Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Freeze Dried Ice Cream

I don’t review food often (never) on this blog.  This is as close as I will get:

I didn’t know what to expect.  Before last night I had never tried it.

From a texture standpoint I’d compare it to packing material.  Not offensive, but sort of very light bricks.

From a flavor standpoint…well it’s ice cream.  Really.

Obviously it’s not cold and doesn’t make a mess when eaten by kids.

I’m taking it camping this summer.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Great time in Wisconsin

Just got back from a few days in beautiful Wisconsin. I say beautiful even though a huge storm rolled in the very hour I got there which included several inches of rain and hail and about a dozen tornadoes. Still beats the crappy weather in the Seattle area.

I've stated before that a generic description of my job is that I'm a financial management business analyst. I specialize in business systems aimed at solutions unique to schools. That's as deep as I'll go without boring you. You don't stop by here to be bored do you?


...something amazing happened at this conference I attended. At some point in this conference of 1100 people they announced that there were attendees from Washington state. I don't recall exactly when that was as I was probably trying to digest the conference breakfast. Hearing this a woman attending the conference was trying to find out who was from my state. She found me.

I was sitting in a chair on the side of the conference hall when this woman came up to me and said "Oh my god, I finally found you." I deducted two things from this introduction:

1. My awesomeness can be easily sensed.

2. She has mistaken me for someone else.

She then goes on to tell me that she is very uptight about moving her daughter out to Washington state and that her husband isn't able to go with her. Her daughter got a job "out west" and they know nothing about the area and was hoping I could answer any questions they might have.

I asked the lady what town her daughter is moving to. It turns out she's moving into the same little bedroom community I live. When I told her that I lived there and was happy to help her with any questions she had, she cried. Seriously.

I got out some paper and drew her a map (in the age of the Internet...c'mon I should've just given her directions to Bing maps) and gave her some directions to a list of things she needed and patiently answered her questions.

She said that she was so upset that she had to attend this conference which was across the state from where she lived instead of preparing for this move that had her so apprehensive. Instead she said that attending the conference and talking to me was the best thing that could've possibly happened. Here is what you could learn from this:

1. You can't predict the future and getting uptight about crap isn't necessary.

2. What may seem like the last thing you need could be the very thing you need.

3. My awesomeness is obvious to midwesterners.

4. Talking to me solves everything.

I got an email from the lady today thanking me for all my help. Nice.

Friday, April 15, 2011

I felt like a jerk tonight

I don't know how to explain this really.

My wife went into a store to return some rented videos and I drove around the parking lot with one kid on the verge of throwing up into a cup and another fast asleep. I'd circle around in the time it would take for her to return to parking lot and I'd pick her up.

I make the first turn and a guy jumps out in front of my car. He's waving frantically. Not the kind of wave where he's trying to get me to stop but the kind of wave that says "Hello Stranger!" in a not quite right kind of way. The guy is obviously not right. I complete my circle around.

I pick up my wife and circled back around to find out what was up with this guy. He came up to the side of the car in a very excited way and I rolled down the window. The discussion went like this:

Me: Hi buddy, are you okay?

Him: Yes, I'm okay. I haven't eaten in three days.

Me: Why haven't you eaten?

Him: I'm homeless.

Me: Where do you stay?

Him: I sleep under a bridge

Me: Why are you homeless?

Him: I'm just homeless.

Me: That's not an answer. Why are you homeless?

Him: Because I get beat up at the shelter.

Me: Is that why you're outside?

Him: I'm mentally disabled.

This is where I felt like a jerk. I knew he was mentally disabled. I'm not trained in it but I know it when I see it. I didn't need him to say it though. He didn't owe me a confession. When he told me his face was sort of downcast and my heart broke.

I will help anyone who needs help and generously. Anyone who knows me knows that's true. But as someone who thinks like an adult I understand that not all help is really help. I just wanted to know what his need was. He just wanted to eat. I could tell immediately that he was honest and in need of genuine help. But somehow in my quest for info he felt that he needed to confess his disability. It happened and I didn't want it to.

I don't know if I can explain why I feel so bad. I didn't need him to be humble I just wanted a bit of background to know what I needed to do. I'm firmly convicted to help who Jesus called "the least of these."

I gave him some money and told him not to spend it all at once and save the change to get more meals tomorrow. He was excited to eat.

He probably isn't thinking about our interaction but I can't get it out of my head.

