Journey to a High School Reunion — Second Grade

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I have more memories, or should I say impressions, about second grade than any of the previous grades. Second grade was Mrs. Ginnan’s class. She lived up the rode from us, and in the years following was one of my customers for eggs from my 4-H chicken project, along with several other fund-raisers and small businesses. But for Second grade she was my teacher.

My key memories of second grade were playing with a particular plastic construction toy: it was a flat plastic circle with 4 peg legs that clicked  into each other. Does anyone have any idea what it was called?

I remember playing with it during study breaks from our study groups. I remember playing with one friend in particular.  I remember his name as Lance.  And when I left public school for Horseheads Christian School my memory would return to that friend over the years and pray for him.Album 005

For you see, I had gotten saved over the summer between First and Second grades. And I had never figured out quite how to share it with him during second grade.

(As an aside, my mom said that in one of her conversations with Mrs. Ginnan, it was mentioned that because of my beliefs I took some ridicule from my peers that year, but wouldn’t give in.  I don’t have memory of that at all.)

Years later I saw his picture while working at the paper, and wondered if it was him. It was in one of the wedding announcements. We got a chance to talk, and he remembered me, as I remembered him. He had become a Methodist minister. We discussed our faith. My prayers from all those years had been answered.

Then I knew his name,  first and last.  Today again I only remember Lance, and even that might be a substitution of the brain over time.

How about the rest of you? What do you remember about your second grade experience.

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New Water Mains, Burst Water Mains

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Right in front of our house, where we thought the leak was.

Right in front of our house, where we thought the leak was.

Another photo essay today. Seems like after all the working on new water mains the past few months, we have a burst pipe of some sort up the street.

The ice frozen across our driveway.

The ice frozen across our driveway.

It must have burst sometime Tuesday night, because when the water overflowed our driveway (more on that later), it froze and left ice on the driveway. Why did it go over the driveway instead of through the pipe underneath it? Well, last Friday they poured concrete where our driveway meets the road — with the intention of topping that off with asphalt after the concrete cured — and reshaped the dirt in our drainage ditch. But when they reshaped the dirt, they blocked and entirely hid the upper end of the drainage pipe. So the water went over the driveway, since the pipe was blocked.

But it wasn’t blocked completely.  The water eventually eroded through the dirt, found the pipe, and stopped flowing over the driveway.  By the time I got up in the morning and headed to work on Wednesday, there was ice on the driveway, but no water flowing over it.

I walked up the street to the middle of our lot, and saw the water bubbling up out of the ground there, or so I thought. so I thought the leak was there. I then hurried off to catch my bus, texting Betsy to call the  city 311 line to report the leak.

The water eroding away the dirt to find the pipe underneath the driveway.

The water eroding away the dirt to find the pipe underneath the driveway.

When she walked the dog she came to the same conclusion about the leak as I did — until she went further on up the street.  The leak started nearer to the top of the hill, carved a path under the leaves in the ditch, and the broke out back to the surface in the middle of our lot.

Betsy saw the water main crews come by and look at the leak, but no one did anything to stopy the leak. So our ditch  that they graded so nicely is now being nicely eroded by the running water. It is obviously faster in the evening than it was in the morning.

A look at the water down the street,  freezing wide before eroding deep.

A look at the water down the street, freezing wide before eroding deep.

How much water and how much erosion are we going to have before they stop the leak?  And is the water coming from the new or the old water main? The neighbor down the street says it has to be from  the new main since they switched everyone over.  But we aren’t so sure whether the switch has been made yet.  We haven’t been aware of the water being turned off to switch things over.

Ice frozen around t he new, never-used, fire hydrant.

Ice frozen around t he new, never-used, fire hydrant.

State of the (dis)Union

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Okay, disclaimer, I’m naturally skeptical of President Obama. If you don’t want to read something skeptical about him and his State of the Union address, don’t read any further….

