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poor olive got sent home from another hard day in the first grade for sounding wheezy and terrible. She's had trouble before when she got sick, stuff just seems to settle in her lungs more than it should. It was two years ago maybe when she and I spent a night alternating between the porch and the bathroom with the shower running when her cough got scary, it was terrible. but she's normally fine.

So I'm not sure what's changed, but the doctor said it was asthma symptoms, and she should use an inhaler twice a day for a while and avoid playing outside for a few days. That's too bad, the fall afternoons are nice lately. That's how I see it, anyway. Olive wasn't too bothered, she'd watch TV all day if we'd let her, so an excuse to rest on the couch is probably great.

She sounds better. It was Friday when she was sent home, and Saturday morning she woke up definitely sounding wheezy, like her lungs were too small. She's been writing tiny stories in a notebook and read them to me enthusiastically, she didn't have the breath she usually does and I noticed it and it sounded painful but she didn't seem to care.

What's weird is I didn't think a kid could just GET asthma? How was she fine last week, but not fine now, and is she sick or not? Is this something she'll shake off after a weekend of treatments and rest, and if that's the case that's not really asthma is it?

We went in for a follow up and the doctor said to continue treatments for now... I wasn't there, I would have pushed back. treatments for what? forever?


no more forums

I took the forum section off spacefem.com. Obviously not a casual decision, they've been in their state since the early 2000s, with thousands of members and posts, but the forum had really run its course. Nothing lasts forever. Like a prized sweater or wedding gift you eventually send back to the DAV, or your relative's favorite dishes that you estate sale because no one in the family wants them, everything helps you in a moment when it helps you. Once the moment is gone, the thing doesn't have to hold the same meaning. It's okay.

on a concrete level, a forum takes bandwidth and server space. some search bot is always trying to crawl every little corner for information, slurping bandwidth as it goes.

phpbb spam controls are awful. it's a very common platform, and a million spambots are trying to get in, the registration page is always the busiest. I had to turn off registration a year or two ago and just tell people to email me if they wanted a new account. I know that's awful, but every patch I put in eventually became useless, and spambots would make dozens of new accounts a day. We had questions and administrators approving accounts. It was just terrible.

laws always get more complicated. they are made with good intentions, but they are made. privacy laws, the cookie warnings, data protection. heck, it started in 2002 with COPPA. The laws are made by lawyers. I do not have lawyers. I am a small, independent web designer. So it makes me nervous. It's easier to just back out. Back away from anything that people sign into or give information.

Some parts of the site are still used and still helpful. The pregnancy/due date statistics, the mnemonic generator, the skirt pattern calculator. they are more grown up.

I will remember the forums as a source of great joy for a long time. I don't know why people flocked into it or how we attracted so many teens! there were thoughtful, brilliant members who shifted the culture in the right direction, who battled trolls like dragons! we were the top feminist forum on google for a while, that attracted all kinds, and not good kinds, but we had great rules for dealing with them. we were tolerant, but only to mess with them for fun, when they weren't fun we banned them. meanwhile the teenagers who came for useless quizzes would see all this go down and maybe, just maybe, absorb a little.

maybe we, as a forum, came to a consensus, and we were done. the internet changed and everyone moved around and it wasn't the same. but it was always there and any changes we made to people are always there. so with that thought, I said okay, thank you everyone for coming! and closed the doors.

communications training

I've been in training this week, two days of Crucial Conversations. It's a book, it's a company, it's a class. I think I read half or more of the book years ago, but the training helped too, especially the videos and examples in the class, and talking through examples.

I have coworkers who are setting very good examples for me right now, they are patient and good at reading people. I can speak calmly when I know what to say. I have to list out my talking points in a file, what to say in hard conversations.

a few of my bad habits I'd like to improve on:

1) I assume bad intent too often. Someone makes a choice I disagree with, I write them off as nuts. When I brainstorm with colleagues I sometimes realize the person is just misinformed, or made their decision without having all the information I do. They think of creative scenarios that make me realize the person might have been doing what I'd do in that situation.

2) I offer to step in and take the ball too much. It was a great skill at once time, but it's not so great around everyone, when you're wanting someone to be more independent or you're trying to delegate, resist resist resist. But it's a habit.

