Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dear Charlie:

It's all Jon's fault. Usually, it's Brandon's fault, but this time, I place the blame squarely on Jon's shoulders.

This wicked, evil, thought-provoking colleague at work had the audacity to tell me about a place called Ma & Pa, Nebraska, or something like. Ma-Pa, maybe. Anyway, Ma & Pa is a bonafide town in the state of Nebraska where the entire population consists of two people.

You guessed it: Ma and Pa.

Apparently, they bought a very large swatch of land and did whatever legal paperwork was required to turn their property into a town. They even have a post office, since they're the only town in a several-mile radius. I dunno about a bank, but I think he told me they had a store. It's been a couple of days.

And that's the problem, you see. I can't stop thinking about this little two-person town. It's hilarious. It's story-fodder. It''s perfect.

I mean, seriously. Say you wanted to write a story about this town. What could you write? A murder mystery?

Ma's found dead at the downtown library. Whodunit?

Or, say Ma's the sheriff and Pa's found dead. Would she have to arrest herself? Or would she be able to blame it on that second cow from the left? The one with the twitchy eye? Never did trust that cow.

Call it All the Cow's Men and sell it to FOX. They'd hire Sharon Stone as Ma and the creepy little kid from The Ring as Pa, then bring in Keanu Reeves as the shifty drifter who just happened to drop off his mail that afternoon.

And Paris Hilton could play the twitchy cow.

Or make it a romance. Ma met Pa, and...oh, wait. That already happened. That's all back story. We gotta shake it up a little. Um...oh! A handsome stranger was just passing through on the one road through town and happened upon Pa on his way home after church. Love at first sight. Brokeback Cornfield.

Or...a drama!

Years of nothing but the rustling corn and lowing cattle have left Ma feeling like Pa no longer finds her beautiful and as if she has nothing to live for. Surely, there's more to life than reaping and sowing and milking and slaughtering. She is woman. She was meant for more than this simple domesticity.

Settle into this heartfelt journey of self-discovery in the Heartland as Ma turns the broad side of the barn into a masterpiece mural of feminine self-expression and her own dreary life into a beautiful symphony. Barns of Ma & Pa County, showing in a limited release at the Ma & Pa Theater/Barber Shop/Tanning Salon/Video Rental Store all weekend long. Bring the kids, but only if you bring your own lawn chairs. There's only two seats in the whole place.

How's about a horror fic? Something sinister moves through the corn at night....

Wait. That one's already been done. Hmmm....

Mutant cows! That's the ticket! Pa goes out to the barn one morning to find Bessie devouring the second cow from the left -- the twitchy-eyed one, remember? -- while ripping it to shreds with the acid-shooting, spiked tentacles growing out of her udders.

I guess that one's more science fiction. At least, it is if you factor in the accident at the lab where the doctor accidentally knocked the contents of Beaker #3 into the insecticide mixture that Pa sprayed on the corn he fed to Bessie last night.

Dude, I could seriously do this all night. Dammit, Jon!!

I mean, seriously, you can't tell me about a place like that and expect me not to run with it. Hell, I'm half-tempted to buy a map of Nebraska and drive there, just to say I've been to Ma & Pa, Nebraska! I ought to take a vacation, anyway, and where else was I planning on going?

*ignores the rumblings from Kentucky*

It's killing me. Every time I think about the place, I crack up. One idea after another just tumbles through.

I want to start a one-person town. I'd call it Solo. Or maybe just One. Simple, but eloquent. Eintown. MemyselfandIville. Myburg. Oh, I like that! Myburg! Or maybe get really pretentious and spell it Myburgh.

I really, really need to hit the PowerBall Jackpot. I'd buy a huge chunk of land somewhere else in The Middle; call it Myburgh, population 1; and open a bank, a post office, a general store/library with tanning beds and video rentals in the back, a mechanic shop/bakery, and a pirate-themed minigolf course.

Dude. Seriously.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Actually, a couple of updates.

First, the plumbing problem is (currently) solved. I say (currently) because you never know. This house is 90 years old, at least, and Biff owned it for a good 10 of those. Maybe 15. Anyway, woo-hoo for Dale the Plumber for coming immediately (booting two people with less water-less problems) and for fixing it so quickly. Awesome sauce.