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President Obama gave his fifth State of the Union address Tuesday evening. A lot of commentary has and will be done on it. Much of it was done by my wife on Facebook during the address itself. Me, I’m going to pick up the quotes that caught my ear, that I could get down, and those first impressions I had while hearing them. More of a bullet-point blog rather than a connected narrative:

  • “After 12 long years, the war is finally coming to an end” with Al Qaeda taking Fallujah in Iraq. Sounds like a real victory.
  • “Let’s make this a year of action, to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations.” Some of us would rather people leave us alone.
  • sotu-cbs“Whenever I can take steps without legislation  I will.” There, he admits he is an imperial president.
  • “Son of a bar-keep is the speaker of the House.” The president used this as an example of advancement, but really, it should be considered a step down.  We have elevated public life, when it is private life that should be elevated.
  • He offered to help entrepreneurs, and mentioned his administration had given more loans to small businesses. I am sure those loans have enough strings, and more regulations and paperwork. Decreasing taxes and regulations would do a lot more for business than loans with strings.
  • Federal research led to the technologies behind Google and the smart phones. Again, government claiming credit. But you cannot focus that research. It is the accidental associations of private research that the public cannot direct that made Google and smart phones happen.sotu-nbc2
  • “The debate is settled, climate change is a fact.” Now he is the arbiter of scientific debate. What happened to freedom of research and scientific inquiry? That obviously isn’t what he means to do with all those Federal research dollars he wants. Only people who agree with the government view will get grants.
  • “Women deserve equal pay for equal work.” Well, once you factor in the differences of experience and education, studies show they actually are equal. “They deserve to have a baby without sacrificing their job….” Here he means that they deserve  to be more than equal.
  • He also challenged congress to raise the minimum wage, then subtly suggested it was the same thing as the example he had of an employer choosing to raise its employees wages. “Businesses have done it on their own,” isn’t an example of raising the minimum wage, but an example of market forces at work.sotu-cnn
  • “We need to stand up for everyone’s right to vote.” The best way to stand up for people’s rights is to defend against voter fraud, against the dilution of their franchise. Simple, clear, voter identification that isn’t any worse than what we all have to do to be able to drive a car.
  • He also talked about “standing up for the lives that gun violence steals from us each day” Since those shootings seem to take place in gun free zones, the elimination of gun free zones might be a good way to start.
  • “I will reform our surveillance programs” since I got my hand caught in the cookie jar spying into everyone’s lives.
  • “We will close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.” Didn’t he promise this in his first campaign for president? What is taking him so long?sotu-msnbc
  • “These negotiations (with Iran) don’t rely on trust (but) on verifiable action… If Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy could negotiate with the Soviet Union… a strong and powerful US should be able to negotiate with a less powerful (Iran).” –What I thought of when he said this was a scene for Babylon 5 where Londo Mollari gives Vir Cotto the opportunity to negotiate on behalf of the great Centauri Republic. His admonition “Don’t give away the homeworld.” I have about the same amount of confidence.sotu-fox

We Love you Linda

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Weather could postpone, but couldn’t prevent, the outpouring of love from Avondale United Methodist Church to retiring organist Linda Prewitt.

DSC04097Linda, the church’s organist for over 12 years, retired as of the end of December 2013. A reception in her honor had been planned for Jan. 5, 2014, but a winter snowstorm postponed it until yesterday, Sunday, January 26, 2014.

The church served its usual high quality of refreshments for the reception: a lovely assortment of cookies, served with punch.  Of especial note were the cookies with musical notes on them.DSC04098B

The Church’s elementary Sunday School classes opened the reception by singing a song about how “we love you, Linda.”  The song ended with a presentation of flowers to Linda by the children.

Elizabeth Boman presented Linda with a money tree collected from the church as a thank-you.

Jean Hallaway read the plaque she presented to Linda with an Irish Friendship blessing on it:

Irish Friendship Blessing

May God give you …

For every storm, a rainbow,

For every tear, a smile,

For every care, a promise,

And a blessing in each trial.

For every problem life sends,

A faithful friend to share

For every sigh, a sweet song,

And an answer for every prayer.

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Various people shared memories of Linda. One such memory was what she said when she made her rare mistake: “It’s hard to be perfect all the time.” In honor of that, there was a card on the table beside her that said:

“It’s hard to be perfect all the time” But Linda was mighty close.

Patsy Prather’s story was about leaving the church after choir. Everyone was headed out together, and Linda was headed to her car, parked next to the dumpster, when suddenly she let out a large scream. Everyone turned to see what it was.  Linda was there, being stared down by a large racoon. That was the first time, but it wasn’t the last.