3) I interrupt people. Among my best friends this is always a norm, but it can get in the way.

the fine art of slowing down and taking a deep breath helps in call cases. leave some whitespace for the other person to talk, and for me to use my imagination. I am pretty good. We can all get better.

sleeping in the cold

We went on a camping trip for two nights and figured it would be "good sleeping weather" cold... fall snuck up on us though. It was in the 40s. I about froze. I was not prepared, we just had blankets and sweats, not the thermal layers and wool socks. So I slept horribly, waking up again and again all night and every time, I swear, I had to pee, which meant really getting my courage up and going outside the tent.

at some point marc was freezing too. he was sleeping on a cot. I hate cots, they constrict me, but he joined me on the ground and we tried to snuggle up for warmth. you'd think that after 12 years of marriage we'd be great at this. nope.

then olive woke up crying and cold in the kids' tent and marc went and brought her to me. I snuggled her and she passed back out and I did too. that was the best sleep I had, and neither of us woke up until the sun was up. maybe because her sleeping bag was on top of us - it was nice and warm - maybe because she was warm but small enough not to have to navigate around too much.

I would have thought I didn't sleep at all, but every time I woke up I'd been dreaming. so I knew I must have been asleep because I was just at the mall or something. I don't usually wake up having remembered a dream, but that night there must have been a dozen. they were all terribly boring. that's the trend. maybe that's how I dream now, at 39 years old.

truly boring.

I was going shopping with three people I didn't know, and we weren't sure who would drive. So I said I would drive.

I was invited to a coworker's party, and wasn't sure what to wear, then realized I was already wearing the shirt I liked underneath my sweater. his house was decorated extremely typically, in beige with dark wood furniture. he had a nice home office. I told the people at the party a funny scene from an episode of Frasier I'd just watched.

I should be happy I don't have nightmares anymore, even though it's October and I've been reading scary books lately. But I was mostly just disappointed I can't have flying dreams like I read about.

Back to reality at the camping trip: daytime temperatures got up to the 70s, we went on beautiful hikes on trails through the woods both days, the girls had a blast. we brought the dog and the ferret. If I'd just been better dressed for the cold, I'd be great. Next time.


language - age 6

I always tell new parents to write down a sentence their child says every month - they never do it, but I think it'd be fascinating. I only realized this after I read up some on language development and how fast and unpredictable and mysterious it is. How the human brain wires itself up for something as complicated as language is just insane.

So Olive is almost six and a half. She was going to show me her new shirt but it wasn't in her room, so she said:

"I thought I bringed it up here but, sadly, I did not."

I thought what a wonderful complicated sentence, look at her inserting an adjective into the second prepositional phrase, and correctly! Then I realized she said "bringed".

Apparently sentence structure is a milestone achieved before verb conjugation? Who knew!

The best way to teach your kids how to talk is just to use words correctly around them. They absorb it like tiny sponges, almost immediately. So I said "You thought you brought it up here? Well maybe later!" Sometimes when I do this she'll use the word right away in a sentence, this time she didn't.

Other things I remember her saying area just more entertaining, I want to remember them so here they are.

Us, discussing what to have for dinner.

Olive: "Let's have catfish!"

Me: "Olive we just had catfish. I know it's your favorite but we can't have it every night."

Olive: "Well what is today?"

Me: "Sunday"

Olive: "Let's just have it every Sunday."

and this conversation...

"Mama what's your favorite thing in the whole wide world?"

(me, thinking... ) "I don't know Olive. That's a really big question, I'll have to think about it"


maybe I'm done with thoughts

here's why it's hard to update the livejournal some days.

1) I read a writing prompt asking what I'd do if I was the president of the United States.

2) I think that's easy... legal drugs, free healthcare, free college tuition.

3) Well... free college tuition to maybe most people, but we need to do more to make kids aware of where the jobs are going, I don't think enough 18-year-olds think about what they will be doing with their degrees, there are some degrees that just don't make sense for a ton of people to pursue, so if you have to PAY for the degree doesn't that make you look at the earning opportunities a bit? Maybe we should give 100 free engineering degrees for every 1 free culinary arts or philosophy degrees.

4) That'd make philosophy SUPER COMPETITIVE, and is that even the right number? Do we base it off job openings, entry level salary, or something totally arbitrary? and if we base it off today's numbers will they just mess up and change in the future? why government mandate kids decisions anyway, how evil am I?

5) Surely somebody has already thought of all this. There are thinktanks, researchers, probably some great article in the new yorker. I don't have to figure this out, I can go back to fixing airplanes.

