27 Apr 2014

Adam's at it again!

OK, like the last several posts, we are continuing our focus on Adam.

Today was the Air Cadet Ontario Provincial Committee debating competition, so we took Adam and several of his team members to Mohawk College for their debates. Just like last year, Wendy and I were volunteer judges. Twenty two teams of Air Cadets battled it out to the final two for the final debate. When all the dust had settled, Adam's team came in 3rd place! Not bad, considering the competition was from across the entire province.

Third place in the OPC Debating competition

Oh, and by the way - we didn't let Adam drive...

26 Apr 2014

The cars have had a busy week...

It has been an eventful week... for our cars.

It started off with Adam being nice and taking an old Sony TV to the recycling centre.  He and a friend loaded it up in my car, then headed off to take it to its final reward. As he was ready to leave, I mentioned that I was worried it might fall over during the drive (all 150 lb of solid state old fashioned TV technology). He said it would be fine and that he would 'take the corners easy'. Famous last words.

On arriving home, I put the car back together and found this surprise inside.

6" wide damaged area inside the hatchback of the Scion
The TV had indeed fallen over and smashed the plastic-like interior trim on the inside of the back hatch. Adam claims it was upright when they arrived at the recycling depot. Since he was doing me a favour, I kept my cool.

After a bit of reflection, and considering that he said he was going to take the corners gently, I now know exactly what happened:

He didn't.


After shaking my head at the fog of youth, I went on with the rest of the week. Little did I know, that Wendy's car would be the next target, on Friday.

Adam was on his way home from school (I think he convinced us he needed the car to set up some AV equipment at school in the morning). It was raining a bit, and most of the cars coming away from the high school area were, quite frankly, coming from the high school area. Starting to get that sense of what is going to happen? Sure enough, another student he sort of knew did not sort of stop and sort of smashed into the back of Wendy's prized Toyota Echo. Long story, short... the other car probably took more of a hit, but neither car came away the winner. Wendy's bumper got pushed down a little (doesn't seem too bad - below) but didn't crack like the inside of the Scion.

Bumper off its clips
The licence plate got a bit squished, and the bumper near it was scraped on both sides. Wendy is not amused.

Licence plate and surrounding area damage
Bumper to the left of the plate has a scratch

The worst of the damage seems to be the muffler area. This decorative chrome tail pipe is pointing more downwards than before (looking a little sad, perhaps?) and the muffler sounds, well, "broken". 

Sad looking tail pipe
Adam took the car to a repair shop today and they took a quick look at it.  Other than the cosmetic stuff with the bumper (probably not worth repairing), the muffler itself is cracked and needs replacing. The cost? Just the muffler will be around $400!

Adam will be paying for every cent of this repair from his own money. Wendy and I are hoping he was stunned enough by the event to have more respect for the lack of skills in those around him. This is a good example that even tiny little mistakes can cost big bucks. This is also a good lesson in what to do when a collision happens. He didn't have a clue! I guess they don't teach that set of skills at driver's ed. We are now making a list of things to teach Parker up front, when he starts taking his turn putting the cars in peril in a little over 856 days. Yes, I am counting every one of the days in the next 2 years, 4 months, and 3 days!

Gotta be prepared, you know.

22 Apr 2014

Tacos for Easter!

With the warmer weather, there has been more opportunity to go out hiking. This weekend we did do a once-around-the-loop at the train station trails (which are much drier than in previous hikes), but we also went around our block a few times for extra exercise. I guess it has been a hard winter, even for the fire hydrants. This one has many layers of paint that are all peeling off at once. I thought it was almost Easter coloured and decided to take a few pictures with my phone. This hydrant is right next to a busy road, so maybe all the salt over the winter caused the paint to peel - the one in our front yard isn't peeling at all.
Peeling hydrant closeup
Peeling hydrant

Adam turned 18 this Easter Sunday. This year we found a cool make your own 3-D Easter bunny and Adam put it together in 5 seconds. 
Adam and his 3-D Easter bunny
Parker chose a solid milk chocolate bunny, mostly because it was heavier. He was having a bit of difficulty trying to understand what Easter was all about. His first bit of confusion came when he told us in the car that there was no school on Lucky Friday. We thought he meant that it was a lucky day since there was no school - but some further questioning clarified that he thought it was called Lucky Friday. He didn't seem to believe us that it was called Good Friday, and had more difficulty understanding how it could be good when it was the day Jesus died. His concern was mostly that it didn't make sense - why would the son of God die (he shouldn't be able to die with God powers), and why waste time rising from the dead when he shouldn't have died in the first place? Quite the conversation in the car...

Although it was Easter, Adam got to decide on what was for dinner on his birthday (a family tradition). He chose tacos. Easy to make and everyone seems to like them.

Showing off his videos from gliding last weekend
Adam had gone gliding with the cadets last weekend and had a few gigabytes of pictures and videos. Above he is showing everyone some of the videos on his laptop since his phone was too small to see. Adam also chose the birthday cake (ice cream cake from Metro - much better than more expensive DQ cakes!). We ate the whole thing in one sitting. Strangely, I made my own birthday cake a few weeks ago (a poppy seed cake), but nobody ate it except me. Took me a few days, but I finally ate the whole thing.
Yes, we found 18 candles for the ice cream cake
We now don't have too many more birthdays for a few months, and I expect that the weather will continue to improve so we can get out hiking at least once or twice each week. This weekend we will have to do it Saturday (rain or shine), as Sunday is booked solid with the Air Cadet League Debating competition at Mohawk College. Wendy and I are judges, and this year Adam is one of the contestants.

8 Apr 2014

Even Google knows!

Well, I finally passed the big mid-life milestone. Today is my 50th birthday. Seemed like a pretty quiet day, but even Google knew my secret.
Even Google knows!
Most everyone at the lab is away in San Diego for a conference, so it was a reasonably calm morning. The big event for the day was to be the final class for the course I teach at McMaster. It was planned as a debriefing session and a pizza party, plus some unnamed special significance (as per Professor Rangachari - Chari for short)... a little worrisome. Wendy even decided to drop by the class to see what was up.  Yeah, I fell for that, too.

Soon after leaving my office with Chari, we came upon a 'gauntlet' of students lining the halls and the stairways. They all were holding up signs or pictures of my face plastered on cardboard. Each one of them gave me a different compliment (nice shoes, great glasses, I like the way your glasses sit on your ears, etc.). This is when I truly knew that something was up.
There were scores of these signs greeting me in the hallway
This compliment gauntlet went on all the way to the lecture theatre, and at some point during this walk Chari ditched me and headed into the room from a different direction. Once I entered, there was Wendy at the top of the room and about a half dozen students. The students made a big show (many are actors...) about their wonderment at where the rest of the class might be.  Well, in short order all 200+ students piled into the room and started a raucous rendition of Happy Birthday!  This was followed quickly by a number of chants and other fun stuff typical of the first year Health Sciences class  This was definitely the loudest birthday greeting I have ever had!!

The students got together and bought me a cake to take home - they suggested there would be nothing left if all 200 of them took a piece. After our debriefing session, the pizza and salad arrived and the whole thing devolved into a year end pizza party with lots of chances for informal discussions of how the course went for the students. Even a few selfies were taken. 
My take home cake!
What a great way to turn 50! I had a wonderful time and got to see how this group of scared just out of high school kids in September have grown into such bright, confident, and engaging young men and women.