A blessed month at home – sending 2013 packing

The trip home

After prepping the car (packed full stem to stern, and also with the rooftop box filled, too), I drove half way home, to my friend John’s house in Rochester NY.  The huge predicted winter storm was nice to 1) scare EVERYONE else off the roads and 2) not actually occur on Saturday.

The entirety of the winter storm was to hit Route 90, my intended path

The entirety of the winter storm was to hit Route 90, my intended path

The roads within 20 miles of Rochester were really nasty, and all sorts of cars were spun out.  Thankfully I made it, and got to spend time with my old friend John, from board games and sub sammiches, to seeing his research lab whereat he does research for his PhD in neurology.  A great time, and also gave me the chance to rest before the remainder of the drive home on Sunday… which had extremely bad weather and dangerous roads for the remainder of NY and the entirety of PA.  Luckily, I got home safely and was thusly able to enjoy Christmas with my family:

Christmas dinner, another culinary masterpiece by my sister

Christmas dinner, another culinary masterpiece by my sister

Working while relaxing

Large chunks of each week spent at home have been used to work my job, managing all the other Research Assistants working to study individual events of the French Resistance during WWII.

The portable workstation set up in the family room at my parent's house

The portable workstation set up in the family room at my parent’s house

Without a doubt, the work gets boring… but it is often fascinating, to bear in mind the big picture (namely, that I am the first person in 60+ years to know or care about these instances).

My screens - one holds the note card image, the other the spreadsheet

My screens – one holds the note card image, the other the spreadsheet

The money has enabled me to start to pay down credit cards more quickly, and also to buy certain upgrade parts for my car!

The MFALCON is official; engine computer and fuel injector upgrades

So, the fact is, my car struggles up hills.  Several actions taken this Christmas vacation to remedy that include:

1) finally getting the MF4LCON vanity plates (she’ll hold together)

The delightful (horrifying?) nerd synergy between license plate and bumper magnet is QUITE powerful

The delightful (horrifying?) nerd synergy between license plate and bumper magnet is QUITE powerful

2) upgraded fuel injector nozzles, and having the fuel injectors refurbished and rebuilt, through kermaTDI (and a BIG thank you to Paul there for helping me out)

Injectors with Sprint 520 nozzles in place

Injectors with Sprint 520 nozzles in place

3) engine computer chip tuning, also from kermaTDI

(photo coming soon!)

4) headlights replaced; foglights in place

(photo coming soon!)

5) spring shoes for the car, with a GREAT deal on Hankook tires

The sexy Borbets

The sexy Borbets, freshly cleaned and polished

All of these facts were enabled by my good friend, the Wallet Destroyer, often called Tom.

Games galore

The biggest part of my vacation is (as it always seems to be) is spending quality time with my brother and old friends, over the course of a wide variety of board games.

From 7 Wonders

7 Wonders with Leaders - the gift that keeps on giving

7 Wonders with Leaders – the gift that keeps on giving

to Cosmic Encounter,

The Lunatic - an alien race which is allowed to send ships to help attackers (so that win or lose, the Lunatic wins!)

The Lunatic – an alien race which is allowed to send ships to help attackers (so that win or lose, the Lunatic wins!)

The fun didn’t seem likely to stop. I seriously played 14 hours of board games with my brother on New Years, with several friends.  Which. Was. AWESOME. Just another component of my getting the rest I so deeply need while at home.

All told, then, probably the best Christmas and New Years I have yet had in my life.  Productive in the important ways, quality time with friends and family.  What more could I ask for?

One possible answer is: a great Saturday spent hanging out with my old friend Jeff at his place in Pittsburgh, involving delicious foodstuffs and gaming.  A delightful ending to a much-needed, much-enjoyed Christmas vacation.

Safely back to the Winchester house

Safely back to the Winchester house

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