1,200 Miles In The Car

While this post could also be called “A Love Letter to a Neglected Home” or “Pants and Comb” or even, “Glad To See My Family and Friends, but…”, I didn’t want to limit myself to what I brain dumped.  So, it a presently unedited (Okay, slightly edited) form, here is my take on how it feels to be home after extensive “being goneness” this summer.

After having the opportunity to go on a long planned European trip in early June, the “spending time with the roots” part of the summer travels followed.  During our travels to the “colder” places of Europe, shorts were not really needed.  In fact, I took two pairs and didn’t wear them once. So, when it came time to pack for a visit to the Midwest, I was only able to assume I would need 2 pairs of shorts.  I should only need 2 pairs of shorts, right?  The Midwest is north of Texas and my morning walks will not be hindered by sheets of sweat running off my body as I attempt to scare off any of the calories consumed during numerous social gatherings.  It takes over 16 hours to get there, so it must be cooler there.  As I lay the groundwork for the contradiction, you have probably already leaped ahead a few days….

During our trip, we spent nights in 4 different locations.  The first location is where I realized the limitations I placed on myself.  Due to a combination of excessive friction, extreme amounts of sweating AND a healthy diet of Mexican food, one pair of shorts decided they were going to “make a split”. While not the first pair of pants I have split, it was a reminder of the occasional cruelness able to be unleashed by a simple trip using a suitcase with limited dimensions.  Fortunately, the patch for my pants provided some additional life to the shorts. The shorts were able to be juggled for the two weeks with frequent washings and frequent wardrobe changes.  If my shorts had the ability to think, they likely would have known they would be moving to the “pile of misfit pants” when we arrived back home. 

How could a simple comb make a 1,200-mile journey worthwhile?  On our trip, I took one comb. It is not a space hog.  It doesn’t cause a suitcase to “suck it in”.  It is just a reminder of how, when traveling, space usually reserved for certain items is less a priority for some people than it is for others.  (If you are one who has NO IDEA what “putting things in its place” means, your parents were much better at staying out of the details then I am able. And, you may lose things with some frequency…)

Despite the nuisance of it, my comb was kept in a bag.  Every morning after my shower (This is not limiting me to morning showers OR to combing my hair at other times), I would comb my hair.  The comb would be carefully removed from the bag. I would put it back in the bag when I was done.  During the process of us hopping from house to hotel to house to hotel, the “comb bag” ended up in different suitcases.  (This still was “organized” BECAUSE we had our “over-nighter” bag when staying in hotels.  This kept us from hauling in all of the suitcases.)  During one of our “stops”, my wife asked if she could use the comb.  I agreed–she is my wife.  When the comb had completed the straightening of her uppermost protein strands, she put the comb back.  It was almost where it was supposed to go, but not quite.  After a couple more borrowings and a couple more returns that were almost the same place where it was before its workout, the comb was acknowledged as being DITB (Definitely In this Bag).  I trusted my wife.  I knew at the end of our journey of 1,200 miles of driving, I should find my comb and be able to put it in its place.

This (as I edit this, it was a couple mornings ago) morning, as I got dressed in my house while standing in my bathroom with most of my clothes in my closet and a few waiting to spring out of the suitcase and assume their previous positions in a few rather unkempt dresser drawers, I realized how good it was to be home.  I remember an old line from a 1980’s movie, “Home is where you hang your hat.”  This seems to illustrate a person who has a more flexible definition of a home than me.  To me, home is where there is bounty and where I can find my things.  I don’t need lots of things.  I just like to have my things available to me, and I like to know where they are at.  And, as silly as it sounds, I have been smiling the whole time I am writing this.  I like an adventure.  When the adventure is over and it is only about waiting to go home, not even a whole day sitting in a car driving across 7 states and dealing with a few people who were not able to delay their accidents for just ONE day are able to wipe the smile of inner peace from my face.  

 

No Time For Maybe

School morning can sometimes be a rather challenging time…unless you don’t care about being on some type of schedule.

