Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Soccer mom summer 

We've labeled the next couple of months "soccer mom summer". Moreso than ever before, our kids are involved in different programs requiring parental escort. Of course, technically, I don't know if Noodles qualifies as a "soccer mom". For one thing, there's no minivan involved. Half the time she's taking the kids on the bus. Secondly, because of the mode of transport, her time is not taken up so much by travel as by cooling her heels while the kids practice or attend their class. Still, the schedule is full and I would think that is the essence of soccer parenthood.

As you might have guessed, the reason I'm writing this is that I'm taking my turn at being soccer dad. Noodles is being "soccer daughter" and escorting her mom to some doctor or other. So I, too, had to crawl out of bed today and catch the bus down to the pool for swimming lessons. Poodlepums is now working on some sort of side stroke and Bunnah is... humming? Okay, I guess swimming lessons have changed since I was a kid. I don't remember underwater humming. Maybe it's an enviromental, talk-to-the-whales type thing. We didn't have any whales to talk to in the midwest. At any rate, this session of swimming lessons is pretty good. There's currently a 1 to 3 teacher/student ratio in Poodles' class and a 2 to 4 in Bunnah's. That will undoubtedly translate to a better learning experience for the kids.

I never appreciated, way back when, all the driving my folks did for me. I... oops, Bunnah's class now has a 2 to 6 ratio... I guess it was no worse for them than it is for me, and I can't say I really mind it. The hardest part is wishing I had the time to take some sort of classes myself. Or at least go swimming. That's the problem with not taking a break to look at the big picture, I guess. One gets caught up in the day to day rush and your priorities slowly get skewed. Ah, well. I'm definitely going to be taking the coming 3 day weekend off.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Talkin' 'bout The Passion II 

I've been having a sense of deja vu this weekend. Back in February, everyone was talking about The Passion of the Christ. It was on the talk shows--people lauding it or condemning it before it even opened. When it finally did open, the question in my social circle was "Have you seen it yet?" Most of those who had reported that it was a moving, powerful film. Some folks criticized all the hype, others tried to capitalize on it coming up with religious tracts to give to viewers of the film. Me, I was busy and since I had read the book, I didn't bother to go see the film.

Fast forward to last weekend. Farenheit 9-11 opened on Friday. It was on the talk shows--people lauding it or condemning it before it even opened. On the neighborhood listserv, my neighbors were all proudly announcing when they planned to view the film. On the radio, callers who had seen it reported that it was a moving, powerful film. Some folks criticized all the hype, and one of my neighbors mentioned a brochure that was available for those who have seen the film. Me, I'm still busy. As a regular listener of left-wing radio, I've heard a lot of the information that is reported to be presented in the film, so going to see it isn't high on my list. In the end I probably won't bother to go see the film.

It's not the first time I've noticed similarities between church folks and the neighborhood activists. Guess people are the same all over.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

It's only a day away 

I really wanted to post here today, but I spent the time talking to my brother, Buffalo. I won't recount our discussions on gastronomic diagnostics, corruption in the Miss Withee Days contest, following programs or Buffy's twisted political views. ;-) We had a great time, but y'all would probably be bored. I'll try to write up today's post tomorrow. Honest.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

For better or for worse.... 

Had a real marital crisis today... I tried to teach Noodles how to use Quark XPress. ;-)
Her word processor of choice, GreatWork's WP module, doesn't lend itself to having multiple folio styles. Our real word processor, Nisus Writer, might be able to handle the problem, but since I wasn't certain, I just told her she could use Quark. So today she asked me to set up the template and show her how to use the program. Boy did I learn a lesson. Since it wasn't a pressing problem, I hadn't taken the time to assess the situation. So when I sat down I was approaching the project cold. I had to figure out how to get the program to do what she wanted and how to explain things to her, all the while she's sitting next to me and adding her two cents worth. I have enough trouble talking even when I'm not distracted. And the fact that she once again had underestimated the time needed for the task didn't help. Frustration reigned. But eventually I set up a document that she was able to use with only a single tech help call. (Whether it's because of or despite my explanations, I refuse to speculate.) It would have gone much better if I had put some more forethought into the project. Something to keep in mind when (if?) I take over the homeschooling chores.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


Man, look at the time. Wednesday already and I have yet to write about Juneteenth. That's one drawback with having a weblog. Back when message boards were my obsession, and the busy summer months descended, I could cut back on my participation and rely on others to keep the conversation going. With my own blog, if I don't write, no one will. (I suppose I could ask Poodlepums to cover for me, but then she'd take over and I'll never get the blog back.) But I digress.

