June 2010

Erin has one of the busiest social schedules of anybody I’ve ever known but this past Thursday and Friday, we finally nailed her down and forced her to officially visit OSU and OU with an eye to choosing a college to attend.  She has narrowed down the choice considerably by simply choosing to major in aerospace engineering.  There aren’t all that many places that offer that and two of them are in Oklahoma.  I’m not terribly keen to have her go out of state since my experience is that academic reputation is pretty much ignored in most workplaces.  Nobody cares if you went to MIT unless you’re trying to get hired as a professor and the MIT grads are usually very disappointed by that.  At least in my one experience with an MIT grad. 

She had spent the previous two weeks at an aerospace camp at OSU sponsored by the state board of regents.  She was buzzing with excitement from the whole thing and claimed to have “found her people”.  She also wants to get her pilots license. 

Mel and I drove over on Wednesday night and got a hotel so we wouldn’t have to leave the house so early the next day.  The hotel had a “hot continental breakfast” which, if I understand the definition of continental, makes no sense.  Continental means “no hot food” but there’s a lot of this sort of thing in the world – making up phrases as you go.  Some people make up names for their children as they go as well.  Still, I was delighted to have sausage and eggs.

Mel scheduled some tours and meetings for that afternoon.  The fact that Erin had been getting by on about three hours of sleep in each 24 for the past week was unfortunate and she was not terribly happy about not being able to fall immediately asleep upon finishing the camp.  There’s that social thing again.

So we met with the honors college and also with the aerospace engineering school.  At least that was the intent – we got sidetracked into a tour of the general engineering department instead which was an annoyance; we’ll have to go back soon to actually talk to a professor about their program.

We took her back to the hotel whereupon she fell asleep at 6:30 pm and slept for the next 14 hours.  Mel and I had to go swimming all by ourselves. 

The following morning we got up and headed down to Norman to visit the OU campus where we had made an appointment with the National Merit advisor.  She seemed as confident as anybody could be that Erin will qualify as a national merit finalist and so began to lay out all the financial aid that the OU campus offers such students.  I don’t know why all state universities don’t have the same sort of thing but it apparently differs a fair bit.  They all studiously avoid making any statements pro or con about any of the other state universities.  They bought us lunch and then we had a nice meeting with the aerospace engineering department where we got to meet with a charismatic German professor who swayed Erin into wanting to enroll immediately.  I guess that’s his job.  She also made fun of his dorky socks.  Erin is still Erin after all.

By this time, it was about 95 degrees with a heat index of around 108 and we caught up to a walking tour.  OU is an enormous campus and the “student ambassador” who led the tour was a fast walker so this quickly became a Bataan Death March of a tour which I quickly lost interest in.  My impression of the campus is therefore pretty incomplete.  I just wanted to stop walking fast in the hot hot sun.

We should probably go back there also since our meeting with the engineering recruiter person was so abbreviated.

The knowledge that your child stands a very good chance of getting a huge scholarship is wonderful news of course but like anything in life, it must be properly managed.  We can’t really sit around and assume anything so we still need to put as much care into this decision process as ever.  I had hoped to finalize all our decisions with these visits but it looks like we’ll have to go back at least once more.


Father’s day for me is a day to take it easy without guilt and so yesterday Mel and I took off to do something fun. I’ve lived here for 15 years and only recently have started seeing some of the local sights.

Yesterday I decided to continue my project to travel up and down the old route 66 and photograph some of the old roadside attractions. With Evan working in Colorado and Erin working at the pool, Mel and I found ourselves doing all this by ourselves. First stop: the blue whale.

This is not really a vintage attraction; having been built in the early 1970s but it certainly has that tacky roadside aura about it. Apparently it was built for a man’s family so they cod have a bit more fun swimming in their pond but has now become a landmark. It fell into disrepair some years back but has since been restored to it’s former glory.

We drove on up into Claremore and found a mom and pop restaurant for lunch. The Hammett House is good old fashioned stuff and fit my requirement quite nicely.

Next we stopped at the Will Rogers museum next door (almost) which I had been to but not in many years. It was quite nice as well as being quite cool so we decided to take it one step further and drive on up to the shores of lake Oolagah and see the ranch house where Will Rogers was born. It was quit large even by modern standards so his family must have been important. There were a few animals about to lend the place a sufficiently rural air. I found a chicken nesting in a horse stall. She had flown the coop as it were.

There was also a peacock wandering around which is a bit of a mystery to me. Why a peacock? The donkey obliged us with his stereotypical honking sound so I called him the honkey donkey. A goat was patiently eating the paint off one side of the barn. Stupid goat.

While there, Evan called me to wish me happy father’s day. That was nice although I suspect they were reminded of it at church that morning.

That took care of the morning and part of the afternoon which I found quite pleasant. I spent the rest of the afternoon reading.

