Posts tagged ‘Human Tape Recorder’

Halloween & Happy Birthday

31 October, 2014 | | 1 Comment

Sixteen years ago, on this day, our lives were changed forever on the occurrence of the birth of the Human Tape Recorder.  Her life was changed just as much, in that she was born, which is, when you think about it, probably just as bizarre as having a baby.  We went from DINK yuppie scum to frightened parents in the blink of an eye, and she went from floating in a safe warm dimly-lit room to a weird, brightly-lit cavern with wind and air and stuff, and people poking at her and talking to her.  Her first reaction was to poop, and I was so nervous I nearly did the same.  We’ve come a long way since then!

So without further ado, Happy Halloween and Happy Birthday to the Human Tape Recorder!  Sixteen years old and she’s still my walking memory bank.

And Once Again, as I’ve said many times before….

31 October, 2013 | | No Comment

Happy Birthday to the Human Tape Recorder!  She is 15 today, and sometime in the next 12 months will start, god help me, a car.  And, like, drive it.  I don’t know how we got here, but here we are!

Here’s hoping the next 15 years will be filled with even more wonder and adventure than the first 15!  Happy Halloween, and many happy returns of the day!

Great Answer

1 April, 2013 | | 3 Comments

So there we were, me and the Human Tape Recorder on a Saturday morning attending her first guitar lesson.  These are free lessons from the local Guitar Center store, which they provide as an inducement to buy something a public service.  She brought the guitar she got for Christmas and, never being one to be left out, I grabbed one off the wall of the store and figured I’d learn a little myself. 

Since everything I know about guitars would fit inside a box to hold your guitar pick, with room left over, I grabbed the cheapest one I could find, in case I broke it.  I was amused to see the instructor walk in a grab one off the wall as well – with a $1900+ price tag.  It’s nice to know what you’re doing.  (Seeing that, I would have traded up a few hundred bucks, but I figured I wouldn’t fret about it.)

There were about 6 of us there for these lessons, and the old grizzled dude next to the HTR turned to her and complimented her guitar – which is very pretty, in addition to sounding great.  She mentioned it having been a Christmas gift, and he asked her if that was the one she’d picked out, had fallen in love with, etc, etc.  She gave him a little bit of a shy smile, and said, “All I asked for was a beat-up six-string…”

She can’t play it yet, but she’s no foreigner to great music!

 

Chicago and Back

11 December, 2012 | | 3 Comments
Driving Into Chicago

Driving Into Chicago

Sorry about that, long week.  To resume the narrative:

So there we were in Chicago, once again in the city with the broad shoulders and the many superlative encased meats.  We got there in time for lunch, which was a pilgrimage to Gene and Jude’s Hot Dogs.  Voted “the best Hog Dog in the Nation” in more than one tally, we had to get there.  Luckily, the Very Clever Grandfather knew exactly where it was, since he used to go there when he worked in his father’s machine shop – Georges’ Screw Machines was just down the way.  Like the Dalai Lama, I always want them to make me one with everything, and they did.  Oh, yes they did.

Georges' Screw Machine Products

Georges’ Screw Machine Products

The fries go on your dog, in your bun, all over the place.  The onions, the relish, the peppers – and just a damn good hot dog.  There’s a reason these things beat out – barely – Hot Doug’s Hot Dogs.  Plus the fries were outstanding.  After satisfying our curiosities and our tastebuds, we took a detour on the trip back and drove past the machine shop.  It was sold a number of years ago, but to our surprise and delight the new owners left the old sign out in front.  Pretty cool. 

The following day dawned slowly, with a trip to lunch at the aforementioned Hot Doug’s Hot Dogs.  The line was as brisk as the wind – a little more than a half an hour wait, around the block in the cold.  By the time we made it to the front door, a glance behind us revealed that those just joining the line would wait longer than we had – always a gratifying feeling, no matter how small and shallow a person I try not to be. 

Hot Doug's Hot Dogs

Hot Doug’s Hot Dogs

Couldn’t blame them – Friday and Saturday are Duck Fat Fries day.  Speaking of duck, what did I have?  I had a “hot dog” – except that this hot dog was a duck and cognac sausage topped with foie gras.  I also had a more regular dog, but the things that guy can do with encased meats – I have to wonder if he’s actually stolen the elder wand.  No – with the fries done in duck fat, I’m sure he’s stolen the elder wand, because those are magic.

