Greetings and welcome to Dinosaur Bear!
[Administrative Note: This is the first post I am writing after a recent slew of back-end updates and changes here at Dinosaur Bear. One part of the update was to change how internal links work on the blog, so if you notice some links on this post (or others) not working correctly, please let me know in the comments for the relevant post! Also, if anything else seems wonky it might just be a work in progress sort of deal as I am playing with a lot of behind-the-scenes gadgets that are either newly installed or new to me.]
So, aside from that phone post, when we last left off SB and I had just departed from our ABQ Adventure with Meem. Prior to that we were in the process of settling into our new home. This post picks up with a bit of an update on our NM lives, as well as celebrates our 9th Anniversary Festivities! I originally intended for this post to come out at the end of the string of posts I have already written (five posts waiting in the hangar as of me writing this), but I ended up producing a lot more content than I anticipated so I’m inserting this one in front of two already written posts for timeliness purposes.
Anyways, as to the continued process of us settling in, we’ve made quite a bit of progress and I think the apartment is pretty much settled at this point! We’ve gotten everything organized and put away and have made all the new acquisitions we’ll need. We even downsized a bit more than we already had, which is something SB and I are really trying to keep doing (which can be difficult when you need to reacquire basic things like a table). Pigsten for his part did not downsize, but he did organize!
In fact he helped me clean his entire rock collection (plus a few seashells) because they needed a good scrubbin’ (especially one, ehm.. slightly radioactive one whose origins will be revealed in a future post!) – and then we placed them all in his brand new Rock Box!
Pigsten got a bit dirty while going through his collection – as did Broli. In fact all the Boys had gotten a bit dirty from all our recent traveling, that or they just were messy eaters in all the excitement of new food (*cough* Valentino *cough*).
So, with much ado, all the Boys got a long-overdue bath.
He bites and roars and claws and thrashes and, eventually, gives in and just lets it happen.
Part of why he hates it so much is because bathing removes his precious “manries” (e.g. dirt, grease, and other manly things) but also because I think he gets cold afterward. The good news on that front is that since the weather has been pretty amazing here the Boys all got to do the majority of their drying outside rather than just sit in front of a fan for hours.
They definitely get more good mail than I do that’s for sure. I get bills, information from the bar (I’ll let you guess what kind of bar), and that’s about it. Also bills. On the friends note, the Boys have even made some local friends, such as this T-Rex lamp Tristen found when I was meeting a professional associate for coffee, this is not Tristen’s first T-Rex lamp friend either!
I think Tristen has struggled a bit with the move – not because he doesn’t like it here (in fact he much prefers it here to say… Iceland in winter), but really because he is like me any change makes him anxious. So we’ve been keeping him pretty busy with activities (and also bribes, they work well with that Boy – read on for one such bribe). Despite normally being a “Dad’s boy” he has even ran some errands with SB lately.
Though that might have more to do with Co-Pilot status in Felicia than it does Mom time. Speaking of being odd parents, we recently acquired this year’s Thomas, Thomas V!
Yes its crazy to think about the fact that we’ve had five reincarnations of Thomas now. Thomas has proven to us that he is not limited by the usual aspects of mortality or linear existence. He has been small, had his own security guard, been large, and is now white.
We decided to mix it up with a different style of Thomas this year (and SB didn’t even have to lug him back from Bónus on foot either!) and picked up a white one, or rather the seeds that Thomas I, II, III, and IV implanted in our brains commanded us subconsciously to pick this Thomas to be Thomas V. I hold no illusions of control over the Thomas Empire.
Oh, you may be wondering about our other plants – you know, the ones that aren’t part of a massive cosmos-devouring Pumpkin God. They are doing well too. The Barley Bros and Bonsai Buddy Jr. are getting along quite nicely in their new spot in the office.
And yes, I open the blinds for them, it’s just that sometimes the sunshine turns the office into an inferno. As proof of their well-being here is a later photo (with open blinds) where you can see how big the Barley Bros are getting.
If you need a primer on what makes two Barley plants in New Mexico somewhat extraordinary then read this post again, that post also mentions the unfortunate “death” of Little Friend. The good news is that our cacti are doing well, especially Little Friend who could really only go up from his “deceased” status.
Pancho continues to be huge, Nacho struggled a bit with his repotting and I had to do some surgery on him, same for Quixote (which really surprised us). However, they are all stable now and Pig is doing lots of “cacti yoga” with them to help them heal.
