Friday, December 8, 2017

(Oh So) Fashionably Chic

There's a winter dance coming up at school and A is going with her friend and confidante. While I think there is always romantic potential when a boy and girl hit the dance floor, I won't delve any deeper into this because it's not my place to say. Either way, she needed a dress for the dance, and mom isn't around to help her pick one out, so she set off on her own into of our version retail hell and got one. All by her lonesome. She also braved the awful traffic that is so characteristic of that area, not to mention finding parking, but she did a stand-up job. And, the dress she chose was fabulous - classy, chic, alluring, but not trashy. She looked really good, and I think mom, who will see it soon enough, will approve. To paraphrase Coco Chanel said, every girl needs a little black dress, though not too little.

When I was a in high school, the girls wore incredibly provocative and inappropriate clothes. Bear in mind this was over 30 years ago in LA, and as a teenage boy, I wasn't complaining. Values are different up here, and I think they've changed over time. Plus, it's cold. You just don't see the kind of outfits I grew up around, which were more plausible in the southern California heat. The influence of Hollywood, for better or worse. Worse, in my opinion.

Whatever be the case, A did a good job. She's such a big girl now. I'm not sure when the dance is but whenever it happens, I think she'll look great.

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Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to I Brekelmans for the pic.

California's Burning

These wildfires in CA are crazy. Having grown up there I am fully aware that wildfires are, like earthquakes, drought, and mudslide, a regular thing, but the current fire is actually within striking distance of where my mom lives. The evacuated the area directly adjacent to her and it was only a matter of time before they moved out her neighborhood, it was that bad. The entire 405 freeway was shut down, and if you know anything about commuting in LA, you know that shutting down the 405 is like cutting off a major artery, slowly choking the city to death. I can't even imagine what traffic was like on the side streets. What's crazy about the videos you see online is that the entire hill is an inferno, it looks like a scene out of hell, and yet all the commuters are driving along as if it was business as usual. In a way, that is exactly the case. Why let a little brush fire prevent you from getting to work?

I spoke with my mom last night and she said things were calm where she was, though my brother and I thought she should have gotten out before the actual call to evacuate came down, but she wasn't having it. She had many options but opted to stay, and fortunately nothing bad happened. I spoke with a couple of her neighbors who actually live closer to the fire zone and they seemed to have come out of it unscathed, as well. We'll keep our fingers crossed.

In the meantime, everyone is keeping their eyes on the wind. If it kicks up and starts blowing in the wrong direction, it could spell trouble. Despite the calmer conditions, nobody is out of the woods, yet. I read that conditions in California were ripe for this disaster because they got so much precipitation this past winter that all the plants thrived and grew like crazy. Add to that a dry spring and summer, then throw in the Santa Ana winds, and disaster ensues. It's pretty scary.

What they really need is a massive rain storm, but as anyone knows, it never rains in California... it pours. Keeping my fingers crossed for the Golden State.

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Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to bugcer for the pic.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Just Us

This past week has been a bit of a marathon because mom is away on personal business back in her home town, so there's a big missing link in our team effort. No question we miss her for a million reason, but we're also fairly adept at just dealing with things. Daily life, including mealtime, family time, and just hanging out, are not the same without her here, but as I mentioned, stuff like cooking and shopping for food are covered. Things get a little more complicated when you add in hockey games and practices, school, and teenage social life. Fortunately we have another driver in the house who can handle short trips around town. Plus, the weather has been fairly mild, so driving is not as precarious.

We miss mom but don't want her to fret over us, we're hanging in there. We just want her to take care of herself and get home when the time is right.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to 0Four for the pic.
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Car Repair

As I mentioned, I hit a deer a few weeks back and it was a total bummer on all levels. I feel terrible for the deer, though there was little I could do, and of course, our car got banged up. Body work is a drag because it's usually really expensive, and it's hard to get it back to looking exactly the way it was, unless of course you want to pay the serious big bucks. Plus, once the body of the car gets damaged, you can't really let it alone because up here in New England, exposed metal takes a beating. Even tiny scratches in the paint will begin to rust and corrode. It's pretty striking.

With that in mind, I knew I had to take care of the hood. I ignorantly thought (something I excel at) that they would just take a hammer and knock the thing out, but I soon learned that this is not the case - total replacement was in order. I did a quick search and found hoods for our car running about $250. Factor in labor and you can about double that. There were also internal pieces and mechanisms, like the latches and hooks that held the hood on, that were probably going to have to be replaced. It wasn't looking pretty, and to rub salt in the wound, you can't buy a replacement hood that's painted, they all come primer black. Painting it the right color was going to cost, as well. One bright note - it looked like the frame and radiator were intact.

I first went to Gerrish Honda and they basically said I should go to an auto body place. They could order the hood, but didn't really do the body work. I then went to Kidder, a reputable body shop and the same place that did our undercoating, and the owner came out and did a quick look-over. He did mention that this has been a particularly bad year for deer, and he had cars lined up outside that needed body work because of deer collisions. He told me that for our Fit, the best case scenario was about $1000, worst case scenario (replacement of internal mechanisms) about $2000. Total bummer.

