the dead were *not* someone else’s friends, this time

by dichroic in daily updates

Somehow, the story about the Malaysian airplane that was shot down became a lot more real to me when I learned that it was flying out of Amsterdam and that more than half of the passengers were Dutch. It turns out to be even closer than that: one of Ted’s colleagues, someone he liked, invited to our going-away party in the Netherlands, and was hoping to have visit us here, was on Malaysian Airlines flight MH317 with his wife and 2 kids, on their way to vacation in Malaysia.

Ted heard they were on the flight yesterday (they found out while he was in a meeting with someone who reported to that guy) but didn’t have it confirmed until this morning. I was thinking about it yesterday and realized it didn’t even matter: whether it was someone I or my spouse knew or not, any direct flight from A’dam to Malaysia in July is by definition going to have lots of families on it, heading off to vacation.

What kept resounding in my brain were the poems in this Making Light comment thread, and their refrain: “At least I know that all my friends are fine — (The dead are someone else’s friends, not mine.)” Well, they’re my friends after all, or at least my husband’s friends. ANd maybe that doesn’t matter – no matter who they worked with, parents and children were shot down on that flight, as they headed off happily on vacation.

On an emotional level, that bothers me even more than the significant number of AIDS researchers on the plane (they were all heading to a conference in Melbourne), though I think the loss of the researchers may be an even greater blow to more people.

I feel a tiny bit better hearing now that it was likely a mistake, and that shooters thought they were firing at a military plane – better even that, even if it’s almost the most horrible mistake you can imagine (second only to “Oops, my finger slipped onto that big red button”) than that people shot down those families on purpose.

our Fourth weekend

by dichroic in daily updates

Before I tell the story, good news: the last of the repair work is being done right now and the new washer is supposed to be delivered tomorrow. Fingers crossed, we might be done with the whole washer saga in another day! ETA Nope, should have known better. Now for some reason Best Buy says it’s supposed to be delivered on Saturday the 19th. I’m in the middle of a 15-minute wait to talk to someone there. Do they just pick random dates???????????

The relaxation is finally starting to wear off from our long weekend.

We spent July 4 weekend visiting Ted’s grandfather, who lives in a small town out in the Oregon high desert, just north of the California border. His parents were there too (we split cooking duties – we did dinners, they did breakfast and lunch). We took it easy on the drive down – 2.5 hours to the lake house, stayed there overnight, then drove the other 4 hours. While there, I did a bunch of cooking – five people, especially people who consider dessert a normal part of the meal, take a lot more cooking for than two people! But my spatchcocked chicken went over well, and so did the sugar-free grain-free pecan pie (mostly nuts and honey) and the cheesecake-stuffed strawberries. (I tried to make version for MIL that she could eat, but it didn’t work – the special 10-hour yogurt she makes was too runny – so I made a yogurt-honey dip for strawberries instead for her. Meh.) Otherwise it was easy stuff, like steaks and burgers and corn. (Another pro-tip discovered by MIL for those who can’t eat bread: if you pile two hamburgers together, you can put your condiments and toppings between them.)

We did a lot of stacking firewood, and Ted returned to his Oregon-boy roots by splitting all the remaining wood by hand with a maul on the second day. Grandfather-in-law has a splitter, but Ted claimed this was “more fun”. I tried it, but the maul is too big and havy for me, which I conclusively proved by having it bounce off the log I was trying to split. My wrists were really bothering me that day, so I was sort of afraid to really swing it and tweak them further. (My wrists have tendonitis or something normally anyway, but now I have what the doctor has just confirmed is a ganglion cyst on the back of one wrist. Ted managed to roll off me and onto it the night before that, causing extreme pain and the cyst to deflate, though it has since come back.)

Other than that, the time was mostly spend hanging out, talking, and looking at GFIL’s collections of guns and chainsaws (he makes and repairs the former and uses the latter to cut down all that wood we stacked). One thing people never discuss about guns is that, from an engineering point of view, they are beautiful machines, with complex moving parts that fit together perfectly and every curve precision-engineered for a purpose. I asked about pistols for target-shooting and was treated to a tour through the handgun collection of some friends of his – fairly mind-blowing. (Potentially literally, because unlike GFIL, they store all of theirs loaded. I still haven’t figured out why that could ever be a good idea.) There were also well-engineered tools of a totally different type – he gave me a set of interchangeable knitting needles that had been Grandmother-in-law’s. (I think they’re an old Boye set. Nice joins, and they go all the wasy from size 2 to size 15, but the cables are pretty stiff. I value them though – I already have sets of interchangeables from Hiya Hiya, Webs, Addi and Denise, but I bought all of those in a store. Not the same as an inherited set.)

