Saturday, April 29, 2006

Summer is Here

Ok, officially summer hasn't started yet. At least not for most of the country. But it was 90 degrees yesterday and 92 today. It is supposed to be over 90 degrees all this week. Historically once we start having 90+ degree temperatures we don't stop until sometime in October or November. Sure we'll have an occasional cooler day. But not many and not often.

For the high desert, summer has arrived.

I knew this for sure when my dear wife looked at me yesterday and asked what I had planned for this weekend.

I have been married long enough to know that the moment that question is asked, it doesn't really matter what my plans for the weekend were. They are about to change.

So my dear wife smiled sweetly, hugged my neck and asked if I would turn on the cooler this weekend. What else could I do. I said yes. After all she promised me a back rub.

So today I turned on the cooler.

Simple. Right? You just turn it on.

Well turning on the cooler is simple. All you have to do is set the thermostat and click the little knob over to low or high cool. However before you do that you have to do a couple other little things.

First, turn off the the furnace. Turn off the gas and unplug the furnace. Disconnect the waterline to the humidifier, empty and clean the humidifier. Open the flue above the furnace and put the baffle plate back in. Then seal off the the vents for the humidifier.

Then you go through the house with a ladder and remove the upduct covers from all the upducts. While in each room, check the openings on all the vents. If the room has a ceiling fan, click the direction knob so the the fan will start blowing down for summer.

Now go outside to the cooler. Take off the two side panels, the top panel, and the front. Uncoil the water line and the drain line from inside. Connect the water line to the feed line from the house. Connect the drain line to the pump. Clean out the inside of the cooler with the hose, check the condition of the pads, motor, belt, fill valve and water distribution system.

In the case of today, you stop at this point and run to home depot for a new belt and scale eliminator. While at home depot, you have to wander through the garden section, go out to the truck to get the number off the belt, visit with friends in front of the BBQ grills, go back out to the truck because your friends made you forget the number, stroll through the power tool section trying not to drool on the new toys. Then you go back out to the truck, again, to double check the number on the old belt because you are too vain to carry the old one into the store. Most men believe that it's cooler looking to just walk up to the rack, pick out the item you need and walk away. Never talk to a man while he is picking out an item in Home Depot. Until the item is in his hand the only thought going through his mind is 4R-630, 4R-630, 4R-630, 4R-630, 4R-630, 4R-630, or whatever the number is. Eventually you have to check out, go home and try to explain to your dear wife why it took 2 hours to run to home depot and buy two things. Once I tried answering "The same reason that it takes you and our oldest daugher three hours to go buy a pair of tennis shoes." I'll never do that again.

After trying to explain to your dear wife why your trip took so long you need a brief rest to recover from your exhaustive Home Depot trip, and to check and see who is being drafted by which team in the NFL draft.

Once your favorite team makes the bonehead decision of the draft and wastes a pick on some total putz that even you can see is never going to cut it in the NFL, it's time to go back outside. Mostly because your dear wife doesn't want you teaching that language to the children. But also because you need to install the new belt and scale eliminator. Put the drain plug in place. Turn on the water to check for leaks. Then you run back around the house, turn off the water. Fix the leaks. Then repeat. Sometimes over and over.

Once the leaks have been reduced to drips you let the cooler fill with water while tightening fittings to turn off the drips.

Once the cooler is full of water you go into the house and turn the control over to pump only. Wander back around the house to the back yard and see where water is spraying out of the cooler in places that it isn't supposed to. Run back into the house, and turn the pump off. Fix the new leaks, or redirect the wter disribution system as needed. Then back into the house to turn the pump back on.

If there are no leaks you can let the pads soak while you oil the pillowblocks and check the tension and alignment on the belt and pulleys.

Once the pads are moist you have to put all the panels back on the cooler then walk back around into the house and turn the controller over to low cool. Stroll back outside and start around the house. Occasionally you have to take a panel or two off the unit to see where they unusual noise is coming from. But I didn't have any of those this year. So once the cooler sounds like it's running okay, you turn the control up to high cool and make sure that everything is working there also. Unfortunatly if that causes problems, you probably have motor trouble and that is going to require another trip to Home Depot.

Finally you have finished your dear wife's simple little request and turned on the cooler. So grab a shower, you need it. Grab a cold drink and settle back down in front of the NFL draft again. But don't get too comfortable. Sooner or later your team is going to get another pick, then you are going to get put back to work because you are telling them that they are just too stupid to know good football talent when they see it.

Confirmation Retreat

My oldest daughter just got home yesterday from spending the week at Camp Keep.

This morning she started her Confirmation Retreat. As part of her confirmation retreat her mother and I were required to write a letter telling her about her baptism. This is something that I would have blogged about 13 years ago, if we had blogging back in those dark ages. Since at heart I'm a lazy bum, I figure I'll reproduce what I had to write for my daughter here. If I have to sit and write something down I want to get as much use out of it as I can.

You were born on October 26th 1992. We waited two months for your baptism, until Sunday Dec 27th, 1992 at Grace Lutheran Church, so that our chosen Godparents could attend.

Your Godparents are Chuck and Tana Marsh from Laramie Wyoming. Chuck is one of your father's oldest friends. They drove to Ridgecrest on December 26th and stayed through New Years. Your Aunt Michele and Uncle Glenn, your grandma Shu-Shu and Grandpa Dick, and Your Uncle Dave and Aunt Wendy and their children Cassie, Kym and Tim all went to church with you that morning.

During the church service you were passed around between your Auntie Michele, your Aunt Tana and Aunt Wendy. Your Grandma Shu-Shu tried to hold you several times but couldn't get you away from all your Aunts. When we got to the baptism ceremony you were carried up to the baptismal font by your Aunt Michele. There she passed you off to your Aunt Tana. Pastor Ron led the congregation and the family in the standard baptism ceremony out of the hymnal. You were pretty well behaved. You just laid in Aunt Tanas arms and looked around sticking out your tongue. Then once pastor started pouring water over your head you started howling.

For your baptism we dressed you in the same dress and shoes that your Mother wore for her baptism. Around your neck you wore a gold chain and cross that your mother wore at her baptism.

The christening cap you wore was made by your great-great-Grandmother Victoria for your great-grandpa Chet for his baptism. Your Grandma Shu-Shu and both her brothers also wore it when they were baptised. As did your Father, your Aunt Mary and Aunt Kari. The same cap was worn at the baptism of all 5 of your cousins.

You were wrapped in a blanket that was crocheted especially for you by your great-Aunt Darlene.

Pinned on the front of your dress was a small black hills gold ring that your Daddy wore at his baptism, and a Saint Michaels medal that a good friend of your grandma Shu-Shu's had blessed by Pope Pius XII so your Daddy could wear it at his baptism.

After church we had a reception for everyone back at home. All the family spent the afternoon at your home, eating, visiting and politely fighting over who was going to get to hold you next.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Volleyball Game 5

Last night was our fifth volleyball game. We had to play shorthanded. My daughter and one other player had told me in advance that they would not be there. Then one other player's father showed up just before out match was set to start to tell me that his daughter was ill and wouldn't be there. I really apreciated him making that trip. We would have played without his daughter regardless but it was nice of him to let us know.