During a recent school commute this spring, we were not showing our best time management skills.  The call of “The bus is leaving in 2 minutes” didn’t awaken the desire of my passengers to maximize their remaining 120 seconds.  (As in most households, the time threat is largely that–just a threat.  But, you have to do a crazy thing occasionally to make the threat valid.  When the “bus” was responsible for dropping all 4 of the kids off, I left the one son in the house and backed out of the garage.  I continued backing so that the car was far enough down the street so that a quick glance out of the garage would make the pulse accelerate to the necessary speed commonly known as “fear” or “He wouldn’t leave me, would he?”)  As I made it clear the driver’s seat of the van was my next destination, I reminded those who cared the seconds was fewer than my previous announcement.  The scurrying that followed confirmed my words were actually spoken outside of my head and not just thought.

After the passengers were loaded and the car was backed out beyond the driveway, we were able to nearly shift into auto-pilot.  The auto-pilot was interrupted by a possible plea from the back seat, “I think I forgot something.”

Not being one to draw out a situation, I hoped my, “No time for maybe. If you forgot something, say so” would quickly help the requester determine whether it was a real or a fake something.  And, we may have turned around OR we may have decided the something was of less than a significant nature.

Unfortunately, the time has passed and the something may have been at home or just hidden in her book bag.  My only point in writing this was to highlight the need for decisiveness in the morning routine.  Of course, would I have failed to make a note shortly thereafter, the whole incident would have been lost.  Or, as I have had to do in the past, I take my pithy, witty remark and contrive a story around it.  I can definitely say with absolute certainty, this story is one or the other.

 

 

Reboot Roulette

The past week+ has been one of far greater unproductivity than I would have liked.  (Please do not confuse this with my previous post.  Their similarities are completely coincidental.) If I had not made the “job search” a January priority, this lack of productivity would not have been as big a deal. Unfortunately, a job search being conducted on a computer with a bad case of the reboots has forced me to duplicate my efforts nearly every time I have sat at my desk.  As I look back over this time where I was constantly cursing myself for failing to “save” THAT document, I  now believe I can return to my “normal” productive life.  (My productive is not your productive, but my recent productive was really not productive at all!)

What did I try as I sought to remove the roulette from my computer’s life? (Of course, it is my life I am concerned about.   My inclusion of my computer is to make me slightly less selfish than I may appear.  Buying a new computer might fix it, but the problem-solving part of me believed that to be the path of a loser.  My computer is inanimate, but when you stare at its screen login, any failure on its part to meet my needs feels/smells like a betrayal.)

  1. First, I just accepted the first few of reboots as a power thing.  I do have a UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply), but I thought, “maybe it isn’t working correctly”.  When the power went off briefly during a recent storm, the UPS kicked on.  This coupled with the ongoing random reboots quickly made me pursue other possibilities.
  2. After 3 or 4 days of 2-3 reboots a day (Most documents were saved as “recovered” documents AND my browser asked me if I wanted it to restore the “tabs” as they were when the trigger landed on the bullet-laden chamber.), I started refamiliarizing myself with the “Event Logs”.  I kept seeing an event error for a program that had been uninstalled.  Being a “doer”, I felt deleting the registry setting was a good idea.  (I had some regrets being the bull in the china shop who might unleash all sorts of possible damage.  As the reboots mounted, my “fixing” instinct became uncontrollable.)  Fortunately, I only deleted one registry setting.  (If not familiar with the registry, this is a place within Windows where you can cause great havoc should you not be careful.)  My recognition of the potential headaches I might unleash allowed me to show restraint.  Fortunately, my one “fix” did take care of the one issue.
  3. As the reboots continued, I experimented with oddball things.  I left my music playing when not sitting at the computer thinking the program might somehow provide a defense against the “reboot roulette”.  While a small amount of hope was created, this method also proved inadequate.
  4. Next, I moved to the “Uninstall” step.  The event logs showed the problems starting on 9/22/16.  Coincidentally, that was the day Microsoft updated my computer with 3 different updates.  In my mind, whether illogical or not, I decided I could uninstall all 6 or so updates from the present back to the date in the past.  In theory, this was an excellent idea.  However, when the uninstalling takes so long it can’t be done in one sitting and the computer does not ask permission to become as current as possible when I am not there, this method only got me more frustrated.  (I uninstalled.  The computer was having a meal sent from Microsoft it did not know how to refuse.  Turning off the network connection was a viable but not a good option.)
  5. Next, I sought after a “recovery point”.  (A time where I told the computer, “Please remember today was a time I liked you.”  If not “like”, at least not “hate”.)  I did go back to a recent recovery point.  And, while this seemed to go okay. It didn’t fix anything.  In fact, I am blaming the “recovery” issue from preventing me from uninstalling all of the “updates” being blamed for making my computer sick.
  6. After copying and pasting a couple of the details from the event log into an internet search, I received pages providing suggestions on how I might solve that problem.  I made changes to the computer based on the recommendations.  Does it matter if the hard drive “never” stops or a couple of other small changes?  It seemed to be a proven way to “maybe” fix one of my computers symptoms.
  7. With thoughts of a new computer and the pain of software loading and constant rebooting in my head until the process was over, I reached out for a couple of pieces of software to fix the problems “magically” I was not able to do in the piecemeal manner I was using.  First, I downloaded “System Mechanic”.  This software made me think I was doing something to improve the health of my computer, but the errors in the event log continued.
  8. Then, I thought, “There has to be a program that fixes a few buggy Windows things.”  Such a program did exist.  I had reservations.  The program was called Reimage Repair.  It seemed to be reviewed okay, but when installing a program with the power to play with all of the boxes in your computers attic and basement, I had to take pause.  The result of the pause was the realization I would not stay sane unless the computer was fixed or replaced.  I installed it and tracked the progress on the computer screen.  (I would pause our partial binge of “Homeland” to confirm the screen said the computer was getting happy.)  After more than 2 hours of allowing the software to play a second time to make sure it didn’t miss anything the first time, I am claiming success…sort of.
  9. A couple types of errors are still showing up in the event log.  I will try and fix them at my leisure.  They don’t seem to have fangs or claws capable of causing my little princess to stumble.  If she does, I will pick her up off the ground.  We will both get on the horse together with the hope the next reboot will be a better ride.