It's an interesting teaching moment for my older son. He has seen me talk to homeless people several times. He listens to me talk to them and asks me questions about why they are the way they are. Most of the time they never get my money but I'm never mean or disrespectful to them.

Everything went fine tonight and I was glad to help. I just felt like my questioning made the guy feel like he owed me something...and that made me feel like a jerk. You can bet when/if I see him again I'll have a meal with him and apologize. You can also bet he won't know what I'm even talking about.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

I hate the weather here

I grew up in the greater Seattle area and I didn't mind it as a kid, but now I'm a bit annoyed by it. And what is "it" you ask? "It" is soggy weather.

It rains frequently in Seattle. You may have heard. But you may have also heard on Jeopardy or some smart-ass weatherman tell you that it really doesn't rain that much in Seattle and there are other areas of the country that get more rain. This point I won't argue.

Seattle doesn't get much accumulated rainfall but one area of rainfall I know we have everyone beat is in total hours of rainfall. It rains and drips and plops, drizzles, and showers...all different words for the same shitty weather. Seriously, it sucks.

It's been like this since November. Drizzly. Most of the time you're out in it and not even getting wet. It's just damp. Everything is constantly damp, all of the time. Little leagues and softball teams start off the season by postponing games and playing on infields with puddles. It's a bit warmer but always wet. Anything you do outside you do knowing that eventually you'll be cold and wet.

There is moss in the yard. Lots of it. The stuff is almost impossible to get rid of. If you do get rid of it in the spring you'll need to get rid of it again by the end of summer. It never totally goes away.

Intermittent wiper delay is a must in the Puget Sound region. It doesn't rain hard enough to justify having the wipers on before the windshield growls back at you as the moist blades drag across it. It's as if the wiper delay was designed by a Seattleite.

It's overcast almost all the time. No blue skies and almost no sun breaks. The winter drags on and drags you behind it. You sleepwalk through March and April and are greeted by hail storms and occasional snow flurries and more rain. Holy Crap more rain...you're sick of it but it just keeps coming down.

Then the first couple of warm sunny days arrive. High 60's and sun with blue skies and very few high clouds. The dreary skies and musty smells give way to great spring smells and you can actually hear birds. A sort of sun silliness takes over with all of the sunlight and you're tempted to forget what the last 7 months were like.

But I didn't forget. I remember what every last stupid soggy day was like. I remember all the days I wanted to do something but didn't want to wear a body condom to stay dry. If you say "The weather around here isn't all that bad really" I'm going to punch you in the face.

I'm waiting for the warm part of Spring and hoping that Summer will be warm and pleasant. If it's not then look out...I may be coming to a town near you.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

I witnessed a car accident

You can never know what will be a part of your morning routine.

At an intersection I see every morning I saw a traffic accident involving a roofing truck and a compact car. It was a classic fail to yield turning left and got t-boned sort of accident.

I was the first one at the accident scene and looked over the car to make sure there was no gas leak or fire and then I checked on the lady who was in the compact car that was REALLY smashed up. I found myself yelling "are you okay?" several times to what appeared to be a lifeless body. "Help is on the way!" I yelled. "I'm right here, everything will be okay." I didn't know if I believed it but I wanted to be comforting given that I didn't know what was going on.

It only took about 2 or 3 minutes before police and fire rescue showed up but just before I heard the first siren she opened her eyes. I felt such a relief and I talked to her more with a little more confidence.

An hour or so ago I got a nice email from her thanking me for staying there with her and being an official witness to the accident. I was stunned to hear from the police department that in this busy intersection I was the only one who stepped forward to say what they saw.

I don't want to be too cynical and say that nobody cared because it wasn't true. There were several calls to 911 that had help on the way quickly. I think in the age of cameras everywhere people naturally think that the facts about an incident like that will be discovered without a real person's testimony.

One thing I learned from this was that even though I was nothing but someone there to be supportive, the lady in the car said that it made a difference and she was very scared. Her husband learned of the accident from the car's communication system telling the monitoring company she had been in a collision. He was glad that someone was right there with her after the accident.

I guess aside from the 911 calls and cameras there is still a role for people. I wanted make sure she was okay and felt powerless to do anything but never counted on making a difference just by being there. I'm not a hero by a long shot and I'm not even pretending to be, but I'm glad I was there and that being there helped somehow.