Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Long Journey Home

Speaking of homecomings, when M&A went to NYC, they were slated to fly back on Monday afternoon, and N and I decided to meet them at the Lebanon airport. They were supposed to land around 6:00PM, so N and I went to grab a bite to eat, hit some golf balls at Fore-U, and then meet up. However, as we were hitting balls, I couldn't help but notice dark clouds rolling in, which naturally made me worry about their flight home. It's a small prop plane, so bad weather is very significant.

Well, as it turns out, the airline, Cape Air, cancelled the flight home and offered a bus ride home. The storm was affecting all of the eastern seaboard, so flights were being cancelled all over. Since they were taking the bus, they were going to get home late, so N and I finished our basket of balls and headed home. M&A ended up getting home after 11:00PM, and though they were tired, it was relief to have them home safely. They ate a quick bite and went to bed, and our crazy weekend came to end. Now our lives are back to normal, whatever that means.

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

Bachelor Life

Last weekend mom and A went down to NYC and had a blast, and N spent the weekend at his buddy's lake house up north. That meant dad was all by his lonesome on the home front, which meant some serious leisure time... yeah, right. Truth be told, I was battling a head cold that made it a little hard to do all of the things that I wanted to do. I was originally hoping to work at the Inn or catering, but there was nothing going on. Boy, talk about disappointing. I then set my sights on the NH coast to do some surfing, staying overnight at a local hotel because of the deal I can get through work. I even contacted a local place near Hampton that said they had availability on a Friday night. How can you beat that?

I was, as I mentioned, battling a cold, and couldn't get any sleep because I was coughing all night. Plus, even though I was getting an amazing deal, it's still money (including meals), and I sort of get depressed staying in a hotel all by myself with all sorts of time to kill. Also, the surf isn't that great right now. Don't get me wrong, the waves are fine for my aging bones, but they're not huge, and there is a small window when you can actually surf, after which it's blown out and sloppy. Throw in frigid water (getting warmer each day, however), and I ended up bailing out on the plan and simply stayed at home. I did stuff around the house, and believe me when I tell you that there was plenty to do, despite my generally feeling of malaise... there's always a sob story, isn't there?

First off, since I got my log pile I cut a bunch of wood and have a good pile ready to split. I also cleared away a bundle of small trees in two big sections of our yard. The trees were too big to cut with shears and required a chainsaw. For the record, I think cutting these trees was the reason I hurt my back a couple of weeks back because of the awkward positioning to operate the saw (more on this later). I also changed the oil on mom's car, had the tires rotated, and set about doing battle with the squirrels who are plundering the bird feeders; a losing battle if there ever was one, and I was one step away from letting the cats out but refrained from unleashing the slaughter. I also mowed the lawn.

Making meals was easy because I simply got a large pizza on Friday and made it last through three lunches. It was Dominoes, which has an amazing deal - a large pie with three toppings for $8. Sure, the pizza is pretty bad, but you can't beat the price. For supper I simply had a big salad and ate a boule of killer sourdough with olive oil, tomatoes, and butter. My kind of meal. I didn't have to make fruit salad in the AM since it was just me, and this also precluded the need to go to the store regularly to get fresh fruit. I generally went to bed early (around 9-9:30) but didn't get much rest because of my cold. Again, poor me, right?

It was a little rough because our mild summer decided to get hot and muggy during this weekend, so it was brutal doing yard work. This was aggravated by the fact that we've had a lot of tick encounters, so when I did yard work I wore jeans and a long sleeve shirt. I was losing liters of water in that heat. Nonetheless, I managed to clear both sections and felt all the better for doing it. I love being productive.

Come Monday it was time for everyone to come home, so I prepared some food and cleaned the house, just like any good husband/father would do, right? Getting N was easy, but mom and A had complications on their journey home and didn't get back until late. At least they got home safely, and I'm grateful for that.

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

Stoked to be Learning Again

This family surfing thing is turning out to be a lot more interesting than I first imagined. In fact, at first it had a bit of a pie-in-the-sky quality. I mean, really, who surfs in Vermont? However, the kids seem to have embraced it, and their willingness to learn has also inspired me to take it a little more seriously. I hate to admit this but I really wasn't sure how they would respond, and sort of felt that the cards were stacked against us. This made my leap of faith in gathering the gear together all the more precarious, but I'm happy to report that they are enthused about the whole process, which for the record is not an easy one. Then again, they are young and adventurous, which is the time to try new things.

I recall when I was learning to surf, it took awhile to get the hang of it. It's a hard sport, which explains why everyone who is within driving distance from the beach isn't doing it. At some point they simply give up, or never even try. It takes some level of dedication to something you can't really grasp until you've done it. I had access to the beach growing up, so there was ample opportunity to try, and try I did. Even then, it wasn't really until I had my driver's license that I was able to hit the beach on a regular basis and develop the skills to surf. Nobody was really willing to take me to the beach before that. My parents begrudgingly on occasion, but I knew better than to ask too often. Once me and my friends were able to drive, it was surf city.

And like all things in life, I took it all for granted. By the time I left LA, I was living right by the beach and never really surfing. I look back on it now and shake my head in amazement. I could have gone every day, no exaggeration, and I never went. I brought my boards with me to New York and surfed a few times, but after that, I had pretty much written surfing off. Two years in Rhode Island, which has killer surfing beaches which I never surfed, and now in New England, and who really thinks about waves?

