Archive for July, 2013

The good and bad of splitting a trip

Jessica emailed Scott from Tokyo.  She said it was a “good flight, nice and short,” but she wished she didn’t have another five-hour flight ahead of her.  I guess when you do a lot of international travel, short is an extremely relative term.

I can’t figure out how to figure out the actual length of her Dallas to Tokyo flight.  Her itinerary says (and the times given therein are normally local) she was to leave Dallas at 1:20 PM Tues July 23 and arrive Tokyo at 4:15 PM Tues July 23.  My world clock indicates that Tokyo is 14 hours ahead of us, so if anyone brilliant can do those calculations, that number of actual hours constitutes a “nice, short” flight in Jessica’s mind.  The tough part is that, instead of having one killer long flight, this time she has two killer short ones.


She made the aisle seat!

Jessica left today to fly home to Hong Kong..  We had a great month with her – full of laughter, baking, serious conversations, fun, friends, spinach and dairy products, silliness and all the other stuff that love entails.

It’s really hard to see ALL your stateside friends and enjoy ALL your favorite Missouri experiences in just one month, although she and we did manage to pack much in.  I think she had a few regrets, but not too terribly many.  One little thing was that she really wanted to get some Andy’s frozen custard.  It just didn’t work out.

When we got the airport in Springfield this morning, we found out – surprise, surprise – that her initial flight (Springfield to Dallas) was delayed about 45 minutes.  This would really bite into her layover, which might make it hard to catch her Dallas to Tokyo connection.  No telling what that might mean for the final Tokyo to Hong Kong leg.

After her bags were checked – she got TWO free bags(!), one of which weighed 50.5 pounds. . . yes, her bag was over, but they let it slide; I guess American rounds down – she still had about an hour before she had to go through security.  Scott hugged her hard, said his goodbyes and left for work, and the three of us (Jessica, Andrew, and I; Jo was at work) decided to go back into town for some Andy’s!

Jessica used her new “Note” and the airport’s free wi-fi to find the closest one (on North Glenstone) and we headed off at a speed that was admittedly slightly higher than the posted limit.  When we got there about 10:30 AM, Andy’s was CLOSED!  Summer hours start at 11:00 AM.  Sigh.  However, there was a lady inside and she did slide open the window.  I said melodramatically, “You can’t be closed!  My daughter is flying this morning to Hong Kong for a year, and she wanted some Andy’s, and her flight was delayed, so we came back here to get frozen custard.  You just can’t be closed!”  The employee lady told us that they didn’t have any custard yet, but they did have frozen custard bars with chocolate coating.  We bought one and Jessica ate its innards.  The coating was too fudgey for her, but the actual custard was creamy and tasty.

Back at the airport, we hugged, said our tearful goodbyes, and sent her through security.  She asked us to tie her through it, and the official result was two minutes and seven seconds, which she said was slow, but maybe that was because she had to unload and unpack both her laptop and her tablet.  She had checked her seating online the previous day and it had her in a window seat, which she hates, because it’s such a pain to climb out for the bathroom.  She could pay an extra $100 to change to a window seat, but she didn’t want to do that.  However, this morning, she went online and saw that there were three aisle seats left, and she was able to secure one of those at no additional cost!  Praise God!`

I got a text from her as she landed in Dallas:  “On the ground.  Now to run.”  She had only 40 minutes to change terminals in an airport she’s never been to.  Shortly thereafter, she texted me again:  “Even made it before the final boarding call.  Pray my bags do too.  Love you!”  With such a short layover, sometimes the person (who can run from gate to gate) makes the plane, but the bags (which have to be unloaded from Plane A, moved, and re-loaded into Plane B) do not.  It’s always preferable for one’s bags to travel in the same plane as oneself, although, as we recently saw with Katie, even if they don’t, they do generally meet  up with their owner eventually.  Her bags were driven (by the airline or its representative) an hour and-a-half to her home the evening following her much-delayed, whirlwind flight(s) from Branson to Baltimore.

So, I assume that at this writing, Jessica is peacefully snoozing in an aisle seat somewhere between Dallas and Tokyo.

Jeopardy question: What is “Something less than three?”

Answer:  The number of ripe bananas that can be safely “mashed” with an electric mixer in a two-cup glass measure.

What a service!

We had a wonderful, amazing church service today.  God showed up in powerful ways and ministered to his people!  Worship was great (Andrew played keyboard for much of it), Pastor Guy prayed for several people, and Jessica preached a very high energy, passionate message about testimony.

WOW!  It was a great service!

No more spots

Scott called CenturyLink yesterday and described our internet/router problems.  This morning a guy came out, and Scott explained to him that he wanted to wire it straight from the box to the router.  The guy was smart and skillful.  He understood exactly what needed to be done and he got it done – complete with drilling a hole in the house and caulking it – in less than 30 minutes.  He checked it out and everything (phone/fax in office and internet) worked fine.

