Monday, November 28, 2016

Branching Out

We had a bit of a Charlie Brown crisis yesterday, though in the modern era it's not kite that gets stuck in a tree but a drone. It was a pretty serious dilemma, however, and just goes to show you that you can't get between a boy and his drone. We even called the fire department in a desperate bid to see if they could help - they couldn't, so we were left to our own devices. To be clear, by the time we contacted the firemen and were told it wasn't going to happen, we had already resolved the situation.

N has been really getting into drones and it's pretty crazy stuff, albeit cool crazy stuff. Not only does he like to fly them, but he and his buddy make them from scratch, or close enough to count as making them from scratch. You can buy the components online and then assemble the drones to the specifications that you want. There are many levels of complexity, and the lower levels are surprisingly affordable. The big thing is first person viewing, or FPV. I mistakenly thought this was virtual reality (VR) and earned the scorn of both my kids.

Anyway, with FPV you control the drone, which has a camera, but you can see what's going on in real time while wearing a headset. It's pretty crazy stuff, and depending on the range of your receiver, you could theoretically fly the thing anywhere. The problem you run into is when you are just learning the ropes and can't always fly out of complicated situations. This includes flying your drone into a tree and getting stuck in the branches. This happened yesterday, and N came home in distress because not only was the drone stuck, but the battery was dying, and apparently you don't want the thing to completely run out. They are sensitive things, so time was an issue.

All of us went out to the tree to assess the situation, and it wasn't looking good. It was about 40 feet up there, and climbing the tree was out of the question. I brought my extension ladder and tried to knock it out with a roof rake, but couldn't reach it. We probably could have extended the thing all the way but it was pretty squirrelly resting it against a tree and trying to climb up so high. Mom wasn't having any of it, so we were reduced to trying to dislodge the thing by hitting it with various thrown objects. This included a hockey puck, a football, frisbees, and a soccer ball. If you've ever tried this, you know it isn't easy throwing something straight up into the air, especially high up, and we couldn't get any of these things high enough. We finally tried with tennis balls and a racquet. Using this method we got the height, but as you can imagine, our aim suffered greatly. We toyed with the idea of hiring an arborist to get it.

While A went to see if the fire department could help us, I kept hitting tennis balls straight up in the air and finally one of the balls hit the drone and dislodged it. It immediately occurred to me that the thing was falling and I needed to catch it, so I dropped everything and stuck my hands out to grab the drone, which I did, cutting my hand in the process - the things we do for our kids. N was hugely relieved, and the drone came out pretty much unscathed. Mom and dad were relieved that the drone did not need expensive replacement parts, and dad got to feel like he did something good for once in his life. I love when that happens.

For all it's worth, this is not a unique problem for drone enthusiasts, as you can imagine, and there are plenty of websites dedicated to helping the needy drone owners reclaim their vehicles from trees. You gotta love the internet... sort of.

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

Early Mornings

It seems like dad (i.e, me) can't get a break when it comes to sleep. All week long I'm taking A to school in the early AM, and on weekends it's early morning hockey games. On Mondays there is band practice that begins at 7:00AM, which I think is outrageous but this is what school kids have to deal with today. Work has been slow but on the nights I do work I'm usually there late which makes getting up early that much more challenging. Boy, poor little old me.

All I can say is that it's a good thing I"m a morning person. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to The Greatest for the pic.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

First Snow

Normally I'm thrilled to pieces about the first snow, but this year I was not as thrilled, mainly because I wasn't completely prepared for it, both mentally and logistically. As usual there was still some raking that needed to be done and power tools that needed to be stored, but more importantly, I didn't have my snow tires on. Maybe it's a function of getting older, but I've also found that I'm better off when I ease into a change of seasons, and part of this process is just wrapping my feeble mind around it.

Fortunately it didn't snow a lot, just enough to make it look like winter and give me anxiety about the roads. This in turn motivated me to take care of the final preparations for winter, which include dusting off the ski equipment and installing the storm windows. Luckily our firewood is all set, so at the very least we'll be warm, which when you get down to it is really the most important thing.

