To iPhone or Not To iPhone

I recently discovered that I’ve paid my debt to AT&T, honored the terms of their elaborate contract, and can embark on a new 2-year lease for one of the new, fancy phones available on the market. Or, I can switch providers and engage in a different contract that, in the end, will provide me with cell service anywhere in the USA and afford me a gaming experience beyond my wildest dreams.

So, I began shopping and doing my research in order to make the best decision possible for someone my age, with my background. Thinking that what i discovered will be useful to others, I’m going to share my thoughts about all this hoopla, and what I learned.

To put “things” into perspective, I’m 70 years old. Not your typical gamer looking for the biggest, baddest phone around that will meet my need to play Halo, or some other shooter game, while sipping a latte at Starbucks. No, I’m actually looking for a phone that that I’m less prone to drop, whose keyboard is large enough that I can actually type on, or whose voice recognition is good enough that I can simply talk to it and get things done, if I want to. I have an IT background, but that was my second career after spending the better part of 30 years in the US Navy. Just the guy you want to review your phone, right? If that’s a problem for you I’ll remind you that what I write here isn’t something you have to read. You can stop any time you wish. If you do that, however, you might miss some perfectly valid insight about the potential of this new world of communication gadgets. Or, maybe you won’t. It’s a crap shoot, so read on at your own risk.

I’ve had cell phones since they were first made available. Somewhere in the basement is a box containing a few of the flip-phones I’ve owned in the past. They all did the job just fine and I was happy with every one of them. I suspect they would still work OK if I could convince myself to be happy with GSM or EDGE service. Some of my friends still use them and we talk quite often so I know they still work.

Then, along came texting, a new way to communicate without getting instant gratification by interrupting the person you called while they are in a meeting, eating lunch, or in the bathroom. Instead, send a text that can be answered at a more appropriate time. I loved that idea even though it took me a while to rid myself of the incessant need to respond immediately so as not to offend the caller. Getting the hand of texting on a flip phone was a serious challenge that i eventually met, the the Blackberry show up with its standard QWERTY keyboard layout and the teeny tiny little buttons that I thought I’d never ever be able to hit just one of them. Happily, it turned out I could do it just fine and I learned to enjoy sharing information through text messaging.

Without drawing this out any longer than  necessary, I’ll just share that I progressed through the phones with physical keyboards and into the world of smartphones with those cute little keyboards that work quite nicely. I will add that the only rendition of a smart phone I’ve ever owned is an iPhone of one version  or another. I think I’ve had every version from the start and currently use an iPhone 3.

“Why,” you may ask, “are you still using an iPhone 3?” My response is, “because it still works.” Oh, I had my iPhone 4G just before the iPhone 5 was released, and was on target to get the 5, the  I started dropping “things”, and cracking screens. Most of us have done that, but it took a long time before it started impacting my cellular experience. To aid in my move from the 4G, I upgraded Diane to a perky yellow 5C, took her 3 that was encased in a nifty Hello Kitty case, and gave my 4G to Jeff whose screen was in worse shape than mine. I also gave him a screen repair kit knowing he had friends with fingers more agile than his or mine. Life was good after swapping the SIMS around to get things working.

The Hello Kitty case didn’t last long. I was perfectly OK with it, but Diane felt I should have something a little more “manly”. Being a really good husband, I folded and sadly moved my phone to a new case and I’ve been using it to successfully communicate for the requisite 2 years without fail. And, I haven’t dropped it until recently. Thanks to the case, it didn’t break anything, but dropping it is a concern. I have this vision of wandering abound in Costco, or another equally large retail outlet, with a broke phone that just dropped and will not allow me to communicate with my beloved wife, Diane.

