Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Empty Nester

It has been quite an eventful week, but the net result of the days of frantic activity is that the Co-owner and I are now members of America's slowest growing demographic: Empty Nesters. "Slowest growing?" you ask? Well, yes, now that young adults graduating from high school and college have dismally few job prospects, more and more of them are staying home. Co-pilot Egg is fortunate in that her great grandparents were very firm believers in education and set her up with a nice little nest egg that she can apply towards the educational endeavor of her choice.

In Egg's case, that led to a move away from the bustling metropolis she grew up in to the slightly less bustling town of Lancaster, OH. Right on the heels of the devastating storms that blew through late last week, leaving 700,000+ Central Ohio residents without power for days on end, Egg packed up to move. Luckily for yours truly, she maintains a small stable of friends-that-are-boys that are willing and able to help her with physical tasks that are too much for her frail old Pa to deal with. And one of them even has a trailer!

Egg prides herself on her prioritization skills when it comes to complex tasks like moving and setting up a new household for herself. For example, step #1 is Open And Eat Snacks.

Having been rewarded with a treat, Mr. Case (whom you may remember as a friend-who-is-a-boy that was promoted to boyfriend but is now back to being a friend-who-is-a-boy) brought in her mattress.

Quickly determining the critical need for someone to step up to a managerial role, I fairly leapt into action to address the need.

It was hot. It was very hot. And the small apartment was filling up quickly with far more furniture than it seemed could ever fit.

Good thing, then, that I was there to provide guidance to the young, inexperienced movers.

Otherwise we'd have had a heck of a mess.

Again showing her mastery of prioritization, Egg sat in a corner.

I hadn't realized just how small the kitchen was until we tried to find someplace to keep cookware and utensils. Good thing every recipe she knows is limited to "Remove outer wrapper, place product in microwave. Caution: Product will be hot."

I had one of those "Oh my, how time has flown" moments when I saw Ray the Third (or fourth, I can't be sure) lying on her bed. I don't know if this happens with every baby, but Egg latched onto a particular toy as her absolute must-have companion and it was Ray. Sadly for Ray the First, Ray the Second, and quite possible Ray the Third, she had a habit of chewing on their tails until there was nothing left of them. Each time that happened, we had to scramble around town looking for an identical replacement.

She received this nice (albeit shaped in a somewhat awkward manner for modern widescreen TVs) entertainment center as a graduation present from some neighbors she has known since she was somewhere in the neighborhood of, but not quite, three years old. Our remaining family records are murky and many were lost during The Great Purge of 1997. The exact timing remains a family controversy to this very day.

As we were leaving her to her fate, I put a picture of Puppy Cabot on top of the furniture just to see if it would make her cry when she got to missing the cuddly little guy. Sadly, it did. Cruel trick, that.

Eventually we got everything mostly put away and she was able to revert back to her normal posture.

Her new place sure didn't take long to look like she's lived there for ages!

There followed a week of abnormally hot days, each day hotter than the one before. By the end of the week, we were as high into three digit temps as I ever hope to be. It seems odd to see people from Ohio escaping the unbearable heat by fleeing to inland Florida, but so it was. The hot, hot days combined with humid conditions ensured that we would have some more high-powered storms, and one of those big blows knocked out the internet service back at the Schmetterling corporate HQ. Given that roughly 99.998% of you reading this are doing so by using the internet, you can imagine what an outage like that means. We do have a tendency to become accustomed to continuous access to things there were science fiction only a few years ago, don't we? I know I do, so I could easily sympathize with the CEO's plight. Thus it was that we made a road trip house call to see if something could be done.

We were greeted by an insolent looking security guard who has recently taken to wearing the colors of Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another. If I knew with any certainty what colors he will be wearing this time next year, I could make a pretty penny!

The internet repair ended up taking far more time than expected. My hopes of a quick fix were short-lived and I soon found myself speaking with a pleasant enough tech support fellow down in Florida. He led me through a half hour's worth of trouble shooting that eventually led to his proclaiming that the problem was not his to solve and that something was clearly wrong with the computer sitting there at my side.

"Poppycock," we said. "Surely not!" The only thing that could be broken and cause this internet blindness is the NIC (the little card that translates computer-speak to internet-speak) and those never break, or if they do, they don't report themselves quite confidently as being "hunky-dory" when queried as to their present status. As this one had. I believed it.

Still... the tech support guy was in no mood to ship a new modem, and even if he did it would take days to arrive. And NICs cost something like $.19 these days, right? Heck, you can buy 'em at Walmart! So off we went to buy a NIC.