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

Turkey Day

Hope that everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving, hope all is well with you and your loved ones. It seems like every year Thanksgiving crept up on us, or at least me, maybe because our plans were up in the air until the end of last week. Usually we visit family but it can be a challenge on our end because we're traveling with two kids. Plus, it's hard to schedule things around all the kids' activities. Unfortunately with all these moving pieces we couldn't get all them to fit. It's a bit of a bummer for everyone involved, but hopefully we can work something out in the near future.

I will say this - cooking for just four people can be a pretty intimidating endeavor, so you can imagine what it's like to cook for eight people. I fielded requests from the family about what we should eat and the biggest requests were for Yorkshire pudding and a stuffed pumpkin. The main course was up in the air and I wavered between broiled salmon or roasted chicken, finally opting for the chicken because it's a bit closer to a turkey (we never cook a turkey) and it goes a little better with Yorkshire pudding, which is a family favorite.

The timing of the supper went well, as well. I'm a disorganized person and tend to do things as they pop into my head, and when cooking a meal this can lead to disaster. This time around it wasn't so bad, and we not only ended up eating at a reasonable time, but the meal wasn't rushed at the last minute, where you end up compromising the cooking times because you just want to get the food onto the table and the plates of hungry family members. This is a bummer when cooking chicken to completion (165 degrees inside) and squash, which really needs to be soft and tender.

So with this in mind, on Thanksgiving morning as I was enjoying down time with nowhere to be, I realized that I needed to get preliminary things going. This meant brining both chickens (I cooked two, for reasons I'll explain at a later date) and getting the stuffed pumpkin together. Once the brine was going the birds would sit for 3 hours and I could do other things. Mom wanted to make a pumpkin pie as well but our kitchen is poorly designed so that you really can't have more than one person doing the cooking, especially a stressed out dad who is in desperate need of time and space. Then again, you do what you gotta do.

I got the pumpkin ready and once that was sitting, I could cut the squash and then relax. The other food items could made closer to the actual meal, especially the Yorkshire pudding, which really should be served hot. Everything went according to plan and I got everything into the oven by noon, with a scheduled 3:00PM dinner time.

Anyway, it all went according to plan and the meal was quite enjoyable. One thing that helps is remembering that food stays hot for a lot longer than you think once it's out of the oven, especially dense foods like squash, potatoes, and roast chicken. Even though I let the chickens rest for about 30 minutes, the insides were still too hot to handle. I took this as a good thing. Mom's pumpkin pie was excellent, and all in all we had a great meal. We went for a walk afterward and were toying with the idea of seeing a movie, but instead decided to play a family game and then watch a family movie, something we don't do as much as we used to.

It was really nice, and I hope everyone out there had as nice a Thanksgiving as we did.

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

Just the Guys

Two weekends ago mom and A went down to Cambridge to do some special program for A, leaving N and I alone at home. Just the guys, as the saying goes, and while it might seem like an ideal time to let loose and live the bachelor life, we ended up being pretty chill. I for one went to bed around 9:30, and believe you me, it was nice to get some sleep. We had to travel to Manchester for an evening game and then to Waterbury for a really early game, so that meant plenty of driving. Since our Sunday game up north was scheduled for 8:00AM, we had to get to bed early the night before. Just give us some pizza and hockey and we're all set.

So all in all it was a pretty mellow weekend, though we got to manly things like burp and fart all we wanted... not that we don't do that even when the girls are around.

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Reluctant Head Coach

This could be viewed as an unfortunate by-product (or not) of all the BS that underlies the current hockey season (don't even get me started on that one), but I've had to step in act as head coach, at least for the beginning of the season. I look at it from a few different perspectives.

Our hockey program has gotten too big for it's own britches, and its ego has taken blindly taken charge in the quest for hockey greatness. I still don't quite get how things worked out as they did, and it's hard to discuss it without letting my emotions get in the way. For the record, several people have come up to me and wondered aloud how things turned out this way, but it doesn't matter at this point. It really boils down to the choices of DW and who am I to question his thought process? I don't agree with it and think he screwed things up, but he's in charge, so so be it. Victory at the cost of one's soul, as the saying goes.

The point is, with the teams now set, some of us have had to step up and take the reigns, and that includes yours truly. In the past I've been able to skate by with little in the way of leadership or input. Honestly, I'm not even sure why I'm a coach, but previous head coaches have welcomed my assistance. I'm there anyway with N, so why not help out? The thing about being an assistant is that you can skate by (no pun intended) and basically be an observer, almost invisible. When head coaches gave me a chance to be more of a presence, I deferred, taking the easy way out. I felt somewhat like an appendage, but I also felt like I filled some role, however minor it was.

