2015-05-02

Car Wars 7A–The One With The Rim Shot

Well, that sure didn't work.

So, trying to weld the rim on the tire failed, epically.  It was flat in a couple of days.

So, we contacted the shop, and the guy told me that he did some looking, and if he got me one of the rims (this is for a 13 year old vehicle where the rims are prone to defect) from his suppliers, that it would be expensive.  However, if I got one from eBay, he would mount it for free.  He's prohibited from buying parts on eBay.  Makes sense.

Okay, my wife is wizard on eBay, how hard can it be?

Well, we searched around, and found a nice one out of St. Louis.  We discussed it for a few minutes, and then clicked "Buy It Now" (it was in a no-bid store "auction".)  But, between us pulling up the wheel rim and the decision to buy, the item had been snatched out from under us.

So, we started the search again, found a tire that looked exactly like what we wanted, and while Cora pointed out to me the big red writing about it being a stock photo and the that actual item had a different finish, we bought the item.

We then needed to run out pick up our Chinese food order, but ran into a neighbor who had her toddler and new born in the elevator.  Her CO2 alarm was going off, her husband wasn't home, and she was going to try to get a ladder, and climb all 4'11" of her up the ladder with a crying newborn and a freaked out toddler to get to the alarm.

We opted to be decent humans, and I got the ladder and took down the CO2 alarm for her.  (In other news, do you know that CO2 alarms have a built in expiration date of 7 or 10 years, depending upon the model?  Guess how old our condos are?  7 years!  Ours died between then and now and chirped it's ever-loving brains out while it was doing it.  Thankfully NOT at 2am.)  We got back with the Chinese food, and thank General Tso, it was warm and delicious.

This was a Wednesday evening and I was taking spring break off with The Daughter.  I had no hope that this freakin' wheel rim, shipping from a mystery location somewhere in the United States, would remotely be there in time for us to do anything with it while I was still out.

But then, a small miracle occurred.  Cora, checked the shipping information, and asked, "Do you know where 'Fort Wayne, IN' is?"

Holy Smokes!  That's just a couple hours drive from Chicago.

And then Thursday morning, it was heading to Chicago.

And Friday morning, it was out for delivery.

So, maybe 36 hours after ordering it, the rim arrived, and I opened it.  And that's when I realized the slight mistake I made.  The picture was of a chromed version of the rim, like I have, but the rim they shipped was a silver flecked paint, like I ordered.  That explains why it was $100 cheaper than others I'd seen.

Tired of having to pump up the tire every time I wanted to drive my car, I declared, "Close enough" and we took the rim to Car-X and got it mounted.  (While we were waiting, we took a walk around to kill time.  We got back, and 2 minutes later, there was a down pour!  Dodged that bullet!)

War-Wars-7A

So, here's the car.  The rims are different, but not too bad.  And the chrome one would have looked off, too, since it would have been clean also.  There one dent, between the back tire and the tail light.  For a 2002, not bad looking.

And once I grunge up that rim, it should be less noticeable.  And, if I need to replace the other rims…

I can tell you, it's been a relief not to have to run down to the car 10 minutes before you need to leave to inflate the tire.  It's the simple things in life, sometimes.

2015-04-23

Forget Batman–The Green Arrow Is My Hero

Forget Batman.  The Green Arrow is my hero.

No, not that Oliver Queen chap from the DC comics (I've always been a Marvel fan myself, anyway), but this wonderful bit of LED magic.

trafficsignal1

Finally, our intersection has green left turn arrows.  I feel so… FANCY!

But, this is Chicago, they can't make it smooth.

They actually installed the 5 light signals lights last winter.  But they left the old 3 light signals sitting in a pile on one of the corners.

And we got excited, we're getting a turn arrow: like we are moving into the 80's or the suburbs or something.

But they covered the arrows sections of the signals with plastic bags.  So, nothing changed, except we were living with a tease for a couple of months.

And then one day, we saw the crew remove the pile of old signals that had been sitting out in the snow and mud.  And they were messing around with light control boxes.  I couldn't believe it, we were getting the signal, FINALLY!

Let me explain.  We live right off Western Ave., one of THE primary north / south road in Chicago.  And when we go shopping, we almost always head south, so coming home, we have to try to cross the two lanes of traffic at the intersection.  I'd given up on trying to do it.  I would use the red light to "throw a block" if you will, then turn a couple of blocks early, and wind around on some narrow neighborhood streets to get to where I need to go.  This turn arrow coming up from the south will save me maybe 4 or 5 minutes getting home.

