End of the Year Relief

Christmas has come and gone. The things that revolved around keeping secrets (which is hard work!) are done.  I, no--we--can relax. The proverbial cat has been let out of the bag. A gift I had bought and stashed for Sarah, as well as the (somewhat) surprise trip Sue and I had been looking to share with her: All out in the open and common knowledge.

Okay, let's back up. There is a lot of ground to cover.

Sarah is graduating from college this spring. I have been wondering what I could buy her for a graduation gift. It had crossed my mind several times over the last year or so. Some time several months back I had an idea and brought up the possibility of buying her a trip. Not just a trip, but a trip that we could take her on. I get twangs of guilt when I buy gifts for her. I don't spoil my daughter, but still--I only have one, so the things I do buy for her are sometimes a notch or two higher on the scale of gift-giving. Yes, guilty as charged. This year will signify a transition in her life though. A transition from child to adult. While I will still help her when she's in a bind like any parent would, no longer will I be buying any extravagant gifts. This is her send-off year. Her last hurrah so to speak.

Anyway, back to the beginning.

The Christmas gift I had bought and stashed for Sarah: An iPad. Being the practical man I am (or try to be anyway) I did not buy her a new one. Truth is, I broached the subject with some trepidation when I first mentioned it to Sue. I mean, we had already agreed to spend all this money on a trip for the three of us in June ($$$), then we bought my parents a new computer($$). Now I have thoughts about buying an iPad for Sarah!?  Well, I did not just venture forth and spend--nay, that would not be good. Instead I talked it over with Suz. I basically told her I wanted to see if I could find a nice, used one and asked how she felt about that. She agreed with my reasoning.  I had no intention of buying a new one because they were just too much money. After all, we both know how techies get these flaming cases of "trade-upmanship" when new versions come out.  I was pretty sure I'd find a decent deal out there.  The deal I found was way better than I had even hoped. I ended up buying her a beautiful iPad 2 with 32 gigs of storage. It literally looked new. When I brought it home the first day, I charged it up to 100% and powered it completely off before i went to bed. Imagine my surprise--no, alarm--when I turned it back on the following morning and found the battery to be at a gut-wrenching, apprehension-riddled, buyer's remorseful 28%. I was almost sick. I started researching the web on any information I could find.  Fixes, battery prices, and anything else I could come up with as an avenue to save my ass.  I was grasping for any firm hold I could find.  Lo & behold, I found a website where so many others like me were bemoaning their battery-munching plight.  The fix, as recommended by the guy running the Q&A forum, was to do a restart using a specific pattern of keystrokes, then leave it to recharge fully overnight. Could it be that simple? Although I was extremely skeptical, I had nothing to lose.  Guess what?  Success!  Apparently, it's pretty common to have that happen when people upgrade their iPhones and iPads with the newest operating system when such upgraded OS's come out. The fix, in the guy's words, "re-syncs" the battery.  Whatever.  All I know is I breathed a giant sigh of relief.  The gal I bought the iPad from said she sold it because she never used it (which may also be true), but I think she sold it because the battery wouldn't hold a charge.  We won.  I put a Merry Christmas 'wallpaper' on it and boxed and wrapped it up.  Since she opened it up on Christmas morning she's been inseparable from it.  We also put a cute wallpaper on it that showed up on its desktop screens (pictured up on the right). Sue added the specific dates of our trip to Ireland in June to it.

What? I didn't tell you our destination is Ireland? It's true!

We gave Sarah the basic surprise/news of our wish to bestow a trip upon her a few months ago.  The only requirement was that she had to take us with her of course.  At that time we didn't give her a destination, but rather, several choices or potentials for a trip.  For obvious reasons we wanted a trip that would give us the maximum enjoyment/expense ratio.  We told her to get back to us with a list if multiple selections for us to go on if she could.  She was more than happy to do so (for obvious reasons), and when she did we kicked a few of them around and settled on Ireland.  We had to keep that under wraps along with the iPad.  Christmas morning brought an end to our secretive plotting, and now plans are being finalized with everyone collaborating.

Today brought an end to the saga of my parents' new computer. Who knew it was so much trouble to buy your parents a new computer?

The setup (the part where it lived in our house for a week or so while we loaded things on it and set it up for the both of them) went fine.  When Suzie and I proudly delivered it to them on their anniversary the problems began.  The saga was underway.  No, the computer worked fine.   Their DSL however: Not so much.  After playing with their modem (resetting, contacting tech support, etc) for a while we managed to get it up and running.  Then is wasn't.  Then it was.  More often than not, it wasn't.  When we left their house, I was disgruntled for obvious reasons.  I started looking for a replacement modem.  Word got out and we found that Sue's son Denny had one up the street he'd let us have.  Cool!  It was working great when he unhooked it and switched to cable Internet a year or so ago.  We went down to the folks' house again--all pumped up and full of good tidings and confidence.  I plugged it all in and surprise--it worked even worse than the original one.   This one wouldn't connect at all!  Once again I headed home with my shoulders drooping.  This time there was only one answer that we were willing to accept: Buy a new modem.  We both wanted closure.  This gift that we both wanted so badly to give my parents had turned into a can of worms.  We wanted it over with, with no ifs, ands, or buts.   I ordered a new one from Amazon.com a few days ago--this one with wireless.  The good news is that it cost nothing because I used Amazon "points" from my Visa card.  The bad news: More waiting.  Well, it showed up this morning, and I didn't waste any time getting down to their house and hooking it up.  It works fantastic!  Plus, any of us that visit can now connect to their wireless network!  The name of their new network: TheOldManOnThePorch.  Really.  Isn't that great?