Well, all that changed when this season began. N's team has a head coach (AL) who knows his stuff and is young, talented, and very skilled. Definitely someone who the kids look up to because of that, unlike the dads who are old and dorky. The problem is, AL also runs the arena, so he has to be there to take care of the ice. The beginning of the season most if not all of our games have been away games, so he can't be there. Someone had to step in, and guess who got sucked into that trap? It became painfully clear to me the first game up in Lyndon that there were only two assistant coaches (and no head coach) there, me and NC. I could have just told NC to take charge and I would once again ride in the back, but that would have been wrong for a number of reasons. First off, NC wasn't prepared for this (though neither was I). Second, he is new to the program, this is his kid's first year, and it would have been wrong to throw him into the pit. Finally, I don't want my son to think I'm just a big wimp who always chickens out and lets everyone else take responsibility. These guys needed someone to take charge and as reluctant as I was to do it, somebody had to, right?

I met NC in the parking lot and informed him that it was just him and I, and he was more than willing to step up. We were woefully unprepared for our first game, and part of that stemmed from me not realizing I would have to take a lead role, or more to the point, nobody realizing this. Normally the "head coach" takes care of all this, and this becomes a problem when there is no head coach present. We didn't have roster stickers (not a huge deal), a first aid kid (not a huge deal), a dry erase board to map out plays (sort of a big deal), or pucks to warm up with (a big deal). We had to wing it, but the kids didn't really know what to expect because it's early in the season. I felt bad because they were clearly ready to play, and we as coaches were not. Bad planning and too many expectations that someone else would have to take care of everything. Time for dad to step up and be a man.

Before the game, I got the players attention and ended up doing most of the talking, keeping it simple for our first game. Oddly enough, despite my lack of assertiveness, I've learned enough about hockey to know what makes a winning team, not to mention good players. I've also played sports my entire life so certain qualities carry over from sport to sport. Coupled with yelling really loud, the guys listened and took it to heart. They went out and played a great game, winning 7-4. It's weird when between periods they all skate over and look at you expecting some sort of sage advice. You simply re-iterate what separates the boys from the men.

It was a little stressful, but we managed to pull it off. Afterward we coaches vowed not to be so poorly prepared the next time, i.e., we needed to get our shit together. We also didn't want to fall into the trap of playing second fiddle to the other guys, but that impetus is on us. On the drive home N said that as far as coaching goes I do a better job than I give myself credit for. From my kids that's about as good a compliment as I'll ever get, so I'll take it.

I survived my first stint as N's head coach (I once had to do it for A's team, as well), but I know it won't be the last, because the guys need a leader, if only symbolically. I am looking forward to AL the real head coach to take the helm, if for the simple fact that he really knows hockey and can give them more constructive and helpful feedback... as opposed to yelling "just shoot the damn puck," but for now I'll wear the head coaches jacket and hopefully lead these guys to a positive hockey experience. That means that I'm going to have to do a little growing as well. I think I'm ready... not that I have much choice.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to gregorys2006 for the pic.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Who Do You Believe?

I try not to get too into political discourse on this blog, though I failed miserably at this after the election, but I'm amazed about the news lately, or rather, the lack of objective, trustworthy news. The internet is an amazingly useful platform for opinions and information, but it seems to me that it has really become vehicle for various groups, both left and right, to put out false information and sell it as real news. Once it gets picked up and goes viral, it's pretty much ensconced (fancy liberal educated word) in the public consciousness and taken for truth. This happened repeatedly during the election and it's happening now that the election is over.

I for one think it's a total bummer because I don't really know what to believe anymore. Or more to the point, like everyone else, I will simply seek out what I want to believe and take it as fact. The internet and technology in general really are double edged swords.

