Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Twins relax after a meal

Sarah snapped a quick video of the twins relaxing after a meal:

The Best of Times; The Worst of Times

'Tis the season for articles with titles like "The Best Reality Show Moments of 2008," "The Worst Snack Foods of 2008," and "Why 2009 Will Be 'The Year of the Sweet Potato'." So I'm going to pile on with two lists of my own:

1. Why 2008 Was Great:
  • The Orwig twins are born
    Goes without saying. One of the best and most significant days in my life.

  • Harrison milestones
    Too many to mention. The guy started second grade, and has been growing up in countless ways. He seems to be making the transition from "little boy" to "young man" already. With the addition of the twins to the family, Harrison has sometimes moved into a more grown-up caretaker role even though we haven't asked him to.

  • Grace Milestones
    Again, too many to mention. She started preschool. She changed instantly from "baby of the family" to "big sister" and "middle child." She has made the transition from toddler to little girl.

  • My political candidate wins for a change
    Don't worry, I don't expect everyone to agree with me on this. But it was very important to me because I felt it was very important for all of us. To me, November's election seems to improve the odds we will pull through the next decade.

  • Ford releases some kick-butt new cars, giving hope
    I had been worried, but it seemed I was starting to see some Ford cars in daily use that really could be a part of the Way Forward we've been counting on for the past three years. It wasn't just the Fusion any more. Now there were multiple Ford vehicles out there that people genuinely liked.

2. Why 2008 Sucked Big-Time:
  • Grandma Shepard dies
    The fact that this event was not unexpected makes it no less traumatic and significant for all of us. Now that the body of Wealthie was gone I'm really starting to miss the Grandma who was in my life for so long.

  • Luke dies
    I still have trouble believing I'm even typing this one. It still doesn't make sense, and it still affects our family on a daily basis. Luke, and the loss of Luke, comes up when I'm talking to Harrison, Grace still asks questions about him, and I think of him and his family literally daily. Harrison has made new close friends but he will be forever affected by losing Luke. As stunned and sad as we were when it happened just before school started, I never would have guessed how affected we would still be now. 

  • Claire gets sick
    This story has mainly turned out to have a happy ending, but it was horrific while it was happening and it cast a dark cloud over an exciting time in the life of someone who didn't deserve it.

  • The economy siezes
    That "Way Forward" plan mentioned above, already behind schedule, was dependant on people not only wanting but also being able to buy these new Ford cars they were starting to like. The events of the fall seemed quickly to nullify any hope of a way forward not only for Ford and the (now) "Detroit Three", but this entire region of the country. 

  • The US Senate left us to die
    I know I shouldn't take this personally. It was just politics, after all. But when the bailout failed, it killed any remaining faith I had that when necessary, politicians would rise to the occasion and become leaders. They didn't. It doesn't bother me as much when citizens who don't have all the facts make callus statements about "letting the free market take its course" or "controlled bankruptcy." But those senators knew the likely consequences and they cold heartedly decided to risk the ruin of a region of our country and even a potential depression in the hope the UAW would die in the process. As one of the people scheduled for ruin, I do take it personally.
So there's my list. I'll start work right away on my next post: "Why 2009 Will Be the Year of Early Potty Training."

Monday, December 8, 2008

Twin Milestones

These startlingly cute "jackets" from Grandma Burke are creating quite a reaction whereever I take the twins. It's the ears that make the outfits. Kennedy and Shepard love the warmth, but of course they can't see the ears. Someday they're going to get old enough to check this blog and I'm going to be in trouble.

A couple of milestones over this past week or so:
  1. Kennedy has popped out the beginnings of a lower tooth. It's just the start, but Kennedy and a babysitter both noticed it before Sarahjane and I did. 
  2. Both babies can now get up on all fours. Neither of them are moving very fast yet, and when they do move they are limited to reverse. But it tells me my days of parking them in one room and expecting them to stay are almost over. By now, the cats should know that their days of relative quiet are over, too.

Flex Manual Addendum

As you may have deduced from previous posts, I am a big fan of the Ford Flex. It drives like car but hauls people like a van, and it gets great mileage for its size. I'll bet its cost-per-Orwig-hauled ratio could beat just about anything out there. It looks cool, too. The next time someone starts taking unfair shots at the ability of the "Detroit Three" to innovate, they ought to be challenged to test drive a Flex (or an Edge or a Fusion, for that matter).

