Friday, June 29, 2007

An Artist Retires

Yes, my friends, the world is a slightly duller place this morning. One of our great artists has put away his tools and decided to move in a different direction. I know, it wasn't on the news. You didn't hear anything about it on Entertainment Tonight. And that is why I'm bringing this news to you now.

Which artist, you ask? Son20. That's right, Son20 has stepped away from his work.

For the past two years, Son20 has been employed as a Sandwich Artist. What's that, you ask? (You are very smart and ask such good questions!) A Sandwich Artist is what our local Subway sandwich shops call their employees. Not just employees. And certainly not fast food employees. Oh no. They are artists!

Now you may be asking yourself - since you ask so many intelligent questions - where is the art in making a sandwich? Don't you just scoop on a couple of meatballs, lay on a slice of cheese, and call it a meatball grinder?

Heavens, you would be so wrong! Son20 (then a mere Son of 18) spent two days just learning how to slice the bread correctly. Splitting it to the same depth every time without ever cutting all the way through...and doing it with speed. There was the prep work - learning to stack the deli slices and chopped veggies in such a way as to allow for quick and precise access when the demands of sandwich artistry were at their greatest. There was learning to use the oven to toast each sandwich to the desired degree. So many skills to master.

But the night crew stepped it up. Just learning those skills weren't enough to satisfy the title of Sandwich Artist. Oh no. They mastered The Toss. This required them to step away from the bread once it was sliced and flip the deli meats from a distance, having each slice land, in the folded position, in the proper place on the sandwich. Then there was The Squirt. This required them to apply the correct amount of mayo, mustard, or whatever dressing the customer liked while writing their names with the dressing. Longer names meant faster writing and thinner lines...shorter names required a bolder stroke.

It was all the basic talents combined with these extra artistic measures that really elevated them to the level of Sandwich Artists. They were Cirque du Soliel of the sandwich universe. Blue Man Group in Chicken Ranch with Bacon t-shirts. The Beatles of the...oh...enough huh? Okay.

I'm sure the sandwich world won't suffer for too long. While it was Son20's final night, I'm quite certain that hundreds of new Sandwich Artists around the world were working their virgin night shift. And they will learn. But for now, at least, they are doing the sandwich equivalent of paint-by-numbers while Son20 was creating masterpieces.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Modular Working

Last Thursday, my boss dropped by my office to inform me that I would be getting new office furniture. It was scheduled to arrive sometime in mid-July.

It got there on Friday. Unfortunately for me, I had taken that day off. So when I returned to work yesterday, my desk was gone. The stuff from on top of my desk was gone. The stuff from inside my desk was gone. EVERYTHING from one side of my office was gone!

In an amazingly short period of time, furniture boys had brought in and assembled the new stuff and left me to bring back my things and set up my new space.

So what did I get? A new desk. One of those fancy, modular things with built-in shelves and lots of drawers and file space. Not bad. Previously I just had a desk. I guess you would call it a non-fancy, non-modular desk. With one drawer. And no filing space. I had to leave my office and walk down the hall just to get to the one file drawer I was able to use. So the new stuff is definitely an improvement.

And now I have spent a couple of days doing nothing but putting things in those drawers, on the shelves, on the desk. And what a great opportunity for tossing old crap stuff and organizing things. I've thrown out a lot of old stuff. And I don't do that lightly. I hang on to everything. Just in case. But it seemed like it was time to throw out the manuals for software that we haven't used in ten years. My computer hasn't had a floppy drive for a very long time, but I was still hanging on to those last three blank floppy disks. Just in case. And of course some actual software. Software that has not worked with the last four versions of my operating system. I still had those disks. Just in case. But now...all gone!

So now my office is clean and neat. And modular. And I have no doubt I will just be so much more productive now!

Or at least I can nap in a clean space.

Friday, June 22, 2007

I am NOT buying their products!

Is it just me? This commercial just creeps me out! The less-than-presidential Abraham Lincoln isn't too bad. But a talking beaver? A talking beaver that plays chess! That's disturbing. And what about the guy that never talks? The guy in the deep sea diver suit. What's up with that guy? Is he even aware these other characters exist? He seems unaware. Is that what taking this sleep aid does to him - turn him into a zombie? And we don't even really know if he is a "guy", do we? Maybe "he" is a "she"? Or, even more creepy, an "it"! An alien? A talking orangutan from Planet of the Apes?

This is such an odd combination of characters that it just leaves me with the willies!

Of course, my wife loves these commercials. She thinks they are just soooooo funny. Have I ever mentioned that my adorable wife can be entirely weird at times?

Anyway, if I couldn't sleep, would I take this product? Or would the commercials with their promise of weird dreams just seem so creepy that I would look elsewhere for sleep?

Certainly not here! Cause if the talking beaver and the alien deep sea diver aren't creepy enough, we've got the luna moth. In these commercials, a luna moth quietly flutters in through the window, hovers above the face of the person in bed, and instantly they fall asleep. What the hell is that?!? What did the moth do???