And then the Lord said, "Let there be light."  And there was.  And it was good.  For maybe a week or two.

After enjoying the gift of the turn signal for about two weeks, one day, I pulled into the left turn lane, and I didn't get the light.  Now, these aren't your fancy suburban turn arrows that sense if a car is there before activating.  These are dumb lights.  They follow the same pattern, no matter what.  I got robbed.

My green light had been taken away.  And the next day when we were at the bus stop on the corner, I noticed that south bound, the green light and green arrow light at the same time.  This wasn't simply a matter of the north bound green arrow not working.  The north bound traffic was specifically getting screwed.

As I was getting ready to write the alderman, and ask why we were being treated like second class citizens…

The green arrow returned!

2015-03-20

Car Wars 7–Tired and Retired

My car, a 2002 PT Cruiser just crossed over 65,000 miles this last weekend.  If you're doing the math, that's under 5,000 miles a year.

2001-10-PT 2

It gave me fits last year as documented HERE.  But it's also been having flat tire issues.  CONSTANTLY.  I learned a long time ago the aluminum rims on it are hard to get a seal on and will leak air.  Right after New Year's, I ended up with two flat tires that my little Target air compressor just couldn't keep up with.

So, I got two new tires at Car-X.

And the next week, they were both flat in the garage.

So I pumped them up.

And the next week, they were both flat in the garage.

So I went back to Car-X, and they tried resealing them.

And it WORKED!  Smile  On one tire.  Sad smile

So I put up with filling the tire once a week for while, because I can't take the car in constantly.

I took it in a few weeks back, and they warned me that they were going to try sending it our for grinding and polishing and if that didn't work, we may be in the "replace the rim" territory.

It didn't hold.  It was flat in a week.

So I took it in on Monday all ready to get the rim replaced.

So, they sent my old rim off, and the people found a crack in it that they guessed would leak out in a week, and were able to weld it.  We'll see if it holds.  If not, they are going to need to replace the rim.  But since they are so leaky, they are also hard to find, and it might take up to a week for them to get a replacement in.

But, for the fiddle-farting they've done with my car, they haven't charged me since replacing the tires.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I just went and checked on it.  It's only been a few days, so the jury's still out.  Man I hope it holds, but I'm not holding my breath.

If my tire isn't going to hold it's air, why should I?

2015-03-09

What the… WHAT?

old-woman-smoking-sandy-powers

To The Daughter's paternal grandmother:

You say you're confused.  I'll say you're confused.

Or in some kind of mega-denial.

After that last stunt of yours, I know that if you read this, you won't believe it. Everyone's tried to explain this to you, and you still claim not to understand, so here it is:

YOUR SON IS A JERK.

HIS ELDEST DAUGHTER WANTS NOTHING TO DO WITH HIM.

Is that clear enough?  I know you are only hearing part of the story, so let's make sure that you have all the facts.

TIMELINE – First, let's make sure we have the timeline set. (All dates are rough estimates)

Spring 2011 – Skype Incident – RAS was on Skype with The Daughter (as she is known on this site), when he needed to leave the house to pick up his wife at the transit station.  So, he told The Daughter, who was physically 2,000 miles away, to watch the kids, OVER A VIDEO LINK, while he left his house, got in his car, and drove off.  He saw nothing wrong with this.  The Daughter was traumatized, watching the other kids panic at being alone, terrified something would happen to the kids while she watched on, helplessly.

While this is far, far from the only issue between the two, it was the triggering event for what came next.

Spring 2011 – Counselor – The Daughter starts seeing the counselor, henceforth, "KT" to deal with the damage caused by the Skype incident and everything else.  As I understand it, this marks the second member of his family that has gone to therapy due to RAS.

Spring 2011 – Spring Break Court – RAS's visitation was suspended, and a Guardian Ad Litum (GAL) was ordered.  With that, the court case begins.  While RAS's contact with The Daughter was suspended, that restriction WAS NOT extended to the rest of your family.

Summer 2011 – GAL – The Daughter met with the GAL, and told her side.  The GAL also met with RAS and KT.

Court Case/s – There originally was one case that covered both child support and the parenting plan.  While these dragged on, RAS and his lawyer kept doing head scratching things, that kept running up the legal fees for no obvious reason, including splitting the cases and requesting a detailed financial interrogatory.  RAS split the case in two, and had his lawyer expedite the child support aspect.  While he succeeded in getting his monthly child support reduced from $460 to $109 a month, his attempts to also transfer all his legal expenses on to us failed.  Later, in counseling, he stated that he ran up the legal expenses because his lawyer assured him that we would get stuck paying his legal expenses.  So it was his attempt to bleed money out of us, money that might have gone to support his daughter, that backfired.

