Troy's Blog

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I'm just a typical Dad. I have a good wife of 20+ years and 2 good kids. All 3, at times, contribute to my hair graying or falling out.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mistake Numero Uno

Looking at Kaitlyn and Sean's blog, you can see how much snow has accumulated between the shed and the house. With the chance of sudden melting and in the interest of keeping the house above water, I decided to leave work early one day, open the walk through door on the garage (behind the snow bank) and just blow the 10 feet of snow away. My plan was to keep going until it was all clear. Before we started, Sean, who was volunteered to help me, asked "Shouldn't we put a piece of plywood over my bedroom window so it doesn't break?". I'm sure you can tell where this story is going already.

"No, son, I'll just stay far enough away from it" I said in my best "trust me, I'm a snow blower expert" arrogance. My first attempt at the snow bank - the snow blower hit the bank, sucked in some slush, pooped it about 6 inches, and just started to spin. Ok...this isn't going to be as easy as I thought. About 2 hours later, Sean and I had a walkable path. But there was still a lot of snow against the shed and against his window. The snow was so deep and slushy that I'd blow a path and Sean would have to help push the blower back to try again. By now the snow on the ground was just mud and slush. Not to mention all the landscaping rock I had put through the snow blower. During one of these attempts, the snow blower ran out of gas. Normally this isn't an issue. However, it was buried in slush in our back yard and would not start. Get the cords, drag them through the mud, choke, prime, turn it over, repeat, repeat, repeat....and this was after I had tried to pull start it for some time. This job was really starting to suck.

I'll work on the shed side now. OK, I got as close to the shed as I dare and had only nicked it a couple of times. Next, the snow near Sean's bedroom window. With my last 2 1/2 hours of snow blowing experience, I should be able to just whittle away at that...being careful to keep a respectable distance from the window. There...that looks good. You know.....I bet I could get just a little closer. During the last pass by the window. the right wheel fell into the mud, the left wheel grabbed the rock, and the snow blower turned and tilted right through Sean's window.

To say I was REALLY pissed is an understatement. The outside pane caved in enough to crack the inside pane. Both still have the glass in but it really won't keep the rain, wind, bugs, dirt, etc. out. It took 2 days before I was calmed down enough to even discuss it. Sean was very careful on his timing "Dad, I hate to say it, but before we started I asked if we should put a board...."

We need to replace almost all the windows in the house but I wanted to do it on my schedule. I guess my schedule has just been moved up.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

GPS v. Shirley

Last weekend I took Kaitlyn and 4 of her closest friends to Minneapolis for the weekend. You may wonder how a father would be persuaded to do such a thing. Kaitlyn just celebrated her 16th birthday and for a final hurah we said she could do something fun with friends. We left it up to Kaitlyn to pick who she wanted to chaperon the weekend. Shirley said "If we go shopping in Minneapolis, I'm not just dropping you girls off at some mall and leaving you alone".

I said "If you decide on Minneapolis, I AM dropping you off at the mall. I will NOT stick with you and your friends. You'll be on your own". Kaitlyn's response, "Dad is taking me!"

My Mom and Dad just went to Arizona and before they left, they bought a Garmin GPS unit. We'll call her "Ms. Garmin". I've never used one of these before and never thought I'd have a use for one. Shirley is typically my navigator and chief map reader. Since she was not going to be along and I wanted to be anywhere but the mall, I asked if I could borrow it for the trip. Plus....Sakakawea (my map reader name for Shirley) has been slipping a little lately in the navigational area.....possibly time to look for another scout option. I doubt Lewis & Clark kept Sakakawea the entire trip, unless she was a good cook as well.

Right away I noticed the difference between Shirley and Ms. Garmin. Ms. Garmin took up LESS space. Just a little 3X5 square that sat on the dash board. Ms. Garmin only spoke when I needed a reminder to turn.

Typically when we are in unfamiliar territory, Shirley will read the map and I'm usually in the left lane when I need to be in the right lane. I'll hear"...RIGHT, get in the RIGHT lane; why aren't you in the right lane we have to turn Right right here!".

"Possibly because it is full of OTHER vehicles and I need more notice than as we are going by the turn??!", I'd say.

Ms. Garmin on the other hand typically says, in a rather sluty voice I might add, "in 1 mile you will need to turn right"....followed by silence for the next 1 mile. Then Ms. Garmin will say "in 400 feet "you need to turn right".....followed by silence for 400 feet. Then Ms. Garmin will say "turn right here".

On the rare(?) occasion that Shirley and I do get lost (and by now the kids don't even put down their books, they know we have to turn around and go through the whole thing all over again), we screach and claw at each other until I've turned the family fun bus around and we now have to figure out how to get back to the original set back - using the same methods as previously described.

When I took a wrong turn in Mpls, Ms. Garmin just said, again in that mystifiying voice, "Recalculating". The first time I ignored Ms. Garmin's suggestions, I was already cringing in fear - exactly like a dog that has been beat too many times. MUCH to my surprise, all I heard was "recalculating". Throughout the weekend, whenever I made an error, Ms. Garmin simply said "recalculating". She'd then take about 2 seconds and have a new route all maped out. It was certainly different than the turning and thrashing of the map we'd usually endure from Sakakawea.

The other slight difference is that after an exhausting multi route trip, the family doesn't even wait for the fun bus to stop before the doors are thrown open and everyone vacates the vessel. We're just plain tired of the confusion and arguing. All 4 go in different directions. With Ms. Garmin, all you hear, again in that voice but with a much more excited tone, is "Arriving at destination!" There wasn't a "if you'd listened to me, we'd have gotten here sooner", or "Geez, Dad, that took long enough. Thanks for all the detours" Or, from everyone including the dog "It is about time!".

Next time we saunter into unfamiliar territory with the family fun bus, I'm taking Ms. Garmin AND Shirley along. Yes, the volume on both will be turned up and it will be interesting who's commands I follow. Old habits are hard to break.

There is one area though that Ms. Garmin can't compare to Shirley. That comes in the physical department, if you know what I mean. That's right, Ms. Garmin can't fetch the remote for me....yet.

Possibly, after Shirley reads this and I am sleeping in the van tonight, I'll be rehashing Ms. Garmin's advice and when I thought of typing this, I should have been "recalculating".