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

Under Pressure

We have a slight air leak problem in one of our tires, and it's a bit of a pain because it requires diligent observation and maintenance. Modern cars are so full of bells and whistles, some of which I think are excessive but they seem to be doing their job. One such example is air pressure in the tires. Each tire has a pressure sensor that indicates when the air is below a certain PSI. When I first encountered this light in a rental car I had never seen it before and didn't take the time to read the manual to figure it out. Consequently, we drove around for days with low air pressure. What's a drag about these sensors is that mechanics need to reset them every time they change a tire, and some places like Wilson Tire charge you $5-10 per tire, which is a total rip-off. This is one of the many reasons I no longer go to Wilson Tire, which is regularly chosen, amazingly enough, as the best place to go for tires. For the record, Tip Top Tire doesn't charge for this service, which I think amounts to pushing a button.

Anyway, one specific tire has a leak. The guys at Tip Top took a look at it and found that it was the actual air pressure sensor that was the problem, meaning I needed a new one. They said they charged about $80 for a replacement, but I've replaced these things before and have found them for much cheaper online. They are so cool there that they didn't push it, and the truth of the matter is, the sensor works fine, it just isn't sealing properly. In about 2-3 days the pressure drops 3-4 psi below the recommended level and the indicator light goes on. Normally this wouldn't be such a big deal but with regularity comes annoyance. This is especially true when you're rushing out the door with your daughter to get to school and the first thing you notice when start the car is the low pressure light.

I ordered a new pressure sensor but figured I'd wait until I have the snow tires installed, saving me some time and money, though I wouldn't be surprised if Tip Top installed it for free, they're cool in that way. In the meantime, we need to keep adding air to the tire, which is a pain but not the end of the world. It usually takes about 5 minutes out of our journey to stop at the gas station, put in about 5 psi, and then head out. The problem your truly runs into, and it's a matter of principle more than economics, is that I don't like to pay for air. We're talking maybe 75 cents at the most, so it's really not about the money. I just find it lame that they charge for it, so I try to find the places that offer free air. Fortunately our local gas station is cool enough to offer free air, but it still means getting over there.

I happen to have an air compressor with tire nozzle that would do the trick, but it would require hauling it from the barn and then plugging it into the wall socket. The thing is heavy so in a way it's not really a practical option. Now this is where the story gets interesting. Way back when we went on vacation to Spain we parked our car for 2 weeks and took the bus to Boston. When we got home the tire in question was flat as a pancake. I called AAA and the guy came with an air compressor the size of a book. He hooked it into the cigarette lighter and the thing inflated the tire. It took about 5 minutes, but it was done and I was amazed. It even had a pre-set function that would automatically shut off at the designated psi. I was sold

When we got home I looked around for one of these small compressors but couldn't find the exact one. The AAA guy even said that they stopped making that specific one. I ended up going to Advanced Auto Parts and getting something that was similar, and amazingly enough, it wasn't that expensive. I ended up paying $25 for mine, and it works beautifully. I spent an extra $5 for the auto shutoff feature, and believe me, it's worth it. Since our tire does not lose all it's air, it takes about 2 minutes to get it up to the pressure I want. Then we're off and running, it's great.

I think everyone should have one of these things in their car, but nobody cares what I think. I did hear from a friend who just bought a new Toyota minivan that they come with their own air compressors, so someone is thinking like I am. Now if only more people would, the world would be a better place, at least for me.

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

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Feel the Heat

I sound like a broken record at this point but I am determined to finish the insulation on the barn and move to drywalling it. I'm pretty darn close and I can't help but think I could get it done over the winter. Things slow down as you can imagine because you can't really do yard work (other than shoveling) when there's 3 feet of snow on the ground. The biggest issue I have to deal with is the cold, which is a big issue when you live in New England.

Not wanting to let this opportunity (yet again) slip through my fingers, I obtained a propane heater to use in the barn. It's not a fancy one, it just attaches to the top of the 5 gallon tank and emits a fair amount of heat. I wanted to get one last year but waited too long. By the time I hit the home improvement stores they were sold out. I could have gotten one online but just sat on it, as usual. This time around I shopped for one over the summer when they were not only in stock, but I was flush with catering money in my pocket.

Now I'm ready to go. I have a light set up in their, and all I need to do is motivate and get out there. That, of course, is without question the hardest part.

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

Ski Instructor

Ski season seems like a long ways off, mainly because it's so darn warm, but when it does finally snow, we are hoping to get some serious skiing done. N has also expressed an interest (willingness?) to take part in an apprentice ski instructor program. I'm not sure what the end goal is but he said he would be into it, or rather that he wouldn't abhor the idea. I think it would be a good way to teach some responsibility and he might have fun doing it. He loves to ski, after all, the truth of the matter is, he isn't completely responsible for overseeing the kids. He is just helping out the adult ski instructors.

