Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday Meanderings - 8.21.2017

We took the Meandering part seriously over the last couple of weeks and got into the trains, planes, and automobile mode. Okay, maybe that should be ferrys, buses, planes and automobiles; no trains this trip.

Permit me to share some observations:

The first rule of travel is that the airport is under construction. It doesn't matter which airport. They all are under construction.

The second rule of travel is that you don't have to go to the bathroom until your flight is called. The corollary to that, suggested by my son, is that once you are buckled in your seat, the actual take off and ascent to "Seat Belt Sign is off" will take a very. very. long. time.

The third rule of travel is that the obnoxious child/person in the waiting area will be seated next to you.

The fourth rule of travel is that the less time you have to make a connecting flight, the farther you have to go to your connecting gate.

Which brings us to some observations about cool, foggy, San Francisco:

 -- It's cool. Nay, chilly. To quote Mark Twain (or someone), “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”
-- It's foggy. To quote our bus driver, "The fog rolls in, and the fog rolls out. And leaves thousands of gallons of water." Our bus driver was very fond of that statement. Very, very fond of it.
-- You can get sun burned when it is foggy.
-- Most people in San Francisco are not from San Francisco.
-- Daily in the summer, there are tens of thousands of visitors down on Fisherman's Wharf, and we never saw a single policeman. We didn't even see a meter maid. I asked our waiter about the absence of police, and he said, "You would have to shoot someone to get a cop down here." 
-- The fog rolls in, and the fog rolls out. And leaves thousands of gallons of water.

-- San Francisco has the highest level of bicyclists I have ever seen - and no - zero - bike lanes. City of Austin might take note here.

-- Open top buses are great for sight-seeing, but one can freeze to death while crossing Golden Gate Bridge at highway speeds.
-- Did I mention the fog?

It was a nice visit. We did all the touristy things down on the Wharf; toured the town on the big buses; saw where O. J. Simpson went to high school; picked up on the Hippy vibe in Haight Ashbury; crossed the bridge multiple times; saw the fog roll in, and the fog roll out; ate the clam chowder in the sourdough bread bowl; had some Ghirardelli chocolate; visited Muir Woods; looked for B. J. Hunnicutt and Peg in Mill Valley; rode the ferry back from Sausalito, and walked a few thousand miles. Uphill.

We did not ride the street cars, however. The cost is now $7 a trip - $14 bucks for the 2 of us to ride up the hill; $14 bucks to ride back down again - and long, long lines at both ends. Interestingly, after getting back home, I learned that the motormen who operate the cable cars have begun a protest at having to collect the fares, make change, etc., and at present are refusing to perform those collection duties. Which may explain the long, long lines to ride them. For free.

Next time, we are visiting in October. When it's warmer. Go figure.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Monday Meanderings - 8.07.2017

Parks closed folks. Moose out front should have told you.

See you in a couple.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Monday Meanderings - 7.31.2017

The clock is back. I posted previously about the Seth Thomas clock that has been in the family for more than 80 years. You know, the one that chimes every quarter-hour and strikes the hours. Loudly. You may recall that it had issues and while it could keep good time, it would just come to an abrupt halt every couple of days, even though it was supposed to be an "8-day clock".

I finally took it to a reputable repair service here in town and described the symptoms, and got three repair scenarios:
1. A thorough cleaning for a modest cost (their definition, not mine)
2. Some disassembly and refurbishing of the clock mechanism for a not-so-modest cost
3. A total disassembly with replacement bushings, springs, etc. for an outrageous cost

The deal was that they would do scenario 1 and then evaluate whether 2 was needed; if that didn't work, on to outrageous 3. When I checked with them after a couple of months, they said that after performing option 1, the clock was still stopping, but they wanted to "work with it" some more before moving on to 2. In a few weeks they called that the clock was ready, needing only 1 "minor" spring replaced.

Previously, I had the clock located back in my office. Surprisingly, when I brought it home, Barb suggested that we put it on a shelf in the living room - that she had sort of grown used to the chiming. So. the clock is now very much a part of our day, and reminds us every 15 minutes how quickly time flies.

There is one issue that remains: the clock faithfully strikes the the correct number of hours, every hour - except for 1 o'clock. Eleven distinct chimes at 11 o'clock; 12 strikes at 12 o'clock - but you never know how many you'll get at 1 o'clock. Sometimes 2, sometimes 4, but never the correct single chime. But hey! That just seems to fit right in with our family. You just never know how many chimes you are going to get, sometimes.

And you know how, when you are dangling your feet in the lake, or wading in shallow water at the beach, and something nibbles on your feet?

Stay cool, my friends. It's hawt out there.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Monday Meanderings - 7.24.2017

All 2 of my blog followers noticed that there was no Monday Meanderings last week. Just slipped my mind, which is not hard at my age. I read recently that memory loss has some contributing factors — such as inadequate education, obesity, hearing loss and smoking. I should point out that I don't smoke, so it's not all bad news.

From time to time Barb gets emails that are addressed to her, but are obviously meant for someone else. For example, she'll get a notice that her order has shipped - but it's on its way to someone else, and obviously something she didn't order.

