Sometimes all the stars align to make life more interesting than the long periods of doing the same thing day after day that seems to be normal. When I was younger, those long periods of the mundane seemed boring. Now they just seem restful. Last night, it dawned on me that, with two days before we are supposed to close on your our new (old) house, I have not made all the arrangements for all the utilities to be switched over to us. At the same time, the sickle cell disease project on which I am working is scheduled to deliver its first device for testing in Africa at the end of April which means I need to complete a boat load of finishing touches. All the while, I have to decide whether I want to stay in my current job and travel to Texas once per month or switch jobs and travel to Vancouver, BC fairly frequently with intermittent trips to China and other far away places (currently leaning toward BC).
In the mean time, we have to make a plan to get all our stuff from Texas and North Carolina to Washington state. The Texas part we have handled, but for the North Carolina part we do not know whether to do it ourselves (fly out there and drive back over a week), hire a couple of college kids to fly out there and drive the truck back for us, or just bite the bullet and get a moving company today. All of these items with their fun and interesting cash flow challenges. And none of this mentions that we start a full-blown remodel of the kitchen and a partial reconstruction of the roof on the new (old) house. Whenever I get too stressed, I look at the picture of the view we hope to have out the back of the house when we are now fogged in or clouded over or both. That helps some. What will help more is to have all this behind us with a cup of coffee in my hand sitting on the porch for a few weeks in a row.
I can only remember one time when I went to my grandparent’s ramshackle cabin on the beach near Florence, Oregon. I might have been there more, but would have been too little to remember. For the older cousin and their then young parents as well as my parents, Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah it was a magical place. I know it was not spectacularly beautiful nor situated on the best location on the indescribably beautiful Oregon coast, but I do know that it played a huge role as a family gathering place for my grandparents and the families of all ten of their children.
The cabin was sold decades ago, but it is a frequent topic of conversation whenever the cousin’s get together. We younger cousins are a little bit envious of the memories of the older cousins, but revel in the obvious joy of their memories. My cousin Merle and his wife Carolyn and daughter Trisha were out there a few days ago. Trisha texted me this poignant image of Merle on the beach contemplating it all.
The wonderful staff at Oatfield Estates in Milwaukie, where Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah finished their days, prepared the following statement for the memorial they had for him when he passed away on January 1 of this year. We thought it was just perfect.
Milo Chapman loved his wife, this is something you should know. Every resident, staff member and visitor to Tabor House knows this. Because for Milo, this was the most important fact that he could convey. Depending on the day, Milo and Sarah had been married either 66 or 67 years and every single one of those days, for every one of those years, he had told her he loved her.
There are other things you should know about Milo though. He was a man with many passions and interests, who was widely traveled, and a keen business man whose successful dollhouse company brought many people joy with their elaborate and imaginative designs.
Milo loved to garden. When he and Sarah first moved to Oatfield he helped plant thousands of tulip bulbs to beautify the campus, and during the warmer months he would pick the flowers around campus and arrange gorgeous bouquets.
Milo loved food. He had spent a lifetime cooking, for the military, for his family, and throwing lavish dinner parties for his friends. He loved to tell stories of cooking for four star generals, and show pictures of the elaborate cake he had made for his parents 50th wedding anniversary. In his early years at Oatfield he would make breakfast for Sarah and himself. He had the same thing every morning: three eggs over easy, one crisp piece of bacon, one piece of raisin bread toast with plenty of jam, a dish of fruit (served first), and coffee with a little half and half that could only be poured when the eggs and bacon arrived.
Milo loved people. He loved to meet people, to tell them stories and make them laugh. If you asked Milo how he was doing his response was “I’d say pretty good, but I’m not pretty.”
He was also delighted when children came to visit, whether it was staff members bringing their kids in, or when he would pass out candy to trick or treaters on Halloween. On Valentine’s Day he would buy a large number of chocolate boxes and give them out to all who crossed his path.
Milo’s church was another one of his loves. Twice a week he would get dressed up in suit and tie, grab his Bible, and head to worship. He had a deep affection for his fellow church goers and often had visitors from his church. One of the ways he most enjoyed sharing his love of God was through singing hymns, especially his favorite: “Love is the Kingdom’s Banner.”
His family is what Milo held the most dear however. He took great pride in not only their educational accomplishments, but in the qualities of their character. His face would shine when he spoke of his children and grandchildren, and he made sure to introduce them every time they came to visit. Sarah, his wife, was the crowning jewel over all he had accomplished in his life and when she passed last November his heart was irretrievably broken. A short time later, on January 1st, 2017 Milo passed quietly away. He left behind family and friends that are still unable to fill the large hole his passing created. Milo, you are missed, but I’m sure in heaven they have unlimited corn on the cob and creme brûlée done just the way you like it.
