginning of this article and you're still reading.
          "I like this movie. ANOTHER!"

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Captain's Log, Day 115: Current Events and Momentous News

          So today, this is going to be a legit log where I ramble on about what is currently going on in my life, verses stuff that happened eons ago that I had to write down before I forgot them to make room for all the math equations. (I know, I know, I used legit wrong, but I don't care. I'm not an English major, for cryin' out loud.)
          Actually, I have no idea when I last wrote about current events. Probably a few years ago. I'm too lazy to look it up though.
          Let's see...interesting semester, for sure; there were some good times which I will have to write down at some time, there were mediocre times with I already forgot (it's a really shame most of them occured during my classes!...just kidding) and there also happened many horror stories that I refuse to write about because I don't want to remember them, and besides they were all overshadowed by one very exciting event.
          Yepp, you read that right. This kid is only a few days away from getting his Mechanical Engineering degree. Future plans? I'm heading straight to grad school in January with plans to knock that out of the way in a year/year and a half, so for those who are doing the math (and who can still do math without a calculator--Calc 3 fried my brain a few years ago and I've never recovered), that means that I will have a Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering before I turn 23 and potentially by THIS TIME NEXT YEAR. Depends on how many classes are offered during the summer and how industrious I am.
          THE END IS IN SIGHT. I shall soon be unleashed onto the unsuspecting world, which I will conquer with my army of robots!! MWAHAHAHA--sorry, pretend to never heard that. Apparently finals are getting to me. It's always a bit stressful. I also am kinda tired--it's 10:30 pm here and my brain was fried by noon this morning.
          I WILL SURVIVE.
          And in other news, I finished my Christmas shopping...okay, most of it anyway...and am packing up to get ready to go home. I may be stuck moving all this stuff myself, since I can't risk inquisitive family members accidentally or on purpose stumbling into their Christmas present. Also, as always, I plan to booby-trap my brother's present, since this is an ongoing tradition and it would be a royal shame to break with tradition...especially with one that could end with a Nerf dart to his face, depending on how I build it this year.
          I wonder if he reads my blog. Probably not.
          Actually, I'll bet not many people read this, which means my ranting will quietly die somewhere in cyberspace while I spontaneously combust from excitement, stress, and root beer.
          But it's probably better that way!
          I declare this log ENDED.
          Live long and prosper.
          And may trolls never steal your socks.
                    --Radar Midway