Implied Criticism Causes Problems at Home

Evan has made first chair in french horn in the sixth-grade band and hasn’t relinquished it all year long. He’s the best. Early in the school year, his playing was more or less what you’d expect from a beginner but he has steadily improved.

But the french horn, for all its mellow sounds, can be a very loud instrument. The dogs go sit by the back door and ask to be let out whenever they see him open the case to practice. He sits at the piano to practice since there is a music stand there. This is right next to where we keep our computers so that one night, while I was doing a bit of e-commerce, I was having a difficult time concentrating since the bell of his horn was right next to my left ear.

My way of dealing with things is based on practicality. Unfortunately, this is often at odds with diplomacy; therefore, when I went and got my ear-protectors that are normally used while operating noisy power tools, Evan took this the wrong way. I only meant to reduce the volume somewhat so that I could make sure and type in the correct credit card number while ordering something but he seemed to think that it was a critique of some kind. You know how musicians are.

Since then, he will every so often ask me if I like his playing. Well, of course I do but it’s difficult to explain the difference between volume and quality.

All Hail Hewllet-Packard

We all know how electronic devices become obsolete quickly. We often don’t care how reliable something is since it’s so cheap to replace and you can double your functionality for the same price in eight months anyway. Not so with things made by HP. I have in my possession a calculator, model HP-11C. I bought it in 1984. Back then, you could get a calculator (like now) for a few dollars and this one cost me about $80. Heavens! What could have caused me to take leave of my sense that way? Well, it had the reputation for being useful and resisting obsolescence.

And so it turned out. I still use it.

Here is an excerpt from the introductory manual that came with it: (there were two)

Example: Assume you have a 52 gallon cylindrical water heater and you wish to determine how much energy is being lost due to poor insulation.

Well, if you’re an engineer or scientist (as I was), that’s the sort of thing that makes your heart beat a little faster. And I just had to have it. My point? That was 1984 and I’m still using it. And the batteries finally gave out today. That’s a pretty good track record for batteries. May they rest in peace. I’ll replace them soon.

Temp Drops but Soccer Slogs On

The weather was glorious on Sunday. Evan had some sort of make-up game on Tuesday night so we showed up for that – right after the cold front had passed through bringing the temperatures down from glorious to intolerable. As I walked up to the aluminum bleachers, I could only see lumps of blankets where parents would normally be. There were indeed parents inside the blanket-lumps which I could see when I went around in front of them. Only their eyes were visible. I asked the obvious question:

“Why are we here?”

All eyes looked at me although no heads moved; they were too heavily bundled up for that. Once again, that wind “sweeping down the plains” was getting to us. The blanket lumps moved briefly skyward as all parents shrugged their shoulders under their covers.

“Is this a make-up for that Saturday we lost when it snowed?”

Again the collective blanket-lump shrug. One parent ventured to guess that it was.

“Well, I’m watching this one from the car.”

Which I did. I had a pair of binoculars in the car and was able to make out enough of the details to talk about it later. The mutiny had begun.

When is it going to warm up?

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