And second, we at work have been counting how many times random people have casually told us to "be careful". Not a one of us have heard it less than 3 times a day. Seriously. Screw you, American Idol.

And last(ish), the sleet and freezing rain have moved on for now, and it's now snowing outside. Big puffy flakes, which I didn't expect for how cold it is. It's beautiful.

Yes, the streets are pretty dangerous -- well, not if you drive carefully, but how many people do that? ha-ha -- but if you're looking out your window with a big, steaming cup of Pesh's Not-Quite-Patented Cozy-in-a-Cup with a movie on the TV and a blanket thrown over your legs, watching those big, floaty flakes pile up on the tree limbs? That's serenity, folks.


Until the power goes out, of course. I'll think it's beautiful right up until a tree limb falls on a powerline down the street somewhere. Then, I'll be okay for a few hours -- reading is a wonderful way to spend an evening with a candle -- until I want a hot bath. Then, it won't be so damn pretty outside. Heheh.

Until then, I'll enjoy being off work an hour early because the Powers That Be thus saith. I'll enjoy the warmth of the blanket one of the therapists at work gave me for Christmas and the creamy goodness of the Cozy-in-a-Cup that Pesh gave me last year (that I've been scrimping and saving until now, heheh). I'll enjoy the music in Leap of Faith and maybe a little DBZ later.

And I'll enjoy watching those big, beautiful snowflakes tumbling down and piling up on the car I've already scraped 4 times in 2 days. Heh. Yeah, I'm the kind of person who enjoys the scenery on a detour. So sue me.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dear Charlie:

I wonder if, in the 4-plus years I've been puttering around on this blog, I've told you all about Biff. No? Well, perhaps I've never mentioned him by name, but I've certainly talked about him.

Who is Biff, you ask? Well, Biff is the guy I bought my house from. Biff liked to think of himself as a handyman. And Biff seemed to think that this house was a good place to try all of his handyman experiments.

Biff has cost me a helluva lot more than what I paid for the house, let's say.

There was the time, right after I moved in, that I realized I couldn't run the fridge and the clothes dryer at the same time because the two-way 220 plug he'd installed in the wall couldn't handle the current from both appliances. Luckily, Dad fixed that one by putting in separate plugs for each of them and wiring them to separate breakers. Easy save, that one.

There's also the toilet issue. Long-time readers will know all about the toilet issue. Apparently, Biff thought it would be a good idea to leave half of the bathroom's plumbing underground when he redid the plumbing for the kitchen and added-on utility room, rather than just putting it all above ground. Now, there are roots in the pipes, and a couple of times a year (several times in unlucky years), I have to call a plumber to rooter out the lines.

There's also the time I wanted to put in a new faucet in the kitchen sink because the old one leaked. That was a real adventure. It's a good thing my dad decided that he didn't want to go this one alone and called a plumber, because good ol' Biff had used straight pipe all the way up from the basement to the faucet, rather than bothering with that pesky flex tube that you can actually, ya know, remove when you need to. The plumber had to take a Sawzall to the pipes, yank the faucet off by main force, and run flex tube up from the basement to the new faucet. He also added shut-offs in the cabinet under the sink, which Biff hadn't bothered with and which are kinda important.

There are so many other "improvements" that don't bear bringing up, mostly out of consideration for my own sanity. I simply don't want to remember them.

This one, though...really takes the cake.

So, I thought I'd make myself some soup. Sounds easy enough, right? I was thinking homemade noodles, but they're still really easy. However, there were a few dishes in the sink, so I bargained with myself that I'd definitely make myself some homemade noodle soup if I washed all the dishes first. We're not talking about a dominating pile, here, but I think I've mentioned that I'm a lousy housekeeper, and I seriously have to bribe myself to do even the most basic chores.

So, I'm washing the dishes. If there aren't too many, I just leave the water running while I wash instead of filling up the sink. I dunno why. Just one of those things I've gotten in the habit of doing. So the hot water's running, and then...ka-thunk!...the water practically stops.

I drop the plate I'm scrubbing and reach to shut the water off, automatically moving the little handle over toward the cold side as I do. The new sink doesn't have two separate handles -- just the one pivot handle that swings one way or the other to fine-tune the temperature -- and as it swings toward the cold side, the water comes back on steady. I turn it off. Then, I frown and turn it on again, back on the hot side. Burbling air, and no water at all. I turn it to the cold side. Cold water. A little less pressure than usual, but still running fine.


