April 2009


More importantly, Erin may now handle someone else’s food.  She has the all important food-handler’s permit without which the teenager is almost unemployable.  It comes down to this:  wash your hands and measure the temperature of everything.  The hot dogs will be deadly if you don’t shove a thermometer probe down the center of one and measure a temperature of over some amount (which I forget).  Now Erin can assume her job at the city pool this summer selling concessions (most of which are likely pre-packaged and do not need a permit to handle).  She will likely not be working at the same pool as Evan thus maximizing the inconvenience to everyone involved. 

The fact that Erin is driving herself now is maximizing the convenience to me in a big way.  Not that I ever disliked her company but I try to find the bright side of everything that I can.  It’s nice to not have to drop what I’m doing and drive her somewhere and then drop what I’m doing and go get her.  But we don’t have a chance to visit quite as much.

Thus this weekend, Erin was off by herself leaving Mel and I to do what we pleased which turned out to be a wide variety of cleaning tasks.  We also planted bright red petunias in the beds around the mailbox which is something that kind of dots the “I” on springtime for me.  At least 2000 other people had the same idea.  The best flowers at the best price can be found at the nursery of the local Gatesway foundation.  Why they are not open on Saturdays is beyond my comprehension.  Does anybody actually go to a store any time other than after work or on the weekends?  I guess I wouldn’t know.  I’ll have to stop at Walgreen’s someday during the workday and see if they’re open.  Probably a few retirees strolling the aisles.  That would be yet another reason to look forward to retirement:  no lines at WalMart.  Although I imagine WalMart will discover a way to cut staff until the lines build back up again.  Not that I’m bitter.

What was I talking about?

Oh right.  Random things we do on the weekends loosely tied together with strands of Erin’s life. 

There’s Evan life too – he’s up there right now studying hard as he rolls into final exams.  I remember spring semesters as being much more work and less fun than fall semesters.  Spring semester was always cold and blustery and when it finally turned off nice, the tests hit and kept coming until finals.  Then I went home where life was boring.  Luckily, Evan has lots to do when he comes home. 

The past week has seen several ups and downs for Erin.  She got the results of her first attempt at the ACT and they were stupendous.

On Friday, she got word that she was not selected for the ‘select’ Jazz choir.  That was cause for much disappointment and resulted in us eating pizza from Cici’s.  I’ll never know why she likes that brand so much.

And now she has interviewed for a summer job with the city and was informed that she will be hired.  She is thrilled to actually be making money.  We’ll see how selling concessions at one of the city pools will turn out to be in terms of job satisfaction but as long as the money is rolling in, she’ll be pretty happy.  So will we as parents.

I imagine that Evan’s superb reliability in years past served as a good reference for her.  He has been rehired as well.  I assume that one day he’ll be doing engineering internships but for now, he’s still lifeguarding.

This is how we roll into summer.

Saturday turned out to be dreary and gloomy with the threat of rain.  This does not ever disappoint me; I look at it as a good reason not to mow the grass.  Still, the grass was in severe need of mowing so before the rain hit, I did the job.

The business of grass-mowing has become interesting.  Evan tells me that every single one of his friends at college look at him with incredulity when he mentions mowing the grass.  Apparently all of them (or more specifically, their parents) hire a lawn service.  None of them has ever had the pleasure of pushing a lawnmower.  I find this hard to believe; the hardware stores are full of lawn mowers for sale – there must still be a huge number of individuals doing it themselves. 

On the other hand, a boy down the street has been offering to do lawn work for money this summer and I’m sorely tempted to take him up on his offer.

My lawn needed attention because the grass was growing in irregular tufts.  I have a lush green patch of high grass next to a thin brown patch.  This is more than likely due to the fact that when I reseed and fertilize, I just toss the material out by hand.  The bag cautions us all to use a spreader with a specific setting but I do not have a spreader nor do I have a place to store one.  My garage is plenty full without that added space-taker.  It would be nice if I could get rid of the mower too.  Perhaps with a lawn service, I could.

