Archive for August, 2003

Six Years

Of Hope
Three Children
Two Houses
A Layoff
A New Job
And Finally Love
Happy Anniversary Mrs. W.
Mr. W.



Remember that number, because there might be a quiz at the end.
Many a summer that I could remember, the temp in Chicago would rise about 1000F for two or more weeks. Electric usage would soar, and my mom and I would crack out every single fan and crack it on high, just to get through the nights. The news would runs constantly about cooling centers (i.e. School Gymnasiums and Hospitals) where the sick and elderly could cool down even at night when the temps wouldn’t even come close to 900F. I also remember going over to my great-grandmothers house to make sure the fans were working and that they had plenty of cold water in the fridge to keep hydrated.
Of course, that was back in the late 1970’s where air conditioning wasn’t nearly as plentiful as it is now. I don’t think you can find a home these days that doesn’t at least have a portable air conditioner in a window to cool down one room. Today in America, you hardly see the “cooling centers” any more since shopping malls and a plethora of other establishments exist where people can get out of the heat. More often than not, it’s the “Ozone Action Alerts” that now get people scurrying over to their parents houses to make sure they are OK.
Which brings me back to that number. In today’s society if an elderly couple was found days later in their home after a heatwave, it would be the lead story. People would scream and call for special investigations into the causes of this. The familes, already in grief, would be berated for not taking care of their own family when something like that was 100% preventable.
As of today, the unofficial death toll in France alone from the heat is 11,435.
I don’t want to make light of this. I know the one guy from France who reads this might think I’m making fun of him, but I am most definitely not. 11,435 grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins have died in the last two weeks from something that could have been prevented.
I know that it’s definitely uncommon (in fact completely unthinkable) that the temps would soar into the low 100’s. And this might have been France’s first taste of what we deal with on occasion over here in the US.
But the number is astounding, and it isn’t even the lead story on ANY news site.
11,435. Almost four times the deaths in the World Trade Center attacks. It’s also just less than what the Allies lost when storming the Normandy beaches. But it’s only news on a few sites. And it’s not even mentioned on a site who usually takes up a humanitarian cause like this.

Construction Update Day 27

Well, the walls were up as of this picture. My office is slowly starting to come together. After the ground dries out a bit, I will take pictures of the (now covered) office area.


Today I am truly alone in the house. And Dark Side of the Moon just popped up on Random Play.
Two of the kids are off at school, hoping learning the skills they need so they can move out in a few years (and hopefully STAY OUT!).
And the wife is off shopping with my youngest daughter, who is enjoying her last days of freedom before she starts a new year at a new school.
And I’m just sitting here listening to Eclipse. Another song about everything that we do on this planet is trivial compared to the known (and unknown) universe.
All that is now
All that is gone
All that’s to come
and everything under the sun is in tune
but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.

When it Rains….

Construction updates have been slow, since progress has been slow.
Today was the day that the roof trusses were supposed to be put in place. Actually, they were supposed to be done Tuesday (oops, need to finish the bearing wall), then Wednesday (put sheeting up first), then Thursday (waiting for some help), and finally today. Except today is the first day that we have had rain in almost two weeks.
I’m not talking about your usual drizzle. So far in the past two hours I’ve swept out at least 1/4″ of rain TWICE. And of course with this being Labor Day weekend, we can wipe out any possibility of work over the weekend. Which means it will be Tuesday when the trusses will be placed (unless it rains of course) and maybe by the end of the week when we will have a roof.
And on top of this, I just received a call from my sister-in-law who told me that my wife’s van was rear-ended. She doesn’t see any damage, but I told her to get all the insurance info and his plate number. I also said to write down EVERYTHING that happened in case the other driver gets amnesia.

Interesting Things You See At Home

Normally it’s not too difficult to see the Indiana Air National Guard F-16’s taking off from Fort Wayne, especially since Huntington lines up rather nicely with the main 12k’ runway. But today my house was buzzed from what looked like an A-10 Warthog at about 300 feet at what I would guess to be 200-300 knots. Unfortunately he wasn’t lined up to land/takeoff at either Huntington Airport or Fort Wayne.
Some pilots don’t realize that practicing aerobatics over a populated area isn’t exactly a good idea, especially with complex machines. While rare, accidents do happen and bringing your plane down in a subdivision as opposed to open cornfield two miles away brings bad karma. 🙂
I know the chances of an accident happening are close to zilch, but why the hell tempt fate and not just practice two or three miles down the road.
And yes, he’s still out there flying around. Can’t miss the sound of low-to-the-ground turbofans.