No hot water, but the cold water's fine. I go into the bathroom and try the sink in there. This sink does have two handles, and I try the hot one first. No water. Cold handle, water. Weird. I don't bother trying the bathtub.

So, I head into the utility room to see if maybe the hot water heater blew up, and as I open the door, I hear the faint sound of water rushing somewhere. Wincing, I walk over closer, and while I'm sure the water isn't rushing inside the house, I kinda fear that I'm hearing steam instead of water and that the water heater is gonna pop. But no, I lean my ear against it and it's dead-dead-deadsky, and the sound of water rushing is a little more clear.

Under the house. Greeeeeaaaaat.

Sighing, I grab up the flashlight and head outside. Toss open the cellar door. And, thank God, I don't have to go tramping around in the crypt because I can very clearly hear the sound of water pattering down onto the gravel under there. I just need to shut off the water.

Now, I might or might not have mentioned the time I told the plumber who came out to look at my toilet not to flush it because you can't shut it off again once it gets going when it's plugged. Of course, being a manly plumber type, he automatically assumed I was the usual useless damsel-in-distress and flushed. Then couldn't get it to shut off before it overflowed all over the floor and him and his wife/assistant.

I calmly informed him that I knew how to shut off a toilet usually, but that when I said it wouldn't stop running, I meant it. Duh. He sent his wife out to shut off the water at the source, then had to go do it himself when he realized it was still one of the old shut-offs that required a certain wrench. He said, and this is the important part of the story, that the city used to use those old shut-offs to keep people from turning their own water back on if it had been shut off for non-payment.

Thus, fast-forward back to current day, I know I can't quickly get my water shut off at the source, and I have quite a bit of water running down-cellar. Nonetheless, I call up the water company, figuring they'll at least have a suggestion.

The very nice lady at customer service asks me if I've tried shutting it off at the main line in. I tell her I can't shut it off at the source because of the old shut-off, and she calmly explains that there should also be a main shut-off to the house itself, separate from the source one. I ask if it should be down in the basement, again wincing.

I really, really don't like going down there. Cobwebs galore. And where there are cobwebs, there are Demons from Hell.

I mean spiders. Guh.

Thankfully, she says it should be on the line to the water heater, which shouldn't be in the cellar. She says it's a blue knob with "shut-off" written on it. I look and see three blue knobs, a red one, and a black one. However, only the black and one blue are on the "coming in" side of the water heater, so I eliminate the other three pretty quickly, much to the phone lady's relief.

Of course, none of them say "shut-off". That would be too easy, wouldn't it, Biff?

I try to turn the blue one, but it's stuck solid. It ain't moving. The black one turns, but the sound of rushing water doesn't slow the slightest. The lady on the phone, sounding almost as headed-toward-panicky as I feel, says she can send someone out to shut it off, but it's after hours and she'll have to charge me a small fortune to do it. I tell her that shouldn't be necessary, that I can call some friends who might know a little more about it than I do, and just about then, the blue shut-off gives juuuuust the tiniest bit. It hurts my fingers, but it turns.

So, giving a little whoop, I run for my big pliers, set 'em on the outside edges, and twist hard. Once it gets past that first stick, it turns easy enough that I just use my fingers, and after a small eternity, the running sound tightens up, then stops altogether. The water is off. Thank God.

I thank the lady on the phone and hang up, then go to the sink. And here's where the Biff part comes in.

On a whim, I flip up the handle and, even though the main water coming into the water heater is turned off...the cold water still works. Apparently, that "handy" man has this house's cold water supply run into the house separately from the hot. The hot water side goes through the water heater and the cold water just comes straight from the source.

Or something even more bizarre is going on. Which wouldn't surprise me.

But that's the only logical explanation I can come up with for why turning off the main switch still allows cold water through. Guh. What the hell??

Anyway, I'll be calling the plumber (not the idiot who wouldn't listen, but the good one who helped with the faucet) tomorrow to see if a pipe broke down-cellar or something else weird. I'm hoping it's something easy. I'm betting it's something hard.

After all, this was Biff's house. Dammit.

