Monday, March 20, 2017

Purloined Pastry or The Case of the Vanishing Donut

It was a cold March day with the snow falling lightly.  A great day to take my break at the campus café with a cup of coffee and a donut.  It wasn’t the same as getting a donut at a bakery.  These donuts had been individually wrapped most likely for easy resale and sanitary reasons.

I selected a chocolate covered cake donut and placed it on the laptop that I had set down on the counter while waiting for my coffee.  Once the coffee was ready, I grabbed it and the laptop with the donut on top and headed for a window table.  After setting my items on the table I engaged a fellow employee in conversation about 10 feet away from the table.  After a minute of conversation, I returned to the table to find the donut missing.  I quickly survey those in café to determine likely suspects.  At the top of the list was my co-worker Tim who is known for practical joking.  He forcefully denied any participation in such a prank nor had he been seen in the vicinity of the table.  Two other suspects were too far away to practically make it to the table and back, they also were questioned and denied any culpability.

Curiosity is powerful and not easily satisfied.  The value of the donut was insignificant but there needed to be an explanation for how the donut seemingly vanished in thin air.  A review of security cameras provided the answer.

In the recording of the camera, we see the donut placed on the laptop.  We see my taking the laptop, but carelessly paying attention to how I carried it particularly with a donut on top.  We see my putting the laptop and coffee on the table, but the donut had fallen to the floor shortly after walking away from the counter.  We see a student waiting to place an order, taking a few steps, stooping down to pick up something and slip it into his pocket.  The donut had never made it to the table.  My assumption had been initially wrong.  It wasn’t stolen.  It had been lost.  Yet, the student was aware of who the donut belonged to.  What this Economics & Finance major didn’t know was who I was and the access I had to data regarding who made purchases when and where.  Access to data like building access and validity of magstripe cards used for building access and the purchase of meals.  Access to any digital data related to the campus, his comings and goings, his schedule.  Little did this individual know how miserable this data administrator could make his life.

There was no crime.  It was simply a case of something being lost and then found.  Vanished, yes.  Purloined, no.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Series of Unfortunate Experiences

It began with a decline in the pool of traditional students going to attend an institution of higher learning. This decline resulted in a decrease in revenue for the college at which I am employed. The decline in revenue resulted in the possibility of possible job losses but...to prevent job losses the institutions chose to have employees take a furlough week (a week off without pay). This was the first unfortunate experience.

To make the best of this unfortunate experience we were going to take a weeks vacation with a couple we are friends with. A trip to Florida during the winter months would ease the furlough week. As the time for our trip approached my wife began experiencing chronic pain which began in her back and then moved to her thigh. Nothing would relieve the pain. Two positions provided the least amount of pain, standing up or laying down. She spent a week on the floor. Trips to the chiropractor, 24 hour urgent care and the family physician where adjustments, muscle relaxers and pain pills were dispensed did not quell the pain. the trip to Florida looked in jeopardy.

Then, a lump was discovered. It was in the groin where the pain had now moved too and her upper leg was numb. My wife thought a cancerous tumor. The physicians suspected a hernia which should be repaired. At this point ultrasound and CT scans to located the source of the pain were coming up empty. They were not even showing the hernia. Regardless of what was causing the pain, the suspected hernia should be dealt with. Perhaps the hernia and pain were connected. Coming out of surgery, the pain was still present. The hernia had been larger than anticipated and likely had irritated the nerves to the point that only time would allow their calming. The trip to Florida looked like a possibility.

But in the meantime our travel partners had tragic news. Cancer had made a re-appearance in the husband. The trip was off for them.

The day of our flight had arrived. The pain had been a result of an irritated nerve and it had now subsided. Soon we would be on the plan to the land of sunshine. Well, not soon, the flight was delayed an hour.

As our flight approached it's destination, the instructions to secure all items and fasten seat belts were given. While my wife's pain had subsided, the three hour flight was beginning to remind her that she was still in recovery mode and the un-accommodating airline seats were not helping. These discomforts though quickly faded as she discovered her diamond wedding ring was missing. A frantic search as best as could be done was not proving fruitful. Perhaps it had come off in the airplane bathroom. Would we be going through the waste container once the plan had landed? Despite the airline attendant's instructions to store all personal items under the seat in front of us, my wife removed hers and began pulling items out of the backpack one by one. I was sure we were going to be in trouble for not heading the proper protocol for landing. My lap now full of her personal items she breathed a sigh of relief. The ring had fallen off her hand and was in the bottom of the backpack. It was now permissible for the plane to land and passengers to debark.