We got some great stories from GFIL of growing up herding sheep, fighting in the Philippines in WWII, and his time running a wildlife refuge. We also got to meet his new protegee, a very nice but woman our age, who is dumb as a whole quarry of rocks, who has pretty thoroughly screwed up her life but now has done her time and is trying to turn it around. There are different kinds of stupidity. The one I refer to here is that we kept having to explain relatively simple words and concepts to her, and after I’d mentioned that I was Jewish I heard her asking the in-laws, “that’s pretty much the same as Italian, right?” The screwing up of her life has nothing to do with either that or malice, just with a of lack of foresight and understanding of consequences that led to some very bad decisions that could have turned out all right – but didn’t. She works hard, and the GFIL is helping her with such concepts as getting to work on time. He’s got enough sense of self-preservation that I’m convinced he won’t be taken advantage of.

And we got to see fireworks – we never did figure out why they started much later than expected, but they were really good once they did. We sat across a field from the fairgrounds where they were let off and had a great view without being stuck in the crowds afterward.

Then we drove home by a different route; it was kind of fascinating to watch the landscape change. It’s all pine trees and mountains as you drive across the state, but there are the nearly olive-colored pines set far apart beneath bare mountains of the high desert, the snowy peaks of the Cascades, the jungly emerald overgrown pine forests near Eugene, and the pure green pine forests with undergrowth but without that layer of vines and mosses growing on all surfaces.

So basically, how we spent our holiday: lots of driving, lots of stories, lots of splitting and stacking wood, cooking a steak dinner for a convicted felon, handling guns, discussing the pros and cons of different chainsaws, and looking at fireworks, pine trees and mountaints. I can tell it was a good vacation because the relaxation took entire days to wear off.


by dichroic in daily updates

On the story of the three murdered Israeli teenagers and the murdered Palestinian boy: Just when I want to avert my eyes from the whole situation and say that we’re kindred in nothing but name (bonus Stan Rogers / Irish Troubles reference) comes a story like this one, about people snatching hopes for peach from the jaws of war and tragedy: Families of slain Israeli and Palestinian teens comfort each other. People read stories in the news and talk about God producing miracles; in my view, that’s just lazy thought and trusting to luck instead of building your own miracles. If God is in that situation at all, it’s as the spark of Light within those people.

On the ever-expanding washer saga, we still don’t have a date for repairs to begin, but now we have a date for the washer to be delivered – today. Yes, it would be smarter to have the new one put in after repairs are made, which is precisely why I rescheduled it for July 19 when they first told me (on July 4, surprisingly) that it would be today. Apparently that somehow never got into their system. So now we’ll have to have it installed (so we can do laundry) then removed to put in the new flooring and reinstalled. More chances for error and further damage.

I’m keeping a full timeline here; it is getting very long.

our boys

by dichroic in musing

Oddly, what brought me to tears over Eyal, Gilad and Naftali, the three kidnapped Israeli boys, is from another religious tradition already. John Gorka based his “Let Them in, Peter” on a poem found in a Philippine hospital during WWII:

Let them in, Peter
They are very tired
Give them couches where the angels sleep
And light those fires

Let them wake whole again
To brand new dawns
Fired by the sun not wartime’s
Bloody guns

May their peace be deep
Remember where the broken bodies lie
God knows how young they were
To have to die
God knows how young they were
To have to die

So give them things they like
Let them make some noise
Give dance hall bands not golden harps
To these our boys

And let them love, Peter
For they’ve had no time
They should have trees and bird songs
And hills to climb

The taste of summer in a ripened pear
And girls sweet as meadow wind
With flowing hair

And tell them how they are missed
But say not to fear
It’s gonna be alright
With us down here

Let them in, Peter
Let them in, Peter
Let them in, Peter

And hoping I don’t have to call to mind the words Tommy Sands wrote about yet another war: “another eye for another eye / ’til everyone is blind”. (My brain’s other native language is song lyrics, apparently, and it retreats there in times of emotion – witness the singing of Sunrise, Sunset at my Dad’s funeral. One advantage of a blog is being able to speak in them.)

still more on the washer

by dichroic in daily updates

Today (6/27) the insurance adjuster came out to see the damage and figure out what needed to be done to fix it. I spoke to her on Monday, but this was the soonest I could get an appointment with her – and she’s not even the main adjuster, just someone who is helping the main one because he’s on holiday this week.

