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  • A Mother Nature PSA

    Dear Mother Nature:

    Your ongoing three-week decision to drizzle and mist all over the Eastern Seaboard may be a response to the ongoing presidential debacle. Could it be your attempt to show voters that life is not black and white, but really overwhelmingly gray?

    Perhaps it is a perverse desire to boost the fortunes of over-the-counter drug companies everywhere. Or could it be a slow protest of the fact that Hamilton will sweep the Tonys?

    Whatever the reason, the undersigned allergy sufferers of the world would like to politely ask you to PLEASE STOP THE MADNESS NOW. Or better yet, let the sunshine in.


  • Travel Gods & Mother Nature

    What happens when the travel gods and Mother Nature conspire to do a pre-holiday test run affecting the nation’s airlines? Think of it as taking a stress test while running uphill on a treadmill powered by six gerbils and a ferret.

    Sorry for the visual analogy, but given the adventure my spouse and I have been on over the past 24 hours, I think you’ll understand eventually.

    This morning, after flying to Atlanta Monday and returning Tuesday, Jill had to leave again for an eight-day work trip that includes a stop at the California school counselors association conference, a White House convening on the profession, and the eventual presentation of the 2015 National School Counselor of the Year award.

    Unlike me, my spouse is extremely organized, and she planned the two trips well in advance down to the last detail. Except, when we got to the airport an hour before her departure, she realized she had forgotten her wallet in the bag she took to Atlanta and had left behind at home.

    With an hour before the flight was scheduled to board, I flew back home while Jill nervously waited at the airport. Fortunately no representatives of Virginia's law enforcement community were on the roads at the time, and alternate routes enabled me to get around the work zone cones of shame. I made it home in record time and got the wallet back to her at the airport.

    And … her flight was delayed. So much so, it turns out, that Delta had to book her on another flight to San Diego, with stops in Detroit and Los Angeles. It was little disconcerting, but the idea was that she would still get to San Diego in time for the meeting.

    In Detroit, weather prevented the flight from taking off. On the runway, the pilots had to turn around because the crew already had worked too long to be considered safe, according to federal regulations. So the plane made a U-turn and, more than seven hours after leaving D.C., Jill was able to get on to a flight in Los Angeles, where she arrived at almost 2 a.m. EST — 15 hours after we left our house.

    The good news is that she’s there safe, even though her baggage is MIA. The bad news is that first thing tomorrow, she has to get on another plane so she can finally make it to her destination.

    Good luck with that.

  • Burn Baby Burn

    So here we are in May, less than six weeks after the end of one of the most brutal winters on record, and my house decided this week to turn into a sauna.

    Several weeks ago, I said that Mother Nature’s April Fools joke was, “Spring is coming…” And it turns out the joke is on me. Somehow, we decided to skip from snow to 90-degree temperatures in just a few short weeks, and that’s when our AC decided to bite the dust.

    We knew it would happen sooner than later, because the unit has been patched with bubblegum and bailing wire for some time now. Call it "The Sad Saga of Home Ownership" truism: Yes, when you build a home you get to move into it with all new stuff — stuff that a decade or so down the line decides to break all at once.

    In terms of repairs, we’ve been somewhat lucky, although all of the kitchen appliances decided to roll up and die within a three-month period last year. And don't get me started on home improvement, in part because I possess no handyman skills whatsoever, which apparently qualifies me to be rated 13th best in Northern Virginia. 

    I hoped this year would be limited to a new dryer, something we knew was coming because the old one belonged to Jill’s grandmother who died 20 years ago. But just weeks after agreeing to a no-interest for 18 months contract on that, we found ourselves with an air conditioner that refused to blow air. That, my friends, just blows.

    And so we found ourselves seeking more no interest financing and hoping we can pay it off before the penalty kicks in.

    Another thing you quickly learn after building a house is that builder-grade appliances are C- students at best. I posted to Facebook that my air conditioner always has reminded me of a mediocre co-worker: inefficient, cranky, not terribly productive, and doing just enough to get by.

    But just like you eventually reach the end of your rope with that co-worker, I can officially say I hope our AC burns in hell, because that would just begin to match how hot our house has been this week.

    Fortunately, temperatures have dropped to something approaching bearable over the past few days, although the storms coming in are worrisome in their own right. So what’s next? Leaks? Floods? Animals lining up two by two?

    I don’t want to even think about that last part. In fact, if it happens, I’m happy to subcontract it out. I think I know just the handyman for the job.