He is evidently contracted by CenturyLink and he is supposed to fix anything on CenturyLink’s side of the box for free, and bill us for any repairs on our side of the box.  The problem was clearly between the box and the router (as Jo so deftly demonstrated), and the guy wired everything for us all the way from the box to the router.  He then said that he wasn’t supposed to do wiring, and so he didn’t bill us a dime!  Internet fixed for free!!  What a blessing!!!

This set-up is a great improvement over the old one.  Our land line has always been static-y and it’s hard to hear.  Now it’s clear and lovely.  For those of you familiar with our house, I will explain that we have at various time had phone jacks and/or internet jacks in sundry places; in the kitchen and in Jessica’s room (1st floor), in the office and in our bedroom (2nd floor), and in Katie’s room (3rd floor).  Over the years, Scott and various phone company people have worked on it, running more and more wires to more and more places.  I will now describe our phone wiring path, as Scott explained it to me.  Note that this is not for the faint of heart or the easily confused.

Seventeen years ago, when we moved here, the phone box was on the side of the house near the chimney.  We’ll call that the “chimney box.”  The wire went:

~ from the chimney box, up the outside  of the house to the floor of the 3rd floor,

~ into the house and under the 3rd floor (the space between the 2nd and 3rd floors) to Katie’s room, and

~ from Katie’s room down through an inside wall, into the office.

Then the phone company came and said that the box had to be on the opposite side of the house, so they put a box there.  We’ll call that the “laundry room box.”  But to get to the existing wiring inside the house, there had to be a connection to the old box on the chimney side.  So they strung a wire from the laundry room box across the porch (stapled up and over the two front doors) to the chimney box.

Several years later – and several years ago – when some painting needed to be done on the porch, Scott didn’t want them to paint that wire, so he moved it, re-stringing it from the laundry room box through the “rafters” of the cellar to the chimney box.  From there, it then split and went several places:

~ up to the attic (Katie’s room) and down into the office, as described above,

~ up to our bedroom, and

~ from the cellar up through Jessica’s floor into her room, and

~ form the cellar up into the kitchen.

Now, in our streamlined set-up, we have one new wire running from the laundry room box, around the corner of the house, and into a box in our office that goes straight to the wireless router.  This means that we now have a land line in the office and nowhere else.  This, of course, is not a problem, because we NEVER call out on our land line, and 94% of incoming phone calls on that line are unsolicited.  We do, however, use that line to receive faxes, which are fairly important, and we do list our home number when necessary for things like insignificant appointment confirmations and such; generally those times when some entity requires a phone number, but we don’t want to give out our cell number(s).  For example, when you buy an appliance at Lowe’s, they require you to give a phone number, but the number is only used to identify you; they never call it, so we just give them our home phone number.

Our answering machine, which I am pretty sure we had when we moved here, died a few weeks ago, and this has been somewhat of an inconvenience.  Our land line rings a lot – usually telemarketers, but once in a great while someone important, like a child who lives abroad! – and we never know whether we should answer it or not.  Tonight we went to Wal-Mart, following a life group bowling event in Reeds Spring, and for a paltry $15 purchased a new answering machine, which probably does much more than the one we probably spent twice that much for 20 years ago.  We will be setting it up very soon.

We actually hope you never hear it.  If you are reading this blog and happen to know us well enough to have been given our home phone number, please don’t call it!  We don’t answer it!!  If you work for a telemarketing firm that auto-dials our home phone number, I will put a short greeting on our new answering machine, to which you may listen (or not, as you see fit); then you can leave a message, and we won’t call you back.

We will, however, be checking our email regularly, thanks to our wonderful new-and-improved “spot-free” internet service!

Don’t go out the laundry room door

Yesterday afternoon, the internet was spotty, and that would be putting the situation generously.  I had to re-start the router four times, and even then the essential globe light – the one that has to be solid green in order for the internet to work – was either red (absolutely no internet) or rapidly flashing green (internet only for a few seconds in spurts if Scott holds his mouth right).  Result:  much frustration!

In the evening, I did go ask him to please hold his mouth right for an extended period, but even that didn’t help much.

This morning, I went to Wal-Mart.  Although I get tired of going there, I have learned that when a majority of the family is home, and/or when we have guests, one trip to Wal-Mart a week just isn’t enough.  So I went back this morning for another major haul, and then I went to post office to mail a pbs book.  It was Jessica’s physical geography textbook, the one that we didn’t post for over a year because who on earth would ever request it?  The one that weighs a very hefty four pounds, so it’s going to cost a lot to mail it.  Yes, that one.  It was requested less than two days after we posted it.

There was an odd thing about that book posting, though.  Once I got it wrapped and stamped last night, I went ahead and marked it mailed on the pbs website, even though it wouldn’t actually be mailed till This morning.  I usually do that because I tend to forget to mark it mailed if I don’t do so right away.  Then when I checked (with effort) my email this morning, I had a note from pbs that the person I was sending the textbook to had marked it received!!!  But the book was still sitting here on my desk!  Amazing how fast books can travel nowadays.