I've seen N show interest in other activities in this capacity, namely hockey. Way back when I stood in for the Squirt hockey coach and asked N to help me out. He relished the position of being an assistant coach and he definitely helped me out. More importantly, he showed a lot of maturity in being willing to help me and work with the little kids. Not every pre-teen would be into this. The ski program might be a similar thing, and with a little luck he'll be surrounded by a bunch of ski babes who fall for his good looks, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

One thing that might help (or make it worse) is that I am required to be a volunteer, as well, so I'll be there. I think he has mixed feelings about this, and may even prefer that I am not around. I'm pretty good at making myself absent, so this won't be a problem.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to European Snowsport for the pic.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

With a Little Help From My Kids

On the sports front, this is kind of a cool development - my kids are actually helping me with my golf and hockey game. Don't ask me why, but I find this to be a very cool thing. The reality is they are superior hockey players than I'll every be, so why not tap that wealth of talent and experience for my own nascent game? It's funny if not ironic that after helping coach them for several years, the tides have turned and I'm looking to them for guidance. When I say coaching it comes with a huge grain of salt because let's face it, I'm not a hockey player, I just play one on TV.

I've helped over the years and have not hidden the fact that I'm in way over my head, but coaches who know what their doing appreciate a helping hand in practical matters during practice and games, i.e. gathering pucks and opening doors. The reality is, I've never really had to practice what I've preached. You can learn about skills and strategy by reading books and watching videos, and for the most part this works. Also, I've played sports my entire life, and certain qualities carry over from sport to sport, so I'm not completely clueless.

When I get on the ice, however, there is no question that I can't keep up with these guys. Plus, they're learning about strategy, positioning, and game skills. Again, I can learn about these things, but it's a whole different ball of wax actually putting them into practice. I noticed this the first time I played, I didn't do any of the things I preach, I just panicked every time I got the puck. It's just not that easy, and I will say this - every parent who has expectations or puts pressure on their kids should lace up a pair of skates and try it themselves. It's an incredibly humbling experience.

Anyway, I went through my first season being fairly impotent on the ice (thankfully just the ice), though being able to skate does have some merits. I didn't play the following two years but I was on the ice during this time helping out with my kids. I can't help but think years of being a coaching assistant have some benefits. At the very least I was skating this whole time, and I'm definitely more thoughtful, aware, and patient on the ice. These qualities mean that I am ready to take it to the next level and start embracing some of the stuff I'm teaching, bearing in mind that the next level is just one step up from ground zero.

The help I'm getting from my kids deals mostly with positioning in the offensive and defensive zones, i.e. stuff that requires thinking. I generally have no clue what I'm doing and just skate around and try to get the puck. This has come back to haunt me when I play with guys who are in the know and are serious about the game; they give me constant grief about not knowing what to do. This year, with a little help from my kids, I'm trying to play my position and be where I'm supposed to be. In the league that I play in, there are guys who are a lot more clueless and a lot less skilled than me, but that is not to say that I can't improve myself as a player irregardless of the people around me. Plus, when you know what you're doing the game is more fun. This is true for just about everything in life.

It's worth mentioning that the kids are happy to give me stingingly candid feedback about my skill level and performance, so there's no sugar coating my lack of abilities. Oh well, the only thing to do is go out and improve my game.

One last note - I took some advice from N about my golf swing and it paid huge dividends. I won't get into it right now but just a simple adjustment has made all the difference.

I love when that happens. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Eli Sagor for the pic.

Fitness Plan

Call it an age thing, or maybe just taking myself a little too seriously, but I've been trying to stay in shape so when I play hockey it's not so painful. For the first couple of games I failed miserably and I thought I was going to die. When I played two years ago I just suffered through it and by the middle of the season I was in decent shape. Hockey is a physically demanding sport, and eventually your body adjusts to the demands, but I play only one day a week, and I feel like I could be doing more.