Anyway, it didn’t take long to mow the grass and it was cool outside so there was nothing much to complain about except my still-aching back from earlier in the week.  It did start raining later on so I took advantage of that time to do some video work on my new computer.

Video editing is something I have wanted to do for a long time and have dabbled in but the last computer just was not up to the task.  I had myriad problems and finally gave it up for the most part.  Now, I think the current system is fit to do some work that will not be plagued by random lock-ups and technical problems.  Now all I need is ideas for what to do.

Sunday was much the same.  I have grabbed several DVDs worth of old video which now sits on my hard drive.  I only await some inspiration for how to edit it down.  I’ve done some of this before with some success but I need to keep on going with it.  But other than the easy-to-imagine birth video which I’ve already done, I’m out of ideas. 

I’d also like to know where the good videographers go to find appropriate sound track music.  Something that sounds good but which is not too distracting.

Erin found out what her ACT score was yesterday:  (drum roll please)

33

In Evan’s words (via text message) “Erin’s ACT score is ridiculous”.  It is indeed.  And this is only her first attempt; she doesn’t have to take it for real until next year sometime.

This bodes well for her future.

One of the worst parts of getting older is realizing that I have forgotten to keep myself in shape.  I’ve got so many things that I want to do that I tend to avoid things that look like work and working out is definitely one of those.  (Most of the things I want to do involve sitting in a chair in the air conditioning.) I’ve been walking the dog for years to keep up a modicum of cardiac health but every so often I am reminded that my muscles are prone to being sprained.  I discover this while lifting something heavy.

I don’t even think about it; I just bend over and lift and then the next day, I can barely move.  And for the next couple of days, I slap those stupid menthol pads onto my back and take it easy; all the while grousing to myself about my lost mobility.  It irks me that this stage of my life is one of the best for getting things done – the kids are able to drive themselves around and deal with most of their affairs by themselves and my income is up there at a good spot so I have the money to indulge a few things – and yet just when I have the time to start doing some of those landscaping projects, I find I cannot lift the stones.  I guess that’s why most of my contemporaries hire other people to do that.

I love the silliness of creating a blog post to talk about a post on a social networking site.  Still, the occasional silliness is good.

I think one reaches some sort of pivotal moment in social networking when one receives a friend request from ones prom date.  That’s the sort of thing that leads some to say: “Well you knew that was gonna happen sooner or later.”  It took about a week; maybe two.

I also have a number of friend requests from my daughter’s friends.  This is something I cannot figure out.  I expected this and all other social networking sites to present a cold shoulder to middle aged people and especially from the teens.  These friend requests came as quite a surprise.  It seems that it might upset whatever balance my kids might have had in their cyber-lives.  Not sure how to handle that.  Thus far, I’ve handled it by ignoring most of them and focusing on conversations with long-lost cousins, nieces, and nephews.

He even comes in the rain.  It’s a good thing too since that’s what we got all day yesterday – rain.  It didn’t bother me; I don’t hide eggs any more.  As long as the kids get a basket with candy in it, they’re good.

We got up early to hit the early service at church (as requested from the pulpit last Sunday).  We then went (in the rain) to the nearest Starbucks to warm up.  Evan was home for the weekend and Mel likes to go to places like that where we can sit around and catch up on conversation.  After that it was home to await Mel’s family throwdown a few blocks away.  Her family has always enjoyed tying on the feedbag on Easter Sunday.  And why not?  I’m still stuffed.

Cousins from Fayetteville arrived with their new baby in tow which provided much entertainment for everyone.  She’s the newest baby and it’s been awhile since anybody had one.  You would have thought that none of us had ever seen a baby before.  She got plenty of attention but, to her credit, she didn’t let it go to her head. 

