To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Another weekend, another dollar.

Yesterday we went to Kissimmee for various reasons, one of which was for me and F to practice driving to the airport in Orlando b/c her visiting Memphis friend goes back Tuesday. That didn't go real well. I will be taking off work Tuesday to pick her friend up and take her to the airport. To make a long story short, due apparently to amblyopia that didn't get totally resolved despite our best efforts, F can't see well out of her left eye and therefore can't see cars coming up alongside her in order to merge into traffic and so forth. We discovered this first in the midst of trying to make that drive, then with her sitting in the parked car and me walking around it - at the crucial spot I could see her face but she couldn't see me. She's been knowing that she wasn't using that eye a lot of the time but we didn't realize that her vision was so negatively affected. So this is kind of a drag. It does make her driving phobia more understandable, of course. F will be working with her sideview mirror to take up the slack, but in the meantime she will have to not drive on the expressway.

And then she's got some other stuff going on too, and is fairly stressed; so her friends having eaten pizza during our driving-to-the-airport ordeal, R and I took her to dinner at Abuelo's. In addition to her delicious chicken fajita salad, F had the first margarita of her life. She ended that meal very relaxed and perhaps a bit giggly, so that was a plus.

Had a lazy day today. R and I ate popcorn and watched "Supernova".
14-Foot Python Pulled From Storm Drain

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I guess I will duck in here to say that things appear to be straightening out. F has her car ... she has driven it to work and back by herself, without incident. We continue to run across things she needs to have, so not one but two trips this weekend; R went by himself today. You'd think we'd have this down pat after moving her to school and back so many times. Well, today I made up a care package for her and L too, so not just things we didn't think to pack or take.

I made a pot of soup today, and cooked enough chicken for sandwiches as well. You know how you slice the chicken after it's chilled and make a sandwich on whole wheat bread, with black pepper and just a bit of mayo, and maybe a lettuce leaf. I've been thinking about sandwiches like that and I think that will be some good lunches to take to work next week, with baby carrots, etc. Okay, enough with the mundane.

We are at the 40th anniversary of the moon shot. I remember 40 years ago tomorrow. I was eight years old, running little trucks around in our gravel driveway, when my mother made me come inside and watch Neil Armstrong's "one small step for [a] man" on TV. "This is history," she said. I stood on one foot, as it were, waiting for it to be over so I could go back out to my trucks.

Now with the space shuttle program nearing its end, plans are being made to go back to the moon as a preliminary step to going to Mars. I want them to get this done while I am still alive to see it. I would be part of the Mars mission, if they would have me, even if I knew I would not be coming back. We are going to have to get off of this planet. We're too vulnerable here - another such asteroid as the one that wiped out the dinosaurs, and there we'd be.

The next step - well, maybe next after some of Jupiter's moons - will be a generational ship that will go beyond the Solar System. I will not live to see that. But it's been thought about, dreamed about, written about, a thousand times. I have to believe it will happen.

We'll take human nature with us, of course, with all of its strengths and terrible flaws. God knows what fashions people will be wearing - now that's a fun one for the SF writers and lots of them have had ideas. Will the various ethnic groups have intermingled by then so that our eyes and skin and hair will all look alike? Racism and sexism and all the other isms- will they still be talked about and fought about? How much of our brain functions will we have outsourced to technology by then - I'm kind of surprised every now and then to see how much I already have. What music and what literature will be considered to be classics? And what will language be like?

Without something cool and totally theoretical like hyperspace or warp drive, those hypothetical generational-ship people will be permanently cut off from Earth. The closest star is 4 light-years away, so if they end up somehow setting up a colony there, everyone who could possibly remember them will be dead, and their children, and their children's children, and so forth. And communications will take 4 years to go each way. That sounds like an impossible thing to ask humans to undertake ... until you think about explorers and pioneers and such. A young family could leave home in a covered wagon, travel a couple hundred miles, and never see their extended family again, ever. Or travel further than that with not much idea of what they would experience and having to make it up as they went along, and live or die by their strength and their wit. Of course, one can think back to the Mongols who crossed the Bering Strait and came into this continent and even South America thousands of years ago, and moved all through it and made it their home despite the very different climate and geographical regions and plant and animal life. So we've got it in us to do it.