Sometime during the week we realized the washer itself is still leaking. The original installer cross-threaded the hose connections; we thought we were able to tighten it enough but apparently the cross-threading causes it to work loose during operation. I need to talk to the warehouse manager (responsible for the installers) to find out if it’s fixable, if they need to replace our washer (again) or what.

He’ll be back next week; with luck I will get an estimate from him of cost to repair everything on Monday or Tuesday. Then I get to call repair people; I bet that will require at least three appointments – one to scope out the work, one to repair the laundry room flooring and baseboard (which also requires removing the hot water heater and then replacing it afterward and if I ever heard a recipe for more water damage that’s it) and one to paint the powder room ceiling after the texturing has dried. The insurance person keeps saying we should get everything repaired back to pristine condition, but on further thought maybe it’s worth living with a patched laundry room floor.

I told the insurance person that I was shocked that this all would end up taking a month to completely repair, but checking my timeline, I see I was wrong. THe original washer broke on June 1, so it’s already nearly a month. I bet it will be 6 weeks total. Going to update my original timeline now; I’m worried I might need it.

upsetting news from the old neighborhood

by dichroic in daily updates

This situation is upsetting to start with: someone spray painted swastikas onto a wall in front of a synagogue. Not just any synagogue, but the one where I attended my second year of Hebrew school, where many of my friends and neighbors belonged, a short walk from the house my mom moved out of just last week.

What’s upsetting me almost more than the original incident is the reporting on it. The Fox news article referred to the people who work in the synagogue as “church staff”. The NBC article refers to the people who run the place as “church officials”.

I took a step back to think about whether I was overreacting by being bothered by this more than the original vandalism – I mean, swastikas! But I don’t think I am. For one thing, it’s at least possible that the vandalism was done by ignorant kids (or ignorant people of whatever age) who have avoided learning much about the Holocaust and who were just trying to upset people without understanding the full context. It’s also possible it was done by a true hater, in which case I am glad people are searching for the evidence to prosecute them, I hope the punishment is appropriately severe, and I don’t want to waste any more of my brain’s bandwidth on them.

But the “church” language is coming from reporters who are supposed to be educated, reasonably aware of modern history, and respectful to the victims of the crime they’re reporting on. Maybe I just feel more betrayed by their ignorance because I have higher expectations. I have written to both reporters; I hope lots of other locals and ex-locals do as well.

(And also: once again, I am so glad Mom moved away! She seems to be very busy and very happy in her new place.)

> Hi Paula — It was a pure mistake on my part. Trust me, I understand the difference between the Jewish faith and Christianity. The article has been corrected.

>My apologies for the error. I do, indeed, know the difference between a church and a synagogue. I appreciate your pointing out the mistake and thank you for watching.

I checked: the NBC report has been corrected, as the reporter claimed; the Fox article has not been corrected.

Further saga of the washing machine (but a good weekend away from it all)

by dichroic in daily updates

Thursday 6/19: I had to come home just slightly early so they could check to see if everything was still damp.

Friday 6/20: Arranged with ServPro to com out in the brief window at noon where we were home from work getting ready to leave for the weekend. (THat company was very good about setting appointments and showing up on time. Yay, everything was dry! That meant he could take the monster fans out, and we could leave the cats home alone for the weekend.

The weekend at the lake was very nice, more on that later.

Sunday: We gothome and hooked up the washer and dryer – they are standing on bare floor rather than linoleum in a room with no baseboards and there’s a hole cut in the ceiling of the powder room below, but at least we can do laundry.