This really came to light in my second game this season. I was coming off feeling pretty good my first game and I thought this season was going to be better than I thought, and then my cockiness came back to haunt me because I was a mess - I was sucking air big time and I could barely skate. Just to rub salt in the wound, my son had dryland practice during this time so he was watching me and told me how bad I looked. Nothing like kids to tell call it like they see it. I'm guessing he was a little embarrassed because he was surrounded by his teammates. 

Not that I really care what my kids say, because let's face it, no matter how hard you try, your kids will always think you're a big dork. If anything, that's sort of how it should be, don't you think? As long as they do it respectfully. There are a lot of parents, and the hockey world is chock full of them, who go out of their way to impress their kids, and at some point you have to laugh at them and realize that their trying to cling to the past. You have to let it go and remind yourself you're not a kid anymore. If anything, trying so hard to be a rock star is embarrassing, and I feel a little sorry for them. Trying to impress a bunch of adolescent boys and girls is a little sad, if not pathetic, but what do I know?

Anyway, I decided to try to stay in shape. It used to be easy over summer because we played ultimate frisbee and went trail riding regularly. Now we're golfers and still ride a bit, but UF is a thing of the past. We've been having a warm winter thus far so I've been doing the power ride, and I set up a little exercise area in the barn. I've been pretty into it, but we'll see how long this lasts. At the very least I'm finally making good use of the jump rope that mom complains about because she thinks I never use it.

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

Viral Setback

Maybe this is a good thing because it's happening so early in winter, but I came down with a cold and being sick has a funny way of putting a damper on things. This is especially true when you have to deal with your life rather than lay down and feel sorry for yourself, which was my standard MO for much of pre-fatherhood life. In that sense parenthood is a good thing, right? No more whiners, at least not in this household. Or rather, whining is allowable (sort of) as long as you take care of business and get the job done.

Fortunately for us, many of the important issues have been dealt with and we are ready for winter. The biggest things that needs to be attended to now are the daily duties, and don't get me wrong, there are plenty of those, especially with hockey season in full swing. It's just that they may come with a little whining on the part of dad, but what else is new?

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

Monday, November 14, 2016

Journey of Discovery

This hockey season is turning out to be much different than I had ever imagined, and while at first glance there was disappointment (and maybe a little anger and disillusionment) for yours truly, I'm finding that there are some good life lessons, as well. Isn't that how things always work out? While it's still a bit of a bitter pill for me, and it didn't help coming on the heals of this crazy election, it's good to remind myself that complaining and being angry don't help the situation. And of course it begs the question, am I in any position to complain? Maybe, but again, it's not constructive use of my time.

As long as N is happy, then any perceived injustices on my part should not be the focus. Time to move on, just like in the election. One by-product of the current situation is that I have been forced to more involved with the team rather than just being an observer. I think N has also taken a larger role as a leader. Both of these are good things because it's become a true test of character on my part. N is just happy to be playing and having fun. As a neurotic dad in the throes of modern parenting, why can't that be enough?

The answer is simple: I need something to be neurotic about.

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

Fall Warm Up

With all the insanity going on with the elections it's been hard to focus on the things that matter the most, namely our daily lives. It's funny how you can become so obsessed about something and lose sight of the tasks at hand, but I guess distractions are the way we stop thinking about what's important in our own lives and instead focus on things that matter less.

Either way, the election is over and the people have spoken. Time to get on with our lives. On that front, there is still plenty to do. We had a stretch of cold days in October and I was starting to think winter was going to hit us fast and early, but Mother Nature seems to have softened her stand a bit. In fact, it's a downright balmy 50 degrees outside, so there's time to finish the last of the yard work and cruise into winter.

The firewood is split and stacked, but I managed to get year 2 covered and ready for burning, if necessary. Hopefully this won't be necessary. The yard is covered with leaves so there is a lot of raking to be done, which is a job that I might employ the kids to assist me in since it is my least favorite chore. I've prepared the chainsaw for storage but still need to work on the lawnmower and weed whacker. I also finally scored a bag of hemlock mulch (I need acidic mulch) and will cover the blueberries for the winter. I'll tell you, blueberries are high maintenance plants. Then I think we're in good shape and can focus on skiing, hockey, and trying to stay warm, though not in that order.

