I've been gone from blogging so long (okay, so it's been a week give or take) that BlogSpot went and changed their dashboard layout on me. Cripes I need to catch up. I even missed Mona's rather easy Poetry Friday word, "weather." Can you ever forgive me, Mona?
Okay, so how about some reasons why I've been conspicuously absent.
Computers. I hates 'em. No, I don't hate them, I just hate messing with their guts about like I hate plumbing. The difference being, plumbing can usually only go one way, while computers can go haywire in a million different manners. Take networking. My daughter is of an age now that she's ready for computer access (in my parenting opinion that is.) I had an older Windows Me box that she'd been using offline, and I figured it'd be an easy operation to assemble a wireless network (I also dislike yards of Cat 5e cable around my house) and get her set up.
$140 worth of hardware and two hours on the phone with Moe, Larry and Curly, lead technicians at Linksys Assistance Hotline HQ in Punjab, India got me nothing but deeply irate and filled with an unreasoning need to slaughter a cow. Instead I pegged the Me box for .45 caliber target practice at a later date and did some mad rearranging of computers. For those of you who send or receive email from me, this is also why my emails have been erratic or missing. The StuccoBox (TM) you see is up and running but right now lacks email handling software, as well as all my music, all HIS music, all my photos and so forth, so it's in essence a new computer and therefor not to be trusted at any cost.
But, thanks to the magic of Windows XP I now have two computers, one secure wireless network (so don't try to cruise by and soak up some free broadband you punks,) and one 8th grader who can start to find out for herself just how much the Information Superhighway is really more like The Porn Parking Lot.
In other news, the weather managed to utterly prevent Skybird from flying this weekend through three different attempts, which gave me ulcers and an itching desire to go and strangle the local meteorologist. (There, you happy Mona? I used your word.) I did, however, get to share in a really fantastic Crew Breakfast with our pilot and some of my erstwhile fellow ground crew and I got some serious trainspotting and a heck of a lot of train photography in. I'm telling you, there are days when it seems like the tracks have never held anything but rust and dirt, and days when you can't swing a FRED* by it's hose without hitting an engine or three.
We also managed to get through my wife's grandfather's end of life and his funeral. Long story short he somehow (sheer spite, I think) managed to outlive his post-surgery life expectancy by about fifteen years, even after a triple bypass, raging untreated diabetes and being such a professional eater that he has a sandwich named for him at the local family-owned greasy spoon. (Said sandwich seemed to include mostly jalapeno peppers, seven kinds of meat and lots of mayonnaise.) He died peacefully and I got to see a whole new world--the rest of my wife's family.
See, you can't tell it by her (pale skin and blondish hair) that my wife is half Mexican. In all the time I've known her I've only see her dad, his brother and her grandfather (their father) so I didn't have a lot to go on. To wit, two short, swarthy, dark-haired men with a tendency to a pot belly, some grey in their hair and very white teeth, and a father who looked just like them only with all grey hair and a much more grown-up belly. Well, I got to see the rest of the Mexican side during the funeral.
Everywhere in the funeral home there were dark skins, beautiful white smiles and a distinct overall accent that kept making me think I was in a Sergio Leone movie. The service was lead by a fifteen year old Catholic priest who drove a Mini Cooper in British Racing Green, and there was a distinct lack of wailing and gnashing of teeth during the whole thing. The funeral procession was only five cars long--the funeral director, the hearse, the limousine for the pall bearers and immediate family, and two cars.
The limo, you see, had the pall bearers (myself included,) most of the immediate family and about thirty five other people in it. I had someone's mother on one hip, someone's kid brother on the other, and three smiling daughters wedged in across from me on the wet bar. There were five more people sitting up front with the chauffer, and I think one of the brothers rode on the roof holding on to the TV antennae because all the in-dash TV would pick up was "Hola Espana!" and Spanish language ESPN.
It was crazy. See, I'm mostly French, and my family taught me that when you've got grief you tear it up and wallow around in it. These folks never heard of all that. The first thing they thought about was smiling and laughter, companionship, and then some serious grilling of steaks and mighty beer drinking after the funeral. Oh, and let's not forget seeing how many people we can stuff into a limousine.
So you see, it's been a week. Hectic, and with scattered thundershowers and networking problems thrown in for good measure. The up side is that my grandfather-in-law was a collector of very nice clothes that he never wore and tools that he never used, so I inherited (among other things) about forty very nice polo shirts and more hand tools than I think I ever possibly deserved.**
Thank you, sir.
* a "Flashing Rear End Device," or if you're an ex railroader who is accustomed to cabooses and a guy in overalls swinging a red lantern, it's a "Fucking Rear End Device." This is a little steel flashing box that attaches to the last train car in a consist. It mounts to the knuckle on the last car and is powered by an air hose attached to the train's airbrakes system. It flashes red, thereby warning approaching trains that there is in fact something in front of them, and lets motorists know that the train is past them.
Like a train's headlights that shine two miles out wouldn't notice the back of a boxcar in front of them but WOULD notice a tiny flashing red light.
Also, like a motorist's headlights won't pick up that same giant steel presence, but will see that miniscule little red light.
(It also inexplicably weighs about fifty pounds.)
Yeah, I can't figure why they'd use one either, but hey, I'm not a trainman.
** I'm also hoping they think of me when it comes time to give the deep teal green Cadillac Sedan DeVille with the acres of cream-coloured leather away.