Monthly Archives: November 2007

Personal Stories – blown water main

Going through some good REM sleep around 4:00a.m. this morning. I dream that a cement truck backs up to my house, and bumps the house. I grab a crow bar to help smash up some concrete. Then my wife calls, "someone is making a lot of noise, can they do that". I replay, "sure they can". Now I was awake. There was a lot of noise outside. I look out, and see a half dozen city vehicles outside my house and a back hoe parked in front of my driveway. A crew member is cutting away the sidewalk with one of those big circular saws. Pretty odd before 5:00a.m. on a Sunday.

They were congregating around the manhole in the sidewalk between our house and our neighbor's house. Then a horrific discovery. We had no water.

My wife and I figured that the occurrence must have been an emergency, because no one would voluntarily work at 5:00a.m. on a Sunday, after a holiday, unless it was absolutely necessary. Also, there was no warning like a flier or notice in the city newsletter. Still in my bathrobe, I wasn't about to walk down and ask. I yelled out to the crewmen, but they couldn't hear me over they deafening sounds of their equipment.

My wife was a super trooper. We conserved what water we had left in our Brita filtration pitcher and Powerade bottles we picked up as a free promo. When your city sends your plumbing back to the 1900s, you do what you have to. My wife's car was blocked in the driveway, but my car was out on the street. Later in the morning I managed to drive around the big trucks and buy some water. My shoes were caked in mud that covered the entire street. I only bought the essentials: water, pre-moistened wipes, and donuts.

Little man woke up a lot of excitement and curiosity. He refused to go outside because of all of the noise but stood by the window saying "very big backhoe . . . dirty backhoe . . . butaa"

Around 11a.m., my wife got the scoop from one of our neighbors. She was coming home at 1:00a.m. and saw a huge wall of steam over the street. Then she drove through about 5inches of water to get into her driveway. The whole street was flooded. She called in to the city and reported the problem. The city crew had actually been working for hours before their noise woke us up. Another neighbor and the neighborhood's oldest living resident told my wife that the water main was original to 1937. That big grey pile of concrete to the left of the backhoe is the old water main. Fun stuff.

Around 3:00pm, the trucks all started driving away. I had been napping to make up for lost sleep (and that nap felt awesome!), and awoke to the sound of water refilling our toilet tanks. Hooray, hoorah. Once again, my wife got the scoop. The backhoe driver told her that the water main broke drained nearly all the water from one of the city's water towers. It was likely the worst water main break he had ever seen. Imagine cars trapped in ice, flooded basement, and a city's water supply in danger. All avoided by one woman with a night life.

Huzaa to our neighbor and special props to my wife for her investigative reporting.

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Personal Stories: The great orator

Little man is learning new words faster than my wife and I can record them. He can repeat almost anything we tell him. After Thanksgiving dinner, he could say goodbye to eight people by name (with some coaxing of course). Every day he wows us with new words and more complex sentences.

At 22 months old, little man's top 10 phrases are:

  • (mommy/daddy) carry you
  • watch a movie?
  • just one more cookie?
  • (little man) go sleepy-bye
  • (little man) awake!
  • Go outside!
  • (daddy/mommy) read book
  • Christmas tree (sounds to me like "comedy")
  • Line-up cars and butaas

"Butaa" is little man's word for "truck". This is the last word from little man`s baby talk and he will not change his vocabulary no matter how hard we try. For a firetruck, he makes a siren noise before "butaa". We once saw Santa riding on the back of a firetuck, and now when little man sees a Santa, he says "Santa ree-raa ree-raa butaa".

Most of what little man says relates to things often forbidden but that he pretty much wants all the time.

Huzaa to little man!

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Personal Stories – I win an award!

12 weeks ago, I started a Dale Carnegie course on effective human relations. I had always assumed that I had trouble communicating with people. Way back in college when I took Social Psychology I first learned how different I was from others. It seems that when people walk past others and start to say "hello", they instinctively stop walking or at least slow down. One experimenter noted the dismay of others as he quickly walked by while talking. Apparently I had been noting that dismay my whole life, because that is exactly how I would say "hi" to folks as I sped past them. It seemed to me that developing relationships and winning the confidence of others was an uphill battle (which, apparently is a bad way to battle). I know that I do have family, friends, and the most wonderful wife in the world who all love me, but I have had time to grow on them.

The last 12 weeks have taught me that I am not alone in my struggles to relate to others. For some, just getting up the courage to talk to coworkers is a challenge. For others, talking with authority and confidence seems impossible. Most everyone feels that they cannot truly influence others. Even the people who I would consider social butterflies felt the need to work on their people skills. Each Tuesday night I was in a supportive environment of people that had more in common with me than I would have ever dreamed, and not just because my dreams usually involve me ending up at work in my underwear.

I have such respect for my Dale Carnegie classmates and instructors, that I was truly honored to be selected the top honor in the class, the award for the class member who best epitomizes the Dale Carnegie principles. I was stunned. Most of my classmates assumed that I knew I would win. While I always like the idea of winning, there were class members who I thought were truly stellar people who really grew during the last 12 weeks to become truly outstanding.  So I am double honored to be chosen over may very deserving people.

So now I know that I can relate to others, influence them (for good, never evil), and perhaps be a leader. And I have the plaque to prove it.

Huzaa to my Dale Carnegie classmates!

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Personal Stories – Daddy Fix

Little man was playing with our hamper and busted one of the rods that holds up the basket. My first thought was, "Awesome, he must be really strong!" My wife thought the hamper must have been made of weak parts. Yeah right, I know my boy is going to be a star athlete someday.

What little man breaks daddy shall fix. The broken piece is a long cylinder with notches that fit into the hamper. I start by finding a similar sized dowel, a.k.a. a round piece of wood. Next, I must mill the dowel into the same shape using my crude tools. I chose to use my Craftsman table saw.

Step 1: Watch the movie about Johnny Cash. Table saws are deadly! I employed almost all of my safety gear. Fortunately my garage also includes a GFI outlet so no electric sparks will every emanate from my hands. 

Step 2: Measure twice and cut once. In this case cut many times. I turned the wood over and over to notch out a rough cylinder.

Step 3: Smooth out the rough edges.

Step 4: Stain to match. Ahh the heck with that. It's just a hamper. The process of staining would interfere with my need for instant satisfaction anyway. Besides, little man might just break it again.

In minutes I have undone what my boy had wrought. Fabricating that piece of wood makes me feel powerful, like I could create anything. Maybe little man will break something else 😉

Huzaa to woodworking!

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