Oh, and if you were curious (you weren’t, but that’s an easy way for me to change course), yes – we did buy both the stand and the bench just for the plants. I’m talking like $65 spent on these plants while we eat canned beans. 😀 Priorities dear reader, priorities.
Speaking of expenses, we made another large expense as part of our “settling” process – we got a TV. Yes, aside from Felicia the TV was the biggest expense we’ve had in.. well.. about five years. If you’ve read Dinosaur Bear for a while you’ll know that we parted with our beloved former TV, Philip, prior to leaving Boston. Philip was, in his day, a nice TV. He was a 2008 model but we purchased him in 2009 with the ole’ “Last Year’s Model” discount from Sam’s Club. In fact we purchased him on June 17th at 3:33pm using my Dad and Stepmom’s Business Account at Sam’s Club. Yes, I kept the receipt, Philip was my child. We then put Philip’s MASSIVE box into the back of SB’s Lumina (where it did not fit), tied it up with rope, and then slowly drove back to our apartment while consumed with terror that it would fall out of the car, etc. Philip was 47″ – a big TV for 2009. Philip was also expensive, even with the discount and all the research I had done (and if you know me, you’ll know I do an obsessive amount of research before spending anything above probably $100 – SB says that I sometimes do a little too much research, in fact 😛 ). Some people gave me crap for buying Philip when SB and I made very little money, some people’s opinions didn’t matter. 🙂
Philip was, more importantly, a good TV. He was SB and I’s first big purchase, and aside from getting sick once (a Dr. came and fixed him up – thankfully he was still in warranty), he was a solid performer. Philip was the last of his species to be made in the United States, and we moved him and his big box three times (Philip was also very heavy compared to current-gen TVs). However, when it came time to leave Boston behind we decided we needed to sell Philip for space purposes. Fortunately Philip went to a good home, and while it rained on the day he went to his new home (thankfully I’d kept all his packaging) because even God was sad, we got him on his way with no issues and I honestly got a pretty good price for him.
We had a second smaller TV that my Dad and Stepmom had gotten for us (a first-gen smart TV from Vizio) but we sold that around the same time as Philip. After that we had no TV for about 14 months – and while we didn’t really miss broadcast television that much, we did miss Philip and watching Adventure Time and Jeopardy together. So, with Tristen basically eating us alive over the lack of a TV, I started doing research into current-gen TVs after we’d settled into our apartment. After a lot of research and some bargain hunting and actual haggling (yes, legitimate old-school haggling) that took nearly 25% off the list price, we purchased a new TV.
Meet “Phil” 😀
Phil, despite being larger than Philip, weighs way less. Phil is also a smart TV, whereas Philip was not, so we’re still getting used to a TV that we can interface with (Phil uses Android TV and we have Android Phones – so they can make digital babies). I would also be remiss if I didn’t inform you that Phil is fiercely guarded by a one Tristen, T-Rex.
Tristen originally wanted to set Phil up so that the Google Assistant only listened to him, but we vetoed that proposition. Since Phil is a Smart TV and easily links up with our phones and computers, one of the first things we did was “cast” a bunch of photos of the Boys to him and watch YouTube.
We don’t have broadcast TV (i.e. no cable) and we aren’t going to get it. It costs too much and streaming is much more cost-effective for us (I, for one, don’t really watch anything and what SB watches is stuff like YouTube or Netflix). As such we don’t get any sports, etc. but we do have Adventure Time – though we get those on DVDs (not even Blurays, just DVDs – because it’s a cartoon, lol) and we didn’t have a DVD player when we first got Phil (a fact Tristen later used to his bargaining advantage).
Despite our fried chicken TV fest, SB and I haven’t been eating much meat lately and no longer keep any in the house aside from events like Church’s “Ricken” night. That said, despite less meat we’ve honestly branched out our diets more than we had in Iceland (though that was largely due to cost, in fairness) including some yummy frozen watermelon-mint treats SB made us.
It’s also fall, meaning pumpkin-craziness is in the air (something Iceland did not share, in fact SB’s friend had to bring us Pumpkin Spice all the way from the U.S.)
For my part I’ve been celebrating beer that doesn’t cost a small fortune by buying, well, a lot of it. 😀
SB has also been exploring some more wine – again because of how much better the prices are here.
