Thursday, July 26, 2012

Women are always right

My wife is always right. Women have always been right, except for that one time in the Garden of Eden. There have been a few other times through the course of history where a woman has not been right. Those few times are the exceptions that prove the rule.

Since the entire family took a week to go to Seattle, the rest of the summer is dotted with short day trips here and there to round out our plans. This past week was one of those day trips. Well, not actually a day trip, since we stayed overnight. That moves it into the two-day trip on a technicality. Beloved found an amazing package deal for “Splash Lagoon” in Erie, PA. Splash Lagoon is billed as the largest indoor water park in the east.

Our visit to Splash Lagoon was wonderful. My three daughters and my wife loved the water slides. I enjoyed them a bit too, but my twenty-five year old bones started to hurt a little, so I spent a bit of time in the hot tub (oohh, that was nice), and observing some of the staff from the water park. It was a very noisy environment, with all that water splashing around. Since one of my jobs is in a noisy environment,  I greatly appreciated how the lifeguards could gain a colleague’s attention with a blow on a whistle and then communicate important information across a great distance.

The only negative experience I had during our visit was from a fellow guest. This gentleman was an addlepated twit. Perhaps, dear reader, you think I am harsh, but read on before you pass judgment upon my judgment. My wife and I were sitting next to each other on the deck of the hot tub. She decided to check on our daughters. She left her towel on her chair and I had my hand resting on it. Mr. Twit walked up, blankly staring over the top of my head, bent over, picked up Beloved’s towel, pulling it from my hand. He then wiped his face with it. He kept the towel, which was fine, since beloved would not have wanted to use it after that anyway.

When Beloved’s sister heard of our plans to go to an indoor water park in the summer, she was concerned and asked Beloved if she was sure that she wanted to go to an indoor water park while the weather was so nice. Being the father of three sisters, I have observed that sisters have a deep and profound love for each other and often question each other’s actions and motivations. A sister is constantly looking out for her sibling, eagerly desiring value-added outcomes for the loved one.

I am sure there is a dear reader who is already pointing out that my wife and her sister cannot both be correct in this situation. Let me restate that women are always right. Period. I, as a man, simply must enlarge my frame of reference to see how this is true. First, it has been a long, hot, dry summer in most of the country. Going to an outdoor water park is a right idea. Enjoy the heat, enjoy the sun, and get wet while you do. My sister-in-law was right.

My wife was right too. She had one shot to plan this getaway and she planned it for Thursday and Friday (the 26 and 27 of July). On Thursday, a strong line of thunderstorms moved through Eastern PA and much of New York State. The storms were so strong there was accompanying wind damage in PA, the power went out at Splash Lagoon, and there was a tornado in Elmira, NY.

Therefore, despite the observation that one of them had to be wrong, both my sister-in-law and her sister, my wife, were both right. This proves beyond any doubt that a woman is always right.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Boring week, I wish some of this stuff had happened

Last week I finished sharing about my trip to Seattle. I dragged it out as long as I could, hoping that something else interesting would happen that I could write about. Unfortunately, it has been a dull few weeks. Not that I mind dullness; it is sometimes good for life to be dull. I just have nothing to write about and I am not one of those people who seem to be able to make something out of nothing. The Bible indicates that God made everything out of nothing; people have been trying to duplicate this feat throughout history and have always failed miserably.

The administrators where I work are masters of attempting “something out of nothing”, but usually end up making nothing out of something out of nothing. Whenever something happens, even if it is so small it is really nothing, Administration immediately goes into overdrive, turning it into something. This frenetic activity usually takes the form of designing forms to be filled out and paperwork to sign. By paperwork I mean those long lists of items that outline what is acceptable and not acceptable behavior and usually end with a statement like, “By signing below I agree to follow all the above guidelines and do promise to do so upon the life of my first born child, and if I remain childless I pledge the life of my favorite pet/parent/grandparent.” I once was asked to sign one of those forms with an item that insisted that I keep “dust bunnies locked up at all times.”

Really? Dust bunnies? I get paid for this.

News organizations are often guilty of making something out of nothing and often enlisting the aid of the public in committing this deed. Just watch the evening news on a slow news week and you will find reporters with nothing to report putting a microphone in the face of an unsuspecting citizen who has nothing particular to say and asking them a question like, “Do you have any plans on addressing the crisis resulting from the overpopulation of dust bunnies?”

The unsuspecting citizen usually replies with something like, “Oh, I have noticed that there are a lot of dust bunnies these days, more than in past days. So, I have decided I am going to lock up my dust bunnies.”

