Automotive break down!

I was on the way to work yesterday morning when my car died.  Fortunately, it died just as I was approaching an exit so I managed to steer it off onto the ramp.

The ramp was the exit for Grand Ledge which is about 15 miles west of down town Lansing.  We almost made it to work but not quite.

I called for a tow truck from Lowell to come and pick up the car.  My intent was to go back to Lowell and then come up with an alternate means of getting to work.

The tow truck driver said that he would be there in an hour.  Great!  But what do we do for an hour?

Since there were two gas stations right next to the expressway, I suggested to my car pooler that we go up to the gas stations and get a cup of coffee.  After all, we are going to be there for a hour.  My car pooler liked the idea but took it one step further.  He was going to try to find a ride into Lansing.

While I admired his ambition, I pointed out that he would not have any way of getting back home.  That  fact didn’t seem to phase him in the least.  Of course, he was heavily medicated for back pain so he doesn’t always think clearly.

When we got to the gas station, he started approaching people at the pumps to see if he could get a ride into Lansing.  Between the nature of the request and the fact that he was in a stupor  from his medications, he was really freaking people out at the gas station.  I, in turn, when inside the station and got a cup of coffee, though I wondered how long it would be before some called the cops.

Eventually, my car pooler realized the futility of his efforts and gave up.  After about 20 minutes and one cup of coffee, we walked back to the car and waited for the tow truck.  By that time, we had devised a plan where we would return to the car pool lot and pick up my car poolers car.  We would then drive back to Lansing and go to work.

When the tow truck arrived,  the driver loaded up the car and then we all climbed into the front seat.  It was a little crowded but we managed.  He dropped us off at the car pool lot and we climbed into my car poolers car and headed back to Lansing.  We were about 2 hours late but at least we made it.

The photographer is here!

A few years back, my daughter needed some photos for her modeling portfolio so we made an appointment with a professional photographer from New York city.

The photographer would come into East Lansing for two days during the week and set up in a meeting room at a local hotel.  Since my daughter’s photo shoot was in the morning, she rode into work with me and I took her out to the hotel.

The intent was to drop her off before work, so we arrived at the hotel rather early.  When we went into the lobby, I stopped at the main desk to ask directions.  The desk clerk was very helpful and called for the manager.

The manager was happy to see me and took us up to the mezzanine.  He showed us where the restrooms were located and said that he would have some coffee and donuts delivered right away.

Wow!  What service.

Then he showed me the rooms where the pictures would be taken.  The rooms, of course, were empty since we were the first to arrive.  Then, the manager said that if I needed any thing to let him know and that I could start setting up my equipment when ever I wanted.   That is when it hit me.  He thinks that I am the photographer.  And I don’t even have a camera with me!  Interesting.

A year or so later, Kathy and I were guests at a wedding reception when a woman came up to me and asked if I would do the pictures for her daughter’s wedding. This request took me by surprise.  Not only was I not taking pictures at the wedding reception, I didn’t even have a camera with me.  And while there was a photographer at the reception, he didn’t look anything like me.  I thanked the woman for asking me but I graciously declined saying that I wasn’t a photographer.

Why do people think that I am the photographer when I don’t even have a camera with me?  I guess that I must look like a photographer.  I don’t know if that is good or bad.

Vacation Bible School

Every summer, the church that I used to attend, had a week long Vacation Bible School or VBS in the morning. And the program was well attended by the community at large.

Since this was an Evangelistic effort to reach out into the community, all children had to be registered with their full name, their address and telephone number. The idea, of course, was to call on the families afterwards and encourage them to attend the church.

What the church failed to realize was that they were really only providing 4 hours of free day care for the community. Most of the people who sent their children to VBS were already affiliated with another church in the community and were not really interested in attending the church.

And most did not want to be visited at home by a representative of the church. In fact, most of the parents registered their children with false last names, false addresses and false telephone numbers. This fact became evident when follow up cards were sent out and 70% of them came back undeliverable.

To make matters worse, one woman registered her children with the name and address of her ex husband. He called the church to complain and was rather irate. Apparently there was a bitter custody case and he lost. Receiving the mailing from the church with the children’s names on it only inflamed him once more. Oops!

And what do these mothers do with 4 hours of free time? Well, most used the time to get caught up on shopping, laundry, cleaning or just all around relaxing. And, with all of the churches in the area, a child could be enrolled in a VBS program for the duration of the summer.