Junior High – Part I, Day 1

Today my daughter Emily starts Junior High.
Pardon me while I get out my bazooka.
We can now look forward to school dances, friends calling at all hours, being dropped off blocks away from destinations unknown, and your occasional silliness over which boy is the cutest in school.
We can also look forward to broken hearts, high-pressure homework, after-school clubs and activities, musicals, etc….
I know that my daughter Krystal has been excelling in her school, and that next year she will be starting High School. Yes, High School. And then Hannah will start her journey the year after that.
Maybe now it’s a good time to become an alcoholic… 🙂

And Let’s Not Forget T-Mobile

So after reading about Derek’s rant about how wonderful the new Sidekick is, I decided to try it out and see if it would work with our spiffy new remote access. So I call the T-Mobile store in Fort Wayne to see if they have one.
Called Friday evening when I was four blocks away, no answer.
Called Sunday afternoon, no answer.
Called Monday morning, no answer.
Called Monday afternoon and finally spoke to some clerk weenie at the site. Asked if they had a demo that I could at least try out in the store to see if it would work with my spiffy VPN access? Heck no. BUT I could go ahead, sign up for service, slap down the $300 for the phone and see if it worked in the store.
When I asked to speak to the manager about the utter stupidity of that policy, he told me that HE was the manager and that he couldn’t just have a phone lying around for people to try.
Now maybe I’m missing the overall point, but if a customer calls in wanting to buy your most expensive piece of hardware to see if it works, wouldn’t you just crack open a box and plug it in so that he could at least try it out for fifteen minutes? Or is it better to snub your potential customer, pissing him off so that he’ll put the cash out to get service from somewhere else.
But I guess that would make sense to T-Mobile….

Why Fox Sucks

First Firefly
Now Lucky

Long Nights, Impossible Odds

And I don’t mean that old Styx song…
Tonight was one of the hardest nights of my life. I had to take one of my kids to the regional “behavioral health” centers for what is hopefully a “relatively short” stay. Our son has been having problems over the past few months since he was placed with us. But after this weekends pool activites, his psychologist agreed that it was time to get him more thoroughly checked out.
So after we had all of fifteen minutes notice, we had our son’s bags packed and out the door we went. Our preferred appointment time was from 8:15-8:30. Oh, and we had to let him know what was going on.
Imagine telling your seven year old that he has to go away because of the way he acts. I’ve never seen such pain and anguish in such a small face. He started to cry. Not the “Ow! I stubbed my toe” wail. No, this was a wail that’s only heard when someone loses everything he loves. Oh and times ticking. Gotta leave in five minutes to get him at the hospital ontime.
So we gather up whatever clothes we can and out the door he went. He literally wanted to say goodbye to everyone (since the previous two times this has happened, he has never seen the family again) and off we went.
We tried to small talk, but that only made it more painfully obviously what this was. It’s our last hope. Our son knows this. The next stage would be a long-term hospitalization (i.e. 6 months to a year) which would probably be in a hospital six hours away. You can alaways be surprised by just how much a seven year old knows about his surroundings. I’m trying to be brave, but I’ve never been good at faking it. Everytime he breaks down, it’s impossible not to get a tear in the eye or at least be forced to walk away to compose myself.
We get to the hospital and have to wait for about twenty minutes while they start his new chart. Questions over and over about what he’s been like, what’s wrong, what’s right, how he deals with events, etc. This alone takes over an hour in which our son has to hear all his sins recited note-for-note to a total stranger. If our son ever meets St. Peter, he’s going to swear it’s another therapist visit. Finally another nurse walks in and starts getting our son’s vital signs. Heartrate, high. Blood Pressure, a bit high. Behavior, manic.
Finally around 10:00 we’re led to our son’s area and we are shuffled off to a conference room while our sons belongings are searched for guns, knives, comic books, and box cutters. We blow through the hour long Q&A in about five minutes and go to see our son who is thankfully asleep in his new temporary home.
Normally when my son is asleep, he’s done. You could light off a nuke or a twenty White Castle’s fart right next to him and he won’t budge. But not tonight. We sneak in and make sure he’s covered up. Feebly, he goes “Mom, Dad?”. My wife rushes over to give him his hug and good night kiss, something we won’t be able to do for the next several weeks. At this point, I lost it. I told him to be good, gave him a hug and quickly exited the room to try to waste a box of Kleenex.
I don’t know what to think about crying in front of my son. At a time like this, I think he needs to know that dad is hear and that we are confident that he will get through this; even though I’m scared as hell that I might have to lose him in order to keep my family safe.
If anyone reads this tonight, I just ask two things.
1. Hug your kids. If they have psychological problems, don’t be afraid to face them and get professional help. It’s not your parenting.
2. Push for reform in the healthcare system. Some kids are pushed back out into the real world after three days of observation pronouncing they are “diagnosed and cured/medicated”. At my son’s last placement, the fun revolved around how much they could make the kids in the dorm look like extras in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.