Monday 6/23: The insurance people finally called to make an appointment, but they call when I’m in a meeting so I have to call back. Turns out the soonest they can come is Friday – and not even at the end of a workday, but Friday morning, which will make the fourth time one of us has had to miss work / work from home due to the stupid washing machine.

The weekend was great, though. We hosted three women from my local knitting group at our lake house, which is only a half hour from the Eugene fiber festival Black Sheep Gathering. We spent Saturday at the Gathering, of course, but there was lots of knitting on the deck, watching the trees and the lake, and I’m pretty sure everyone had a good time. We made the food easy – pizza on Friday night, hamburgers, veggie burgers and hotdogs on Saturday. We provided those plus wine, and people brought breakfast and dessert stuff, not to mention beer and hard lemonade. There had been plans for movie watching and such, but everyone seemed pretty happy just to hang out and knit, appreciating the lake and the perfect weather. There was a minor contretemps with an air mattress, so now we know to make the head end of the bed away from the dial that inflates and deflates the mattress. We may make this an annual thing; besides the three we had, we can sleep about two more people in comfort, or more if people share beds. We would need more chairs on the deck, but that’s doable – we want to upgrade our deck furniture, and if we haven’t done it by then, there’s always the stacable plastic variety.

(Also, Ted gets a hefty share of husbandly brownie points, for hosting a bunch of women he’d barely met, and being both social and active on the housework front. I think they were impressed, actually.)

saga of the washing machine

by dichroic in daily updates

I am recording this partly because I am pissed off and also to have a record of the whole timeline.

Approx 5/15- 5/30/2014: Our Whirlpool Cabrio washing machine, bought new in February 2013, a top-loading HE model, was being weird – it kept leaving clothes wet at the end of a cycle, so I’d have to run an extra spin cycle.

Sunday: 6/1/2014: Washing machine died completely. When we turned it on, it would do the sensing, then stop and refuse to run. (This was right after Ted ran a few loads of laundry and before I did mine!)

Thursday: 6/5/2014: Repairman came and told us it needed a new transmission and ‘splutch’ (sic), which would cost about $500 to replace.

Saturday: 6/7/2014: At the lake house for the weekend. Did laundry there. Very helpful to have a backup!

Sunday, 6/8/2014 Came home, went and bought a new washer. (Still a top-loader HE but an LG this time.)

Saturday, 6/14/2014:
Noon: New washer installed. We run a cleaning cycle and a load of sheets.
6PM: Ted notices a dripping sound, then sees a few water drips from the ceiling of the powder room directly below the laundry room. Finds that the washer appears to have been dripping all day, because the inlet hose wasn’t properly connected. We mop up water, and he tightens the connection but turns off water to the washer just in case.
7PM: I call Best Buy store, who tell me to call Geek Squad, who tells me I have to physically go to the store and file a damage claim.
7:30-8:30: We stand around at Best Buy while the Geek Squad people fill in what is apparently very complex paperwork. They tell me someone will call on Monday to arrange a time to come out and check damage.

Monday, 6/16/2014: Nobody calls. Toward the end of the day I try calling the Geek Squad, who transfer me to a fulfillment center (?) who cannot help me because I don’t have the claim number with me at work and they can’t look it up any other way.

Tuesday, 6/17/2014: I bring the claim number with me and call the number the people at the store gave me for the fulfillment center. This time I get connected to a nice man who tells me the Best Buy people tend to be confused by the warranty process but he’ll have someone from the warehouse call me. Warehouse manager eventually does so, and wants to come to the house to look at it. I have an early afternoon meeting, so we arrange to meet at the house around 3.
3:40: I call the warehouse because no one has shown up. The person who answers me says that manager has already left but she left a note that she sent me an email. Apparently she didn’t want to call because I was in a meeting, so she emailed me to say that she doesn’t need to come out after all. But it was my personal mail – didn’t check it before leaving work, didn’t check it after getting home because I was working from home. As requested in the email I send pictures of the damage (two tiny paint bubles in the powder room ceiling) plus a picture of the washing machine hoses where they were hooked up wrong.

