Garbage Detail

So the high school dance team did well at a camp earlier this summer and received a bid to Nationals for one their dance routines. As you may have guessed, Nationals draws teams from all over the country. I still don’t understand the entire qualifying procedure but I’m crystal clear on the cost involved. They are in Orlando at the end of January. For us its actually convenient since Rye was already headed there regardless. She’s not only a member of her high school’s dance team, she’s also on a different studio competition dance team. Both are headed to Nationals. So woo hoo I guess.

How do I get drawn into this? Well, the high school dance coach, in an effort to raise money to help all the families afford the trip to Orlando, has scheduled a lot of fundraisers. And by a lot I mean roughly 17 a week. Could be on the high side there. Anyway, one of those funders is the opportunity to clean up the stands at Principal Park which is the home stadium for the I-Cubs, the AAA team for the Chicago Cubs. And by cleaning up the stands, I mean picking up other people’s garbage. You’ve left sporting events and you know how much sh…I mean garbage is left behind. Pretty sure I have a far higher appreciation of that amount than you do. Hot dog remnants, empty beer cans with that last bit of smelly warm beer in the bottom, plastic nacho trays with the leftover cheese-like substance all become much more gross when they’ve been abandoned. And nothing smells like the end of the night than a plastic cup of warm beer left sitting on a humid August evening.

ketchupdogOh, and as a bonus we get to do this around 9:45 pm on weekdays once the game ends. Here’s a quick structural breakdown of cleaning up a stadium. You get latex gloves and double up on each hand. People are slobs, you need to protect yourself. Then you get a garbage bag big enough to hold a Volkswagen and walk up and down the aisles picking up all the sh…I mean garbage people leave behind. As a reminder, people are slobs. Then, once filled, you take your bag to a big giant trash container with wheels and throw it in there. Then you wheel it to a spot behind the right field stands and it gets deposited in the trash compacter. The area immediately surrounding the compacter emits the wonderful stench of warm beer, ketchup and tobacco spit. So it smells like the end of Hank Williams Jr. concert. Or Mississippi I guess.

Sure the job is relatively easy and doesn’t take much in terms of logistical planning or intellectual effort but it just isn’t very pleasant. You get that weird foul hand sweat inside your latex gloves. You have to take care not to splash the warm beer on your legs as you dump it out. Yeah, our instructions were to just dump out the liquids. I found an ice cream cup that was completely melted and since it was now in liquid form I briefly considered just dumping it out. But I figured that might be taking the instructions a bit too literally so it went into my garbage bag. Which in turn meant I was lucky enough to smell warm vanilla-like substance the rest of the evening. Also what’s the deal with all the Coors Light? I mean it’s a farm team for the Cubs so naturally I assumed a good amount of Old Style would be consumed. But Coors Light easily outpaced the other empty beer cans. Also surprised at the sheer amount of ketchup that gets used. Or, more accurately, the amount that gets left on napkins. Admittedly it’s a suspect sample, but it would appear people always get more ketchup for their hot dogs and fries than they can ever hope to consume. I mean, I like ketchup as much as the next guy but c’mon man, you guys are using it like construction adhesive. The amount of ketchup left in these french fry baskets could secure the fry basket to the bottom of an F-14 to such a degree it could survive take off from an aircraft carrier. In a tornado.

stadiumbeerIt didn’t really get too stinky until we got to the general admission section. This is essentially a beer garden with picnic tables. I think we counted at least 27 cups of beer left over. You really can’t appreciate the full aroma of warm beer on a summer night until you dump out 27 cups of beers. That’s when that wave hits you and suddenly it smells like July of ’88 when you and your friends drank a case of Milwaukee’s Best in a cornfield because that’s what you do when you’re 18.

My reaction to this experience was to fake convulsions, blindness and the occasional random full body spasm. Kidding but I did ask Mom how big of check do I have to write in order to avoid this again. Still waiting on that number.

Published in: on September 25, 2015 at 4:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Growth Rates and Satellite Dish Placement

If you’re going to be without something in your house for a week, what is the last thing you’d want it to be? And don’t be a goof and say “oxygen” or “beer.” We already know the lack of said items would cause outright panic and anarchy. So what would it be? Hot water? Wi-Fi? The appearance of any teenagers whatsoever? Okay, that was a trick. Of course you’d pick the last one. I mean nobody wants to spend time with teenagers. We’re forced by biology and human nature and the law, in some cases, to do it. The circumstances and results of our previous decisions to, in fact, have babies has ultimately led to the unfortunate scenario in which you, as an adult in his or her 40’s (or so) have been placed, by the terms of human physiology, in an unchangeable situation in which you must spend time with teenagers. Its just the way things are. Like Hillary and conflicts of interest.

Anyway, for me it would probably be the lack of TV. I don’t mean the actual physical lack of a television in your house. That’s just crazy. I mean all of the TV’s in your house lack the ability to show anything. This happened to us. I wish I could say we are such awesome parents that the girls screwed something up so egregiously that we dropped the hammer and said “no TV for a week!” But that’s really just punishment for us and we have no way to police it since they are home by themselves so often.

Oh, and we love TV. Just saying. Although the fact that Person on Interest probably isn’t returning until after Christmas is straining that love.