Since we actually were at Costco, I visited the phone kiosk and talked with Seth to learn to advantages of, say, a Samsung G5 over the new iPhone 6. Seth whipped out his Samsung Note 3 and gave me a dazzling exhibition of how accurate Samsung voice recognition is, and how incredibly accurate it’s ability to decipher notes jotted with a stylus and stuff the info into his contact information. He displayed another neat feature that allowed him to wake his phone up simply by talking to it. It was readily evade that he’s done this numerous times and has the spiel down pat, and that he’s a diehard Samsung Guy. He had me convinced that I should abandon the iPhone in favor of an Android unit running an OS with a cute name. I was totally hooked and called AT&T right then to cancel the iPhone 6 I had ordered the previous day. Yup, I was moving on to a platform that would do everything I asked without ever having to touch it. How convenient is that?

I couldn’t do anything about “moving on” for 24 hours from the time I cancelled my order so I had some time on my hands that I put to good use researching The iPhone 5, Samsung G5, and the new Samsung Note 4. I read dozens of reviews from analysts who switched from Android to the iPhone and from iPhone to Android all for valid reasons that fit their needs. Some were full of technical data about how good, or bad, one camera was compared to the other, but the one that resonated with me, after a long dissertation about the merits of each platform, simply said, that if the platform you’re using works for you, does what you need it to do, there’s really not a reason to change. Changing, for me, would entail learning an entirely foreign system and I’m just not inclined to do that. So, I got back online with AT&T and ordered my new iPhone 6, again. It will be here in 7-14 days. I actually toyed with the idea of getting a 6 Plus, but figured the 6 was about the perfect size for me to wrap my arthritic fingers around and engage my trigger fingers to lock it in place without fear of dropping it. The 6 Plus, though nice, would to allow me to engage the trigger fingers, however, so the 6 is it.

Now, if I’d just ignored Seth, my new phone would have been here tomorrow. Now I must wait.

Another Day Another Wound

So … as you know from my previous post, Diane isn’t home today and I was afforded another chance to drive myself to the emergency room. In order for me to legally take advantage of this brief window of opportunity I had to find a clever way to injure myself in such a manner that my honor wouldn’t be impinged.

Getting out my trusty hammer drill, I went to work on the curb I’ve been whittling at for a while in an attempt to make room to set a fence post. The first 6-7 holes were accomplished with no problem then I got cocky and locked the trigger on so I could hold the drill without squeezing it. Made things much easier, with less wear and tear, until the drill bit his a rough spot and I lost my grip. With the bit about 3 inches deep in cement, there was no way it was going to fall over. With the trigger locked on, there was also no way the drill was going to stop. Consequently, the drill quickly began spinning around the drill bit at a pretty impressive RPM, winding up the cord as it went. In an attempt to stop the rotation, I grabbed at it and wound up with my left wrist tied securely to the drill by the cord and twisted in a painful manner until I could reach the extension cord with my right hand and unplug the machine. During the unplugging effort, my right hand was also twisted and beat up so my current predicament is predictable.

My previously partially damaged opposed thumb on my right side is now mostly un-opposed to the point where manipulating a zipper or button a shirt is a challenge. And, my left wrist, though unbroken, isn’t in any kind of mood to bend any direction. Tomorrow things should start getting colorful at the points of injury. If they don’t, I’ll be very disappointed. I’m a firm believer that injuries of this nature should be punctuated with colorful bruises to commemorate the event. If they aren’t, I may be prone to seeking some colored pencils which I can use to create my own marks.

Here’s what happened to the drill …

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On a little lighter side, here’s where Ozzie lounged the entire time I was eating my supper soup in my recliner. He wasn’t waiting for me to drop anything … he just wanted a front row seat in case I was handing out samples … which I did.IMG_0364

I have to add, here, that injuring myself wasn’t the objective of my foray into the area of manual labor this afternoon. Things like that just seem to work out for me.

Supervision, Kids, Trucks, & Football

Yesterday Diane abandoned me, escaping to the wild somewhere southeast of Portland proper, to participate in a women’s retreat with Jennifer and a bunch of other women. To ensure I was adequately supervised in her absence, she and Jennifer arranged for Jeran to spend last night with me to get me through that first night alone. Only one more to go.

It’s good to have Jeran here because we get along extremely well. With no women around, we can leave the toilet seat up all the time, don’t have to close the bathroom door if we don’t want to, and don’t have to change our underwear unless one of us has an accident. Regarding the latter, I’m more prone to that than Jeran is.