6) I'm not going to write about what I'd do if I was president, I'm clearly not going to be the president, and if I was I'd be so bored with foreign policy meetings I'd be awful at the job. I'd just yell at government offices to figure their shit out and stop being weird. I need to stick with my job. This isn't even fun to think about. It's fun to think about when you're 20, then you realize that we all have a boss, whoever we are, people who get in the way, people who know more, so you just pick a little thing you can do to add to the hive and have fun with that.

aimee mann

Spotify and I get along just great. I love the playlists like Morning Motivation, Morning Stroll, Evening Commute, Evening Chill. There's a playlist for everything.

And I've caught up on music. In 2017 I was only listening to Hamilton because that's what my workaholic self needed, but now I can explore a bit.

All this to say that Aimee Mann came out with an album in 2017 called "Mental Illness" that is one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard, and I am recommending it and letting it shape my 2019. Do years really matter? Now that we're all on the internet, there's so much out we should just assume we're missing everything.


Tall Girl

Netflix has this movie Tall Girl that they wanted me to watch, do they know I'm tall? Holy crap the data spies are everywhere. Well it's a bad high school romance movie and those are definitely NOT my genre, but I watched most of it. Skipped some because it got very high school. I am writing this entry to tall girls in high school, because I was one of you, and life is rough, just not like the movie.

Spoiler warning I guess? But no one needs to watch this movie so whatever.

The main character looks to be over six feet tall like me and says she wears size 13 mens shoes... that's crazy and can I just say not very likely. I wear mens 9, women's 10.5 or 11. I have not met another woman who wears mens 13.

She can't find a homecoming dress she likes, so she rocks this awesome tuxedo/suit outfit on the big day. While she looks great, this is also not likely, because WE CAN'T FIND PANTS! And she just buys it at the mall... uh, no, if we get pants they are special order on the internet. Nothing ever fits us quite right. Dresses are actually easier because there's more flexibility on length, they don't have to hit the exact top of foot range within +/-1 inch like pants do. Anyway a sweet suit that fits great with appropriate length pant legs and jacket sleeves (yes, a JACKET!) is impossible unless you have a tailor who custom makes one for you.

Were any tall girls consulted in the creation of this movie?

The main theme of the movie is her short friend-zoned neighbor boy pining away for her the whole time, even carrying a milk crate with him at all times in case (we learn later) he gets a chance to kiss her. Again, art is not imitating life here. Short boys do not dream of us. They want normal girls. I had no boyfriends in high school. By my senior year I was gutsy enough to ask guys to dances, they did not ask me, and I was told no but kept trying and did get some (shorter than me) friend dates to homecoming and prom. But trust me these guys were not thrilled to finally be noticed so they could profess their love. We had fun, but it was not romantic.

My first boyfriends were in college. I reached my current adult height at age 14 or so, but boys kept growing. They even grow after high school. Look at a college track team, it's really hard to tell the difference between the freshman and senior girls, but freshman boys are obvious.

I am taller than 80% of the male population, but the older you get the taller they get and the less they all care anyway. My husband is about the same height as me but not every guy I dated was, but they were interested enough in me it didn't matter. Maybe that's the big part of why high school romance movies are fake for everyone... there's just not that much deep compatible love happening to ANYONE who's 16. I don't know if the boys are afraid of girls or just not interested. I do know that when you hit your 20s the game is on!

So that's really my message for tall girls. This movie may tell you the solution is sweet short boys, or a perfect jacket, but I don't think those things exist. Wait it out. Like all of us say, it gets better! Until then, have fun and enjoy high school. Play some sports, you might be good. Dress outlandishly in whatever fits, before you're forced into business casual later in life. Start a livejournal. Every semester, write yourself a note about who your favorite teacher was, because right now you don't realize how much they are helping you. Join weird clubs. Take strange electives. Take math every year. Use that solitude to focus on studies so you can be a successful engineer, surrounded by men, taking care of her family, living her best life.


small steps by Peg Kehret

I ran across an interesting book in my little free library.

Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio
by Peg Kehret

It's for young adults and I read it in 2-3 hours.

It's 1949 and Peg is 12 years old, a busy school girl looking forward to the homecoming parade that weekend. She feels twitches in her legs, and falls down in the hallway. When she gets home she feels achy and feverish, and starts getting extremely sick and can't even pick up objects. Her parents take her to the hospital and a spinal tap confirms she has polio, a terrifying diagnosis for a girl who's grown up seeing photos of people trapped in iron lungs and paralyzed for life.

