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New Adventures in the Life of Chris

Here's what I've been up to over the past week or two:

Visited Free State ComicCon

This is always a blast. Picked up a pile of graphic novels (and an awesome T-shirt of John Brown, Superhero).

On a related note: Later that week was the "Weird Edition" of Super Nerd Night at the Jackpot.

Chased off a Home Invader

At 4:10am on Saturday night (or Sunday morning, whichever you prefer), the doorbell went off. Being a light sleeper, I woke instantly, if not clear-headedly, heart pounding within my ribcage, wondering, "WTF?!" A few seconds later, it rang again. Worried that a friend was in trouble, I set about searching for pants (found some stretchy shorts in the dark), glasses (no luck), and dagger (beneath the pillow, natch), and then headed downstairs. This is when the doorbell began ringing in eanest, as the visitor pressed it repeatedly for at least a dozen times. Now my concern turned to irritation and a bit of worry, because my friends wouldn't do that, would they?

Downstairs, I found my phone. No missed calls, so not a friend. Unfortunately, the front-door motion-detector light was turned off, making it tough to see outside very well (no Moon, either), so I inched the front curtain open. The doorbell-ringer had left. Whew.

Just then, I heard the back sliding-screen door open. Here's when I went all HOLY CRAP INTRUDER! The ensuing adrenaline cleared out any remaining sleepiness. The back-yard motion-detector light on the garage was unplugged, I learned later (probably my own fault from turning it off with a long stick), and the back-door light is switch-only (and off at the time), so no light back there, either. I peeked around the corner in the kitchen as the man - a little taller than me, I judged, and wearing bulky clothing - tried to open the sliding-glass door. Because of last year's adventure with locking myself out (this involved a drill, lock-puller, chisels, hammers, Sawzall, and such), the back door doesn't have a lock but is instead blocked; ironically, this is much more secure than a simple lock, so the door only slid an inch or so before hitting the rod in its runner. He put his hand INSIDE THE HOUSE, searching for a chain or something, I suspect, then pushed the door again.

Pissed off now, I turned on the overhead kitchen light. The intruder-dude CONTINUED TRYING TO GET INSIDE. Unfortunately, the sliding-glass door is virtually impossible to see through when it's dark outside and the overhead is on inside, so all I could see was a hand. CREEPY. At this point, it was time to go upstairs and fetch something more menacing than a dagger.

In the back bedroom where I store said menacing stuff, I discovered that, naturally, clevermanka had slept through all this. I turned on the light, informed her what was going on, found what I was looking for, and went back downstairs. En route, I also found my glasses.

When I reached the kitchen, he had left.

clevermanka, being more level-headed than I, asked, "Shouldn't we call the police?" Uh, yeah, good idea. Ahem.

They arrived within minutes. A cruiser rolled past on the street out front, lights off like a land shark, while another pulled into the alley with lights everywhere. Two police walked the alley with flashlights as bright as the sun, and another walked through my yard. The intruder was gone.

I gave them my report and discovered that they had found a suspicious man nearby on a bicycle. Of course I couldn't give any description, but if that was him, perhaps he'll be more cautious in the future. As in, NOT TRYING TO BREAK INTO HOUSES.

My theory? The doorbell-ringing was to find out if anyone was home. If someone meek had answered, he might well have busted inside for nefarious purposes, but I bet he'd have run away. I think he wanted to find an unoccupied house, break in, and steal stuff. I wish I'd gotten a good look and we could finally catch this serial burglar - assuming it's the same guy that's been robbing neighborhood houses.

I'm double-locking the doors now and sleeping with more-substantial equipment within reach. Oh, and now all the motion-detector lights work.

Wrote a New, Um, Thing, Plus Jack and Stella

At last Thursday's Write Group, I finished a new piece of writing. My first sub-1000-word work in a long time! Now some polishing and off it goes.

Oh, and The Galactic Adventures of Jack and Stella is coming along nicely. Over the past week or two I've written another couple thousand words. Best of all, I worked out parts of the plot-arc that were shaped more like nebulae than a bridge. Also wrote a scene for the next book in the trilogy (I think it'll be three...).
The Galactic Adventures of Jack and Stella progress:

Went to the Kansas City Renaissance Festival

Since the KC RenFest opened three weekends ago, I've gone three times! Different goals each time, with next time being a group trip to the Barbarian Battles region, where I intend to pummel my friends with foam swords. This last weekend, I caught a whole bunch of shows and finally rode the bungee-trampoline. HOLY COW was that fun! I aimed for the sky, and reached a good 30 feet or more toward it. The combination of trampoline below + gnarl of bungees attached to each side of a climbing harness = HUGE AIR. I leaped so high that the bungees were actually pulling me down from the top of the arc, above the telephone-pole uprights, and after shooting back down and hitting the trampoline, I sank in knees-bent several feet before it launched me back up again. Did this for many minutes in a row, and my ankles were shaky afterward. My gnarly old pirate assistant stopped me after my first backflip: "No more flips for you," he said. Followed by, "You made me tired just watching you."