Well, 20 years later, here I am, getting another chance. I am re-learning a lot, though I'm a step ahead of the kids because I did surf for years so it's not a totally alien experience. They have the gift of youth so they are enthusiastic, curious, and very willing to give this a try, despite the trials of learning. I, on the other hand, am old and cynical, but having surfed at one time in my life, know what a killer sport it is. I've tasted the fruit, I just want the kids to get a taste, as well. As long as they're willing to try, I'm hoping they'll get to the point where they'll be able to catch waves and feel stoked about it. I think we're on our way. At the very least, it's yet another endeavor where we're developing our skills together. Plus, they have the added benefit of a parent who is willing to make the drive to the beach, which is way more than I had growing up. Plus, mom is completely on board (no pun intended), so we can't pass up this opportunity.

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

Thursday, July 13, 2017

All Surfed Out and Nowhere To Go

We are all set to hit the surf. We've been practicing in the pond and even hitting the waves with just two boards, but just recently I procured a third board (I won't go into the details) and now we are ready to go... our wetsuits are hanging just to the right. This should be good and I might be more stoked about it if the ocean wasn't so far away, but at this stage in the game I'm in no position to be picky. I'll take what I can get.

Now that we have three boards, we can all go the beach. I'm not sure how easy that is going to be since some of us have very complicated schedules, but no worries. Like everything, we'll find a way, or at least work hard trying.

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Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Clearing Trees

The time has come to take some action on the wild frontier that we know as our front yard. Believe it or not, this is the "after" pic, having removed dozens of little trees. Most of the flora is relatively well maintained thanks to the tireless efforts of our groundskeeping crew, i.e., all of us, but there are sections of the woods that seem to have grown rather aggressively. In all honesty we could probably leave them be and it would be fine, but the spread of all those small saplings does make it a bit unsightly. Plus, as they get bigger, you realize that they are having problems growing because they can't compete for light with the bigger trees. Finally, I think N has aspirations to fly his drone through the woods and the fewer the obstacles the better.

I've been told numerous times that the woods benefit from a little clearing now and then, and mom and the kids have commented on it, as well. In fact, mom and N have been taking some initiative and clearing what they can, but at some point you really need a chainsaw because the trunks are too thick for a pair of sheers.

Enter dad and his chainsaw. Now I'd put the chainsaw in semi-storage while awaiting the delivery of our next load of logs. Once that arrived, it was time to gas it up and start the process all over again. Meanwhile, since the saw was ready, I could go and clear some trees. The funny thing is, what looks like a few small trees turned out to be a lot more work that I imagined. The trees had narrow trunks, but they were surprisingly tall. Plus, I initially thought it would be 3-4 trees, but there were about a dozen. I couldn't even cut them all in one session and will have to go back for more.

Despite the challenges, it feels good to have finally confronted this problem, and it looks a lot better. No time for complacency, however, because there is a lot more work to be done, not to mention the issue of cutting and splitting the firewood. Then again, nobody ever said training to be a real man would be easy.

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Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Seesawing Weather

The weather has been pretty darn nice for the past several days, with temps hovering around the mid to high 70s and lots of sunshine. Before that we got slammed with lots of rain, to the point where we were all scratching our heads and wondering if we'd ever seen this much rain. I'm guessing we had, considering when we did the market it rained every Wednesday, and it was nothing like what we saw when Irene. Either way, the rains seemed to come on strong and last for days.

Then, before that, we had scorching heat, which seemed to portend for a brutal summer, but thus far, this does not seem to be the case. We had a day or two of mid to high 90s, and at one point the thermometer read 108 degrees. To be clear, this is not accurate in any way because the thermometer sits directly in the sunlight and always reads 5-10 degrees hotter. Even still, it was pretty darn hot.

Now we are in the midst of a mild, if not cool summer. It's past July 4th and the weather has been just beautiful. Usually by now we'd be in the midst of hot spell with plenty of thunderstorms.

I'm hoping that the rest of summer will be more of the same, but it's highly unlikely. For now I'll just enjoy it and once the brutal heat arrives, I'll have something to bitch and whine about.

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

Good Vibes from Cinnamon Rainbows

Just a quick note and a nod to Cinnamon Rainbows, the surf shop at Hampton Beach. Great store with a great location and an amazing selection of surf gear. More to the point, however, are the very cool people. Like the big loser that I am, I forgot my leash for my board when we went to surf. The surf shop opens at 9:00AM so it was open by the time we arrived. I went over and asked about a leash and she showed me several, all of which were going to set me back around $25-30. You could go much higher but as you might have guessed, I didn't want to go there.

I finally asked if they had any junker leashes from their rentals that I could buy. Dave, who is the owner, was there and said he could get one off one of the boards out back. So I followed him out, he undid one and handed it to me. Of course I didn't have the little loop that attaches it to the plug, but a quick search on the ground recovered one. I was stoked and asked him how much and he said not to worry about it, just bring it back when I was done.

Wow, how cool was that? Good surf vibes from Dave and thumbs up to a very cool surf shop.

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BTW, the leash came in very handy for when I got worked over in the surf. 

Thanks again to Dave and Cinnamon Rainbows, and thanks for reading, and thanks to Steve Bissonnette for the pic.

Quick Turnaround

Boy, how's this for timing? Last week when I was heading off to work at the Inn, our wood guy TB delivered our firewood. It was a bit comical, actually, kind of like everything in my life. I was scrambling, as usual, just to get out the door and get to work the other afternoon. It seems like I'm running around looking for my tie or my name-tag or other assorted items when I finally made it out the door. I was driving toward the main road when I spotted this logging truck up ahead. My firewood OCD kicked in as I pulled to the side to let him pass. Well, if you can believe this, I recognized the name on the truck. It's the same guy who delivers wood for our logger, TB. I figured he was coming to our house, so I turned around and followed him.