My trust with computers (and people) is only as solid as the last time they lied or failed me.  We will continue to work together as I gain a little bit more trust (I hope) each day.  She (does this mean I trust women more easily than men or what does it say that my computer is assigned a female pronoun?) has been sick about 50% so far for 2017.  I am hoping she likes her medicine and stops having so much gas!

 

Nothing To See Here

I haven’t posted in awhile.  I am not writing to feed the need of the many “awesome” fans who have demanded it.  I am writing to justify in my own mind the presence of this blog.  If my name is on it, I need to check in and address substantial gaps in my postings.  Since resolutions to “Post More” didn’t work, I am going to run thru my excuses and evaluate what achievable goals are available.

As the fall unfolded last year (Was it just 3 months ago?  Saying “last year” makes it sound like it was over 12 months ago.  The older you get, the more costly the loss of one month let alone a whole year.), the distractions of life made it very difficult to secure the time to write something relevant.  I have continued to write/think/generate ideas.  I consider this a very healthy thing.  The difficulty has been gathering enough related thoughts.  The moments of creative thought have not aligned with the moments where I am parked in my chair with the computer available.

What were those distractions?  Let me list a few…

  1. Employment –  We can probably agree on the need to have an income.  Do to circumstances beyond our control, the long-term clarity of this need was put in jeopardy.  Attempting to steer our way thru this foggy future has pulled time from other pursuits.  So, even when the computer is ready for input, I was often thinking foggy thoughts.
  2. Family – This is not as distracting or as dire as it may sound.  As has been our habit for a number of years, we often find our home serving as a residence to more than those who are related by blood.  We added one last year (this happened in 2015, but it seems too recent to say 2 years ago) and we added his brother to our home this fall.  While we have limited cars available, we now had another person who needs to be taxied to work.  This was less problematic until just after the last post.  Within a week of the last post, one of our vehicles became a pile of metal, and all we received was a small check.
  3. Life* – Everyone has life, but life* must be something different.  And, since the “squared” doesn’t make typing “life2” with a superscript 2 very easy, I will just go forward with the “*”.  Besides driving extra, my daughter is in the middle of robotics season.  I granted permission to being called a “judge” this year.  So, I attend all of her meets and make sure the robots fit into the 18″ x 18″ x 18″ box.  (I also make sure they can connect with the brain of the robot.  And, it is good to see lots of zip ties.)  Also, it seems we are making LOTS of food.  This is not just because we have 7 sitting down for most meals.  We are also trying to help a family down the street who has health problems.  If we are making a big crockpot of something, we might give them half.  Or, we have also been known to make them a meal completely different from what we are eating.  Another part of our present life seems to be an excessive number of trips to the grocery store.  Too many separate lists and too little certainty on what ingredients are needed to be gathered until the morning of the meal.
  4. Mid-life crisis – Maybe it is just me.  I try and tell myself everyone within 5 or 10 years of my age has frequent moments where they ask, “Why am I here and why do my goals seem to need to be adjusted on a yearly or even quarterly basis?”  As I attempt to find the proper stride for this decade of my life, I am still filled with a serious of doubts:  which path is the right one for me?; did I miss the fork in the path I was meant to take?; and, do I want to know how many decades I have left so I can make the best use of my time remaining?  I often reflect on my “resolutions” toward the end of the year.  Even my loosely configured resolutions are often left unfilled when reviewed by the most generous (or should that be “less forgiving”?) of judges–myself.  I don’t want to fail, but I seem to fail to use the tools available to remind me of my goals.  Or, is my lack of success more a criticism of failing to make good goals?  Hmmmm…this free will thing is fraught will peril!!
  5. Holidays – I don’t recall being surprised by the holiday season this year…or any previous year.  I believe I am participating in a bit of “piling on”.  If I have 4 legitimate excuses for failing to maintain a personal commitment, then what is one more.  Between traveling and the other social activities of the season, this “excuse” might be the most accurate of any.