Following our excursion of gustatory delights, we wended and wobbled our way to our friends’ Myke and Marcy’s house, where we were met with warmth, joy, love, and also tequila.  The Human Tape Recorder is close with their older daughter, while the Reigning Queen of Pink is close with their younger.  Number One Son decided to remain close to his iPad on the couch – until he came up to find me and Myke, and discovered that my friend has a keyboard and monitor setup that most hard-core geeks only dream of.  The four monitors in a square on a pole impressed him – that he could mouse through them all at once impressed him.  That one of them was an Apple and the others were WIntel impressed me – I’m still not sure how he managed that bit of magic.  Then he showed Number One Son his printer, and printed him a small replica of a Dalek from Dr. Who.

On the 3-D printer.

It took about 25 minutes, sure, but for Number One Son, they were life-changing minutes.  Myke pulled the Dalek from the printer when it was finished, snapped off the base, and handed it him.  “That’s it.  You are officially the coolest person I have ever met.”   I didn’t tell him, but I’ve felt the same way about Myke for a long time.  Number One Son has now decided that he has to learn Java and programming, as soon as he can.

Surprise Santa

Surprise Santa

Saturday dawned, wonderfully and well, and we prepared for the party with more hot dogs.  I’m kidding – wait, I’m not.  Lunch at another restaurant, but it was a chain, and the dogs were so-so at best.  Not going back.  Dinner, now, dinner was great – the entire and extended family was in wonderful attendance.  The Very Clever Grandfather put together a presentation of the first 95 years of the Queen Mother of Pink’s life in photos and presented it with military precision, interweaving music, humor, narrative, and hundreds of pictures to get the QMoP (and the rest of us) laughing her 95-yr-old butt off. You may have already drawn some conclusions about my family, but I’ll add to the mystique by telling you this:  the words “banana butt” were included in the narration.  With the noted military precision, the presentation concluded just as the food was brought out.  The festivities even included a surprise visit from Santa!  It was a surprise to all of us, since he had been in the restaurant for another gig and happened to wander in.  Welcome to parties with my family.

The Queens Of Pink

The Queens Of Pink

The list of the QMoP’s great-grandchildren has grown as well; my three lunatic children have been joined by the 1-yr-old Klayton and the newly-minted Stella by starlight, and we were excited to find that there’s a player to be named later due in June. It was also fantastic to see my cousins Dan and Amy and their families – Charlie, Owen, and Cameron.

We could have danced all night, but events conspired to have us up and on the road early the next morning, and so off we went, saying our sad goodbyes to beloved kith and kinfolk close and distant, near and far, and planning already for the centennial party 5 years hence.  The next morning came too early, as they always do, and we were off.

Driving to Chicago is great.  Drive 6 or 7 hours, find a hotel with a pool and a bar, lather, rinse, relax, repeat.  Driving home in a day, for 12 hours?  Not as much fun.  Why, then, would we do this?  I had jury duty the next day, of course. 

The Human Tape Recorder, being more dedicated than any other 14-yr-old I know, set up her command center in the back of the car, fired up my laptop with its cellular Internet connection, and worked on her homework for most of the ride.  The younger two alternated between Harry Potter and Indiana Jones movies, which kept them quiet and occupied for a good while.  SOBUMD and I took turns driving and staring out the window at the mist.

There’s a Football Hall of Fame, somewhere, which makes sense to me, since I know there’s a Baseball Hall of Fame.  Having now been to a genuine certified Hall of Fame, albeit for Rock and Roll, I find myself more attuned to signs pointing out this or that Hall of Fame.  So it was no surprise that I saw the sign, outside Notre Dame – there’s a (or probably more correctly, THE) College Football Hall of Fame there.  This makes, I suppose, some sense.  The Fighting Irish I’ve heard of, even if I can’t personally see a need for a hall of fame for college football. If you have to have one, though, right next to Knute Rockne’s last long pass sounds about right.  (“Let’s sell some Hall of Fame tickets for the Gipper!”)

Driving through Elkhart, though, I really had to wonder, when we passed the RV/MH Hall of Fame.  WTF, over? I guess I need to get out more.  I can’t imagine why, what, or how a Recreational Vehicle / Motorhome Hall of Fame could be necessary. “Look, babe, this is the actual motorhome couch where Ron Jeremy first came on the scene with his acting career!”  I wonder if they charge for admission.

I also noticed that Ohio was really trying to fix the color problem I mentioned in my first post.  They’re naming the rivers after colors now – I don’t remember this from the trip out.  We crossed both the Vermilion River and the Black River on the way out of Ohio.  I’m sure there’s an Ecru Creek and a Fuchsia Run around there somewhere.

