Monday, April 30, 2007

Dude On A Hot Asphalt Roof

I have a new respect for roofers. On Saturday I tried shingling the roof on the playhouse. It was only in the 70's or so, but the roof quickly became unbearable. If I left my leg in one spot too long it would start to burn. Then I realized the asphalt itself was starting to melt, an that if I didn't tread carefully I'd scuff up the shingles.

So I moved to the other side, hoping the different angle to the sun would help. It did. I was able to get most of that side done before it again became too hot to stay up there. Now I need to wait for a cool evening or next weekend before I can finish that particular job.

On the other hand, I must say the roof is looking quite nice--what I've got finished. It really add to the look of the playhouse. As long as you don't look at the window that isn't quite parallel with the roofline you'd almost think it was professionally done. And if you stand back to where you don't notice the other little goofs. And squint your eyes a bit. And don't look at any other straight lines nearby.

The show I was in is over now. I'm glad, as it was taking up a lot of time, but I am glad I did it, too. It was fun to get up on stage again. And hanging out in the wings waiting to go on. And hanging with the rest of the cast in the green room. Good times.

I really, really need a haircut now.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Our Hearts We Cannot Steel

I'm currently on vacation working on a playhouse (I may have mentioned this). Today I was working out back putting up roof trusses when I heard gunshots. At first I was puzzled--gunshots? Here? Not in our sleepy little metropolis. Then I heard the bugle.

You see, we live about half a block from a cemetary. I'd never heard it before today--perhaps the wind direction helped carry it our way or something--but they were holding a graveside service with military honors. I usually get choked up pretty easily over "Taps", but suddenly I was reliving my father's graveside service in January. There I was, on top of a ladder with a drill in one hand, crying.

I don't know where I get the idea that I'm somehow different from other people. When people tell me it takes time to get over losing a loved one they're right. It doesn't matter that we were expecting it, that it was a merciful passing, that we had our chance to say goodbye first. There's a hole there, and it's going to be there awhile. Perhaps it's not overtly impacting my life every day, but it's still there.

I think the hardest thing to come to terms with was that I never did say goodbye. Not the way I had wanted to, anyway. The last time we visited I said it to his face, but while I said the words, there was a lot behind them that didn't get said. I started a letter to him several times and never finished it.

And his last night, after the family had a prayer around his bed, Mom even requested that we take some time to say goodbye. I didn't. It was too easy not to. There were family around I hadn't seen in some time. There was Mom to worry about. There was my sister and her little boy to help out with. There were plenty of excuses. I just didn't get around to it. I was scared. Of what, I'm not sure.

I wish I had. I guess I should take some comfort in knowing that I said much of what I would have said during the blessing we gave him the night before he died. I should take comfort in knowing that I'll have a chance to tell him again someday. But the comfort isn't there.

So now I can only add my voice to all those who I used to ignore: Never leave things unsaid. If you have your chance to say goodbye, take it.

One Advantage of Women's Lib

I've observed an interesting phenomenon (doot-dooooo-dah-doo-doo) these past few days. You see, I'm not exactly a big, burly, manly-man type. I'm 5'7" and 130 lbs, and while I don't consider myself a wimp, I'm not tough. I'm fine with that.

So when I go to Home Depot and wrestle 4'x8' sheet lumber I have to take my time and use the laws of physics rather than the law of the jungle. I can get it done. It just takes me longer.

Anyway, I've made three trips to Home Depot in the last four days. Each time the only workers to offer me help are women. Never the men. I don't know what it is. Is it an unwritten rule in the Brotherhood of Brothers that we never embarass each other by offering help? Is it just that women are more apt to realize that sheet lumber is heavy and therefore assume someone would want help? Is it just that women are more observant about what is going on around them? I don't have the answer, but it would be interesting to know.

