Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Yesterday was our 3rd wedding anniversary. Since we've done so much out of town off work kind of events recently we didn't do anything really special other than candlelight with dinner. It was a good dinner. Bonnie Jean cooked cashew garlic chicken. I finally gave Bonnie the wildflower guide I'd been hiding in my backpack for the last 3 weeks or so. So hopefully additions to her photo a day blog will start identifying plants instead of just showing pretty pictures.

In other fun stuff, I got a package yesterday that wasn't a present from Bonnie Jean. I had been taking a course in biblical hebrew for language credits at school and need more credits. My school's language department is a lot more cramming and bluster than retention and resembles a self study group more than a class. But I still wanted to learn more and do something for credit more interesting than taking the highest level class over again (yes, I've taken the highest division class and still need credits, language classes cause me problems in general). And even if I end up finishing off credits with a teaching aide round or something I want to know my stuff before showing up. So, I bought myself a self study program for biblical hebrew. Figured something meant for self study would be better than trying to use my classroom oriented textbooks. Kind of hard to find, most self study programs are for modern hebrew rather than biblical. But that wouldn't do, Hebrew has been around longer than most languages and consequently has devolved quite a bit more than most. So if I did modern hebrew self study there would be entire conjugations missing and major grammar rules lost along the way. But I did manage to find one program for only about $100.

So far I am grateful the only features missing from the mac version are print, scroll bars button ends don't work(you actually have to drag the scroll bar, clicking up or down is useless), and volume control. I am grateful to see they have maintained virtually universal compatibility in the past (the software says it will run on a windows Pentium 166 and on Mac OS 7.5) which means they'll more likely keep it running for the future, but somehow I'd prefer being able to print to being able to run on a dinosaur operating system. But, worst case scenario I can throw the disc in Bonnie Jean's computer if I need to print anything, and the program only overrides my system volume control if I try to touch the program setting, so it should run just fine in the meantime on my computer.

Last quick to mention about the software... its probably the only software I've ever paid for that I can't find a license agreement controlling my use of it. I've downloaded free stuff with no agreement... but never ever before purchased a without one. Not that I'm going to abuse it, but I guess I won't feel guilty about copying the program from the CD where they intend you to run it to my drive to help save my dying laptop battery.

Monday, August 25, 2008

New Fridge

We had been complaining about our fridge to our landlord almost since the day we moved in. The crisper wasn't held on correctly making it very difficult to open and for some reason instead of dripping normal condensation in its 'drip pan' it dripped it all directly on the floor. But somehow, especially the way a week or more into continuous puddles we were told "give it another week and tell me if its still happening" we just weren't expecting anything to be done about it. But today with 45 minutes of warning a new fridge showed up. The space inside is much better used, I think its a little bigger, and miraculously nothing seems to be wrong with it.

That's probably because it really is brand new. Bonnie Jean actually saw the handyman taking all the new product stickers off of it. I am very happy about this new fridge.

Among other things I am happy for is an unexpected check for 438$ in the mail. Apparently the radiologist decided he had overbilled us...? I'm not exactly sure how this is working because we never really figured out where the bill for that amount came from in the first place, none of the insurance claims are for amounts matching that. The hospital tried to tell me when I asked that I was being billed separately for the people who performed the cat scan vs the people who actually read it after it was developed. My guess is I was double billed for my CT, once at the actual insurance company pricing where I pay deductible all at once and the other 1000$ is rated at 20%, and again directly from the radiologist at a rate as if I had already paid my deductible. But in any case with as many hours as we have missed from work recently thats practically another paycheck.

So today I'm feeling very grateful.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Unseated by the forces of nature

Today I experienced the consequences of falling behind on bicycle maintenance. My seat had been getting loose for some time. Had the bike shop tighten it once but it got loose again right away. Since I was very busy I hadn't given it enough priority to dig out my tools to readjust it myself. I assumed since I'm sitting right on it the weight must be going straight down and nothing bad will happen... right?

Well, in reality the cylinder the bike seat attaches to comes up at an angle and the seat meets it at an acute angle, so there are significant leverage forces on that seat. When the bolt is lose those can be worse. So about a 3rd of the way to work this morning the bolt attaching the seat to the seat post was sheared by my own weight.

I managed to avoid collapsing in a heap, but just barely. I've never practiced dismounting from a bike while standing on the pedals instead of seated, but I pulled it off with with only some nasty scraping on my right ankle. So instead of being within minutes of being late to work I was very late to work, not having the stanima to run that distance without an inhaler (which I had forgotten in my other pack) much less while lugging a bike.

But now we come to why I'm glad I mainly travel by bike. Any kind of repair on a car that would take it from completely unusable to perfect shape would cost no less than 50$, but you count yourself lucky if its even as low as 300$. It took some time shopping around town for parts (mostly on foot since I only got a ride part way when a coworker tracked me down for a ride to the first store) but I was able to repair the bike for about 2.40$. My normal bike shop didn't have that bolt in stock and could only offer to replace the entire assembly for 10$. Second bike shop I visited was closed. The hardware store not only found me a bolt, nut, and washers that fit, they assembled them for me. I probably could have done it myself, but somehow I preferred to let the elderly mechanic, especially when he was rebending my seat brackets back into shape. He looked like he could be my grandfather, but I had no doubt he was better with tools than I am.