So we lined up to start the match with our five players. We were very relieved to see that the opposing team also only had 5 players.

On top of the sort handed teams we also had to play the late game. Our match started at 7:45 PM. My team warmed up pretty well. They were moving and passing well when they were just passing a ball around before the match. But once the whistle blew they just fell asleep. Serving was off, movement was non existant and we only had one attempt at a spike. We lost the first game 25-18.

During the side change my girls seemed to wake up a bit. They were a little more lively. When the game started they looked like a totally different team. Serving was really on. They were passing and spiking. I have been telling a couple players that when they are in the front row they need to own the net. Meaning that nothing crosses that net that they don't control where and how it is traveling. They needed to stop sitting back and waiting and be on the offensive, even while playing defense. This game they did that. I had one normally quiet, pass everything player dinking and offspeed hitting every ball she got her hands on. My excitable, high energy players was all over everything that crossed that net. Any ball that got passed short over the net was slammed right back at them. It was beautiful!

We won the second game 25 - 19.

In keeping with our team tradition of losing coin tosses, we lost the toss for the serve in the third game. I told my players that they couldn't play a come from behind game this time since the game is only to 15 points. They actually listened. Well, at least is seemed that way. They won the point off the opening serve, then went on a scoring binge. We ran up a big lead before slacking off a bit and eventually winning the game 15-10. This gave us our third match win in 5 matches.

The girls were jumping around and yelling and celebrating. It was fun. They had lost a couple close matches this season so it was nice to see them pull off a win.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

5th Grade Volleyball Camp

This afternoon was a different experience for me. I held my first 5th grade volleyball camp. The school I coach for is a small private school and we don't have as many 7th and 8th grade players as the larger public schools so we have to play all our middle school student-athletes. So my 7th grade team is typically a mixture of 6th and 7th grade students. My 8th grade team is usually a combination of 7th and 8th graders. Last year I even had a 6th grader playing on the 8th grade team in the year end tournament.

In order to get a head start on next year we scheduled some monthly volleyball camps for this spring and summer. The seasons starts right after the school year and there just isn't enough practice time to properly train girls who have never played volleyball before. Since the entire middle school is at camp KEEP this week, it seemed like a good time to spend some time with next year's middle school athletes.

I had eight 5th grade girls show up for camp. That is every girl in the 5th grade. Unfortunately two of the 8 girls will not be attending school at Saint Anns next year. So I will probably only have six 6th grade players next year. Which should be enough.

It would have been kind of irritating spending time to teach young players how to play volleyball so that they can go play for someone else next year. Except that they won't be playing next year. They will have to wait for their 7th grade year to compete in the public schools. So I helped them as I could figuring that they will forget a lot of it over the next 18 months.

The other six girls are going to be fun. I have two girls who are catching on quick. They are on teams in the city league and it shows. But they still play like 10 year old beginners. They listened and tried the stuff I asked them too. Two other players showed some promise. They were brand new to the game but tried thier hardest. The last two are going to be projects. They were unsure of themselves and very awkward. But with some time and some extra attention I think they will work out. They got frustrated at things not working as easily as they thought it should. But at least they didn't give up.

None of my new players cared much for my end of practice drill. But then I would have worried about them if they had. None of my older girls like it either. I end every practice with the same drill. I call it line sprints. It is a relay race. I divide the team into two squads. They line up on the starting line. The first runner in each squad runs 20 feet to the first line on the patio, touches the line and sprints back to the start line. Touches the start line, and then sprints down the patio to the line that is 40 feet away, touches it and sprints back to the start line. Touches it, and sprints the length of the patio (about 60 feet) touches the line at the end of the patio and then sprints back to the start line where they tag the next person in line. The first squad finished, wins. One of these days I'm going to think of something for them to win other than the cheers of their classmates and a heartfelt congratualations from the sadistic SOB that made them run that event in the first place.

I'm looking forward to our next camp in two weeks. It will include my new 5th graders and all the middle school players. I think getting these younger players working with the olders players will do them a lot of good.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Ricky Williams Suspended - Again!

Ricky Williams was suspended by the NFL yesterday for the entire 2006 season for his fourth failed drug test.

Everyone who is surprised that Ricky Williams has let his team down again raise your hand.

Those of you with your hands in the air, get out your wallets. I have a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Poor Ole

Uncle Arnie would have loved this one.

Ole vas working at the fish plant up nort in Dulut vhen he accidently
cut off all ten of his finkers. He vent to da emergency room in the
Clinik and vhen he got dar da Norsky doctor looked at Ole and said,
"Let's have da finkers and I'll see vhat I can do."

Ole said, "I haven't got da finkers."

"Vhat do you mean, you hafen't got da fingers?" the Doctor said. "Lord-it's
2006! Ve's got microsurgery and all kinds of fancy ways da fix tings. I
could hafe put dem back on and made you like new! Vhy you didn't brink
da finkers?"

To vhich Ole says, "How vas I suppose to pick dem up?

Uncle Arnie

I had an Uncle Arnie. Actually he was my Mother's Uncle. He was also my Grandmother's baby brother. But to us kids he was Uncle Arnie. When we were little he would take us down into his shop and show us all the PG rated gags and toys he had made recently. He had tree roots carved like old men, tables made of driftwood, banks that fell apart when you put coins in them, silly joke items that made fun of Norwegians, farmers, and Norwegian farmers. Uncle Arnie always had a joke or twenty to share. As we got older the more risque his jokes and toys got. For most of us the passage from childhood into adulthood was when Uncle Arnie decided that we were old enough to lift up the can that the little carved man was wearing for clothes to see what popped up.

Uncle Arnie gave me my first beer. My Dad and Uncle had let me have sips of their beer before. My Grandfather had let me lick the swizel sticks from his highballs for years. But Uncle Arnie was the first person to ever just pop the top off a bottle and hand me the whole thing. A couple hours later after showing me his handiwork of the last year and telling me his latest collection of jokes he handed me a couple breathmints and told me "If your grandmother finds out you've been drinking beer she better not find out where you got it." Grandma was a teetotaler. Showing up in her house with beer on my breath would have doomed both Uncle Arnie and I. She would certainly know who my supplier was, since the bars in town wouldn't serve a kid who was so obviously not over 18 years old.

Uncle Arnie loved woodworking. At least that's what he called it. Actually he just built things with his hands. He was a craftsman. He used driftwood, trash and scrap wood mostly. He never built fine furniture or museum quality pieces. But the things he built were all in demand by his family. Everyone wanted one.

Uncle Arnie is one of the reasons I got into woodworking. He was always so proud of the things he made. I wanted to be able to build things with my hands also.

Uncle Arnie liked to laugh. He loved jokes, verbal and visual. He loved Norwegian Jokes. I know some people claim that you shouldn't tell jokes making fun of anyone's race or nationality. But since Uncle Arnie was full blooded Norwegian he figured it was okay.

