Things I Can't Forget: 1

I labeled this #1 just in case I decide to add others at a later date.  There are others, but I don't know if I'll write about them.  Maybe--maybe not.

All my childhood there was something that I would hear from my dad during times we kids were being kids.  You know how it is... One kid does something to another, the other one does it back.  Maybe it repeats itself multiple times before the inevitable, but sooner or later the same thing happens--'mom, he did this to me, mom, he did that to me--mom, he's picking on me... You know the drill.  Unless you're an only child you've been involved in it at one time or another.  Maybe you were the instigator, the complainer, or maybe you were just a bystander.

Growing up in a family of 5 kids it happened a lot in our family.

Our whining was always directed at mom, but occasionally dad would be within earshot.  My dad had this thing he would say whenever someone would utter the phrase of complaint, and that would be, "Punch him in the mouth!"  We heard it so many times that it was nothing unusual.  I'm sure he uttered it to be funny--never expecting  that anyone would actually do it.  I mean come on--the mouth!?  What kind of father wants his kids doing that?

I don't remember the exact scenario, nor do I remember exactly how old we were.  I remember that I was outside in the back yard at our house in Auburn.  Apparently, my brother, Don, did something I didn't like.  I don't know why, but for some reason, my dad's words popped into my mind, and without thinking or hesitating, I did it:  I punched him in the mouth.  I don't know how hard I did it, but it stopped him in his tracks and knocked him down.  Of course, he cried--probably as much out of disbelief as he did of pain.  The instant I did it I couldn't believe I did it.  I didn't know what to do then.  Apologize?  Run?  As you can expect, it didn't go over well with mom.  She sent us both to our room to lie down.  I think it was one of those, 'wait 'til your dad gets home!' type things.  When he got home nothing happened of course.  I mean, what was he going to do?  Chastise me for actually listening to him?

I hate that I hit my brother like that, and it has eaten away at me my whole life.  I don't think I have ever been really close to any of my brothers or sisters, but after that Don had a reason to hate me.  Whether or not he did so consciously, I'm sure he must have had that tidbit tucked away in his mind.

My dad was not a good parent for life's lessons.  I've said so many, many times before in my blog posts.  This was probably the first time it became apparent to me that he didn't have any good advice or wisdom.

I hate, hate, hate that I succumbed to a stupid remark that my dad meaninglessly uttered one too many times.  I've done a lot of stupid things in my life but hitting my brother that way was right up there at the top of the list.  Some stupid things you do are easily forgotten, but the ones that traumatize you or affect you deeply in some way are not forgotten.  Instead, they burrow deep and fester--staying noticeable enough to never forget them but not really getting worse.

What does he keep hidden from this episode?  I have no idea.  Like I said--we're not close.  Maybe he remembers it vividly, and maybe he can hardly muster even a vague recollection.

I'm truly sorry Don.  Sorry for hitting you in the first place, and even more sorry for letting a little voice of dad tell me to do it.  If it's any consolation, I have had it eating at me pretty much my whole life as one of the biggest mistakes I've ever made.  Family should be first and formost, and that's no way to treat family.  It's no wonder you moved to Georgia.  There was no respect for you here.

We can't change the past.  We can, however, use it to keep other people from making the same stupid-ass mistakes that we make.  That's what this post is for.

For anyone else reading this:  Don't listen to dumb-ass advice from people--friends, relatives, or whatever.  If it doesn't feel right, it's not right.

Freeway or Frontage Road?

I took a look at Google+ yesterday morning before leaving for work.  For those of you who live under rocks, that's the new "Facebook killer" social network service that Google brought out a while back. Before now it's been strictly an 'invite only' service.  Even though it's still in the beta-testing phase, they finally enabled it for the general public to join without an invitation.

I "drove" it around a little, looked here and there and made my amazingly-accurate, garage sale "rapid-decision-while-the-car-is-still-rolling" assessment of it.

My impression:  Why bother?

I'm sure it's a great service and would have been top dog if they would have gotten there first, but you know what?  They didn't.  Consequently, they're doomed to play the game that Microsoft is so good at:  Wishing they would have thought of that first.  Although it popped up with lots of people that I could connect with (it used my Gmail address book during the enabling process), none of them were already using the service that I could see.

Here's an analogy for you.

Say there's a brand-new frontage road running parallel to a freeway but you can't see it because it's hidden behind a sound barrier wall.  The frontage road has had barricades blocking it from being open to anyone but "local access only" during its construction.  You drive by it every now and then, so it's fairly fresh in your mind.  For a while the freeway users were bombarded by signs and promises of what the new upcoming road will feature.  Although you're intrigued by its possibilities, you can't investigate it because you haven't been granted access.  Finally, they let you in.  You drive around, investigate it fairly thoroughly and determine that--although it really is a nice road--the freeway running alongside works great, is fast, and your GPS already has its location.  It's a road we're used to and like driving on, and all our friends drive on it too.  We see them on it every day.  What's the sense in standing on the frontage road with a big sign that says 'NOW OPEN' just to try to get people to drive on it or build houses and businesses on it?

