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After spending about 3 evenings trying to get Season 2, Disc 6 of CSI (which finally had a set of special features instead of just 3 or 4 episodes) to play on two different DVD players, I finally admitted defeat and sent it back to Netflix as damaged goods. This by itself is an accomplishment since Netflix makes you swear you've tried to clean the disc (outward motions only, please, never circular ones), played it in more than one DVD player (what if you only have one?), attempted all the screen formats available on the disc, and drew a pentagram on the floor around the DVD while burning black candles. If none of these things work *then* you are permitted to report the disc as damaged and return it for a replacement. Which I did since I need to know what happens in The Hunger Artist episode. With as many times as CSI runs in syndication (my DVR won't even record it because it gets confused by all the various episodes being aired), I have no idea how I've missed any of the stories.

If life had gone as planned, I would now be enjoying a fruity drink with a little umbrella in it somewhere in Honolulu. Instead, I have a glass of fruit-flavored (contains no real fruit juice) sparkling water-like beverage and am enjoying the rank humidity of July in Pennsylvania. Months ago I had submitted a paper to a conference (well, ok, the barest wisp of a concept of an idea that might one day become a paper) and promptly forgot about it. Imagine my surprise when I was notified that the potential paper had been accepted and that I needed to deliver a presentation in Hawaii! (my conclusion - it was the equivalent of a really slow news day in the conference paper-reading-submission center)

So I plan a family vacation around the conference, which included about $37,000 in phone calls to the conference hotel bureau to try to convince them that we needed *CONNECTING* rooms, not just rooms in the same hotel complex, because leaving two teenagers in a room by themselves was a very very bad idea the consequences of which I would not speak over an open phone line and I was not going to Hawaii to spend my nights sleeping in the same room as said teens, with no sleep aids and one eye open to spy the sliver of hallway light that would creep into the room as they tried to creep out.

As we all know, life is a nasty little bastard with a really twisted sense of humor. About 3 weeks ago my husband was diagnosed with mono. Mono. The Kissing Disease. The plague of teenagers. Not the disease of choice for a 50-something man. The resultant choices were:

a. Drag husband along in his near comatose state, hoping that his 2 wakeful hours per day would coincide with changing planes in Dallas.

b. Leave husband at home with the 3 dogs, 3 cats and another teenager, risking a cataclysm of biblical proportions. This option also entailed me taking the 2 teenagers to Hawaii on my own. Since it was doubtful that I could stay awake for 10 days in a row to keep an eye on them, and that I really didn't want to get up close and personal with the Honolulu police, this option had about as much of a chance as the US did in the World Cup.

c. Leave everyone at home and go to the conference myself. This increased both the probability of a nuclear disaster and its magnitude. Along with the costs of renting a lawyer for the ensuing divorce.

d. Send someone else to the conference and offer sincere pledges to the teenagers that there would be another Hawaii vacation at some point in the future (like when they're in their 40s).

Although I was fond of c) myself, especially if it involved a few days R&R at the hotel's spa, when I floated that as a trial balloon the noise of its explosion was deafening. So. Here I am at home on vacation. Running endless errands, working my way through a mammoth list of household chores, and wondering what color the umbrella would be in that fruity drink.

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