Now that we had arrived in the dark night an hour behind schedule with another hour to go to our evenings destination, the plan was to divide and conquer. I would head to the car rental and my wife would retrieve the luggage. Since she had just had hernia repair surgery, she was going to need to solicit the assistance of healthy young man. It was a great plan...provided she would go to the correct luggage carousel and I would beat the hoard of other vacationers needing a car. We were wrong on both counts.

My hope for a more leisure first night at a quaint B&B like Inn now appeared as if it would be a quick nights sleep since we would be arriving close to 11:00pm and departing the next morning at 8:30 to make a lunch date the next day. The sunshine state was cooler than normal and therefore the HVAC fan wanted to be recognized for it's importance in the middle of the night. A sound not unlike that that one achieves with a clothespin, playing card and bicycle tire. So much for a good nights sleep. Instead another unfortunate experience. Solution, shut the fan off. Unintended consequences, a room that slowly cooled.

Morning arrived and I looked forward to a delightful breakfast served by the Inn. And indeed a delightful breakfast awaited us. This was the first time I'd ever seen soft boiled eggs as an option. A boiling pot of water, numbered eggs to keep yours separate from others and 3 minute egg timers. I should have been less giddy and more attentive. I prefer a 6 minute egg. So when I cracked open my egg, not even all the white had been cooked. How unfortunate. Discard my first egg and use my phone's timer on my second egg. Yes, that's the way I like them.

So far each day has had it's share of unfortunate experiences. Will today prove to be the day that they end? Fanciful thinking. My wife exits the apartment on the 17th floor and takes the elevators to the ground level and out for a walk. After satisfying her desire for exercise one would think that you would simply enter the elevators and return to the 17th floor. That would necessitate pushing the button for the 17th floor. But what if there were only buttons 0-9? Was this not the same elevator that took her to the ground floor? What had happened to the 42 buttons for the floors of the apartment building? Attempts to call other elevators were futile. This one was on the ground floor awaiting to take individuals to their floors. No need for a computer to send a different elevator to the ground floor. In new environments, sometimes the obvious is obscured. The buttons 0-9 were not for floors, but for codes that might need to be entered. What we would normally see as buttons for floors was now a touch screen with the numbers of the floors. Disastrous no, unfortunate yes.

Our fourth day arrives. While the day was sunny, it was windy. Conditions that only northerners would lay out in the sun on such days. Relocating lounge chairs further from the pool and closer to the building in an attempt to block the wind were only partially successful. Off with my t-shirt and getting my 40 minutes of sunshine was now the order of business. When the time had expired I was ready to don my t-shirt and head back to the apartment. But where could my t-shirt be? It was no longer under my lounge chair. It was not in visible sight. Surely no one would have taken it? But yet, it hadn't blown into the pool. It was unfortunate not being able to find my shirt. But then fortune shone. There it lay in a submerged area for plants 12 feet away from where I had been laying.

The flight home had it's own series of unfortunate incidents. Gate moved, flight delayed.

While waiting for the delayed flight an email arrived. I had won the $50 gift certificate for businesses in Coral Cables. Unfortunately, I'm on my way home and the certificates expire before I will return to FL. This was the last of a series of unfortunate experiences.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Petite Aria

Family members assembled for the concert that was in progress. It was gentle moving but increasing in intensity. Every few minutes all music stopped except for the duet of Josh and Andrea which had a quiet encouraging theme. The patriarchs of the family retreated to the area outside the auditorium. As they talked word came that the concert had concluded with a petite Aria.