Really? Dust bunnies? Who is going to steal dust bunnies?

Speaking of the media, this is the way I wish things would have played out in the media this past week. I recently saw Obama’s television ad criticizing Romney’s ability to sing “America the Beautiful.” Along with Obama’s poking fun at Romney’s musical aptitude there were some words scrolling along the screen about Romney sending many jobs out of the country. Romney’s response to this ad has been, “If you hadn’t clamped down on illegals working in the country, doing jobs American’s refuse to do, I wouldn’t have had to send jobs over seas.” This has ignited a storm of mudslinging between both camps and quibbling like little children.

Abraham Lincoln responded to this behavior by issuing a statement via Twitter, “Go to your rooms w/o dinner; you’re both grounded until you can behave like civil, God fearing adults and lock up your dust bunnies”

Really, dust bunnies?

Also in my estimation, it would have been a good week in news and politics if Charles Schumer, D-NY had issued the following statement:

“Over the past few weeks it has come to my attention that there has been a lack of precipitation across the great state of New York. This dearth of rain has led to not only my lawn, but the lawns of many New Yorker’s turning brown.

“Therefore, I am strongly urging the National Weather Service to forecast rain for New York. This, in my estimation, will help lawns across our wonderful state to return to a verdant greenish color and restore much of the natural beauty of the Empire State. This should result in an influx of tourism, filling my coffers, providing jobs for the citizens of New York.

“Oh, and my aids tell me something about it helping farmers too and dust bunnies too.”

Yes, dust bunnies too.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Planes, buses, and ferrys in Seattle (The final chapter)

Although our trip to Seattle was only a week, I have managed to drag out blogging about it for three weeks, this being the third, and final, week. Unless, of course, I remember something interesting that I cannot wait to share, and then there might be another post about Seattle.

If you haven’t read my first post about Seattle, read it now. Even if you have, you may want to refresh yourself on the details to get the full dramatic effect of this post.

While we did our sightseeing, after completing our quizzing, we took public transportation to get to the sights we wanted to see. And by public transportation, I mean buses, both electric and diesel. It is amazing the kinds of people you meet while being transported in large groups.

After a full morning of sightseeing and a lunch, the entire group met at the ferry terminal to await boarding. We patiently waited in line for all the passengers to disembark before we were able to walk down the long walk way to get on the boat. The walkway had a rope divider down the middle, to keep awaiting passengers from getting in the way of those trying to find dry land.

The young people in our group were polite and kept to the right hand side of the rope, and when the line started to move, they calmly walked with the flow of people onto the boat. As we reached the gangplank to walk onto the ferry, I heard a loud stomping behind me and to my left, and upon further review, I found it to be a young lady, not from our group, boldly stomping her way down the hallway in a rush to board the boat. I wasn’t sure what surprised me more, her disregard for social etiquette by walking on the left of the rope, her lack of grace and poise as she clomped down the hall (I pictured her walking through the forest stomping on the precious little woodland creatures.) or her driving desire to get on a boat that wasn’t going to go anywhere for another 15 minutes.  All of her effort was futile. The boat didn’t leave any sooner, and unless she stood in the bow, claiming her spot to get off first, she didn’t arrive any sooner.

Our flight out of Seattle was uneventful. The TSA agents in Seattle do not speak mumble. When I went through security, I put my glasses in the little chamber pot thingy for an all expense paid trip through the X-ray machine. The TSA person looked at me quizzically, and with impeccable English said, “You can wear those.” I responded, “They are just reading glasses and I usually walk around with them like this,” and put them on top of my head to hold back my thick mane of hair. He seemed a little puzzled and replied, “That’s fine; I don’t care how you wear your glasses.” once again in perfect English, without a trace of Mumble.

While boarding our flight to Rochester, the man with the microphone called for all passengers in rows 21 through 27. Typically, boarding a plane is done first by the coach (or first-class passengers), when they are loaded, then they start at the back of the plane. This keeps someone from row 17 from blocking everyone in rows 18 through 27 from getting settled.. After the announcement for passengers in rows 21 through 27 was made,  an older lady slipped in front of me, using the right shoulder-make-no-eye-contact maneuver. When her ticket was scanned I noted she was in row 17 and realized she must have a daughter, who likes to ride ferrys in Seattle. We boarded the plane and I had to wait while she held up the entire line as she stowed her luggage. I made sure to stand close enough to be in her private space without bumping into her and I gave her the smile I reserve for parents of grumpy toddlers in public places. The one with equal mixtures of sympathetic, pity, and kindness. As she sat, I said a quick thank you and nodded as I lead the stream of passengers past her seat. When we arrived in Rochester, there she stood at the baggage claim; alone. By now our large group, which had consisted 13 teens, 4 adults, had swelled considerably with all of the family members who swarmed the airport to pick up their loved ones. Their stood my nemesis line cutter, boarding holder-upper, woman. All alone at the carousel, waiting for her baggage. When the large group slowly engulfed her, swallowing her into a mass of humanity, and making it exceedingly difficult for her to retrieve her bags. I felt guilty for a moment for the feelings of joy for her pay back. But just for a brief moment.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sightseeing in Seattle (Part II)