This was a day when I intentionally wore jeans, not the kilt, for this very purpose. Ahem.

Saved a Baby Snake

I was working in the garage today and discovered that one of the sticky traps I put down in there to capture horrid things like Brown Recluse spiders had captured what looks like a baby Brown Snake. It was still alive, but barely moving. Only about eight inches long, thin as a pencil at its thickest, with a teeny pointed tail and wee face with long, black, nervously flicking tongue. It was stuck upside-down on the glue trap, face first, looking like it was trying to eat the cricket stuck there, only its cream-colored belly showing.

Click the image to see the Great Plains Nature Center's website.

I felt so bad! I looked up how to humanely free a critter from the trap, and it seems that vegetable oil does the trick. So I trimmed the glue trap down to near the snake, then drizzled olive oil (the only oil I could find in the house) along both sides of its body. I set it down in the shade in the grass upside-down so that the snake would be upright, then soaked the back (paper) of the trap, too, thinking it would loosen the glue faster.

Went back out after an hour, and he'd freed his head. An hour later, and the snake is gone. Hooray! Go free, little Brown Snake, and eat bugs and snails!


Sorry I haven't posted much in the past week. I've been busy with teaching, writing, and so forth. Hope you're well!



( 38 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 25th, 2012 08:32 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you've been having all the fun! And yes, a kilt doesn't work too well (or perhaps it does ;)) with bungee or trampoline work.

Snakes that size in our area tend to be Massasauga rattlers, unfortunately. A friend up at the lake was walking in his yard and got nipped on the foot by one (not that I'd kill it anyway; I'd just make sure to not hurt the bull snakes in the area).

About 3 years prior, a toddler got bitten, and they didn't realized it was a snakebite because there was only a single puncture-that one was scary.
Sep. 25th, 2012 10:59 pm (UTC)
I have been! I thought the kilt might be funny on the bungee ride, but the harness would bind all up in there, anyway....

Yikes. Our snakes are much more charming.

Edited at 2012-09-25 11:00 pm (UTC)
(no title) - carmy_w - Sep. 26th, 2012 03:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - mckitterick - Sep. 26th, 2012 03:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 25th, 2012 09:03 pm (UTC)
I think the same bell ringing scenario happened last night on New Jersey.

They've arrested three people for the rash of burglaries this summer, including ones near our house. It may be nothing, but there was one night were I woke up to a "What was that sound?" got up and turned some of the lights on while looking around a bit, checking on the kids. A house just around the block, or a short walk through our backyard to the neighborhood behind us, was robbed that night--although it was a few hours later than my weird sound. Either way, with the three houses around me that were robbed, I started making sure outside lights were on, the door to the garage was locked and my wooden bat was brought in to sleep by my bedside table.

We went to RenFest last Saturday where the outdoors decided to launch an assault on my head. I think I sneezed a total of 241 times while I was out there and by the time we left the entire inside of my head swelled shut. Fun times.
Sep. 25th, 2012 09:13 pm (UTC)
Love the icon. :)
Re: O/T - tully01 - Sep. 25th, 2012 09:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: O/T - roseconnelly - Sep. 25th, 2012 09:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - mckitterick - Sep. 25th, 2012 11:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 25th, 2012 09:09 pm (UTC)
I generally START with the menacing stuff. Though it always pays to check that it's not an officer knocking to tell you somone broke out your car window or something (which has happened before, at 2am, natch).

Last year I heard someone come onto the back porch late at night. And heard them leave abruptly when I started illuminating the porch doors with the laser sights ...

Sep. 25th, 2012 11:04 pm (UTC)
See, I didn't have the "menacing stuff" in my bedroom, and initially just assumed it was someone I knew, anyway. I mean, what kind of bad guy announces he's about to break in...?

