Sunday, March 13, 2011

The booby prize.

A big week for travel for the family as the Chancellor was off to Mexico for her birthday on what they were calling "International Girls Weekend", Oldest Son is in Rome for his semester abroad and Youngest son and I went to beautiful, downtown, Towson, MD. I must have missed a meeting or something when we were giving out assignments.

The Towson trip was for a college visit and tt was a packed house for "Destination Towson" as they were calling it. We checked in and found that some how Youngest son had been accepted as a business major instead an education major. At least that is what the school on his name tag read: College of Business and Economics.

We were digesting this news when I felt nature call and headed out to the Men's room. When I came back I found Youngest son chatting it up with some pretty thing. It turns out she was from his high school, now a hundred miles to the north and they had advanced Bio together. Small world.

And then she added "and I'm in your first period English"

To which he said "Your are?".

Excellent. The long line of painfully honest men continues in my family. It was a little awkward for a moment until I went off with the parents and he went off with the prospective students to our separate meetings.

(Later I pulled him aside and coached that when a pretty girl says she is in your first period English class, nod your head up and a down like a dashboard chihuahua, even if she isn't.)

img_1557:The Parents meeting was mostly a question and answer session with the parents peppering a panel of Towson parents, students and administration with the usual  "how are room mates picked?" and "Can my son/daughter change roommates?" etc.

It was all pretty boring until one parent in the back asked how accepting the University was to the LGBT community.


After explaining to the mostly white suburbanites over 50 crowd what the LGBT  community was, the administration folks were all over that one with how accepting they were and that they had clubs and generally how much they just love gay people. (Especially ones with money). The students on the panel piped up with similar responses.

My favorite was one young lady that hung out at the Rainbow club because there are not a lot of places to sit in the public areas of the University and the "Rainbow Club" had a lot of empty couches, so she sat over there with them.

I got stuck there for a moment.

I was trying to imagine what all this couch sitting in the Rainbow Club was like for her. I'm sure there had to be an awkward moment or two that ended with "err.. ahh... ummm... I'm just here for a seat", right? Looking back, I'm sure this is what happened to Rosa Parks. She was just looking for seat and look what happened there.

I snapped back to the present as one Dad followed that line of questions with  "did the university put roommates together on the basis of sexual orientation".

Clearly, you had a sense of where this was going and it wasn't pretty. It was as if he had just realized that his son could, potentially, have a gay roommate and this could somehow "rub off" on him.

I thought for sure that this was going to go off a cliff but the staff handled it well and the "situation" was diffused with grace.

After that we moved back to more mundane topics like "actually paying for school" and "how hard is it to change majors". Which reminded me that I had a question and so I asked:

"Hypothetically, suppose this friend of mine applied for the wrong major. How hard is it for him to change majors now? Hypothetically of course"

It turns out to not be a big deal as Towson accepts on the merit of the student overall and not for a specific school or major.

After that meeting we broke up into groups based on majors and now I realized I had a problem. Do I go with the one on the badge or the one that he intended to sign up for? Apparently, I chose more wisely that the meeting where we gave out assignments because Youngest son was in the room for the School of Education when I got there.

The rest of the day was lunch and of course a tour following a bright young cherub who walks backwards through dining halls and dorm rooms. Then the drive home.

Overall, I think he liked it. We have one last visit scheduled for next Monday and then a decision must be made.

Pictures here

    Zen and the art of Car repair.

    The Aluminum Falcon was in desperate need of repair with a turn signal out, a muffler leak of unknown origin and the check engine light on. The check engine light AKA CEL or MIL was the lowest priority in my mind since I was pretty sure that was something stupid. It had come on one fall morning (OK, it was as different season) after the car started. The car's engine hesitated just for a second, sounded like it was going to stall and then miraculously pulled out of it at the last second.

    Then the CEL came on.

    After that the car ran fine. On a 14 year old car with one door that doesn't open and large crease down one side, the CEL just adds to the ambiance.  I mean it was like some American cars where the model of the car should be named after the CEL like a Chevy MIL or the new Buick CEL-6000. 111,000 miles and CEL came on once. It's really a miracle.

    One night last week I stopped by the Auto parts store and bought a turn signal lamp and a muffler repair kit. I thought what the hell, if I can fix muffler for $3.50, why not? I was doing this because I had misplaced the lifetime warranty that I know I had from the muffler I put on the car in 2009.

    The turn signal lamp was a snap since that side of the car looks like a large monster took a chunk out of my car. I reached up into the fender, found the socket and replaced the lamp. It took all of 5 minutes and I was so proud of myself.

    The muffler was another story. Apparently reaching under a 5.9 inch high car to access the muffler and tail pipe is not an easy thing. Who knew? Last just leave it with "Just was stupid and it didn't work" and the next day I called my mechanic, the one with the very large boat and steep monthly boat payments.

    He couldn't get me in until Monday. This was bad as it gave me more time to consider DIY options. Friday night was my second stop to my new best friend, the auto parts salesman.

    This time I bought two new kinds of DIY muffler repair kits. One was tape. Yes, tape. It was aluminum tape but still, it was tape. The other was putty. This time I got wise and used the jack that came with car to get a few more inches under it.

    Believe it or not, I fixed my muffler with tape and putty. I was ready for inspection.

    Now I still had the CEL, but I thought that was a nothing, remember? Well apparently the state of New Jersey has a different idea and here's a handy tip for those of you out there with a CEL on and you don't have a reader: Get your car inspected and the state of NJ will read those codes causing the CEL for free!

    Mine failed with a "MIL Command Status: FAIL" and a "OBD SYSTEM - DIAGNOSTIC CODES PRESENT"  and they listed three codes.

    I looked them up on the internet and they were "Cycl 2 misfired, Cyl 4 misfired and general cyl misfire". I literally failed inspection because back in October my car nearly stalled. Of course the State zombie at the inspection station made it sound I like I was personally responsible for global warming but really this was non-sense.

    So now the Aluminum Falcon as the very appropriate scarlet "R" sewn to it's windshield telling the public to stay away, I'm dangerous.