I told mom the bad news and we were resigned to the fact that this was going to be painful. I then called our good friends over at Meunier and RM said to bring it over and he'd have a look. They have been undergoing changes over there and a lot of the mechanics I knew are gone. The new guys, however, are super competent, and one used to work for Honda. They took a look, did a quick assessment, and said they could probably get a used hood from a salvage yard. It wouldn't be perfectly beautiful, but it would be perfectly functional, and we could always paint it at a later date. RM made some calls but couldn't find an exact match, i.e., silver. He did, however, find a gray one, for about half the cost. I said to move forward and in the end they put the new hood on for about $450, including the internal parts that were broken.

Boy was I stoked. I love Meunier, they're always coming through for us. That's what happens when you develop a relationship with a local business, the personal service is huge. What's really cool is that they got it done within a couple of days, despite their really busy schedule (Kidder couldn't take us for another month because they're so busy), and the gray hood doesn't look that bad. Sure, it's a bit off, but really not strikingly. There are a few chips in the paint that we can take care of with some touch-up paint. The ideal plan would be to paint it some time in the summer.

All in all it was a bad experience but the aftermath wasn't as painful as it could have been. I'm stoked we have friendly local businesses that can help us in a pinch, and of course, save us some money.

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Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Steven Chang for the pic.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Losing My Teeth

I think this is the year to get all my bodily processes healed and up to speed. That's what happens when you hit the big 5-0. I had my physical, though I still need to tie up a few loose ends, get some blood work done, and deal with my teeth, which have been a bit of a thorn in my side, or in this case, my mouth. As I've mentioned, one of molars is in bad shape, and I was hoping that my dentist would just yank it, but no such luck. After the failed root canal attempt, it was decided that extraction was the next step, so off to the oral surgeon I went (can't my dentist just pull it?)

To be fair, the tooth was cracked and in bad shape, but waiting to see the oral surgeon was only prolonging the inevitable. What made it hard was that I couldn't really chew my food on that side because the tooth was so thrashed. I went to the oral surgeon (very nice, I liked her a lot) for an initial consultation, and then I had to make an appointment for the actual procedure. They miraculously had an opening at the end of the same week, or I could wait until January. I was hesitant because like all things in my life, I like to put them off, but I realized that sooner was indeed better.

So a few days later, I went in and she yanked the thing out. It was easier than they anticipated, which actually made the procedure cheaper, and I got a refund. Don't you just love when that happens? The tooth itself was so gnarly, I won't horrify you with the details. It was good to get it out, and since the area was infected, she put me on systemic antibiotics for a week. This was some serious stuff.

Now I'm on the road to recovery. I still can't really chew on that side, but eventually it will be all systems go. They inquired about dental implants, but that's apparently an option I can pursue at a later date, and she didn't push it hard. Besides, she said plenty of her patients live happily ever after with just one molar, and I'm all for happily ever after. They tried to accommodate an implant on the other side when they took out the molar, and it didn't work, so I wasn't very hopeful this time around.

For now, there's no more pain and eventually I can go back to eating a normal diet, which means food 24 hours a day.

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Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Amber for the pic.

Hockey Drama

Even though we've left our old lame hockey program, N's new program is not without its share of drama. One of the big issues is that several of his teammates are freshman in high school, so they are eligible to play high school hockey. The big city hockey program is legendary so they are all just biding their time to make the team, though it's very difficult for a freshman to make it. They have the option to play JV or do their second year at the Bantam level. The big city program actually requires them to choose, they cannot do both, though almost every other program allows this.

With this in mind, a couple of the stronger players, and dare I say one of the best guys on the team, want to play for their respective HS. It's not the big city program but a neighboring school, where they are sure to play on the varsity team. Given the choice, of course they're going to go for that option, but if they do, then they can't play for this team because this team won't let them. I think it's lame, and everyone is up in arms over this decision, but I guess rules are rules.

So now, this team that's been depleted for various reasons, is now going to lose even more players. It's really hard to even fathom, but such is life. I guess you just have to roll with it, though our time in the big city program is really not what I had expected it to be.

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Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Kaz Andrew for the pic.

Closet Carpenter

Word has come down from above (i.e., mom) that A needs more useful closet space, with “useful” being the key word here. A has a small walk-in closet in her room that we have been using for storage, and the time has come to open it up so that she can put her clothes in there. This is a two part process, with mom taking the reigns on the first part (cleaning the closet), then leading the way (cracking the whip?) on the second part (installing a bar), which will require my involvement. The reality is that she's already taken care of the first part, so turning this closet into useful space is really my job, and that will require installing a bar (an maybe a few hooks) so that she can hang her clothes properly. As it is now, I think she is using various wall appendages to hang hangers, and needless to say this has limited utility. At some point a girl needs a proper bar to hang things.

I had to come up with a plan. It's not the most challenging of projects, and I've done similar things in the past, but seemingly in the distant past. Not only will this require me to get off the couch and actually do something, but I need to locate my tools (must inquire with N), and then get the necessary supplies at Home Depot. Then I have to devise a plan, then actually do it, which I've found is one of the hardest parts. Fortunately I have mom there to motivate me.

I headed over to Home Depot with N in tow and we got the lumber, got the bar, as well as the necessary hardware, and I was good to go. Getting the first step accomplished was key to placating the powers that be, but needless to say, I can't be complacent and rest on my laurels, or risk losing my laurels. I need to take the supplies and put them into action, which shouldn't be so hard, should it?

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Then again, you just never know. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to aarondfrancis for the pic.