Promises, promises

Sigh.  Never promise a post.  It has been nearly a month since returning from camp, and still no post on camp itself.  I guess I just don’t feel like writing.  I have wondered if I could make some extra cash by writing a book and selling it on Amazon in ebook form.  Well, here is my answer- if I don’t feel like writing a short blog post I certainly will never feel like writing a much longer work.

At the moment I am unsure what to write about camp.  I can start with a summary and see where to go from there.  I really didn’t enjoy camp as much this year as prior years, but it was still the highlight of my summer.  So what happened?  Well, I will try to figure that out as I write.  I do know that it was a day shorter than prior years.  We were also rained out for a portion- all activities cancelled or moved indoors.  I had a smaller cabin than ever before, but that should be a plus, right? 😉  Another change was- there was so much missing from prior years.  Gone for the first time ever was an activity called counselor hunt where all the leaders hid around camp and the kids had to find us, trying to avoid being tagged themselves by a select few who were hunting *them.*  Gone were the cabin video walkthroughs and awards for clean cabins.  And of course some activities had to be cut because of the shortened camp week.  One of those things I was really looking forward to- the talent show.  Not enough slots for all the cabins since we were short a day.  All in all, it just wasn’t the same.

Well, this has been a negative post so far.  How about what was fun about it?  Well, I had a really good cabin.  I didn’t really know any of my five kids beforehand.  I did remember having one of them in my weekend small group, but that’s it.  One was the brother of a 5th-grader I had last year (now 6th grade) who, like his brother, I have not seen since in the weekend ministry.  One turned out to be the nephew of my small group leader though I didn’t know it at the time, not until he asked if I saw his nephew at camp.  Yes, yes I think I did see him…

My junior leader was a freshman in high school- one of the youngest I have had.  I think one other was his age.  Get this though- his younger brother was also a leader, in a cabin with 5th-graders (my five were all 4th grade), just two years younger than him.  I think the church has loosened the age rule a bit on junior leaders- just a couple years ago the rule was 11th grade, with the occasional special dispensation.  This 7th grade leader was actually in my cabin in both 4th and 5th grade, as was another leader who I think may just meet that old 11th grade rule.  Shows how long I have been doing this…  While my junior leader this year was never in my cabin, he was a regular in my weekend small group when he was in 5th grade.

Well, I am officially tired of writing this post right now.  I could just save it to drafts and finish it later, but I had better just hit publish so at least you have something to read for now.  Coming soon- the return of Zorb, canoeing fun, and more.  Until then!

Part Deux

Okay, it looks like I focused a great deal on one small aspect of camp last time, but hey- it was new, and I enjoyed my role as director as much as how the skit went.  How about something a little less focused?  A lot of the camp activities was same-old for me, but how else could some thing be after seven years, even with a new cabin each year.  The camp staples were there- archery, riflery, crafts, competition games, food, bedrest (Michigan law- an hour each day must be spent in bed during the day to avoid overexhaustion).  Some things are new every year, like the Zorb this year as I already mentioned.  Also new this year was a game in the courtyard called gaga-ball (nothing to do with the pop star, actually a game imported from Israel) and one in the swim front area called nine-square, though we never played the latter.  Also new this year was the almost daily rain.  Years past have had no more than a couple days with some rain, but until the last day we had some rain every day.  Last year that rain canceled our wacky water sports instructional, but it was replaced by- a different wacky water sport the entire camp engaged in.  What they did was lay a tarp across a large portion of the game field and create a giant slip ‘n’ slide.  On it they had races and wacky games like an extreme duck-duck-goose.  Well, we had one time like that this year as well, during our canoeing time and free time after that.  That time started out normal, mind you.  By the time we actually got into our canoes, however, the rain started.  Meh- a little rain never hurt anyone.  But then it turned into sheets of rain accompanied by thunder.  Whoops- time to get out of the water.  No one overturned their canoe, but by the time we were ashore it sure felt like it.  We spent the next 15 minutes or so in a shelter before heading out, ending up in the tarp-encrusted game field.

Erm- so much for unfocused I guess.  Let’s see now.  Besides raining out part of an instructional, one of the competitions got rained out, except that time we all raced for the shelter of the lodge.  Our infamous counselor hunt also was nearly rained out, but it did stop in time for the hunt.  Last year I hid so well that no one found me.  This year I made it easier for them.  A group of three leaders were hidden as it turned out not very well, and I went downhill from them.  All the kids had to do was look down and there I was!  Then they had to climb down a steep hill to get to me- mwa-ha-ha-ha.  Well, once they saw me not a single group passed up the chance, but not all saw me oddly enough.