That was a complete waste of time. Apparently you can't actually buy NICs anymore, at least not in a physical store. Even Radio Shack, a formerly venerable electronics outlet, has completed its transition into being nothing more than a Best Buy without major appliances.

Being as we were in town, though, we stopped and had a very nice lunch. On our way back, we made an impulse stop at Bear's Mill. I enjoy taking pictures of the old equipment - it's an intriguingly eclectic hybrid of water-powered wood and iron equipment that also had a brief foray with that new-fangled elec-triss-it-eee.

Having failed to acquire a NIC and having no means to test the questionable one, we strategized on ways to convince the tech support folks to send a new modem. We came up with a foolproof plan: we would tell them that we tested the computer at a neighbor's house and it worked fine.

In other words, we would lie.

It seemed easy: how could they possibly know? It would be just like the time I was trouble-shooting my mother-in-law's computer and needed to get her password from the tech support guy. He wouldn't give it to me since I was clearly not the 83 year old woman that owned the account.

"Okay, hold on a sec and I'll get her."


Adopting my best impersonation of a tremulous-voiced old lady, I said, "Hello? This is [insert name here] and I need my computer to work, please."

Worked like a champ.

So, I called the tech support number again, but got a different guy this time. I patiently explained that we had gone and tested the machine elsewhere and it worked, so please send us a new modem. He ignored me and walked me through a string of esoteric operations that would have left Bill Gates screaming for a smart teenager to come help him.

Darned if he didn't get us connected to the internet in a way that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the problem was a bad NIC, not a defunct modem.

At least he was gracious enough to not mention that he had simultaneously proven that I was a shameless liar.

To cover my shame, I quickly got off the phone and changed the subject with those who had witnessed my embarrassment. "Hey, we ought to test this connection and make sure it's really working." Somehow we got on the topic of the beautiful Mercedes SLK 280 that I had not been able to buy after being stood up by the prospective buyer (from whom I still have not heard a peep). Somewhat on a lark, I popped onto the dealer's web site to see if they still had it on the lot. Surprisingly, they did. That was a pretty stupid thing to do, though, because it ripped the emotional wound wide open again. Sigh. It had taken until Thursday to get over it last time.

Having fulfilled our mission, we headed back home. I was just starting to relax and watch Formula 1 qualifying on the trusty DVR when the Co-owner, who was reading email, asked me what "MB" meant. I asked for the context in which she was asking. Ah, it was an email from the CEO asking about the SLK. This prompted a discussion regarding the unfortunately timed discovery of a five year old car with less than a year's worth of miles on it, and right in our price range to boot. This in turn led to an analysis of our current finances and the egregious burn rate we were experiencing this year (we somewhat splurged on vacations this year, as you may recall) with the long-story-short net result that I left the house at 5:40 pm in hopes of making the twenty-five minute drive to the dealership before they closed at 6:00. We could have waited for Monday, but I would have been a nervous wreck from worrying that it would surely have been sold by then.

As you can see, I made it in a nick of time:

Note the lack of a front license plate mount. Not sure how the previous owner went five years without one, but it's not like he drove it a lot. Alas, I'm going to have to drill holes into that beautifully unmarred face to mount a license plate.

I even drove it over to the hangar this morning for a before-it-gets-too-hot work session with Pete.

All we really wanted to get done was to get the stab re-installed. We had tried it last time we worked, but simply didn't have enough hands available to get the stab into position cleanly. We kept breaking the super-glued washers off. That happened again the first time we tried it this morning and Pete had had enough. He suggested that we find a way to support the stab so we could concentrate on gently getting it aligned rather than having to concentrate on not dropping it.

Brilliant! We still had a few difficulties with getting it done, but having the stab on a solid platform made all the difference!

I also wanted to get the fuel filler tube drilled so I could remove the fuel tank (AGAIN!!) for its leak test. The drilling proved difficult. The filler tube is mounted to the fuel tank with a small piece of rubber hose and a pair of hose clamps. This proved to not be nearly enough to hold it in place while I tried to drill into the flange. Pete got stuck with the job of finding a way to keep the tube from moving while I drilled into it. A brute force method was employed.

It worked!

Pete also got the tail cone fitted back in place for further trimming.

I wasn't able to start the leak test after all. The idea is to put a small amount of pressurized air into the tank - just enough to expand a small balloon. A balloon, I must point out, that they did not provide. So, I have to go balloon shopping. What are the odds of being able to buy just one?

1 comment:

Leon said...

Ah yes with age comes management, with management come SLK. I am beyond green with envy. Congratulations

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