Saturday, June 19th, was Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States. It's been around since the 19th century, but I only heard about it a few years ago. Not too surprising, since I grew up in Illinois where we're taught that slavery was personally ended by the heroic Abraham Lincoln, who also put down those rebellious southerners who dared to disrupt the Union. (They said some soldiers helped, but I personally think he just cocked his stovepipe hat, put his hands on his lapels and stared them down.) Anyway, whether I'm just more aware, or the holiday has been gaining in popularity, I have been hearing more and more about Juneteenth. And I'm also thinking that this should be a bigger holiday. I mean, African American slavery is one of the major issues in American history. They were talking about it in 1776 and, four score and seven years later, it was an issue (though not the only one) in a prticularly nasty war. The labor of numerous slaves was a major contribution to the nation's economy during those years. On a more positive note, the infusion of African culture into the dominant European-American culture helped make us Americans the people we are. So why doesn't this holiday get more press?

To celebrate the end of slavery--whether one does it as a holiday of repentance or celebration--seems only right to me. I would make it a national holiday. It makes as much sense as Labor Day or Memorial Day. It makes more sense than Presidents Day or Columbus Day. I'm not asking for another day off, (though that would be nice...) just recognition for an important part of our national history and identity.

Update: Once again I'm reminded that I fuss about nothing. I belatedly searched for a link on the history of Juneteenth and found a complete Juneteenth site. Looks like the holiday is doing just fine without government sanction or my blamming.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004


Well, we went to go see Hiker at the hospital yesterday. We had to rush to catch him before he left for his four hour furlough. (They've been giving him short furloughs from the hospital to go home or wherever. Usually they've been shorter.) We chatted for a good half hour, 45 minutes or so. Then as we were leaving we ran into his wife and son and chatted with her for at least another 20 minutes. (Tyker didn't talk, but at first hid his face from us. The girls coaxed him into interacting with them as they shared a common bond of being stuck having to wait on boring parents.) It was a great time despite the overshadowing circumstances. Noodles, of course, was her excellent nurse self and was able to talk medicine and psychology as well as compare notes with Hiker regarding writing letters to the editor. Me, I attempted to crack a few jokes, but I think Hiker made me laugh more than I made him. Ah, well. Better to visit and be boring than not visit at all. Anyway, Hiker and Biker are taking things one day at a time and yesterday they were having a good one. Thank you, God, for that.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Hell no, he won't go! 

Man, we just got a bad-news e-mail this morning about Hiker. As I mentioned before, his leukemia is back. The docs say that he might only have a few more weeks to live. He's in the hospital right now, even though he hates it. His choices are stay there or go into hospice care, and Hiker is not quite ready to throw in the towel. That's a good picture of Hiker for you.

We haven't really touched base with the family since we first heard of Hiker's relapse--though Noodles did talk to Hiker on the phone. Just last night we were talking about the awkwardness of wanting to be available for the family but not wanting to smother them. (I guess the fact that we think that way shows that Noodles and I both value moments of solitude.) Now, of course, our first thoughts are to visit him with nary a thought as to if we're intruding or not. I suppose it's a desire to say goodbye... maybe. Ah, there's my problem. I can't really get into that. I can't say that I'm expecting a miracle cure... well, maybe I am. I don't expect Hiker to leap out of bed and suddenly be whole, but I guess I do expect him to quietly live on day after day, defying the medical prognosis, until we all realize he's better. That's how the two miracle cures in my life worked out. (C'mon God, what's one more? I know You're looking forward to having Hiker up there in Heaven with you, but what's a few more decades to You?)