She gets sicker, barely able to breath and fully paralyzed from the neck down. But then she starts getting better, eventually learning to walk again. All it takes is seven months of grueling heat treatments and physically therapy. The kids around her are not all so lucky. Peg really has the best possible circumstances - her parents brought her in quickly so treatments could start right away, they were extremely supportive and fought for her to get the best care, and we had learned about successful treatments by 1949 that we didn't have just a few years earlier.

In fact so many things about polio are luck of the draw. Peg probably got it from a carrier who showed very few symptoms and didn't know they had polio... who was that really lucky kid? But at least she wasn't from a giant family with too many kids who left her to be a ward of the state like one of her roommates.

And finally the real lucky ones, Peg's two children were born in an age where we just vaccinated them against polio. I was born after polio was eradicated in the US. My kids have probably never heard of polio. It's still on the vaccine schedule, so they got vaccinated without even thinking about it.

Nobody's ever heard of this book, and I certainly haven't heard stories of kids who got polio. What if we let them all fade into the past? This one girl's story of the darkest time in her life is really an important one to keep in the world.


someday we'll buy a new rug

my house is all hardwood floors so we have a lot of rugs.

the one in the main living room has had a HARD LIFE. It's cool - gray with a big modern leaf pattern - but now it's stained, worn, tired. so when we ripped out the basement carpet and finished the floor in there, the big leaf run moved downstairs. it's 9x12 ft or so.

we are going to replace it and I started looking online.

the e-commerce stalkers are SO EXCITED ABOUT ME and I don't care, I'm letting them come over me in waves. Every time I log into a social media site there's a new site showing me their rugs. sometimes it's the same site showing me new rugs, or a same site showing me the rug I saw the other day, ISN'T THIS THE PERFECT RUG? PLEASE COME BACK! PLEEEEEASE!

I'm picturing some kind of mission room someplace with all the algorithms and my face on screens next to rugs, "you guys... THIS LADY IS GOING TO BUY A RUG!" I bet they have all my history. my name, date of birth, salary, buying history... trying to recreate me like battlestar galactica. I can't do that to make my work more efficient but dammit, Shopper Me gets everything.

Millions and millions of dollars on data systems, to get my $600. This is big. Who do I pick? I don't even know! I'm in no hurry. We might buy a rug next month. In the meantime it's not bad, because all the ads I see are for rugs, and there are worse things to look at.

investment advice for the 2010s

As this decade slowly comes to a close I got to wondering what was the most 2010s post I could possibly make. Should I blog about my ongoing frustrations that my iphone 6se won't consistently sync with the bluetooth in my crappy ford fiesta? my husband's addiction to barely flavored seltzer water? something about tove lo? no, there is one ultimate question we're all asking ourselves:

should I cash out my bitcoin?

my friend gave me $5 bitcoin in 2014, probably as part of some account invite code. It is now worth $80 or so.

I also took $10-15 in etsy sales around that time, but that bit is gone, I used a wallet service that "retired" and claims to have given me plenty of advance notice before charging me a fee worth the account value, so fine, good-bye. but the $80 is pretending to be real money I could have to put towards a 10-speed bike for Josie.

So here we are nearly to Q4 2019, here is my question for my livejournal friends:

Should I cash out my bitcoin?

No dammit spacefem, you'll retire on this someday!
Yes because you'll lose track of it if you don't
Yes because it's fake currency that's definitely going to tank

escape books

This year the memorable books I read trend around refugees. Not really on purpose - I just like reading books about people in different parts of the world, stories not like mine, best sellers, and I do not like reading about petty first world problems, so where does that take me? tragic journeys.

The Girl With Seven Names is my favorite this year and I'd highly recommend it. It's non-fiction. The author is a well-known TED conference speaker who grew up in North Korea and escaped through China to South Korea. North Korea is a horribly oppressed place and reading the book you get a sense of how ingrained their system is and how impossible it would be to change it. China won't help anyone escape and none of the countries around South Korea are terribly helpful either. Her tale of fake identities and papers and bribes required to make it out is insane. She looks longingly at tourists with the birthright to go where they please.

I read "The Map of Salt and Stars" about girls escaping Syria through all of North Africa before sheer luck got them to relatives in Spain. "Fruit of the Drunken Tree" is about families on either end of the wealth spectrum in Colombia in the early 90s.

