A calling ...

"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."

"Make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

- Buckminster Fuller

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Man Card Validated

My family has been an educational casualty lately. If I had thought about how ambitious it was to enter a 1-year Master's program, I never would have tried. The level of commitment required to work full time while producing Master's level work is beyond normal, it is insane. Naturally, I have not been as available to my family, including my 13 year old son, who really needs a dad, as I would have liked. I've been the absent father and missing husband. Thus, I entered the break with equally ambitions plans to set up a computer for Joe, which involved building a desk, and building a shed. With the end in sight, looks like I get to keep my Man Card.

Instead of buying a desk at Staples, which would have been my preference, I built a custom 37x24 desk for Joe's room using 3/4 birch plywood and soft maple 1x2s that I purchased at the Home Depot. Karen felt that Joe might lose his temper and smash his fist on a glass surface. Nothing is ever easy.

The simple project involved four full days of joinery and finishing. It helped, ultimately, that the associate ripped my plywood to 24", which left one half of the sheet 23-5/8" due to the thickness of the saw kerf. Since the top is slightly wider than the sides, there is a nice offset on the back. I used the 1x2s to cover the edges of the plywood. These were biscuit joined, glued, clamped, then belt-sanded flush with the plywood. Sanded to 220 grit between coats of clear polyurethane finish, Joe's desk is as smooth as a baby's butt.

While I had hoped that Joe would participate in building his desk, Halo proved to be more compelling. Joe helped apply glue to the joints, but he disliked getting glue on his hands. He flitted away back to Halo at the critical moment, just as I was getting ready to assemble and clamp the unit. I hollered. He returned.

Setting up Joe's computer hasn't been simple either. When my computer crashed, Mike, my brother rebuilt it from scratch, including a new motherboard. He retrieved the data from my backup drive, and reinstalled XP Pro. I left the computer sitting for months, with a new 1 terabyte backup drive waiting to be installed. My hope was that Joe would take more of an interest in the project, but reality is no competition for virtual reality.

Since I want to network Joe's computer with my Windows 7 and Karen's Vista computers, I came to the unfortunate conclusion that Joe's computer needs Windows 7. Now, I need to use Windows Transfer to pull my files off the boot drive, install Windows 7, and use Windows Transfer to pull the files back. What a pain.

Since my old friend Ricky had built a wood foundation for the shed, at least assembling the shed has gone smoothly, but it still has become a 3 day project. I never knew that installing a shed required so many screws. Ricky called it an erector set. I had to call in Ricky after I came to the part of the instructions where it said, "Do not proceed further unless you have a full day and two people." When I asked if Joe might commit to helping me, obviously he said, "no," which I fully expected. I called Ricky, who only charges me the friend rate of $100 per day. Yesterday, we assembled the floor, walls, and roof trusses, and fastened the building down before quitting for the day.

Ricky and I discussed installing shelves today, so last night I went to Home Depot to buy materials. I found the perfect material for the shelving, 23/32 Arauco Plywood (Radiata Pine) at $25.97 per sheet. The face is sanded to 220, the core is voidless, and it has exterior glue. I asked if I could get somebody to help me rip it, and an associate tried to help. Thankfully, the manager of the department rescued the associate, who wasn't experienced working a cutting station. My shelves were ripped to 15-1/2", which will make the installation go smoothly.

When Ricky gets here, he doesn't realize it yet, but Karen is going to have him install a new 3-pronged outlet. I was going to "temporarily" use an adapter and pull the bookcase out a few inches. Karen insisted it be done right. Thank goodness, Ricky will be here.

With my domestic duties checked off, it will be a full go on the Master's program. On Tuesday, I will begin supporting a caseload of 14 3rd grade children. My plans are nowhere near ready. I have read their IEP's, but have not summarized their needs. I know we will be working on multiplication and division, but I have not revisited the 3rd grade SOLs. I know that I want to help them construct understandings of how to group and organize numbers, and I know that I want to use lots of manipulatives. I don't have enough time to do it perfectly. At least I got my Man Card validated!

Tonight, after working on the shed all day, we'll drive to Mom and Dad's for our traditional New Year's Eve dinner. Dad starts chemo on Tuesday. Thankfully, last week, Dad opened up a Home Equity Line of Credit to help me get past my impending cash flow crisis. Family to the rescue! Relationships are like equity. Properly nurtured, they can be drawn upon during a time of need.

Happy Birthday to Mabel, who is 4 years old today. When I was working toward getting my Teacher's License, I kept an image of a dog in my head as my reward for getting my first teaching position. We picked Mabel up from a breeder in West Virginia during Spring Break, 2008. She rode home on my lap. Karen calls me Mabel's Foop (Favorite Person).

At least, during the week, Joe thought about getting Mabel a present - that's progress. Joe was perfectly ready to forget about following through on his commitment when it came time to get up off his butt, but on Thursday I shamed him into driving with me to Dogma in Arlington. We bought Mabel a gingerbread man toy. Mabel will have fun unwrapping it. On Christmas, Mabel used her claws to rip the wrapping paper off her present. Joe needs to wrap Mabel's present.

Karen put away Joe's controller to ensure that he gets certain things done. Hurray, we're both on the same page. Having a Man Card has its privileges. Windows 7, $199. Seeing Joe's jaw drop when he sees his controller missing, priceless.