Turns out nature doesn’t care about any of this. Much like babies, trees grow at fairly steady rate over the years. Back when we got married 18 years ago, I used some of the wedding cash to plant two glorious maples in our backyard. They look great and they’re huge now. However when we made the switch to Direct TV, we placed the dish in such a place that it was not really visible from the front of the house and was somewhat reachable to dust off snow in the winter. This was 8 years ago. In June the signal on some channels got a little sketchy. Got a little worse as summer wore on. Then just before we went to the Ozarks last month, I noticed that FX and the NFL Network were extinct when it came our dish. Gone. Like sanity in Bernie Sanders brain. I found that realization to be disturbing. Not Bernie Sanders’ lack of sanity, that’s been evident for years, I mean the loss of FX and the NFL Network. I mean Shooter is on almost once a week on FX. And the NFL season is literally breathing down our necks. So I called Direct TV. About a week later Direct TV Guy shows up, gets on the roof and tells me the maple closest to the house is too big and needs to trimmed. I asked for another option. He said there really isn’t another one. He could move the dish to a different part of the roof with a higher elevation but he didn’t think it was high enough anyway. Told me he got up there and tested the signal reception and moving the dish wasn’t really an option. I nodded and said thanks for coming out. Pretty sure the real reason he couldn’t move the dish was because it was already 4:45 in the afternoon and he just wanted to go home.

So I called the Tree Guy. Tree Guy comes over and tells me, yeah, it’s probably the tree that is interfering with the signal. Here’s the problem though. The branch which most likely is the signal interference culprit has a taller branch right behind it. So if we chop the culprit branch (which by the way is the size of a small tree), he doesn’t think we’ll solve the problem. Plus the tree is just going to keep growing and I’ll likely be back in the same boat next year. His solution? I gotta move the dish to the higher roofline and shoot it over/between the backyard trees.

My response? “Boooooooooooo.”

Tree Guy gives me his personal cell number and says if he needs to come back, let him know and he’ll be right over.

I have a couple options. 1) spend the cash and hack up the tree and hope for the best. 2) call the Direct TV guy and insist he get up on the roof and move the dish despite his initial findings. 3) Something else.

I went with #3. I called one of the local satellite providers, explained my problem and asked for some help. Response? They were at the house in 36 hours and moved the dish for $50. And now we have TV back. And it’s glorious. Wonderful. Magnificent. The first night we had it back I stayed up late on just watching TV because it had been so long. Then I went upstairs and turned on the TV in our room and watch MORE!

Yes, welcome back old friend, welcome back.

Published in: on September 4, 2015 at 8:05 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

High Drama

High Drama yesterday morning at the Chronicles of Dad Base Camp. A typical school day morning involves a bit of staggered wake-up schedule and some arguing over the bathroom when one of the three girls lollygags a little bit and wanders into the block of time normally occupied by another. This kind of thing happens regularly. And by regularly I mean every day. I think part of the problem is that they communicate through grunts, dirtly looks and the unexpected blindside hip toss.

Kinz is up at 6 and out the door for the bus stop by 6:50. Then Rye is up around 6:30ish and leaves for school around 7:30. Then Bails rolls outta bed at 7 and leaves for the bus stop at 8:25. This plan has some logic to it. Each girl gets about 30 minutes to themselves in the bathroom. In theory. But Keynesian economics, the Run and Shoot Offense and The Legion of Doom also seemed to work in theory. Anyway, the weakness in the plan is the girls need to get up on time. They don’t. A secondary weakness in the plan is that girls must be in relatively close proximity to each other as they pass in the hall or switch places in the bathroom.

Do other parents seriously considering moving to a bigger house and taking on a larger mortgage and putting themselves at financial risk simply to avoid the daily conflict that occurs amongst their children? We’re thinking about this. A lot. It’s not just the bathroom skirmishes, it is the ceaseless officiating we’re asked to do in regards to tensions arising from the fact that Kinz and Bails share a room. You’d think at some point they’d achieve détente. Reagan and Gorbachev did it, so should they. I mean its not that we want much more room in a house – just an extra bedroom, an extra stall in the garage and a tiny house in the backyard equipped with Direct TV, a mini fridge and wi-fi.

But the drama yesterday morning had nothing to do with space. Yesterday was gym day for Rye. So she needs to wear, or bring, her Nikes. They are almost two years old and pretty beat up but she likes them. But I still broke down and bought her some new ones last week. Should be delivered any day now. But she needed her old ones yesterday morning. And they were gone. My first reaction when she told me they were gone was, “Are you sure?” The doubt in regards to her assertion of their disappearance is entirely due to the fact that a growing heap of shoes is building up next to the front door. It’s a like volcanic island forming in the Pacific. Flip-flops, sneakers, cleats, Toms, sandals. It’ll get worse in the winter when the Uggs and other boots move in. And there is no way you can ascertain the existence of a pair of Nikes within this pile through a casual 15 year-old glance. I am a parent. I am well aware of the “thoroughness” in which 15 year-olds “look” for stuff. They’re like Hillary looking for classified emails. But I wanted her to be sure that the shoes in question were, in fact, gone.

They were.

“Dad, Kinsey wore my Nikes to school without asking. My only pair of gym shoes. And I have gym today. I have to have them. I know exactly where I left them and they’re gone. She never asks if she can wear any of my stuff and then she does it anyway!”

Before she could finish the rant, I cut her off. Mostly because I could see the anger/adrenaline ramping up and since she was about to drive herself to school, I thought rage would only distract her from keeping her eyes on the road. But also because I had a question.

“Don’t you have a pair of black Converse?”

“What? Um…”

So she wore the Converse. And I banned Kinz from wearing any of Rye’s stuff until Oct. 1. Because I’m tired of this particular issue. We’ll see if the ban holds…