In the heyday of Steamboat and Rail travel, the pilots and conductors would actually have an assistant dedicated to operating the horn. While their official titles were Sonic Engineers, they were widely known as simply Head Honkchos.
As a historical carryover, this is also the title bestowed on all adolescent lead Bari Sax players.

Killin’ Green…

Yesterday, my lawn was mowed for the first time since May. Through many tests, it has been determined nearly beyond a doubt that my well dried up at the beginning of the watering season. And with a new baby and my lack of funding, time, and expertise, just let it be.
For most of the summer, it remained dormant. Just dried and brown, but mostly perfectly fine. We lacked much rain this season, even though the poor people to the south of us in Iowa got unfortunate amounts.

As of the past month, we have finally gotten rain and really the loveliest weather possible. Much of my lawn greened up again with big patches getting nice and tall and falling over themselves. Alongside those were some amazingly tall weeds with atrocious flowers for the lad to pick for his mommy.

So with my son’s assistance in the garage, I managed to fire up my amusingly worn riding mower. It took a couple hours to recharge the battery enough for it to start, and once it did, it spewed out more grey oil smoke than it did when first fired up after being stored all winter. It freaked out the lad at first, but through the smoke I gave him a grin and he was reassured with grubby fingers jammed into his ears.

He rode with me for the first going over to knock out the taller patches. He liked it very much, especially grabbing at low branches as we drove underneath. I had him sit out on the second round of mowing for the simple sake of all the crud and dust I would be kicking up. (I had forgotten how rough it can be; I blew my nose when I was done and it was black as tar.)

Going over the lawn the second time, listing to Billy Joel all the while (along with wondering if I was the only person who does that), I couldn’t help but feel I was destroying a whole ecosystem. Before I embarked on this journey of ruination, crickets and grasshoppers thrived, chirping all day long. Now, underneath an evened green and brown patched lawn, is quiet. I have driven them from their homes, sent them out into the world with nothing for them.

I guess they’ll just go back to living in my shrubbery and woodpiles that have remained untouched for two years.

Little Unknown Kindnesses…

Last weekend, my son and I were driving through our neighborhood after going to the store. On our way home, a couple turns before getting to our house we came to an obstruction in the road. It was a little girl’s tricycle.
The trike was just in front of a steep driveway. Looking up the driveway were two other small girl bikes. My hunch was that the kids riding and playing were driven indoors by the sudden downpour of rain that I was currently driving through. Then the youngest accidently did not pull hers far enough into the garage and it rolled back down the driveway into the street.

So with barely a thought, I told the lad to wait in the car a moment. I walked out into the driving rain, grabbed the plastic trike, and carried it up the driveway. My initial inclination was to leave it on the lawn so it would not roll away. I felt a little uneasy going into someone’s garage, but I went ahead and left it in there instead.

The deed done, I strode back through the rain and into my car and drove home.

Now, I’m writing this not to tout my good deed. It just left me wondering: just how many unknown kindnesses happen during the day? There was no one in the garage or in the house that I could see. I may not even have put the trike in the right house. But I figured with the other girl bikes there, they could get the pink tricycle to the right home.

This wasn’t a, ‘Sir, you just dropped your wallet’ type of kind deed. That one you get to face and be acknowledged by the person being helped. In this case, I am sure no one was aware the toy was outside, let alone in the road. So other than myself and my son, not a soul will really know that something happened there.

It just leaves me curious how many other things like this happen without anyone really knowing. I had the idea of making a simple website where people could drop a line or two about what they did. But all in all, it is nice to think that there are people everywhere, all the time, doing little bits of tidying up.

Six Months…

As of today, my daughter is six months old. Half a year. And it almost slipped my mind. The wife and I have been coming to grips with our son’s Kindergarten situation, and we’re wanting to move quickly for his sake.
But back to the little lady. She’s gone from this:

To this:

Before my very eyes. I hardly even saw it coming. She’s now giggling, and smiling, and rolling, and looking at everything. There’s a little personality taking shape in there, too. She doesn’t laugh at me much, but her brother is a riot.

Some Understanding…

The recent government actions to intervene with the collapsing financial institutions are really tough to follow. I have no economics background, and always struggled with those classes when I had to take them. And any blogs I’ve read or news I’ve heard will usually stipulate that these situations are all very technical and nuanced, as well as massively interwoven. So here’s a clip that goes over it fairly well. I was able to follow most of it. I listened to most of the whole conversation, myself. But I do recommend not having distractions while listening in, otherwise I guarantee you’ll miss something.
Edit: And of course, WordPress does not allow me to embed videos other than YouTube or Google, so here’s the link to the BloggingHeads conversation.

I Am What I Am…

I missed my class tonight due to a nasty cold that is going on its fifth day. However, it was a nice feeling to have completed my work on time and emailed it in this afternoon.
The course I am taking this semester is Education and Diversity. Part of the first class was to go over ways to introduce students to you and to give them ways to introduce themselves. This introduction is also an effort to get an idea of where they are coming from culturally. And culture, as in most cases through my program, is interpreted very broadly (to the point where nearly everyone has their own individual one).

So one project that we participated in was the creation of an ‘I Am’ poem. The idea being that people take cues from listing things around their homes, and just start a large number of lines beginning with ‘I Am’. It can rhyme or not, have rhythm or not. The bigger idea is to get students to reveal at least some of themselves. I, of course, made myself seem as obscure as possible.

“I Am What I Am”

I am a father always learning the ropes.

I am the son of a long-arm quilter and a cowboy engineer.

I am from a world of deserts and canals, of suburban lawns and dairy cows.

I am often surprised I didn’t turn out gay (too much plaid, I suppose).

I am a dude from the West with soul-kin across the pond.

I am a furry little hobbit who travels in an intergalactic spaceship.

I am caught between the serenity of the foothills and the energy of a city.

I am the son of a Renaissance Man; does that mean I am an Enlightenment Thinker?

I am a student of George Carlin, of Homer Simpson, of Calvin & Hobbes.

I am a wannabe Churchill, King, Jefferson, Orwell, and Arendt.

I am an old man who appears to be twelve.

I am a lame white guy, but I dig on jazz.

I am the stranger in the room wherever I am,

And I like it that way.