Everyone wants the same things: Food, water, safety, at some point truth... because your life can be saved by what you know, and when you get mixed information you can't make the right decisions about how to get to safety. In the books I read everyone gets to their destinations, but with scars and losses to show for it. Their enemies are rapists, bureaucracy, and greed. Every story makes me look around and realize how lucky I am and how quickly it can all go away, and then what does anyone have? Their luck and wits and maybe some connections in other parts of the world.


kid & ferret

First, we misgendered the ferret. Probably because we got her off a craigslist post looking to rehome "male ferrets", and it wasn't that important anyway so we just shrugged off and assumed, but we took her to the vet who looked crazy at marc and asked "Why are you calling it a he? It's obviously a SHE! LOOK!" and held underside of the ferret up to him for examination. Maybe our vet thought that marc really cared about this issue and had spent hours looking at our ferret's junk before he made the wrong call. That was not the case.

So frankie is a she - good thing we like gender neutral names! our dog judy is female. we're not sure about the fish, but marc might be the only male in the house now.

On previous episodes, Josie my nine year old became obsessed with ferrets for something like a full year until we got her Frankie, and now she is even more obsessed with ferrets. What is it about this age? I remember being young and childless and running into a kid about that age at a party who told me all about football games, especially the superbowl. he practically gave me a play by play of the superbowl complete with "and then remember when so-and-so threw that pass to so-and-so and he ALMOST got a touchdown but they'd been at the 27 yard line and they only made it 25 yards!" It was that level of detail. What is with kids?

Josie is there now. She spent three days at her aunt's house, she's a pretty quiet kid but on walks with my sister she'd get chatty and tell her all about life, but mostly about ferrets. She can tell you their history, how they fit into the weasel family, genus, species, the endangered wild black-footed ferret and efforts towards its conservation. She's read most ferret books from the library because they're not that long.

meanwhile our own ferret continues to annoy me rule the house. we keep finding weird stashes of her stuff in places. I bagged up some bathroom trash, tied the plastic grocery bag knot and threw it down our stairs to take out when I got down there, then minutes later I hear it MOVING because frankie was out and wanted to drag the whole thing under the bed in the guestroom. why frankie, why?

days later josie said she was so happy to have an "exotic pet" and I told her that term seemed weird. "Exotic" things are supposed to make you feel privileged and luxurious, that is not how frankie makes me feel, but she smiled and said frankie DEFINITELY makes her feel wonderful and frankie just licked her face. frankie does not lick anybody else's face. she sneaks out and bites toes.

ferrets really do well with other ferrets so we're thinking about getting another one, but people want stupid "rehoming" fees of $100 plus because ferrets are $250 from petstores. The humane society wants $70, that seems like a better rate. I don't want to pay $100, especially if I find out the owners haven't taken their ferret to the vet EVER so I'm going to have to shell out more money in the immediate weeks. So I'm lowball offering the craigslist ads. No luck yet, and no new ones at the humane society, so frankie is alone.


kids as guests

I like it when my kids have friends over but here's the problem... you get asked for a lot of stuff.

put it this way. when anyone is at your house, you get asked for stuff. when adults come over there are questions. they tend to be simple and predictable though. where's your ice? do you recycle? you seem to be running low on toilet paper in the downstairs bathroom where do you keep it? does this have gluten in it? everyone is used to their own world, but with some slight bits of information they can get along fine in yours. and sometimes they don't even need you, they look in your fridge before asking if you have mustard because they're used to doing things by themselves and know how to navigate social norms - it's okay to open somebody's fridge and take the condiment you need, it is not okay to open their medicine cabinet and read their prescription drugs.

kids, on the other hand, bring a whole new random spectrum range of questions, and some kids are MUCH worse than others. josie has sleepover friends who go with the flow and barely ask me for anything, but she's got others who are just so full of adorable ideas I don't know whether to embrace their cuteness or throw them out in the back yard. do you have elastic string? I don't like grape jelly do you have strawberry? why isn't there a nightlight in this room? help me find my sock? throw this plate away for me?

it makes you look at your own kid a lot more critically and wonder if you should stop coddling her eccentricities. Olive doesn't like butter melted on toast. she likes the toast to cool off, then we put butter on it, so she can see it. Josie seems to be incapable of hanging up a wet towel but we're working on it, I swear. When we have kid friends over and they weird out on me all I can picture is my kid telling another strange parent that they really need cornstarch to show the party how non-newtonian fluids work, and I know how that parent feels... kid, you do not need anything! you're warm, clothed, fed, living it up in the wealthiest industrial country in the world, deal with your life and let me read my book! play with our toys, or anything else you see in front of you, entertain the other kids with what you have, that is why you are here!

but you get to feeling bad or lazy so you don't say things like that, you just do your best. it's exhausting, that's all I can say. a kid's brain is yearning for so much, especially its at-home comfort zone, but also whatever the new idea of the moment has in store. you do not get to read your book.


my non-profit work

I am proud to say that I am no LONGER the president of my local makerspace! While it was darn fun, and I learned some things, I did not want a third year. I chose not to run. I could have had a third year, then one more on the board as "immediate past president" but instead I'm just going straight to my past president role right now.