Sure enough, he pulled into our driveway and parked. I took the alternate route (we have a big driveway) to the house and got the cash and paid the man. I'm guessing we would have worked out the finances in some way or another, but it would have been a lot simpler if he had just given me a heads up that he was coming. Oh well, I should know better by now.

Mind you, I'm not complaining (am I?), I'm super stoked to have the wood. And, it's killer maple, which burns hot, and he gave me tops, which I alway prefer. Now we can get our wood pile back to normalcy, and maybe a little drama in obtaining our firewood isn't a bad thing, especially since we have no drama in any other aspect our lives... yeah right.

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Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Practice in the Pond

A weekend or two back, while A was at the solid sound concert, which for the record she thoroughly enjoyed, mom, N, and myself camped out about 45 minutes away in Vermont. It was fun camping, I think we should do it more often, and if you can believe this, we brought along our surfboards. Now this is a little kooky but I strapped the boards to the roof and brought them along because I wasn't really sure what we were going to do all day at the campground, and the simple reality is, we need practice on our boards. Surfing and shredding waves is a bit farther in the distant future. For now, we just need to get comfortable on our boards.

We noticed this first hand when we hit the waves a couple weeks back - just paddling and sitting are not a given. This is especially true when you're not only getting bounced around by the waves, but are busy paddling for your life to get outside of the sets. And the waves weren't even that big!

So I came up with this idea - since waves are hard to come by, but bodies of water are aplenty, why not make the most of the situation and take the boards out on a lake? Sure, it's a little kooky, but considering that we need practice in just being comfortable on the board, which includes paddling and sitting, all we really need is water. I recall when I was first starting out I had this old and indestructible board. I took it into our pool and practice standing on it. The board would shoot out and hit the side of the pool, but since it was an indestructible junker, it didn't matter. Just practicing the motion of standing on a board is helpful. It's very difficult to stand when the board is still, so once you're on an actual wave it will be that much easier. At least that's how the theory goes.

So we strapped the boards onto the roof of the fit and headed out to Bennington, where we camped. I forgot the name of the campgrounds but it was a VT state park. It was very nice, and busy, to boot. The ranger said they were full for that weekend, and you could tell that the campsites were full. Though we got slammed by the weather, we did manage to suit up and paddle out. Since it was a lake we didn't need our full suits and went with spring suits, which are much easier to put on. We then paddled out and practiced all of our needs. I think it's a great idea, and a good workout, as well.

It was kind of funny driving around VT and MA with surfboards on the roof, but who cares? As long as it gets us to where we need to be, that's all that matters.

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

Goodbye to Sharon

Now that A is done with driver's ed, I'm happy to say that we are done driving to Sharon, and not a day too soon. It was such a bear of a commute, I don't know how people do it. I realize the school is appealing, but to make the drive 5 days a week is a bit too much for my liking. I don't think I could do it, though I guess you find a way. Somehow it's a longer drive then going to the big city. Plus, at least in the big city, there is plenty to do, including work and all that good stuff. In Sharon, which is in the middle of nowhere, there is nothing to do. You can head up to Royalton but there's not much going on there, either.

I guess in the end we did our time and we can be thankful that it's over now. Not sure when I'll be going up there again but hopefully it won't be anytime soon... no offense to the residents of Sharon.

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

Friday, June 30, 2017

Crepes and All That Jazz

A's HS jazz band played a recent gig outside of the academic environment and it was pretty cool. I wasn't sure what to expect because it's a school band that normally plays at school, but the instructor JP managed to score them a gig in the general public at the Skinny Pancake. I thought it might be a stretch to expect restaurant to host a HS band, but the Pancake is very cool and a great addition to the community. They host a lot of live local music, and they were cool to give these kids a chance.

The place is probably not big enough to house and entire orchestra, but the kids crammed in there and they did a great job. The vocalist bailed out, not sure why, so JP stepped in and sang. It was fun, the crowd was massive (lots of parents and siblings), and good time was had by all. A, who is on guitar, has been doing more solos and I have to say she's very good. It's very cool to see her branching out in her playing and challenging herself. She's operating outside of her comfort zone and rising to the occasion. Very cool to see.

It was a fun night, and we got to eat some good crepes and hang out with several parents that we knew, some of whom we see very infrequently. Much thanks to the Skinny Pancake for being such a cool restaurant.

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

School's Out

You don't really think about it when you're kids are going part-time, but going to school does take a big chunk out of your day. This becomes glaringly evident when school gets out, as it has recently. A's school year came to an end and suddenly we are not scrambling to get out the door in the AM. The kids have assorted camps and work endeavors, but on the whole life is a lot simpler. You realize how hard it is for parents over summer or during vacations, you really have to find things for your kids to do and ways to get them there.

Then, before you know it, school will be back in session. Then again, when you homeschool, what does that really mean? Just a quick note, A did very well in school, but I won't got too much into the details because it gets on my nerves when other parents do it, so I won't. She's taking a class over the summer and working so she'll be busy, it just won't have the stress that seems so inherent when school is in.

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

First Waves

A was off and running on one of her all day adventures last week so I decided to pack our boards into the car and take N to the beach and do some surfing... dude. It was a bit of a trek, probably about 2 hours, but not that much different than a drive up to Burlington. We left early in the morning on Sunday and headed to Hampton Beach. Since it was just the two of us I was able to put the back seats down and stuff the boards into the back of the Mighty Fit. What an amazing car.

