Sunday, February 28, 2010

A retreat and a hockey game.

I believe I mentioned last year that my church has a men's retreat on the last weekend of February every year. This year, as we have the last four years, we stayed in a cabin at Caledonia State Park, just outside Chambersburg. It was a good experience for me since I've had a bit of a rough time of it lately. To be in idyllic surroundings with men who are like brothers to me was a huge encouragement.

When I came home this afternoon, I found my son shoveling the remaining snow from our driveway. It was a few minutes after 3:00, so I gave him a hug and told him the U.S. and Canada were about to play for the gold medal in Hockey.

And what a game it was!

The first two periods were a little dissapointing as the Canadians got two goals, but the U.S. eventually got one, and then got a second with less than 10 seconds left in the third period. It was an intense game and was a blast to watch as it went into overtime. Canada was still able to score a third goal and win the game, but wow!

I'm not much of a sports fan, but I love hockey. I've only been to a few games, none of them NHL games, and I don't watch it much, mainly because I generally have other things to do, but when I can sit down to watch a game here or there, I generally find myself grinning ear to ear, much as I do when riding my scooter.

It was also a very pleasant thing to have my son sitting on the couch wide eyed enjoying the game next to me.

So, all in all, I haven't been out riding this weekend, but it's been a great one all around.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'm such a mean parent.

I am not the type of parent who believes that his child should own every gadget that exists. My son has a cell phone, but only because we do not have a land line in the house. He had lost his cell about 6 months ago and was told he would not get another until a.) he straightened up and started showing more responsibility, and b.) he could either pay for a replacement or we could get one for free.

Well, our contract came around to where it could be extended and we were able to get him a free phone. My wife was worried about him when he'd be home alone without a phone since that could be a safety issue, so, we were at Costco and they had a deal for getting a nice little samsung touch screen phone for him, so long as you signed up for a family text package. My wife also got a nice little Pantech flip phone with a full keyboard and I got an LG Xenon, but that's beside the point.

I warned him that I would be checking his text messages every day, and he thought he could trick me by deleting messages from his inbox. Unbeknownst to him, there's also a sent box, which he forgot to clean out. He looked at me with disbelief when I questioned him about some foul language in one of the text messages he had sent, and then we had a little talk about using appropriate words and clean speech. He was also warned that if he uses foul language in text again, or tries to delete the texts he has recieved, I will remove texting from his line. Strangely enough, this morning, I found all texts present and accounted for, and no foul language on his end of things. Of course, he knows that I'm a man of my word and when I say something, I will follow through.

We also had a discussion about using wholesome speech, specifically referencing Ephesians 4:29 which states:

"Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them."

I wish I were able to do something about his friends language. I did send a message back to one kid telling him to watch his language since "parental filters are in place." I hope he gets the point.

So, I'm a mean parent, but I'd rather my kid be mad at me now over little things like this, than get in with the wrong crowd because I don't catch the little things.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Out of the snow...

I'm experimenting with mobile posting, and as yet have not been successful. Hopefully it works this time.

My scooter sat in the snow under its cover for a week. My son and i were able to dig it out, and a neighbor helped me cut a parking space out of the snowbank for it with his snowblower.

The scoot started right up, and i took it over to the filling station to top off the tank.

I rode it to and from work yesterday without incident, despite the threat of snow and the wet roads after nightfall.

The sabre still sits in the snow. Due to some back and neck issues, i have not been able to dig it out, not that i could ride it if i wanted to.

Yesterday, when I looked out the window at work, there was a line of mist above the creek that runs behind the group home. The trees appeared to be floating above the mist.

As to the idea of posting this message from my cell phone, I had to edit it and add more photos after sending it. More of a pain than it's worth I think.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Faith for sale!

I consider myself a man of faith. I'm not religious per se, since I don't perform any rituals by which I hope to secure my eternal destination. I wear my faith outwardly, but not on my garments, rather through my behaviors. I don't even wear jewelry other than a simple gold band on my left ring finger. I believe that if it is necessary for people to learn of my faith by my apparel, it is no faith at all.

I used to have a fish on my car, but I did that to keep myself accountable while driving.

That said, I was playing a game on Facebook, when I noted an add for the following:

I was repulsed. Even now, I cannot find the words to adequately express how utterly revolting it is to me when people use the Christian faith as a gimmick to make a quick buck. Perhaps it is the same revulsion and disgust that drove Jesus to pick up a whip and start turning tables over in the temple.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Whiteout and a surprise

For anyone who's been paying attention (or who lives in the affected areas), the weather conditions in the northeast will come as no surprise. Today's blizzard conditions in Lancaster made driving home from work a bit of a trial. I had to make two attempts, and only made it a mile from work on the first attempt before I got my wife's car stuck in a snowbank. After about two hours, some good Samaritans and a pair of Manheim Township police officers helped me dislodge the Rav4.