And I'm wondering if I should bother with the soup. I mean, really. I can only break something else, at this point, right?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Dear Charlie:

Now, I don't watch American Idol. I usually hate reality TV, and that show particularly gets on my nerves. I mean, seriously. Some idiot that couldn't carry a tune with a forklift got through how many rounds of judging to stand before the Thundrous Three (or is it the Forbidding Four now?) just long enough to be shellacked on national television?

Sure. Whatever.

But just because I don't watch it doesn't mean I don't get stuck hearing about it at work the whole rest of the week. Egad. And, of course, living in the Middle as I do, I couldn't help but hear the flabbergasted irritation over the whole "be careful" thing.

My initial response was like everyone else's around here: "God, city people are idiots!"

But I try to be a fair-minded individual, so I reserved judgment until I could see for myself. YouTube can be a wonderful thing. And I realized a funny thing not 20 seconds into the poor guy's audition: they were scared of this guy from the start. The first thing out of Simon Cowell's mouth is, "That's not a gun, is it?"

It was a cell phone holder. A cell phone holder. And while I suppose a couple of really tiny-caliber clutch pistols might be small enough to fit into a cell phone holder, I can't imagine that the guy would've gotten past security with one on blatantly bared on his hip.

In other words, these "celebrities" were already twitchy just being in our redneck, hillbilly, Deliverance-esque neck of the woods. How sad. Joking about it, but obviously uneasy.

And then I kept watching. Through the entire 2 minutes of video (basically, as soon as the poor guy opened his mouth with that so-Kentucky accent), all four judges were condescending and, as I understand is usual, Simon was downright obnoxious. No surprise, really, but factored into the rest of the story, it does add luster. And it was just generally insensitive to act that way towards a man that showed them nothing but nervous respect and an attempt at affability that was quickly spurned.

And then, the moment. The horrible, spine-shivering utterance. The menacing hex upon the judges' oh-so-precious heads.

"Ya'll take care and be careful."

I like to imagine that people have the good sense to just naturally understand a person's tone of voice and body language, or at least to know the difference between a threatening and a non-threatening utterance. If the poor guy had said something along the lines of "And ya'll better watch yer backs!" in a silky, dangerous whisper, yeah. Feel free to freak out, celebrity types. careful? Preceded by a "take care"? And not said with any more ill inflection than a simple "goodbye"? And yet Paula Abdul jumped on it like he'd told her he'd see her in her bedroom that night with a knife and some barbed wire.

What the hell? Does no one ever wish someone a safe journey on either coast? Or is that a common courtesy reserved solely for us supposed uneducated, inbred yokels in the Middle? Or is it just that these people have spent so long looking over their shoulders at imagined perils from us scrabbling, fawning, and barely-sane masses that they don't understand a commonplace, polite sentiment when they hear it?

My most frequent goodbye to friends and strangers alike is, "Drive safe, have fun". Whether they're going on vacation to another country or going to the store for some milk. Whether I'll see them in an hour or a year. Drive safe, have fun. Be careful. Take care.

Ya'll come back now, y'hear?

But I guess the American Idol folks are more used to places were people don't wave at each other when they pass on the street, where a hello is taken as a "gimme your wallet". And as I think about that, it makes me sad. I can almost pity them.

If they hadn't been such jerks to that poor guy who was already nervous as hell.

Do they realize how ridiculous and paranoid and downright stupid they ended up sounding to more than half of the country? I'd be willing to bet dollars to pesos (a bet that becomes less moot every day, ha ha, falling-dollar joke) that everyone from the Rockies to the Appalachians says some variation of "be careful" every day to everyone from their own kin to the bag boy at the grocery store.

And yet those self-righteous prigs sat there and lectured him on how that's not a normal thing to say. I wonder if they go to France and tell people not to say "bon voyage". Or to England and "good luck and godspeed". I can do this in several languages. See, it's polite to wish someone well upon leaving. In every language, including our own.


See, they assumed ill intent because of where they were and because of an accent. Or, at the very least, they assumed this guy was an ignorant inbred who had no idea how to talk to The Sophisticates. I mean, this is a time and place where you can't ask someone with a bomb strapped to their chest what they think they're doing without getting slapped with a discrimination charge, and they assumed something bad...just because. And ended up looking dumb as rocks.