We got to Hampton Beach around 9:00AM, and it took a few minutes to get our bearings. As usual Google Maps gave us some crazy circuitous route to the beach, but I shouldn't complain because it got us there. Actually, I should complain a little. The fog was amazingly thick, I couldn't see the water at first, and the surf was a bit choppy and sloppy. It was on the small size but big for someone who's never surfed and an old man (i.e., me) who has trouble just climbing out of bed. Consequently, as you can imagine, we didn't get too much surfing done, and we were out there for about 1.5 hours. There were several factors that made it challenging.

First off, we didn't want to be surrounded by a lot of other surfers, so we went off to the side where the surf wasn't so great. Second, the water was cold, though our wetsuits did their job. Third, we forgot to wax our boards, so we were slipping around out there. Fourth, I forgot my leash, but more on this later. And finally, since it was sloppy and little rough, I didn't want to bail out on N, so we just hung together and bobbed around a bit. We probably could have caught some waves (taken with a grain of salt) if we had paddled out farther beyond the sets, but I think it just wasn't meant to be.

There were many positive notes to the whole thing. We know our wetsuits keep us warm, and we finally just did it and went to the beach. We now know where to go and how it works (sort of) in terms of parking and where to paddle out. We learned what we needed to work on, which includes just paddling, sitting, and feeling comfortable on our boards. We got killer good vibes from a local surf shop, who leant me a leash, and finally, the sun finally came out and we got tans. How can you beat that?

No question we have a ways to go, but the most important thing is that I don't want the kids to be discouraged. Nobody said surfing would be easy, but once you get the hang of it, there's nothing else like it. It would help if the water was just a tad bit warmer, which I think will happen, and I came to the realization that before we go off and try to catch the waves, we need to just get a feel for the boards under our bodies. That can be accomplished in a lake or pond, if you get my drift. Oh yeah, a little wax would help, as well.

These are all things we can address near our house, so we'll get on it right away.

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

Monday, June 26, 2017

Rock and Roll Weekend

I wish I did cool things like this when I was her age, but A attended a bit rock and roll festival this past weekend down south, and she had an amazing time. I mean, who wouldn't? They have a big music festival call the Solid Sound Festival down in Massachusetts that spotlights the band Wilco. It's held in conjunction with Mass MOCA so there is a big art scene included in the mix. Now being old and boring I'd never heard of the festival, and didn't know much about the band Wilco, who have been around a long time. Oddly enough I actually have one of their CDs and didn't really put two and two together, though I think this makes me unconsciously and retroactively cool. My kids might disagree with this assessment.

Either way, a bunch of her friends were going, including bandmates and fellow musicians, and one set of parents was going to be on hand, as well. This made it more plausible because I don't know if I'm comfortable without some adult supervision. The concert is a big deal, spanning Fri, Sat, and Sun, and the entire area rallies around it. Hotels in the area were booked solid a good 6 months in advance. We couldn't find a room, so we ended up camping about 45 minutes away. A got to camp with her friends at the venue, which is a must in these situations. You don't want to be near your parents, and you want to be with your young and cool friends. It was a camping situation so she had to have all her gear packed, and they even brought guitars and had on-site jam sessions.

Mom, N, and myself camped a little farther away and left A to her own devices, just like she wanted. She had an amazing time, and I'm so glad she had fun. We also had a blast despite the fact that I had reservations going into it. I mean really, who wants to go away for a weekend just so your kid can go to a concert? I guess we do.

More on this later but suffice it to say it was an amazing weekend enjoyed by all, even though we got slammed by a massive thunderstorm and we lost the keys to our car. All happy endings... in the end.

Here's an cool link about the festival, which is pretty cool.

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

Budding Engineer

With mom and dad's blessing (like we have a choice?), N has become quite the little (or not so little) electrical engineer, though it requires using pretty much all of my tools (like I need them for anything?) and dismantling assorted clocks, radios, and other electrical appliances. As far as I'm concerned I think he should go to town with the stuff.

His latest endeavor was to make a few sets of speakers, and it was pretty cool how he pulled it off. He wanted to amp up the music from his iPod (do people still use those things?) so he took apart some old radios and boom boxes, then obtained some small amplifiers and wired the stuff together. His first set was set in some sort of matrix that he manufactured by hand, and then he built a more traditional set in a wooden frame. It's pretty cool, and they work and sound good. How cool is that?

He's still building things in his mad scientist workshop, and I know he's got his sights set on various things for his drone flying. We have some old power tools that I've gathered from the dump in the garage, so there is a lot of room to expand his ambitions. This may require spending some more time with his uncle, the Amazing PR Man, but let's take it one step at a time.

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Until then, thanks for reading.

Dad the Excavator

Since nothing is ever easy in my life, I figured I might as well instill some drama into something as simple as buying a bucket of gravel. Several years back we had a new driveway put in and it's been working out beautifully, but like all things in life, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky. While our driveway has been holding up nicely, there are patches that have either started disintegrating or have been dug up from our plow guy. For the record, it's not his fault, it happens to everyone who plows in the fall or spring.

The biggest issue is that these damaged areas become really muddy when the snow thaws, or they fill with water and become small ponds. In an ideal world we'd just have the driveway redone every 10 years, but that's not very practical, and the way it is now, I get to practice my real-man in training exercises, which of course come with a neurotic story.

Last year I contacted one of the big driveway install/repair guys in town, the one whom everyone uses, and asked if I could just buy a bucket or two of hard-pack. He was agreeable to this and said to just leave the money at an agree upon location. He has piles of hard pack on his property because that's what he does. I never ended up getting the hard pack, so I didn't end up leaving the money, which didn't seem like a big deal.

