adventures


13
Feb 19

He said prolonged eye contact with a bear in the wild

Oh, look, the morning show crew brought back an old favorite game show.

Sure, it is The Dating Game, but local in all of its local glory. Plus college students! I watched them shoot this last week. The original run ended four years ago, at least, which means this particular set of people had never done this show before. They did a pretty nice job with it. And the guests were fun! And tarot!

My favorite part might be the “interesting thing about you.” As ice breakers go, it is a classic. Some are better than others and sometimes the ice breaker itself goes over better than others. I’m always intrigued by the things people say. You’re all interesting and all of us have varied experiences. I’ve no doubt that, given a minute or two, anyone could pull one or two or four notes from the memory banks with which to wow us. Now, the bear thing, from the title, that’s in the video. As interesting facts about a person might go, that’s pretty good. I am always intrigued by how a person arrives on sharing their particular tidbit.

Anyway, one of the station’s managers dug up some old archives of the original Big Red Love. It was a different studio, which was in the basement of a dorm. It featured different production values, a Barkeresque microphone, delightfully awkward interactions and a cubicle wall that “separated” bachelorette from contestants. It was a wonderful college television show. If they brought this new version back and streamlined their production, it would be an even better and more wonderful college television show.

This evening we went for a run on campus. Because hills! Hills are great to run in concept, and I am lousy at it in execution. The Yankee was done with her day a bit earlier, and wanted to go a bit longer than I did. So she started out, looped back and then picked me up. Here we are at the top of the very last hill for the day:

I was four miles in and she was about, or so. I finished with six and she finished at 10. And, also, it was about 30 degrees.

A young woman with flaming red hair passed us earlier in the run. She was so fast I couldn’t figure out if she was saying something encouraging or suggesting we get out of her way. Her voice dopplered very quickly because she was fast. And she had on a little cape. She might have been an actual superhero!

Generally, we avoid amateur nights. In a college town this includes New Years, St. Patrick’s Day and Valentine’s. Part of that might be because we spent so many years not in the same town on Valentine’s Day. (I started counting that and then stopped.) Mostly it is because we generally observe today as the anniversary of us being a couple.

It was a friend group, you see. There were about six of us who were all in the same grad school cohort and then within the group there were the two of us palling around all the time. People, in our group and in the larger cohort and some of our professors too, started thinking of us as a couple. Where there was the one there was the other. And then we realized that’s what people thought and so on and so forth. And that realization came today, 14 years ago. So we celebrate today. And the celebration is typically a low key dinner at the hibachi steakhouse because it is a tradition at this point.

So there we were, at 8 p.m., cleaned up after our run. The local place had two people sitting in the hibachi side of the restaurant. They didn’t look a day over 15 and one of them looked almost exactly like my second-cousin. His wife, I assume they were married, was an over-sharer. A nice couple, but before the man had wheeled out his cart to spin the spatula and pour the sauces and cook for us, we learned they had a 4-year-old. The cart comes out, the cook makes a great deal of noise with his cutlery, cooks the food, does the flaming onion bit, busts out the little squirt joke the restaurant likes so much, cleans everything up and thanks us again and again. As he leaves I said, “So a 4-year-old, huh?”

To which she immediately launched into a 20-minute speech about the dogs, and their territorial habits and, here, check out some pictures. Oh, and finally here’s one of our daughter. Who does she favor?

That’s always a loaded question for some reason or another, of course. We all know that. But she obviously favored the dad, who looks almost perfectly like my second-cousin. Only the kid isn’t his, biologically. And this is an intriguing conversation to be having with someone over fried rice. Oh and she had just had her gall bladder removed and he doesn’t eat anything green and … they were nice, truly.

Also, I can now tell you where to get the best sushi in town, and where you should absolutely not get sushi. No one had asked.

Anyway, in the back of the restaurant, by the restrooms, there’s a door into the kitchen area. And this is on the door:

If it ever said anything other than “Your uniform hangup” then I’m just going to assume it has a story to tell. I guess we’ll just have to keep going back until we figure it out. Oh, darn.


11
Feb 19

The iPad story

Oh look, more snow and rain to run and play in …

That was at the end of this evening’s too-cold-for-a-5K neighborhood 5K. I’m now writing fancifully self-indulgent mini-essays on Instagram about it. The theme is: I’m ready for it to be warm. And, if we’re lucky, in six or seven weeks, it might be!

Yesterday looked like this, all day:

It was an almost-bitter cold on Saturday, but it was sunny, which was nice. And we took the day to take a trip to Indianapolis. Another trip, incidentally. Do you want the whole story? You want the whole story.

The week before last I finally said aloud that my iPad, which is now five years old and a refurb, was having trouble charging. We took it to a local place, where we have had the occasion to spend too much money for minor repairs. They looked it over and could not help.