I always try to put up a picture of the kids on their birthdays. I missed yesterday, but Kelly sent a picture of herself with her friend at colleague at her new job. The both dressed in blue and black and I have to say it it looks great on both of them. She claims they did not coordinate with each other, but even the shade of blue matches. It seems a little suspicious to me. Kelly had to give a big presentation to her company’s board of directors, the CEO and the VP of Marketing (her boss) of the marketing research she has worked on since she arrived at the new job about six months ago. Then she went to a Marketing conference and, for her birthday celebration, out with her girlfriends. We did not here much about it yesterday because she was so busy–that is a good thing. She seems to be in a very good place where she can learn, hang out with friends and figure out next steps.
Happy Birthday Kelly!
Christian took this picture on Saturday during a walk to Devil’s Bridge near Sedona, AZ. It certainly is a beautiful place. After our Bible study last Wednesday, one of our friends showed us the pictures he took of his hike down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back. It was an eight mile hike down which took six hours and a six mile hike back up which took eight hours. Ever since I saw it for the first time on the trip to take Christian to college, I thought it would be a great thing to do some day.
Today is Kelly’s birthday. We wish we could be with her today, but will have to be happy with a future dinner to help her celebrate when we move out there in May.
Christian sent us this article about how Uber has suspended all use of their self-driving cars. It is literally right in front of where Christian lives. He said it would even be possible to see the street sign of the street name where he lives if it had not been stolen by thugs. Actually, it is a pretty great place for a college student–half a block from the light rail that picks him up and drops him off in front of the building where he works at Arizona State. I told him I would probably hold off on using Uber self-driving cars for awhile. Come to think of it, when they end the suspension, it might not be that safe to walk to the train anymore.
Lorena went to Pier One Imports today to take a class in how to do place settings on a table. She won a ten dollar gift card and a lantern, at least that is what I think it is. She won the lantern by remembering how to fold a napkin into a rabbit. She is all fired up about her new kitchen now. Notice the six pack of root beers to the right of the “lantern.” What an indicator of a great wife. Root beers when you need them.
I got up early and walked to work where I spent several hours figuring out the technology we have available on our project will not allow us to do what we want to do. Lorena and I had a late breakfast and I walked back to the apartment to work on the sickle cell diagnosis project for CWRU. We are at the point where we need to start testing our system in the field to be continue to receive grant money. That means I am on a strict time schedule with a fairly continuous stream of small, but important short term deliveries. It is a little bit of a challenge right now with my day job, the house purchase and the move, but all I have to do is survive for three months of this and I actually might have done something good for humanity–Africa and India in particular. Of course, lots of people have the skills to do this kind of thing, so I am grateful to get the chance to do it.
That in addition to having lots of technical help from Kiwi.
The purchase of the house in Washington state where we expect to live starting in May is not scheduled to close until March 31, but all the insurance is bought and all the fixes, approvals and escrows are in place. The seller has signed off on everything pertaining to him. The banks and title company have everything they need so all everyone is waiting for are our signatures and the close date so the money can be released and we can have our house. We are scheduled to sign at 3:30 this afternoon in the office of the apartment complex where we live here in Texas. These are trepidatious moments, but it is all good. We did all we know to do and believe we are in a good place.
Mark P., our kitchen remodeler is chomping at the bit to get started. The cabinets, appliances, flooring, back splashes, sinks, faucets, counter tops, lighting and all the other required decisions, big and small, have been made and hopefully set in concrete so Mark can start as soon as he and his team have access. We are tired of waiting and want to get started.
Update: DONE! God willing, we will have a house on March 31.
My first thought when I read Thomas McArdle’s article in The Stream entitled Deconstruction is that the subject of the article, an academic named Paul de Man, would have been a worthy addition to Paul Johnson’s book Intellectuals. Kelly, Christian and I all read Intellectuals as part of our homeschool efforts. In the words of a reviewer at Amazon, the book profiles some famous thought “leaders” who held themselves “as having a special capacity to determine proper behavior and beliefs and to use this capacity to enlighten their neighbors” at the same time they lived decadent and tawdry personal lives.
Actually, the article in The Stream is about a biographical play about Paul de Man, a Nazi sympathizer who was a kindred spirit of those discussed in Intellectuals. He is introduced this way in the article:
The Antwerp-born Paul de Man came to America after the Second World War and Blitzkrieged the study of literature by pioneering the postmodern theory of deconstruction — which, among other things, put morally-relativistic modern man in the place of a murdered God.