It was tiring, there were a lot of things I could have been doing but I was always sucked into makerspace things. At the head of any crazy controversy, always the one trying to talk somebody else off the ledge when they felt like quitting. And I'm still not sure if that was all time well spent. When someone wants to resign or run away should you promise to change and help them more, or just say good riddance? I spent so much time hearing people out. Just listening. Being the one to nod and be polite, even in times when I totally disagreed with everything they were saying about how cruel we are.

We got accused a lot of putting too much on our volunteers until they were burnt out and exhausted. And the way it was brought to me, a lot of them said "Well spending all this time would be okay if only I was assisted/appreciated/paid/insert something else here." My response was always to encourage delegation. When's the last time you asked for help or looked back and told us honestly what you couldn't get to? What are you doing to set your own limits? When you need a break, can you just tell us sorry guys, this thing won't happen, I need a break, and see who else fills in? No, so many volunteers would bemoan the fact they were needed, tell me they were tired, tell me they didn't have time, but they would NOT divide off a chunk of their tasks to teach someone else how to do it. "it's just too hard I have to do it myself but I need three months to do it."

I talked about the need to find your own balance and find your own reasons for your work, but I didn't always feel heard. Then again I got the feeling that people never listened to me the first 50 times I said something. After 200 times it kinda started sinking in with a few. Consistency has to go on a list of important leadership traits. People respect it. And hell from a balance situation... people won't come to you as often if they can predict what you're going to say, what you will and won't care about, right?

anyway, whenever I was feeling sick of the place, I usually just had to go make something. it's a makerspace, after all. I needed to spend a couple hours cutting shapes on the laser cutter, making boxes from woodshop scraps, sewing a bag. Now this month I re-learned the vinyl cutter. There are a few tools I need to re-learn.

I was interviewed for someone's school project about how to be a good community leader. She asked about my strengths and weaknesses. I listed...

Strengths: Enthusiasm, presentation skills.

Weaknesses: Getting sucked into leadership roles.

Pretty much sums it up. I've had quite a two year run.


John Mulaney quote

I am 39 years old and this is the truest thing I've heard this year:

I can’t listen to any new songs. Because every new song is about how tonight is THE night and we only have tonight. That is such 19-year-old horseshit. I want to write songs for people in their 30s called “Tonight’s No Good. How About Wednesday? Oh, You’re in Dallas Wednesday? Let’s Not See Each Other for Eight Months and It Doesn’t Matter at All.”

fly the airplane

pilots have a saying. when you're flying an airplane a lot can go on, but one thing will always be your priority:

fly the airplane.

maybe something is distracting you in the plane, or in your mind, or out in the world. maybe you're out of fuel or lost or ate too much at lunch, or you missed a radio call or screwed up a radio call. whatever. fly the airplane. maybe you're not sure which airport you're over and worried about landing on the wrong runway... you'll probably figure it out. UNLESS you pitch up too far into an uncoordinated stall and and lose hundreds of feet of altitude because you weren't paying attention to which way the nose is pointed! then you're in trouble... so don't do that! fly the airplane.

it's good life advice, anyway. I think about it a lot on a stressful day when I'm not in any airplane, just have a lot to do. It's closely related to the Hitchhiker's Guide first rule: don't panic.

I bring this up because there was a great episode of Fresh Air last week to commemorate the 50th anniversary of our moon landing, where astronaut Chris Hadfield was talking about overcoming fear with training, procedures, routines, and keeping your head about you. his heartwarming quote I will commit to memory:

There's no problem so bad that you can't make it worse

This might not make you feel better in life, it's kind of scary! But it is a logical reason to keep your head about you and think calmly about your next step when a problem arises. Prioritize. ask for help. brainstorm next steps. take a break! but don't tune out or forget the basics.

see also: hoosiers. yeah, the basketball movie, where a determined coach teaches his frustrated players to act as a team and train the basics. and the tougher the situation, the MORE you depend on your basics. Always go back to them. It might seem like your boring passing drill, but you can do it and it will get you through this, that's why you practiced it so much.

