Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Friday, November 07, 2003

You know…

Getting only two hours of sleep the night before having to take a two-hour trip to Huntsville tonight is probably not really a very good idea. Then again, when you are blessed with a walnut-sized brain, such things become sort of a matter of course.

Got home last night, children busily doing homework at kitchen table, Reba and Oldest scurrying around getting stuff washed and packed for our trip, supper cooking—ask Middle Girl if she is ready to go practice. “Yes sir, I just have my math stuff on area and perimeter and volume to do.”


“And my social studies.”


“You know, my project thingy about the English colonies, and we’re supposed to answer these questions [holds up orange sheet of paper] and do a book? I have to do that.”


It seems that she was supposed to have gotten answers to this list of eight, VERY SIMPLE, questions about the colony she had chosen, Rhode Island. The answers could come from anywhere—her social studies book, encyclopedias, library books. Had to have some pictures and maps and stuff, too. “I could only find a little bit about Rhode Island. I even looked in the encyclopedia and there really wasn’t anything in there.”

That loud, clanging alarm that sounds like the dive alarm on a submarine is the B.S. detector going off. It goes off a lot at our house.

“You mean to tell me that you couldn’t find ANYTHING about Rhode Island IN AN ENCYCLOPEDIA!?”

“Well, not all the answers.”

That crushing sound you hear is my head as I repeatedly pound on the floor with it. Yes it hurts, but only for a little while. It helps me to forget the pain that will come later as I accept my inevitable fate of having to supply a large dose of parental involvement for yet another school project.

She finished up her math and it was time for practice. For some reason known only to her, she asked if we could take Franklin. [Longtime readers will remember that Franklin is my turtle green 1982 F-100 with 256,000 miles on it. As loyal and faithful as an anvil. The kids really seem to like it. Smells funny. Backfires loudly through exhaust. Must remind them of Dad. Except for the part about being green.]

::sigh:: Yeah, whatever. It’s been a while since I drove it, and it probably needs the exercise. I made her run upstairs and get the keys while I backed the van down the driveway a bit to give myself some room to maneuverate. Got my folding chair and dropped it in the bed, let her in her side and got myself in the other side. Lots of gas pedal pumping, a quick hit on the key and it fired right up with a roar and a nice big chuff of not-fully-combusted gasoline vapor. Nothing like destroying the environment AND your respiratory function!

Off to the park—short drive, and quiet, as I try to figure out how I want my booklet on Rhode Island to look. Notice that Franklin seems to have a recurring hitch in his getalong…clutch? Probably. Worn U-joints? Probably. Losing synchros on 2nd, 3rd, and 4th? Probably. Vacuum leak? Probably. Worn valve guides? Probably. You know, I think it’s getting to where I’m either going to have to spring for a few bucks for a newer motor and trans, or get something else.

I would hate to get rid of my truck, because, well, everybody needs a truck. And it has such…character. But since we have two vans now, what little bit of hauling I do could be done just as well by hooking a trailer on the back of Moby. [Other longtime readers will recognize Moby as our white, extended wheelbase, 1995 Plymouth Voyager. White whale and all.] It is nice to have a backup vehicle—having the truck has saved us on at least six or seven different occasions in the past few years when one or the other of the cars would crap out without warning. And in a couple more years, Oldest will be needing wheels, and with her current antipathy toward Franklin, I know she won’t drive a pickup of any sort.

Eh. Whatever. I guess I’ll keep it a while longer.

Got to the soccer park and found a parking spot over in the remote lot. Piled out, reminded Rebecca to lock it (because I sure don’t want it to get stolen now that I’ve decided to keep it a while longer), locked my own door, then set the parking brake. Which consists of a 4 x 8 oak wedge I carry around in the bed. I chock the rear wheel, just in case the compression doesn’t hold or it manages to kick itself out of gear. Wouldn’t want to smack anyone’s Bimmer, you know.

Sat in my chair and vegetated for a while, the girls scrimmaged the boys at the end of practice and out-physicalled them pretty good, even though no one scored, had a meeting afterwards to talk about the tournament this evening, then it was on to home.

9 p.m.

Told Bec to just go on and bathe and go to bed and I would get her information about Rhode Island. “It has to have a map, you know, Daddy…” Yes. “And pictures…” Yes. “And the questions have to have answers…” YES. Grr.

Sometimes I wonder if I am a bad person by wishing that when they grow up and have kids of their own, that they have some just like them. (Because, you know, I was perfect as a child and never did anything to cause my parents grief of any sort.)