This year the situation didn't improve (oddly enough this is the end result when you don't take any action) and I decided to actually do what I had said I would. I was going to contact said individual to get hard pack when I worried a little if he thinks I scammed him. After all, I never left the money, and even though I didn't take any hard pack, he doesn't really have any way of knowing this. A bucket or two is a drop in the bucket (no pun intended) when you have massive piles of the stuff like he has.

I went back and forth over whether I should call him and just ended up putting it off like all things in my life. In the meantime, I also needed some gravel and went over to West Leb to the big gravel pit. I've bought rocks there before, and it cost something like $5-10 for as much as I could carry away. They sell the stuff by the ton so a guy like me coming to get a few buckets is probably a bit of a joke. Then again, what else is new?

Well, as luck would have it, the gravel pit also sells hard pack. They have a $15 minimum charge, but for that price, I could fill as many buckets at I could fit in the back of my car, which isn't many. The first time I went I had two buckets, which was a bit of a waste. The next time I filled 6 buckets and realized that it probably weighed about 300 pounds. I don't know how many more buckets I could transport and figured 6 was enough. That's still pretty good for $15.

With those six buckets I was able to do some marginal driveway repair. At least enough to temper the mud and puddle problem, and more importantly to feel like a real man... or at least a real man in training.

I could probably use another 6-10 buckets, but for now I'm satisfied because I took care of the most egregious problems. From here on in it's just extra stuff.

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Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to benjiman750 for the pic.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Day at the Races

N had the opportunity to go to a drone race a week back, and initially he wanted to actually race in the thing but a few things prevented that. First off, he was too late to register. This race sort of came up at the last minute and by the time he had decided to go, registration was closed. His buddy who invited him is a big-time racer, and I think at the time even he got shut out of participating.

The second problem was the intimidation factor. Having never raced his drone before, he wasn't sure how it would all play out, and I totally get that. It's hard enough doing something for the first time, but it's even harder when you've never seen or experienced it in real life. There are plenty of YouTube clips about racing, but it's just never the same.

Finally, the race was a fair distance away and in the early morning, so he would sleep over and then wake up early to go. N is not a morning person, though he's getting much better at it. At one point he just decided to skip the whole thing because while he would have enjoyed the sleepover, they wouldn't do much because of the early morning.

I have to confess, I thought it would be a good experience for him to just go and watch. It's something he's interested in, and he could hang with his buddy. Plus, he could go over to his friend's house early Saturday and hang out all day, then sleep over and wake up early for the race. Apparently said friend was going either way, even if just to watch (I think he ended up slipping into the race, but he's a pro).

So N decided to go for it, and I'm glad he did. I took him over early in the day so they could do all the crazy things he and his friends like to do, and then they went to the race early the next day. I had to work that evening so it worked out beautifully. I went to pick them him the next afternoon, meeting them en route back to their house, and he said he had a good time. In addition to enjoying the race, he told me that he thought he could hang with some of the racers. He didn't make any claims that he could win the race, but that's not the point. At least he saw what sort of skills are involved and how good (or bad) some of the other racers were, and that's a huge confidence boost. Plus, he got to see what the race course is like and can design a home practice plan accordingly.

Now he's interested, and may work towards actually entering a race, all because he changed his mind and decided to check it out. I'm not sure how this will all play out, but needless to say his old dad is very excited (and supportive) about the possibilities. Then again, it may entail more driving on my part, but what else is new?

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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

New Phone?

Okay, the time may have arrived for dad to get a new phone. I know I've been saying this for some time now, but with each passing week I feel the tug of tech's seductive pull. How much longer can I resist? Not much, I think. There are several factors that make this increasingly difficult.

First off, there's peer pressure (PP), and I'm an absolute sucker for PP. Almost everyone around me has a smartphone, and I've been pretty good about not really caring about having an old phone. If anything it's become a small source of pride having an old junker phone, which for the record cost me $5.00. You couldn't give this thing away, though I am surprised by how many people I meet who still have old school flip phones. The reality is that I only use my phone to make phone calls, and I don't need an expensive phone for that.

One of the biggest draws for me to have a more modern phone is texting. I don't text much, partly because I think it's sort of a joke, but also because with my phone being so old it makes it very impractical, dare I say impossible, to text. The problem I run into is that most people today, especially young people, text. They don't take phone calls, and almost never return messages. Everything is done by texting. Now that A is connected to the modern digital age, texting is the preferred mode of contact, so I need to get onto that bandwagon.

I've also found that having a smartphone can come in handy when traveling, mainly to get directions or information when a laptop computer is not very practical. There was a moment recently when we were out and about and I needed to know something and thought, “Wow, I could sure use a smartphone right now.” Then again, this is something our kids are continually reminding us about.

Finally, there are now cheap smartphone options. I know people go crazy over the newest iPhones and are willing to pay through the nose for them, but not me. I couldn't care less about current technology, I just need some basic functions. This may change with time, or as I get sucked into the irresistible vacuum of technology, but for now, I can't really see that happening. And as I mentioned, with tech changing so rapidly, phones that are a year or two old are now obsolete; a fact I find completely ludicrous, but might be able to use to my advantage. I've found that you can get reasonably decent smartphones through my current pay-as-you-go program. I am talking around $25-40. More than my $5 phone, for sure, but not too shabby. I can simply transfer my plan over and suddenly I'll be in the 21st century. Scary thought.