Friday, June 18, 2004


The lightning dances across the sky and the thunder roars its warning.
The storm breaks.
Rain hammers down upon the roof.
I gaze out the window, a small child of humanity swimming in a flood of memory.
I remember the transitory majesty of my midwestern home,
As awesome as any Northwest mountain, yet so fleeting.
I remember watching vast power rolling over my head and feeling covered by the protective hand of its Master.
I remember mad dashes from shelter to shelter, trying to keep dry...
wait a minute...
I hate getting wet and I still have to get in my car and go home.
Why the heck am I getting nostalgic?

Thursday, June 17, 2004

A letter to the boss 

Dear Boss--

How are you? I am fine. I received your e-mail, the latest in an on-going series, regarding our workload. It prompted me to write to you about this overtime situation.

To start with, I am not going to be working the amount of overtime you have requested. I did the four-tens schedule a couple years ago and I discovered that I don't handle 10 hour workdays very well. I ended up spending the first day of my three day weekend napping. My wife also noticed that my health was lacking during the time I was working that shift. (Wives notice such things.) For this reason alone, I have not attempted to meet your multiple requests to put in 10 hour days. I understand that this will adversely affect your production schedules, however, I can not in good conscience dedicate my life to meeting these schedules. Especially considering that I was given no input into the setting of those schedules. I realize that it would be foolish to try and schedule production in a democratic fashion. But it also seems foolish for you to be "counting on 2 hours per day of OT plus 1 weekend day" from every operator without first finding out if they are willing to shoulder such a workload.

Of course, maybe I'm the only employee here who is unwilling to do just that. It's possible, I suppose, since I obviously don't share your values in this matter. Heck, I don't even understand your values on this matter. You have acknowledged this overwork as a problem. (Albeit a "good problem", whatever that is.) Yet when you write about addressing the workload issues, you write only of getting faster equipment in addition "to working harder and longer". (I guess the "work smarter" cliché has become passé?) I can understand a reluctance to try to turn down the extra jobs that come our way. But if you refuse to stem the tide of work coming in, shouldn't the focus be on having sufficient resources to handle that work? To me, the only reason to upgrade to faster equipment is so that we won't have to work "harder and longer", not something to complement it. Perhaps you may respond that eliminating hard and long work hours is an unattainable dream in the current state of our industry. I would then have to wonder why a company that has bragged about finding "real solutions" is incapable of addressing this problem. Isn't the whole reason we work to provide our basic needs and improve our quality of life? Or do you have a different goal here than I do?

Anyway, unless you want to fire me, I'll be back on the job tomorrow afternoon. I'll do my best to serve you and our customers and get some serious work done. But when I feel it's time to go home, I'll go home. I'd recommend that you do the same. We're not doing anything here that's saving lives. It'll keep 'til tomorrow.

Have a good one,
Hamburger Lad


When one has poor time management skills, as I do, one tends to juggle various activities and inevitably neglects them all at one point or another. So, for the past few days, the ol' blog was not on the receiving end of my attention. You didn't miss much. Saturday I did some OT and Sunday I was feeling bleah all day, probably due to lack of sleep. Monday and Tuesday, I tried to get some more sleep. I also ran some errands and, of course, worked. Now today... oh, poop, I guess it's already Thursday. Ahem. Now Wednesday I just goofed off. I got up a bit early as Noodles and der kinder were going to the Nordic Heritage Museum with Noodles' sister. I've been there once and wasn't interested in going again. Instead, after writing a quick note to go into Hamburger Dad's Father's Day card, I zipped up to Scarecrow Video to rent a Farscape video. (Let me tell you, it's a pain to get into a series after it's gone to video. Especially when the episodes you want to see aren't carried by the chain stores and you get off of work to late to go to the real video stores.) Anyway, i spent the rest of the morning watching an episode and then zipping down to Matt's Famous Chili Dogs to get a real Vienna Beef hot dog for lunch. (My relationship with Matt's is only slightly more explained in my Travel Guide to Seattle.)(Okay, I'll stop with the links already.)(heh. Get it? Links?)(sorry. It's late.)