Uncle Arnie died a few years ago. He was one month short of 84 years old. Which ain't bad for a guy who drank way to much for way too long.

Since Uncle Arnie has passed on I kind of took it on myself to try and fill in for him. I can't even come close but I try to maintain Uncle Arnies sense of humor. I send many members of the family little joke gifts at Christmas. I also like to tell Norwegian jokes. I'm not full blooded Norwegian. But I've enough norwegian in me to get away with it.

Now, I told you this story so I could tell you the next one.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Gas Prices

The antique media has been warning us for several weeks that we may be paying over $3.00 a gallon for gas this summer.

Well the local gas stations decided not to wait for summer.

A month ago we were paying around $2.60 here in Ridgecrest. Just 2 weeks ago gas in Ridgecrest had risen to over $2.80 a gallon. Last Thursday I gassed up the van and paid $2.91 a gallon. On Monday of this week gas was $2.98. I filled the truck up Wednesday evening for $3.02. On thursday morning it was $3.08 and by Thursday evening it had hit $3.15. Today, Sunrise Liquor is selling gas for $3.29. That is a 27% price increase in one month. But since Crude oil only went up in price 18% in the same period I have to assume that last years record profits weren't enough for the oil companies.

According to California gas Prices there are only 5 places in California with higher gas prices that Ridgecrest. You know, sometimes living here really sucks. Especially since the same web site shows that there are several places in California that are selling gas for around $2.70.

Now the really scary part of all this is that I'm afraid that living in California is starting to effect my brain. I'm starting to think like a liberal. When I read about how Exxon oil made over 36 Billion dollars in profit last year and that their chairman Lee Raymond just received a 400 Million dollar retirement package it makes me want to scream. I'm reducing the number of times I do things I like to do (like play golf) so that I can afford gas to drive to work and back and this one oil company made enough profit last year to give every man woman and child in this country $90. From my family alone we could have filled up our main vehicle 15 times. Suddenly I find myself thinking that maybe taxing the hell out of the uber-rich would not be such a bad idea. Then I come to my senses and realize that it wouldn't make any difference. They would still take their insane profits, they would just increase the price us working stiff would have to pay in order to make up the increased tax burden.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Volleyball Game 4

Tonight was our fourth volleyball game of the season. Having seen many of the teams practice, this was the team I was most worried about playing. They have three players from the high school team. Individually they are one of the more advanced teams in the league.

We started out slow. Half the team was not moving - at all. At one point I looked on the court and saw three different players standing on their heels. I could see air under the toes of their shoes. I called a quick timeout and tried to get my players pumped up a bit. Fortunately I had one player who was almost overly hyped up. She was practically bouncing around. She took it on herself to try and get everyone else pumped up also. It worked, sort of. Most of the rest of the team finally started playing better. We had dug ourselves quite a hole to climb out of and were just getting started when the game ended with my team on the losing end of an 18-25 loss.

We switched sides of the court and it was a much better game. We lost the second game 21-25. But in this game we just got outplayed. We were moving the ball around better, returning serve much better and actually ran several set-spike combinations. Our spiking was a little off and the ball was sailing wide or long. But at least they were running the plays and taking the shots.

Our opponents were running set-spike combinations really well. They really did a good job of taking advantage of their strongest players. I think getting beaten this way will be good for my team. They got to see first hand why I have been harping on running a coordinated offense. I think they finally started getting the message tonight.

In the third practice game I had players diving for balls, passing to the setter, making good sets, and taking pretty good swings at the ball. We won that game 15-13 and think they started to see how I want them to play.

There were two highlights of the night tonight for me. The youngest smallest player on my team has had a horrible time serving. She is still trying to serve underhand. She struggles to just get the ball to the net. She has not gotten a ball over the net since the first game of the season. Tonight in the second game she served 5 consecutive serves. Three of them aces. They were not impressive serves. They were not powerful serves. But they were over the net and in bounds. But what I liked seeing the most was the glow of confidence in my players face as each successive serve cleared the net. By the time she had finished her 5th serve she was grining so wide her face looked like it was going to split in two.

My second highlight was my daughter's serving. She has been working, not too successfully at moving her serves around. She has been pretty much a soft down the line overhand server. Tonight she was putting a lot more heat on the ball, and a little top spin also. She was hitting long at all three backcourt positions. She also dropped a couple serves in on the front row.

I love watching a player who has been wotking hard on something finally make the breakthrough to things working like they should. Tonight I got to see two of them do just that. Its too bad they had to lose the match. But like I always tell my daughter, some of the most exciting, entertaining and memorable volleyball games I ever played in, I lost.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


KRAJ was an oldies FM station here in Ridgecrest. They claim that their broadcast area is Ridgecrest, Antelope Valley and Johannesburg. I liked this radio station. It played just oldies. This was the radio station that I listen to in the car and that my dear wife listens to at work.

This week KRAJ changed their format from oldies. The now call themselves the Party Station. So instead of 50s, 60s and 70s oldies we get rap, hip-hop, etc.

I think along with the format change KRAJ should have changed their call letters to KRAP. Because that is what they are playing these days - Crap.

A note for the merchants who used to advertize on the oldies station. You just lost two potential customers. My Dear Wife and I used to pay attention to the ads for the local businesses on the radio. We won't be listening any longer.

Fortunately I got a iPod for my birthday and I have a cable to play it though the stereo in my truck. I guess I'll have to depend on it for music from now on. At least I know that I can depend on it for my daily Supremes/Four Tops/Temptations fix.


A letter to the editor of the local paper explained that the oldies format has been moved over to KLOA-AM. Well that doesn't do me any good. The AM band on my radio in the truck works just like several other parts of my 19 year old junker - it doesn't. My Dear Wife says that the AM station doesn't come at her office.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Feast

Todays Easter Feast consists of hard boiled eggs, just hard boiled eggs. That's it.

At least that was what some of the wildlife around here had for breakfast.

Our Easter Morning tradition around here starts on Saturday afternoon when the kids get to color easter eggs. They each get one dozen eggs to color. Their color supplies consist of one package of Paas Egg Dye. You know the little tablets that you disolve in vineger and then add some water. Then once the eggs are dry they go into the refrigerator to wait for the easter bunny.

Then on Sunday morning we get up around 5 AM. We all get dressed up and ready for church. The best part about going to 6 AM Sunrise services is that you don't have to get there very early. There are always plenty of seats.

After church services we go to the fellowship hall for breakfast. The youth group puts on a pretty good breakfast after the first two services. They usually serve pancakes, fresh fruit, muffins, and an assortment of baked omelets. Then there is juice, hot chocolate and good old lutheran coffee.

After breakfast we return home to find out that the Easter Bunny has left candy in our baskets. He has also taken all three dozen eggs from the refrigerator, added in a dozen of special eggs that he prepared himself and hidden them all around the backyard.