On a sad note, we came to learn that one mom used the time to be with her boyfriend while her husband was at work. (Small towns have very few secrets). Unfortunately, these things do happen.

But, the bottom line is this. VBS is a failure as an Evangelistic tool in this community. It is, at best, nothing more than a free wholesome community day care. Any effort to treat it as an Evangelistic tool is a complete waste of time and money.

Sawsall 2

When I worked at Calvin College, the plant manager decided that the presidents house needed a new roof. And since the roof already had two sets of shingles, the staff was instructed to remove both sets of shingles before putting on the new set of shingles.

Once the shingles were removed, the plant manager told the staff to cut holes in the roof so that insulation could be blown into the attic. The idea was to cut holes in the wood of the roof, blow in insulation, patch the holes and apply the new shingles. And so, the staff complied.

Every few feet, they would drill a hole in the roof just big enough for a sawsall blade. Then, they would cut a square hole and remove the wood.

Well, all was going fine until they got to one part of the roof where the wood seemed to be quite tough. They replace the blade in the sawsall but it was still hard to cut.

Thinking that something must be wrong, they proceeded to climb into the attic to check it out. But when they got up there, they couldn’t find where they were cutting.

Upon further investigation, they discovered that they were cutting over a part of the house that had a cathedral ceiling. Oops!

The mystery rider.

A while back, I was sitting in the car pool lot waiting for my car pooler to arrive when this woman pulled her car into the space next to me. She got out of her car, opened the back door of her car and the back door of my car. She then proceeded to move some ring binders from her car into my car. Then, she climbed into the front seat of my car and put on the seat belt.

Now, I didn’t know who this woman was but since she seemed to know what she was doing, I assumed that she was going with us into Lansing. After all, my car pooler had invited others to ride with us on occasion so I assumed that this was one of those occasions.

We sat there in silence for a few moments. I finally commented that my car pooler should be here any minute now.

She turned to me quite startled that I had spoken. Her start was replaced by a look of horror and disbelief.  Without saying a word, she unfastened her seat belt and got back out of the car. She then opened the back doors of both cars and proceeded to load the ring binders back into her car. Then, she got into the drivers seat of her car and drove off.

Now, at this point in time, I was confused. Was she supposed to be riding with us but got tired of the wait or was she in the wrong car?

When my car pooler arrived, I asked him about the mystery rider. He knew nothing about her so I guess that she just got into the wrong car.

I wondered if she left the lot because she missed her ride or if she was too embarrassed to look for her ride? Either way, she needs to be more observant for her own safety.

The rock

A number of years ago, I worked with a man who bought 5 acres in the country and moved his trailer and family onto it. Since the 5 acres was farm land, he plowed it and planted 5 acres of grass.

The trailer sat up on a hill so, the first winter was a challenge. One evening, after getting stuck in the driveway, he discovered that there was a big rock in his gravel driveway. Angry, he grabbed the rock and threw it onto the lawn. Problem solved.

He boasted about this great mail order place he found in Chicago. And, if you knew the man, every thing that he did was a stroke of pure genius, at least in his eyes.

This company in Chicago sold everything mail order. So, in the spring, he ordered an aluminum lawn shed. The lawn shed arrived and he assembled it. Life was good

Next, he discovered that the mail order company sold riding lawn mowers. The price was right so he bought one. A few weeks later, it was assemble and he began mowing his grass.

Mowing his grass was just fine until he hit something. It was the rock from the driveway. It damaged the mower. He threw the rock back into the driveway. Parts were ordered and the mower was moved into the shed.

The first snows were about to fly and the thoughts of blowing snow were heavy on his mind, so he bought a new snow blower from this mail order company. It was a two stage self propelled deluxe and would certainly handle his 200 foot driveway.

When the first big snow of the season arrived, he fired up that blower and headed for the driveway.

The snowblower performed flawlessly until it hit that rock. That rock killed the snowblower just like it killed the lawn mower last summer. He now had two dead unites; the snow blower and the lawn mower. He put the snow blower into the shed along with the lawn mower. Both were now waiting for parts.

Then he got the next heavy snow. Not only did he have to call for someone to plow his driveway, but the roof on the shed collapsed, dumping snow on the mower and the blower. Oh well. He ordered new parts for the shed.

But, more to the point, in the course of plowing, the snow plow truck threw the rock back on to the lawn. Life was good!

Come spring, he received the parts for his mower and fixed it. And guess what?

Some things never change.

Cribbage anyone?