Anyway, after a morning of self-indulgence, I left for work happier than I've been for a while. I figured the feeling was going to be transitory and sure 'nuff... it was. I had the usual overtime e-mail sitting in my in box when I got to work. I just read it and rolled my eyes, but as the night progressed it kept eating at the back of my mind and I am now back to my usual level of cynicism. At least I didn't get enraged or depressed, as I have done in times past. I do think, however, that the time has come to write a note to my boss about this. I won't give it to him, of course. I'll just post it here, where he'll never see it. (Well, maybe he will. Bloatmeal has instituted a policy of logging on to use the internet, so I'm sure they've got some record of where I've surfed. It would be easy enough to figure out that this Hamburger Lad character is me, as I'm not the type of person to attract a stalker.) I'm such an ineffectual wimp.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Let's get spiritual 

Hey, I just came across a list of the Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films. (Okay, I really came across the link to the list on Looking Closer Journal, so give Mr. Overstreet the credit here.) Unfortunately, I've only watched 14 of the films on the list. :-[ I feel so carnal...

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Folklife, it ain't 

Today was Poodlepums' postponed recital. Objectively, the music was horrible. Tempo and harmony were but distant ideals. But of course, I was listening with parental ears, which are very, very subjective. Poodlepums performance was flawless, though regretfully the other kids and band director messed up a bit. ;-)

It was a bit of an unusual experience for me. Since we homeschool the girls, I haven't been in an elementary school situation for decades. And even then, I went to a small school. Watching dozens of kids being herded about as they were led into the gymnasium for the performance was quite novel for me. The weirdest part was when the principal started the show. She stood up in front and clapped three times. The kids all responded in kind, and then the principal went on to tell them to sit still, keep quiet, etc. It was so different than the way we deal with our kids. I mean, I've read and known about the difference in socialization between homeschooled and classroomschooled kids, but this was the first time I've really encountered the difference face to face. No wonder I get dirty looks when I don't stop the Sunday School kids from getting rambunctious.

Monday, June 07, 2004


Yes, I am aware of the irony of having a post about being content in life's circumstances immediately following one in which I whine about the boss asking for overtime. All I can say in my defense was that Sunday was a day off and I was in much better spirits. ;-)

Sunday, June 06, 2004

How do I know my youth is all spent? 

Well, today I hung out with the elderly. No, I'm not talking about Noodles, even though her birthday is this week and for a few months I will be teasing her mercilessly about being older than I. Rather I'm referring to spending the day down in Tacoma and visiting Noodles' mother, great-aunt and former pastor.

Now I suppose I don't really think of my mother-in-law as elderly. I mean, sure she can order from the senior menu and all, but she's in my parents' generation and I'll always have this mental picture of them as middle-aged. (Just like I'll always have this mental picture of myself as a young geezer.)(Insert rolling eyeball smiley here.) But she has slowed down and has started to need help in getting around and taking care of some business and health things, so I guess I have to admit that she's getting old.

Now Noodles' great-aunt is about 15 years older, so I can think of her as elderly without reservation. She's house bound right now, as recent heart surgery has caused something to go wrong with her legs. We stopped by for a brief visit. If her body is failing her, her mind and spirit are doing just fine. She gave us a hearty welcome and had us laughing throughout our all too brief visit. Her home was a madhouse--as great-grandchildren were running about--and she seemed to love it as she recounted some of their shenanigans.

In contrast, Noodles' former pastor couldn't recount much of anything. He's afflicted with Alzheimer's and is living in a nursing home. He had some trouble speaking, but he welcomed us warmly. I'm pretty sure that he recognized Noodles and her sister, but he also welcomed me, despite the fact that we've only met a handful of times over the years. He also projected an aura of contentment with his situation with nary a hint of bitterness or sorrow. An embodiment of the Bible verse where St. Paul said he had learned to be content in all circumstances.