Word to the wise, American Idol cast: a funny thing happens when you ASSUME, and it has nothing to do with how I end up looking. And if I have to spell it out for you, then you're dumber than I thought.

And no, I don't think I'll ever bother watching American Idol. Somehow, I don't think it's a big loss.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dear Charlie:

Coupla things:

1. I will never, EVER make petits fours again. EVER. At least not until it's been long enough to forget how big a pain in the ass they are. The only good part is doodling on top once the coating process is over. The doodling part's kinda fun, but guh. The rest is a nightmare.

2. Hot tea is God's gift to chest congestion. I've been battling the Creeping Crud for, good grief, 3 or 4 months now, and every now and then it settles right in my chest and I spend a couple of days barking like a seal. Yesterday, while I was baking the cake for the petits fours, I got to coughing so bad that my chest burned for like an hour afterward.

Anyway, when I got up this morning, it was hard to breathe and my chest hurt so bad that I called in sick, took some cough supressant (I know, I probably need to get this crap out, but damn, it hurts), tried to go back to sleep, failed miserably, then got up for good and made myself some spicy chicken soup with homemade noodles.

That worked pretty well, but what worked best of all was the India Spice hot tea I picked up at Wally World a couple of weeks ago and hadn't tried yet. Stir in some honey and let it steep a little longer than usual, and it's perfect. I've had at least ten big mugs of it today. By noon, I could breathe without wincing.

Which reminds me: while I don't frequent Starbucks, I have to admit that I'm quite smitten with their London Fog tea latte. Oh, my God. It's beautiful. I know it's just Earl Grey with some steamed milk, but...*drools*...I can never get it to brew that smooth at home. Dude.

Anyway, I should be hauling my congested butt to work tomorrow, and I sincerely hope the crew likes the friggin' petits fours, because I am NEVER making them again. Seriously.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dear Charlie:

Yikes! Long time, no post. Sorry. Been a little incommunicado lately.

The elves are gone, darn it. But there's always next year, and with my attention...errr...problem...I'll have likely forgotten all about them in a month or so. Heh. Sometimes, ADHD is a good thing.

I've been reading a lot lately -- always a sign that a writing spurt is in the pipeline. Better still for the writing pipeline thing, I've been really unsatisfied with most of what I've read. I know when I start rooting through old Regency romances and Stephen King short story compendiums, looking for something I'm not finding, that either a whole new story (I have a couple of ideas) or a seriously furious writing jag on an old story is on its way.

We'll see.

I've also been watching lots of "new" movies. They're not chronologically new, of course. Just movies I haven't seen before. Horror movies, of course. Yeah, I finally broke down and got a membership at Blockbuster, the Great Blue Satan, and I've been pillaging their horror section in search of something new.

Most of what I've rented has been pretty independent. The Darkest Hour was amusing, as was Days of Darkness, but Ghost Lake and The Hollow most decidedly weren't. Oi. I get a touch of Dave and Edy when I watch that kind of flick. They're always thinking we should make our own video game, our own comic, our own this or that because of all the crap that gets churned out. I'm usually just amused, but some of those homegrown horror flicks make me wonder if I shouldn't invest in a digital camera and some lighting equipment.

Heh, I know I could write a better script!

Anyway, as you can see, nothing too exciting going on in the ol' life, which is why I haven't posted much. And now, I'm gonna go get me something to eat. Yes, I have a perfectly tasty casserole in the fridge, but I'm saving it for lunches next week. Right now, I'm thinking Magic Noodle, a Thai place that has the best spring rolls in town.

You know, it's too bad I can't take the single things I like most about my favorite restaurants and combine them all into the same place. The Tokyo's udon and sushi, Magic Noodle's spring rolls, Red Lobster's crab legs, Stogey's spaghetti red, Champs' pub fries, Grand Fortuna's crab rangoon, Mythos' creamy tomato soup....

You get the idea. Heh. I like a little bit of everything. I need like a whole town buffet, darn it. Not that I'd eat more than a plate, but I want that plate to be...I dunno...varied.

Anyway, time to eat!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Dear Charlie:

Okay, so if you haven't laughed yourself sick at the Macho-Man Elves, you'd better do it quick. Apparently, they're a seasonal thing unless you want to pay to download them to your own harddrive for extended use.

