Sunday, March 28, 2010

Goodbye Cocoa and Road Trip to UMR

28 years ago today I reported to the FAA academy in Oklahoma City to begin my career as an Air Traffic Controller. Of those I reported with to Minneapolis Center (ZMP) only one other remains; Mike Deml. Mike will be forced to retire because of age (56 years old) in July and that will leave only me remaining. Yeah, I'll be sure and catch the lights on my way out.

I got some sad news last week. I had two cockatiels back in the '80s and '90s named Coocoo and Coconut and they had one offspring named Cocoa. My niece Melody has cared for Cocoa for the last ten years and she wrote me to say that he passed away in her hands last Sunday night just shy of his 24th birthday. Odd because I had just been thinking about him a couple days before he died and wondering how he was doing. He was a real sweetheart and will be missed. Video of Cocoa.

The three of us headed down to Rochester on Friday for an open-house at UMR. It was a chance for students to mingle with future classmates as well as a time for both kids and parents to have their questions answered. Rachel is now fully committed to going there and we're happy that she's excited about it. We stopped in to the U of M store on the main level of the mall where the campus is located so she could pick out a sweatshirt and a key-chain lanyard. Yes, you read that right...the campus is in a mall. I believe it takes up the top two levels. Here's a photo I took last summer looking back at the school from a commons area among some shops.

The chancellor of the school gave a 15 minute talk to us and stressed that if a student wasn't struggling through the program they weren't getting their money's worth.  He said that the number one thing they're requested of by employers out in the world is for graduates who are able to work in a collaborative environment. Tammy and I were talking later and we both agreed that this is something Rachel is going to need to work on. She has a tendency to just do a job to get it done rather than waiting for others to do their part when working on group projects. But we're thinking of some of her experiences in high-school where she's dealing with more slackers than she will be in college (hopefully) and that's probably not a fair comparison to make.

We had to hurry back so she could catch a bus bound for Texas and a week long mission trip with the kids from Prince of Peace in Burnsville.

I had my first Dads' Dance practice last Tuesday night with 13 other fathers of kids at Brenda's School of Dance. That will be a regular part of my schedule for the next few months until Rachel's dance recital in June. I had to play catchup because I had to miss the first practice; not something you want to do. This stuff is much harder than it looks. It's a lot of fun though and it's worth all the time we put into it. If you missed last years performance, have a look. I can't give away what we'll be dancing to this year but here's a hint: polyester.

I was trying to finish the window I've been working on for the last couple months and I'm nearly there. I spent most of yesterday down in the shop and thought for sure I'd finish it but I ran out of time. I've got maybe another 20 tiny triangular pieces to cut and fit before soldering it. I was running out of daylight and the pups were eying me, Toby especially, wanting me to take them walking. There's a look he gives me that's unmistakable from other looks and I know exactly what it means. If you could see how happy they are out on their walks you'd understand why I nearly always give in. The project can wait; the pups can't.

I was out on my bike 3 times this past week. I'd like to have ridden more with the nice weather we had but work keeps getting in the way.  I shouldn't complain as there are lots of people who would love that problem.  I managed 34 miles today before work in 41 degree weather. Not far but anything is at least something.

Blackdog road has been under water most of the week. I use it quite a lot when I'm riding but it's not a huge inconvenience for me to work around the flooding. I knew I wouldn't be able to get through but I wanted a photo so I pressed on to the water's edge. One last reminder of a difficult winter that is bent on not letting us forget.

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