First of all, let's be clear. If a moth or any other flying animal suddenly appeared hovering over my face in the dark, it would NOT help me relax! That surge of adrenaline would keep me awake for days!!!

But not these folks. Sleep comes instantly. Why? Does the hovering moth suck the oxygen away from the person? Does it spray them with some sort of venom or pheromone that induces sleep? Whatever it does to those people, it is a powerful assault that is just too strong to resist.

Again...creepy. Not for me!

Why do these companies think these are images to encourage us to take their sleep aids? Potentially creepy dream scenarios don't make me want to go to sleep! And a moth that somehow puts me under certainly doesn't soothe me. Isn't there a sleep aid that inspires a desire to sleep with the promise of pleasant dreams and soft lullabies? That would be the one for me!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Look Ma, I'm back!

After a long break from the blog, I am back at the keyboard. I know, I know...the excitement is almost more than you can bear. So I'll try to start with a low-key post so you can ease back into the routine of reading stuff coming out of my corner.

First of all, for those of you who worried that I jumped in my new little red car and rode off into the horizon, no such luck. "Little Red" and I have been busy but not going anywhere quite so exciting.

So what has been going on? What has happened since I last wrote?

Son17 had to have an MRI. This came up rather quickly due to elevated prolactin levels in a blood test. This can be a side effect of his medications, but it can lead to some more serious problems. So the MRI was to make certain that no damage was being done to various brain regions. The results were all fine. Nothing to worry about. But the procedure took most of a day. Son17 definitely does not have the ability to lay still for an hour inside that machine. So they had to give him a general anesthetic. So we had to be there early, have little "pre-procedure" meetings with anesthesiologists, nurses, doctors, etc. Have the actual MRI. Then hang around long enough for him to recover and wobble out to the car.

Son19 turned into Son20. Fascinating how my kids' names change every year, huh?

The school year ended for me. Pardon me while I do the dance of joy one more time.......

Okay, I'm back. And while I work year-round, the summer schedule is much less hectic. Since a large part of what I do is professional development with our staff, the end of the year saw all of my different workshop series coming to a close. In the last three weeks of school I led eight different workshops. I was exhausted!

School also ended for the kids. If you could peek into the other room, you could see them doing the dance of joy, as well. Well, truthfully, they aren't dancing. But I do fear they have become permanently attached to the Game Cube.

Daughter13 graduated middle school, so the end of the year took on a special significance for her. A small graduation ceremony in the morning followed by her first official dance that night. After seeing her head off to the bus every day in jeans and a sweatshirt, she surely looked all grown up in her new dress. And yes, a boy did ask her to the dance. He did not pick her up here...since he is only 13 and can't drive. But he did wait for her out front and escort her through a very nice evening. And Daughter13's report on the evening...the DJ was good, the snacks were good, Justin did get her punch, Justin did dress up even though some boys just wore shorts and a t-shirt, and they didn't kiss, they only hugged.

Last but not least, the opening of the camper. We own a camper that stays parked in a campground year round about 45 minutes from our house. As soon as school ends every year, we open it up, clean it up, and get ready for a summer of camping. My wife and the younger kids will live there much of the summer and I'll alternate sleeping at home and commuting to work from the camper during the weeks and will spend all weekends there. Some people have a summer home. We have a summer bed on wheels. But we love it. And today was the day Son20 and I went down to set up the deck, put up the screen porch, hook up all the utilities, air out the camper, and get it ready for some inside cleaning and fun.

And that, my good blogger friends, is what I've been doing while I was missing from the keyboard. But I've surely missed you! Jocelyn and Winston and Barb and Dorky Dad and May and Rebecca and Wizened and Wendz and Liv and Chelle and thethinker and Sheila and Redneck Mommy and .... well, instead of listing more, I'm going to read! I'm sure I've got a lot of catching up to do!!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Two weeks and counting...

Two weeks since I wrote my last post. I don't think I've ever skipped that long. And why have I been absent from the keyboard. Because it is the end of the school year and I'm going insane!!!

Tomorrow will be the last day of school where I work. And that last couple of weeks have been hellish. Nothing bad. Just more busy than I've ever been in my life. Going in early. Working late. Bringing work home.

My contract requires me to work a year-round schedule, so I don't get summers off. But I will get a few days off prior to summer school. And every moment off will be heavenly.

And Monday will be the final day of school for the kids. And over the past couple of weeks, they have had 17,000 projects and papers and posters to complete. It was unreal. It makes their study for finals seems almost insignificant in terms of how much time they've invested. The projects just demand so much time and effort and work. And they require parental participation. We don't do their work for them. But it still involves support, encouragement, trips to the store for poster board, cotton balls, craft sand, glue sticks, more ink for the printer for all the photos they've printed for posters.

When Monday evening rolls around, there's a cold beer in the fridge with my name on it!

And then I'll get back to writing and visiting your places. Cause I miss ya!