Barb and I are proud to introduce to you our sixth grandchild Aria Leryn, weighing in at 5 lbs 9 oz.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Pizza with Piazza

My friend Greg invited me to go hear Rod Piazza, a harp player. (Harp is jargon for a harmonica.) Rod Piazza plays the blues on his harmonica and is a legend among the blues community. We arrived at Midway, a little tavern in a residential section of Mishawaka, about 40 minutes prior to the music beginning. It was a $20 cover charge and by the time we arrived, it was standing room only. Already about 200 reservations for seats had been taken. Fortunately Greg and I were sitting with Johnny who had a table reserved. Johnny takes photos of the players for Midway. His fine work in black and white is displayed through out the establishment. Just before the music began we had another fellow join us. He had heard Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers in Kalamazoo the night before. He had driven down from Grand Rapids MI, a good three hour drive. He was so appreciative of being able to sit at our table with us that he bought us a couple of rounds throughout the night. Pretty cheap since we were all drinking pop.

The music began and the place became electric. Not only was Rod a fantastic harp player, the rest of the band was each fantastic in their own right. His wife Honey on the keyboards (I didn't know fingers could play so fast), Henri C on the guitar (I love the guitar riffs) and Dave on the drums. Not only did we get to hear Rod Piazza & The Mighty Flyers, we had the pleasure of two additional individuals who joined the band for a song or two. One was Katie Wassenhove the aspiring granddaughter of Albertina the establishments owner. The other was 'Ole Harv' the local Blues DJ and member of Elwood Splinters Band. The granddaughter played the keyboards with Honey and 'Ole Harv' did some vocals.

Well, since my drinks were covered, I decided to buy a pizza to go with them. So, after drinking a few rounds of Diet Coke and eating some pizza, the break in between sets was welcome. I needed to visit the tiny toilet facilities; one urinal and one toilet in a closet. Who did I find myself sharing this refreshing break with other than Rod Piazza himself. A little banter with the man who was behind sunglasses all evening, made the time pass quickly.

I really enjoyed the time at Midway. I'm just wondering though when my ears will stop ringing.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Just Another Day At The Beach?

It was a beautiful day today. Almost a perfect day to go to the beach. So thought hundreds of others.

As I age, that which is appropriate seems to be changing. Perhaps we are becoming more like those European beaches. As I age, I also have become more attentive to sunburn prevention. So prior to today's trip to the beach, I purchased a beach umbrella. Good purchase in my estimation. Although it took me awhile to master how to use it on a windy day. At first, I had it full up and the wind caught it and turned it inside out. I finally used only the top half tilted towards the wind utilizing with it loosely inserted in a beach umbrella anchor allowing it to adjust to the wind without any undue strain. It was pretty low to the ground though.

So, here I am sitting in the shade of the beach umbrella in my Speedo and coming toward me is a young female wearing only a floppy hat. I avert my eyes knowing that staring is not appropriate. Just as she passes with the umbrella between her and me, her hat is blown off her head and lands at my feet. Politely I pick up the hat and hold it above my head and above the horizon of the umbrella where it could be retrieved. The hat is taken and I receive a "Thank you" in return. Just another day at the beach.

I affirm that all the facts laid out above are true and I do have witnesses to back up my story.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

If Optometrists Ran The County

I was wondering this morning, "If optometrists ran the country, would it be better, worse or about the same?" I got a chuckle thinking that. Then I began to wonder about it more.

If optometrists ran the country, they would be asking us if what they showed us was better, worse or about the same before they gave it to us.

If optometrists ran the country, their goal would be for us to see it clearer and they would be doing all they could to accomplish that.

If optometrists ran the country, they would want us try on what we were going to end up with, and to be happy with what we finally ended up with.

If optometrists ran the country, they wouldn't try to give everything away. They would realize, that someone was going to have to pay for what we got.

Of course, if they were evil optometrists, they would convince us that they knew best and that the world was supposed to look fuzzy and that seeing the world clearly would cause us to go blind.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It's Elementary

My grandson invited me to come to his school and have lunch with him. It was something like 'grandparents day' but you didn't have to be a grandparent. Combined with a book fair, I think it may have had ulterior motives to get us to purchase books, which I did.

I felt like a giant going through the lunch line and then sitting at tables and chairs that were designed for their regular occupants.

Before long it was time to bid farewell and head back to the office. First, a quick stop at the Boy's Room. This room also designed for the shorter people. What I found interesting though is that the urinals were automatic flush. And even though the urinals were lower to the ground, the automatic eye would shoot out above the heads of most of its users. So....they would apparently go for long periods of time until an adult came by. And in this school, the adult males were few.

The automatic eye was good intentioned, but maybe not thought through before implementation. I guess the only response is that...It's elementary my dear Watson.