Unlike what her cousin told The Daughter, this case is not the reason why none of her half siblings will go to college or why he lost his house.  And even if it were, it was RAS's decision to run up the bills on the child support case, which could have been handled with county administrators, not judges and lawyers that burned up his money, and left him to not have a lawyer for the parenting plan portion of the case.

During time, RAS, The Daughter, and KT were performing group therapy.  KT and the Daughter were also doing one-on-one therapy.  And RAS, KT, and my Wife were also negotiating the parenting plan.

LATE SPRING / EARLY SUMMER 2012 – Child Support – As mentioned above, the court decided child support, and denied flipping his legal fees on to us.  RAS decides to separate from his lawyer, too, and to represent himself for the parenting plan case.

LATE SUMMER 2012 – Earlier the GAL stated that this should be worked out in therapy, not in court.  With the help of the counselor, KT, and our lawyer making sure that all parts of the agreement met Washington law, the parenting plan was signed.

Some key aspect of the agreement:

  • Visitation would resume when KT determined that The Daughter was ready.
  • If she was not going to attend a scheduled visit, it was upon The Daughter to notify RAS in advance.
  • RAS would pay part of The Daughter's airfare for visits, but once tickets were purchased, he would have the right to find a cheaper, comparable flight.

Around this time, The Daughter was to spend some time with RAS's family, to try and mend their relationship.  Instead, they tried to convince her that she was wrong about RAS and pressure her into seeing him.

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2012 – During counseling, plans were being made for the first face-to-face meeting between RAS and The Daughter.  It was going to be Veteran's Day weekend.  1 hour in KT's office.  If things went well between them, they might spend some time together the next day.

OCTOBER 2012 – All RAS had to do was play the game for 1 hour a week, and he was going to get the visitation he wanted.

He couldn't.

The visit was canceled.

And his insistence that all communication between The Daughter and her siblings go through him caused an end to the Skype talks between her and them.

WINTER 2012 / 2013 – RAS's participation in counseling ends.  KT advises him to get his own counselor, and work on his issues.  He never rejoined counseling.

The Daughter continues counseling, and life continues on.  RAS pops up on occasion, but then slinks off to the shadows.

NOVEMBER 2014 – The Daughter turns 18.  Like last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, not so much as a card from RAS.

FEBRUARY 2015 – You write to KT that you don't understand what the problem is, despite everyone telling what I told you at the start:

YOUR SON IS A JERK.

HIS ELDEST DAUGHTER WANTS NOTHING TO DO WITH HIM.

MARCH 2015 – The Daughter sends you a poem and an explanation regarding her relationship with RAS, and within hours, you comment on Facebook, that she is just like her father.

Was that a complement?  "You are just like the man that you cannot stand to be around, talk to, or even think about."  Really?  She tries desperately to explain it to you.  Show opens up to you.  And THAT is your response?  "You're just like him."

Even if you really don't get what the problem is, you MUST understand that there is a serious problem between them, and that she would not take your comment as anything like a compliment.

=============================================

So, to recap:

THERE HAVE BEEN NO LAST MINUTE VISIT CANCELATIONS – If they weren't even able to communicate via Skype once a week in counseling, they were not going to have overnight, unsupervised visits.  Any last minute texts notifying him that she would not be attended were simply a perfunctory task required under the parenting plan.

If you are being told that the things are being called off last minute, then you are not being told the truth, and I would question the motivation of the person/s doing so.

NOT HELPING YOUR CAUSE – If you want a relationship with your granddaughter, you are REALLY going about it poorly.  The Daughter has told you that there is a problem between them.  The therapist told you.

BELIEVE THEM

This is a real, serious, long term issue.  It is not something The Daughter will just "get over".  RAS will need to perform some serious soul searching and realize that he's the source of the problem.

THE CHOICE – Your family can continue to do what it has, line up behind RAtSo, view this all as The Daughter's problem, and nothing will change, except that the gulf between you will get wider and wider.

Or, maybe, you can accept that your Golden Boy isn't so golden, and convince him that he needs to do some work on himself, and then, who knows.

What I know is this, if you want to help, do something helpful, like believe your granddaughter.  Otherwise, you are just part of the problem, and please stop being part of the problem.

2015-02-06

The Great Sky Mall In The Sky

As you know, I have a great love for the Sky Mall.  I've visited it a few times on these pages:

Here:  For the "Seed of Life" shoes.

