Lifetime Achievement Award

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind and it wasn’t a lack of material or even a need for a break which prevented me from publishing a new newsletter, it was simply a lack of time.  The weekend of the 10th I flew down to Charlotte, NC to join a group of men to pray and worship the Father.  I know I have written of this in the past so I won’t go into great detail, but suffice it to say that it was an awesome time of refreshment, passion, and love for the Father and for other brothers in Christ.  Much is often made of the divisions in the church, especially between the various denominations, but when a group of people come together with no other goal or agenda other than to worship God, the sense of unity of love is incredible.

Last weekend involved a number of time constraints, lunch with a couple after church, a scheduled time to play cards with our pastor and his wife, a shorter than normal nap time, and the need to finish preparing a lesson for the youth that evening.  Of course, it did not help that in the course of preparing my lesson I got sidetracked creating an excel spreadsheet that contained a reading plan for my students to get through the gospels over the next couple of months.  The reading plan itself did not take that long to create, the problem that I ran into was the hypotheticals.  What if we did not start this until the following week?  What if I wanted to re-use the reading plan in later years?  What if I wanted to start on a day other than a Monday?  These present problems because I like a spreadsheet where I have to make minimal changes to adapt it to other uses, meaning, I want to change the date in the first cell and have everything else calculate accordingly; I want the dates to always track and I want the Catch Up Days to always fall on a Sunday.  This means that every field now has to be a formula, some of which require a certain level of detail and customization… It would never do to have my students scheduled to read Matthew chapter 29 or to stop reading at John chapter 20.  Those of you familiar with Microsoft Excel know exactly what I am talking about, those of you who are not, all you need to understand is that I am a nerd.

Some of you questioned the veracity of my story concerning Jack walking up to our Christmas tree and sneezing upon our return from vacation.  Thus it is with much pride that I present to you the picture above, proof that my stories are 100% true, verifiable, and unexaggerated. img_5271

I achieved a significant milestone about a week ago, in fact, one might goes as far as to call it a lifetime achievement.  There is likely to be a trophy involved and I will most certainly be keeping a souvenir of my various trials to get to this moment.  Just what exactly is it that I have achieved you might ask.  Well dear readers, I used an entire tube of Chapstick…  That’s right, I used it all the way to the bottom, or the top, depending on how you want to phrase your terminology.  I admit, it was not easy, in fact, there were a number of times throughout the years leading up to this that I simply wanted to call it quits and move on to a different tube.  There was the incident involving a toddler who thought it looked and smelled like candy, then there was the fiasco involving a truck and a warm summer day, nevertheless I img_5275suffered through using only a small corner of the stick until things levelled out.  I want to thank my wife for all her emotional support and I want to give a big shout out to my sponsors, Chapstick and the cold, dry winters of upstate New York.

I don’t know if it was a change that was made at the beginning of 2017 or if I am simply just now starting to notice them, but has anyone else noticed that the signs denoting handicap parking have changed?  Not just the signs but any new placed symbol for a handicap parking space or the placards allowing you to park there.  When I first saw the new sign, I had to chuckle because all I could think was, “Wait, now you can only park here if you are in a wheelchair racing league?”  I mean come on, what else could the new symbol possibly denote but someone involved in a wheelchair race?  The upper torso arched forward in anticipation and for greater leverage granting faster motion, the arms thrown back in an exaggerated motion clearly indicating the velocity which the individual is trying to obtain, and finally the break in the lines of the circle demonstrating the rotational speed of the wheels.  Wheelchair racer, no doubt about it.img_5269


The Batter Is Strong with This One

Well, vacation is officially over, or at least it will be after the federal holiday tomorrow.  We made it back to our house Saturday afternoon after a fairly easy flight back; I say fairly easy because while there were a number of screaming children on this flight, none of them were mine.  It is the simple things in life which drive my pleasure now.  On the same token, it is now the small things that drive me bananas.  When we got home yesterday I noticed three things, the driveway needed to be shoveled, the fridge needed to be emptied, and there was a smoke alarm somewhere in the house that needed a battery replaced.  After spending the better part of an hour trying to track down which smoke alarm needed the battery replacement I finally discovered that it was the one in the basement… the one I had completely forgotten I had installed.  Unfortunately, I did not have any 9V batteries (I’m sure there is an electrical design reason why smoke alarms only accept 9V batteries, but I cannot for the life of me think of one.  Whoever was involved in this design process should be rounded up and executed… It’s the same for toys that use C batteries) so I removed the battery until I could get to the store and pick up a new pack.  Of course, it was about this time that a second smoke alarm somewhere else in the house started beeping at me… and this one I have yet to locate.  Sheesh, it is almost like you should just change the batteries in all your smoke alarms once a year.

The last week of our vacation we stayed with my mom and dad.  One evening while we were there I was discussing the various methods of squirrel elimination.  We discussed the various pros and cons of traps versus the old-fashioned pellet gun.  We then talked about the various aspects of our respective pellet guns.  Later that week I was down in my parents’ unfinished basement where my mom was letting the kids ride their bikes as it had been raining outside.  While down there I noticed a paper target fastened to a thick bundle of newspaper.  Stepping back I realized that my father had created a shooting range in his basement.  I walked it off and quickly determined that he had plenty of space for a real pistol range and asked when he was going to start putting up the sound-proofing panels.img_5236

Before we left I had attempted to rig up a system of buckets and tubes to create a device that would use hydraulic (i.e. water stored at a height) pressure to supply water to our Christmas tree while we were gone.  Based on the rate the tree was consuming water I estimated we had about eight days before the tree stand ran dry, which would be six days before we returned home.  Unfortunately, I could not get it to work.  Oh I got the water to siphon from a bucket ok, the problem is I could not get the pressure to balance just right so that the water would only flow when the water level in the tree stand dropped below a certain level; my setup would start siphoning water into the tree stand and would not stop until the bucket was empty and the tree stand had long since overflowed.  The good news is that it looks like our tree stopped taking water approximately three days after we left so there was still plenty of water in the tree stand when we got back.  The bad news is that Jack sneezed while he was next to the tree and disappeared in a cloud of pine needles, when the cloud settled he was standing in a pile of needles and the tree resembled the one from a Charlie Brown Christmas.

After we got home yesterday I got the kids bundled up and we all went outside while I plowed the snow off the driveway.  It did not take me too long and once I was done we started playing around in the snow that was still left on the ground.  It probably only amounted to a couple of inches, not nearly enough to make a snow man, but plenty to make a few snowballs.  After successfully teaching Jack and Nicolas how to make a snowball and teaching Ayla how to throw handfuls of powder into the air, we proceeded to have the first Filippo snowball fight of the season.  All told I only made one of my kids cry so I consider it a wild success.  What more could a parent hope for?

One of the gifts I received for Christmas had the kids and myself very excited to try out once we got home.  I received a Darth Vader waffle maker, although to be fair what it actually made should be classified as pancakes, not waffles.  I’m still miffed that a product can advertise itself as a waffle maker while cooking a food that is far more light and fluffy than any pancake I have ever made on a skillet.  I know waffles, I think you know that I know waffles.  These weren’t waffles, they were a very passable attempt at a pancake.  That said, we were anxious enough to try it that I wound up making pancakes for lunch today.  I was very pleased with the overall results.  Of course, while we were eating waffles I asked our Amazon Echo to play the Imperial March, because what other music would be appropriate to listen to while eating Darth Vader pancakes on a Sunday afternoon.  Needless to say, the children were thrilled.  It was actually pretty funny, my very last pancake did not have quite enough batter to fill the tray so the top of the pancake wound up looking like this horrendously misshapen Darth Vader helmet, very similar to the one idolized by Kylo Ren in Episode VII.  I was a happy man at lunch today.img_5241