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12/20/18: I was at work this afternoon and had a taste for some Doritos, so I wandered down to the vending machine on our floor, pulled a dollar bill from my pocket and tried to feed it into the slot, only to find it wouldn't take the dollar. I checked my wallet and I didn't have another bill, so I was about to head back to my desk when I noticed the little LCD window on the machine. It showed that the vending machine had a credit of $651.36. I looked around to see if anyone was working on it (or if there was a Candid Camera crew somewhere around) and tried punching in the code for my Doritos. It spit out the bag and reduced the credit by a dollar. I went back to my desk and told my co-workers about it. One guy said that he might go down to get something, since he had recently lost some money inthe machine, but then I started back in on my work and didn't think much more about it.
     A short time later, we heard a commotion down by the vending machine, so I walked down to see what was going on. I found three people from another floor there, with arms full of chips and candy and other vended items. They were laughing and punching the buttons for more items. I shook my head and went back to my desk.
     Still later, I was heading to the bathroom so I looked in on the machine. There was an out-of-order sign taped over the LCD window, but I lifted the sign and saw that there was still a credit on the screen, although it was down to under $400. That made me a little uncomfortable. I don't feel very guilty for taking the Doritos, since I did try to pay first, and I don't begrudge anyone for hitting up the machine for something after having lost money in it in the past, but the wholesale looting I saw just seemed wrong.

12/18/18: Well, we finally replaced our old television. We inherited a 32" Sony TV from Stephie's Aunt Lois in 2005 and it's been serving us well for all this time. We had a bit of a color problem back in 2016, coincidentally when I was out of work and could not afford another TV, but that seemed to right itself and we've basked in its CRT glow for another few years.
     Recently, though, it's been acting up, with it occasionally not starting, and also the edges of the picture getting fuzzy. A co-worker recently won a TV at an event and offered it to me at a good price, so I took advantage of his kind offer and we now have a flat-screen TV, like most of our friends and family have had for years.
     Before we could use it, though, we had to move out the Sony monstrosity from our front room. I remember almost injuring myself when we moved the TV in back in 2005 (it weighs more than 165 lbs.), and I swore that I was going to have someone else carry it out. Unfortunately, it seemed that was not an option now, so I came up with a plan. The landlord has some furniture dollys in the basement that he said I could use. I figured if I could get the TV off the stand and onto a dolly, I could roll it out onto the veranda and deal with it in the spring. So I got the dolly, enlisted the help of our upstairs neighbor, and was soon rolling it out to the porch.
     There was a small step to go down to get to the foyer, and although we navigated the step slowly, we heard a slight crack from the bottom of the TV. I wasn't too worried about it, since the TV was eventually going to the recycler. We then noticed that the way it was situated on the dolly made it too wide to fit through the door to the veranda. No matter, we thought, and went to lift the set slightly, in order to pivot the dolly underneath. When we did, we heard a loud snap and the bottom half of the plastic shell shattered, spreading shards of plastic around our feet and leaving us holding the back of the TV, its guts dropping back to the dolly.
     Fortunately, neither of us were injured, and we were able to get the tube and electronics settled so they fit through the door, but I was stunned by what happened. We were lucky that neither of us was cut by the sharp plastic pieces, and that we weren't jolted by the exposed electronics, since the TV has been until recently plugged in. I did some Googling and discovered that this is a problem with these old Sony TVs (the sticker says it was manufactured in 1995) that over time, the plastic shell gets brittle, and I read many accounts of people having the same experience that we did, with the outer casing disintegrating while moving a TV that had been sitting in one place for a decade or longer.
     For now, we're enjoying our new flat-screen TV, but I'm not sure how we're going to get rid of the TV on the porch. I'm afraid that any recycler might balk at the condition of the set, and I'm not even sure how we're going to move it again, considering its partially-disassembled state. It'll be a problem for warmer weather.

12/09/18: I think I'm turning into my Dad. We got an invitation from my buddy to attend his daughter's piano recital. We went, as we usually do, and it was a great time. The piece she played was a Debussey piece called 'The Girl with the Flaxen Hair.' We met her in the lobby after the performance and I told her that it was a beautiful piece but that I didn't remember it from the movie. She asked what movie and I said 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.' That is so something that my Dad would say.

12/01/18: Guess what? I did it! At 10:45 CST last night, I submitted my file to the automatic counter on the NaNoWriMo web site, and it reported that I had written 50,505 words since November 1st. As you can see on the graph here, I was behind every day until the last. Even though I took some time off of work with the intention of writing, I still had to write like a fiend on the last day to hit my goal.
     It's funny, but I don't have the sense of accomplishment I did the other times. I think it's probably because while I have enough here to put out as what will likely be book two in the Barnstormers series, the overall story has a long way to go. At least I got to see the video at the end of the NaNoWriMo people cheering my success. I love that part.

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