Here:  For the remote control spider.

Here:  For Hagrid's folding chair.

Here:  For adult footie pajamas.

Those catalogs kept me and millions upon millions of travelers amused on long airline flights.  I looked through it on almost every flight.  Never bought anything, mind you, but loved leafing through them.  And that may be why they filed for bankruptcy.  Lots of lookers, not enough buyers.

Some are blaming iPads and in-flight wi-fi for giving people other distractions in-flight, rather than purchasing a rain coat for their dogs.  I think it's a bit more like the Sears Christmas Wish Book.  The times are changing, and people have new ways to find useless junk, wherever they are.  It's called the "internet".  It has places like, Think Geek, eBay, Amazon, and of course…

SkyMall.  As of right now, it is still functioning as an on line store.

One company that may now be so sad to go is American Airlines (and all the others that carried the catalog).  They may save about $350,000 in fuel, not dragging those dead trees around (Wired).

But then again, if we are now all dragging around iPads and laptops, there goes the savings.

Maybe that's why, even with fuel costs plummeting to around $50 a barrel, they still have all the baggage fees in place that they put in place when oil shot up to $100 a barrel.

2015-01-21

An Open Letter Of Apology to Conan O`Brien

Dear Mr. O'Brien;

I wish to offer you an apology for any discomfort we may have caused you and hope we did not ruin your Christmas shopping list.

On December 22, 2014 (my 49th birthday), I was in Westlake Mall in Seattle.  As we were leaving the food court and heading toward the exit (and then on to the gum wall), you passed us and turned into Claire's.

The Daughter and I did a quick triple take, while the rest of our group continued on down the escalators.  My wife, Cora, another ginja ninja, came back to see what we were looking at.

Trying to not totally invade your privacy but also trying to determine if it was really you, or just some look-a-like, and maybe snap a picture for the scrap book without drawing attention to ourselves, and by extension, you.

This, we refer to, as our "Big Foot" photo.  Maybe there's something there, maybe not.

CoCo-02

But this one is pretty definitive.  We still weren't 100% sure, but we knew that you knew that we were there, and it was starting to get as uncomfortable as an unrequited "I love you."

CoCo-01

We descended to the first floor, met up with the rest of our party, and left the mall headed for the Gum Wall.  The Daughter then used her phone to Google a picture of your wife, which sold us on the fact that it was, in fact, you.  (We later learned that she was from Seattle and that you have a young daughter, and then everything made sense.)

So, please accept our apologies if our actions caused you any undo stress while you were out Christmas shopping.

If it is any consolation, we chose to stop gawking at you to go gawk at a wall covered in used chewing gum.  I'm not sure if that says more about us than about you.

I hope you had a merry Christmas.

Sincerely,

Scope & Cora

P.S. – Thanks for creating Jub Jub.  And The Daughter about died laughing when you uncropped the Justin Bieber photo the other day.

#CoCoInSeattle #CoCoAGoGo

2014-12-16

Tech Tuesday–When A Window Closes

So, last Tuesday I was home sick as a dog.  102°+ fever.  Sweating.  Couching.  Runny nose.  The works.

So, of course, I was still working.

Anyway, my laptop decided to try this new trick on me.  Every 30 seconds, just like clock work, all the windows would minimize to the task bar.  They wouldn't close.  Just minimize.

It didn't matter what app: Word.  IE.  Chrome.  All minimized.

It didn't matter if you let the screen be or were typing.  All minimized.

Trying to Google what the F* the problem is?  It would minimize 3 times while trying to type the search terms into the bar while you're trying not to hack up a lung.

So, I tried using the system restore points.  No good.

How can you possibly (app minimizes)…

… use a laptop when every time you (app minimizes)…

… try typing something it seems like your (app minimizes)…

… computer is performing some sick torture on your (app minimizes)…

… already tortured being.

I fired off Norton to see what it would tell me, and it reported an error.  So, I went to the Norton site, entered the error code, and started a chat with "Team India".  The guy on the other end was oddly helpful.

I have Comcast internet, and it appears that somehow they had given me an app called "Fast Connect", and it was seriously messing with things.  We uninstalled that, uninstalled Norton, reinstalled Norton, and then re-downloaded all the security updates.

And now, all my windows say open.

2014-12-01

Cyber-Monday – Gone Fishing

Welcome to Cyber Monday, the place where old bloggers rediscover their mojo, if at least for a day.

Hook

My story for the day:

Over Thanksgiving, I was talking to my mom & dad.  Apparently, one of my mom's uncles wrote a book recently about fly fishing.  We are NOT on the fishing side of the family.  And we laughed at a shorthand version of one of the few times my dad took me fishing.