Nineteen of us flew from Rochester, NY to Seattle, WA to represent our church at the Free Methodist National Bible Quiz competition. I was a coach and my three daughters were quizzers. I have written about Bible quizzing before, so I won’t bore you with the details. If you wish, you can read about it here. 

Since we flew across the entire country, to a city neither I, nor any of my fellow travelers had visited before, we worked in some time for sight seeing. This was a good thing. Seattle is large, and as with most large places, there is a lot to see. Some of the things we saw were unremarkably mundane, but there were still a lot of them.

One of the remarkable sights we saw was the Cascade mountains. While we were in Seattle there was one clear sunny day in which we were able to see all the mountains and especially, the most famous one, Mt. Ranier. The rest of the time it was cloudy and the mountains simply disappeared. I am sure that the TSA is investigating their disappearance.

The city of Seattle is quite hilly due to living so close to the mountains. I think the only flat spot we saw was Puget sound. It is so hilly that if you take purebred Seattlites and stand them on flat ground, they lean inexplicably. It is as if their minds cannot fathom flat land and decide that all land is dramatically sloped and therefore command the body to lean to accommodate the expected slope.

Another tourist sight we went to was the Space Needle, which was built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. The observation deck is a whopping 520 feet above the ground. I was eager to go there since after a week rushing from quiz to quiz, chaperoning teens, and dorming with a number of imperfect strangers, I was ready for a little space.

When I actually made it to the Space Needle I was disappointed on two accounts. First, there was not an abundance of space. We were crammed into the elevator by the dozens and although there was a little more room to maneuver once we reached the observation deck, it was still crowded. It was definitely not named “Space Needle” because there was room to stretch out and enjoy much personal space.

Next, I assumed we would be close to space, as in outer space. This excited me with the possibility of seeing aliens and observing sattelites and space ships as the floated by.  At 520 feet, this was not the case. In the years between 1962 and 2012, someone has moved space further away from the surface of the earth. Since Seattle is predominantly a liberal city, as far as politics goes, I think they would probably blame the conservatives for this and I am sure conservatives would blame liberals. I believe the problem is a bipartisan one of politicians and all their hot air. Whether their beliefs are liberal or conservative does not matter. All their rhetoric filled hot air has made the atmosphere around earth larger, causing space to be pushed further away from earth.

We also took a ferry across Puget Sound to the quaint tourist attraction called Bainbridge Island. I was excited for this ferry ride. My hometown of Rochester, NY had a ferry for a short time and I never got a chance to ride it. The ferry was called the “Fast Ferry” and made trips between Rochester and Toronto Canada. The two major differences between the ferry to Bainbridge Island and the one between Rochester and Toronto are that a large number of people, other than tourists, actually need to ride between Bainbridge and Seattle-- for work and other activities of daily life, whereas people going to and from Toronto were mainly tourists. The other major difference is that the Seattle/Bainbridge ferry is still running and the Rochester/Toronto ferry is not. It was sold, fast, when it didn’t make any money.

I must confess, I do not know what the great attraction of Bainbridge Island to tourists is, but I do know that the town is filled with the quaint little shops that one would expect in a rustic tourist attraction. Small yarn shops, candle shops that have sweet smells coming from the doorways, little cafe’s with names like Pennywhistle Cafe and the Fork and Spoon. The latter is a real cafe located on Bainbridge Island. I ate there and didn’t need either a fork or a spoon. I had a  sandwich and chips, and I felt cheated since there was no use for their touted silverware.

There was an outdoorsy kind of store called Wild Erness, and a modernish kind of clothing store called Dan Ger as well. When I pointed these out to littlest she just rolled her eyes and said, “Dad, it is Wilderness and Danger.” I think she was wrong.

To conclude this entry on my trip to Seattle, I want to pass along an interesting tidbit I picked up about Bainbridge Island. It is thusly named because it is completely surrounded by water.