Time Marches On... Sporadically

March, 2000

 

Fortune cookie of the month - "You will have a long and cheerful life--- unless you ordered the shrimp."

Maloneys on wheels
"If God had meant Man to roller skate, He would have put wheels on his feet". I must have been deprived of oxygen at birth, because every year I allow myself to be talked into roller-blading with a group of over 100 K -through 6th grade children and their parents. It would be more apropos to refer to my strapping on the blades as a "suicide attempt." But the church kids get a big kick out of seeing the middle aged youth leaders skating around the track, smiling and puffing like steam engines, until they collapse into a heap by the snack bar. I hate to disappoint the kids, so I made a few rounds of the track- collecting bruises and abrasions for the kingdom of heaven. (I can drive on a race track, climb a radio tower, crawl around inside an atomic  accelerator, but I can NOT roller skate. After one lap I start stumbling around, looking like a crimson-faced marionette having a seizure.) Every now and then one of the kids would come up to me and shout, "Hi Mr.Maloney! Are you having fun?" I would reply, "Yes! Isn't this great?", between deep breaths from the oxygen mask. Nonetheless, everybody had a lot of fun. Wendy and James were skating as a pair, and Peter stomped around awhile with his skates on. Peter (who will be 5 on the 5th of March) is the only kid I know who can wear roller skates and walk around as if he isn't wearing skates. 
As humanity goes, Peter is an incredible specimen. I think his center of gravity is two inches above his ankles. He's about as easy to knock down as Pike's Peak. At the age of two, he was giving 6-year-olds trouble. He used to pull himself up onto tables using only the strength in his arms. Last year he got the chicken pox and it did not even slow him down. He had Strep throat and didn't know it. (Wendy thought she did, and took Peter along to the doctor. The doc checked them both, Peter had it --Wendy didn't.) If I had not seen him born with my own eyes, I would have sworn that he came from the planet Krypton. Later in the month Peter starts "tumbling" classes. I wonder if I should warn the teacher that he already knows how to do a half-Nelson and a sleeper hold (by instinct!) This is "gonna be good."

and now.... the Maloney Network!
On the intellectual front, James and I are learning a new computer operating system (language). We are learning LINUX. For those of you who are computer literate, LINUX is simply UNIX run through a blender. In a word, LINUX is complicated. How complicated is it? For you "windows" based people--it's like going out to check the oil level in your car using the Hubbell space telescope. LINUX is not for the faint of heart. When we are done, James and I will have the only LINUX-based home computer network in the neighborhood. It may change things around here a little bit- in order to print to the printer in the office or the pen-plotter in the garage, I would need to "log-in" to the file server in the bedroom closet. But I could log-in from anywhere: the kitchen, the patio, the bedrooms, what have you. The goal is to have a functional LAN (local-area-network) by James' 8th birthday (on July 1st). I am trying to avoid turning into a geek (really!) but this stuff is so much fun. It's really a race; right now the neighbor across the street is setting up a WindowsNT file server. Each of us has enough old computers, printers and such to run a small office. When I talk about it, Wendy just shakes her head and walks away. She had better watch out. If she's not nice to me, I won't give her a password to access the kitchen. 
Wendy is pretty busy right now-- James' parent/teacher conference is coming up soon, and she is "cramming for the exam", so to speak. There is so much terminology batted about by the school district that Wendy may need to take a college course just to study "T.L.A ." (Three letter Acronyms) BTW, IMO - Ph.D. may mean Phenomenally Dumb. (or is it Pin Headed Dope?) LOL. 

Finding a watch battery.... or the Indiglo™ time warp.
Two years ago, James and Peter picked out a new wristwatch to give to me for Father's Day. They gave me a Timex - with the famous Indiglo™ lighted dial. To read the watch at night, all I need to do is push the stem button and ZOWIE! -- the whole face of the dial lights up with a soft greenish-blue glow, kind of like Madame Curie did after she discovered Polonium. With the 1 1/4" analog dial, it's pretty impressive-- on the darkest night you can read it on your wrist from ten feet away. Of course, if you can see ANYTHING on your wrist from ten feet away, that's pretty impressive - or frightening, depending upon the situation. 
Anyway, just before Christmas, the watch battery gave out. In a digital watch, when this happens the numeric display simply goes blank, and the wearer figures out (rather quickly) that either the battery has gone south, or he has slipped into eternity. But with an analog dial, a dead battery causes the watch hands to stop, thus forcing the unsuspecting wearer to become transfixed in time. In this way a boring dinner party can go on forever - or one can travel from place to place in no time at all. (For those of you who believe in "personal autonomy", this may also halt the aging process.)
In my case, I was excited with the speed of my holiday gift shopping until I realized it was awfully dark for three in the afternoon. So I replaced the battery, secure in the knowledge that fresh lithium would solve the problem. But no! I forgot the Maloney Motto, "wait for the other shoe to drop." True to form, the battery I bought (the last one in stock, by the way) was not a product of the "Energizer bunny", but rather a "by product" that may have been sitting on the store shelf since the Gulf War. 
After about two months, the "new" battery pulled a muscle or something, and took on a peculiar symptom. Every time I would light the display, my watch would stop- for a random length of time. After a few moments (or minutes) rest, the watch would begin anew. Throughout the daylight hours there was no problem, but over the course of an evening, my clock moved in a westerly direction, and closer to the Mountain time zone. According to "Star Trek" lingo, I guess the di-lithium crystal was cracked. While Mr. Scott was looking for a new one, I was constantly asking others for the correct time. After a while, this was pretty irritating for everybody. I would ask,"What time is it, Bones?" The reply would be, "Dammit, Jim! I'm a doctor -- not a digital watch!" Finally, out of desperation, I braved an encounter with the dread Klingons at the shopping mall in order to aquire a new lithium battery. (There- I've done my Star Trek tie-in for this year, OKAY GUYS?) Now I look at my watch---- time to go! 
Next week--- commentary on: Darva Congor-- woman of negotiable virtue----- John McCain has an alligator mouth, but does he wear bullet-proof shoes? Gore vs.Bradley- the battling bookends. 
And of course-- More local news from your friendly Napervillan.

Gotta go.. 

Neil