Thus, Luther Reigns and the Muscle-head Posse will be gone after January 15. Alas, poor Dancing Diesel. I knew him, Jiggy Justin. Get 'em while they're hot. Or...ya know...there.

Also, I'm putting the Undead Christmas lyrics post over in the sidebar. I don't want to lose them. They're too much fun to not sing in public. *snerk*

Not much has happened in the last couple of days. At least, not much that I want to blog about. Nothing I particularly want to commemorate. Comemmorate? Commemmorammate? Dammit.

Anyway, nothing I particularly want to remember. The first week-ish of 2009 has looked a lot like 2008, and while I'm not particularly surprised at that, it does kinda chafe. It has, however, produced some of the most awesome homemade chili mac the world has ever known. Dude. Seriously.

Lunch for a week.

Oh, and apparently the FBI is hiring. Do you think a Bachelor's degree in English would get me a gun and a badge? Because I could seriously do that job.

*flashes badge*

*looks impassive but vaguely menacing*

*doesn't drop gun*

See? I am all over that. Where do I sign? I mean, the pay almost has to be better.

"This is not a job where you apply today and you will be with us tomorrow. This will take about a year to get through our application process," Osbourne said.


Dammit. Never mind.

I wonder if the Bomb Squad is hiring? I could totally do that.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Dear Charlie:

[Edited to add: This post was cursed before I even started it. Why, you might ask? Well, because it's post #666. Which is why I added the edit at the start of the post instead of the end. Those with severe heart conditions or radical allergies to Biblical symbolistic superstition should turn away.]

If it's true that how you spend your New Year's Day is how you'll spend the rest of the year, I should be in pretty good company. Thus far -- and we're only like 2 hours into the new day -- I've already spent time with my beloved sister, talked on the phone to Pesh and Edy, texted Dave, and driven 80 mph.

I also plan to sleep a lot (because I've already been up-and-running for 22 hours thus far and really REALLY need to hit the sack), read a little, and hopefully write a bit. I also have an artsy-craftsy idea that's been percolating in the back of my mind for a few weeks now that I'm tempted to give a try, if for no other reason than that I'll be artsy-craftsy-ing the rest of the year. Heh.

It's not that I want to jam-pack so many things into this coming year, because I've been busy as all get-out all of 2008. I don't really want to be that harried in '09. But I do want to do more things that I love and fewer things I hate. I mean, what's the point of suffering through work if you can't come home and do something that makes you feel better?

Because I did feel so harried and busy-busy-hurry-hurry in 2008, I really didn't have a fun year. Sure, lots of excellent movies came out, but I didn't get to read much, nor did I do much doodling or even that much writing. And the stuff I did write was for my own edification and to get stuff out of my head, rather than for productivity. I even puked out some poetry, and Lord Almighty, I usually only do that when I'm really deep in the doldrums.

Yeah. 2008 was not so much my year.

So, while I don't make resolutions because I think they're both silly and pretentious, I do like to set goals for myself if I think they'll make life easier or more worth the effort, and one of my goals for 2009 is to remember the stuff I enjoy and get back to some of those things. Without those hobbies and fail-safe time-taker-uppers, what's the point of bothering with a job to pay the bills and keep food on the table? If you're not going to enjoy life, why bother with it at all?

Thus, more artsy-fartsy. More baking and trying new recipes. More drawing/doodling/painting, because I really miss that. Maybe a cross-stitch pattern or two, because it's been years since I did anything artistic in that respect. And definitely more writing, because I've seriously been feeling that lack, especially lately. When your life is as mundane and financially bereft as mine, you really have to have that time to live out of your head instead of living in reality. It's an escape that movies and even reading can't offer.

I may not get a different/better job. I probably won't win the PowerBall jackpot. I likely won't ever have two cents to rub together, let alone to save up. But that doesn't mean I can't have a good time instead of spending every spare moment either searching the pitifully scant want ads or lamenting how quickly the bills pile up. Finances are depressing as hell, and I'm done with them.

Fiddle-dee-dee, said Scarlet. I will think about it tomorrah, because tomorrah is anothah day.

And now, I'm sure you can hear every minute of those 22 hours awake, so I'll let you go to enjoy your own New Year's Day. And, because I think it's one of the more sincere of "best wishes":

May the best of your past be the worst of your future.

And God bless us, every one.