At the end of the week, the students were given an opportunity to give testimonies about their week at camp, and I was happy to see two of my own cabin go up to the microphones.  There they talked about accepting Jesus if they did, rededicating themselves, how they learned what kind of heart they had (shallow, crowded), and how they wanted a fruitful heart (see the parable of the seeds being sown on different soils).  A testimony that really touched me was from a boy from Iowa who started his testimony out with “I thought I knew God, but I really didn’t.”  I may be paraphrasing a little, I don’t remember the exact words.  How many of us think we really know who God is only to find out through some teaching somewhere, or some action by someone, that we really don’t know Him at all.  That’s the point where God enters into our lives as He revels Himself, and we either gladly grab on to the life preserver he gives us, or we utterly reject it and spend the rest of our lives trying to manage on our own.  Has He revealed Himself to you?  Did you grab on, repent, and become His adopted child?

I will leave you with these few pictures and videos from camp.  By the way, did anyone catch the title of my last post?  It is from a song we sang daily at camp, one where I witnessed the Holy Spirit at work more than some of the other songs, Like a Lion from the Passion Awakening album.  The Youtube video is at the end.

Gaga ball: dodgeball with nowhere to run!

 

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Just a minute to win this…

 

Help- I’m upside down!

 

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Humans + Foosball = life-sized foosball

 

 

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Now this is a worship time!

 

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Rain, rain, go away

Winter I’m told is the hardest part about this car job, but after this last month I’m really starting to wonder.  Was there this much rain last year?  I man, day after day for the last five weeks with only a few days rest from it.  I can only hope that this gets the precipitation over with so I don’t have to brush off cars so much this winter, but I know that’s just a pipe dream.  Some more days like yesterday would be nice, but unfortunately the forecast for the next few days calls for more of you-know-what.  Sigh.  Fortunately by evening the chance currently shows about 30% so just maybe our haunted house hopping event won’t be too soggy.

Today just really got me down.  First was the slow trip east toward the city to a dealer where I had a whole two cars for my 40-min. trip.  Took me two hours too due to having to drive the cars to the warehouse- something only this dealer requires, along with the garage where some of the lights don’t work so I have to take more pictures just to get good ones.  Additionally I had to wipe down the wet cars before I could take pictures of them.  $7 an hour- isn’t that below minimum wage?  Next stop, two cars again but at least it went much quicker.  As I approached my final destination, the rain decided to fall without a break until after dark so I ended up taking pictures with an umbrella in the other hand (this place doesn’t mind the cars being wet in the photos).  I only got to three of the cars before I had to quit.  Actually, I did the other half of the job with entering the car data and making stickers for all seven I had to do while waiting in vain for a break in the rain, but since I didn’t do the photos yet I couldn’t charge them yet.  I may be able to get to them Monday when I’m there next, but only if they don’t sell them.

Oh yes, to top it all off, I forgot to return a key to one of the other dealers so I had to stop back there on the way home.  At least it was the closer one, not the further heavy-traffic one.  I don’t think I would generally use this outdated phrase, but it’s starting to look like this job is all wet, pun intended.

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Do I hate blogging?


I haven’t really lacked the time in the evenings so I guess I must.  At this rate, no one will miss me in a week when I head to Michigan for a week of camp with the tykes who weren’t even born yet when I started working in the kid’s ministry.  So what have I been doing?  Well, as I noted a week ago, I started training for my new job.  For four of the five days this week I was driving out to a number of dealerships north of here, the furthest an hour away because those are the places Rene, the one I am training with works.  After this week I am wondering if I will really earn much more at this job than subbing.  As it stands, I would have to take pictures of 75 cars a week in order to earn the same amount.  If my dealerships are as spread out as hers then I will be on the road for several hours per week.

