June 2008


Last night the local holy-roller church decided to have their fireworks display early so we went to see it.

This wasn’t the fancy big-city display; this was small-town park at the “SuperAuto Car Wash” display and it was just as good as any other display in town.  Erin brought a friend along and we all had a good time.  It turned off cool last night so there was no sweating and no mosquitoes.

It was excellent.  Evan chose not to go though; he was packing for his big road trip.  He was missed.

Evan left this morning on his long-anticipated coming-of-age roadtrip with his buddies.  Long ago, probably early in their senior year, he and his closest friends decided that as soon as they graduated they would attend the Cornerstone music festival in Bushnell, Illinois.  It’s a week long campout of non-stop music.

This was notable because it was the first time he had come to us and told us what he was going to do as opposed to asking us if he could do it.  They all got together and decided to play the “I’m 18” card with all parents.  They all used their own money to buy tickets and reserve the campsite.  Since Evan is the resident Eagle scout, he took on the job of trying to organize the campout part which, to a large extent, involves handling food.  They have researched the thing very carefully; they know every turn they have to make with the car to get there, how long it will take, which bands they will go hear, and what they will eat on each day.  They have planned it like Eisenhower planned the Normandy invasion.

They left at 5:00am this morning with the guys in the back seat carrying stuffed duffle bags on their laps.

I wish them well but as a parent I can’t stop the nagging worry.  I keep thinking “what if?”.  The kid who volunteered to drive his car has already totalled one car and that experience did not slow him down or intimidate him so I wish he weren’t driving.  But in fact he is driving most of the way.

Every adult that I tell about this says something along the lines of:  “Oh my gosh, it’s Woodstock!” and the look on their faces says they are worried about recreational drug use.  This festival is centered around Christian rock music and this is now the 21st century so I doubt that the dangers are the same as they were back in the day.  There are plenty of ‘normal’ things to worry about like dehydration, sunburn, too many sweets, etc.

It reminds me a lot of the movie “Extreme Days” wherein a group of lifelong friends graduate and take the ultimate road trip before settling down to adulthood.  In that movie the parents cheerfully waved as they drove off and I guess Mel and I will do the same.

I look forward to hearing all about it and since he has a phone, I hope he can send an update via text message fairly regularly.

But it doesn’t feel right not to have him around on 4th of July weekend.  He and I were always such connoisseurs of fireworks. But I’ve got Erin; she’s right there with me ready to light fuses.

Evan has always expressed a little concern about how his social life would go once he gets to Fayetteville.  I’m sure it will go well but it’s been pretty good for him here in high school and he’s understandably nervous.  I remember my own college experience fondly and had many successes.  But it did not always go smoothly.

I had a pretty annoying tendency way back when to always be angling to meet women.  There was one attractive young lady in my physics lab that I particularly wanted to meet so I maneuvered myself into the group that she was in.

One of the first experiments we did (and that most freshman physics labs do) was the one where we slid little chunks of aluminum along an air track to learn about momentum and collisions.  Nowadays digital timers are used to measure the motion of the cars along the track but back then a more primitive timer was used.  They must have replaced them soon after because I distinctly remember digital timers being available at the time elsewhere but for this lab we used the old fashioned spark timer.

This involved taking a piece of paper tape that was so fragile that almost anything touching it would leave a mark.  When a spark hit it, the spark left a black mark.  We used a power supply that would produce a spark 10 times per second and by measuring the distance between black spots, we could calculate everything necessary to determine motion, momentum, etc.  What I failed to do was read ahead to the part where you were supposed to make sure nobody was touching the track before you hit the spark button.

You see where this is going.

That’s right.  I hit the button.  She was touching the track.  I shocked the shit out of her.

To put it mildly, this did not put me on her “A” list.  But all adversity can be overcome and I had boundless optimism in those days.  We carried on with the experiment; I pretty much ignored what just happened in the hopes that she would too.  That was an unreasonable optimism.  Things went fairly well though until I stepped back away from the bench briefly and stepped right onto her toes.  Her shoes were open-toed so this met with a good bit of disapproval.  Whatever chances I may have had with her (and that chance was microscopic at that point) pretty much evaporated.

She changed lab sections and I never saw her again.

I got home late Friday night but didn’t see Erin until over 24 hours later.  She found some friends to sleep over and hang out with.  With Evan working, this means that Mel and I had all day Saturday to ourselves.  We didn’t actually do anything with the day since it was pretty hot but it was nice to sit around a be lazy for a day.  Of course, I did the same thing yesterday (Sunday) so I was starting to abuse the priviledge I guess.  We finally collected Erin and got a chance to talk at lunchtime yesterday.  Evan is proudly working on his flip-flop tan on his feet which is a sign of coolness in the lifeguarding community.

And so the summer really begins.  There are a couple of hard-work jobs in the back yard that I didn’t do when it was cold and will now have to tackle in the heat but that’s usually the way it works.

The class was awesome but now it’s over.  I made it home late last night after some pretty uneventful flying.  It was notable because for the first time ever, on the leg from Santa Barbara to Salt Lake City, I was seated next to a pretty young woman.  Not that it mattered except that unlike the usual fat guys I get seated next to, she was not coming over on my part of the seat.  She was awfully fidgety too; in fact I asked her once if she was OK.  Yes, she was OK – just bored.

I got home to see some fireworks over one of the local golf courses.  I’m not sure what that was all about but I’m going to pretend that it was all for my return.

Nothing much to report here.  As usual, my body stays on my home schedule and I just roll with it and get up extremely early (locally).  No biggie.  The University of California Santa Barbara is beautiful in a beautiful location.  The class organizers had a barbecue on the beach for us tonight.  I never expected to have brisket in California.  They did have a veggie-based alternative that was apparently based on some large (Portobello) mushrooms. It wasn’t brisket but it wasn’t bad either.

I left this morning for my business trip to Santa Barbara and it was an early departure.  I had to miss a baby shower for the newest addition to the family (who we went to see a few weeks ago).  These things are predominantly for the mother and all the women of the family but it would have been fun to see everybody.  I heard that it went off famously without me.  Hurray for text messaging!

My two flights were uneventful and so I made it into town with much time to spare.  My class doesn’t start until tomorrow at 12:30 so I’ve got some time to kill.  I spent some of it this afternoon at downtown Santa Barbara which has a beautiful old courthouse and many shops and restaurants.  I barely scratched the surface before I got tired so perhaps I’ll go back.

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