Enough examples, they all say the same thing. It's harder than it sounds. Humans like to freeze up or freak out. We have to get around a lot of instincts to stay focused when the going gets tough. It takes drilling into your head. It's worth it.

florida trip

last week I took my family on a real vacation to the beach - we went to florida. to be pure tourists! olive had never ridden on a commercial flight before, only a cessna 172. she does not appreciate how wonderful that actually is. but whatever. she also didn't appreciate the ocean. at age 6, she doesn't see the world like you'd hope.

we went to destin florida because that is where allegiant air was advertising a low-cost direct flight. I got the whole family down there for like $800. Marc and I flew another low-cost carrier, Spirit, down to vegas last year and were met with a lot of crazy surprises so I did a little more research but not enough. I swear these carriers need to have an online game or calculator or something to help you figure out all the nickel and dime games you'll encounter on your journey.

allegiant charges the same price for a checked bag as they do a carry-on, so I thought I'd win by just paying for a checked bag, and of course using mobile boarding so I wouldn't have to go to the counter. but you have to check in bags through the counter. and they don't staff it or accept your bag until two hours before departure, not boarding. and the line to get through is actually worse than the TSA line.

I also learned I could have brought olive's booster seat for free, it doesn't count as anything. I paid the rental car agency $14 a day to use theirs.

no worries. we were going to the beach. olive loved the flight, loved looking out the window seeing the world as a playset, then she fell asleep.

I'd read about all the terrible things that would happen to us in destin: microscopic jellyfish called sea lice that swarm you with bites, flesh eating bacteria, a hurricane, miserable traffic.

the traffic was indeed miserable. but we didn't have enough gaping open wounds to be infected with flesh eating bacteria in the ocean, we might have gotten sea lice bites but the feeling went away, the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm and mostly aimed towards louisiana. We had cloudy days but not rain.

I went walking along the coast at 6am and saw dolphins breaking the surface of the water. then we'd get up and walk across the street to the beach. olive hated the waves and mostly played in the sand, josie loved the waves, marc and I loved watching josie get blindsided by them.

we were staying in a sort of condo village and our place was right by the pool so we did some swimming there too, which olive really preferred because she could latch on to other kids and make friends, go underwater and stand around without being lifted back on the beach by waves.

spent a lunchtime on the boardwalk eating nice seafood and josie got a ride on a zipline. spent another lunchtime divided up, marc and olive at the pool and josie and I going to antique malls. this is not a thing I'm super into but it was a way to not be in the beating sun at the most crowded time on the beach. even with sunscreen, my skin got pink in places.

we were there three nights, two full days. we ate out. the kids loved the beach. I don't think we're going every year or anything but if the flight deals line up, we'd do it again.


the great flood

last summer we really got in the habit of letting the kids have "sister sleepover" in the basement every night, lazing around down there until who knows what time with their toys and movies.

this summer we don't have that basement.

same house! but in late may a bad week of rain took out Wichita. I have never seen so much water. Nobody has. everything flooded. the paths along the rivers were underwater, people showed videos of canoeing down their streets.

our basement had a solid 1-2 inches of water throughout. we bailed, we squeegeed, we rented a Rug Doctor for the carpeted kid room and were up until midnight sucking up all the water we could. I took a half day off work, we sent back to it with a borrowed shop vac and hit it again. we got things to an okay state. the carpet was just damp. we would survive.

two days later the rain started again and it all flooded again.

we couldn't figure out how the water kept getting to the carpet, where was it coming from, there were these weird spongy spots not even by a wall, how does that work? marc pulled up a part of carpet and we saw a half inch hold in the concrete floor spouting water 2" into the air - a constant fountain! is that what we're fighting? is it work the fight? ahhh!

we knew when we moved in that the basement carpet was... an interesting decision. who puts carpet in an old house basement? doesn't it get wet and mildewy? oh well, maybe someday we'll pull it out.

well that day marc got a damn box knife and said IT'S TIME and I agreed with him. we cut it all up into pieces and lugged it upstairs. paid a guy off craigslist $60 to haul it off for us. he was terrible, we had to load his trailer ourselves.

guess what was under the carpet?

asbestos tile. coming up in crumbles. we had it tested. marc spent an afternoon in a tyvek suit wearing a respirator trying to DIY remove it... it was a mess, he got nowhere, we were paranoid, every feeling we'd google and webmd said we were giving ourselves cancer.

so now we're waiting for professionals to schedule us in. I want it out.