According to the play, De Man certainly appears to have lived according to his morally-relativistic philosophy, lying about his Nazi sympathies to get the academic positions he wanted, living the exact same decadent and tawdry lives as the bulk of the “intellectuals” described in Paul Johnson’s book. It sounds like a fascinating play. I really would like to see it sometime, but I might just be relegated to reading it. Given the progressive proclivities of the theatric community in our country, it might not be widely performed.
Mark P., our contractor, said there are only a few things missing in this drawing. The microwave will be above the double oven, the range top is not drawn in and a few other details that we have actually already settled. One thing that is cool is that the curve at the bottom of the island is the line the granite will follow. The big challenge now is when we can get started and it depends on resources–ours, Mark’s and his subs. The next thing we we need to figure out is lighting and granite. We have finished with the cabinets (hickory with a pecan stain and handles, not knobs or pulls).
An article titled Astrophysicist Adam Frank: Materialism’s Fatal Flaw Is…Matter addresses the two greatest problems with thinking that matter is all there is. The first is consciousness. I have discussed it on this blog several times. The second is the increasing compelling idea that “information is poised to replace matter as the primary stuff of reality.” William Dembski discusses this idea in his popular level monograph titled Being as Communion: A Metaphysics of Information. Dembski gives a short explanation of that in First Things here. I wrote about it here. As a corollary, Paul Davies has expressed the idea that the origin of life will be uncovered through information theory rather than chemistry.
I find both of these ideas both credible and incredibly interesting. The first, the hard problem of consciousness, is harder for me to get my head around and is a problem with which the greatest experts in the field struggle. The second idea, though, has lead to a lot of important work in a broad range of fields in the sciences. As a side note, I found it interesting that David Chalmers wrote Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness, the article that started the consciousness firestorm while he was at University of Arizona and one of the main popularizers/proponents of information as the fundamental substance of the universe is a physicist at Arizona State University. Arizona State is where Christian is currently a PhD candidate doing all of his research in the area of Information Theory.
We are starting to figure out that picking styles of stuff for the kitchen is not for the faint of heart. We thought we had made great progress when we decided we wanted Shaker style, but no. The minute I sent out the email I got a message back asking whether we wanted pulls or handles or both on the cabinets. I have NO idea about that. I asked Lorena, but then asked our über builder, Mark P., what he thought and, even more importantly, what is the difference.
Right now Lorena is out looking at granite colors to try to figure out what we want for that. In our discussion with our builder, we just got more confused by the different grades of granite and hardwood floors not to mention hardwood species that go with the floors that are already there. Fun and challenging.
I love my job. That is not an unusual thing. I think I have written here on this blog about how Grandpa Milo’s frequently reminded us we might as well love our jobs because we have to go do it whether we love it or not anyway and its corollary with food that we were going to eat it and we were going to like it whether we liked it or not. My current job, however, is not one that is hard to love. Yesterday, one of the VP’s walked into my office (an office with a door!!!) and saw I had one of the old stainless steel cups with the company logo (the one on the left in the photo with the blue top).
He said, “Man, you don’t have a YETI cup yet.”
I did not realize that YETI products were a thing, but I really like the new cup he gave me (the one on the right with the YETI logo at the top). I have to admit I was pretty happy with my original blue-topped cup, but now I am doubly happy.
At the bottom of the picture, there is a camouflage thing that looks a lot like a cellphone. That is a Seek thermal camera. It is interesting, fun and I get to work with it to do cool stuff in my day to day job. I have not run a Windows computer at my work since I started as everything I develop is for use on a Debian embedded system. I am doing some Windows develop as part of my contribution to the CWRU sickle cell disease diagnosis project, but I do all my development for that project just like I do for my day job, on a Xubuntu box. The sickle cell stuff will eventually go onto a Raspberry Pi so I am doing the development cross platform and building installers for both Windows computers and Ubuntu/Debian computers.
It is truly a gift to love your job and my current job is not like pulling green chain at the mill, I do not have to force myself to do it.
We are now on the third semi-official round of the kitchen layout. This time we put an angle in the kitchen island and moved the sink and dishwasher there from where it was previously along the wall beside the cook top. The sink is in the angled part of the island so whoever is working there can see what is going on in the living room as well as look out the back windows of the house at Mt. Rainier and the forested area below.
You can see there is a cheesy drawing (sorry Mark P.) of a vegetable sink drawn on the right side of the island in the front view (right above the letters FSB). That is one of the things over which we are still in negotiation, but pretty much everything else is in the design the way we want it our the best way we can figure out based on the footprint of the kitchen, the doors and what will be the dining area.
