Monday, June 27, 2016

Denied at the DMV

Before I get too far into this I just wanted to mention that I think bad service is a universal condition when it comes to the DMV. Clearly I'm not alone in this thought process because it's the butt of many jokes. I grew up in LA and you always hated going to the DMV because the service was terrible, the people working there were complete jerks, and they just seemed to enjoy making your life miserable. Since they were government workers, or something along those lines, they had job security and didn't seem to answer to anyone. Because of this fact, they could treat you any way they pleased with impunity, and somehow they relished this role.

Since we moved to New England my experiences with the DMV have improved. They seem a little more cordial, though things can still move at a snail's pace. Then again, what's the big hurry? What's been really nice up here is that mom and I have been able to renew our licenses through the mail, sparing us from having to spend the day at the DMV waiting in lines. I love it. Just recently, however, we had to visit the DMV once again to address some situations with our own children, and were denied. The cycle begins again.

In all fairness we handled the situation poorly, so the fault lay with us. We paid for our ignorance, but like everything in life, the lessons you learn the hard way are the ones you never forget. We (N and I) were to meet mom and A at the DMV after his camp, and then mom would head off to work while we dealt with DMV stuff. They went earlier and the lines were so long that they had about a 2 hour wait, so instead of sitting there wasting time, they went to get lunch and that's where we met up. Mom went to work and I took the kids to the DMV, hoping that the lines were smaller, which they were. Their number was long past so we took a new one and sat and waited. A helpful woman overheard us talking and said that if you were taking the driving exam you didn't need a number but instead needed to stand in the permit line. Sure enough, the said on the wall said as much. Our number was about 30 minutes away, so we thanked her and stood in line.

Interestingly, while there several of A's friends showed up, which makes sense because they are all of that age. After speaking with them it suddenly dawned on us that we might have had to have made an appointment, which we didn't. Oh well, we thought, let's just wing it. Unfortunately, when we got to the front of the line, which for the record was slow, he told us that we did in fact need an appointment, but there was a chance that they could squeeze us in if they had time at the end. We figured we were there so we might as well wait. Meanwhile, our number came up and A had the brilliant idea of using that opportunity to make an appointment in the near future. What a great plan.

Originally mom and A had tried to make an appointment but they couldn't get through, so they figured they'd just come in and deal with it. This, it turns out, was a bad idea, but we didn't learn this until it was too late. I had thought that we should wait and see if they could squeeze us in, but that meant about 1.5 hours of waiting. A's plan was much better: let's take advantage of the fact that we could make an appointment in person, and then get the heck out of there. The guy who was helping us also indicated that there was a slim chance, if any, that we'd get squeezed in. That's all we needed to hear.

So we made an appointment. It was a little tricky because we didn't have our calendar with us to choose the optimal day, and for whatever reason the schedule for the DMV satellite office changes from week to week. How crazy is that? I actually had to call mom to check if certain days would work, and I could see the guy behind the desk just wanted me out of his life. Finally, with an appointment in hand, we got out of there and went home.

All things considered it wasn't as painful as my experiences with the DMV in LA, but it was still an incredibly inefficient process. Unfortunately it's something we all have to deal with so you have to simply live and learn, usually the hard way.

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

Doing It Backwards

After all my boasting and pride about getting the clapboards done, I've realized that I did things out of sequence and am paying the price for it. As you may have heard I was feeling good about myself (such a rare thing) having painted the bottom half of the house. It really needed it in certain sections, and I was actually relieved to have finally gotten it done. It didn't take long, however, to realize that what I should have done was paint the windows and trim first, then gone back and painted the clapboards.

What I'm finding, and I found this the first time around but foolishly forgot, is that when you paint the windows and trim, inevitably you get some splatter and mess nearby, i.e., the clapboards. Since the trim is in white, you can imagine how much it shows up on dark purple paint. I was cursing myself with each "splattery" mess. I decided to shelve any more plans to paint the siding and focus on the windows and trim, then go back and do the siding. If I'm feeling inspired, and I do tend to the anal-retentive in this department, I will go back and clean the mess I've made of things, but sometimes you just say "whatever" and leave it be.

On a bright note, at least the wood is now protected from the weather, which is the most important thing. It may look a little sloppy, but from a distance you can't tell the difference. The same is true in the evening.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Good Timing

Just a quick and boring side note about work; a week or two back I had to work two consecutive weddings, which can be a marathon of endurance, especially when guests linger long after the fact. For the record, they almost always linger long after the fact, and who can blame them? It's a wedding, the happiest day of the young people's lives, and mom and dad shelled out the big bucks to celebrate the day. Who's going to rush them along?

For the workers at the Inn, however, all we want to do is go home. This fact is exacerbated by the knowledge that even after the last guest has departed, our work is not even close to being done. That's why we want the guests to take their time and enjoy, but it sure can be painful when they stick around for another hour or so.

Which brings me to the past weddings we worked. In both cases the guests left right at the anointed hour, which is unheard of. There were circumstances the encouraged a timely departure. In one wedding, the bride and groom were fitness buffs and the final act of the wedding ceremony was a bike ride around lawn. To view this activity all of the guests got up and stood around the grass to watch and exhort the happy young couple, which was fun to watch. Since they were all standing and the wedding was basically over, the guests decided to leave the premises and either go to their rooms or hit the town for more drinks. This, as you can imagine, was A-okay by us.