I was probably 8 – 10, and my dad took me and my sister to the local lake to fish.  Not that anyone was into fishing, but it was the 70's and that's just one of the kind of things that parents did to bond with their kids.

We were casting for blue gill.  The lake (Calhoun) was only just starting it's downward spiral of silting in and mossing over, so it was really a nice day to be out there.  Warm air.  Blue sky.

We were on the bank, in the shade of a big tree tree, and I put my rod back and went to cast.  As I did so, I felt my line snag.  Thinking I snagged a tree branch, I gave my rod a couple quick tugs.

Each punctuated by a yell from my father.

Seems I hadn't snagged a tree branch, but instead had put the hook into my dad's right ear.

I don't exactly remember how the hook got out of my dad's ear, but I do know the following:

  • It wasn't done at a hospital.  Unlike when I got a needle in my little toe.
  • It was the end of that fishing trip.
  • I'm not sure we ever went fishing again.

=============================================

 

2014-11-24

Cyber Monday – That's My Fun Day

Cyber-Monday

Last year, I did a thing where I tried to get "retired" bloggers back in the game for a day, and to do a post for "Cyber Monday".  It actually worked pretty well, so I thought I would call out to blogworld again.

See, "Cyber-Monday" used to be a thing where people did their on-line shopping at work for the items that they didn't get on "Black Friday".  But now since:

  • People have fast internet @ home, and on their phones
  • "Black Friday" has crept so far into the week leading up to Thanksgiving that it's lost all it's meaning.
  • Online "Black Friday" deals are already published HERE.

Let's take over Cyber-Monday for bloggers.  I know Facebook mostly killed blogging, and I'm connected to most of my old blog circle through Facebook, but I so don't want this long form medium to die.

It changed my life.

It brought me Cora.

So, one week from today, Monday, December 1, post something, anything on your blog.  You've got a week.  Let's celebrate "blog world" for at least one day, and be thankful for all the friends it's brought.

Post what ever you want.  A picture of your Thanksgiving table (American's only), or just a quick update on your life.

When you're done, swing back by Scope-Tech here and post a link.

And maybe catch up with an old friend.

And if your old blog is dead or you can't remember your password, or unsavory characters might still be lurking around, email me, and I'll post it here for you.  Even if it's just your old screen name and a simple update.  Even if we weren't in the same circle.

See you in a week, I hope.

2014-11-12

18!

Last week my Daughter turned 18.

Eighteen!

Were did the time go?  And don't give me that carp about her only being my daughter for 4.5 years, either.  That has only made the time go even faster.

For her party, she wanted to go small.  It was just a couple of her friends over on the weekend for an afternoon of Blues Clues, Charlie & Lola, and Pretty, Pretty Princess.  She's got some great friends.

18_cAKE 
And the Cora decorated this cake…

Yeah, she's got mad skillz.

On her BIRTHDAY birthday, it was just the three of us, a bowl of Space Noodle pasta, and a giant cookie cake.

And she didn't feel different.

She'd been somewhat dreading this birthday as the end of her childhood.  Now she was going to be "an adult".  I think the court case really put a lot of focus on her turning 18.  At 18 the parenting plan ended.  At 18, she could legally make her decisions on who she see and associates with, who she doesn't.  We tried to assure her that she wouldn't be a different person when she woke up the next day.

She didn't really believe us as we tucked her in the night before.

But I think that when she woke up and didn't feel the urge to sweep all her Tim Burton movie collectables off the shelves and walls, she started to believe us; that 18 wasn't a death sentence to her childhood that she'd built up to be in her mind.

Yep, I think she had a pretty good birthday.  And she really needed that.

================================================================

For both of you who still wander around these parts, you may notice something slightly different about this blog.  Over there –> there used to be a count down clock.  It started at about 900 2.5 years ago and ran down to 0 00:00:00 last Tuesday.  (Here's where it started LINK.)

The Daughter has turned 18.  And, "No", no progress was made.

His loss.

2014-09-25

A College Degree In Colleges

Annie Merner Chapel

The Daughter is in the midst of her college search.  Her area of pursuit is pretty specific, and there aren't many places that offer the degree, nor cities where you can do it for a living.

But Chicago has both the schools and the jobs.

But that doesn't mean the search isn't confusing.  One of the schools that I told her to check out that offers her program was Northwestern.  Cora and The Daughter looked it up on the .net and were confused. 

