June 2006


I have what is called a “Class-III medical” card which is apparently required for anybody who ever might fly on my employer’s airplane.  One has to go to an official FAA-certified doctor to get this; we call it an “arm and leg count” since it’s a pretty superficial exam.  Mine was this morning.

The office is in the strangest place – up in Tulsa in a light industrial complex next door to things like “Kreg’s Custom Sailmakers”, “AAA sheet metal”, and such.  Not the sort of place you’d expect to find a doctor’s office.  Add to that the fact that almost all of his patients were there for the same thing:  flight physicals.  Perhaps this guy makes all his money by signing off pilots and aircrews.  Makes me wonder if somebody went in there with something out of the ordinary like a seizure, would this guy know what to do any more than an EMT?

Oh well, it was quick and easy.  And somebody else paid the $65.

Last night’s concert in the park was the last of the summer.  More’s the pity; these things are fun and free.  Last night featured “The Greyhounds” who played a long list of 60’s rock covers.  Not the usual top 40 material either but more interesting stuff with more soul/rock to it.  Fun stuff.

Evan decided before we even left that he had better things to do and so disappeared before I got home from work.  Mel, Erin, and I went and enjoyed ourselves.  I’m not sure if Evan enjoyed himself wherever he was or not – he got home before we did.

Not only was the music good but we were enjoying a brief period of cooler weather before the usual July/August oppressive heat wave begins.  Score!

I also got an email from the sellers of our defective digicam sending me a free mailer to return it with.  Nice.  I could wish that things happened a bit faster but as long as the exchange happens, I’ll be OK.

Not interesting subject matter perhaps but the details are usually sufficient to overcome boring subject matter. 

Saturday was my day to spend outside doing a few things that homeowners have to do.  My crusade was against a wild encroaching vine system that showed all the signs of taking over the world.  It sprouted somehow between my fence and the neighbor's shed along with a rogue tree.  Both got a huge shot of "brush killer" that, surprisingly, came with its own battery-powered pump to help me souse it.  Excellent!

I also had to replace our screen door due to our dog, Dixie's, persistent efforts to open it herself.  She's pretty good at it but over time, the bottom edge has disintegrated.  As usual, my simple projects prove more involved than expected and so this door proved to be a bit too small thus creating the need for much handymanish improvisation with shims and other pieces of custom-cut wood.  At this point, it's working pretty well.  On the way home, it warped a bit in the summer heat and, surprisingly, didn't recover after arriving at home and getting hung on its hinges so that remains unresolved.

Way back last month, I was given a gift certificate at the Rooster Day parade for a free fruit smoothie at Jamba Juice.  It had the desired marketer's effect on me which was, no doubt, to make me want to go to the store.  Of course, I redeemed my coupon and had to buy two more since Mel and Erin were with me.  No matter, it was good.  But…  what's with that grass behind the counter?  Grass, a pair of scissors, and a meatgrinder-type thing.  I watched carefully and they did not augment my particular smoothie with grass but it seems the potential is there.  I put this down as the latest in a long series of items that mark me as being increasingly out of touch with my own culture.  I'm sure everybody is already familiar with the grass at Jamba Juice so perhaps someone will explain it to me.

This dovetails somewhat with my experience this morning on the way back from the dentist for my pseudo-regular cleaning.  I stopped at a non-Starbucks coffeeshop and they had a flavor called "Snickerdoodleicous".   Yes, I tried it and it was pretty good.  One must be open minded about things.  Preferably open minded but not so much that your brains fall out.  It's been on my mind ever since we went to the yearly Parade of Homes to see how the professional decorators are tricking out the new homes and it seems that what was fashionable back when I was a teenager is now back in style.  Had we but left our house alone, we would have saved money and we would now be totally in style.  *sigh*

Well, my stomach was acting up strangely this week and for several weeks. A strange feeling this time although not painful. Finally I relented and went to the doc who gave me a sample of Nexium in bright purple form.

Argh. I hate taking medications. I just want to be normal and not have anything that needs to be treated although I guess mild acidity and slightly elevated cholesterol are not necessarily death sentences. Still, it's annoying to me.

I almost bought a car this week. The pickup is getting a bit tiresome with it's bouncy ride, expensive tires, and poor gas mileage. Mel found a Toyota Camry in the paper that looked pretty sweet but we took it to AutoAnalysis and they showed me how it had been wrecked. So that was all of that. Too bad.