DSC04107Valerie Goodman shared how her one daughter wanted a CD for music at her wedding, and Valerie said, “you aren’t having a CD while we have an organist like Linda.” To which her daughter said, “you will have to pay for it.”  After the wedding her daughter told her, “mom, that was the best money you spent on the wedding.”

Suzie Conaway’s story was about her part in Linda becoming the organist. Suzie was in the choir loft one week, and saw someone who from the back looked like her stepmother.  So afterwards she went down, to see it wasn’t her stepmother, but Linda.  While they were talking, she found out that Linda was looking for a church, and that she would love to be able to play organ again. Suzie took her card, and two week’s later the then-organist had to retire to take care of family concerns. Suzie turned in the card, and Linda became organist.

The church youth, not there because there were attending WOW 2014 in Springfield, sent their greetings. One of their observations was that Linda was the only church organist they had ever known. Many had been born during her tenure.

DSC04103Pastor Gary Ponder-Williams noted that Linda had served Avondale for over 12 years, out of a career of 35 years of organ playing.  Avondale got her for the longest and the best.

People also shared about Linda’s health miracles. Back in October 2008 she had a burst brain aneurysm, but came back out of it with her music intact. Just to live through one is a miracle, but she continued playing all of her instruments.  One of her first things she said after coming to in the hospital was “where is the piano,” which she continued playing during her physical therapy.

Betsy, the kids and I started attending Avondale right before the aneurysm, and joined the choir right after it occurred.  We kept on hearing people talk about her, and are very glad we got to know her in the 6 years since.

Yes, the reception definitely showed that AUMC loves Linda. We wish you and Eldon well in your retirement, and look forward to seeing you again soon, hopefully many times before we all meet again on the other side of the great divide. One way or the other, we all know we shall meet again some day — and that music shall be involved.

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“This situation is no longer normal”

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That is exactly what I was told by the customer support supervisor I asked to speak to at Clear.com today. This after being without internet service for 30 hours, when we had been told the problem would be resolved in 2-24 hours. So I assume being without internet service for the 24 hours previous WAS normal?

She also told me that their standard response to these situations is restoration in 24-48 hours. If so, then why did the 4 previous reps I spoke to on this issue all say 2-24 hours?

Inconsistency. Another good reason to be leaving soon.

(Un)Clear.com

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At last, a day I can write about my activities for a blog.

Oh, really, you mean it was that interesting?

Yes, in the “may you live in interesting times” Chinese curse way.

Friday was supposed to be a good catchup day. Worked late at work Thursday night to catch some key items up. Got up early Friday to start cleaning the rest of the things out.  A work from  home day where I had a couple of errands and 10 hours for work planned into the schedule.

But no internet connection. Called Clear.com our provider. Seems our tower was down. Spent half an hour running around the house trying to find a signal for a different tower. Finally found a weak signal, signed on, and worked a couple of hours before going  to practice organ. Computer was slow but doable.

After organ, since computer was slow, drove out to Panera to use their faster computers. Worked until lunch, then left to go to a meeting at the high school to plan the daughter’s senior year classes. After that it was to the library to use their computers, while Betsy did the grocery shopping. She picked me up on the way home.

Came home hoping that the tower was back up. Instead the signal on the auxiliary tower was so weak and bad I had to give up. So the kids fixed supper and then it was an evening at McDonald’s catching up on work.

So no time in there to spend the 3 hours I’ve been doing each night on my Master’s coursework.

Additional frustration is this tower outage happened 6 months ago. Then we had to spend a week convincing them it was their tower and not our modem. And after they were convinced, they told us it would be  resolved in 2-24 hours, and took a week.

This time they said it was the tower, and gave us the same 2-24 hour estimate. I’m skeptical, of course.

What is funny, is the discount rate they gave us after the last tower problem expired just  this month, and we have tower problems again. When i mentioned that, the first agent started trying to explain to me that it wasn’t on purpose like I was saying. Which of course i wasn’t saying.  But it made me want to speak to a manager. She said one would call me. I asked within what reasonable time interval. She said 2 hours.

Is 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. 2 hours? Well, we hadn’t received the call by 4 p.m. so I  called back. Turns out the first agent had misled us and never did ask a manager  to call. So this time I insisted, and got one to call me back. Told them we were ready to cancel, and got another discount rate, not nearly as discounted as the last.

And I will tell you, except for the outages we have liked the service, but when the discount expires, we are ready to jump ship. This is becoming too much of a pattern.