Wednesday 6/18/2014 (today): Talk to warehouse manager again. She is very nice and apologizes. She promises to do what she can to have an insurance adjuster call today. She comments that the hose hookups are cross-threaded, probably due to the initial installation because Ted wouldn’t have been likely to tighten them that much. She also gives me the name of ServPro, a firm that deals with water damage, that they use a lot. I call them and they arrange to have someone come out at 3 today.
3:30: After looking around and using his dowsing rod (OK, it’s an infrared sensor that determines where the damp cooler areas are), ServPro guy tells me it will cost about $1500-$2500, but he can have a crew come out right away if I want – they’re on the way back from another job.
4:00: While talking to him the insurance adjuster calls. He makes it clear he can’t pay ServPro directly but that we will need to pay and he’ll reimburse us IF the assessment shows that they are liable. I have him talk directly to ServPro guy to get an idea of exactly what damage has occurred. He seems to think it will be OK, but reiterates that he can’t guarantee anything until they do their assessment, and that he can’t send anyone out to fix the damage after the moisture is dealt with.
4:30: ServPro crew arrives.
6:30: They’re still here, taking my house apart and sucking out water. (Did I mention that only about a couple cupfuls of water caused all this angst? But I can smell the moisture where they have the floor torn up, and they tell me that the flooring was wet enough that it pretty much just crumbled – they just took out a giant trashbag full of what I guess are flooring bits.)

Thursday 6/19: Came home a bit early so I could let the ServPro guys in to check the moisture levels – drying out nicely.

Friday 6/20: ServPro guys found everything had dried, so they were able to remove the giant monster fans. Huzzah!

Monday 6/23: Insurance people finally called to make an appointment – earliest available was Friday morning. I’ve had previous phone calls with the main adjust but he had to have someone else come out to see what needed to be repaired.

Tuesday 6/24: realized the washer connections are still leaking after all. Called insurance person to explain this, left message.

Wednesday, 6/25. Insurance person calls back, says she will talk to warehouse manager who needs to figure out how to deal with washing machine (not sure if it can be fixed or must be replaced). She and I both leave messages, but have not heard back by Friday.

Friday, 6/27: Insurance adjuster comes out and inspects damage. We try again to talk to warehouse manager but she’s not in yet. Leave a message with someone else there.

Sunday, 6/29: Insurance guy called back and sent estimate for repairs.

Monday, 6/30: Finally got hold of warehouse manager, was told to call the store where we bought the washer. Did so. They’re going to fill out a separate claim to repair the washer itself – luckily, they seem able to copy information from the original form, so I didn’t have to spend forever on the phone. Same day, guy came out from ServPro’s repair division to check out the fix. Tells me he’ll have someone call to scheduled repairs.

Tuesday, 7/1: Still no call to schedule. I check back. He says he’ll get them on it.

Thursday, July 4: Best Buy calls – somehow I don’t hear phone so they leave message that they’ve scheduled delivery of washer for Tuesday July 8. We do not want washer delivered until repairs have been made so I call back (cell phones, yay – we were 300 miles away at the time visiting family) and schedule delivery for Saturday July 19.

Monday, July 7: Receive email from ServPro – we have to sign an authorization form, then they can schedule repairs. I sign form, scna and send back. We also go to flooring place as instructed and pick out tile.

Tuesday, July 8: Receive email from Best Buy that they are delivering washer TODAY. Thunk head into desk repeatedly. Also call Best Buy but they are unable to reschedule. Nice man on the phone says if we just aren’t there, they can’t deliver and will call us to reschedule. We suspect instead that the washer will vanish and we’ll never get it. Called the main number of the repairs place, since the project manager wasn’t responding, and finally got them scheduled. Called Best Buy again, because I noticed washer hoses weren’t listed in delivery email, and this time talked to someone who put me on hold, called warehouse, and rescheduled delivery to Saturday (and told them to bring hoses). Bill arrived for repair work.

Thursday, July 10: Ted was able to stay home. ServPro people came and fixed hole in powder room ceiling, but not flooring in laundry room. I call them again to check. Project manager calls me back (and apologizes for not responding previously) and explains that flooring had to be ordered – in fact, he went with our second choice flooring, because out first choice would have taken two weeks to get here. Flooring scheduled to arrive Friday, when baseboards would also be put in place and they and powder room ceiling painted. Then Best Buy called – they were going to be delivering washer next day, Friday. WTF is wrong with these people’s calendars?? Told them to bring it Saturday, in case there’s any reason not to put washer on flooring right after installing it. (Adhesive that needs to dry?) Also spoke to insurance agent. We agreed I would call him when repairs were done to make sure it was all within the estimate, and he’d then cut us a check for the remediation plus repairs.