Y'know, I've heard a lot of people say that they'd rather die before they become infirm. I've had such thoughts myself. But today I was reminded that life is not what one can do, but how one does it. I mean, sure, losing my marbles or the ability to walk would be a bad thing. But the horror of the thought is more a blow to my pride than my happiness. I don't want to have to rely on others to take care of me. I don't want it rubbed in my face that I am not in control of the world around me, much less my own body. But that's the reality--and if the good Lord takes away some of the gifts He's given--c'est la vie. God grant that "in spite of it all, I'll be able to grin."

Friday, June 04, 2004

April 1st already? 

Got an e-mail today from our production manager, asking folks with vacations scheduled in June to "cancel it, reschedule it, or reduce it to a half day." I'm starting to wonder if I'm the one with a warped view of reality, because this just seems way over the top. The ironic thing, though, is despite the fact that I would be inclined to respond to the request with a big raspberry, I did cancel the vacation day I had scheduled yesterday. But that was because Poodlepums' recital was cancelled and I thought our department was going to be short handed. Ah, well.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

What? Where? 

I missed the meteor last night! After working late last night and writing up a blog entry, I let inertia keep me in my chair and started looking up things like the 1979 Dracula movie. (It's all the fault of this site which was recommended by Slumberland.) As I finally ventured home, a bit after 3 a.m., I turned on the radio to hear about lights in the sky. People all around the Puget Sound were calling in and giving their accounts of what they saw or felt. Me, I didn't notice a thing. It was quite a bummer. As I drove home, i found myself peeking sneaks at the sky, trying to imagine what it must have looked like. (Or maybe I was subconsciously hoping for an instant replay.)(My worldview is so screwed up by TV, it's not funny.) Oh, well, at least the full moon was out.

Working 9.5 

...hours that is. Summer's here a bit early and the call for overtime has been going out. I did two days in a row now, mainly because I'm taking tomorrow off and had a holiday on Monday.

Had a visit from the CEO of Bloatmeal and the head of our particular division today. Not me personally, of course. A meeting was called and while it was not mandatory, was "highly recommended". Anyway, I wish I could come up with a witty summary of the meeting, but it was really all a bunch of business stuff which I don't fully understand nor really care about. Kind of the live version of the e-mails he sends company wide now and then. (Without the links to Playboy... oh, wait, I didn't post that story. A while back he sent an e-mail telling about new customers. The mail included links to the various customers' web sites. One of the customer's listed was Playboy and the attendant link was the regular commercial site. As far as I know, nobody's scolded him for sending inappropriate e-mails.)(Oh, great, now the Google ads up top are going to be advertising pictures of nekkid women. With my luck, that'll happen and my mom will discover the site.)

Anyway, I digressed big time. The only thing about the meeting I found interesting was as we were all gathering in the room. The division head, let's call him Mr. Stan, went around and shook everybody's hand and said "Hi, I'm Mr. Stan." He made no attempt to pretend that it was a personal greeting, but by golly, he greeted everyone in the room. Mr. CEO, in contrast, just came in and started speaking. The closest he got to making contact with us was when he encoraged us to introduce ourselves if we saw him in the hallway. Now after the meeting ended and the bigwigs disappeared, some folks were cracking jokes about Mr. Stan--wondering why we didn't bring in any babies for him to kiss. But I have to say that his little greeting was a durn nice gesture. He probably didn't remember anyone's name or anything, but he took the time and risked ridicule to make that one bit of contact.

And that kind of brings me back to the overtime thing. I was thinking about the overtime situation and how we get the constant e-mails proclaiming our dire situation and pleading with us to work "as much as we can stand." Actually, a more successful appeal, at least as far as I'm concerned, would be if they sent us all an e-mail telling us to take the weekend off. Just a little gesture saying that yeah, we're busy and we need you to work long hours, but we care about you, too. Go and have fun. That would be a more effective motivation to get me to work extra--at least for the following week and weekend. Or maybe I'm being too idealistic. I don't know.