We have already picked the cook top and ventilation hood (Thermador both), so next we have to pick out counter tops and appliances. We also have to figure out what style of cabinets we want even though we have already decided on the same hickory Mark P. installed in the kitchen he remodeled for us in Albany. We have to get this figured out pretty quickly because the house is due to close in two weeks and we want him to start work the week after that so it will all be ready when we move in.
Kelly Jean started her new blog (KellyJean.net) just in time to show off her Pi Day pink rhubarb pie in her inaugural post. Who knows what she will post there, but seems like a not inauspicious start to what will, hopefully, be a long and prosperous blogging career. I hope she has as much enjoyment with her blog as I have had with mine. She drew and published a comic strip for two years so I hope she does some of that.
The blog design is very simple which is good and there is a heavy use of the color pink. Surprise, surprise. You will be able to get to Kelly’s blog both from a link in the banner at the top of the page and from the blog roll in the column to the right of the posts here at ChapmanKids.net.
This is the second pass at the kitchen design. After Mark P. sent it over we talked about it four a half an hour or so. This and the previous design were good efforts to allow us to start the conversation, but there will be some pretty big changes from what is in this image. We think we might put in a dogleg shaped island and move the sink and the dishwasher from the wall over to the island. The reason for the dogleg is to be able to put the sink in a place where it is possible to see into the living area and out the window. Mark said, and we concur, the view from the sink is very important because so much time is spent there.
The island and what is in it is the major change, but here are quite a few other little changes we think will make the kitchen more usable. One of the main features of the new design is the movement of the sink made the appliances and counter space much less cramped on the wall where the stove will be. It also made more space to the right of the kitchen for the dining area. We plan to have a vegetable sink installed beside the refrigerator and, on the left wall (in this drawing), there will be a small counter that protrudes further out than the narrow cabinets we can use for coffee/tea service.
Whenever grandpa ran a stop light or forgot to put on his blinker when he changed lanes he said, “I like to follow the spirit of the law. The letter kills.”
We were all pretty skeptical about that, but today we ran into a situation we think might qualify for a Grandpa Milo type approach. I order my prescriptions from the only mail-order place approved by our insurance. They have good prices and represented that after they confirmed my identification and the validity of the prescriptions, most of the time they would just send them. The service has really been pretty good, but they have sent an email every month asking me to call in to confirm new information (or, in most cases, stuff I had already confirmed). The drugs I need are nothing more the benign high blood pressure, high cholesterol medications, nothing heavy at all.
Last month, I was slammed, so Lorena called in for me. They said even though she was my wife, they needed to talk to me. This month, with everything going on, I asked her to tried again.
When she called, a lady told her, “We cannot talk to you, we have to talk to Kenneth.”
She said, “I am Kenneth.”
The lady said, “Mame, are you really Kenneth?”
She said, “I am.”
After a series of fairly intense questions they went ahead and sent her the prescription. I told her afterward she should have acted mad that they did not respect her gender. I think Lorena has that “spirit of the law” thing down pat, but I probably should be ashamed of myself.
Drawings have started to arrive from the kitchen designers. As is always the case in these kinds of things, some of the ideas are exactly what we wanted, but there is a disconnect on others. Part of the disconnect is due to not properly communicating what was wanted. Some though are because of our own disconnect with reality. Sometimes it is not possible to do what you want because of lack of budget, a footprint and configuration that will not fit the available space, etc. etc.
This is a very fun process for us. Now that we have been through it a couple of times we know more about what to expect and what is actually possible. One of our big challenges in this pass through the process is that we would really like to kick off the construction in less than three weeks. That means the builder has to have the material available to him post haste. He needs appliances, custom cabinets and local subcontractors on a tight schedule. We hope to have the design in place before the end of the week so we can officially pull the trigger and our contractor, Mark P. can get started.
Our annual tax effort started today. This last few years it has been a little more challenging than in the past. I have switched jobs, moved, performed contract work, etc., etc., etc. Even with a good accountant to help out, it is a struggle to get it done in time. In the middle of all this, we are making another move, maybe changing jobs, settling the estate of our parents, buying a new (to us) house, moving across the country and doing a remodel. I know I should be thankful though–I think I have the most unselfish siblings in the history of the world and, of course, Lorena never stops helping. The settling of the estate has been the most amazing thing. My siblings have bent over backwards to do everything they can do to make things come out right. We have all heard horror stories and are thankful to not be part of one. I think if we survive through the month of June we might arrive at some more order in our lives.