This is all conjecture at this time, but I'm thinking it's going to be a reality sooner than you think. Once that happens I'll have to grow a goatee and start eating avocado toast at Starbucks.

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

Busy Girl

A has been quite the busy girl this year, and with school winding down it seems to have stepped up a notch. Funny how that works. On top of all the work at school, she is taking a summer class outside of school that overlapped a bit with regular classes, so she is doing double academic duty. She has driver's ed, exercise class with mom, and school band, which requires her to be at 7:00AM practices (winding down) as well as an evening performance or two arranged by the teacher at assorted venues about town. She is also in two rock bands - one is a regular gig with Tucks, but somehow she got involved with another extraneous band that was put together by some of the moms of other band members. And as we all know, once parents get involved, everything falls to pieces. I sort of get the intensity in wanting to do a good job, but it seems more serious than it needs to be, and it involves even more rehearsal time. Like we need more time commitments?

Needless to say, we're running around town at all hours of the day. Having drivers ed up in Sharon is a complete pain in the YKW, and I regret doing it but we were a little short on options when the time came to arrange it. I'll be glad when that one is done. The extra band practices are hard because most, if not all, of the other kids live in that area, so getting together on a random weeknight is no big deal. We, on the other hand, have to trek out there, and we have other things going on in our lives so it's a bit disruptive.

On the whole we are managing just fine, it's just hard being a parent in the modern, driven area. The steps it takes to “succeed” are numerous, and while I didn't think we would succumb to the drive to over-schedule our kids, we are most certainly falling into that trap. For the record, the kids have not objected (i.e., these are things they wanted), and if anything, they have played an integral role in said over-scheduling... not that I'm pointing any fingers.

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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Nice Rack

I was ruminating on the logistics of transporting the boards, which is getting a little ahead of myself considering the fact that I don't have all them yet. Then again, why wait to stress out over something when I can stress out about it today? It's pretty obvious that I'm going to have to get some sort of racking system for my car. I have a soft rack that I've used in the past, but it wasn't exactly what I wanted when I got it in the first place. Basically there are two types of soft racks - doubles and singles. A double can hold two boards on each side, while a single holds 2-3 boards in the middle. When I got my rack years ago in California, I wanted a single, but all they had was a double, so I bought it. I was sort of bummed but it may work out in my favor. More on this later.

The reason I like the single is because it holds the boards in the center and doesn't “bow-up” when you tighten it. A double tends to lift up in the center, which doesn't seem to affect it's utility (maybe it does) but is a bit unnerving. I haven't had any problems with it, but it's still not exactly what I wanted in the first place.

Now that we are on the verge of becoming New England surfers, I know I'll need a rack. A soft rack will run around $35-40, while a nice hard rack could cost hundreds. The nice thing about a hard rack, however, is that not only is it safer and more secure, but it can be used year-round for skis and probably even hockey gear - can you see the gears turning in my head?

Either way, I was toying with the idea of getting a single-soft rack (which I wanted in the first place) when it dawned on me that it probably won't work with my car. The reason for this is that I have an antennae that is smack in the middle of the roof of the car. Since a soft rack sits low, a board on a single rack will probably hit it. Sure, I could tweak things around and make it work, but I think the problem will be alleviated using a double since the boards will flank said antennae. This could be simple case of me trying to find a little sunshine in a dark world, but why not?

This makes me sort of stoked that I have the rack I actually need when this wasn't the case when I bought it. Don't you just love when that happens? We'll see how this goes, but needless to say, the road to becoming hip New England surfers is fraught with preparation. This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when you have OCD Dad putting it all together.

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

Family Hike

The past couple of days have been scorching hot, but prior to that we had one or two days of pleasant and beautiful weather, the kind where you go outside and can't imagine living anywhere else. We made the most of it by mobilizing and partaking in our first family hike of the season. It sort of came out of nowhere, and it took a bit of legwork to put all the pieces in place, but we managed and had a great outing.

Several days before this it was raining like crazy, and there was some concern that the trails might be muddy, but we forged ahead anyway. For the record, the trails were muddy, but not intolerably so, and you can't let less than ideal conditions stop you. Otherwise you'll never get out the door.

Now I had planned on making supper that evening and had even started to prepare some of the dishes, but as soon as the idea of a hike and picnic came up, I immediately stuffed everything into the fridge and turned my attention to getting our picnic supper together. A had band practice that afternoon, so mom took her over to that and me and N went out and got picnic supplies, i.e., food. There were leftover meet dumplings that we had for supper the night before, so I fried them up and packed them into a to-go container. We gathered up the food and water, stuffed it into my backpack, and then went to meet the girls over at the trailhead.

The weather was beautiful. It was a warm day so by late afternoon it was cool and nice. Plus, the trail is wooded so it's usually cool. The hike was nice though I could feel how out of shape I was, exacerbated by the kids taking off and being miles ahead of us. It's striking how much faster they are up the hill, dare I say embarrassing. Mom and I like to take our time and chat about life. By the time we got to the top, the kids were resting on the summit, wondering if they were going to have to send out a search party to find us. Very funny...

We had a wonderful picnic, with plenty of bread, cheese, cold cuts, and fruit... and of course, meat dumplings. The one downside was that there was no breeze so the mosquitoes were out in full force, so while we feasted, we were being feasted upon. Sort of a bummer. We finished the meal with chocolate and began the descent to the bottom. It felt good to be out on the trail again and hope to do it as often as possible. We just have to make it happen, right?