Driving Out of Town was the Last Time We Saw The Sun

Driving Out of Town was the Last Time We Saw The Sun

If there is any greater joy in life than driving the Pennsylvania Turnpike, it has to be driving the Pennsylvania Turnpike in the dark, in the rain.  No, wait.  Let’s try it in the dark, but in that not-quite-rain that pisses down in an irritating mist, waiting not so much to land on your windshield as to land on the ground, in between the construction signs, and wait for the passing trucks and other motorists to spray it up onto your windshield as they go by.  This would cause you to turn on your wipers.  That’s assuming your wipers weren’t making that godawful SHRONK-HONK, SHRONK-HONK noise every goddamn time you flick them on, for 3 hours.  You can’t leave them on, because you’ll lose whatever remaining shred of sanity you have left, and you can’t leave them off, because you can’t see the damn road. 

What you can do, though, is stop at the Summit Diner.  We pulled off the Turnpike at something that approached dinner time and ate at a place so old, they had a menu item that we had to explain to the kids.  “Creamed chipped beef on toast?  Why is that called S.O.S.?”  Haven’t seen that on a menu in a while!  Neat place, good food.  If you’re ever near Somerset, PA, it’s worth the stop. 

If you’re us, of course, the Walmart down the street was worth the stop as well, carrying as they do windshield wipers.  Now, I’m as happy to boycott Wally-world as the next guy, but at 7 pm in kinda the middle of nowhere, in the rain, with the SHRONK-HONK of my wipers getting on my one remaining nerve, I was prepared to put my conscience in the glove box and set expediency on the dashboard, right next to my plastic Jesus and my shotgun.  SOBUMD ran in and came out a few minutes later with new wipers, plus a butt-cushion for my aging rear, which was an added bonus and tremendously appreciated in all quarters, particularly those of my hind.  I pulled under a handy, and closed, teller window drive-through with an awning at the nearest bank, and SOBUMD worked her windshield wiper magic, removing the old ones and installing the new, despite the cold, and the rain, and the dark.

In short minutes we were back on the Turnpike, the new wipers going full speed!  They sounded like this:  ___.  Right.  Isn’t that nice?  Yes.  The only issue now that they were silent was that they needed to be on full speed all the time, since they weren’t at all good at actually wiping the water from the windshield.  They were more like windshield damp sponges than windshield wipers.  There was some discussion of brand, and installation instructions, but neither the brand nor the instructions indicated that anything should be amiss. 

In about 5 minutes of hellish, wet, low-visibility Pennsylvania Turnpike driving, we hit a tunnel.  “Ah,” thought I, “a brief reprieve.”  I left the damn wipers on for a bit, for good measure.  It was dry, somewhat, in the tunnel.  It ended quickly, as tunnels will at those speeds, and as we hurtled out into the wet night, the formerly soundless new wipers ceased their silence and said, “THUMP-WHACK.  THUMP-WHACK.  THUMP-WHAA.  THUMP.  THUMP.” 

I’m regrettably familiar with what a wiper blade means when it says something like that – you could call me a wiper whisperer – and so I pulled over at the nearest “don’t pull over here unless you’re going to die” spot on the side of the Turnpike.  SOBUMD and I both got out and looked, and I pulled the remaining cover/guard off the left-side wiper and handed it to her.  The right-side cover/guard had worked itself off just past the tunnel.  The instructions didn’t mention them – they figured you could see the damn things.

Don’t install windshield wipers in the dark. 

Once free of the damn plastic covers, the windshield wipers worked great.  Visibility went up and noise went down until I was able to turn them off, crossing into Maryland.  (It only rains on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.)   From there on we made good time, pulling into our house a scant 12 hours after we’d left Chicago.   The road is long, the food is good, and the Queen Mother of Pink is 95 years old. 

Much love to all the wonderful family and friends who made the trip possible, and worthwhile – we’re looking forward to the next one.  Hey, we’ve even got new windshield wipers!

 

 

And a Happy Birthday To The HTR!

31 October, 2012 | | No Comment

Fourteen years ago, SOBUMD and I were surprised to find that I was right – a baby conceved in January has a pretty decent shot at getting herself born on Halloween.  I think she was more surprised than I was – the Human Tape Recorder held out for nearly 21 hours to make sure she hit the mark. 

As a Sweet Fourteenth birthday present, she got her braces off this morning – and came home to a Tootsie Roll the length of her arm.  Can’t beat that! 

Happy Birthday!