Here’s what a typical day looks like.  Arrive at the dealership with a printout of all the cars on the lot that the dealer has upped to the web that are still missing pictures.  Search for the cars in the lot, noting that several are being detailed (cleaned) or repaired, or just waiting for one of the two to be done.  Those vehicles will have to wait for another time.  Once that is done, which can take a half hour or more if the dealership is large and has many cars to be done, it is time to get the keys for the ones that can be done.  This is where we find out that some of the cars have their keys already checked out to someone else.  Now we have to talk to those people or get the keys from another source if necessary, like the dealer bags which have the information and second set of keys for each car.  Finally, we can start doing the work for which we’ll be paid.  One (or two since there are two of us for now) at a time we bring the cars up, search the options in them so the right one get marked, print out dealer stickers with said options listed as well as mandatory-by-law warranty stickers.  Next (or first, depending on the person) several photos are taken, skipping or minimizing any major defects- these are 99% used cars after all.  One of the common photos to be skipped is that of the engine if it’s really dirty.  What is up with today’s car engine by the way?  Most of them seem to have a plastic covering whose sole purpose is to make the engine look nice when the hood is opened, usually sporting some model number as well.  Seems like a waste of money if you ask me, but someone somewhere must have determined that this is what people want, otherwise why bother with the added expense?  So with the pictures done, the car has to be returned- I prefer one dealership which insists on doing this themselves as they park them “perfectly” using two people- and a new one retrieved.  When finished we print out a receipt which is signed by the contact in the dealership and one copy given to their department that handles the finances.  Then it’s on to the next dealer.  We do two or three in one day, but I suppose the ones making the bigger bucks are doing more.  I bet theirs are closer together.  As for Rene, she has a personal goal of 100 cars per week which doesn’t earn much more than I make as a sub during the school year.  That goal was not met this week.  Thursday the daily goal of 20 (five days, 20 cars each equals 100- get it?) was met almost all at one dealer, but Friday we only did I think 11 cars.  I don’t remember the other two days I was with her, but I’m pretty sure we didn’t do 20 both days.

This job of course is all outdoors, which for me means the added expense of sunscreen without which I would burn to a crisp.  In fact, after Monday which was mostly cloudy I still was quite red after I didn’t use it.  Monday also had a huge downpour while we were at the third dealer.  There had been some light rain earlier in the day, but at the end it just came down in sheets.  An umbrella didn’t help one bit as it was accompanied by high winds.  Since we were taking photos at the time, we ended up in that vehicle.  Too bad it was a very old vehicle with few options.  The defroster couldn’t keep up with the constantly fogging front window.

Well, I’ll tell you more about the job in another post I’m sure, but for now I am tiring of writing so- until then!

A wet, snowy journey home

It seems as if yesterday I skipped over Saturday morning, so I guess I will go back to it before skipping ahead to Sunday.  Saturday morning several of us met at Ritzy’s (did I get that right?) for breakfast.  For those who weren’t there, they somehow interpreted a party of 12 as a party of 20, so here were five tables put together in a C shape.  Most people sat together, but Jamiahsh and I kind of sat alone on the opposite side, though in my defense there was only one seat between C and I.  The eldest girls and their cousin Austin had some fun being little animals under the table.  The look on J’s face when he was caught unawares one time was priceless- sorry J! 😀

Following breakfast (oh yes, the food was good) L’s family bid farewell and headed out.  The rest of us headed back to C and L’s house.  The girls invited J and myself into their room to play with their pet rats.  Now, I never had rats growing up, but we did have hamsters, gerbils and guinea pigs at various times so I was familiar with rodent pets and didn’t freak like the preschool teacher mentioned in T’s blog.  I was happy when they didn’t relieve themselves on me during this playtime as often happens with rodents.  After we had enough of the rats, T took us into their closet and showed us some Viewmaster (R.I.P.) slides on the ceiling using their projector.  Call me old-fashioned, but I think the whole point of the Viewmaster was lost by using the projector, that of the images in 3D.  I think we went through their entire library.  Finally, T and S put on a puppet show for J and me, during which time I was called away and we finished organizing our fun activity- see previous blog entry.

So… Sunday rolled around and I got up and showered, then went to Mickey D’s for a small breakfast before church.  Too bad for me it was 10:28 and they had just closed breakfast.  I’m I the only one who thinks anything before 11AM should be considered breakfast?  I must be in the minority, else why would McD’s have changed to 10:30 so long ago and stuck with it?  So breakfastless, I headed to the house.  Fortunately I had bought a box of Crunch and Munch at the dollar store the previous day.  That worked.

We headed to their church, which I had to admit was pretty nice.  I’m not sure I liked their pastor’s preaching style, but that’s probably because I’m used to my own pastor constantly on the move while he gives his sermons.  I did enjoy the worship time though.  Following this service T, who had gone to children’s church was waiting for us- apparently grade school kids can be trusted to be let out on their own, or maybe their teachers were still watching, I don’t know.  The younger ones still needed to be retrieved from their rooms though.  After church, we headed to a hotel by the turnpike for brunch.  There was no waiting time to be seated as there were plenty of seats, but there was definitely some waiting to get the food.  I would have to rate this meal lower than Saturday’s breakfast unfortunately, but at least I could eat as much as I wanted since it was a buffet.