It had nothing like the program they were looking for.  Turns out they were looking at Northwestern COLLEGE.  I meant Northwestern UNIVERSITY.

And while Illinois is like every state with the other "compass" schools: Northern, Eastern, Northeastern, Western, and Southern, there's also East-West University.  Just to mess with you.

And to really mess you up, do NOT confuse the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago.  The SIAC is the good one.

Another school she is looking at is Columbia… College, not University.  One is in Chicago.  The other is in New York.

I remember back in my school hunting days, I was always confused between DePaul University (on The Daughter's list) and DePauw University on no one's list.

And don't get me started on the whole University of Miami (FL) / Miami University (OH) thing.

Of course, I went to MacMurray College, which everyone thinks is Murray State.  It's not.  It's not even related to the MacMurray Ranch Vineyard.  But Fred MacMurray did once own the ranch.  He still has no relationship to the school.

And let's not forget IUPUI (OO-eee-POOO-eee).

Indiana University – Perdue University Indianapolis.

Make up you mind, you euchre playing Hoosier heads!

2014-09-02

The Daughter

Since my last post was about The Daughter starting her first last day of high school, I thought I would keep the theme going.

You know, before Cora and I even started dating, I knew that there was a little girl who would also be involved in this relationship.  That didn't really bother me.  I had dated women with children before.  One's child I never met.  One's child I met when she was about a week old.  (The mother and I wouldn't date for another 4 years, relax.)  So, I would just see how this went.

I think on her first visit out here, when The Daughter didn't like the fancy (spiced) mac & cheese from the restaurant and I solved the problem by taking her to McDonald's for nuggets and a cookie vs. going home and getting her a cold bagel with cheese was the moment that she knew I was looking out for her.  (Since then, she has had a good number of bagel and cheese sandwiches at my place.  As well as more Ritz & cheese than should probably be mentioned.)

And now, I really only have two things left to do with my life.

  1. Make Cora as happy as I can, every single day.  I married WAY out of my league, and I know it.  Now I just want to let her know by gestures both grande and subtle that I love her with all me heart.
  2. Make sure that The Daughter is set up to be successful in life.

It's really that simple.  And doing #2 (Heh!  I just wrote "#2"!) solves #1 a lot.

See that countdown over there –> (if reading in a real web browser)?  The one that says about 60 days?  When I put that up there, it read about 1000, and is the countdown to her 18th birthday.  She about to become LEGALLY an adult.  She has the maturity already.  But she also has some of the innocence of child, and sees the world sometimes as it should be, and not how it really is.

I hope that she can keep hold of that, and not let the world make her cynical and jaded.  That would be a tragic loss.  But I'm sitting here, right next to her mom, and I know we will fight very hard to keep that from happening.  You can't shield your kids from having bad things happen to them, that's simply a part of life.  We all know that.  But The Daughter knows that we have her back, and are with her through whatever life is going to hand her: good & bad.

So, to end this somber story on a happier note:  I'm writing this on Labor Day.  The last day before school starts.  Maybe I will take my girls out for ice cream tonight.  One last fling.  One last smile of summer.

And my job will be complete.

For today.

2014-09-01

The Beginning of the End of the Beginning

Tuesday is/was/will be The Daughter's first day of school.

The first day of her senior year of high school.

Her last first day of public school.

I know she's going to be emotional.

I know her mother is going to be worse.

I know I'll probably be the worst of all, even if I won't show it.

Her mother's been through this before.  Kindergarten.  Grade school.  Middle school.  Junior high.  This is really my first last time.

If sucks, and it's awesome at the same time.

Right now, she's sitting on the sofa, "The Simpsons" marathon on FXX playing silently on the TV, while she reads the 4th Percy Jackson novel to us.  A year from now, we'll be moving her into her dorm somewhere.  She'll won't be leaving forever; but she will never really live here again, either.  She'll be spreading her wings.  Growing into an independent young woman.  Taking those first step down the path of the rest of her life.

So, I'll try to spend the next year not looking too far forward (The school visits, admissions deadlines, and whatever the heck FAFSA is).  Rather, I'll be looking back at the 4 years she's been my Daughter, when she's gone from a beautiful young …

School-Daze-01

… to an even more beautiful young lady, and enjoy the now.  Because the now is pretty dang sweet.

School-Daze

Just like her.

Man, no one said this parenting thing could be the happiest and saddest thing in the world.  At the same time. Good thing I've got a wonderful partner to share these highs and lows with.

2014-08-26

All Washed Up

Things have been falling apart around here.