Back when I was working for Calvin College, the government said that all public restrooms had to be handicap accessible. This was not a problem in the newer building as they already had provisions for the handicapped. But, it was a problem for the older building on campus.

One of the problem buildings was the field house since it was one of the first buildings to be erected at the Knollcrest campus. Most of the handicapped requirements could be met. The one exception was the square footage of the handicapped bathroom stalls. There simple was not enough room in the bathroom to rearrange the stall space.

Now, the plant manager was not in favor of a costly redo of the bathrooms just to meet the handicapped laws. After carefully reviewing the handicap laws, the plant manager concluded the if they combined two stalls, they would get the necessary space to meet the law. So, he had the partition between two stalls removed. This resulted in one big stall with two doors and two toilets.

Now, while this reworked stall met the handicap requirements, it also created confusion for the public. Seeing the two toilets in the handicapped stall made people wonder what the handicap was. Conjoined twins? Plus, you had to make sure that both doors were latched, otherwise, you might have company.

The staff chuckled that now you and your buddy could play cribbage while you were using the toilet.

The first aid kit

The other day at work, I cut my finger. It wasn’t any thing serious but I was still bleeding none the less. Concerned that I might get blood on my suit and/or co-workers, I decided that I needed a band aid. Knowing that we keep a first aid kit in the supply room, I headed there for, well, first aid.

There, in the supply room, lying on a table was a 12″x12″ box with a white lid and a big red cross in the center. I popped the lid and looked inside. Inside I noticed a box of large gauss pads and a box of small gauss pads, a roll of gauss, a sling and an eye patch but no band aids.

Now, I question having a sling or eye patch in a first aid kit. To me, those are the kinds of injuries that should be left to the 911 folks and not the office staff. But, I suppose it is hard to come up with a kit that meets every ones needs.

I looked at the inside of the lid to find out where everything is located. In the spot where the band aids should be located is a roll of gauss. We have gauss, gauss, and more gauss. Well, I decided that I’ll just have to use the gauss.

Taking out the roll of gauss, I started rapping it around my finger. Having made several laps around my finger, I started looking for the first aid kit scissors so I can cut the gauss but the scissors are also missing. Ah, but I am in the supply room. Certainly there must be some scissors. But alas, no.

Being a quick thinker, I spotted a paper sheer and immediately revised my plan. Sticking the gauss under the shear, I slice it to the required length. Success. Now for some tape.

The tape from the first aid kit was also missing but that is ok. There is plenty of tape in the supply room. Grabbing a prime roll of cellophane tape, I wrap it around my the gauss on my finger and my bandage is now complete.

As I am exiting the supply room, I lower my hand and the bandage falls off. Drat! But by this time, the bleeding stopped anyway so there is no point in having the bandage any more.

The detour.

The Department of Transportation is working on a section of the Interstate that I travel on to and from work. Essentially, they are replacing an interchange which allows the Interstate to pass above a rural road and provides on/off access to the Interstate from that rural road.

Initially, they moved all of the traffic down to one lane and then over onto the shoulder of the road on the bridge. There was nothing magical about this as they have done similar things in the past.

However, this week they did something new. This week they have routed traffic off of the Interstate completely and then routed it right back on. So, everyone gets sent off of the Interstate, down the off ramp, across the rural road, up the on ramp and back on to the Interstate. Of course, the rural road is blocked off so traffic can move non-stop. And, all and all, it seems to work quite well.

There is one aspect of this setup that concerns me. They have installed a traffic light at the bottom of both sets of ramps. And while they are not activated at this time, I suspect that they will be some time soon.


I was reading a gourmet cooking magazine the other day and noticed an article on ramps. Apparently ramps are now the new gourmet hit in big city restaurants.

Now, I did not know what ramps were until I read the article. However, I soon realized that these were also referred to as swamp leaks. I knew about swamp leaks but I had never seen one before. Fortunately, the article showed me a picture of a ramp.

I got to thinking that we might have them growing in our back yard and not know about them. So, I showed the picture to Kathy.

Kathy immediately recognized the plant. Thinking that they were a wild flower, she planted some in her flower garden a few years back. So, she went outside and grabbed one. One sniff verified that it was indeed a ramp.

Now, a quick check on the internet shows ramps as selling for over $10 a pound and I could have a whole back yard full of them. Since they are only available April through May, I think we will go for a walk back in the woods this weekend. If we find a large patch of them, we may pull a few and try cooking with them.

Who knows, maybe my kitchen will get a Michelin rating.