Erin got home earlier than expected due to a misreading of her work schedule on our part so we decided to go get a bit of ice cream and go see Toy Story 3.

It was a good day. We should have fathers day or something like it more often.

Well it’s good and hot outside now. The weather service has issued a heat advisory for the foreseeable future due to high temps and humidity. And of course my air conditioner decided to give problems.

Luckily it’s not a severe problem but severe enough to require a service call and a couple of days without it. I do wish that these problems would not occur on Sunday and on fathers day as well but that’s the way of it.

Today it will be repaired and I’ll feel cool again.

I’m now 3/4 done with my fence replacement. But now it’s getting hot and I’m not very keen to keep working on it.

I have enjoyed the work itself but I’m losing patience a little. I’d just like to have it done I guess. The last bit looks pretty easy – but it’s in full sun so it’s gonna be hot.

I spoke with a friend about it and his experience was that to have someone else do it was three times the cost of the materials by themselves so there’s no doubt I’m to the good in that sense.

I’ll just keep slogging away.

Well, summer’s here. For the last few years, we’ve been lucky and had mild early summers and there was even once when it was hot even hot for the 4th of July. But not this year; this year it’s back to normal and this weekend it was about 90 degrees with enough humidity to make it feel over 100. Oh well, that’s the way it is.

This week and next Erin is at Aerospace Engineering camp at OSU. Indications are that she’s thrilled with it and is ready to declare a major right now even though she’s still in high school.

We drove over on Sunday afternoon. I made her drive since she will eventually have to do that herself. She is staying in one of the newer dorms and has her own room and shares the living room with three other girls. She was concerned that they might not be “normal” but was quickly relieved when Amber shoes up and proved to be cut from similar cloth.

Since then we’ve gotten a few text messages telling us of the fun. She got to sit in a cockpit simulator and had it filled with smoke to simulate a fire which was apparently quite exciting. Then they built rockets and tabulates the height – hers went the highest. She mentioned that some guy had made fun of her calling hers pretty and she stated that she particularly like to beat people who made fun of her. That says a great deal about her nature right there.

Next she texted me that she had gotten to fly a Cessna 182. I don’t know what “fly” means since that could mean a lot of different things but the message was in all caps so she was pumped about it.

After that I saw a message on facebook from her friend. It read: “Dearest Erin, Please come back from nerd camp. It’s no fun gossiping about saggy-butt without you.”

I can’t wait to find out more about that.

Ever since we bought a house, I have done the vast majority of my own work. With the rare exception of having roofs replaced and air conditioning systems installed, I have tackled everything.

I just enjoy doing these things but I occasionally I wondered why. Lately I’ve been figuring out why.

The short answer is that I simply enjoy it. I used to say that I was saving money and that’s certainly true but it’s mostly because of the feeling of self sufficiency and competency that it gives me. I like the independence.

I’ve been noticing this more lately as I have grown less interested in some things. Mowing grass has always been hot, dirty, and boring to me and this year Mel decided to give me a break from it as a birthday gift. I hired someone and he started in May. Generally speaking he’s done the job but the fact that I’m no longer in control of the output has been slightly stressful such as when he calls and says he can’t come for some reason and the lawn looks really bad. Earlier in the summer my mower was broken and so I couldn’t really do anything about it and this bothered me. He also agreed to clean out my beds but that was two months ago and he’s delayed the job many times to the point where they look horrible – almost as if the house is unoccupied. I almost wish now that I had just done them myself because they’d have been done when I wanted and the way I wanted.

About five years ago I hired someone to paint the house and was quite happy with that. I have attempted to hire someone to haul away my old fence but nobody seems willing to do it for less than $265. The roofer who replaced the roof about 12 years ago was a nightmare but that’s probably my fault for hiring a cheap guy. I was happy that I hired an installer for my new garage door but it’s doing a bit of squeaking now which im not happy with. So my track record with hiring is mixed but it seems to suggest that one should never go cheap. I’m also happy with my hot water heater installation even though I could totally have done that job.

I have also noticed that I dislike having to come home and stand over them. Tradesmen are often looking to get out as fast as they can and sometimes I don’t like the way they do their work. They’re not as neat as I would be or whatever but again that probably tracks with their cost.  Nonetheless, I often have to be there with them anyway so I wonder why I don’t just continue doing everything. 

I can see the day coming when I can’t physically do certain things any more. I guess I’d better get used to interviewing tradesmen.

I did not ever try to fix the cars by the way. I long ago decided that I need those to be operational every day and they need to be perfect so those need to be done by a professional. Around the house I have the luxury of time in which I can take things apart and study them and figure out what to do. With the cars I can’t take them apart and then go to the store for something.  Perhaps I should adopt a similar way of thinking as regards the house; just think of everything as a magical black box that does something.  Then perhaps I won’t be so reticent to call someone nor will I be so inclined to second guess them.

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