So I called on Friday, a week ago, to set up an appointment at the genius bar at the Apple Store in Indianapolis. That Saturday was much like this one, cold, with stubborn snow piles everywhere, but dry, so it was a good day to take the 70-plus mile trip north. At the Apple Store we met a guy named Scott. At first he thought my iPad had died, so after I convinced him that it was the glare and the brightness turned way down, Scott ran his diagnostics. I’m having trouble with the charging port, but the battery was pretty much toast. He said as much, and showed us the diagnostic results. Scott said it is a batter problem, then, and not a charging port problem. The solution was a new replacement iPad, for $99. Same model, but a new battery and no charging port problems, and a 90-day warranty.

Great! Good deal! This is what I want to do. Of course they don’t have this particular model in the back of the store. It’s several generations behind and it would be unreasonable to expect they have it on the shelf.

So the solution, to avoid having to make another trip up to Indianapolis, is to have them mail one to me. This is how that process didn’t work.

On Sunday, right on time, someone from Apple Support called me. She consulted the file, and I had to explain everything. (Why do they maintain a file if it can’t be seen by others inside the customer service organization, anyway?) Kim was her name, and she was lovely. I was her first call that day, we talked for 40 minutes. She is a retired school teacher out west and was just upbeat about how this whole experience was going to set up her shift. She had an even better solution than the mail procedure. It turns out there is an authorized service provider here in town and only slightly removed from my regular route. She set up an appointment for Tuesday morning and I could go and do this whole thing. They’ll get the replacement iPad in, $99, I can transfer everything and we all go about our day. Wonderful.

On Tuesday morning, I went to the local authorized service provider. The time for my appointment arrives. They open my file. I have to tell my story again. (Why do they maintain a file if it can’t be seen by others inside the customer service organization, anyway?) The guy says “We can do that, but it will be $149 because our prices are — ” and I said I’ll just work with Apple instead then, thanks for your time.

So I call Apple Support again. I didn’t catch the name of the lady I spoke with on Tuesday, but she opened my file and I had to explain the whole story for a fourth time. Turns out Apple can’t do the mailing option in the way that was described to me in the Apple Store or by her counterpart at Apple Support. That’s if you’re under a warranty. I am not. The method she can offer me is for me to send mine in and they send it back. Well, that might fix only half of my problem. And why is it that every person in this take has a different solution? And why do I have to keep explaining this story to every level of the organization?

The lady on the phone asks if I’d like to talk to the senior supervisor. No, I said, but if you could give me a direct line to the Apple Store in Indianapolis that’d be great. I’ll just deal with them. I don’t want in the national system, I want the local store. She tries to forward me, but no one answers. OK, fine. I ask her if she could just give me that number. She can. I ask her if she can email that number, because I am walking across campus at this point and I don’t have a pen. She can’t email me the phone number.

You know what? I’d like to talk to the senior supervisor now. Without a fuss she says OK. And I’m put on hold until Wade comes on the phone. Wade has been briefed a bit. But I have to tell Wade the whole story again. (Why do they maintain a file if it can’t be seen by others inside the customer service organization, anyway?) Wade agrees this story is now ridiculous and should have been resolved.

So Wade gets me the direct Apple Store number, and after two tries, Amber answers. I explain the whole story one more time. She sends me to the repair shop in the back of the store, where I speak to someone who also wants to know the story, which is amazing because I’m bored with it myself now. This person orders my new iPad. So nonchalant was she that I spent most of this week wondering if they’d actually, you know, done anything.

Anyway, during Thursday’s tornado warning the Apple Store called. My iPad was in. They also sent two emails. And on Saturday we went back up there, the thing I was originally trying to avoid, for the second time in eight days, and did the swap. I made sure my machine was backed up. I met Randall, who was easily the least cheery person in this story, but maybe he was just having a long afternoon. Nevertheless, he got the new iPad, we restored my old device to it — like not missing a beat, after eight days of watching Apple miss beats all over the place — reformatted the old one and managed to not get emotional about handing it over. And it cost the $99, as I had been promised. (Take that, authorized service provider!)

Also on those two trips we stocked up at Trader Joe’s and failed at one other errand. On the second trip we saw Bohemian Rhapsody. On both days it was sunny and I was with The Yankee. Easily the best part of the deal.

Incidentally, my father-in-law bought a new iPad online Monday. It was delivered on Tuesday. The lesson? Buy new.


5
Feb 19

We were somewhere in England …

I haven’t told this story in a while, so I may as well tell it again.

We were somewhere in England, see. I know precisely where we were, but it just seems to sound better that way. We were somewhere in England when someone took this picture:

We were in England, you see. And that was the first leg of a terrific multi-nation trip. And I was tired of taking pictures where you could see a lot of us and a little of what was going on behind us. Rather impulsively, for me, I went to a store that sold clothes and other odd things that people think are a good idea in the store and bought a selfie stick. A friend took the picture above. The picture I was taking looked like this:

Right now we’re discussing a vacation for this summer and starting to dive into the details of it. We’re planning a friend trip. And one of the selling points is, apparently, that I have a selfie stick.

Oh, sure, The Yankee made fun of it, but she quickly came to admit that it occasionally helps make better photos. She still makes fun of it.