This year when we got home the kids were checking out their baskets and I glanced into the back yard and noticed a large raven sitting near one of the eggs in the backyard. When I appeared in the window the raven flew off. I looked back into the living room and then turned back to the yard just in time to see another raven fly across the yard with a bright red egg in it's mouth.

My dear wife found the whole thing rather amusing. In the 13 years that eggs have been hidden in our backyard we have never lost a single one to the wildlife. This year we lost 14. But it's not much of a loss. I always fix up a dozen for deviled eggs that we take to my dear wife's parents for dinner. Then there is egg salad sandwiches for lunch for a week. Usually we run out of the desire to eat hard boiled eggs before we run out of eggs. This year I was going to try out Mostly Cajun's pickled egg receipe to use up the extra eggs. But I think the ravens may have eaten my extra eggs so the pickled eggs may have to wait for next year. Ravens permitting.

Happy Easter!

Easter Sunrise Service

In keeping with old family tradition we were up before dawn this morning and headed for Easter sunrise church services.

The service started at 6 AM. It was 45 degrees and windy. It would have been a nice morning without the wind. As it was it was chilly. Fortunately most of the small congregation that comes to sunrise services usually comes prepared with blankets and coats.

Easter Sunrise

At 6:15 the congrgation moved from the courtyard out to the edge of the church property to wait for the sunrise. I snapped this one quick picture of Pastor getting ready to continue the services just as the sun peaked over the mountains.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday and I have a question.

The public schools do not allow any Christian displays in the schools. No Prayer, no Bibles, no 10 Commandments displays and heaven forbid anyone should try to teach creation cosmology.

If Christianity is banned on our schools why is every school in town having a vacation day today?

Spring break was two weeks ago. The kids and teachers can't possibly need another day off after only one week.

I'm just asking? It couldn't possibly be because today is Good Friday? That would be hypocritical.

Along those lines I have one other question. Many of our Senators and Congressman are also waging a war against Christianity. So why are they taking a two week Easter Break?

Again, just asking?

I have a friend who has a favorite response when people start demanding Christianity be removed from the Federal Government.
"If you are going to remove religion from the federal government then I want my mail delivered on Sunday."

Volleyball Game 3

Last night we suffered our first loss of the season. We played a team that was pretty much a one man show - literally. They had one boy on their team, the coach's son. This kid had the whole range of skills. Good passer, setter, hitter and server. He is considerably better than most of the girls his age. The rest of the team was a pretty normal mix of early teenage girls who pretty well matched up with my players.

My team stayed together and played really well the first game. They avoided many of the mistakes that are common to younger volleyball teams. Our serving was pretty good and they were moving and covering the court better than usual. We won the game 25-20. When we changed sides of the court everyone on the team was talking about how hard the boy on the other side of the net hit the ball. I tried to tell them to ignore him. They had been practicing receiving my overhand serves that were harder than his and they were learning to handle them. I told them to just keep playing the game the way I told them to. Control the ball, control the pace of the game, control how and where you hit the ball over the net. If they could, try to avoid serving the ball at the boy. But that is just because he is the best passer on their team.

Unfortunately the boy came up to serve early and he served five really good hard ace serves. Then on the next rotation he hit two really good spikes. Totally ignoring the fact that the first spike was returned by one of our players, it was just a little low and the front row mishandled the second hit. The second spike was dug and returned perfectly by another one of our backrow players. But those serves and two spikes got into my players heads and they started playing scared. I called a time out and tried to calm them down and get them back into our game plan. It didn't work. We lost the game 16-25.

We lost the coin toss and had to receive serve for the third game. My team was still playing tenative and scared. Our opponenets ran out to a quick 10-4 lead. Then my players seemed to find themselves and start playing our game again. We collected a quick five points. After two rotations we got the serve back and were trailing 10-11. The other team called a time out to try and slow us down. I told my server that I wanted one good serve to start us off. She smiled, stepped up to the line and served a perfect underhand ace right into a big gap on our opponents court. With just that one shot I could see my team settle in and really start believing that they were going to win that match.

Then my worst fear happened. One of the most common errors that volleyball teams this age make is that they don't control the ball on offense. It is just too easy when the game gets exciting to just hit the ball over the net on the first hit. We spent over half of our last practice on learning not to that. I had them run several drills designed teach them to make good decisions with the ball on the first hit. However the two weakest players on our team were not at that practice. We lost the last four points in the game when both of those players started making poor decisions on what to do with the first hit. Our opponents were smart enough to play the ball at our weakest players and let them make the mistakes that would cost us the game.

Overall I was pleased that we were able to play with and maybe even exceed one of the more skilled teams in the league. But we beat ourselves. That puts the responsibility for the loss squarely on my shoulders. I need to keep finding ways to convince these kids that this game takes speed, strength and coordination. But more than that it takes brains. At any level, a team that plays like a team, will beat a more physically talented group of individuals almost everytime.

But first I have to figure out how to get them all to come to practice. The city required me to play everyone equally. So I don't have the obvious punishments or incentives of sitting on the bench to convince a player to come to practice. The only consequence I have been able to think of so far is to point out in front of the whole team that they just lost a match because players who were not at practice just made the four consecutive mistakes that the rest of them had been learning to avoid. But I'm not willing to do that. Part of what I have to teach these kids is confidence in themselves and each other. Tearing them down in front of their teammates will not accomplish that.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Harry Reid Finally Understands

The Washington Post provides this quote from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) last Thursday during the immigration debate:

"Mr. President, no matter how many times I call this lectern a car, it does not matter, this is not a car," Reid said. "This is a lectern, used here in the Senate for us to put our papers on and deliver a speech. This is not a car. If I come to the Senate floor and, day after day, hour after hour, call this a car, it is not a car. It is a lectern. If I come to this Senate floor day after day and say what the Democrats have done is unusual, unwarranted, unbelievable, it is wrong, it is as wrong as this lectern being called a car.

". . . The leader and I have gone back and forth so many times today that we are beating paths to our offices. There is no need that we -- I apologize to the chair and to Senator Byrd. I hope he's not watching. My BlackBerry. It went off a couple times, and I lost my concentration. I hope this legislation will move forward tomorrow. I know people feel that this lectern is a chair, but it is not. This is the Senate."

Thank you Harry Reid! The Senate Minority Leader finally gets it! Harry Reid seems to finally understand that standing up and repeating an untruth over and over again does not make it true.

So does this mean that we can expect Senator Reid to lead the charge to stop the rest of his Democratic Senators and Congressmen and the Antique Media from repeating the "Bush deserted", "Bush Lied", "Bush is stupid", "Bush is Hitler", "Illegal War", "Quagmire", "Haliburton", "Stolen Election", "Stolen Election Again", "Bush is tapping your phone", "Radical Islam is peaceful", "Christians are evil", "Undocumented Americans", "No War for Oil" and "If we leave the Terrorist alone they will leave us alone" lies over and over again?

Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen. More likely Senator Reid going to just climb into his lectern, drive it back to his lectern, sit down and apologize for Senator Byrd watching his Blackberry.

