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Well, we had a very nice, although very busy, Easter. Saturday we dyed eggs. Yes, we still dye eggs. It's a good wholesome family bonding experience. Plus, we all love deviled eggs; so there's added incentive there. We were a bit late to the game, so the good Paas kits were all gone. No fancy stuff, just the wax crayon and a wire loop egg holder. Pretty bare bones kit which made for some, shall I say, unexotic eggs.
Saturday night there was a Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament at the church. I got some great action shots. Actually, we were at the church to do some prep work for Easter breakfast. We made breakfast for those returning from Sunrise Service and for those arriving for the regular service. So we ended up serving from about 7:15 to 9:30. We had egg casserole, sausage, biscuits and gravy, pancakes, and fruit trays. We quickly served all the egg casserole, pancakes and sausage. You know Baptists--they can sure eat. Not to worry, we cooked more pancakes, some bacon and six dozen scrambled eggs. It was hectic for a while, but we managed. We had planned on having a nice roast beef for our Easter meal at home, but we just couldn't bring ourselves to cook any more.
After many long years of being told (yes, by my wife) that Iím a terribly loud snorer and that I awake repeatedly during the night, I finally decided to do something about. Actually, Lovely Wife made the appointment and held me by the hand as I went to the Sleep Doctor. Poor Lovely Wife. She has put up with this now for more than 18 years. She sleeps with ear plugs. I remember one night, early in our marriage, she thought I just needed some sinus spray. Allegedly, she had my consent when she sprayed me. Whoa! @#$%& Whoa! Apparently my consent was not quite as informed as one would have hoped. Needless to say, she NEVER did that again.
Last night I finally made it to the Sleep Clinic. I check in about 7:30. I see the Command Post: four television monitors with computer monitors below--I guess to track all the various data. On one bed sits a big fat guy (no, not me). My guess is that they deal primarily in BFGís. The next monitor is on and shows a nicely made bed with the light on. My room. I get checked in then I go "under the wires". I was really surprised at how many wires they hooked up to me. Two on each shin, four on my chest, plus two belts around my abdomen, four on my forehead, about six on my head, a couple on my arms, a sensor under my nose, and this cool red light ET like deal on my left index finger. Seriously, there were about 20-30 wires coming off me. Baby, I was puttiní out some data.
Then, lights out. Initialization phase. Over the intercom, the technician says, "look up", "look right", "look left", "blink four times".... It reminded me of initializing a joystick before playing a computer game. Then itís sleepy time. Only one problem. As I turn over to go to sleep, the tech comes on, "you canít lie on your stomach". "Left or right side, or your back". They wonít let me lie on my stomach.. But thatís how I sleep. Itís gonna be a long night. Finally, I sleep. I wake up about 11:00 an have to use the restroom. They told me that if I had to get up to just call out. So I do. Nothing. Again, "hello, Iíve gotta go to the restroom". Nothing. Three more times. My patience is wearing thin. Then I realize, "hey man, Iím cranking out data". So I moved around and started to get up--that got Ďem off their keisters.
Shortly after midnight, they came in and put me on a breathing machine (phonetically itís Sea-Pac, although Iíve never seen it spelled.) The next thing I knew it was morning. The tech woke me up, yanked off all the wires, said I had a high RDI of 60, and sent me to the shower. All through my shower I thought, "what the heck is an RDI?". Turns out, RDI stands for Respiratory Disturbance Index and the units are arousals per hour. So it turns out that I was being roused 60 times per hour. I did a little "back of the envelope" math and calculated that I was being roused nearly once every minute. No wonder sleep has become such hard work.
When a young BoyHead turns a certain age, it seems that everything offends and embarrasses him--at least everything his parents do. Well, it seems that a certain young BoyHead has made it onto the High School Tennis Team. He's getting better every day. The last two times I played him he was able to beat me--although I'm sure it was just a fluke. He had a match at school on Wednesday and beat his opponent 8-0. Don't ask me why they don't play 6 game sets, I don't know. I was able to be sneaky and get some pictures. I felt like the paparazzi. Every time he saw me he turned away. The quality of these is not great since the camera is set on the lowest resolution for bandwidth considerations, plus I had to use 3.0 optical zoom and 3.5 digital zoom. It was the only way. Afterwards, to celebrate we went to Smiley's. Well, it used to be called Smiley's, but they've since gone global.
It was by far the best weekend I've had in quite some time. My very good friend, Mr. Dave, has forever been inviting me to join the gang on weekend junkets. I believe the last time I attended was over 10 years ago when I was living in Bryan, TX. Since that time I've always begged off, saying that I just couldn't justify the expense of the trip just to play around with those clowns. So Mr. Dave was quite surprised this time when I said, "I'm in". The fact that I'd not attended in over 10 years factored a bit into the decision, but the biggest factor was that it was my birthday weekend. Extra leverage. Lovely Wife was very gracious and said, "go have fun". So off I go to San Marcos, TX for the weekend of a decade.