When the whole thing is boiled down, two conclusions are clear:  I either am not committed to writing or I am a poor planner.  Depending on the day, the answer may vary–either conclusion hurts my feelings a little bit. 😦

 

Free Drinks

Although I have gotten free drinks (these are the non-alcoholic type) in the past, I had some good fortune over the past week.  Two different establishments volunteered to give me a free drink even though I was willing to pay for it.  This was no scheme.  It did not involve taking advantage of any unique promotions.  Neither did it involve dressing up like an employee and wondering into the back with an empty cup.  Since I am sure the curiosity is killing you (it is killing me as well.  Can I walk the story thru with enough warping to make it more interesting than was the original experience?), let me begin….

With a dentist appointment ahead of me that morning, I was concerned to brush before I went.  My breakfast of 2 cups of coffee and a piece of toast was followed by my mouth being molested for 2 minutes by my electric toothbrush.  After the near silence common to parents who drive their teenage children to nearly any activity(in this case school), I chose to stop at a Panera before my dentist visit.  As I lugged in my laptop and threw on my cap, I must have done something to very negatively affect my appearance.  After being asked what I wanted, my response of a “medium coffee” was followed by an, “It’s on my today.”  My billfold quickly dropped back into the comfortable recesses of my pocket.  I gave a hearty “Thank you” at the time I received the cup and again a few minutes afterward.  Was I wearing the “secret hat color of the day”?  Was I the 125th customer?  Did I look so haggard it was all about pity and nothing to do with some mystery to remain unsolved?  Or, did my new friend know the dentist would tell me I had been a very, very bad boy lately.?

Just yesterday, my son decided nothing presently living in our refrigerator–a survivor of one of our dinners over the past couple of days–was worth of his consumption.  He requested I run him up to the local Whataburger for a hamburger.  Since leftovers translate into, “I am not buying you your next meal.”, he knew he would be buying whatever he ate.  While driving him there–a five-minute drive even if driven in reverse, I received a phone call.  The call was quick but not so quick that I finished it up before my son had his order placed and paid for.  After completing my call, I walked to the register.  As I pointed my thumb at my son, I said, “I was hoping to place it on his order so he could pay for it.”  The employee felt some pity or exercised some liberal interpretation of some company rule dictating when a drink can be given away for free.  He handed me a cup and said, “Enjoy.”  Without hesitation, my mouth uttered a, “Thank you.  I will.”  Maybe he sensed father/son time is better when dad has a root beer.  Or, maybe he just sensed the free drink would make sure the conversation would stay away from the topics that sometimes strain the father/son relationship.  Whatever his logic, it helped!

 

Cusp of Indecision

I noticed the video on my Facebook page and other places today.  I watched most of it.  I agreed with the part about voting and its importance.  I agree with it being YOUR decision.  I agree with the role of those who are influential inviting others into the process.  After this point was made, my disagreement began.