I mentioned this to one of the women who stopped to help me today, and she apologized profusely (it was not my intention to see someone fall on their sword over it). And she rounded up a guy to help me while I was on the way to the checkstand so I could get help loading it all in the van. Yeah, I could have done it myself. But I was in a hurry to get the van back before Terhi needed it. So it was well appreciated.

Standard Disclaimer: I have no problem with women working at Home Depot. I have no problem with women lifting heavy objects for me or helping me lift them. I'm pretty sure if they're working at Home Depot they know what they're getting in for. They're either just fine with the lifting or they'll get someone bigger to do it. And if I need help, I'll accept whatever help is offered.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Allow Me To Demonstrate

Our company sponsored two classes yesterday; one on CPR, and another on First Aid. I signed up for both. The CPR class was kind of fun, really. Serious stuff, but good to know. The afternoon class on first aid, however, was an adventure.

The teacher was a paramedic, and so he had lots of "example" pictures. I started feeling a little sick, so I put my head down on my knees, hoping it would pass. It didn't. I passed out. I came to with paramedics surrounding me. I become coherent quickly enough, but I still felt lousy. When I didn't bounce back as fast as I should have, and when I told them about my heart condition, they decided I needed a trip to the E.R.

I spent the next three hours in the hospital. Three tries to put in an IV, a series of bloodtests (they're always ordering a CBC on "ER"--I still don't know what it is, but I got one!), an EKG, two x-rays, an IV of saline, and oxygen therapy later they decided that the class pictures had triggered a vasovagal episode, compounded by mild dehydration, otherwise known as "I got squeamish and passed out." On the other hand, they ruled out complications from my heart condition, which I guess is good to know.

I'm still a bit weak and frail today. I was describing what happened to someone this morning and started getting dizzy again. I guess I've really got to watch it for awhile. The good news? If you stop breathing for any reason--I'm your man!

I really, really hope this ends our run of bad luck for awhile.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Tips for the Ninja-besieged Enterprise

I ran across a Microsoft add in a trade magazine today that made me giggle. Yes, I' m a geek, as ninjas make me giggle. Especially the thought of them besieging my enterprise. Some sample tips:

Avoid Ninjas in the first place
Ask yourself--why have Ninjas chosen your company? Did you do something to offend a powerful warlord? Is a competitor particularly nasty? Who would send Ninjas after you? Answer this question and you'll be ready for next time.

Use your whiteboard as a shield
Ninjas love throwing stars, known as shuriken. They are sharp, and pointy, and when thrown they stick in deep and hurt a lot. Grab the nearest whiteboard and use it as a shield when the shuriken throwing begins. Yes, it'll ruin the whiteboard, but you can explain later.

Use your phone (to call for help)
Ninjas are tought--deadly actually--and no one will judge if, at a point when all hope seems lost, you call for help. Calling in reinforcements from branch offices, even the warehouse crew, can make the difference when Ninjas attack.

Use office plants as weapons
Those dusty-looking palms around your office may look harmless, but you can wield them as formidable weapons. The fronds can be used as pokers; aim for the Ninja's sensitive spots. Cacti are particularly useful for the Ninja-besieged enterprise. Throw them, pot and all, like grenades.

In other news, at least three people have stopped to comment on my computer desktop today. It shows the painting my sister did of our uncle's ranch, and it's drawing lots of positive comments. Congrats, sis! You're getting noticed!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Putting the "Civil" in Civilization

Don Imus is getting what he deserves (fired for racial slurs uttered on the air). Let me be clear about that. What saddens me about this case is that it's so isolated. There should be plenty of others tossed out along with him. We are no longer a civil people. We call each other the most horrible things and call it free speech. Or comedy. Or entertainment.

I've no doubt in my mind that had he said those things about a team of white women no one would have batted an eye. I have no doubt that if those things had been said by someone on Saturday Night Live no one would have cared.

We shouldn't have people saying things like that about anyone! We shouldn't need censorship because people should be watching their own mouths. We've become a nation of potty-mouths, and we have entire career fields stumbling over one another in a headlong race into the gutter.