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Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Kevin Armstrong for the pic.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Bummed on Pro Sports

I enjoy watching sports and for most of my youth and young adult life, I spent vast quantities of time watching them. Lately, however, I haven't been watching any of them on TV. Actually, we don't even have a TV, so that's a moot issue. It's easy enough, however, to follow scores and even stream a game or two online. With that in mind, I just wanted to mention that I am disappointed in the recent outcomes of both the hockey and the basketball championships. While I didn't spend any time watching the games, I was most definitely interested in the end results.

Oh well, you just can't win them all, can you? Especially when you watch sports and have no control over them. Looking at the bright side, I didn't burn through much of my life following the games, only to have them disappoint. While I miss watching hockey, I find this last fact somewhat comforting. Then again, I do get to watch plenty of my kids' games, which for the record, I prefer.

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Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to get on with my life.

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

Band Fatigue

I'm a big fan of the arts and am stoked that A is so musical (artistic all around, actually), but this band thing is getting a bit out of hand. She's in two band/orchestras at school, she has her rock band, and now she's playing in yet another band that they put together with assorted friends. In the past she's jammed with other friends from the dojo but it's always been pretty laid back and casual, with no parental intervention except for rides and rehearsal space. This recent band that they put together is being spearheaded by some of the parents, and as we all know, once parents get involved, everything goes to heck. I feel like it's grown to be more than it should be, but I'm told it won't last too long.

Anyway, on top of A's assorted rehearsals, she's also taking lessons, which don't take up as much time but definitely comes with a cost. She really enjoys the lessons and gets a lot out of them, but I think it wouldn't hurt to trim a little of the time and cost of our current musical schedule. Then again, nobody cares what I think.

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

Friday, June 9, 2017

Change in Plans

I am not in any position to complain about this, but my wood source has fallen through. It's not a desperate situation because this is for year 2 wood, but seeing that we always dip into it, it's something I need to attend to. As I mentioned, however, I can't complain because the logger who can no longer provide is not only a friend but is having health issues. That's why he can't get the wood.

This all came about because I deviated from the regular protocol, for reasons that seemed reasonable at the time but in retrospect clearly stemmed from my neurotic predisposition and firewood OCD. I usually get my wood from one guy, TB, and he has always come through for me, so why fret over it? Simple, because fret is my middle name... and almost my first name.

The problem is that he never returns my calls and never lets me know if he can get the wood. If he simply called and left a message saying one word, “yes,”, then I'd rest easy. My dilemma is that if he can't the wood and tells me some time in October, it's too late, but I'm guessing you've heard this sob story again and again. Whatever be the case, it's not a good scene for a neurotic mess like myself.

Anyway, last year (I think) after a particularly long time with no contact, I figured he wasn't going to get me wood and contacted another logger, DS. I actually know him reasonably well, and he lives in our town so he's a neighbor. He said no problem, he could get me the wood, so I felt like I could rest easy. Then my old source literally showed up at our doorstep with a truckload of wood, after I'd arranged to get some through DS. I felt bad but told DS I didn't need the wood until the fall. If figured I could cut and split what TB gave me over the summer and then take delivery of DS's wood. I'd have a butt-load of wood, but when has that ever been a problem?

Well, fall came and I still had plenty of logs, so I asked DS if I could just get the wood in spring, and again, he said no problem. I didn't call TB because I had wood coming, figuring I'd call him in the fall and ask for wood in spring of 2018. I emailed DS and said I could take delivery at any time, and then his wife contacted me and said DS is having some health issues and wood wasn't going to happen.

Wow, talk about a bummer. As I mentioned I can in no way complain because my friend has bigger issues to deal with than my woodpile. However, that doesn't change the fact that I need wood for next year. I had to scramble and contact TB but he wasn't all warm and fuzzy (he usually isn't) about me calling so late to get wood this year. It's practically summer.

He said it was a little late but he should be able to pull something together over the summer. He said he would (gulp) call me to let me know, and as standard MO, he never called me. I have to take what I can get, even if it's small crumbs and morsels. He said it should (might?) be possible, right? He didn't say “no way,” which is about as good as it's going to get at this point. I just have to be ready with the wad of cash in case he shows up at my doorstep. I have all summer to sit and sweat over whether he'll pull through, but as he's mentioned in the past, he's always come through. While a quick phone call would be appreciated, I'm in no position to be picky, am I?

I guess I could search for another source, but we know where that will get me.

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

Good Timing

This weather has been a little nuts and I can't say that I'm so thrilled with it. Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate the cooler temps, and I'm glad it's not scalding hot outside, but it just seems like it's been raining non-stop for days. Probably because it's been raining non-stop for days. Judging from the past, it's not that unusual. I recall when we first moved here that it seemed to have rained all of June, but somehow I just never get used to it. Also, when we did the market, it seemed to rain every Wednesday when we were out there (thank goodness we're done with that).

Anyway, last week I was going to mow the lawn when I saw that the forecast called for rain all day. I was bummed but figured there was nothing I could really do about it. When I woke up that morning, it was cloudy and sure as heck looked like it was going to rain at any moment, but hadn't yet. Now normally I would have just sat there and stewed in my bitterness about the weather, but since it was yet raining, I decided to give it a go. I figured I could just stop if the skies opened up.

Well, if you can believe this, I managed to get about 3 hours of mowing in. N had done the backyard, so once I was finished the lawn was done. I couldn't believe it, I was so stoked. Plus, within a an hour after finishing, the rains came. Talk about timing. I didn't mind since the grass was nicely coifed. If anything I was happy for it.