Glad you chased 'em off!
(no title) - tully01 - Sep. 26th, 2012 04:31 am (UTC) - Expand
Hello, Alex. - mckitterick - Sep. 26th, 2012 02:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 25th, 2012 09:12 pm (UTC)
Holy smokes - your account of the burglar is terrifying. I totally would have peed on the floor, I swear.*

*Note: I do not normally pee on the floor, so having me into your home on a non-burglar day should bring you no cause to worry. ;)
Sep. 25th, 2012 09:21 pm (UTC)
I suspect that my reaction of screaming my head off would have chased off the burglar, too. Not that I usually scream my head off. Just when there's an unexpected frog in the swimming pool or somebody walks very quietly in the kitchen or something, heh.
(no title) - mckitterick - Sep. 25th, 2012 11:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - mckitterick - Sep. 25th, 2012 11:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 25th, 2012 09:17 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you rescued it. The picture you used makes me sentimental. Larry Collins, the husband of the photographer, was a great professor at KU.

Also yikes on the home intrusion. Glad you were able to scare him off without the heavy artillery.
Sep. 25th, 2012 11:07 pm (UTC)
Re: Snake
Aw, neat! I love snakes, so it made me feel so good to know it was free.
Sep. 25th, 2012 09:25 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry about the burglar. There's been a series of those in Lawrence lately as I understand. It's really a pity, as I've been pretty happy to live in a crime-free area.

The police do come quickly, though.
Sep. 25th, 2012 11:08 pm (UTC)
The prompt arrival of the police fills me with comfort, I tell you what. Despite this, though, if crime remains buglary rather than serial murders, I still feel safe in Larryville.
(no title) - rose_lemberg - Sep. 25th, 2012 11:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - mckitterick - Sep. 25th, 2012 11:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 25th, 2012 09:50 pm (UTC)
We cannot leave you alone for even a second!!!

Should there be a next time, jam your dagger *through* the guy's hand and watch hilarity ensue as he tries to withdraw it through the gap.

Kidding aside, I am glad you are OK. The bad guy didn't get in, and the snake wasn't venomous, and you didn't break your neck on the trampoline!
Sep. 25th, 2012 11:12 pm (UTC)
Hm, I hadn't thought of using the dagger as a handcuff:

"Aaaaah! It hurtses the hand! Why does the person hurt the hand?"

"Wait here for the police."

I put on a mechanic's glove before I lifted the sticky trap, oh yes. It was upside-down, so at first I had no idea what it was or even which was the bitey end.

I was seriously worried about breaking my neck, I tell you what. That's why I aimed for sky instead of flipping, though I did manage to do one backflip before the gnarly old pirate (trampoline assistant) lowered my bungees and told me, "You're making me tired just watching you."

Oh, and I didn't try to flip when I was shooting so high; instead I just bounced until I wasn't hitting the tramp hard enough to tear off my head before I gave it a try. It's REALLY HARD to make your body flip over backwards while 30 feet in the air, I tell you what.
(no title) - saffronhare - Sep. 26th, 2012 03:09 am (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - mckitterick - Sep. 26th, 2012 03:57 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 25th, 2012 09:57 pm (UTC)
You know, it's a weird world where mine is the voice of reason.
Sep. 25th, 2012 11:13 pm (UTC)
Hahahaha! Actually, I don't find that surprising AT ALL.
(no title) - tully01 - Sep. 26th, 2012 04:33 am (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - clevermanka - Sep. 26th, 2012 01:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 25th, 2012 11:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Hindsight
Hahaha - true! On the other hand, then he would have sued me, and that would have sucked probably worse than his breaking in and stealing stuff.
(Deleted comment)
Re: Hindsight - mckitterick - Sep. 26th, 2012 03:56 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 26th, 2012 04:01 am (UTC)
Legally, I hear that, if you get into a home-defense situation, it's better to kill the bad guy rather than leave him injured and full of lawsuits. Which cause more harm than most robberies.
Sep. 26th, 2012 02:14 am (UTC)
Sounds like a night of adventure! Glad you were actually home when it happened.
Sep. 26th, 2012 04:03 am (UTC)
I wonder if he'd have broken a window to get in if I weren't home....
Sep. 26th, 2012 05:12 am (UTC)
THAT IS SO SCARY!!!!!! here I am NOT talking about the snake, but about the intruder. I don't know what I would do, but am sure I would be completely freaked out.

That is a very sweet looking snake!! Glad you could get it off the glue!

hope you're enjoying school.
Sep. 26th, 2012 03:01 pm (UTC)
Trust me, I was freaked out, too!

I've always found snakes fascinating, and the little bug-eaters are so charming.

Loving school so far. I have a science-fiction literature course (short fiction), a couple of tech-writing courses, plus an advanced tech-writing course with someone who wants to do that kind of work when she graduates. Had a good talk with the new Departmental Chair about my career here, and everything's going well. Hope you're enjoying yours, too!
( 38 comments — Leave a comment )

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