But this would be great new talking points for the Democratic party:

I will lecture from a car,
I will lecture from afar,
I will lecture from a chair,
I will lecture anywhere.

In the Senate or on the floor,
I will lecture to a door.
From a lectern I am braying,
But I don't know what I'm saying.

Sheesh. And these guys have the guts to make fun of the way the President talks.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Purple Easter

It's going to be a purple Easter at our house. My dear wife planted a bunch of Irises in the gardens around the front yard a couple years ago. Each year we have had a few flowers bloom. This year they are going crazy. We have purple Irises all over the place. Fortunately we like purple flowers.

purple irises

How a Real Man Repairs a Hard Drive

Read to Smash



Tuesday, April 11, 2006

More Immigration Protests

Yesterday there were more immigration protests in several cities across the United States. These protests were much more organized than the protests last week. This week most of the people marching in the streets were wearing white tee shirts and carrying American flags. If someone showed up with a Mexican flag they were told to put it away.

Regardless of the better job of clothing the protestors and wrapping them up in red white and blue the message of the protest was the same as last week. All the window dressings will not change the fact that what we saw was hundreds of thousands of people who are not American citizens demanding the same rights and privileges as American citizens. Except that they don’t want to accept the responsibilities of being an American citizen.

As an American citizen I enjoy all the freedoms granted me by the Constitution of the United States and it’s associated laws, rules and regulations. But along with these cherished freedoms I have several responsibilities that I am expected to live up to as a good citizen of the United States. In exchange for my freedoms I am expected to

  • vote,
  • support my nation (even when I don’t agree with it),
  • pay my taxes and
  • obey the laws, rules and regulations that govern the way we live.

What I saw marching in the streets yesterday were hundreds of thousands of people demanding the same rights and freedoms I enjoy yet by their very presence in this country they have shunned one of the most basic tenets of American citizenship – obeying the laws of the land.

We have a documented process for legal immigration into the United States. Granted it is a long, confusing, frustrating, nightmare of a process. But it is the legal law of the land. So if you want the rights of an American citizen, then follow the law, go through the process and legally immigrate to the United States.

While watching Fox News last night I heard several different liberal illegal immigrant excusers, including Alan Combs, use the analogy that if we are going to start enforcing the laws and deporting all the illegal immigrants then we have to start arresting everyone who drives over the speed limit.

This seems to be the justification of the week. Equate illegal invasion of the United States with speeding. Well I have a definite problem with that analogy. Everyone I know whom a law enforcement officer has stopped for speeding has been punished for that offense. Can the invasion excusers say the same thing about every illegal immigrant who has been detained by a law enforcement officer? No, they can’t.

Why is it okay to charge me a monetary fine, add penalty points to my drivers license, possibly require me to attend traffic school, and maybe even have to pay higher automobile insurance rates for speeding but illegal immigrants get released?

The last couple weeks we have heard Congress debating offering some sort of amnesty program for the illegal immigrants. Continuing to use the liberals favorite analogy - If you give amnesty to immigrants who entered this country in violation of our laws, then the next time I am stopped for speeding, I want to be given a special license plate that lets all law enforcement officers know that since I have been speeding for quite some time now, I am now exempt from the speeding laws in this country and can drive as fast as I want from now on.

So once Congress gets their lazy butts back to work in a couple weeks, what do I want to see them do?

  • I want a resolve to enforce our laws as they stand. If you are caught in this country illegally, then you have to go home.
  • I want our borders secured. We are being invaded from the south on a daily basis. If you doubt that fact, just look at the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of people who marched in protest yesterday just because Congress is talking about making them go home.
  • I would like to see it be a felony to enter this country illegally. This is not a deal breaker by any means. We can properly punish misdemeanor crimes as effectively as felonies.

What do I not want from Congress and the President? Amnesty, of any sort or kind. If you broke our laws entering this country, then you have to leave. Now!

If a person wants to come to this country to make a better life for themselves or their family then all I have to say is “Welcome to America”. That is why we allow legal immigration. Sign the guest book, fill out your naturalization papers, get a job, pay your taxes, vote and start acting like an American. You do those things and you can march in the streets complaining about any damned thing you want to.

But if you want to sneak across our borders just to get a job, an education, see a doctor or collect a welfare check, then go home and march in the streets there protesting to improve your own country. Oh, wait, you’re not allowed to do that there, are you?

Immigration Protests

Monday, April 10, 2006


On Saturday I was ripping some CDs to my iTunes library so I could load them onto my new iPod. I really like this iPod idea. It is much easier to carry the iPod to work and back than it is a stack of CDs. The music is really a godsend in my office. Since I work in a small cubical farm full of software developers it can get pretty quiet in there a lot of the time. When I started working there several months ago I noticed that I was the only person who did not wear a pair of headphones while working.

Well there I was ripping a CD when suddenly an error message popped up on the screen. iTunes was not able to write one of the mp3s to the hard drive. So I canceled the process and clicked over to see what the problem was. That is when I discovered that I could not access any of the files on the F: partition of my hard drive. This is where I had been saving mp3s for several weeks.

I paniced. I grabbed the external hard drive that I use to back up my laptop (which I am using right now) and plugged it into the desktop computer. As soon as it showed up I deleted everything on it and started filling it up with the contents of the other data partitions on my computer. While that was going on I tossed a recordable DVD into the laptop and started backing it up, since I had just deleted my laptop backups to make room for the desktop backups.

I was nearing the end of my backup excercise when I ran into a few files on the C drive that wouldn't copy. They weren't critical so I didn't worry about them. I had the DVD backups from last month so I was mostly just trying to make sure that I had the latest iterations of everything.

After the backups were complete I disconnected the external hard drive and started trying to find out what went wrong. I grabbed a couple partition and file repair and recovery tools to see if they could tell me what was going on. The first tool I tried was a partition recovery tool called TestDisc. This tool scanned my hardrive looking for the partitions. On the first scan the damamged partition didn't show up. So I followed the suggestions and ran the search again. The second time not only was the original damamged partition not found but the next partition also seemed to have disappeared.

I spend the next several hours trying different tools to try and recover the hard drive. During that time, the damaged just magnified itself. Eventually I was losing more and more of the programs and files. Eventually the system stopped working all together.

So I tried a low level format and reinstall of the operating system. Windows 2000 wasn't even able to properly install on the newly partitioned and formatted hard drive.

So today I picked up a new hard drive and now I trying to get the OS installed, updated and running the way I like. Then I'll start on the applications. After that it will be coping data back onto the new drive. Then I have to find a way to download my iPod back onto my hard drive or I have to start ripping CDs all over again. Unfortunately I hadn't backed up my mp3s. But I have the source CDs so it's just a matter of time to get them back again.