Now it's been raining for what seems like a week straight. Since the grass grows so fast this time of year, it's getting to be that time again. Then again, I knew this day would come, didn't I?

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

Monday, June 5, 2017

One Step Closer

On the subject of surfing, we are plugging along over here. We are awaiting one more piece of body protection (booties) and we are ready to go... sort of. There is the one problem of not having enough boards, but needless to day dad is working on that one. The kids tried on the wetsuits and they fit nicely, and I was stoked to find out that, hard as this is to believe, my wetsuit still fits me. Amazing, is it not?

The weather is maybe a bit too cool to surf, though that's what a wetsuit is for, right? People talk about needing all these high tech cold water suits and apparel, but I've found, generally speaking, talk is cheap, and everyone talks. You really don't know until you go out there and find out for yourself, so we may just have to do that. Also, there is too much going on in our lives to make the long trek to the coast, but slowly things are starting to drop out of daily calendar. Then again, as things drop out, others drop in. You just can't win.

My feeling is that once we get the booties, we are ready to hit the waves. We can do this with just one board, I'll just bob in the water and guide and instruct the kids. Eventually I'll have a board and we'll all hit the waves, but this is really about getting the kids interested in what I think is one of the coolest sports around.

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

Bionic Laptop

As much as it was a bummer that my computer crashed, it's helpful to look at the bright side of things, and in this case, there is a pretty good one. Even though I had to replace my old hard drive and ended up losing a lot of software and other various memory consuming applications, not to mention a fair amount of data, my computer runs much faster and smoother. The difference is striking, so much so that even N commented on it.

Part of the reason is because I now have a solid state drive (SSD), but I'm sure it's also due to all that memory and HD space that has been freed up. Losing data is a bummer but I did fortuitously manage to back it all up in April, so it's not all bad. I also have various bits of information stored in other places, so I can retrieve them at a later date. Namely pictures and music.

One thing this whole experience has taught me is that it's important to regularly back up your stuff. I am also toying with the idea of employing the “Cloud,” but first I have to figure out what exactly that is.

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Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Mali Mish for the pic.

Rebuilding

I am in the process of rebuilding the woodpile and am still blown away by how much wood we burned last winter. It wasn't even that cold, and yet we dipped into at least 25-30% of next year's wood. Total bummer. As of this writing, we're still burning a little wood in the AM, and I'm not sure when it will end. On a bright note, we have plenty of wood to split; more than enough to replenish this year's wood, and maybe make a dent in next year's pile.

I began in earnest as soon as the snow melted, and while the weather has been a bit of a bummer with all the rain, the cooler temps make cutting, splitting, and stacking a bit more tolerable. Having the kids pitch in helps a lot, as well. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks we'll at least have it done. Then I can focus on other more important matters, like my tan.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to kosufer for the pic.
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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Missing the Tech Boat

As many of you might know by now I crashed my computer HD, or rather, it crashed on me. I don't know exactly what I did to facilitate this occurrence but I'm guessing I have blood on my hands. Either way, I was down for a couple of weeks and had to have some major repairs done, though fortunately I did back up most of my data.

What I didn't do was back it up in a way that would have preserved not only my operating system, but my software, as well. Consequently, I had to pay to have all that done, which is a bummer but a learning experience. And, for all it's worth, my computer has been cleaned out of all that excessive junk data and now runs smoothly and efficiently. This may be a combination of having exponentially less data on my hard drive as well as a solid state drive, or SSD. Whatever be the case, my computer now operates at warp speed.

What I had been doing wrong all this time was that I wasn't backing up my computer using Time Machine. Chalk it up to my ignorance and fear of the unknown, but every time you back up your Mac it asks you if you want to use Time Machine (TM). Of course, not knowing what TM was, I naturally said no, so my computer backed up just my data. Apparently what TM does is back up your OS as well as your software, such that when you replace or upgrade your hard drive, or lose everything because of a crash (been there, done that), you simply re-load it back onto your computer through TM. I have no clue how this works, but I do know that from now on I'm backing up with TM. It would have saved me some money and time, but as we all know, the hard lessons are the ones that we (hopefully) don't forget.

For now I'll keep chugging along. It's probably not a bad idea to be on the lookout for a new computer, because mine is 7 years old, which is 49 in dog years, and probably 98 in computer years. It still works fine but at some point some of the problems will be irreparable. This will not be as painful, of course, if I remember to back things up using Time Machine.

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Old, Tired, and Creaky

This is sort of counter-intuitive (at least to me) but I've noticed I get a lot more exercise in the winter than in the summer. This was not always the case back when we were playing ultimate and riding trails on our bikes, but UF is a thing of the past and we aren't riding the trails as much. I have, however, started playing more hockey, and thus am more active in the winter months. Funny how that works.

Once hockey season ended, I was pretty sedentary until work at the Inn started up again and the snow melted so I could do some yard work. Well, in the past month the circumstances have allowed those two activities to clear waivers and I've jumped in with both feet. As a consequence, however, my body suffered accordingly. I realize I'm getting old and I can't shake it like I used to, but I don't recall feeling this creaky last year. On a bright note, it's a good sort of pain, more like the soreness you get from a good workout. I also haven't forgotten that over the past 4-5 years I've lived with chronic pain, which is oddly enough, easily forgotten once it goes away.

Anyway, after a few weeks of sedentary behavior, work has been busy and I've been toiling away on the woodpile and doing all sorts of yard work. It feels good to be exercising again, and hopefully once I get back in shape, the aches and pains will be less acute. Then again, who am I trying to kid?


Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Active Care Atlanta for the pic.