Womp Rats and Ash Wednesday

This past Monday was a holiday and it was nice to have a day off and enjoy the company of my wife and children. Leslie needed to make a trip to the store so I agreed to watch over both of the kids while she went shopping. It was during this time that I began to question all of the times Leslie and I have “ooh’d” and “ahh’d” and commented on how smart our eldest child is. It was during this time that I witnessed Jack get stuck in a chair… twice and then attempt to jump face first on top of the blanket fort I had just built… again, twice. I’ll preface that by saying that while, yes I am an engineer, and yes, I happen to make a pretty stout blanket fort, there’s not a blanket fort known to man that can withstand a rather chunky child attempting to swan dive right into the middle of it… twice.

Well, this Wednesday was the start of Lent, not that Lent has ever played a big role in my life, I mention it only because Leslie and I were reminiscing on Friday about some of the people we worked with back in the GE office in Norcross. During this conversation Leslie recounted her first encounter with people who observed Lent. My sheltered Baptist wife had never had anything to do with Lent, much less seen the practice of smudging a bit of ash across your forehead. She told me that she simply could not figure out why everyone was having so much trouble with the printer on the main floor, enough so that they were getting toner smudged across their face. To be fair, I don’t know that I can laugh too hard at this because I vaguely remember telling my roommate something similar my first year in college.

I recently was able to convince my manager that it would be in the best interest of the business to purchase a drone with the ability to take high quality video while inflight. Perhaps I wouldn’t make so bad of a salesman after all. Anyway, he gave me a pretty large budget and told me to get the best that I could for that amount of money. Needless to say I had something purchased by the end of the day. Unfortunately the weather has been pretty rough ever since. I’ve snuck in a couple of flights at the house, but nothing very significant since I was battling below 0F wind-chills that made standing outside for extended periods of time very uncomfortable. Friday I went out with my boss to visit a prospective site in Massachusetts and we took the drone in order to get a good video of the topography. While it was cool to be using the drone for its intended purpose it was stinking cold outside and it only took about ten minutes for my hands to start feeling like they were about to fall off. Today (Sunday) was a brilliant blue, sun shining day, where the temperatures sky rocketed all the way up to 33F. It practically felt like summer and it was perfect weather to break out the drone for a couple of extended flights. Of course, one of the first things I had to do was recreate the scene from “A New Hope” where Luke is flying down the channels of the Death Star in his X-wing since the snow banks piled up along the sidewalk looked faintly reminisce of those very channels. While I am an excellent pilot, let’s just say that I wasn’t trying to bulls-eye any womp rats.vlcsnap-2015-02-22-18h51m15s141

The really funny thing is that the entire solar team has gotten behind this drone concept with great enthusiasm. It is not unusual for people to randomly come up to my desk and ask to see the latest footage. My boss has written out each of our names on his whiteboard and is in the process of coming up with call signs for each of us. I tried to get Rogue Leader assigned as mine but he remained resolute in that you are not allowed to come up with your own call sign. I’ve purposely avoiding telling him that I ended up ruining a week’s worth of time lapse photography because I left a finger print smudge across the portion of the case that covers the lens. I’m more than a little concerned that I might wind up with the call sign ‘Smudge.’ I guess it could be worse; I could be ‘Sparky’ or ‘[Sheldon] Cooper.’ We’ve already been through last year’s performance reviews so I’m in the process of trying to get the rest of our team onboard with his call sign being ‘Duchess.’ I’ve started trading Top Gun quotes throughout the day with the guy in the cubicle next to mine. On top of that I’ve taken to wearing my aviators around the office; I only need a leather flight cap or maybe a bomber jacket to really complete the persona. “This guy is dangerous.”

This next week I am traveling back to Raleigh for a few days, it will be the first time that Leslie has been alone with the kids for more than a day at a time. It is the perfect time for a trip since Jack has not been listening very well as of late, on top of that it would appear that he has stopped taking one (if not both) of his naps during the day. Yea… At this point I’m just hoping that my son is still alive when I get home.

I am finishing up this newsletter on the plane and I am fairly confident that I have to be related to the guy sitting across the aisle from me. Twice now he has woken himself up because he was snoring so loudly. Ahem, I won’t specifically call out which grandfather or uncle(s) this reminds me of. I’m still working up the courage to ask if he knows any Filippos or Griffins. Ok, he said he doesn’t know any and I don’t think he believed me when I said “I was just curious.” I probably better wrap this up before he starts reading this last paragraph over my shoulder.

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