Anyway, when I got home from Wal-Mart and the post office, Jessica and Courtney were leaving, and I noticed that Scott’s car was also gone.  I asked Jessica if she knew where Scott had gone, and she said he went somewhere to get online.  He works remotely from home, meaning that he needs to be online continually.  I guessed that with out internet problems, he couldn’t get (or more accurately stay) online, so he went somewhere that has wifi, probably the church.

I came in the house and Andrew and I started putting away the groceries.  He then left to work at his part-time cleaning job.  Shortly thereafter, Josiah entered the kitchen, in flannel pajamas (do note that this post is being written in mid-July).  He fixed himself some breakfast and then disappeared into the playroom.  I was busy making chili to use in our Philly Chili Crockpot Dip for group on Sunday night, and once I had that going, I went into the playroom to see if perhaps Jo wanted to play some ping-pong.  The Llama had quite the set-up.  The air was on, and he had the card table and a folding chair in there, with his full computer arrangement set up on the table.  Wires were strung around between various pieces of equipment, and when I got closer, he said he was trying to figure out what was wrong with the internet.

Now, Llamas are highly intelligent creatures.  He showed me a black screen with lots of white numbers on it that apparently revealed how long it was taking the computer to access a certain website, if it tried 100 times for ten seconds each.  Evidently, these numbers showed exactly when it could or could not access the internet.  Pelicans are not quite as intelligent in matters of technology as Llamas, so I just chose to trust him on that point.  He then told me that he had narrowed the problem down to “the wire that goes into router.”  When I suggested that perhaps we should buy a replacement for that wire, he said that no one in our family had the technical know-how to fix it.  Hmmm.

Shortly thereafter, the Llama packed up his stuff and also went to the church (I think that’s where the Skink was) to get on the internet, so he could work on his web hosting issues.

Some hour or so later, the Llama returned and spent a few minutes squatted down in the laundry room.  He then put his computer on the dining room table and invited me to observe his screen.  It was that black one with all the numbers again.  He proudly pointed to the various numbers and said – because I was evidently too ignorant to understand what they showed – that the internet seemed to be working fine now.  Yee hah!

I went out to get the mail and found my tomato plants wilting in the heat, so I gave them a short drink, and in dragging the hose, I saw the router wire coming out the laundry room door and going to some (electrical? phone?) box on the house, the door of which was hanging open.  It seems that if the router sits in the laundry room floor and is connected to whatever it’s connected to out there in this “rigged” manner, our internet works!!!

However, it’s pretty clear that this is not a permanent solution, and I don’t know what will happen if it rains.  I do know that for right now, we will NOT be going out the laundry room door.

(Edited later in the day:  Note that it rained lightly for a little while this afternoon, and I did not go out to check the wire or the box.  The router is still on the laundry room floor, and the fact that I can post this addendum means the internet is still working.)

Gone like a shot!

I went out to walk this morning and was stunned to see that there was something in the live trap on the front walk!  I wasn’t even sure what it was (raccoon?  possum?), but I went back in and woke the Llama, figuring I would need his help to move whatever it was up to Busiek State Forest.  He was not happy about that, but he did eventually appear, vertical and dressed for the occasion, including SHOES.

Meanwhile, camera in hand, I went back out front to survey my prey.  It was, indeed, a raccoon, and I’m pretty sure it was the same one we saw at the bird feeder the other day.  Those six marshmallows had evidently done the trick.  He had peed and pooped all over the sidewalk, but he appeared docile enough.  As Jo said, “He sat there calmly, with a look on his face that said, ‘Yep, I’m a raccoon.'”  I was very excited and pleased with the result, and I brought Jessica and Andrew out to see him.  He a cute, curious-looking fellow, but Jessica summed up his situation nicely when she evaluated the ‘coon’s seemingly calm demeanor and remarked, “He’s angry.  He’s royally disgusted with himself.”

I lined the back of the Durango with a black plastic leaf bag, and then Josiah picked up the trap.  At that point, the ‘coon suddenly went wild – jumping, thrashing, and making ‘coonish noises.  It was startling, and I was really glad it was Josiah and not me lifting the trap.  He put it in the back of the car, and we headed off.  Up at the access road, we saw Scott, so I stopped to show off the quarry.  He also was duly impressed.  Then we drove to Busiek, to the sound of little scratchings and the crinkling of plastic; hoping fervently that the ‘coon couldn’t get out of his container.

Down by the shooting range, Josiah lifted the trap out (again with much thrashing about on the ‘coon’s part) and set it down, facing the woods.  He wasn’t familiar with the release procedure, so with the Llama shooting video, I did the honors, and the very split second the door was released, that little guy tore off like a shot!

We looked pleased at each other and one of us probably should have said, with a British accent, “Good has been done!”

The Llama stated that he thinks it will take the ‘coon a couple of days to work his way back to our tomatoes, but then, it is a known fact that Llamas – when rudely awakened from a sound sleep – tend to display maximal pessimism.  (Note that Llamas can be quite chipper and cheerful at other times.)  I happen to think the raccoon will be very happy in his new digs – near a creek for water, near a campground for food, and near a shooting range for excitement.