I thinking about picking up a networkable hard drive that I can use to backup both the desktop and laptop computers. But I need to look into them a little more. Maxtor has one that you can even add USB external drives and USB controlled printers. I was going to order it, but then discovered that combo printers that print/scan/copy don't work with the print server. Since that is what we have here at home I guess I'll keep looking around.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

15 Items or Less

What is it about some people that makes them think that many of the minor rules that most of us live by every day don't apply to them? Is it an overinflated sense of self worth? Were they raised to think that they are more special than the rest of us? Or are they just to ignorant or stupid to read or comprehend simple signs when they see them.

Partisan Pundit has a post called Except for You.

Didjya ever notice that there seems to be some fine print at the bottom of most signs that only certain people can read? These are the special people, the elite, those who are too busy or too important to be bothered with the kinds of restrictions and restraints which apply to the rest of us.

I ran into one of these elite individuals this evening. After dropping my oldest child off at the movie theater with some of her friends I ran into the grocery store to pick up some ice cream for dessert. I grabbed my ice cream and got into the express line to check out. The store was pretty busy, and there were only three checkers open so there were several people in line at each checker. While waiting in line I noticed that the woman at the front of the line had a pretty full shopping cart. I wondered why she would get into a cashier line that had three very obvious signs saying "15 items or less" posted around it. I had 2 items, the lady in front of me had three. The lady in front of her had a cart that also looked full, but I counted when she checked out and she only had 14 items. They were just bulky ones.

The head of our line however was a different story. I counted as she checked out. She had 33 items in her cart. Much to my displeasure the cashier did not ask her to step out of the line. Instead she just checked her out. The cashier did however point out that, which she was ringing up the items, that this was an express lane. The woman replied "I know. I'm in a hurry that's why I used it."

Well of course that explained everything. Since she was in a hurry it was certainly okay for her to inconvience the rest of us. After all, no one other than her is ever in a hurry to get anywhere.

I was just going to write the whole thing off as just just one more pig-headed elitist who thinks the rules of a polite society don't pertain to them. But then the cashier rolled her eyes at the womans explaination for why she was in the express line with over double the posted limit of items. The woman then proceeded to explain to the cashier why it was okay for her to be in this line. She had hotdogs (5 packages), cereal (6 boxes), soup (six cans), soda (3 bottles) and the four candy bars that were on sale four for a dollar so they only count as one. Those 5 things plus the nine single things in her cart brings her total to only 14 things.

I think the only thing that kept the cashier from slapping the woman was the little girl with the lady in front of me saying very loudly "Mommy, that lady counts funny."

The mother started to look embarrassed when the woman in front of her turned around and told the little girl "Don't worry about it sweetheart, that kind of counting doesn't make any sense to anyone with any real brains."

The woman with the 33 things turned and opened her mouth and the lady just shooed her off with a wave of her hand and a curt "Just take your truck load of stuff, move along and stop holding up all these nice folks."

Just then the cashier, with a huge grin on her face, handed over the receipt, put the last of her bags in the cart and thanked her for shopping there.

So in the grand scheme of things I only lost about two or three minutes of my life and I got a pretty good chuckle out of it. So I guess it was a fair trade. But I still don't understand the attitude of the people thinking that they are too important to follow the rules the rest of us follow.

I tell my daughter when we see people doing stupid or inconsiderate things. There are several different explanations for why people do things like that.

Their parents didn't teach them any better and its hard to learn common decency as adults.

Half of everyone one you meet in the world will be below average. So expect them to bahave below average.

God must love stupid people, he made so many of them.

But mostly, you see this type of behavior because many people are just so caught up in their own lives that they just don't pay any attention to what they are doing or how it effects the people around them. In most cases it comes down to just a lack of common courtesy, descency and respect for others. Pity those people. They usually have to socialize with people just like themselves because normal polite folks can't stand to be around them for very long.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Volleyball Games 1 and 2

I didn't get anything posted about our first volleyball game last week so I'll catch up this evening. Last thursday was our first game. We started out playing against a team that is coached by some old playing partners of mine. Just luck of the draw our opponents had a couple beginners on their team. My girls had not been serving well in the one practice that we had. But they really stepped up once the game started.

The youngest player on my team had never before served from the back line on the court. She had missed our first and only practice so I hadn't had the opportunity to work with her at all. I managed to spend about 2 minutes with her during our warmups. I really overloaded her. I was trying to switch her footwork around, straighen her elbow, lower the ball at impact, straighten her back, keep her focus on the ball and increase her back swing and follow through. She needed a lot of work. She was nervous when the game started but when it came her time to serve she was spectacular. She had 5 service attempts. She was successful with 4 of them. The one miss was close. She caught the tape but the ball just wouldn't dribble over.

We won the first two games of the match 25-18 and 25-20. Once the match was over we played a third practice game. My girls had a let down in the practice game and we lost it.

In the match we only had one really good bump-set-spike combination. But it was a beauty. I also had two other girls who hit pretty good second or over set spikes.

Tonight was our second game. We were facing a team that had two of my 8th graders from my school team. My daughter was a little aprehensive about playing against her two best friends. I tried to tell her that the next best thing to playing volleyball with your friends is playing volleyball against your friends. But I don't think she believed me. We started out a little slow exchanging points with our opponents for the first four service rotations. Then my daughter got her turn to serve. She rattled off five great serves. We rotated due to the leagues 5 serve maximum per player rule and picked up another point. They got one serve and then our next player rattled off another 5 consecutive serves. Two rotations later and we had our third 5 service rotation. We won the first game 25-12. It was a slow start but a really strong finish.

Unfortunately we really slowed down in the second game. We only had two girls get all five serves in. But it was nice to see that one of those 5 service runs was by an underhanded server. She isn't comfortable with overhand serving yet, but she has a wicked underhand serve. Fortunately the other team also slowed down some this game also. We won it 25-16. Then in what is becoming a team tradition we lost the practice game that we played after the match was over.

I'm already putting together next Monday's practice plan. I've been pushing them pretty hard on court movement and hitting. But I think I'm going to take a step back and spend most of our hour on basics. I saw a lot of sloppy play and I think they really need a basics refresher. So Monday is going to be an hour of passing and serving.

One funny incident happened in the second game. Our opponents ran a great pass-set-spike combo with one of my school players hitting the spike. I was so excited that I yelled "Great Spike Katie." When she hit the ball. At this point I happened to see the Katie who plays on my team standing in the middle of the court looking at me like I had lost my mind. Her facial expression had "But I didn't even touch the ball" written all over it.

After the match several of my school players were all gathered around visiting. That is when they discovered the only time I will allow them to do any trash talking. The losers tonght were trash talking the winners, in a self deprecating way. But it was friendly and everyone was laughing. They proved to themselves what I had been trying to tell them earlier in the evening. When you play against your friends you get the chance to whoop up on each other and when you are done everyone is still friends.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A Keystone Cops Morning

I had a Keystone Cops morning today.

You know - the kind of morning where everything you touch goes to crap - instantly.

I managed to get up without resorting to the use of the snooze button this morning. That should have been my first warning sign of impending doom. I breezed through showering and shaving without drowning myself or slicing my face off. I got dressed and went out to the kitchen to get some breakfast. This is where the Dawn Gods decided to have some fun at my expense.