So now I am back in business on my bike, and the seat feels stronger in place than ever. Hopefully nothing else will unseat me anytime soon. No more surprises like the time I rear ended a car... one never thinks about following distance when most everyone is going twice as fast as you are...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Memorial Service

We've heard a lot of funny stories today, gotten a lot of sense for who our missing grandparent was. Really beautiful memorial service for him. I don't know how many Just-in-time or Just-in-case jokes I've gotten this weekend, easily between 4-8. With fake apology an Uncle told me it just wouldn't work as well to tell me that I was just-in-cumin. I reassured multiple people that I've been hearing variations on this joke since I was born so it wouldn't hurt to hear it again.

If we are lucky, a sister in law will drive in early enough we'll see her before having to drive back out of town, but at this point that doesn't seem likely.

So now its over and we're settling back down to relax. Spent time with sister and her husband, spent time trying to calm down their puppy so she would understand that just because there was someone new around was no excuse to try to pounce on Bonnie Jean's head. After Lizzie was better restrained, I went photo hunting after a beautiful dragonfly. Since it always came back to the same perch in the garden wasn't too hard. One photo better to show how beautiful it was, the other to show its interesting anatomy.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Benefits restored

At my work I recently had my benefits terminated because if a leave of abscence goes beyond the first day of a month they are automatically terminated. I tried calling in beforehand to make sure that sort of thing wouldn't happen but all they would say is something along the lines of "you should be fine, it only matters if your leave is like 30 days long". My HR manager tells me she often has to call several times in a row to get proper information so this isn't really anything surprising. Ironically, I officially was back to work on the 1st of the month, but the 1st just so happened to be my normal scheduled day off. I called in beforehand to see if I needed to come in on the 31st or if I should wait till the 2nd, but was told don't worry about it by my manager who according to job description isn't supposed to know anything about or be involved in benefits stuff that would influence that decision. Since there was both corporate HR and local management making mistakes causing the problem to happen, corporate was willing to fix it. Not that that improves my opinion of them much any. I called in to find out the status of the case that had been submitted and the guy spent probably 5 minutes just arguing with me that it was somehow against policy or unethical for me to be calling in to find out what was going on. All I asked was "what's the status of my case?" and he was much more interested in lecturing me on that only managers could have cases submitted and when I told him my HR manager did it he demanded to know who my HR manager was... the guy was really not the type that should be employed in a service type position.

But in any case, I can now have followup visits for my surgery, Bonnie can have physicals, and something else can go catastrophically wrong with our heath this year without it totally ruining our finances. Feels wonderful.


My Grandfather in law passed away yesterday. Ever since Bonnie Jean and I married I've known he was very weak. Barely made it out to our wedding. But still its unexpected when it happens. I was a little surprised how much its hit me. Never knew him that well, only met him a few times. I was verging on tearing up when I asked my manager for time off for the family events coming up. I was telling Janet (my manager) how Bonnie Jean was much closer to her grandparents than I'd ever been to mine and I just choked up a little. Hit me by surprise, but then, since when have strong emotions given me much warning of their coming?

The closeness of extended family among my in laws has always struck me as a little strange, in fact made me a little jealousy for time by myself with Bonnie Jean that I realized wasn't forth coming because major holidays were centered around grandparents, not married couples and kids. But its such a different feel to walk into their 'compound' where all the married adults and even some of their adult children who lived in the area together pitched together and purchased a very large home in which they could all live together with the grandparents. Perhaps it wasn't all the siblings there (obviously not my wife's immediate parents) but everyone was welcome, no massive gaps, no seething family politics boiling just under the surface. A place where the family could be together, be weird, and be themselves. And to a certain extent join in and be myself. One of the only places on earth I'll probably tell a complete stranger they made a Joule of a comment and have them respond "Watt, it was nothing special" and have someone else respond "Ohm my" without any misunderstanding and without the sense that my behavior is tolerated out of public generosity other than by a different complete stranger protesting that our puns are reVOLTing.

Describing this living arrangement to a professor he responded that that was obviously a family that had created transcended human beings because no one but the transcended could live so close together with immediate family into adulthood without them wanting to rip each others throats out (paraphrasing of course). Just thinking of my own broader family now and I think I have to agree. Maybe give it 20 years so that all of us are well into adulthood. Then maybe things will be different.

But for now I'll have to settle for having lost some opportunity to better know and understand
a patriarch who could preside over such a family.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Keys are given back

We have finally finished moving out of the old apartment. The transition has disrupted my internet connection, keeping me from posting here much. But its all done. We finished cleaning it and as of this afternoon gave back the keys. I was a little amused the apartment manager said that we were leaving about the same time our noisy indoor smoking next door neighbors were getting kicked out of theirs. You wouldn't normally think of someone smoking next door as being bothersome, but when both of your get an idea that its a wonderful day to leave the window open smells travel most unpleasantly. So far we haven't had any such problem at our new place. And the noisiest thing that happens is babies crying and what we think is probably a little boy rolling around a toy truck.

I've mostly recovered from all the tiredness of traveling and surgery. I'm still exhausted some days, but its more likely to be from reconstructing cinder block furniture than anything else. So far Bonnie Jean's desk is back together and the entertainment center is about 1/3 complete. With each new arrangement of cinderblocks coming together another few loads of boxes or other large objects can be emptied out on them. And slowly the floor reappears beneath our feet and trying to performing basic tasks without the confusion of where everyday objects went returns. We were even able to make a fancy dinner for some friends a few nights ago, with only marginal confusion as to where the ingredients were. So life returns to normal. Whatever that means...