At first we were concerned that it was somehow wrapped up in identity theft, but that proved to not be the case. After the 2nd or 3rd incident It became fairly obvious that some other person - whose first name is also Barbara - simply enters an incorrect email address from time-to-time.

Google swears that it is impossible for two people to have the same Gmail account, and that if one is getting mail intended for someone else it is because someone has written an account down wrong. At least that's their story.

And we were okay with that until we got an email notice from the County Clerk in Fort Walton Beach Florida that Barbara was scheduled to show up at the Courthouse for jury duty - and she better show up and not be late!

I'm told that Fort Walton Beach is a pretty place, and Barb does like the beach. I wonder if she'll have a view of the ocean from her jail cell?

Almost every parent, and teacher of small children, has encountered "rocks in the ear." If not rocks, some other small object, such as a bean, inevitably gets lodged in the ears of small children and necessitates a trip to the ER to get it extracted. It's a rite of passage for the very young. And their parents.

So, I was a bit taken aback when another member of this household - who shall remain nameless - came in late the other evening and said, "Would you look in my ear and see if the little rubber dome from my hearing aid is lodged there?" The fact that it was a part from a hearing aid should tell you that we were dealing with someone, uh, well, mature. No adolescent behavior involved.

Did you know that the reason a trip to the ER is necessary is because it is extremely difficult to see very far into another's ear canal without that special little light gizmo with the pointy cap that the doctor sticks in you ear when you have a checkup? And even if you can shine a light in said ear, it's really, really difficult to do that and probe with some non-sharp (and therefore pretty useless) instrument?

Since the unnamed other member of this household was not in distress and great discomfort (it is a very soft and very small little object, after all) we decided we could postpone a visit to an urgent care facility until the morning, and said unnamed household member went off to prepare for bed.

I was shaking my head in disbelief at the circumstance, wondering how that little part came off in the first place, since it is normally a real chore to get them off for cleaning, when the unnamed household member gave a great shout of joy and returned with the missing dome in hand! It had come off, but did not lodge in the ear; rather it rolled into the farthest out-of-reach, out-of-sight corner imaginable.

And great was the rejoicing when the lost dome was found.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Monday Meanderings - 7.10.2017

You may recall that I have - for more than 50 years - provided sound and audio services for weddings. My daughter keeps telling me that I should write a book about my experiences. And I might. If I do, my most recent wedding will have a chapter all its own. My first (and perhaps my last) Rwandan wedding.

Some background. The congregation that Barb and I attend ministers to a large contingent of African refugees. Some are from the Congo, some from Ghana, some from Zaire, and a good-sized group from Rwanda. When you walk through the church foyer you will hear groups speaking French, Swahili and a variety of other dialects.

So a couple of our Rwandan members decided to get married and the ceremony was to be a mixture of traditional USA and traditional Rwandan. However, I soon found out that the USA traditions were minimal and this wedding was going to mostly reflect an entirely different culture.

Two dominant aspects of traditional Rwandan culture seem to be a lack of urgency, coupled with a concept called "African Time." The lack of urgency can best be exemplified by my two-week struggle to get my hands on the music to be played in the wedding.

The second tradition was explained as "The wedding is at 3:30. We told most people it was at 3:00. Some people we told it was 2:00. African time, don't you know?" By the way, the wedding actually started at 4:15 (and people kept coming throughout the entire ceremony).

There was to be no rehearsal, so I met with RJ, the groom-to-be, on Friday afternoon to discuss the 4 songs that he (finally) sent me, and the order in which they would be played.

RJ: "The first two songs are for when we come in."

Me: "Uh, there's 12 minutes of music here. It won't take you that long for everybody to get down there"

RJ: "You can start them over."

Me: "Both of them?"

RJ:"Yeah. And that last song there, that's for when we come back."

Me: "Ahh, the recessional. Got it. What about the third one?"

RJ:"Play that when nothing is happening in the wedding. You choose."

Me: "Uhhhhh."

RJ:"Did I tell you my brother is going to play the guitar?"

Me: "No. When?"

RJ:  "I don't know. When he gets up you will know it's time for him."

Me: "Right. Okay, I think we're done here."

Silly me. It did take most of 12 minutes to get everybody down the aisle.  Especially the guys. I'm not sure but what they were taking mini-naps after each step. It was a long, slow process. The ladies sailed right on down. Maybe it represented the male culture of fear of commitment and the female anxiety to get married. I don't know.

The next cultural difference was a series of questions the minister asked the families (in Swahili, no less - I was proud of our minister; the audience was rolling in the aisles). Basically, the questions asked if the groom and bride had fulfilled their obligations to each family. Evidently they had. Everybody sat down.

Another notable difference was that at a certain point during the wedding, those attending were expected to bring a gift to the bride and groom. We reached that point, and I played the song for "when nothing is happening in the wedding." But nothing happened. Not one person brought a gift. Awkward.

Then a guy in the audience hustled back to one of our ministers and said, "Do you have a basket?" We did, and the guy carried it down to the groom, and immediately people began bringing gifts. Evidently one does not just hand the gift over directly.

And one last cultural difference. Here's a clip of some of the attendants during the recessional.