Lately my Flex and I have been under some pressure. Due to child care issues and Sarah's schedule, I've been hurrying to and from work without my usual ability to stop for gas. Then yesterday I was actually allowed to go out without any kids along, but it must have thrown me because I completely ignored the fact that the Flex was running out of gas.

As I pulled into the driveway last night I saw the "Distance to Empty" indicator change from 1 to zero. I've seen that before, though, and those things always underestimate gas. Besides, I could solve the problem using the large container of gas I keep for the lawn tractor. I had been meaning to use that gas anyway, rather than letting it age all winter.

As you might have guessed (because you are reading it here), things didn't work out as I planned. Rather than complain I decided to do something more constructive: Draft a potential addendum for the Flex manual specifically designed for people like me.

Your Ford Flex requires fuel to run. While we design the vehicle to be as efficient and convenient as possible, current technology does not enable the Ford Flex to make allowances for the fact that you haven't had time to stop for gas because you've been hurrying home to relieve babysitters. It is also unable to take into account that when you drove to the grocery store over the weekend (driving past several gas stations) you were engrossed in a particularly good interview on NPR's Fresh Air and didn't notice the Distance-To-Empty gauge helplessly trying to get your attention.

Therefore, this addendum is here to offer the following information and advice:
  1. This vehicle is equipped with the new No Bull Distance-To-Empty gauge. That means when it reports "0 miles to empty," you are actually out of gas.

  2. This vehicle is equipped with a new Dorkfree Capless Gas Hole. We learned years ago that people like you tended to unscrew the gas cap and leave it on the roof of the car when you drive away. So we tried tethering the gas gap to the gas hole, but found that you would still forget to screw it into your gas hole and would drive around with it hanging on the side of the car. Yes you did. We saw you do that at least once. So this latest attempt to save you from yourself removes the gas cap entirely. Instead a special valve is placed over the gas hole itself. This valve will only open when the proper sized nozzle is inserted into the gas hole, and it seals tightly when you remove the nozzle.

  3. A plastic lawn-mower gas can does not have the right size nozzle. So when you attempt to put extra gas into your car from a gas can in your driveway on a dark winter night, you will discover in the morning that the gas simply ran down the side of the car and melted all the snow in that area of the driveway.

  4. As mentioned above, the gas hole valve seals tightly. This means that in the morning, when you attempt once again to pour gas into the car using the wrong nozzle, ALL of the gas will run uselessly down the side of the car. Your personal assurances to yourself that "some of it must have gone in" are incorrect.

  5. Your best course of action at this time is to remain in the driveway and read the instruction manual. You, of course, won't. You'll figure you can make it a few miles to the gas station.

  6. When you ignore the Distance To Empty warning and neglect to read these instructions, there will be no further warning when the last drops of gas are finally burned. The dash will not begin showing "-1 miles to empty" or "You're bummin', Dude". When your Ford Flex starts to stagger and stop moving forward, that is your indication that you are, in fact, bummin'.

  7. At the first indication that you have starved the engine of gas, you should use your last remaining lurches of motion to pull safely to the side of the road. Do NOT attempt a U-turn back toward home (particularly not in an intersection of your subdivision) as you will stall in the middle of the turn, blocking traffic much more effectively than if you had simply pulled over.

  8. When you ignore that advice, turn on your hazard lights so your neighbors know you are a dork stuck in the middle of the intersection with car trouble, rather than an even bigger dork who decided to park in the middle of the intersection for some reason. The hazard light switch is located in the center top of the dashboard. It's there, look again. No, higher. There you go.

  9. By now you will likely have figured out that no gas actually is getting in the tank when you try from the gas can. Attempts to hold the gas hole valve open with foreign objects like straws and pencils will fail.

  10. While you are trying to force open the valve with foreign objects, you will eventually notice there are little pictures drawn on the gas hole door. We didn't have much space to work with, but tried to communicate via pictures that you should not attempt to force open the valve with foreign objects. You should use a special funnel instead. We also tried to get across that you should read the manual for more instructions.

  11. As you are looking for the manual, please refrain from profane complaints about the inconvenience of having to bring along a funnel. First of all, the need for the funnel is explained in this manual, so you can hardly blame us. Second, we have anticipated your lack of preparation and have provided a funnel for you. It is conveniently located alongside the spare tire, which is in the far back of your Flex under the twin stroller, preschool papers, and empty pop bottles.

  12. You should really return those pop bottles.

  13. On your way to the gas station, you will panic as you can't remember putting the twin stroller back in the car. You can stop picturing it sitting in the middle of the intersection. You didn't screw that one thing up today and the twin stroller is safely in the back of your car.