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

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Moving On

I may not be happy with the election results but I have to remember that the people have spoken, and clearly a majority of Americans wanted this result. I'm not sure what they are hoping for but I think a few things are pretty clear - the new president does not represent them or stand for them in any way. In the end his policies will not protect their rights or interests (not that that was ever his goal), though I'm guessing that's what the voting public is hoping for. He won on a platform of baseless promises that had no facts or policies supporting them, and yet people believe in him. Time will tell whether he comes through (we have no choice but to give this a try) but a few things are clear - this is a person who has not spent any time serving the public interest and instead furthered only his own though hubris and bullying. He has no political experience and yet is leading the most powerful country in the world. And I can say with some certainty that the disaffected voters who worship him and ushered him into the White House will be the first ones to feel the effects of his policies as he diverts money into the military and into the hands of corporate interests that hardly need it. I still can't quite fathom why poor communities are so enamored with the Republican party, but you have to give the GOP credit, they've got their constituents wrapped around their fingers. Trump doesn't even go to church, so the religious argument doesn't hold.

On a bright note, at least we have a first lady who says that her hobbies are reading magazines and pilates.

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

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Decline of Western Civilization

First Brexit, now this? How did we let this happen?

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Coat Hanger Heist

This is an amazingly minor thing but an awkward situation nonetheless: I was doing laundry the other day at the laundromat and this guy stole my hangers and I caught him. I think the fact that I caught him made it really uncomfortable. I wash my catering clothes at the laundromat because if I do a quick dryer cycle it not only reduces the wrinkles but it helps to remove the lint. I never iron my clothes so this is a necessary step. The clothes are all black so as you can imagine lint is a problem. After they dry (about 5-6 minutes) I immediately put them on hangers and let them air dry for the rest of the drying process. While they are in the wash I just leave the hangers on the washer. I mean really, they're just hangers, right? Then I drive back home to continue whatever other jobs I need to finish, like cooking meals or washing the dishes.

The other day when I returned the laundromat, I noticed my hangers were gone. There was a guy folding laundry and I asked him if he'd seen my them (3 of them) and he said he had them and thought someone had discarded them. He then walked to his car, took his shirts off the hangers, and gave them back to me. It was a little weird, though to his credit, he fessed up and returned them. I even told him he could keep them if he needed them because hangers are not only cheap, but you can often find them lying around in random places, as was apparent given the current circumstances. The hangers were on top of my chosen washer so he could have probably deduced that they belonged to someone.

Either way, I got my hangers back, it was a weird experience but kind of funny and wierd at the same time. The next time I'll leave them in the car. How's that for a plan?

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

Open House

We attended the recent open house at A's high school and it's interesting, to say the least, to see how intense some of the parents can be. Not unlike the hockey parents are with their kids, though maybe more so because academics is more relevant to real life whereas even the intense hockey parents must, on some rational level, recognize that hockey is just a game. They can't possibly think this will lead to something that will have an impact on their adult lives. Then again, maybe not.

Either way, it was nice seeing what's going on with A's school. Like the loser parents that we are, we missed the previous open house because we didn't our act together. This time we made sure to mark it on the calendar. Truth be told, I'm not sure what they're trying to accomplish other than placating anxious parents and their desire for academic excellence. HHS excels in this respect, no question, but for many parents this is not enough. They want more, more, more.

This was readily apparent in the science class, where it was naturally assumed that if a student was not performing up to speed, of course it was the teacher's fault. During the course of the evening I got a sense that the teacher had her back up against the wall defending herself and her teaching methods. It's honors bio, so naturally the kids are academically challenged and it tends to attract the ambitious kids, or should I say parents? A is taking it because her teacher last year seemed to encourage her to do so, and we know the teacher. Also, it has really stirred up an interest in science in A. I have mixed feelings about this because science is a really interesting subject, but the field of science, at least basic research, is a really crappy field to go in. I know this because I worked in research for 25 years and the best way to describe many these Ph.D.s is socially inept and bitter. At least the ones I've worked with, and I've worked with plenty.

Still, if she does love science, and I think she does, a lot of this stems from this class. I won't go into career directions and all that noise because she's still a kid, but the class has been challenging and rewarding for her. That's all that matters.

For many parents, however, it's all about grades, and this was apparent at the open house. They were going after the teacher because clearly their kids' grades were not up to snuff. It was a little awkward and not completely fair, but who said life was always fair? Not me, that's for sure.

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