I want it out because I don't just want to cover it up like the last people did. I want the floor to be even with the other basement room so we can squeegee it out if it floods again. I want a nice floor, like a cool epoxy.

we want our basement back!

but it will not happen yet. patience. just a summer with the kids not having their downstairs room, is what it's turned out to be.

I have a friend who bought an old school building. he said rather than owner, he wanted to be called the "custodian". What's a custodian? someone who takes something into their custody, to care for it, the school has had 100 years of care and he continues that story for the next 100 years.

that is my old house, I tell myself. take care. tell the next people - you have a good floor. it can be easily dried in case of a flood, that only happens every 10 years so you're basically in good shape. it's good shelter. it's been in our custody.


june road trip

this past week was full of family adventures, I'm home sitting on my own couch finally and thrilled to be here! It was an awesome time though.

last saturday - drove six hours out to southeast missouri for our annual float trip around the merrimack river. we left too late. The week before I'd been drowning in a particular airplane and working too many hours, didn't get home until almost 8pm friday night. saturday morning we couldn't get hold of the family who was supposed to take our ferret for the week, and marc hadn't dropped the dog off at the kennel, so that all held our departure until "business hours" so to speak and we didn't arrive at camp until dinnertime. the kids missed afternoon swimming. it was a bummer.

sunday - forecast called for mega lightning/hailstorms so for the first time in the 20 years I've been going on this trip, they basically called off the rafting! We were told if we really wanted to go we could but a bus wouldn't be coming for our specific campsite because so few people wanted to go. We swam a little, but it really did rain hard all day, so we spent most of the time playing cards in the cabin. Then we did some scheduling and realized we could go rafting on monday and just depart afterwards.

monday - rafting! a beautiful, perfect day. got off the river by 2 because it was moving really fast this year, and drove to springfield mo. stayed the night with friends in springfield.

tuesday - saw the new springfield aquarium. friends helped us get in so we didn't have to buy the adult tickets that are $50 each (!) just the kids tickets - two kids were $36 after the AAA discount. it was huge, we were there for 2-3 hours and could have slowed down and taken four. I love jellyfish in tanks. drove to branson and stayed the night at the best western conference center.

wednesday - I give the branson best western a thumbs up, it was only $100 a night or something but had a great pool, free breakfast, shuttle to silver dollar city.

took the kids to silver dollar city. I've never been. they both went on their first roller coasters. Josie's first was the Time Traveler, a crazy idea where your cart spins around AS you speed across the track. she loved it but had to unglue her death grip hand to give marc a high five at the end. at 52" tall she could go on anything she wanted but was a little freaked out and chose to opt out of some scary stuff. olive was big enough to go on thundernation because she is 45" tall and you only have to be 42" to ride with a parent on that one. she freaked out and cried and took five minutes to calm down, and said she'd never go on a roller coaster again. then for days following she told everybody we met that she went on an awesome big roller coaster, transforming her story into braver versions every time. but we decided to support her playing it cool and not add any of our WE WERE THERE details.

they closed the big rides around 4pm due to lightning in the area. that sucked. we watched a juggler show, and later got to go on some little rides, but overall lost a ton of time. park closed at 7pm which is a real cock. we didn't get to go on the powderkeg or wildfire, when these kind of issues happen my cheap engineer brain starts doing the math on the $250 we spent on tickets and how much was lost due to weather.

I went on outlaw run with josie. it was fun but I don't love getting my brain shaken around in my head anymore and my neck gets sore.

wednesday night - stayed a second night at the hotel.

thursday - got up and hit the road. stopped at Big Brutus in mineral water, kansas. it is THE tourist attraction if you're ever in southeast kansas, people. one of the world's largest electrically-powered shovels, brought to the area in the late 60s for strip mining and left there forever for families to walk around in. tickets for the whole family: $26. arrived home.

friday - went to kansas city to spend the night with my parents so marc and I could see Jackie Kashian at the comedy club. she is one of my favorite podcast hosts and doesn't come to the midwest much so I refused to miss it!

saturday - back home. went to a birthday party. josie is spending the night. with her girl scout camp earlier this month and our travels, she's spent two nights at our house since father's day. that's a way to make the summer blow past.

schedule for this week is a lot of NOTHING and we're pretty excited.

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November 2019


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