November 2007


Both kids want things for Christmas; this comes as no surprise to me or anyone else.  But when Mel asked me to take care of it I naturally went to Amazon.  She took me to task for trying to buy the first thing I came to rather than shopping for the best price.  This is a fair assessment; I do that and have done it more than once.  In this case a quick search turned up the fact that Amazon was cheapest by $20 and had free shipping.  That was a no brainer:  CLICK!

Evan wanted something that I figured was at the local WalMart and their web site confirmed that hypothesis.  I guess I was thinking that I could have it right now and it would be done.  Unfortunately, the web site was a bit behind the times – no item in sight and no employee with the intelligence to find out was in sight either.  I’m not sure if there was an employee that matched that criterion in the store at all.  It’s not fair to accuse all WalMart employees of being dumb but it’s a fair to say that none of them care one bit about anything.  I suspect they don’t get paid enough to care.  Any store that would attempt to get the store patrons to check and bag their own stuff does not care.  Anyway, back to amazon and:  CLICK!  Free shipping too.

If I could buy groceries online, I would never ever go into a store at all.  Except upon rare occasions, to browse.  If only I could master Ebay, I’d have the cellphone that I want.  Everyone at all stores wants to sell me a phone with a plan and I already have a plan – I only want a better phone and I don’t see the logic of extending my commitment to them just to get a discount on a phone.  Ebay is the way.  So I’m off to master the fine art of sniping.

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I’ve hesitated to mention any of this since it’s a public forum but only two people ever read this thing anyway so I could confess to anything here and not worry about it too much.  There’s probably more people eavesdropping on Catholic confessionals than reading this journal.

It is true that Evan has been so busy this fall with marching band that his Calculus grade underwent some slippage but it’s also true that we as parents probably overreacted to it a bit.  After meeting with his teacher this morning as well as his guidance councilor, it seems that life isn’t over after all and that the boy still has a future in the professional world.  That brief vision I had of him pickup up aluminum cans for a living was no more than indigestion apparently.  Indeed, there is confidence all around that his grade at the end of semester will show no slippage at all.

Still, I’m glad that marching season is over.

It turns out that the band scored well enough to make sixth place so they made their goal.

And it turns out that the kid who wanted to hog Evan’s laptop went to another kid who had a cellular card to take care of his last minute emailing needs and the issue never came up.  Evan got his paper finished on schedule.

We ate too much.

That’s about it.

OK, some more details might go down well.   We elected to have the throwdown at our house this year in return for having the Christmas get-together at Mel’s brother’s in December.  It seemed a fair trade until we had to clean up the house.  In my grand oversight, I found that I had more vacation than I realize and so I took the entire week of Thanksgiving off and stayed home.  I spent it in doing lots of financial organization, lots of photo organization, lots of video production work, and of course, lots of house cleaning.  But no blogging.

I spent a lot of quality time with our dog Dixie which, when a dog is 12 years old, involves lots of napping.  She gets one walk daily and looks forward to it with much anticipation but when it’s over, she goes back to napping; waking up only occasionally to lick herself.

But amid the organizational work, I cleaned the place.  The kids were off on Wednesday but they didn’t help clean up very much.

The day itself was much like it always is:  lots of food but nary a fresh vegetable or fruit in sight.  It was high-carb fat city.  That is of course what makes it popular.  I really enjoy these days with extended family and so spent as much time talking as possible.  Evan has had an extremely busy fall and actually crashed all afternoon in a deep sleep and still managed to sleep all night.

We always like to extend the holiday as much as we can so Mel and Erin got up before dawn on Black Friday to hit the stores for treasures.  They were looking for a formal dress that Erin could wear to a fancy dance that occurs in the spring and they hit paydirt.  That’s about all they came back with even after all the hours they put in.  Evan and I took Erin with us to have lunch at Tastee Treat (a local institution) but they were unfortunately closed for the holiday.  We then went to Bass Pro Shop to spend Evan’s gift certificate (a gift given for being an usher at his cousin’s wedding).  He spent it on a set of shotgun-shell-shaped Christmas lights.  Celebrate the Tackiness!  They matched his jackalope!

Then on Saturday, we mandated that everyone in the house had to sit down and watch the OU/OSU “Bedlam” game.  This is our excuse to make queso and eat chips, cheese, crackers, and all that sort of nutritious fare.  The game itself was a bit boring which made it all that much easier for me to fall asleep in front of it for a third-quarter nap.  We also watched my special DVD of the Grinch.

Evan had spent mid-day at the local grocery store ringing the bell for the Salvation Army in order to earn service points for NHS.  He put his own spin on it by ditching the bell and bringing along a guitar on which to play Christmas carols.  There’s no way to tell for sure but he said that based on the positive comments he got (such as “This is way better than the clanging bell!”) they probably took it more than usual.

Sunday morning dawned cold and dreary and we had to actually wake up with the alarm to go to church and that pretty much put the period on the holiday weekend.  Too bad it had to end.

