Family vacation–an exercise in character building

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We were supposed to leave yesterday. Finally, about an hour ago, we squeezed ourselves into the car. All five of us. We’re going to travel 5100 miles.

Together.

In a car.

5100 miles.

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Now, mind you, we all have special needs. Two have autism, one has Alzheimer’s, one has ADD (my husband) and one is riddled with a genetic propensity toward anxiety. (I come from a long line of nervous people.)

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My husband has ADD. I don’t know if you’ve ever ridden in a car driven by someone with ADD.Straight lines are an abstraction. I don’t know how we don’t get pulled over for suspicion of intoxication. Why on earth would God pair a woman with anxiety issues with an ADD man? The only explanation I can think of is that He thinks it’s funny. Especially when my spouse hits those rumble strips on the side of the road when I’m in deep thought/sleep.

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Or when I look up from reading and we’re 2.5 inches from the back of a semi trailer.

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Not to mention the stuff he listens to on the radio.

Oh, Dear Heavenly Father, deliver me.

If it’s not the comedy station singing songs about racoons praising God in church, it’s barber shop quartets. I mean, I don’t mind for ten minutes or so. I love all types of music. But after eight hours I’m ready to strap myself to the top of the car. It’d be much more tolerable, I assure you.

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Mothers take vacations to rest from getting ready for vacations. I’ve done more laundry in the last week than I did all year. And I’m one of those people that has to clean the house before a trip. I mean, what if I die and don’t come back? I can’t leave this earth with people thinking I’m a slob.

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And then there are the dogs and cats. Who will take care of them? Even as I type this I have a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat thinking about how much I’m going to miss them and how much they will miss me. I’m worried about the kittens going feral and the dogs’ hearts being broken. Two weeks is a long time to be away from one another!

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I did, of course, provide for someone to come in and interact with them each day, and to care for the house. My house won’t sit empty (so if you’re planning on robbing me, don’t try it. My dogs will eat you and my house sitters are armed and dangerous). But will those people cuddle the fur kids enough? I wish I had the money for a nanny cam! That way I could see them every day and make sure they aren’t being neglected. Unfortunately my house sitters don’t know how to use skype.

They’re low-tech folks with good aim.

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I did lose it once this morning when people were arguing over which flavor of Pop Tart to put in the trunk and which to put in the backseat. (Don’t worry, the gun was locked up at the time.) And I may have raised my voice a little when people ignored me about helping with chores. (Clean the house, people! Clean the house!)

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Now we’re finally on the road and I’m posting from inside the car. A first for me. I love my phone’s hotspot capabilities! (The bill, not so much.)

I need your help. I’ll be in the car with these characters for at least six to eight days. I need to know: how do you survive family vacations?

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The case of the disappearing fingerprints

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There’s nowhere to hide.

Unless, maybe, you don’t have fingerprints.

Years back I wrote a novel during NaNoWriMo where one of the characters had to scan her hand to access her office. I was rather proud of my cutting-edge technological knowledge back then. In those days, such a premise was nothing more than science fiction.

It ain’t no more.

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As I work toward my degree in Special Education, I have to go through an extensive background check to student teach. Part of this background check (required by my college, not the school–I already substitute teach with a basic background check), is to be fingerprinted.

image-2I was already feeling a little bit disappointed I was going to do this because I prided myself in living off the grid as far as my fingerprint identity goes. (Not that I could truly live off the grid. Google my name and there I am in all my glory.) I expected to go to the police station and do the ink fingerprint routine. I was worried about it ruining my manicure.

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I needn’t have worried. They no longer do ink fingerprinting for background checks in the United States. Now they use biometric scanning technology. The future is now.

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I was greeted by a very kind, older gentleman who looked a bit like a character from a sci-fi spaceship movie. He gently placed my hand on the scanner and manipulated it to get the right position and scan. We soon learned that I’m one of the difficult ones.

I’m missing fingerprints on my little finger and ring finger.

!!!

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Not my hand but this person has no fingerprints.

Turns out, not having fingerprints is actually a genetic condition called Adermatoglyphia.

But that’s not what I have because my other three fingers and my thumb have prints. Apparently, through years of playing the piano and typing, I’ve worn my fingerprints off on those two fingers! I thought it was piano playing but my husband reminded me that on my computer keyboard I wear the letters off where those two fingers on each hand land: q,w,a,s and o,p,l, and ;.

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If my fingerprints are rejected, I’ll have to go in and scan them again to prove that my fingerprints don’t scan. Then, I’ll have to submit paperwork to prove I exist as my name. (I don’t know why they don’t do this in the first place.)

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There are other reasons and occupations that causes our fingerprints to disappear. Aging causes us to lose fingerprints. Apparently it’s difficult for older people to use biometric identification technology because their skin is thinner and the ridges on the fingers not as pronounced.