And because a lot of alcohol isn’t enough to make you sleepy (lol) we recently picked up some deliciously good “Relax” coffee. Yes, I realize how backward that sounds, but its decaf coffee blended with lavender and chamomile and it is freaking good.
I’ve been trying it with Kava to see if it helps me sleep, and while results have varied, it’s a nice alternative to melatonin (which I have honestly been taking for far too long but at a certain point you just gotta’ sleep). The good news on the sleepy-time front is that Fall has brought with it much cooler (but not cold) temperatures, so we’ve been able to turn off the A/C (except for the very end of October) and enjoy the fresh air (which I tend to sleep better with). Of course Fall isn’t super prevalent here and it doesn’t even begin to compare with Fall in New England. However, as luck would have it we do have one tree out in front of our apartment that does change – and when I say one I mean one, the rests are various succulents and palms.
Interestingly enough, we got to see the tree slowly change from right to left – which was really neat. When it first started it went fast, so fast in fact that SB and I woke up one day were like “Wow, the tree, uh, changed!” After the first 1/3 or so it slowed way down, but it continued to only work from right to left – the left side never moved inward. Pig kept a close eye on the tree as it changed, likely in search of any grubs eating the leaves.
Since the Fall weather has been wonderful aside from a couple of rainy days we’ve used the weather as an opportunity to get outdoors. One of the first places we checked out was the Veterans Memorial Park which we had driven by the very first day we arrived here. While the Park is dedicated to New Mexican Veterans broadly, it has a special focus on the Bataan Death March of WWII because of the disproportionate number of New Mexicans who were forced into the march (where ~5,650 to 18,000 prisoners of war died).
The above statue, “Heroes of Bataan” is dedicated to both the U.S. and Filipino soldiers who were part of the march, and the space in front of them features footprints of actual survivors of the march.
What I did not know prior to visiting the park was that New Mexico had the highest per capita prisoner of war rate with the Japanese after the U.S. and Filipino forces surrendered in 1942 (and were subsequently forced into the death march).
They had a sign which shows how many New Mexicans from each county ended up as a POW in the Philippines which gives you a visual idea of just how many there were from a comparatively low population state.
In addition to WWII there are monuments and memorials to essentially every major conflict going all the way back to the Revolutionary War in the park (though obviously New Mexico has no known connections to that war for obvious reasons). One of the most visually noticeable memorials is for Vietnam, largely because of the Bell UH-1 Iroquois (or as I know them, the “Huey”) they have above the memorial.
You can get right up underneath it, which is really neat (though some asshat vandalized it in 2016, because a surefire way to be a cool person is to vandalize war memorials – fortunately all the damage was fixed).
One of my favorite parts of the park was a stone tablet engraved with “The Battling Bastards of Bataan” by Frank Hewlett – which details the circumstances of Bataan.
While sad, I found it quite profound.
While the park has been our only real outing (aside from a yet-to-be-released adventure), that hasn’t stopped us from getting excited about one of the best parts of Fall – Halloween!
Halloween has been a favorite holiday of mine for a long time, but since SB and I’s anniversary occurs at roughly the same time, that just makes it even better! Thomas V (like all his siblings before him) came to live with us in the weeks preceding Halloween and so he was, of course, excited as well.
In fact the last week of October is generally a pretty exciting time around the Taco household – and while SB and I have a long history of not actually getting to spend much time together on our anniversary, this year we did! I think the Boys were pretty excited about that, either that or the fact that they did their civic duty and voted early (or because they bought a lottery ticket, which alas, won us nothing).
Or, perhaps they were just excited because of Halloween treats. Like most people, we don’t restrict our treats to Halloween and instead we trickle them in in advance, kind of like this glorious Mummy Cake Pop!
Or maybe it was just because we got even more beer.
Ok the bat week thing was probably mostly me, I love bats. While the good spirits of the Boys may have been the result of many things, I can say for sure that Tristen’s recent bout of blissful joy is the result of his recent acquisition: a Playstation 4.