Also, the selfie stick is pink.

(It was the only color the store had that day.)

(I told you it was impulsive.)


22
Jan 19

We’re back and it is cold and frozen

So since everything, included the roads, are frozen here, still*, let’s talk about some place warmer. Here are a few pictures I took yesterday just before we left Savannah. (Truly, we toted our luggage inside.)

This is the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. It’s a lovely building, and it marks the local Catholic diocese.

The diocese was installed by Pope Pius IX in 1850. At the time, it covered all of Georgia and part of Florida, totaling about 5,500 Catholics. Another Pope Pius, the XII, split the territory in 1956. So now this covers south Georgia. Much of what was the original church at this location was destroyed in an 1898 fire. The outside walls and two spires were saved.

There was a big renovation project in the middle of the 20th century and a massive repair project in the 1980s put the high altar in the background. Then there was another round of renovation in the late Nineties. So the pews aren’t that old.

Indeed, much of everything here is new compared to some of the beautiful church buildings we have seen over the years, but this one is still lovely, and as impressive to me as the first time I saw it 14 years ago.

The stained glass windows went in around 1904:

Many, if not all of them, were removed, cleaned and re-leaded during the last restoration project.

I didn’t realize you had to do that to windows.

Now, about that organ …

The first recorded organ at the cathedral was installed in 1837. (They held a fundraiser in 1836.) That original organ is now on display, but not in use, at the First African Baptist Church a few blocks away. Organs came and went, one was rebuilt after a hurricane, but lost in the fire. At the turn of the century an organ builder in Delaware installed a new one. That one was removed after 1938, and some of the pipes wound up in local classrooms. During the reconstruction in the 1980s a Massachusetts firm, Noack Company, was selected to build the new organ. A protestant, a Lutheran even, helped bring the organ project to life. The cathedral’s website says that was a first. And that man’s church choir, from the local St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, was the first Protestant concert in the cathedral in 1991.

*The snow was Saturday. You could barely drive around downtown today for the ice in the roads. They have some kind of plan, I’m sure. You’d like to see it activated. You’d like to see warmer temperatures, too. They’ve got about 13 degrees on us today.


21
Jan 19

Traveling again

We’re traveling back into the barren and cold northlands today, after a fine weekend that was capped off by a fourth visit to Clary’s, a little time in the park, a massage and watching Savannah’s Martin Luther King Day parade. (It was two hours long and still going when we had to leave.)

It was a great visit to a lovely city that we enjoy a great deal. We discovered a fine little Mexican restaurant out of necessity today for our late lunch-on-the-go. Today’s Uber driver had just moved to the low country from the Smokies. She’s still getting used to the entirely different weather patterns, which is funny considering she’s only about 300 miles from home, but that’s an important 300 miles. That was a retirement 300 miles for her and her husband, she said. Our Uber driver on Thursday night had a similar story, but for a lifetime in the Navy and then retiring to coastal Georgia. Neither of them looked old enough to be even semi-retired. Maybe that’s the autobiographical aging process, or maybe its just the latitude.

Anyway, I mentioned Our Tree. Here it is now:

That’s The Yankee reading under Our Tree on Saturday. The weather was so perfect that day we spent most of the day in that spot. Coincidentally, that is about the same view I had in December of 2008 just before I proposed. We’d been sitting under that tree and I was waiting for The Sign. You know, the one you sometimes find yourself asking for. Eventually a leaf fell on me and I took that as the requested sign. My plan involved me leaving, so that I could come back. I excused myself to visit the restroom and, right about where I’m standing to take that photograph above, a man intercepted me and we started talking about families and marriage and biblical passages and I said, “OK, fine, that is my sign.”

So I went back to the tree, hung her engagement ring on some of the bark and called her over to scratch our initials into it. And there was her ring. She was there, I was there, it was Savannah, there was a ring and I didn’t even think up a speech. Which is odd, because this is me. I asked her if she would like to keep having adventures with me, and then another guy came up and “What’d she say? What’d she say?” as he offered to make us one of the little bamboo flowers they sell to tourists here.

I knew he’d want to be paid for that, and he should. It was ornate and involved and quite nice. We had eight dollars between us. He was disappointed, but gave us the flower and she finally said yes. Now here we are. I have at least nine dollars in my pocket today.

Anyway, we enjoyed our Saturday beneath Our Tree. It was bracketed by breakfast and a nice run, but that was pretty much the day, and it was perfect. That night we also went out for crabs on Tybee Island:

We also saw some birds:

And from the It’s Been Too Long Department, we saw Wendy!

Something like 17 years I’ve known her now. She’s even more wonderful today than she ever was.

Sunday the weather was a bit dank and I was tired and sore and still trying to overcome a few days of fun with my sinuses, so it was a low key thing. Today the parade, a spa trip and then the car ride to the airport. We made one other stop, but I’m saving those pictures for tomorrow. Be sure to stop by for those. It’ll be lovely.

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