Silent Talking and Ben’s New Swing

Saturday I found out that the in-laws had bought Ben a swingset as a birthday present. His birthday was about a month ago, before we were settled into our new house. Paul brought it over, boxed up, on Sunday morning at about eight. He and I worked on it until about noon. The instructions were horrible, and Shannon told me after we had finished that she had read online reviews of the set that said the same. We had to stop and take pieces off more than once to turn them around, flip them over, or both, because we were not warned at certain times to be wary of which way those parts were installed. The set ended up looking great, and Ben absolutely loves it. We skipped putting in the see-saw for now, because the instructions call for setting it in concrete. We were not up to that challenge at straight-up noon in August. It was not quite 100 degrees, maybe, but we had been out there in it long enough.

Ben’s new set has two “regular” swings, one dual swing in which two kids sit facing each other, a slide, and a coming-soon see-saw.

One thing I noticed, which I’ve noticed before, is that guys get a lot done without saying a word. Perhaps women do, too, but I’ve never built anything with a woman, except my wife, so I can’t speak to that. If both men have at least a little history assembling and/or building things, then there’s an inherent understanding of what one should be doing at any given time. Each can anticipate what the other needs, and the teamwork that results is rewarding. Paul and I never had worked on a project like this together, but we executed as if we had.

Maybe that’s why my dad would get frustrated sometimes when I would “help” him as a young child. There he was, doing something, and was not particularly talkative about it. Maybe in the back of his mind he was expecting me to act on cue, do the next thing that came naturally in the whole process. As a child, however, I had no reference by which to anticipate what he needed. Finally, I guess after I had not done what was expected, he would direct me what to do.

Marble Slab Creamery

If you’ve never been to the Marble Slab Creamery, and there’s one near you, then you should go. It’s not just an ice cream shop with several hand-dipped flavors and fancy waffle cones. When Shannon, Ben, and I first walked in, we thought that. I sampled the banana flavored ice cream, and it was very good. However, although the few featured flavors sounded good, overall we were not impressed by the dearth of choices. That is, until I said I wanted one scoop of banana and one scoop of the peanut butter ice cream. “Do you want me to mix those together for you?” the girl behind the counter asked.

I lowered my head a bit, as she was shorter than I and wore a baseball cap. I looked her in the eye. “You can do that?” I asked. She nodded. I got a little excited. “Oh, yeah, let’s do that,” I said.

The mixing was nothing like what Dairy Queen does with the Blizzard machine. Using two generous ice cream scoops, she dipped one flavor with each hand and walked to the end of the line, where a frosty cold marble slab awaited. She tapped the scoops onto the marble and manually pressed and stirred the ice cream.

Peanut butter and banana ice cream? Yes. I recommend it. Other choices included cinnamon, blueberry, cheesecake, and key lime. Shannon had key lime cheesecake. Mine was better, but Ben was glad to enjoy a little bit of both.

Clock Him in the Snotlocker

I’m not a violent guy, and the last person I punched probably was Christopher, in the 3rd or 4th grade. We had been arguing over who should get the most money after we had walked the highway for about four miles picking up aluminum cans. He was right; his father’s primer of beer cans gave us a good head start, but I wanted half the loot. Thus came my first lesson in not mixing business with friends. On the playground the following week, Christopher made some snide remark (I’m sure anyone who knows him isn’t gasping in disbelief at that one) and stuck his chest out. I punched him in the stomach. No fight resulted, probably because we both were shocked.

My peaceful nature aside, I had to share this phrase (with all two of my readers). I was listening to NPR on my way to work at about 3:45 a.m. a month ago, and a guy was telling a story about a bully who had thrown a rock at his face. It busted up his mouth and his dad ended up taking him to the bully’s house for dental bill reimbursement. His dad told him that if he would just fight back, he wouldn’t have a bully problem. “Clock him in the snotlocker, and he’ll go down like a bag of rocks.”

I had never heard that word for “nose” before then, but after two years of wiping Ben’s nose, I can’t think of a more appropriate term.

Apple’s Move to Intel Threatens Linux

After reading a long article about Apple’s switch to Intel, I thought about it a bit. I’m thinking this move could help keep Linux from becoming more mainstream. Until Apple’s recent announcement, Linux was the only halfway viable alternative to Windows in Intel desktops. Still, running OSX (legally) and the apps for it (legally) on an Intel machine will be a lot more expensive than running their Linux counterparts. However, the Apple platform is more established and more familiar to the average user. I won’t argue which group of users is more loyal, and although Linux historically has been more attractive to those who like to “poke around under the hood,” Apple’s move to a Unix-based OS immediately caught the eye of those same enthusiasts. Apparently, I was neither the first nor the only one to think of Apple’s threat to Linux, but I wrote everything above before reading any of it (be that good or bad). Here’s just one online piece I found when I researched it. Enjoy. It should get interesting.

Update: I had to include this link where Apple pretty much comes out and says that nothing will prevent buyers of Intel-based Apples from also installing Windows XP (or other flavors of Windows, I would guess).

The Snake That Lived in Our Grill

Here, Snakey, Snakey...

We think maybe it was a black rat snake. It was some kind of king snake, anyway. He was fairly big, and took up residence in our grill between when we put our Missouri house on the market and when we sold it. I’m kind of glad he came back after the two times we thought we were rid of him, because I think he kept down the gopher population. Gopher holes had been popping up in our yard, and getting rid of them is not easy. Those dirt mounds make for an unsightly showing when a potential buyer comes over. And no, they were not moles. They were much bigger. I have video. They were gophers.

Once, after I already had moved to Plano temporarily to my new job location, my wife had to have a neighbor (one of our company’s pilots) come down and put the snake over the fence using a stick. The snake was back the next day, coiled up and staring out at my wife when she lifted the grill lid.

The other time we thought we had seen the last of him, I put some moth balls in the grill, because I had heard from a customer lady at Lowe’s that they were the best snake retardant. That’s when I first noticed he was not in the grill when I was back home for a weekend. Instead, he was on the grill leg, and that’s where this image comes in. As I stood just outside our deck door snapping shots of him, he finally slithered slowly into the green watering can on the right. Shannon said she had moved that thing one day and thought it was awfully heavy to be empty. I guess so. Ugh.

I don’t adhere quite as closely to my dad’s philosophy as others do: the only good snake is a dead snake. However, had someone been there who was willing to kill him, I can’t say I would have tried to stop them.