Breakfast is supposed to be a pretty simple process. Pour the cereal in the bowl, add milk, pour juice in the glass, get 2-3 glucosamine /chondroitin tablets out of the bottle, add one multiple vitamin to the pile, sit down, eat the cereal, swallow the pills with aid of the juice in between spoonfuls of cereal. When the bowl and glass are empty, place them in the sink. Brush your teeth, get in the truck and go to work.

Most mornings even a diehard non-morning person like me can manage this process without screwing it up - usually. Heck there have been mornings where I swear I have made it through the entire process without even opening my eyes, except for the driving to work part. I try and keep my eyes open for that.

Not today! This morning the breakfast process was a little different.

I poured some cereal in a bowl. Changed my mind and poured it back into the box. Picked a different cereal and poured it into the bowl. Then I stopped and pick up Chaos’s science paper that is lying on the counter, flipped to the back page to see what kind of grade she got. (It was an A for anyone who is interested) I got my pills out of the bottles and laid them on the counter next to the bowl of cereal. Then I hugged and kissed my dear wife good bye as she and my darling children headed out the door. I poured milk on the cereal. Walked into the living room and changed the TV from whatever mindless cartoon was on to the Fox News Channel. Then I stood there and read the scrawl at the bottom of the screen for a few minutes. (Remember, there is now milk on my cereal). I walked back into the kitchen and got glass out of the cupboard and the juice out of the refrigerator. I set them both down on the counter and walk out into the den. I plugged my iPod into the computer so the podcasts could update. Going back into the kitchen, I poured the juice into the glass and put the pitcher back into the refrigerator. I stopped for a moment to check out the calendar hanging on the door to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. Then I walked into the living room and turned on the computer so I could check my email. Now, back into the kitchen and grab the bowl of soggy cereal, the pile of pills, and the glass of juice and headed over to my chair in the living room to sit down in front of the TV to eat breakfast. Discovering that I was missing a spoon I set down the bowl and glass, got up and walked back into the kitchen. (I don’t know why I bothered the cereal was soggy enough to drink at this point.) Back at my chair in the living room I sat down and reached over to open Thunderbird on the computer. No e-mail, bummer! Next, I open up Firebird and click over to Curmudgeonly and Skeptical hoping for a morning laugh. I picked up the bowl of mush and took a bite, then set it back down and grabbed the pills and juice instead. Then it was back into the kitchen to swap the three multi-vitamins and the one glucosamine tablet for three glucosamine and one multi-vitamin. Once I was back in the living room, sitting down and checking a couple different blogs while taking my medicine like a good boy – without a spoon full of sugar. While swallowing the last pill when I look at the piles of papers spread on the floor at my feet. TAXES! I hate taxes! Hauling my sorry old rear up out of the chair I stomp back into the den, open up Quicken on the computer there to find how much tax I paid on our cabin last year. I scribble the number on a piece of paper and carry it back into the living room and transfer the number onto a piece of paper lying on top of the nearest stack. Fially I grab the bowl of mush and drink the contents. I barely avoid the temptation to spit the last of it on the tax forms arrayed around my feet. Then its back into the den to get the car registration forms out of the filing cabinet and add them to the taxes paid pile. Wash the mush taste out of my mouth with the last of the juice. Stare at Fox News for another minute. Finally grab the bowl and glass and carry them into the kitchen and put them in the sink. Walk back into the den and unplug the iPod then put it in my hat on the kitchen counter with my badge and sunglasses so I won’t leave without them. Then back over to my chair and pick up the spoon I left laying there. A moment or two to kneel down and separate the two piles of papers I had just kicked into one pile by not lifting my feet up high enough.

I take my spoon down the hall with me to the bedroom/bathroom to brush my teeth. Since I am now running late, I decided to try and catch up. So while brushing my teeth I walk around the corner and pick up my wallet and put it in my pocket, then back into the bathroom to spit. Around the corner into the bedroom put flash drive, chapstick and knife in my pockets then back into the bathroom to spit and rinse.

Half way down the hall, patting my pockets and taking inventory I turn around and go back into the bathroom to pick up my keys and handkerchief and the spoon that is lying on the counter next to the sink.

Finally I grab my hat, iPod, coat, book and PDA. Then in a flash I’m out the door, into the truck and backing out the driveway while carefully looking behind me to make sure I don’t knock over the trashcan (Don’t ask…). Trashcan? Where’s the trashcan? Why it’s in the backyard right next by the garage door. Where it belongs, except on Tuesday mornings when it belongs out at the curb. So I pull back into the driveway. I hop out of the truck, open the gate and grab the trashcan. Halfway to the curb I realize that the trash can is not full. Great! I have a pile of stuff in the garage that I’ve been saving for days like this. So I grab a couple arms full of junk and top the can off. Then grab the full trashcan and roll it out to the curb. Then I go back into the house and turn off the TV and the computer. Turn off the light, lock the door and get back into the truck. I back down the driveway being careful not to knock over the trashcan, which is really there this time. Then I stop the truck, put it in neutral and set the parking brake. Jump out and run back up the driveway to close the gate into the backyard.

OK, so I’m going to be late this morning. But that is manageable. I just work through a lunch, maybe late one night. If all else fails I can take some leave time. But I hate doing that just for a keystone cops morning.

I get about one mile from home when I get to the first four-way stop of the morning. I need to turn left. But there is a guy walking his dog across the street that I want to turn onto so I have to wait for him to clear the intersection. Right after I come to a complete stop two cars approach the intersection across from me. They are both intending to go straight through the intersection. I am waiting to turn left across their intended path. So there I sit with my turn signal on, and watching the pedestrian walk ssslllooowwwlllyyy across the street. In the back of my mind I start counting – one thousand one, one thousand two one thousand three… at one thousand seven the pedestrian stops while his dog sniffs something right in the crosswalk. I continue counting while wondering why the two morons who are waiting for me to cross the street won’t just go ahead and drive across the intersection. Neither I nor the slow pedestrian with the sniffing dog are in their intended path. One thousand eight, one thousand nine, one thousand ten, I can’t turn, the man and dog in the middle of the intersection would make really ugly hood ornaments. One thousand eleven, one thousand twelve, I point at the pedestrian, one thousand thirteen, I check that my turn signal in on, one thousand fourteen, I wave the other two cars to drive through the intersection. One thousand fifteen, they both look at me, one thousand sixteen, they both look at the pedestrian, who has finally started moving again - slowly. One thousand seventeen, one thousand eighteen another car pulls up to the intersection on my right. But I don’t worry about him, he has to wait for the slow pedestrian and me, and both the other cars. One thousand nineteen, the pedestrian has just about cleared the traffic lane. He is still in the number two lane and has to cross the bike path, but he has cleared the number one lane that I need to pull into. So at one thousand twenty, I ease out on the clutch and enter the intersection when one of the cars opposite me jumps into the intersection. I can either claim my right of way and keep going into an inevitable collision or hit my brakes. Since the other moving car never hesitates I choose wisely and hit my brakes as they accelerate at a fairly high rate through the intersection. Then while this car still has me blocked from turning the remaining car opposite me also starts through the intersection - slowly. So I also have to wait for him to cross my path before continuing. While waiting in the intersection, the car that was on my right decides to also enter the intersection. He pulls into the middle of intersection but then has to slow down to avoid running over the pedestrian’s dog which has turned around and run the length of his leash back into the intersection. So we both sit there, him in the middle of the intersection, and me about one third of the way into the intersection, in a perfect position to T-bone the other car if I get any more impatient. I have quit counting at this point because I can’t count and call people all sorts of unprintable names at the same time. But finally the dog is pulled out of the street, both me and the other car managed to get through the intersection.