We should have a culture where people are well and truly shocked by such language. But in reality, the only result I see from this is all the other shock jocks deconstructing the incident: "Where did he go too far? Was it adding in 'ho?' Can I call someone a 'nappy-headed weasel' and get away with it? How about a 'nazi-headed ho?'" How long, do you think, before we have SNL comedy sketches where men dressed up as old, white biddies sit around and call each other 'nappy-headed hos'? (In a way, I hope they do, though I doubt it would have the effect is should.)

If it were up to Thumper's mother, America would be known as The Silent Nation.

I can't say that I'd mind that.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What They Don't Tell You

It's big news to tout Bush's low poll numbers. They usually leave out the fact that congress polls even lower. Even with the change in majority they're still only slightly improved over-all. Could it be that we're just sick to death of politics?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Treading The Boards

It's been a long time since I was in anything theatrical. Getting close to ten years, now that I think of it. That's changing, and I must admit it feels good. Our church is organized such that the local congregation is called a "ward," and a grouping of wards is called a "stake." The stake we're in now is big enough (thirteen wards--nearly twice that of most stakes) to take on some fairly ambitious cultural activities.

One of their traditions is to do a musical revue every year. Last year was "The Best of Disney." This year is "The Best of Broadway." I wasn't going to be involved, but someone in the ward choir I direct got an idea to do a scene from a musical he just discovered and invited me to join (it requires men, and lots of them). It actually fit my schedule without too much adjustment, so I agreed. We had our first rehearsal yesterday.

The musical is called "For the Glory," and is built around various perspectives on the American Civil War. Our scene is about both sides as they prepare for the first Battle of Bull Run, one of the first battles in the war. It's fairly powerful music--and pretty dang high--and I'm going to thoroughly enjoy it. I'd love to do theater again, but to everything there is a season. I don't think I can stay away forever.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Meet Thy Doom!

Over breakfast this morning my three-year-old son looked up at me and intoned menacingly "I am Dooooom!" Evidently my doom is a little brown-haired boy with green eyes and a goofy grin. Strange. I always thought it would be puppies.

It turns out he was just misquoting a Charlie Brown special. ("I'm doomed!")

We got the lawnmower back from repairs last night. The verdict: Water in the gas tank--and the oil pan. The mechanic was puzzled. I was not. My Doom has a toy lawnmower, and he has a bottle of water he uses for his gas. He was helping daddy. It's hard to be upset about it--in fact I won't even try. He's a good kid, and he was pretty worried about the lawnmower when it broke. He wanted to follow the repairman to see where he was taking it.

Speaking of the repairman, I highly recommend "Timberwolf Small Engine Repair" for all your small engine repair or service needs. He's honest--he could have told me it was ANYTHING and I'd have believed him, but instead he solved my problem for the cost of a servicing. He's thorough--he even cleaned the thing up so it looks brand new. And he picks up and delivers for free! Granted, there's probably only one regular reader of this blog that is likely to care, but still.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The List Continues

We're having a bit of a bad run of luck lately, it seems:
- The computer died, had to buy a new computer
- Windows Vista doesn't support Outlook from Office '97. Had to buy Office 2007 to get our email back (on the bright side, my current employer is a Microsoft Partner, so it only cost me $20, as long as I stay employed there)
- Major windstorm pounds city for three days. Our deck swing is tattered, and we lost shingles in three places (would have lost more if I hadn't climbed up on the roof with landscaping blocks to hold the rest down)
- All three kids get colds, two of them getting ear infections
- Lawnmower ran for two minutes, then died, never to start again
- Our whiteboard calendar suddenly crashed to the floor tonight (granted this is minor, and possibly a good sign that the trend is losing steam?), breaking the frame in three places

I can't wait to see what this week brings!

Incidentally, though I haven't had a chance to really use it yet (other than Outlook), Office 2007 sports a totally new interface paradigm, and I think I may really like it.