Even though they keep monkeying with the freeway and changing the traffic flow and scenery all the time, I'm sticking with it.  The freeway works fine.

A Week of Ups and Downs

First of all, let me backtrack to Saturday when Sarah was over for a visit. I bent down under the desk to plug her laptop power cord in and had my weight on my right arm. When I plugged it in, I pushed myself up and heard (and felt) a triple-pop come out of my right shoulder. Little by little pain started drifting into the area. I was worried how bad it would get at first, but after it got to the point of a deep, dull ache it finally stopped growing. It just sat there and throbbed at me. It didn't really give me much trouble sleeping or anything and I basically stopped worrying about it.

The next day I drove the truck to a guy's house that had firewood for sale. I made one trip home with a load of wood, moved a bunch of our existing wood (to rotate the old to the front), unloaded the truck, then went back for the rest of the load. After unloading that and putting all the other wood back in front of it I was exhausted. I mean almost drop-dead tired. I thought if I would have gotten into the hot tub I would have just fallen asleep and drowned so I didn't even do that. By early evening I was about out of it so I decided I'd go to bed--I think it was about 7 or 7:30--thinking I'd sleep like a log (cheesy firewood pun).  Wrong.  It was probably one of the worst sleeps of my life.  My shoulder screamed in agony all night causing massive tossing and turning.  Unfortunately that was a work night and I suffered the following day.  To add to the shoulder issue and lack of sleep, all that bending and lifting firewood also gave my butt cheeks and upper legs an overdose of activity.  They were hurting bad all day at work too.  I did at least manage to get a good night's sleep that night.  If memory serves me, the following night of sleep was a repeat of tossing and turning due to the shoulder pain.

The good news came Tuesday evening.  That's when I got to go to the airport and pick Suzie up!

The poor dear... She ended up working her fanny off almost the entire two weeks that she was at her folks' house in Kauai.  It was no vacation.  Meanwhile, the cold, dank Seattle summer (or lack thereof) we were having finally turned around the day after she left and we were blessed with perfect temperatures the entire two weeks right to the day.  I did a good job of keeping all of her plants alive and all that.  I didn't have any wild parties or do anything wrong.

I blew the dust off the Harley Wednesday morning and rode it to work.  That was a high point.  Okay, maybe not so much going to work, but the ride home is always good.

We're both trying to get our sleep groove back.  Between my off and on shoulder pain and her time adjustments/jet lag, we were having some trouble.  I think it's getting better though.

Yesterday at work was a nasty day because of the shoulder.  I spent about 3 hours on Thursday afternoon doing brazing, and it definitely exacerbated my shoulder pain (although it really didn't show up until later that evening).  Because I had to spend most of yesterday doing the same thing (which is not my regular job) I opted to do the whole day standing up so my right arm could operate at a more relaxing angle.  Trouble is, that's pretty hard on the back, neck, and everything else.  Let's just say that when quitting time came, I was damn glad to see it.

It was a good Friday evening with my wife finally.  Out to eat at our local joint, and a nice, relaxing soak in the hot tub.

Okay, that's enough whining about my tired and abused body.  Tomorrow I'll whine about the predicted steady rain... Yep, it's back.

No Autopilot

Sometimes I wish there was a way that I could click a button and put whatever I'm driving on autopilot.  Car, truck, Harley--whatever.

I almost always have my camera with me wherever I go.  After all--you just never know when you might be blessed with that Pulitzer Prize-winning shot that ends up on the lower right corner of some obscure blog somewhere right? Yesterday was no exception.  I had to take a drive in the work truck (as opposed to the van) and of course, I had my camera with me.  It was a beautiful day.  Sunny, clear, and a seemingly endless supply of excess traffic so speeds where slow enough for me to ponder my surroundings from a slightly higher vantage point (which is why I like to drive that truck instead of the van).

The first thing I saw that was interesting was an older couple going by me on a Honda Gold Wing.  They were going the same direction as me and passing on my left side, so I had a perfect view of them.  The bike had a tricycle conversion (which is something you don't see many of), but that's not what I found interesting.  Nor was it the bright emerald green jackets they were wearing.  That color contrast was striking (okay, gaudy) against the beautiful deep red color of the motorcycle, but again--not what caught my eye.  What did catch my eye was the fact that she was reading a paperback book.  She had it open against her husband's back and she was doing her best to pretend she was actually riding shotgun in the comfort of her Lexus instead of on the back of a noise machine.  Did I get the picture?  No.  I grabbed for the camera but the wrong lens was on it.  Doh!  Right then I could have used that autopilot button.