So I continue my Harold Lloyd’s wild adventure in getting to work. Tuesday’s are tight-wad-Tuesdays at my favorite espresso bar, Pony Espresso. Everything is 20% off. So I usually treat myself to a white chocolate cappuccino. As I approach the drive-through I realize that there are at least five cars in line on both sides of the building. Since I’m already running late, I decide not to be even later by sitting in line for another 15 minutes. So I drive right on past.

A couple minutes later I am turning north onto Sandquist Rd. approaching the guard check station to get onto the base where I work. I reach down onto the seat next to me for my badge. Badge? Badge? You know that plastic covered thing with the horrible picture of me on it that I need to get onto the base and that I am required to wear while at work. I quickly look around the seat, and then pat down my pockets. No badge! I swerve to the side of the road, stop the truck and do a through check of all my pockets. I distinctly remember taking the badge out of my hat along with everything else this morning. But it is not here with me now. So I wait for a break in traffic, pull a U-turn and head back home.

At home I find my badge lying on the kitchen counter, right were I laid it down when I took it out of my hat. So I grab the badge, run back out to my truck, back out of the driveway. Yes! The trashcan is still there, right where it belongs. I successfully navigate the various four-way stop signs and traffic lights on my journey back to work.

As I near Pony Espresso I notice that the lines on either side of the place are gone. Since I’m already late, and as a salaried professional I’m not likely to get into the same amount of trouble that I would get in as a minimum wage high school student for being late. (A long story for another time) I decide to grab my Tuesday morning treat. After all, with the morning I’ve had, I need it.

So I pull up behind the sole car at the drive up window. I wait less than a minute and the car ahead of me pulls away and I pull up to the window. The nice lady behind the window opens it and asks “Large White with cream?” Damn, I’m predictable. I smile and say “Yes, Thank You.” She tells me the total and I hand her my scrip card and buy 10 get one free card. She hands me my cup of sweet caffeine goodness. They must have seen me in line and started working ahead because it takes longer than a few seconds to make a large white chocolate with cream. But I’m not going to complain, I’m running late today!

With the drink still in my right hand I reach out with my left and retrieve my scrip and punch cards. I place them back in their cubbyhole on the dash and reach over to put my coffee in the drink holder hanging on the passenger door. I put my left hand on the steering wheel and let the truck start rolling away from the drive-up window. At this moment the reoccurring tendonitis in my right elbow decides to give me a little stab of pain and my fingers start losing their grip strength. In order to avoid spilling my Tuesday morning treat I squeeze the glass just a little harder. That is when the lid pops off the top of the glass just as I bump the glass into the edge of the cup holder and a couple ounces of hot cappuccino spurts out the top and onto my coat sleeve.

I stop the truck, grab the lid, stick it back on the cup, put the cup in the cup holder and then turn around and head back home to toss my jacket in the wash before the coffee stain on the sleeve becomes permanent.

I rush into the house and empty my coat pockets onto the dining room table. I toss the jacket into the washing machine. Then I grab my stuff off the table and head back out the door.

This trip to work seemed like déjà vu. I swear I had done it already today - twice. So for the second time this morning I’m slowing down on my approach to the Sandquist Road Guard station when I realize that I don’t have my badge – Again. I pulled over checked my pockets again. I checked under the seat, then pulled another U-turn and headed home.

Sure enough the badge was lying on the dining room table right where I had emptied my coat pockets. I grabbed the badge and headed out of the house – for the fourth time in an hour.

This time I actually made it all the way to work. So there I was sitting in front of my computer, cup of lukewarm white chocolate cappuccino at hand, too terrified to touch anything.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Balsam Street Car Show

After the failed home show we wandered downtown to the Annual Road Runners Car Show. The Road Runners Car Club hosts this event every year on April Fools Day. They invite a lot of antique or tricked out car owners from out of town to put their cars on display downtown. They block off about 4 blocks of Balsam street downtown and have a car party.

Both sides of the street were lined with some really impressive cars. A BBQ booth is set up selling food and making the whole street smell fantastic. Several local bands take turns entertaining the crowds.

Much to my father's disappointment I'm not a car guy. My father is. I never got that interested in them. I know enough to handle routine maintenance and small problems. I like to look at old cars. I would love to have an old car to drive. I just have no desire to restore one. But I like wandering down the street looking at the cars. The kids are kind of bored by it but they hang in there hoping that we will change our minds and buy them a shaved ice on the way back to our car.

I hope the businesses on Balsam St. enjoy the car show. I can personally tell them that we went into four shops today that we had never been in before. We probably wouldn't have done that if we hadn't been there looking at the cars.

The Car Show was definately more entertaining than the Home Show. Even if you're not car people. It's fun to look. If you are a car guy, like my Dad, you can spend all afternoon moving from car to car talking to all the owners. Trust me, last year Mom and Dad were here and if Dad's ankles hadn't given out I don't think we would have ever gotten him out of there.

Ridgecrest Home Show

After the EYH event the whole family headed over to the Ridgecrest Home Show. The Home Show is an annual event where many of the local merchants have a chance to show off their wares and services. Most of the stuff is geared towards fixing up your homes.

We were very disappointed this year. In the past we have bought or arranged to buy several different things from the Home Show participants. The latest was the sun room wall that we had our pation enclosed with.

This year we were shopping for hardwood flooring for our kitchen and dining room. However we struck out. We were hoping that several of the flooring installers in town would have displays and we could comparison shop for styles and prices all in one place. However there were no flooring companys at the show.

In fact, unless you were shopping for a hottub, cookware or furniture you were out of luck. Most of the companies there were selling stuff to put in your house not things to fix up or improve your house. There was one garage door installer and a window place. But that was about it. Everything else was more of a consumer good instead of a construction or improvement good.

Expanding Your Horizons

My oldest daughter attended an EYH (Expanding Your Horizons) event this morning. EYH is designed to get middle school and high school aged girls interested in the sciences and math. Several of the female engineers and scientists from the China Lake Navy Base put on demonstrations of the work involved in their careers. I don't know much about it except that in the worlds of my oldest daughter and her friends when asked "How was it?"


It was fun.


giggle, blush, look away, giggle again


They sound unimpressed, but each year they all immediately sign up to go again. Then later in the afternoon she was telling the twins about all the cool things she saw and the experiments they got to run.