Friday, July 11: One coat of paint done, flooring being replaced and presumably baseboards (6PM and the guy isn’t done yet). But Best Buy never called to schedule tomorrow’s delivery and now their automated schedule says it’s due on the 19th! Spent another hour on the phone with them getting everything straightened out. Hopefully they can deliver it early enough not to mess with our plans to go to the lake.

Tuesday, July 15: spent another 15 minutes on the phone with Best Buy just as a precaution, verifying that the new washer will be delivered with needed hoses.

Currently up to 16 separate days on which I had to either talk to someone on the phone or have them out at the house. Some days had multiple phone calls, or call + visit.

kids these days

by dichroic in daily updates, musing

There was an armed robbery at the mall about ten minutes’ walk from my parents’ house. (Not the reason I’m posting, really – not happy about it but Mom’s moving out TODAY!!) I found out about this from someone’s FB posting, in which she also comments, “This generation is a me generation and have no respect for authority. THere are no consequences to their actions.”

It just seems to me like ever since I graduated college and began being considered a “grownup” – and even before that – I’ve met a whole lot of extraordinary younger people. Some aren’t even that young any more – I first noticed this with a teenager who rowed, with his dad, in a men’s 8 I coxed way back in the early 90s. He grew up to be this guy, who spent years dotoring and playing saxophone in Botswana before coming back to teach other doctors about global health education. There’s a kid I used to babysit who grew up to be this guy. There’s a young cousin who just spent her gap year working in African orphanages. There are cousins, friends’ kids, coworkers’ and acquaintances’ kids, and now even some coworkers of my own young enough to be my son or daughter, internet acquaintances. They vary a lot; some are superstars, while others are just amazing people living their own lives – and sometimes changing the lives of people around them just by who they are. They are traveling, becoming activists, writing, pushing themselves to compete at high levels, learning about science, changing the minds of people around them, or overcoming harsh circumstances to come into their own selves. Sadly, in a few cases I learn about them when teachers or people working with kids post to say that one of their best got killed in random violence.

It’s also about the tech: Platforms like Kickstarter and Tumblr and the Internet in general are giving people a more visible platform to stand on. That works both ways: when you show your ass in public, everyone sees it, but on the flip sidewhen you raise money for a good cause, or to fund marketing of a new invention or a new art project or whatever, you’ve got a place to start and a way to make a real difference. That kid goofing off online might just be on Tumblr, or she might be getting taken advantage of by some creepy old man, but she also might be raising thousands of dollars to change the world.

I’m not a mindless Pollyanna; I know there are bad kids and young adults out there too. I know the majority of people from age thirty on down are just average, with good days and bad ones – much like people from thirty on up. But I’ve met and heard of so many amazing young people, anywhere from age 3 up to their 30s, that I really hate to hear the “kids these days” argument.

Of course the “kids these days” lament is a lot older than I am – it goes back to at least the ancient Romans and probably before. But it was wrong then too – so why haven’t adults these days learned better, any time in the past few thousand years?

I’m also cranky when people get pigeonholed by generation, because I think people born in the same 20 year span don’t necessarily have all that much in common, unless they also have other stuff in common like being born into the same place or culture. Yeah, OK, people my age who were in my school system had Free To Be You And Me played to us a lot, and we watched Scooby-Doo after school – but if we’d all internalized the message of tolerance in the one or of trusting young people in the other … well, I wouldn’t be seeing these rants about young people from the former kids I grew up with.

La la la Father’s Day I can’t heeeeaaaarrrrr you

by dichroic in daily updates

Blah. I’m almost certain this isn’t objectively true, but it feels like there’s much more fuss being made about Fathers Day this year. Then again, it’s only my second one since returning to the US, and there actually is more fuss here than in other countries.

It doesn’t help that today is also Dad’s birthday; he would have been 78.

Two years ago this week, I visited my parents for his birthday, Father’s Day, and his family’s reunion. I was glad I did that at the time; I’m gladder now.