SO, while she did her evening ablution, I cranked up the ol’ HP and started on my fascinating exploration of the ruggedly handsome Ocean State.

Did you know that if you flattened Rhode Island out so that it was all one elevation, its area would be equivalent to that of Canada?

Did you know that Rhode Island was granted statehood in 1978?

Did you know that Rhode Island actually IS an island, created by digging a small canal completely around its borders with Connecticut and Massachusetts?

Did you know that Rhode Island is ruled by robots?

Did you know that the state bird of Rhode Island is the emu?

Did you know that the United States keeps its entire nuclear arsenal parked outside of Warwick in a Wal-Mart parking lot?

Did you know that Rhode Island is more densely populated that Jakarta, Indonesia?

Did you know that the world’s only source of artificial saliva comes from a factory in Rhode Island?

Well, I didn’t know any of those things EITHER, until I made them up. Golly, I sure hope she gets a good grade!

Actually, I did a blatantly obvious, My-Parent-Did-This-For-Me- Without-Any-of- My-Help sort of thing. Nice cover with the main title in Spencerian Script font, along with all the page headings. Lots and lots of blatant plagiarism and stealing of graphics, all lovingly formatted and bordered and framed and placed just so on the pages. It truly is one of the finest fifth grade reports I have ever done, if I do say so myself. Nine pages of breathtaking color and insight, answering the eight burning questions of who, what, when, where, how, why, why, and why. And I finally got in bed at only 10 minutes before 3 this morning!

Boy, you know, they sure are right about that old ‘you + fun = tempus fugit’ deal!

Woke up two hours later, then managed to actually get out of bed about forty-five minutes past then, started the shower water and went and rudely awakened Rebecca to get up and go downstairs and finish filling in the orange sheet of paper that had the original list of questions on it. She was somewhat impressed with my effort of the previous evening and the early morn.

Got my shower then finished rudely awakening everyone else—we all rode together this morning since Reba and I are both getting off work at noon—so everyone had to be ready to roll this morning, OR ELSE. They actually did pretty good. Then again, they all had nine hours of sleep.

The drive to the schools was sort of a blur—Reba kept talking about something, but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was. Then I got here, sat down at my chair, turned on my computer, and five seconds later the Guy Who Doesn’t Know How to Do Tables In MSWord showed up. ::sigh::

Amped up on his morning gallon of coffee, and me punchy as a Banana Splits Bop Bag. “Whatcha need, Ph…”

“I have an architectural question.”

This is never a good thing. He gets into these endless conversation loops where he pretends to ask you a question so that he can tell you everything he knows about it. He’ll ask a question, I’ll answer it, and it will then give him (apparently) license to go on and on about Frank Lloyd Wright or someone else he knows absolutely nothing about.


“My daughter is doing a project for school…”

At this point, all the voices in my head all start screaming in unison. “…and she needs to know how big the Arch dee, Arc Tree, in Paris, the big arch thing. Where could I find that?”

I’ll tell you whe… “Have you considered looking in that thing we used to call a library?” One of the other things you have to know about the GWDKHtDTiMSWord is that it is very nearly impossible to insult him. All attempts at abuse merely prolong the agony of being in his presence. But I wasn’t thinking straight.

“Yep, yep—thought about that—tried looking on the Internet last night and couldn’t find anything…”

“And you looked on the online card catalog for the library?”

“Yep, yep. Looked and looked and never could really find anything.”

Then he launched into the history of it. I told him it had a basement, just like the Alamo. “The Alamo has a basement?!”

::sigh:: No, Guy Who Can’t Do Tables, that was a joke.

So, in the interest of getting him out of my office, I did a few quick Google image searches on Arc de Triomphe—“Hey, it doesn’t have an ‘O’, does it?”—and found a few sites that gave the major dimensions, but nothing really useful.

Until I hit the jackpot, and in the process found a really nifty site—over at the Canon, they have a whole website devoted to downloadable paper cut-outs! (Including the Arc de Triomphe) This is just about the coolest thing I have ever seen—I guess if I was more computer literate I would have known about it long ago, but I suppose better late than never. All kinds of neat kid junk—race cars, sumos, sundials, guys in dresses—just about anything.

So, the visit from the Guy Who Whatever turned out to be pretty good after all. I hope that portends well for this weekend.

Anyway, it’s nearly noon, so I will see you all sometime next week. Have a good weekend, and wish me luck on my Lil' Rhody report!

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