I took the day off on Friday, so I could get there at a reasonable time. Flight left STL at 8:30, so I would be in Austin by noon. Then just a quick trip by car (30 minutes) to San Marcos. The trip was uneventful except for an encounter with "Giant Furnace Woman". See, I always get an aisle seat on the plane so as to give me overflow room. We're in the back and the plane is mostly loaded. It's just me (on the aisle) and some skinny kid against the window. I'm thinking: "...hmmm, maybe that middle seat will be empty". More overflow room. Then I look up and there she is: "Giant Woman who is going to take the middle seat". The "furnace" appellation was not yet applicable. And really, I'm not one to speak of people being overly big, as I could be considered quite portly. Although, as was previously noted, I do make efforts to get the aisle seat as an accommodation to my fellow man. The full impact of her seat assignment wasn't apparent until she squeeze by and sat down. The woman was on fire. She radiated heat. She was Hot--and not in a good way. My upper arm was red from being in proximity to her. And so she has come to be known, in my mind only, as Giant Furnace Woman.
I got into SM about 1:30 and met friends (old and new) at one of the old hangouts. Most of the clan went to school at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos. I went to Texas A&M and just commuted to SM on the weekends. We spent the better part of Friday evening visiting all the old haunts. Then it was back to the hotel to play some poker. The game was in mine and Mr. Dave's room. We had to turn one of the beds on the side and move the furniture around, but it was entirely acceptable. Mr. Dave brought this excellent portable poker table, for which everyone was grateful. Someone brought peanuts for which Dave and I were ungrateful since all the shells landed on the floor. We played a lot of Texas Hold 'Em and Five Card Cross. Not big stakes--dollar limit. My cards were exceptionally unsuitable for winning on this Friday night, alas, however, they were not unsuitable for betting. Some hard losses came my way. Better to have very good cards or very poor cards--the middlin' ones are dangerous.
Next day arrived very early. Today is river day. We're going down the SM river in a canoe. The San Marcos River is a beautiful, spring-fed river which begins in San Marcos at Aquarena Springs. From there it courses all the way to the Gulf of Mexico--some 240 miles. Each summer there is the Texas Water Safari: San Marcos to the Gulf. All in one shot, no stops. The other boat with us was preparing for the event. In my boat was my good friend since High School, Johnny B., at the bow and I was at the stern. Johnny B. and I just paddled leisurely. There are a few portages, mostly to go around dams or low bridges. A few sets of rapids keep you on your toes. We got dumped by one set. The other time we got dumped was not due to rapids, but an old and bitter Goose. We had been warned by one of the locals, "don't taunt the goose". So what does JB do? Yes, indeed. The goose comes after us, neck extended. Razor sharp bill looking to cut our boat in half. JB flicks the goose off with his paddle. Then the goose comes after me. I generally live by the following tenet: Don't mess with the wildlife. It works well for me. This time, however, I had to defend myself. The razor sharp bill was coming right for me. I hit him with my paddle. Then the old, bitter goose goes around back and tries to get on the back of the boat. As I turned to hit him, I...I...don't really know what happened next except to say that JB and I both were in the water and the goose swam away laughing. JB and I were laughing so hard we couldn't get out of the water. I was cited for significant lack of bravery. But for those of you who may not fully appreciate the danger of an angry goose, I suggest you read this, this, or possibly even this. Further falling back into reputation defense mode, I give you this:
Male Canada Geese stand guard at the nest sites or in front of their young and defend against any intruder or predator that may come by. A warning is first given by holding the neck and head low and hissing loudly, but should an unwelcome visitor not be dissuaded, the warning quickly gives way to a full scale attack by the ganderwho mayjump or fly directly at the intruder and strike out with its powerful wings. In 1840, the famous painter John James Audubon reported being injured by a wild Canada gander he was observing at a nest. For a while he believed his arm had been broken due to the attack! So whether you are inspecting honker nests on the game farm or in nature, by all means be careful!
Three of our crew stayed back in town and prepared a beautiful mudbug dinner--Muchos Gracious to Scott, Sam and Dave. 80 lbs of boiled crawfish--complete with corn, sausage, pearl onions, small potatoes and enough cajun seasoning to make you cry. They put some white butcher paper over a picnic table and just dumped it on. We all sat and ate for over an hour. My only regret is that I didn't get some pics of the event.
After mudbugs, it was back to the room for more poker. I did better this night, primarily because I played more conservatively. They did wish me Happy Birthday at midnight, but beyond that no quarter. The next morning it was huevos rancheros and potatoes at Herberts then we scattered back from whence we came. My cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing so much. I can't wait to do it again in 2014. I love you guys!
Eric turns 41 today.
Thank you to all who have thought of me today. I'm truly blessed.