I managed to force some computer time into my schedule and I finally got our new PC all set up the way I want it.  I think – I usually forget something so I left the old one hooked up to my network for awhile.  But I managed to pull some home video off of a DVD and rework it into something else and that went well so I think it’s good to go. 

I keep looking forward to retirement when I can sit around and recover from big weekends like this.  Too bad I’ve got years and years to go before that is available to me. 

I was very excited yesterday; the new PC was scheduled to be delivered.  And so it was in the late afternoon just before I got home.  I tore into the boxes and immediately began plugging things in.

I had not realized that the keyboard was to be wireless.  I thought that was pretty cool except for a nagging thought at the back of my mind that there was one more thing in the house to require batteries.  Is that a good thing?  I’m not so sure.

Anyway, I hooked it all up.  I made the discovery much later on that the keyboard was randomly sending a series of the letter “b”.  I would look up and suddenly there would be 20 b’s in a text entry field.  Apparently it did this while I was entering the very first administrator password so that I had a password but had no idea what it was.

That is the sort of thing that any computer guy will hear and say:

 “Oh…that sucks.”

Right before he starts laughing. 

I told this story at lunch today with some friends and the most computer savvy of them laughed so hard he hurt his side.  When the most computer savvy of your friends has no advice to give, you know you’re at the end of the line.

So, to finish the story, I tried every combination of things I could think of but when you know the keyboard has randomly inserted “b”s into your password, there’s really nothing you can do.  Brute forcing is hard because after every fifth failed attempt, Windows goes through a long pause wherein it probably logs the events and starts over. 

I reached for the system reinstall disk.

Before I actually reformatted the drive and started over, I tried the system recovery selection and managed to roll back to the first restore point which was right when I powered it up the first time.  I asked me for the password again and I typed it.  By some miracle, it hit the same random combinations of “b”s and logged me in.  I immediately added another user which required no password.  Then I went to bed.

I’ll mess with it some other time.

So, the new vacuum sucks.  But this time in a good way.  I found one at Kohl’s today (while Erin and Mel were looking at shoes – again) and it was selling for $575.  I yelled “Hah! In Yo’ Face!”.  That was right before they kicked me out.

I only wish that were true.  But I was smiling because I had saved a lot.

It’s Palm Sunday so church was crowded.  It was good though – we were visited by a bishop of the Lutheran Diocese of Tanzania and he had on a pretty cool get-up.  He had one of those really tall Pope-hat things.  Strange that we are not Lutheran but there he was.

Yesterday, I moved a pile of rocks away from my side door; they had been there for years and years.  I made a small retaining wall out of them which has been needed for about as long as the rocks have been piled there.  It was a lot of work but it was cool and breezy so the work went pretty pleasantly.

We spent lunchtime at the mall listening to the tulsa youth symphony because Erin’s boyfriend and another friend are musicians in it.  It was pretty good.

And (insert trumpet fanfare here) I scanned the last of my negatives!  That’s a relief.  One more project down!

And so another quite weekend passed by.  I love weekends like this where there are no stressful things going on.

Last night Erin and company had a redux of the “mock trial” thing in which they replayed the entire trial for the parents.  They staged it at the local courthouse and had an honorable local judge to … judge.

Everybody (and especially Erin) did well.

Unfortunately, I found the entire thing mind-numbingly boring.  I was ready to shoot myself by the time they called their second witness.  If it had not been for Tetris and Solitaire on my phone, I would have strangled myself with a necktie just for something to do.  It was like jury duty without the important civic responsibility attached.

I apologize to anyone (like the ever-smart and ever-eavesdropping Erin) who finds this offensive.  As I said Erin did well as evidenced by the award she got but courtroom trials are just not my thing.  I could expend many words enumerating why I think that way but the result would be the same.

In the end, everyone was happy and I’m sure I was the only one who was bored.  This history teacher (and sponsor) was ecstatic.

We came home just before the hail hit.  For the fourth time this spring.  *sigh*  Nothing big though so Erin’s car remains unscathed.

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