I returned to work and helped cover the shift since one of the staff was unable to make it in. The snow finally stopped flying around 6:30, so I left work again around 7:30. I needed a bit of help to get the Rav4 our of the parking lot, but after that, I was able to take a circuitous route home. It took a bit of work to park, but I finally was able to relax in the warmth and safety of my home.

The snow really was beautiful, despite making the roads treacherous. I spent a lot of time out in it, removing it from the walkways at work with the snowthrower.

With my wife's recent illness, money's been a bit tight, and we were having a bit of trouble with our Direct TV bill. I called them to explain the sitiuation and ask if there was anything they could do for me. The gentleman I spoke with at first said there was little he could do, as they are trained, but after explaining a little, he transfered me to their "retention" division. The woman I spoke with, she gave the name "Olivia," was pleasant and conversational. She gave me a $75.00 credit toward my bill and helped me change my plan to something more affordable. I'm sure that, on the one hand, she was glad to speak to someone who was simply presenting the scenario of "Satelite TV, or mortgage..." as opposed to an irate caller.

I always like to give a plug for folks who do me a good turn. I like Direct TV. They have decent channel choices and cost a lot less than Comcast. Now there's another bonus; they have great customer service, at least from what I've experienced.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Times of sadness...

My bike and scooter sit in front of my house, their covered forms collecting the new fallen snow. Their outward situation reflects my inward thoughts as I look back on the events of the day.

This morning, my wife woke me with the pronouncement: "Willie's having a seizure!"

I brought him in onto our bed and he seemed very weak. He seemed so light to me, compared to even a few days before. Over the past month or two he appeared to be losing weight, and we were worried about him, but we had no extra cash to pay for a visit to the vet. The last two weeks had been even worse, though he seemed to be rallying a couple of days ago.

When he started having seizures this morning, we knew the time had come to take him to the vet, though we suspected that nothing could be done. To make matters worse, our youngest cat was starting to show the same symptoms, so we put them both in carriers and headed out the door.

It seemed to take an eternity for the vet to see us. I sat in the examining room holding my dear feline friend in my arms, when I realized, this was the first time he'd ever sat on my lap for more than a few short moments in the ten and a half years he had lived with us. He didn't struggle because he just didn't have the strength to put in the effort. The thought brought me to tears.

When the vet finally came into the room, he gave us the news that we feared, but for reasons we had not expected. Willie was very sick, and his liver and kidneys had apparently failed and he had lost more than half of his body weight.* He said that they could run some tests, but that it was likely that there was nothing to be done for a senior cat like Willie and he agreed that due to his apparent suffering, the kindest thing to do would be to put him to sleep.

Willie let the doctor know how he felt about that by clawing him in the hand, but then collapsed and started into another seizure. They gave him a sedative and let him rest on the bench by the door while they examined our other sick kitty; Jo-Jo. Jo-Jo was in better shape, but still showed signs of a toxin* of some sort. Since he is only a year old, we opted to try some medication and were given some antibiotics and steroid for him (He's actually seeming a bit better this evening already).

All too soon, it was time for Willie to get back on the table. My wife and I hugged him one last time and scratched his head as the doctor put the needle in his foreleg. He slipped silently into what I imagine is the endless dream into which all lesser creatures must go when the pass from this life.

Perhaps there is a place in heaven for beloved pets (I know, it's not very theologically correct), but if there were, I can imagine that Willie is at this moment happily shredding a giant couch.

*Unbeknownst to us, Onions are toxic to cats. We found a bag of onions that had apparently gone bad and had oozed some juice onto the floor. Willie and Jo-Jo had apparently licked at it and became sick. Jo-Jo also enjoys stealing food and we use a lot of onions and garlic in our cooking. If you treasure your dog or cat, do not let them have anything with Onions or garlic in it. They contain a toxin that will cause anemia and possibly (in the case of our cats) liver failure.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Insanity and its derivatives

Yesterday I went outside before it was time to leave for work. The weather was crisp, but above freezing, so I decided to take the Sabre since it hadn't been run in more than a week and I wanted to clear the pipes a bit.

Riding a motorcycle without a windscreen in cold weather is insane. It was just at the point of being bearable, but I think I will pursue more balmy weather for riding that particular vehicle. The Sabre is fantastic for pure power and an exhilerating ride, but cold weather riding isn't terribly comfortable on it. It's also a machine that I will not ride in rain or snow, simply due to the weight. The scoot I will ride if I have to since it's so light I can muscle it around. Of course, it snowed last night after I arrived at work and there was about a half-inch on the ground by the time I was ready to leave for home. So, I parked the bike in the garage at the group home and called my wife for a ride in her SUV.

The scoot's been out quite a bit lately and I've actually seen several other intrepid cold weather scootsters out as well. This afternoon, I saw someone on a black Vespa right in my neighborhood. There's also a rider with a Flyscooters La Vie whom I see on a regular basis along the same route I use for work.

I'm not sure if this is due to the current gas prices, or some other reason, but I can't remember seeing as many scooters on my commute last winter. It's nice to see, simply because the more of us there are, the more visible we become, but just the same, with the recent bitter weather, it's somewhat of a surprize.