I went to Staples last night.

And bought staples!

And a stapler.  I knew when I needed staples that I really had to go there.  A person really only buys one stapler in his life and I figured I’d buy the best.  It turns out that there really isn’t “the best”.  There’s crap and then there’s the familiar generic Swingline and anything else is special purpose.  But now I’m fixed up.

The end of marching band season. Evan left yesterday to head off to Indianapolis to march in the RCA dome in competition with about 100 other bands from all over. They call it “Grand Nationals” but they never talk about any schools from anywhere but the midwest and south. Perhaps they just don’t make a big deal about high school marching contests in California or Maine. That would make sense – it’s always Texas and states in the middle that make such a big deal about high school stuff. Every Friday night they spend the last 15 minutes – half !– of the ten o’clock news talking about high school football which is silly to me. Who cares besides pathetic middle-aged people trying to recapture their youth?

Anyway, Evan was off on Bus number 3. We had fixed up “goody bags” with candy, silly stuff, and a rather nice fleece throw with each kid’s (in Evan’s section – he’s section leader) name embroidered on it. It’s amazingly cheap to make these things – apparently fleece is incredibly cheap to manufacture because you can find these throws on sale at WalMart for less than $5 if you watch for it. Embroidery is pretty cheap as well. Evan also had custom T-shirts made up for the kids in his section so right about now Evan is the lord-high coolmaster as far as his section is concerned because he arranged for them to get all the free stuff. Of course, we dunned all their parents $25 to cover everything. Such is life before adulthood. I wish I could go back to that stage myself; the stage where good things happen and it never occurs to you that somebody had to work and spend to make them happen.

He’s dreadfully behind in some of his classwork and so taking two days off is not the best thing that could happen academically speaking. He has a research paper to write and so I sent him off with my laptop in a suitably padded backpack in the hopes that he could get some writing done on the bus. I texted him to get him to try and find out who stole our copy of the movie “Wayne’s World” on the last band trip and he responded by telling me that the laptop was in use by some other kid who “really needed to get his T-shirt artwork done”. Apparently the kid didn’t feel like he could do much until he found out that somebody had a laptop with PhotoShop on it, then suddenly he felt the pressure. My response was:

  1. I sent that along so that you could do work, not some other kid.
  2. His emergency is not my problem nor is it yours.
  3. He can’t email the artwork to the T-shirt guy because I disabled the wireless card to conserve batter power (and to keep the other kids from taking it while you’re asleep and surfing the internet for pr0n.
  4. Tell him I said “Get the hell away from that computer and stay away!”
  5. I’m calling his parents and having them call him and tell him the same.
  6. Don’t let other kids mess with my precious gadgets.

That last bit was not sent but I felt it.

I didn’t call the kid’s parents but I think I will. I know this kid and he can be persistent. I can hear it now: “Come on Evan you can type those 400 pages any time!”

Last year they won the grand prize; this yea, they’re hoping to make the finals.  It’s all art and very subjective so you never know.  There’s a prejudice against last year’s winner I think; nobody wants to be accused of letting some sort of dynasty form so I think they’re destined for second place at best.  That would be fine though.

I just hope he can get back and pull his calculus grade back up.  That’s the most important thing in the long run.  He’s in the doghouse because of that and his arrival back home will be greeted by groundings and revoked privileges  until things improve.  It may be a tense holiday.

My niece got married Saturday.  Weddings are always fun.  As long as I’m only a guest.

This is the daughter of Mel’s sister and she’s only three years older than Evan which is a bit weird to contemplate.  I can remember when we drove up here all those years ago to see her when she was born.  People came in from all around just like when she was born to see her get married and it was pretty darned fun.  Of course her, her mom and dad, and all her friends were frantically busy with everything and so they probably didn’t get to enjoy it all that much but the rest of us had a great time.

The rehearsal dinner was at a new community center which has great facilities for that sort of thing but it’s called “Neinhuis Community Center” which nobody knows how to pronounce; not even the staff.  The banquet room is conveniently located on the opposite end of the building from the gym so we could enjoy our dinners without the sound of squeaking sneakers and thumping basketballs next door.  One legacy of my middle-school years is a long lasting and deep seated hatred of basketball and all the associated sounds and smells so it was all to the good that I didn’t have to listen to it.

The wedding on Saturday went off without a hitch.  Well, except for the obvious hitch that is.  The whole fam damily gathered at my house afterwards and sat around in a cake-induced stupor which was quite pleasant.  It could only have been better if the wedding hadn’t been Baptist; then we would have had beer, wine, and dancing too.  Even so, there were mountains of food left over and it all found its way over to our house.  The bride’s house was too full of wedding prep materials so we provided the overflow.  We had most of the cake left over that appeared to be about the size of a 55 gallon drum when placed on our counter.

As always with weddings, it was a great time for family to get together and visit – often with family members that one hasn’t seen in awhile.  I hope the new couple had as good a time as we did.  I’m sure they did.

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