Besides "The Car Wars" (oh, and the A/C in the car broke and was fixed for the 4th time!):

  • The hot water heater blew a pin hole leak in the pressure vessel tank.  Small hole + Hot Water under pressure = Huge Mess.
  • The water from the water heater warped some of the hardwood floors right there.  (The floors are starting to chill out, so we haven't gotten them fixed yet.)
  • The oven stopped working.  The stove top worked, but the oven wouldn't light.
  • My laptop's hard drive died.

Washer-Dryer

And then there was the washer / dryer.

When I bought this place, it had the "contractor special" cheap-o-matics installed.  The washer was loud, and the dryer had a piece missing so that it shredded and frayed most things we placed in it.  It got to the point that we were hanging more clothes around the condo to dry than we were processing thru the dryer.  I'd hoped to replace it last year, but that didn't happen.

This year we did it.

Cora and I made up our minds, and one day we were in Home Depot, and we saw a set on sale for $300 off.  Each.

While the delivery and haul away was free, we were of course, dinged for the upgrade to the gas dryer model, new hoses and tubes, stacking kit, etc.

They fit, just barely, into the closet where the old ones were.  One of the delivery guys was a the skinniest little spider monkey of a man you ever saw.  With about 3 inches of clearance all around spider monkey boy climbed behind the old units and unhooked the old one.  And then when they installed the new one, he was behind it.  I figured that they'd encased him like the workers in the pyramids, but he climbed up over the top like one of those parkour dudes.

These are our first "High Efficiency" units so it's taking some time getting used to.

Firstly, the by the small amount of water that seems to be used for the wash cycle.  It seemed like the clothes barely get wet, but they are clean.

Secondly, is how quick the dryer does its job.  It seems like it takes no time for the clothes to dry, but they aren't even hot when we pull them out.  I guess that is a side effect of not having so much water in the washing.

And they sing.

When they finish, it's not a harsh buzz or a ding, but a happy little tune that they sing.  It almost makes laundry… enjoyable.

Not if science would just invent the auto-folding machine, we would be so set.

2014-08-25

Coasting To Victory

Earlier this summer, my little family flew out west, and joined up with Cora's mother, sister, brother-in-law, and their munchkins for a week long drive from Seattle down the Oregon coast.

I've never been to Oregon, so that knocked another state off my list.

The 9 of us caravanned in two cars and headed out to the Pacific Coast highway, US-101.  After lunch in Olympia, we headed to Astoria.  Sitting on the Columbia River, Astoria was named after John Jacob Astor (Not be confused with John Jacob Astor IV – who took the extreme ice bucket challenge on the Titanic.  While sporting the same color scheme, this wasn't the Titanic.)

Oregon-Astoria

Astoria has served as the backdrop for a few movies.  Most important to our group were Kindergarten Cop and The Goonies.  We were in our hotel room, and Google mapped where the Kindergarten Cop elementary school was, while looking out the window.  Turned out I was looking out the window at it about 300 yards away.

So, we all took turns reenacting Arnold running out of the doors on his first day, screaming in frustration.

Oregon-KC-02

Okay, some of us more strutted after our photo-op…

Oregon-KC-01

We then got our Goonies on by heading to the jail the Fratelli's broke out of at the beginning of the movie.  And that's their bullet riddled Jeep parked in front.

Oregon-Goonies-Jail

Some prisoners weren't so lucky to escape so easily.

Oregon-Jailbirds

You can also walk up to the Goonies' house.  People live in the house, so they don't want you climbing all over, but they don't mind if you shoot pictures from out front, especially if you drop a little sump'n/ sump'n in the donations box.

Oregon-Goonies-House-02

And this is my little band of Goonies; The Daughter and her 3 cousins.  And there may or not be a picture of me doing the "truffle shuffle".

Oregon-Goonies-House-01

In the movie, the plot was that their house was going to be turned into a golf course.  While I'm no golf course engineer, I don't think the steep hills and cliffs on this side of town really lend themselves to gently rolling fairways.  Speaking of geography, the Goonies totally would have gone to the Kindergarten Cop elementary school.  You can clearly see the school from the house. (But "The Goonies" is from 1985 and "Kindergarten Cop" is from 1990, so none of the kids would have been in Arnold's class.)

Oregon-Goonies-House-03

And speaking of geography, there's no way those kids rode all the way to Haystack Rock.  It's like, 27 miles away, and Chunk would have died long before they even crossed the bridge over the Youngs Bay.

Oregon-Haystack-01

We didn't go straight to Cannon Beach, but instead spent a couple of days in Seaside, OR.  Our hotel was right off the beach, and I took the opportunity to get my toes in the sand.  (While I've been TO the Pacific Ocean before, this is the first time I've ever been IN the Pacific Ocean.)