And then, think how determined the life force, or whatever you want to call it, is, here on Earth. There are organisms that find a way to exist and even thrive in just about every conceivable environmental niche we have here. I can't believe that this happened only once and that we're it, in the universe. I want to know where everybody is.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

So yesterday, back to Kissimmee ... after I got all the way there the dealership called and said they wanted to keep the car another day b/c they couldn't figure out why it stalled. Told F it was her decision but she'd have to work out her transportation because I couldn't keep driving to K every day, it's wearing me out. She did figure out what to do, and then we went to the dealership and talked to the service people.

They were very nice, and concerned, and want to make sure the car is OK before we take it back. A rental was discussed, if it could not be checked out pretty quick; but, the service man said, age might be an issue.

"She's 22," I said.

He visibly jumped. And that was funny, b/c the finance guy on Friday was shocked when she handed him her license; he looked from it to her and back again, and finally apologized; he'd thought she was about 14. F may appreciate this later, but right now I think it gets tedious.

Subsequently I stuck around until it was time for her to leave for work, and she drove my car through the bowels of Central Florida without incident. Her dad picked her up in the morning, and she drove the car back to her apartment. Passed that hurdle.

The dealership folks called her today. To make a long story short, they could not find the problem and could not reproduce it, and they are now thinking it was bad gasoline. I've had that happen before and it seems reasonable to me. She didn't have to work tonight, so tomorrow her dad is going to drive BACK to Kissimmee to take her to get her car, and probably see if she wants to swap cars for a week or so, so we can make absolutely sure that her car isn't going to do that again.

And then it will be on to the next crisis.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Another happy late night driving through the wilds of Central Florida.

I left out a lot of stuff that we have gone through trying to get that car for F. We nailed down a 4.99% interest rate but that obviously was not done at the dealership, so there's been a lot of phone calls and emails and faxing - you'd think no one had ever arranged their own financing before. Friday we thought it was taken care of, but no. R had left me and F there b/c he had to get to work. Somebody swears she faxed something - somebody else swears he didn't get it - no, we couldn't take the car yet. The salesperson who had sold us the car was kind enough to drive us the hour it took to get home - she lives on the way and was coming into town anyway. She was fairly mortified that we weren't able to drive away but is new at the dealership and couldn't budge them. On the way we stopped at her place and picked up her spouse, an electrical engineer, and he and I had a happy convo about science and numbers all the rest of the way to my house, so it wasn't all bad.

But we thought we'd get the paperwork squared away today, and after a bunch of back-and-forth I think everybody just got worn down and said, come get the damn car, we'll work it out.

So F and I did. I left work at 4:30 or so and drove the 1.25 hours back to her apt and picked her up. We went to the dealership and signed the rest of the papers we had to sign, and then she followed me back to her apartment. Let me interject that F had a terrific wreck about four years ago. Totalled the car. Even though she walked away, it was somewhat traumatizing for her. She could drive a few blocks at a time after that, in little or no traffic, but it was always a heart-pounding experience for her, and she's only done that about five times in the last four years. So for her to follow me home in Kissimmee, driving this new-to-her car, in multilane traffic and unfamiliar streets, took a great deal of courage. F is one tough cookie.

We got back to the apartment, and had something to eat, and she got hold of herself, and then I was going to sit in the passenger seat while she drove the 35-minute drive she will have to her workplace and back. Then I was going to follow her to work, and then come home myself.

So we got a short distance away from her apartment ... and the car died. Shut down. In traffic. F sat there and quietly freaked.

"Stop the car," I said, "and turn it off." We happened to be in the right lane, at a traffic light that quickly turned red, which gave her a little cover to get hold of herself.

There was a BP station on the corner, so I told her that when the light turned green she was to turn the car back on, and pull into that gas station.

"I can't," she said.

"Yes, you can," I said.

She was seriously shaken up. It would have been so easy for me to go around and get in the driver's side and take over, but no can do.

"Nothing has happened," I told her. "We're all right. You can do this."

The light turned green, she turned the car back on, pulled into the BP station, and parked it. And I called the dealership, they sent a tow truck, F and I were dropped back off at her apartment, and I took her to work. L will pick her up in the morning. And tomorrow I'll start calling AGAIN to try to figure out next steps.

Sick of this. But as I told F, this kind of thing happens, and sometimes the only way past it is through it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

We got in about 10 minutes ago from moving the girls.