Guess that means it’s official. I’m old.

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The elderly have a difficult time passing biometric screenings for visas and passports. India is having a difficult time identifying its residents with the now-required biometric scanning technology.

I was glad to learn I wasn’t alone. However, it’s now a major headache to get approved for much without your fingerprints. I’m sure they’ll eventually just scan our eyes or faces but it may take awhile to develop a database. Although, with facebook tagging, it may be closer than we think. (Each time I post a pic of my granddaughter, facebook thinks it’s her mother.) In regard to scanning our eyes, if someone has had cataracts removed, iris scanning doesn’t work, either.

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Bricklayers and massage therapists often wear off their fingerprints. It’s not a unique thing. Another problem I had with the scanner is that I have exceptionally small hands. It’s something I inherited from my grandmother and I’m rather proud of it. I should have much larger hands for someone my size. I wear a size 4.5 ring. It makes it difficult to buy costume rings, but it’s worth it.

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So when the guy did my fingerprints and had to roll my fingers for the second part of the scan, they weren’t read very well. I’m still waiting to hear if my fingerprints were rejected. The finger printer said they most likely would be.

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I have to drive 45 minutes to get to where they scan my fingerprints. It’s going to be a hassle to re-do them only to have them rejected again. Finger(prints) crossed the good prints will be enough to identify whether or not I’m a crook. In the meantime, I’m working on getting an original birth certificate sent to the powers-that-be to prove I’m a good egg.

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Here’s a good website to learn more about losing your fingerprints: Can You Lose Your Fingerprints? – Scientific American.

And here’s a video from Fox News:

Have you ever been fingerprinted for a passport or visa? For any other reason? How did it go?

What do you think is the next thing in biometric technology?

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Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan 5/5 stars

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There are just so many reasons why this book is epic.

  • First of all, it’s written by a dad.
  • Second, it’s written by a dad who loves his kids
  • Third, it’s written by a dad who adores his wife
  • Fourth, it’s written by a dad who is a conservative who takes his kids to church
  • Fifth, it’s written by a dad who is a comedian in secular clubs and on TV — and he’s clean.
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Click to enlarge and read

In the book, he talks about how he never intended to be “family friendly,” he just is.

It’s full of hilarious anecdotes and tons of love for his wife and kids.

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His wife loves children and he loves his wife. Now they have five children together. And he seems to be a wonderful husband and father. I hope it’s true. I hope it’s not hype.

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The writing is pretty average. But the humor combined with the fact that he’s writing about a rare thing these days–an intact family–he gets all five of my stars.

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I am always impressed when someone can take ordinary everyday things and tell a funny story. He does that in this book.

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This would make a great gift for fathers everywhere. And if they don’t like to read, this book is also on CD/audio. They might enjoy listening to it on a road trip or on the way to work.

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I’m baaaaaaack

It’s been too long since I got to blog and I miss it! Juggling life and a book deadline are a huge challenge. But with God’s grace, I’ve emerged from the cave with my mind still intact.

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(Okay, fine, so that’s a subjective opinion. But just because some people think sitting on the roof singing “Yellow Submarine” is crazy doesn’t mean it is.)

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This deadline was extremely difficult for Mr. Himself. I’m hoping next time I get a contract my deadline won’t be so pressing. But hey, when you get the rare-these-days publishing contract you can’t exactly make demands. If they need a book by a certain date, you’ve got to make it happen.  Still, Mr. Himself felt very neglected. Poor fellow. I felt bad.

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How my husband sees himself when I’m on a deadline

I have a lot to consider as I go forward. I need to somehow keep my family happy while I pursue the dream. And I think it’s harder for women than for men.

What say you?

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Why I don’t trust mascara

There are a few things in life I don’t trust.

Take mascara for example.

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How do I know which one to buy?

There’s mascara that makes your lashes long, others that make them thick. Then there’s 24-hour mascara, waterproof mascara and smudge-proof mascara.

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But how do I know they really do all those things? I mean, what if every brand of mascara is really just the same thing mixed in the same pot and put in different tubes with different shaped brushes?

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Fact is, there’s no way of knowing, really. As a conspiracy theorist, I believe it’s quite plausible that all makeup comes from the same makeup factory and put into different boxes while the owners laugh themselves silly at us. “Look at those easily-duped morons! They think they’re getting Cover Girl or Revlon when it’s all made from the same stuff in China!”

There’s no other point to this post. I mean, it just hit me today that buying mascara is dicey business. There are no guarantees that I’m getting something unique and special for my money.

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Life’s like that. You take your chances. You’re never guaranteed anything, are you?

So why should mascara be any different?

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