Seaside reminded me a lot of what my memories are of the one time my family went to Ocean City, NJ when I was around 10 or 12.

Oregon-Feet-In-Sand

Anyway, back to Haystack Rock, we didn't walk all the way to it, but got pretty close.  It was a bit overcast and grey, and there was a bit of sea mist in the air.  So I got a shot of my 3 beachcombers.  (My two plus the middle munchkin.)

Oregon-Haystack-02

And to totally embarrass The Daughter, here's her mother, smooching her in public.  But also, a bit of trivia, that cliff behind them is where the lighthouse restaurant was in "The Goonies" and also the site of the school carnival in "Kindergarten Cop".

Oregon-Coast-14

And now, a little more "road" on this "road trip".  (PS – The photos are not necessarily in order.  I could order them properly, but we all know I'm too lazy to actually do this.)

Anyway, this is us at Cape Foul Weather.  Slightly before she was born, Cora took a trip down the Oregon Coast with her family (do I need to spell it out people), and her mom remembered stopping here, so, between our trip down and back, we missed finding it twice.  We were about to give up on our third try, when we thought we'd try what looked like an RV park for a bathroom, and found ourselves at Cape Foul Weather.

Oregon-Coast-01

Just up the road from C.F.W., we pulled off at a scenic outlook and got this tree that was growing bent due to the constant onshore breeze.

Oregon-Coast-02

And this sweet old bridge.

Oregon-Coast-03

We also stopped at the Sea Lion cave.  It was pretty cool.  But unfortunately, since it was in a cave, and flash photography was forbidden, most of the pictures didn't turn out so well.  Anyway, this was my favorite shot.

Oregon-Coast-04

There's actually a light house WAY out there on that point if you zoom in far enough.  It's the Heceta Head lighthouse outside of Florence.

Oregon-Coast-05

Up the coast is the Yaquina Head lighthouse.  It's near Newport, and located in an outstanding natural area (it's called the "Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area") with a visitor's center and gift shop.

Oregon-Coast-13

And the lights of my life outshine the 1st order Fresnel lens atop the tower.

Oregon-Coast-12

Down the staircase from the light house is Cobble Beach.  The beach is covered with millions of round basalt rocks.  The Nephew really liked it down there.

Oregon-Coast-06

The rocks were cool and rolled under your feet as you walked.

Oregon-Coast-07

Some people loved the beach, but didn't enjoy the "walking on marbles" feeling so much.

Oregon-Coast-08

From the light house, we could see the sea and saw it smash against rocky outcrops.

Oregon-Coast-09

Some other rocks could have used a good rinsing by the sea.

Oregon-Coast-11

Which leaves me wondering if that's really rock, or just a huge pile of fossilized bird crap.

Oregon-Coast-10

In addition to the natural scenic wonders, we also toured the Tillamook cheese factory.  We had dinner, watched them make some cheese, sampled some cheese, and ate ice cream.

Oregon-Coast-Tillamook

While there, we stayed at the Shilo motel.  We'd been seeing them all up and down the coast, so how bad could it be, right?  Do you remember the story of "The Bozeman Inn" from about 3 years ago?  It wasn't that bad, but you did get the sense of time travel.  We were issued metal keys, there was no elevator in the building (okay, it was only 2 stories tall, but it did kind of make the luggage carts moot), and the TVs were old CRT TV's from the 90's.

And there was an odd smell.  But there was an odd smell all over (remember, there was a working dairy, so I think the smell was just my dairy air.)

Definitely shy away from the Shilo.

And speaking of lodging, if you are planning the trip, make sure you book your night's stay early in the day to avoid getting the "No room @ the inn" treatment.  Sure it worked out for Mary & Joseph, but it might not work so well for you.  And if you are thinking of driving US-101 pulling, say, a vintage Airstream trailer, make sure your driving skills are up to snuff.  The road is twisty and narrow and the sun streams through the leaves of the trees dappling the pavement and leaving the road a deathly patchwork of depth destroying light and dark patches.

And now something completely different.

We stopped at Denny's in Tillamook, and The Daughter order the Peanut Butter Cup pancakes.  They were as tasty as they looked.

Oregon-Coast-Pancakes

And, to wrap up this story, this guy was just begging me to take his picture.

Oregon-Coast-Scope

One the way back, we swung up through Portland and hit Voodoo Donuts.  Whatever you've heard about how good these donuts are is wrong.  They're better.  So much better.