The rental place where we rented the pickup truck to get F's stuff from school no longer has pickups. Everywhere else charges by the mile, and we didn't think we could get everything in one trip in a pickup, so we decided to rent a 10' U-haul. Only they didn't have any 10' available today, nor any 12', so we ended up with a 14' (paid the 10' price.) R was horrified because he still remembers the trip here from Memphis with him driving that thing. This wasn't so bad, b/c it's only an hour trip through Central Florida, not 14 hours through Atlanta and all, except that when we got to the girls' apartment the heavens opened and it rained like there was no tomorrow. We waited for a bit, decided it would not let up, and offloaded her stuff in the POURING RAIN. It took a long time b/c we had to put a lot of stuff in plastic bins to carry from the truck to the door, even though the truck was right there, because seriously, the volume of water falling was unbelievable.

You know what happened as soon as we got the last bit in.

Then a whole bunch of other stuff had to happen, just peripheral details and blah blah, but anyway we didn't get away till after midnight.

Monday I have to go back b/c F had picked out a car at a dealership in Kissimmee but there was a paperwork glitch that prevented us from bringing it home last week. It will be smoothed out on Monday, and I'll go with her to get that car. Will let her drive herself to her workplace and back to her apt to nail down the route, then come back home. And it will be just R and me and the two cats here again.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

I'm about to empty-nest again. F and L have signed a lease on an apartment in Kissimmee. It looks like a nice place. The apartment is cheerful and attractive and has about 3 times as much room as they had in the dorm. We also located a car that F likes and will do a bit of research before we (probably) buy it tomorrow. Saturday we'll probably move the girls' things. And that will be that.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

This is just about the coolest thing ever.

Vice President Joe Biden celebrated American patriotism and mocked the ghost of Saddam Hussein during a Fourth of July visit to Iraq on Saturday.

He presided at a naturalization ceremony at one of Hussein's former palaces, where 237 U.S. service members were sworn in to become American citizens.

"We did it in Saddam's palace and I can think of nothing better. That S.O.B. is rolling over in his grave right now," Biden said of the former Iraqi dictator, who was toppled by a U.S.-led invasion in 2003 and executed by the Iraqi government in 2006.


Biden extolled America's diversity and its destination as a refuge for immigrants, saying newcomers are the "lifeblood" of the country and that "there's always room for more."

"As corny as it sounds, damn I'm proud to be an American," he said. "Thanks for choosing us. You are the reason why America is strong."

Thanking the troops from their military service, Biden said "you are the source of our freedom, you and all who came before you."

"What a sight you are today. What a powerful symbol for the rest of the world you are," he said.

Mentioning America's founding fathers, Biden told the new Americans from across the world that "as of today they're your founding fathers."


Biden later met with troops from his home state of Delaware, including his son, Beau, and he visited the mess hall where a Fourth of July feast was served.

Gen. Raymond Odierno, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, also lauded the newly naturalized troops, saying the Fourth of July and Iraq were the appropriate time and place for a naturalization ceremony.

Invoking the words "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" from the Emma Lazarus "New Colossus" poem inscribed at the Statue of Liberty, Odierno said, "to be honest I'm not so sure that its legendary inscription is applicable to this group here today, because when I look at the men and women sitting out in front of me here, I'm having a hard time because I don't see them in terms of tired, poor or huddled."

He said if he had to write an inscription he would say "give me your best your brightest and your bravest. Give me your warriors, your heroes who will enhance our great nation and strive to keep her free."

Many of the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen were from places like Mexico, the Philippines and Haiti. Some were from Iraq.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Well. So L, F's college roommate/our houseguest, has landed a job, at one of the parks in Orlando. She and F will be looking for an apartment somewhere this side of Orlando probably, where they will be in between both of their workplaces. L's job is an hour and 15 minute drive from our house, so doable in the very near term but not for long.

Another milestone approaches. But F says she won't take all of her stuff with her. We'll see about that.

R and I have an anniversary coming up tomorrow. This will be our 27th. There'll be some July 4 things going on downtown - fireworks and concerts and such - and we'll probably take advantage.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Remember when I said this:

I wonder if there's always been a tacet "if you believe me you're a sucker" whenever they've [Obama and his spokesmen] made these promises.


WASHINGTON — President Obama defended his policies on gay rights on Monday, telling an audience of gay men and lesbians that he remained committed to overturning the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule and that he expected to be judged “not by promises I’ve made but by the promises that my administration keeps.”

On Gay Issues, Obama Asks to Be Judged on Vows Kept

So if he makes 40 promises, keeps 2 and breaks 38, we are to judge him on those 2.

"Promise". I don't think that word means what he thinks it means.

7/2 Edited to add: my friend emailed me to tell me I probably meant "tacit" instead of "tacet". The words have basically the same meaning, but "tacet" is usually used in music, which is where I've seen it enough for it to impress upon my vocabulary.