Thursday, May 24, 2012

My sister got married and I need to leave the country.

Last week I was unable to write a blog post and may only be able to sporadically update the blog in the coming weeks, since I am leaving the country. The reasons for my going away come from my sister’s wedding and the reception afterwards.

My black belt in Tae Kwon Do sister got married last Friday. Her husband asked if I would stand with him at the wedding. He apparently is as terrified of my little sis as I am. I agreed. I thought this was a simple thing to do, since I have had years of practice standing.

Then my sister mentioned that I would have to make toast. “Toast?” I asked. I know my way around a kitchen. I can make some excellent instant oatmeal. My family raves about my hamburger grilling skills, and I have yet to burn water when making tea. But why toast, I thought. Then it dawned on me. It was going to be a Peanuts ™ wedding reception. We were all going to gather around ping-pong tables, sit in lawn chairs, and eat toast, pretzel sticks and jelly beans.

My sister corrected my incorrect assumption. I was not making toast; I was making a toast, which was a development I had not anticipated. Unsure of what making a toast entailed, I Googled “making wedding toasts” and found a number of sites eager for me to purchase their book on making toasts. Chapters included “Toasting Etiquette”, “17 Beach Wedding Toasts”, “13 Humorous Toasts”, and a sampling of “14 Irish Wedding Toasts”. All for the low, low price of $19.95. I did not purchase the book for two reasons. First, it would not have arrived in time for the wedding. Second, there were approximately 734 toasts in the book and I figured if it became common knowledge that I had that many toasts, I would be invited to many weddings in order to do the toasting.

Therefore, instead of buying the book, I decided to pretend I was writing a blog post and make it a toast. This was not difficult since post and toast rhyme.

The wedding was a beautiful affair. The mother of the bride was escorted down the aisle and she cried. The bride said her vows and she cried. The groom said his vows and he cried. I want to make it clear, I did not cry. The groom only asked me to stand with him, not cry with him. So, I stood and I did not cry. If you were there and saw me wiping my face, I want to make it clear that it was hot, I was sweating, and I wiped the sweat from my face. That is all.

The reception was delightful. It was wonderful to reconnect with family that I do not get to see often. The toast went well—and by that I mean, people laughed where they should and no one threw anything at me.

This brings me to why I am leaving the country. A day after the wedding a significant number of wedding guests became ill with diarrhea, vomiting, and lingering halitosis. After a few medical tests, the diagnosis was food poisoning. The initial health department investigation indicates the suspected food was the toast.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What do you call a dog with no legs?

There is a corny joke that goes, “What do you call a quadriplegic dog?” Nothing, because he won’t come anyway. Eldest and I went to Imagine RIT, a huge event at Rochester Institute of Technology, where we found a group of students who designed a specialized wheel chair for quadriplegic dogs. I suppose the new answer to that old joke would now be “Lucky; if he has one of these.”

My trip to Imagine RIT was a father/daughter date with Eldest, and the first exhibit we saw was a “homebrew” vacuum tube amplifier for a phonograph. The sound from the amp was amazing-- full, vibrant, and rich. The schematic for the amp was on display, and Eldest and I looked at it. I swelled with pride as she was able to identify the different symbols and the components they represented. With one notable exception, she could not identify the symbol for a vacuum tube. This was not surprising, as she had never seen a vacuum tube before.

As Eldest and I considered which displays to visit we consulted the map and we saw a display that we decided we would enjoy visiting. It was out of the way and difficult to find. We asked a student who promptly gave us directions to get us lost. As we wandered aimlessly up and down hallways for hours without any other humans in view, we discussed why the layout of the entire school was so complicated. Eldest observed, “This is a school for smart people. It must be that if a student cannot find their way to class they are expelled.”

We left the building, and as we walked outside, I noticed a unique architectural design that was easy to spot on the map. We rushed back into the building and there was the display we had been looking for. It was closed. I believe the student could not find where he was supposed to be and the Dean of Students has since expelled him.

Speaking of unique architectural features, we entered one building and found a staircase with the digits of pi engraved onto the steps. This delighted Eldest to no end and we had to take many pictures of pi.
Eldest taking pictures of pi

Take cream add dry ice and stir
Ice cream, delicious.
 On the floor above the pi staircase, young chemists were making homemade ice cream by dumping dry ice into cream and stirring. Eldest and I tried some and found it delicious. It also occurred to me that with the pi staircase and ice cream on the floor above, it was like pi a la mode.

On the way home Eldest and I talked about all the amazing things we saw. She said her favorite display of all of them was the “disk-turny-thingy.” I thought hard, running through all of the displays we saw and finally asked her what she meant. She said, “You know, the one with the vacuum tubes.” Apparently, not only were vacuum tubes foreign to her, but so were vinyl records on a turntable. She, however, claims that this is not the case, she simply could not remember the word “phonograph” and did not want to use the phrase “record player.”

Friday, May 4, 2012

Thank you Mr. President for my three jobs.

This was written in May, 2012. If you are reading it now, thank you. 

Today, it is expected that the Labor Department will announce the creation of 165,000 new jobs. I have three of them. I work three jobs, not because I am a workaholic. I could be a card-carrying member of the local Union of Procrastinators, except I keep putting off sending in the application. Nor do I work three jobs because I am greedy and want to make lots of money, since none of them pays extraordinarily well.

For my regular, 40 hour a week job, I go to the home of nine people who score lower on IQ tests than the majority of people score. Working in an environment like this can be quite stressful. I have been lied to, lied about, misused, maligned, and mistreated. In truth, if it weren’t for the nine residents of the house, I would have quit a long time ago.

Let me explain with a story. One afternoon I was particularly grumpy. I was not happy with life, particularly life at my 40 hour a week job. Yet, here I was walking in the door for another 8 hour sentence. When I walked in the door, Max met me with a huge smile. Max is not short for Maxine, Max is not even her real name. Everything Max does is 100% full of heart and today was no exception. I walk in grumpy, and Max comes around the corner with a huge smile and a big greeting. “Hi Wob!” That is what she calls me, Wob, not Rob, which is too formal for her I suppose, but Wob. “Hi Wob!” she grinned, “Welcome home. I am glad you’re here Wob. Are you hungry? Come in the kitchen, I will get you some snacks. You want a banana Wob?” The words came so fast and with such enthusiasm, I did not have time to blink before she had my hand and led me into the kitchen for a piece of fruit. Grumpiness…gone.

My second and part time job is at a printing and distribution center for time sensitive documents. Whereas my full time job is the most rewarding, this job is the most enjoyable. I work in the middle of the night, usually until 3 in the morning, in a noisy building, with cold, hard concrete floors, pushing heavy carts of documents into trucks to be distributed throughout the surrounding counties. If a mistake happens, it means lots of grumpy managers and customers. The equipment used is complicated and as you know, the more complicated a machine gets, the more likely it is to break down. When machines break down, things run late, when things run late, there are grumpy managers and customers.

What makes this such a wonderfully enjoyable place to work? The team of men I work with. Each person expects the other is eventually going to screw up and keeps checking what the other is doing. Eventually one of us screws up and someone else catches it and disaster is averted. Usually. If not, then we brace ourselves for grumpy phone calls.

My third job is my newest job and will hopefully take the place of my full time job in a few months. In the morning, I assist students to transition from home and community environments to the school environment. In the afternoon, I assist students in decompressing and smoothly transitioning from school to home environment. On top of this I get to drive a big yellow bus and stop traffic, which is way cool.

Thank you President Obama, for creating my three jobs.