Last night for supper Jeran ate two pieces of leftover pizza as well as one chicken wing from a Costco baked chicken purchased Friday afternoon. I only at chicken. I was going to have baked beans with it but they had fuzzy spots amidst the beans so figured it wasn’t a good idea.

We both slept great last night even though we went to bed late. Somehow I got tangled up into watching a Harry Potter marathon and we watched two of the movies back-to-back. Well, I watched the second one, at least. I think the two movies lasted about 7 hours straight which would have rendered me mostly blind had I watched them both.

This morning the dogs allowed me to sleep until about 0715, a new record for 2014, then I lounged peacefully on the sofa until Jeran appeared around 0930. He fixed himself a cereal breakfast and I made coffee. Since Diane isn’t here I can drink the entire pot all by myself. Probably not a good idea, but I could if I wanted. I won’t, though. Instead I’ll drink half and safe the remainder for tomorrow morning. That way I’ll have to use the coffee grinder once. It’s really noisy.

After breakfast, Jeran sat on the sofa to read one of the Harry Potter novels. It’s HUGE! and he’s about halfway through it. Since he was sitting on Diane’s side of the sofa, Ozzie felt that it was OK to join him and snuggled at his feet. This is totally out of character for the little black dog. He even let Jeran pet him without ripping his arm off, his previous form of affection. It’s evident to all who know him that Ozzie has become more socially acceptable over the past couple of weeks since he got his teeth cleaned. We don’t know if the two events are connected but both of them have provided benefits to all of us.

Shortly after Jeran got comfortable with his book, Jeff called to ask what kind of donuts we liked. Raised, glazed, of course, for both Jeran and me. Shortly thereafter, Jeff appeared with Gilligan and Baylee and we had donuts for an after breakfast snack. Lots of times donuts, by themselves, are considered an adequate breakfast, so it was a real treat. We had a good visit, then Jeff had to get the rest of the donuts home before they got hard. It was a good, and tasty, visit.

Now we’re just lounging around. I’m thinking about what I should be doing today, but with no adult supervision I’m finding it difficult to focus on just one project. All I can do is sit in my chair and try to keep my head from twitching as my many unfinished tasks flit around in my brain, each one vying for top billing. Foremost, for sure, is replacement of the fence I ripped down. It’s calling to me, but not loud enough to disturb me. There’s also the chair kit I need to construct, but I don’t have any wood glue. Getting it would require a trip to ACE but I’m still in my jammies and would have to get dressed for that task. There’re others, I know, but I’m not currently inclined to expend the required amount of brain cells necessary to remember them.

o, here I sit, watching Camping World’s Fred’s 250 from the Talladega Superspeedway, and unranked West Virginia beat #4 Baylor at football, with the sound off. I left the sound off so it wouldn’t disturb Jeran’s library experience on the sofa.

I’m watching the Talladega race because it’s a pickup race and I figured it would be a good way to decide what kind of pickup we should get. What I did was check on line to see what the lineup was and learned that Chevy’s outnumber all other entrants by far. Second is Toyota then there’s Ford. Plus, they use a Chevy Silverado as the pace truck. Therefore, it’s a simple decision to chose Chevy as the truck of choice. It was made even easier because we’d already made that decision. It’s a 2015 goal of ours.

Wow! All of that just wore me out. Guess it’s time for a nap.

Lady Lions Soccer

The St. Helens High School Junior Varsity soccer team is not ranked in the state of Oregon. Sadly, none of the JV teams are. Only Varsity teams get ranked which, to me, moves JV teams into the realm of Second Class Citizens. I say that realizing the goal of all JV team members is to move up to the Varsity ranks as quickly as possible. As a result, there is a lot of competition, sometimes to the point of being unhealthy for all involved … for some teams.

The Lady Lions JV Soccer Team (LLJVST), I’m happy to report, does not even lean a little bit toward the unhealthy side of things. They are a good team that never get written up in the newspaper like their Varsity mentors do, but they should because they win games more often.

Yesterday, for example, St. