Because Computers run on Magic

Last friday I stacked equipment I needed for this mornings presentation all together on a table. Somewhere between then and now, someone looked at the stack of equipment and decided that I really didnt need extension cords and power strips,then relocated them to an as yet secret location, absolutely leaving all the computer equipment right where it was.
…there are days when I root for the apocalypse.

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The Waiting Game

I have another job interview next week. I’m currently waiting to see if I’ve been picked up by the job I interviewed for a few weeks ago. I’m also waiting to see if I get canvassed by any other jobs before the civil service lists run out and I have to test again. I’m never bored, that’s for sure, but at the same time, all the waiting has a tendency to drive anxiety through the roof.

I’m confident that something will come along, but man, I’ll tell you, the uncertainty is worst than not having a job.

When I interview for places, some of them are kind enough to send letters saying the positions was filled, thanks for the interest. Other places, well, you never hear from them again, and you wonder for weeks or months if you missed out or if their selection process is honestly taking this long.

We’ll get something, somewhere, I know it. I know that whatever I do get will be worth the wait. But I do wish that something would happen soon.

I’m exhausted.

…on an unrelated note, I took keys off of the keyboard of my laptop to clean it out a bit, and managed to mess up the damn space bar. One half of it works flawlessly, the other side sticks. I either need to figure out how to fix it, or train myself to hit it with my other hand so I get a space whenever I need it.

The Unfortunate Training

I’ve been lucky enough that my old day job asked me back to work four days a week at the school while I hunt for a new job in law enforcement. I’ve got a couple of lines in the water, but none are real concrete leads, so I anticipate being stuck in IT for a little while. No big deal, I like the school where I work, and the people there are great.

The week before opening, and the first week of school are always a flurry of activity for the IT staff, since there are projects to wrap, and bugs to work out. It’s exhausting, but I’ve grown to very much enjoy it over the years. I think this will be my 9th or 10th opening, and while I’m a bit of a veteran, each year is different and presents a unique set of challenges that need to be met with patience, coffee, understanding, and coffee.

The teachers spend almost a week back before school actually kicks off, getting their classrooms ready, attending conferences and training seminars, and swapping lies with each other about how spectacular their summers were and how excited they are to be back.

The schedule for training this year came out and was posted in the main office the other day. I browsed it quickly, with little interest, since there was no new technology I had to host any training seminars on. But then I saw it.

Tuesday, September 2nd, 8:00am- Active Shooter Training, DCJS, All faculty and staff.

I stared at it for a minute, the unfortunate reality setting in. With another school year starting up around the country, the possibility for instances which necessitate this sort of training comes to life again. It is a cinch to write off such a possibility when living and working in as small a community as the one I’m currently a part of, but the reality is, that nobody can afford to write it off. As soon as you do, and as soon as you neglect to properly train your staff how to respond and react to something like this, you end up with a problem on your hands, and while I hate the idea that this tiny little school, which is very much like the one The Narrator attends, is going through such training, I’m glad they realize the necessity of preparing for such a tragic possibility.

I don’t intend to turn this post into a debate on guns, mental health, or the ‘culture of violence’ that we’re currently dealing with. Instead, I’m merely commenting on the idea that schools need to be aware and take pro-active steps for dealing with something like this, since it IS possible, regardless of the reason. I sat in on a training session with my old department last year and we talked about schools in our area that were almost literally putting their heads in the sand when it came to the subject of school violence. They were openly hostile to local law enforcement presence, their response training for emergencies was thin and far from comprehensive, and even their campus security was lax.

I don’t advocate turning schools into lockdown facilities. I don’t advocate armed guards strolling the hallways of our schools. I don’t advocate arming teachers or allowing concealed firearms on school property….but I DO want to know that schools are not turning a blind eye to situations that might require some sort of extreme response, simply because “Oh, that’s rare and could never happen here.”

I’m working in a tiny school with fewer than 300 students in grades K-12. We’re are rural as it gets. But the school is doing what it can to prepare its staff for the possibility of something horrible, and I’m very happy to know that they’re not dismissive of such training and education simply because of our geography and demographics.

I hate that this sort of thing has become necessary. I hate to know that this sort of schooling has become recommended for the places where we send our children to learn and grow. I hate that I walk the halls of even this tiny little place with a professional wariness that, even though I’m not currently working- will not go away.

But I’m glad that the gravity of the situation is sinking in. Because if you’re prepared for an eventuality- even just a LITTLE bit….who knows what you could save in terms of cost, and I don’t mean that in a dollar bills sense.

Dude- Mellow Out.

My mother has a very energetic three year old Irish Setter, and in an effort to let him burn some of his enthusiasm for life off, my sister enrolled him in an agility school. If you’re unfamiliar- it’s basically an obstacle course for dogs. Weave poles, tunnels, jumps, etc. It turns out, the little guy is pretty good at it, and the teacher asked my sister to handle him in competition, to be held at a county fair that is being held this week.

Seeing this as an opportunity to get the hell out of the house for a while and do something different, my wife and I packed the kids into the car and headed downstate an hour or so to the fair so we could watch little Quincy run. The boys adored the show, especially when one of the dogs would change its mind about running the course and gallivant off to sniff at the crowd, much to the exasperation of their handlers.

Quincy did very well, and won 3rd place in his very first competition. When the race was over, we went through the fair for your typical experience. Rides, games, overpriced food….

When we were getting ready to leave, I realized I had two more ride tickets. My wife hung with Mini-Me, who was getting sleepy, and I took The Narrator back down the midway looking for one last ride. He chose the bumper cars, and we had a blast.

On the way back, we walked down the lane between the many carnival games. The workers hawked their games, trying to get anyone who walked past to drop a handful of dollars on a doomed attempt to win gigantic stuffed animals. For the most part, I ignored them, but did stop in for one basketball throwing game, which I made a fool of myself on, not being able to sink a single ball. No matter, I paid a buck, had a laugh, and we were off.

Near the end, I hear someone from another booth calling to passers-by. His words landed in the ear of a man near me who turned his head and said something I couldn’t make out. The hawker replied with something like “It’s only a buck!” The man looked at the worker with absolute disgust, and with a voice dripping with malice, said “This isn’t my first fair pal.” Then he headed away.

Congratulations mister, you’re smart enough to know that these games are rigged to keep everyone from winning. But you know what? So am I, and I didn’t feel the need to be a dick about it, and neither did the thousands of other people walking down the midway around you. Don’t want to play? Shake your head and keep walking, or- perhaps don’t even acknowledge them.

You’re at a fair. Events that are world renowned for aggressive hawking of games, rides, and other gimmicks. Relax a bit. Getting grumpy at a carnival worker really makes you look sillier than the mannequin hurling insults from the “Drown-a-Clown” dunking booth.

Including my inward chuckle at Mr. Tight-butt, the fair was an amazing time, and everyone was so tuckered out by the time we got home that bedtime was a no-nonsense affair.

Bonus.

I’ve Got 99 Problems, and Most of Them are Relatives.

A long while back there was a falling-out between members of my father’s family. Heated words were exchanged, and as a result, I’ve gone nearly four years without speaking to two of my aunts. One of them vanished, which makes things easier. The other is a control freak who cannot let things die.

When I left my job a few weeks back, I didn’t tell very many people. Including my in-laws. My father in law has been a massive help to me over the last few years and it was embarrassing to tell him. My mother in law is a busy body and giving her even the smallest crumb of sensitive information results in chafing and aggravation the likes of which can only be compared to the grain of sand that irritates the inside of an oyster. Only, instead of a pearl resulting, its a headache.

Well, flash forward to this afternoon, my estranged aunt is visiting local family….who tell her I’m not working any more.

Rather than laugh maniacally like she usually does at the concept of other’s misfortunes, she wants info. So what does she do? Dusts off her contacts in facebook and messages my mother in law, effectively blowing the lid off of an uncomfortable situation before I was ready.

Two things bother me about this situation that have turned me into a major ball of stress and anger Thu afternoon.
1. What business is it of my aunt’s?  After four years of animosity and virtually no contact, what the hell does she care?
2. I’ve made it abundantly clear to my mother in law that my family does not communicate with this woman any more. Yes she’s still all over Facebook with her, not being smart enough to realize that she’s being used as a source of insider information, and nothing more. She is a tool my aunt is using to keep tabs on those of us who are trying like hell to cut her out of our lives.

None of this is anyone’s business (he said, to a group of internet strangers.) Neither of these two women have any actual interest in my well being or have anything to offer. Yet the line “I wanted to make sure he’s alright” has been bandied about a few times this afternoon.

I got off of facebook to avoid this sort of bullshit, but it seems that even now I’m not safe. There is no privacy.

Am I wrong to be annoyed? Is it my own fault for hiding this for as long as I have? Maybe. I don’t know. All I do know is that this afternoon’s little circus has added to what is a rapidly growing batch of anxiety and who knows what else.

I’m not sleeping at night. I’m eating garbage. I rarely exercise anymore. I run between jobs like a hyper lab rat chasing….I dont even know what.

They always said you can count on your family when times are tough. What they didn’t tell me is that you can count on them to throw gas on the fire, scorpions in your shorts, and laugh while you twist and dance about. 

Sorry to be so down and out, but its been a rough few weeks for AD. Things will improve, I’m sure. They have to. The best part about hitting the bottom is that there’s nothing else to do but bounce back. Stick around for the bouncing.

Peaches Galore!

Right now I’m working alongside a contractor whose father is a real salt-of-the-earth kind of guy. He raises chickens, has a mini-fruit orchard in his back yard, composts, and takes all the firewood he can lay his hands on for heating his home in the winter. He’s a hell of a guy, the sort that knows the value of a hard day’s work, and even at 70, isn’t afraid to put one in himself. I like the guy a lot and have a ton of respect for him.
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned to him that if his peach trees bore enough fruit this year, I’d be interested in buying some from him- both of my boys are huge fruit eaters, and peaches have always been my favorite.

This morning I stopped at the house to pick up some equipment for the house painting job I’m on, and he comes out with two plastic bags. “Come with me” he says. We go out to his orchard and his trees are literally bulging with peaches. The branches are so heavy, that limbs are cracking under the weight. “Take all you want.” he tells me.

So right there, at eight o’clock in the morning I’m picking fresh peaches off of the trees, and was promised even more in a week or two.

He’s got such a harvest this year, he can’t even give them away fast enough.

…Trouble is, I now have more peaches than I know what to do with, and even more than we can all eat before they start to soften and turn.

They’re delicious. The best peaches I’ve ever eaten. Sweet, juicy, amazing.

peaches

I’m frantically googling for recipe ideas, but all that I’m finding are way above the novice level that I’m at. There’s a peach wine that looks promising, but other than that….

Does anyone have any favorite ways to prepare/use/eat peaches?

“Meth Mouth”

The Narrator is going through a bit where he’s losing his baby teeth. The first two to go were the bottom two fronts. The other day he pulled out one of the top fronts and immediately went to work on the one next to it.

He wiggled and woggled it for some time, to the point where it was hanging very low and incredibly crooked. However, it was either still pretty attached at one end or he got squeamish about pulling it out. As a result, he looked…..hilarious.

When he talked, you could see the one snaggled tooth hanging down, with a massive space next to it where the first tooth had been, and the rest of his baby teeth spaced out ready for their turn to make an exit. He looked almost exactly like those pictures of meth addicts who have lost and broken teeth. A comparison that my wife didn’t find as funny as I did.

Finally, this morning, he yanked out the wiggler, and looks like a normal kid again. A normal, toothless kid that appears to be growing up just a tad too fast.

The Terror of Root Beer.

The other day I decided to make root beer floats for dessert after dinner. I made them once before, a long time ago when The Narrator was a bit too young to have them. Now that he’s six though, we’re giving him the ability to try such things.

“What’s in it?” He asked.
“Root beer and vanilla ice cream.”
“BEER!?! Nooooo thank you!”
“No bud, it’s not real beer. It’s just called that.”
“What is it?”
“Root beer? It’s soda.”

His reaction to soda was more vehement than it had been for ‘beer.’ He slapped his hands over his mouth and shook his head, his vocal response muffled.

Eventually we pried his hands off, and the reason for his response out of him. Now, the bottle of soda we have in the house currently for the floats is a rarity. We simply don’t buy it. I purchased it specifically because I’d planned on making the floats one night. When its gone, we won’t have more in the house for months. We’ve actually dumped out bottles that have been left over from family gatherings where people bring it and leave it for one reason or another.
(Please take care of our garbage. Thanks.) Our kids are juice and (happily) water drinkers. We are not the poster-children for healthy eating, but some things are common sense this day and age. I wouldn’t ply my kids with soda any more than I would coffee. At their young age, it isn’t necessary.

But apparently, when he’s in school, he’s being taught that soda is straight up evil and should never under any circumstances be consumed or Michelle Obama’s spirit army which stands guard over you with a baleful eye on your diet will descend upon your soul and consume it and all you love.

The kid was genuinely afraid of having root beer.

It took us fifteen minutes to convince him that if Mommy and Daddy say it is okay to have a little bit of it as a treat a handful of times a year, that is okay.

Dubiously, he tasted it. Lo and Behold, it was a successful test and he lapped it up quite contentedly.

I’m all for teaching our kids about healthy eating habits, because…well….look at us as a society. In a world where I can get a half-dozen quarter-pound hamburgers without getting out of my car, or a milkshake larger than the fresh water cisterns of some third-world villages simply by commanding some adolescent to get me one through a box hanging on a wall, this sort of thing is necessary.

That being said, Maybe a bit of tutelage regarding moderation wouldn’t be a bad thing either.

The least they could do is stop making my kid scared to have dessert.

Milestone

Our second and final child….is potty trained. Amazingly, even his nighttime training went past in the blink of an eye.
He wore a pull-up for a few nights, and woke up dry each time. So we gambled, and three nights ago we went without them. Three nights dry.

Yesterday he vetoed the idea of a pull-up in the car while we rode an hour and a half to my in-laws. An hour into the trip he announced his need to go. He had to wait a bit while I found a suitable pull off spot, but he successfully held it.

It looks like we’re done.

Forever.

Praise be to any and all deities in any and all iterations of heaven.

I have wept with joy this day of days.

Gas and Comedic Timing

It could be that this post is a little gross, but we’ll all survive. I promise, and if your sense of humor is screwed on tight, I think you’ll be more amused than disgusted.
I have two small boys who think burps and farts are funny.

My two young boys have a father who also happens to think burps and farts are funny.

Between the three men in her life, my poor wife is often assaulted with such things, although she too has been known to give in to the humor of certain situations.

Once, while we were potty-training the little guy, he was running around without pants on. We found that if he didn’t have a diaper or pants on, he would ask to use the potty. It worked wonderfully, and he potty trained in the span of just a couple of days. But on this particular day, the half-naked runt was playing with his brother, and as brothers tend to do, they ended up arguing about something. Rather than scream at his brother, the little guy proceeded to lunge at his older sibling, then sit on him and bare-ass fart.
“I fart on you!” He yells.

I absolutely could not admonish him for that as I was crippled with laughter. The howling screams of the victim ringing only slightly louder than even my wife’s laughing.

The other day, we were driving through a parking lot when we hear a train blare its horn. My oldest, a very clever 6, starts looking out the window for it. I begin to muse.
“I wonder if they’d let me drive the train. How hard could it be?” In answer to my question, someone in the car audibly breaks wind.
“That hard.” Came the little voice from the back seat.

It’s a good thing I was practically in the parking space at the time because I was laughing way too hard to be a safe driver at that point.

….Yeah, I know. Barbaric. Uncouth. Ridiculous. The mere mention of such things is to be avoided in the presence of civilized people.
Well, newsflash, small children aren’t civilized. Also, civilized can be boring. Let ’em laugh while they’re little. If they’re pulling this sort of nonsense when they bring home a date or at a funeral somewhere, I promise, I’ll talk to them. Just for you.