Back at the house again, C and L pulled out their Office board game and we played.  Unfortunately, I learned that seeing every episode only once, including deleted scenes for seasons 2-4, did not mean in any way shape or form that I would remember the details.  I did manage to get three Dundies, though once by a complete guess and once because C pretty much gave the answer away (thanks!).  L won the day though, but even C earned more than me even though he took the harder (“regional manager”) questions while I barely managed the “assistant to the regional manager” ones.  Oh, well.  Finally, they had to do some cleaning for the meeting that night and I bid my farewell.  This, however, doesn’t end the post…

As most of my readers here are well aware, Sunday was a day of rain, starting after brunch.  For much of the trip driving was fine, but as it got later it stated coming down pretty hard.  The worst parts were the trucks- just approaching one would cause a torrent of water to be unleashed onto the windshield from their wheels.  Passing them was a nail-biting experience.  Remember- the speed limit for trucks is 15MPH less than for cars until Illinois.  Speaking of Illinois, when I got there- you think I’m going to say traffic, don’t you?  Well, traffic can be a hassle, but I lucked out.  While there were some traffic spots, for the most part it was fairly light for suburban Chicago.  Maybe people just weren’t driving because of the sleet.  That’s right- the rain turned into sleet and snow.  Wonderful.  No longer was it a nail-biting experience just to pass a truck- now just driving was problematic.  But as I said, traffic wasn’t bad at all and I did manage to make it home in one piece.  Next time I think I will check the weather report before I leave, even if it might mean having to leave earlier.

So, that was my weekend, how was yours? 😉

Let the water flow…up

As in up out of the sump pump pit when the sump pump fails…  You may have heard of, or even experienced the weather happening around here while Ike was pounding the Gulf coast.  Rain.  Lots of it.  It wasn’t as bad as the storm system that hovered over us for days last year [EDIT: According to this morning’s paper it actually was worse], but then last year we had a working sump pump.  Apparently our sump pump got its intake clogged causing it to run dry and burn out.  I learned this the other morning when I went downstairs to use the bathroom so as not to disturb the other occupant here.  I tend to not turn on the light at the bottom of the stairs because I know my way around.  Normally not a problem, but this day I put my foot down the final stair to a splash.  Yuck.  Four inches of water.  Not so bad, but then think about where the water came from and what goes through that pit…

Bottom line, we needed a new sump pump.  So did hundreds of others around here.  After learning that Lowes, Home Depot, Sears, etc. were out, I found that Menards apparently stocks hundreds of the things as when I got there they had dozens left on the shelf and the cashier told me they sold wel over a hundred that day.  In the meantime, we do have a backup pump and my brother and I set it up.  Unfortunately a hose was securely attached so its status as a backup remained firm.  We had to run the hose up the stairs, buying and attaching another length to make it possible to run it out the door.  Once set up, it took a few hours to drain the basement while the rain poured mercilessly down.  Later that night, after church, I was able to secure that new pump along with the attachments my brother said we needed.  We would have had it hooked up tonight, but the PVC cement takes several hours to cure so we will have to finish tomorrow.  Good thing the weather report shows that we are pretty much finished with the rain for now.  After that, let the cleanup and damage assessment begin.  Both of our dehumidifiers were caught in the indoor lake, but one of them still works.  Hopefully once the other dries out it can be put into active duty as well.

Other casualties from the rain included a hot water heater that I only was able to restart a few hours ago and a closed road today next to a retention pond- pretty full when we passed it yesterday, and that was before another nearly 30 hours of rain.  Another casualty was my lower back.  It started hurting pretty bad yesterday to the point where I could only stand for a limited period of time and when sitting I had to make sure my back was supported.  At one point I sat down and could not get back up it hurt so bad.  It is a little better today and I am using a heating pad on it as I type.  I did learn that Aleve does not ease back pain.

I am not looking forward to the rest of the week.  So far I have 2½ days assigned (my first elementary jobs of the year- up to now it has been middle school only) and a large cleanup job in the basement.  By the way, the ELL assignment went without hitches.  My boycott of ELL assignments in that school is over for now.