Then a little later I glanced over to my left and saw the strangest little dog looking directly at me.  I must have felt his eyes boring holes in the left side of my head.  It was the size of a kitten but it looked more like a Schnauzer with a summer haircut.  It was just... I don't know--odd.  But the fact that it was standing up with his feet against the window looking at me instead of the truck I was in made me wish I had the right lens on.  Or an autopilot button.

Then on the way back home there was an accident on the opposite side of the freeway.  Nice visuals--although somewhat ordinary these days, and for that I did have the right lens on, but you know what I didn't have?  That's right--an autopilot button!

Ah, but my day didn't go without my capturing something.  Based on my travels, only in two places in the US would you see something like this:  San Francisco or here in the Seattle area.  I wasn't going to let this one go by so I just grabbed the camera, aimed, and shot a few "from the hip" because obviously you can't put a camera up to your eye while you're driving, and you know why:  No autopilot.

A Moment's Lull

I was outdoors today, puttering mostly.  At one point I was inside the garage, staring out the garage door... Lost in thought apparently.  It suddenly dawned on me:

There were no sounds.

The usual dogs barking, cars, birds... Everything was absent.  It was eerily quiet.  I probably could have heard a pin drop out front in the street.  This is very unusual in our neighborhood.  Usually, there is a cacophony of canines adding their voices to the already-present planes, cars, and birds that are making themselves heard.

When it occurred to me, I stood there and noted it.  Reveled in it.  Then I walked out into the yard and turned my head around like a sound-seeking radar.  I didn't count, but I'd say for about 15 or 20 seconds it was still.

It was weird.  This was a level of quiet that is seldom achieved even in the wee hours of the morning here.  There's almost always some sort of sound.  Usually it's a dog or a car.  It was about 2pm--usually a very non-quiet time of day in almost every neighborhood.  Even out in a very rural area there is the sound of a bird somewhere, or crickets, or something. 

Then slowly, the sounds of urbanhood begin to taper back in.

A small airplane in the distance tapered in first--faintly from far away.  Then I heard the muffled tones of the neighbors next door talking in their back yard.  I think it was a bird or two next.  Little by little, the neighborhood returned to its usual midday recording session.

It was cool, but yet insignificant moment that I felt I had to share.

Quiet House

Yesterday was a strange day in many ways.

I didn't get up with the alarm clock.  The reason?  I was to drop Suzie off at the airport at 9am-ish so it really didn't make sense to go to work for an hour, go back home to pick Suzie up, drive back to the airport and then return to work.  If any of my readers know where I work, the proximity from work to airport is not all that far, so it made more sense gas-wise to just hang out and deliver her to her flight and then go to work.

She has been gearing up for her trip for quite a while.  Her annual visit to her folks' house in Anahola, Kauai is something she looks forward to.  Because she is a workaholic she always has a list of stuff she will accomplish while she's there, and this visit is no exception.  We have an arrangement that I will go with her every other year, and because I went last year (that was my inaugural visit to that beautiful island) she is going solo this year.  She also usually travels with something she is going to deliver to her parents' house.  This year it is a disassembled cast iron garden planter.  It's not big, but it has a lot of pieces, and they all weigh like they are made of... cast iron.

She covers herself pretty well when she flies.  It's something like 5 hours to get there, and that means a person has to have a lot of stuff to occupy their time.  Because you can only get so much play time from a battery, she ended up with movies to play on her laptop and a portable DVD player both.  She also kept saying, "Don't let me forget my wrap!"  The "wrap" she spoke of was a flour tortilla sandwich wrap that she bought for her trip.  Wouldn't you know it--we were blasting down the road this morning when she says, "My wrap!"  Ha, we turned around and went back (luckily we weren't far away yet) to get it.  Funny thing--remember me saying the whole day was strange?  Well, I got up without the alarm clock, but did still make myself a sandwich for lunch.  I had no sooner dropped her off at the airport when it hit me:  I forgot my sandwich!  No biggie--I just worked through lunch.  No reason to stop when I had no sandwich, but I did benefit from making up a little time.  The important thing was that Suzie had her wrap.

Yesterday evening a special event took place when a few folks from work met up with Bruce and his wife at Anthony's in Des Moines for a drinks and eats.  I used it as the perfect excuse to take the Harley on a ride.  It ended up being a lot of fun.  Good people, good food & drink, and a good ambiance.  It was good to see Bruce again, and it was also good to finally get a chance to actually talk to his wife, Debbie.  Because it was a nice evening sky and light traffic, it was a good ride home.

To a quiet house.