Mel interviewed for a job this week. After 16 years out of the work force, she's trying to make her way back in so that we can pay for the kids to go to a university in a couple of years. (Two years! Gack!) She's pretty excited/nervous. The bad part is I'm going to lose my gravy train of never having to do the laundry. Oh well, one can't have everything.  (Where would  you put it?  Yuk! Yuk!)

This weekend was only one day long and I feel cheated.

Saturday, Mel and I worked concessions at the Expo Center as one way of offsetting the cost of Evan's participation in the marching band (The Pride).  We get paid for this and so with two of us working all day, we made a significant dent in the cost.  It was  pretty easy – an indoor picnic for the employees of DirectTV.  The boss lady is a total grouch but I'll never see her again so whatever she said got ignored pretty effectively.  I have no problem with following instructions but the admonition to "stay busy" is lost on me – I'm not in the food service industry as a professional and so don't know what that means.  As I say, it doesn't bother me – I'll never see her again so she has no leverage on me.  Perhaps that's why she's so grumpy.  My favorite part was lighting the sterno cans under the chafing dishes.  They had one of those portable warming ovens but no source of electricity so the "chef" put a couple of sterno cans in there to keep the heat on.  As an experiment, I put about four more in there just to see if they put out that much heat.  Well, I was surprised – the thermometer on the door was pegged in no time and somebody took them all out.  Who knew?

But Sunday – Father's Day – now that's my day!  I had already gotten a gift of course (two weeks ago since Mel mistakenly placed Father's day too early – unusual for her).  We went to church as usual and then went to The Brook restaurant for lunch which left us all totally stuffed.  We then went home where I snuck in a brief nap and then Mel and I headed off to the theater to see A Prairie Home Companion.  It was a good day.  

They always ask me what I want to do on Father's Day and I always say "nothing" since I work all day every day and enjoy a day of freedom to do nothing.  They also ask me what's my favorite memory of father's day and, when put on the spot like that, I can never remember anything specific.  I feel sort of bad about this but it's just because I have no unpleasant memories of father's day and so have a hard time picking one memory out of the collection.  I guess I'll work on that so I can trot out the glurg when requested.  Everybody will be happier.  But I'm plenty happy now.

I figured that the best way for me to get my parking meter/lamp project off the ground was to take the device into work and turn the engineers loose on it.  Well, presenting a roomful of engineers with an interesting problem is like throwing a bunch of porn magazines into a frathouse.  The response is immediate and intense.  The engineers rushed to the whiteboard and attacked the problem like ducks on junebugs.

The ensueing melee' was entertaining.  I witnessed behavior normally only seen in four-year-olds; for example, one trying to erase part of the others schematic diagrams and one trying to take the marker out of the other's hand.  It was as if bad ideas would endanger the safety of the universe and had to be prevented.  There were instances of "listen to me – just listen for a minute!".  I worried that things could get ugly.

In the end, there were two competing ideas and when a third guy showed up later, there ended up being yet another idea.  This is probably why important innovations are usually developed by guys working alone.  Electrical components were brought into the office on the following day and it was time for the big electronic circuit smackdown.  They just happened to have all this stuff laying around their homes. 
It turns out that of the two ideas presented, none of them worked.  The third remains untested.  

I'm not sure if this was a good idea or not.   

I went on another odyssey to California to make some measurements this week. It was quite an adventure.

We left on Monday morning at a reasonable hour. Through some quirk of fate, we got first class seating on the trip out which was quite a treat for me. Unfortunately, it was so short that there was not time for any fancy cabin service so I got the same Diet Sierra Mist that I would have gotten anyway but I did get a nice wide-ride seat. From Denver on to Santa Barbara, I got my usual seat on a puddle jumper which was so cramped that I couldn’t move. For 2.5 hours.

I like flying though and the route taken by United Airlines was like a grand tour of the American west.  I could clearly see monument valley, lake Powell, the Grand Canyon, Brice (sp?) Canyon, and all manner of lesser wonders.  I had loaded my PDA with news to read and my iPod with hours of tunes and podcasts and most of it was unnecessary; it lost out to the entertainment of the spectacle out the window.   

When we got there we got our car: Lincoln Navigator! Score! That’s one cushy gas-guzzler. At $3.75 per gallon in California, that’s no small thing when you’re driving a behemoth with a 5.7L engine. We got that because of the large amount of scientific equipment we were carrying and because we needed to get off the paved road to get to our observation site.

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