In the other wedding, there were several young children in attendance, and as the reception wound down they all decided to join in the fun and help us break down the room. To accomplish this they went around to all of the tables and started gathering together glasses, silverware, and napkins. The parents were all happy that they were entertaining themselves, and we were more than amenable to the fact that they were moving things along. A win-win situation.

There was still a lot of work to be done, but all in all we got out a lot earlier than usual, and I sure do love when that happens.

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

First Year Done

This may not seem like a huge deal, but for us it's memorable and worth noting.

This past week was the final week for A and school and while she didn't actually graduate, she finished her first year, which is worthy of some mention. I think that it was an overall positive experience. She enjoyed her classes, got along well with her teachers, discovered some new interests, found a crew to hang out with, and adjusted well to "civilian life." Of course we had the usual concerns about entering into a conventional public school, especially one that is as high-powered and high-performing as hers. On the other hand we had a sense that she could do well in whatever environment she went into. The key was that she could pursue her interests and discover new ones, and I think that's what pretty much happened. Also, the part-time gig seemed to work out for her, so as of now we'll stay the course.

Now that school is out I think we can spend a little time over the summer tying up loose ends and gearing up for the next year. It never really ends, does it?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Dong Jin Oh for the pic.

Finishing Early

It's that magical time of year where once again we've managed to finish the wood pile for this coming winter, and this time we've managed to get the wood done early. This allows us to focus our attention on other things, including finishing the barn, yard work, and of course, the wood for year 2. The situation is particularly satisfying when we have wood all stacked and ready to burn while also having a massive pile of logs and blocks just waiting to be attended to. We can now operate at a leisurely pace as far as the wood goes, though I think the work will continue consistently until the first snow. This makes it all the more enjoyable when you don't have a deadline bearing down on you.

This year the work was helped considerably by the assistance of A&N. It works beautifully because they enjoy helping out and they do an excellent job. I do the cutting and splitting, and they stack. I think a day will come when they can actually do the splitting, though it might more of a thing for N than A. Then again, you just never know. For now, I welcome their assistance, and it's good for them to have some responsibility, especially when it involves something as important as keeping us warm in the winter.

I'm still expecting a small truck load from DS, though I indicated that it's not urgent and I'm not sure what sort to time frame he's looking at. For now I'll just keep working on the wood we have, and believe me, there's plenty of it. I love when that happens.

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

Friday, June 17, 2016

Fly Robin Fly

Chalk it up to being a compassionate nature lover, but recently we had a robin nesting in the eaves of the barn, and in order not to distress the mother while she was attending to her eggs I put off mowing the lawn in that area. I don't now what the time frame is for the eggs to hatch and the babies to fly away, but the grass got pretty unruly during this period. I mowed the lawn once at a distance I deemed to be safe, but sure enough it scared the mother away and I worried that she might not come back (she did). We also avoided the door that was near the nest, again so as not to scare her away.

Interestingly enough we've noticed some odd behavior in a robin around the main house. For whatever reason this bird has been flying into the window, repeatedly. It also does it around the barn and I figured it was losing it's mind or something along those lines. Seems like flying into a window is not a good survival strategy. Our cats were itching to get their paws on it. I heard later that it was a way that birds, robins included, mark their territory. I guess it's letting the neighbors know that you've arrived. Either way, we took heed of the message and stayed away.

Just recently I noticed that the nest seemed quiet, and after repeated trips with no bird in sight, I decided to finally mow the lawn. Boy, talk about a relief. The grass was up to my knees at that point. There's just something about unkempt lawns that get under my skin, don't ask me why. I'm not sure if I should leave the nest as it is, which could open up the door for the robin to return and set up her home once again. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though it means an un-coiffed lawn for a few weeks. I guess there are worse things in life.

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

Dealing With the Heat

A week or two back we had a hot spell that stretched over a few days, which I took to portend a long, hot and brutal summer. To help make the summer heat more tolerable I have this whole routine whereby I put window fans in the upstair windows and blow the hot air out while opening the downstair windows to let in the cooler air. I also go for the "tomb effect" whereby I close the blinds upstairs, which faces south and gets sun all day long, thus minimizing the scorching effects of direct sunlight. The key is air circulation, and we have a ceiling fan the can reverse direction and draw air upstairs. It actually works pretty well, and once the sun goes down and the temperatures cool, I simply reverse all the fans.

We have two window fans that wedge perfectly into the window creating a fairly good seal that minimizes the amount of turbulence, thereby maximizing the efficiency of airflow. One of the fans, however, has frayed wires and seems like a bit of a fire hazard, so I'm reluctant to use it. I went out and got two new ones on sale at Walmart and now we are all set for summer. As an added bonus, they were even on sale. I gave the old fan to N to play with and he proceeded to dismantle it and toy with the wires.

Oddly enough, now that we're set for the heat, the weather has changed and now it's cooling off. The days are pleasant, if not downright cold. Mind you, I'm not complaining, I like the cooler weather, it's just a little odd to be burning wood this far into June. During N's LAX tournament this past weekend, it was rain and cold and I froze my buns off. Crazy.

Oh well, what are you going to do? It's going to get hot, no question, so at least we're prepared for when that heat comes. For now I'll just enjoy the pleasant temperatures and stare at our new fans collecting dust.

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