Whew.  Let's see if the next few months give us a break.

Home Sweet Desk

I'm back. After a two-week training hiatus from my new job, I'm back.

I seem to have come back with a different mindset. I don't know why. It had nothing to do with the classes I took. As a matter-of-fact, the classes I require as part of my new position aren't even finished yet. I've still got two others to attend before I'm "complete" as it were.

No, I came in this morning carrying stuff.

You know how when you see someone leaving a job on a TV show or movie they are always carrying a box containing their possessions? The box always seems to have a plant poking out of the top of the box too. I've joked with Sue about it recently, asking her if she had taken a plant to work yet. Last week when she got the word that her "temporary" job was going to be coming to a close I told her, "Don't forget to bring your plant home."

I have a few stupid things that were with me at my previous job. Actually, one of them from even before that.

This morning I carried a bag in to work. It contained food items (of a snacking nature) as well as desktop "toys" that are a requirement when you have a cubicle desk job like I have. So when I got to work this morning, I sat down in my brand-new ergonomic Cadillac of an office chair that showed up while I was gone (after unwrapping the plastic off it of course) and carefully placed my old familiar desktop toys around my desk.  Among them:
  • A Silly Slammer - Given to me by Sarah many years ago during my previous stint at Boeing.  You smack it down against a hard surface and it says, "Yada, yada, yada" or "whatever" each time.  It only has those two sayings.
  • A "cow call" thing - At my previous job I put a plain white wrapper around it and labeled it "this side up".  However I purposefully labeled it upside down so people would see it with the arrows facing down and want to turn it over.  Cheap trick to get a moo.
  • A fiber optic Christmas tree - Sarah gave it to me this year, and it plugs into a computer USB port and changes color.  Perfect for an office.  I like it!
  • A giant bag of peanut butter M&M's - No explanation necessary.  Well, except the size.  It's huge.
In addition to the aforementioned chair, I also had another Boeing t-shirt (promo) and a Hostess Zinger (apparently someone handed them out to everyone one day) waiting for me in my cubicle.

Don't you just love stuff like that?

Literary Immersion

I used to be an avid reader.  I loved it when a story grabbed me and held me spellbound in its grip.  A good story held me with its magic, and I devoured its words with earnest.  When I was into a good book I never wanted to put it down, and I'd be completely immersed in it until I finished the very last sentence.  I lived a book while I was reading it.  Many a night I was caught by annoyed parents and admonished for reading late into the night with the help of a flashlight.  When I would close the book I was reading for the final time it was usually with a sigh of completion and disappointment both.  Finishing a good book was bittersweet.

A good story held my interest throughout the day--even when I was not reading.  It's not that it consumes all my thoughts, but I do find myself thinking about events from the story at various times during the day.  I might find myself daydreaming at school or any number of places, re-living the story in my mind.  I would analyze pieces of it--pondering questions of why, how, or if.  I would find myself marveling at the events that took place in the story, and would find myself equally entranced with the author's imagination.  I would sometimes belittle myself for not being able to conjure up such artful works of literary achievement as the authors did, and yet at the same time would thank them for what they had shown me.  Many times I followed a completed story by learning about the author and what kind of a person he or she was.  I think that's where I also got my love for biographies.

Like I said, when I've finished a book I find it hard to let it go from my mind.  Movies do that to me too.  Sometimes a good, creative,  thought-provoking movie will keep me pondering its story line for a week or longer after I have seen it.  Sometimes when I wake at night I find it hard to return to sleep if my mind has switched on and is reliving events from a movie I watched before going to bed.  It's not just any movie either.  I only get that reaction from movies that are creative--whether by the visuals or the story itself.  Because I apparently lack the creative gene, I love to have my mind "switched on" by someone creative.

What got me thinking about this topic?  I dunno... I was just wondering to myself the other day if we humans are the only creatures on our planet that actually wonder about things.  Are we the only creatures that have the capacity to dream?  To wish?  To re-live past events?  To assume so would be a bold assumption to make in my opinion, given the staggering variety of life there is around us.  We like to think that we are superior, and in most ways (that we can comprehend) we are.  I dunno--I just wonder about stuff sometimes.

I've found myself reading again these days.  Maybe I've been rediscovering a lost friend.  Maybe it's because it's so easy.  I can carry lots of books with me on my iPad and read any time I want.  Maybe its because I dumped my time-wasting Facebook account and have more time to think and do things within my own life.  More time to blog is one thing that has definitely become apparent.  Or maybe it's just more of a desire to blog.