When those who are rich and famous (not everyone in the video was famous or rich, but the implication was these people care deeply and are smarter than you) want you to do something, you should do it.  They believe you should not do your own research or make decisions based on your socio-economic status.  You should do what they say.  Whoever wins the elections won’t make these people less famous, but maybe a little less rich.  Whoever wins the election is very important to them because they are willing to draw pictures or use their acting ability to fill their voice with heart-tugging emotion.  If they are willing to call somebody a “racist”, you should accept their accusations on its face.  Their failure to critique the other candidate as a liar or a “Washington insider” or any of the other labels that could be assigned to the women running for the highest office in the land is not important.  What is important is they REALLY, REALLY want you to NOT vote for one of the candidates.

While I applaud the  use of celebrity to get people to do what they are obligated to do as American citizens, I am offended when this same status seems to give celebrities license to tell people who to vote for.  The candidates are not making it easy on us.  While I have given money politically in the past, this year all such calls (thanks, caller ID) are ignored.  As debates approach, I would not watch to have my opinion swayed.  I would only watch to see if my candidate delivers a blow or if either of the candidates delivers a self-inflicted wound.  I plan on voting early and taking a clothes pin to the voting booth.  The clothes pin when firmly affixed to my nose will allow me to throw the lever one direction.  To throw the lever the other direction, I would need to be in negotiations with the devil.  I would need to be willing to sell my soul (can you sell a fractional part of your soul?  Of course not.  You can’t serve 2 masters.)  Frankly, I have no idea what I would even consider selling my soul for.  Since “soul-selling” implies an eternal contract, the deal is off.  I am going with the clothes pin or nose plugs.

Pushing For Three

This morning was another morning where we had fewer cars than drivers.  I provided the necessary transportation for our stranded driver before going to the supermarket.  (I did need to go to the market, but my stubbornness in not running just ONE errand at a time “forced” me to run the errand then.)

As I walked in, I was struck by the misplacement of the “sani-wipes” for wiping the cart handle.  (Shouldn’t they be between the cart and the groceries rather than between the cart and the outgoing door?  I guess this is a rant better reserved for another topic.)  Once I shook off this temporary annoyance, I pushed the cart forward while pulling out my phone to see what was on my list.  The next thing I remember I was standing idly by my cart looking dubious.  An apparently pregnant mother with a child in her cart needed me to move my cart.  She seemed apologetic.  I moved my cart while commenting, “You are pushing for three. I am sorry I was in your way.”

After I made my comment, I wondered if I somehow had put my foot in my mouth again.  Did I choose to make a comment and make the comment in one of the “dimensions” where it was viewed as offensive?  (This is assuming  there are parallel dimensions.  This approach is sometimes necessary to soften the blow when I am convinced I said nothing wrong but one of the hearers seems to disagree.  Usually, my intentions are truly pure.) I kept shopping as I continued to use my “Wunderlist” to track down what I needed to purchase.

In the Mexican food section, I stumbled across my pregnant fellow shopper again.  She was friendly.  Of course, this implies I did not upset her before.  She mentioned how people are often so uptight and worried they will offend other people.  She let me know she was due in mid-November–if the country survives the election.  There will be  almost 2.5 years between her kids.  And, strangely, her dogs gave her extra love during her first pregnancy.  Before she knew officially and about 3 weeks into this pregnancy,  the dogs were more loving again.

For some reason, I chose this point to relay to her my two “Why did you bring up pregnancy?” faux pas.  First, when I was late single digits, we had a family who had children approximately the age of my siblings and I.  One afternoon when our friend’s mother was picking up her children, I made an observation.  I shared this observation with my mother later.  “I think Mike’s mom is pregnant.”  When my mother’s curiosity is up, she needed to find out.  When she asked, she found out Mike’s mom was pregnant.  Since they were not telling people yet, it seemed to upset Mike’s mom.  Although my mom did not blame me directly, she pointed to this issue as the reason the friendship starting to slowly crumble.

The second “pregnant” question was much more unnecessary.  After our kids were no longer using some of the baby items, we had a garage sale.  The sales were steady, but not as brisk as we would have liked.  To try and generate some additional sales, I pulled out my sales wit.  As one shopper who was a little heavy in the middle looked at baby items, I innocently asked, “When are you due?” In some dimension, the “due” may not have implied pregnancy, but circumstantially, her assumption was not a huge stretch.  Her reply of, “I’m not.” quickly accounted for one less shopper at our garage sale.

My new pregnant friend listened patiently and sympathetically to my tales.  She seemed glad to have a little distraction from her day.  And, unsurprisingly, so did I.  I was grateful to get something more than enchilada sauce today.  Hopefully, everything I said was certified safe in my present dimension.