Archive for August 2011

Let’s hope there won’t be locusts next

August 29, 2011

So, let’s recap the last week.

Earthquake? Check.

Hurricane? Check.

All we need now is a forest fire to complete the “Earth, Wind, and Fire” trifecta.

Saturday night, as the rain started to get steady, we had a birthday party to attend. Yes, we actually went to a party during a hurricane.  That was because if we hadn’t gone, the whining from the children would have been much more horrific than any hurricane.

Thanks to a present from Nana, got to play Jim Cantore all evening. I thought about grabbing a microphone and standing in front of somebody's house to see if they would freak out.

What better way to drown out the din of a hurricane than going to a 6 year old's birthday party.

The cake must have been good, since J usually avoids sweets. Either that or there was a kissing booth I didn't notice at the party.

After we got home, the winds started to pick up.  Since we live in the woods, surrounded by 100′ trees, we decided that sleeping in the basement might be prudent.  Of course, this was sleep in name only, since I ending up on the kids’ bed.  Or more precisely, on 8″ of the edge of the kids’ bed.

Our little cocoon for the night.

In the morning, this branch across the driveway was our biggest problem. In other words, we were very lucky.



August 26, 2011

One good thing about working at church is having access to our security camera system.  Here are a couple of vids showing what happened during the earthquake on 8/23/11.

First, a view of our kitchen.  Notice the carts going back and forth.

On a side note, the gray-haired woman has worked in our kitchen for 37 years.  Her first instinct was to make sure her other worker was OK.  Then, instead of heading straight for safety, she ran to our child care area to make sure the children were safe.  I want to be her when I grow up.

As you may remember for my last post, the earthquake took place during a funeral for a Navy Seal.  I was in our fellowship hall, watching a feed of the service.  The first indication of the earthquake was a small shaking of the video feed.  My first inclination was to get upset at our AV guy for shaking the camera during such an important service.  Then I heard a “whomp, whomp, whomp” which I though was a low flying helicopter trying to get pictures of the service.  When the shaking got even worse, I feared some sort of bomb had gone off.  Finally, I realized that it was an earthquake, so I left to headed to the main sanctuary.

Unfortunately, I can’t show you the most interesting video shot during the earthquake.  We were videotaping the service when it hit.  But the Navy Seal’s commanding officer was speaking at the time.  Since they don’t want these guys’ faces readily identified as being Navy Seals, we had to turn over all our service videos to the Navy Public Affairs Office.  Oh well.  You’ll just have to trust me that the sight of large brass chandeliers swaying 2-3 feet back and forth is rather interesting.

The church survived with only minor injuries.

Some tiles popped off the kitchen wall

Several recessed light rings popped out.

Some of this crack was already in the Sanctuary (at the spot of an addition years ago). But the crack widened and moved diagonally down the wall.

My office did not escape unscathed.

Unfortunately, I found out that Space Shuttle tiles are pretty fragile. But overall, it could have been worse.


August 23, 2011

Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his life
for his friends
. John 15:13

That’s the verse written on the bottom of a plaque that was sitting in my office this morning.  It was in my office for safe keeping, before being  placed on a stand in front of a casket sitting in our sanctuary.  That casket held the remains of a Navy Seal who was killed when the helicopter in which he was riding was shot down in Afghanistan.  His funeral service was today at our church.

Puts things in perspective.

While today was one of the most hectic days I’ve had since I started working at church, it was also one of the most meaningful.

By hectic, I mean dealing with local police, state troopers, FBI, CIA, NCIS and several other three-letter agencies I can’t even remember.  Having to have our building swept by a dozen bomb sniffing dogs.  Having to figure out where to put a thousand plus people and their cars.  Having to plan where the media would be allowed, since some attendees couldn’t have their pictures taken.  Having to escort admirals, congressmen, and even Oliver North into our sanctuary.  Having to plan for what to do if the Westboro Baptist Church folks showed up.  Having to clear the sanctuary mid-service for an 5.9 magnitude earthquake.

Yes, there really was a significant earthquake during the service.  You can imagine how this rattled not only the building, but the security detail.

By meaningful, I mean seeing a color guard walk down the aisle.  Starting a service with hundreds of service men and women standing ramrod straight as the National Anthem played.  Listening to this young man’s widow actually get up and speak about how he was honored to serve.  And most importantly, being reminded that a young man willingly put himself in harm’s way so that I can continue to enjoy the freedoms I normally take for granted.

And knowing that most of the young men I’ve worked with to plan and execute this service left my church, took off their dress blues, and went right back to putting themselves in harm’s way.

And all I have to worry about is getting some fallen ceiling plaster cleaned up.

Like I said, perspective.

A great Friday afternoon

August 8, 2011

About midday last Friday, K decided she had had enough working for one day and came home right after lunch.  In typical, spur-of-the-moment, no-planning K fashion, she walked in the door and said, “Let’s just go downtown.”  Now for me, every move requires at least an hour or two to plan out goals, strategies, and the most cost-effective way to implement these strategies.

K’s method is to jump in the car and see where it takes us.

Since the temperature on Friday was only in the low 90s (versus the approaching-the-temperature-of-the-sun weather we’ve had the past several weeks), K wanted to head downtown to see what we could see.  Of course, having a dinosaur expert in the family, we knew this would include a stop at the Natural History Museum, aka J’s museum.

When we told J where we were going, all we saw was a puff of smoke as he disappeared. We found him in the van, all strapped in and ready to go.

A brought her small stuffed elephant to show to the big stuffed elephant.

You may remember that during one of our previous trips to the Natural History Museum J’s Museum, he had corrected somebody on the name of a dinosaur.  This time, it was my turn to learn from J.  I think you can actually *hear* J’s eyes roll:

I should have learned by now to never doubt the man on prehistoric creature names.

This display, showing a vampire bat sucking blood out of a sleeping man's foot, reminds me why I should always zip my sleeping bag.

What it could look like if we had triplets.

One thing I was able to throw together before leaving home was a bag of snacks. Not only was this healthier than museum food, it saved us the $4,375.35 we would have paid at the museum for this food.

We did let A splurge on a three foot gummy snake, which was rather appropriate given the venue.

I'm hoping this is the only time I get a picture of A biting the head off of a snake.

After leaving the museum, we decided to get some outdoor time by playing Frisbee on the Mall. Here J shows how to catch a Frisbee with your face.

And finally, I present  J and A giving their interpretation of the National Debt Ceiling discussions, with the Capitol Building and Washington Monument as backdrops:

Next, Jim will wrestle the alligator, while I sit in the truck

August 4, 2011

J’s newest obsession is watching the Walking with Dinosaurs and Walking with Prehistoric Beasts BBC series, narrated by Kenneth Branagh.  These shows are somewhat like Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, except they consist of computer recreations of dinosaurs, woolly mammoth, saber-tooth cats, etc.  In typical geek-like fashion (I’m so proud), he obsesses over every detail in these shows, committing to memory entire episodes.  He even likes to recreate them with his own menagerie of plastic creatures. To wit:

The only downside to this is that he’s developing an English accent.

Another peek into the teenage years

August 3, 2011

The other day, A did something that did not sit well with her mother, so K sent her to her room to ponder her actions.  After several minutes, K told her she could come down.  A came down holding a green sheet of paper.  When we asked her what it was, she said “This is the way you made me feel.”

Ah, yes. Already working the guilt angle.