Not just any Playstation 4 either, a Playstation 4 Pro with Red Dead Redemption 2 included (Red Dead Redemption 1 is one of my Top 3 all time favorite games, and so by proxy one of Tristen’s as well). Tristen was so excited about “his” new Playstation that I struggle to properly define it with words. To say he had waited for a Playstation 4 for a long time is not an exaggeration. He has wanted one for about five years now. Yes, despite having had a Playstation 3 from the first day he came to live with us (my PS3 was a beast and lasted from 2006 until I sold in 2017 – it was still working fine when I sold it too) he just had to have the Playstation 4. But he was consistently denied for years. Finally, as a reward for becoming lawlyurs we placed a pre-order for the PS4 Pro RDR2 Bundle while we were in ABQ, a pre-order which Amazon completely screwed up to the point we cancelled it and instead got it from Best Buy (my first purchase from Best Buy in probably 9 years). The upside of that is that because we pre-ordered it we were able to go do a “Midnight Release” (technically at 9pm) on the day before RDR2 actually released – a first in my entire life of gaming. So we got our PS4 Pro and RDR2 before most people could even get RDR2 at all – “manries” as Tristen would say.
As Phil is Sony, and the Playstation 4 Pro is made by Sony, the two of them got on real nice, real quick – in fact they recognized each other before I even powered on the PS4 for the first time, which was kind of freaky.
The one downside is that we found out that our shelf area in our TV stand doesn’t give the PS4 Pro enough fresh air and so it sounded like a jet-engine during 4K gameplay. It was so loud I even opened the Playstation up to make sure the fan was ok (and found out that you can’t go very deep into the PS4 without spending a lot more time than I wanted to).
Turns out the PS4 was just fine, it was just getting hot in the small space. So I changed the setup a bit, got the PS4 a vertical stand, and how it “hides” behind Phil and makes very little noise. So, a new TV and my first console purchase since the Playstation 2 in 2000 (I’ve owned consoles since, but those were gifted to me), plus our new phones, has resulted in quite the technological upgrade around the house in the past month.
Needless to say with all this going on there’s been a good deal of excitement lately (and some frustrating and annoying stuff, but that’s not for this post) – with some side items, such as the Boston Red Sox winning the 2018 Word Series just adding to the fun!
With all that fun we slid into our actual anniversary in high spirits and with comparatively low stress to some previous years. As mentioned, we ALL got to spend time together this year, which was super nice – even our extended “buddy” family (such as our OG Gangsta Bear Friends) came out for our family party.
As is usual for me I didn’t follow any recipe, I just took my own modified pumpkin pie variant (which is much lower in sugar, not flavor) and added in dark chocolate covered espresso beans and some shavings. It turned out very good.
We paired our pizza and pie with an Adventure Time marathon courtesy of the PS4’s disk drive and Phil – a nice treat since we hadn’t been able to watch Adventure Time in over a year! Naturally, despite the kid-friendly nature of pizza, pie, and cartoons we did also partake in ample amounts of adult beverages. While beer was to be expected, SB just so happened to accidentally on purpose have a giant box of wine arrive on our anniversary. 😉
We’d never done any mail-order wine before, but SB had (oddly enough) gotten a wine coupon from an eSATA computer cable I had bought (weird place to find a wine coupon, I know) which meant that the wine was only around $6 a bottle – good by any standards, let alone our budget-minded standards. So that night we had both beer and wine and in a rare event I had even more wine than beer!
While it was a relatively “calm” anniversary for year 9 (especially compared to some past years, which have included such fun events as a car breaking down in the middle of the highway), it was just the kind of anniversary I like: homemade dinner, homemade dessert, SB, the Boys, cartoons, and more alcohol than we can drink! 🙂
The next morning we worked off our pizza, pie, and booze with some time at the gym and some yoga.
We continued to munch on the pizza and pie for the next several days (and the booze lasted even longer than that, surprisingly 😛 ). All in all it was a great few weeks in the Taco household. New friends, new electronics, new alcohol, new cartoons, new games, family outings, cleaner Boys (though Tristen wouldn’t agree with that being a good thing), and another year of SB and I’s silliness in the books. 🙂
All of this while Fall continues on around us. And I do love me some Fall, almost as much as I love my family. 😀
So, there you have it – a decent update on our life in NM and the settling in process as well as a recap of our anniversary/Halloween festivities. While there have been some frustrating things going on in our lives as well, I didn’t want to focus on those in the is post, and instead I wanted to share some of the fun and (little) adventures that we’ve been having. Next week I’ll continue to focus on the “lighter side” with a fun post I’ve been thinking about writing for some time now – so check your inboxes next Monday for another round of Dinosaur Bear.
Until next time,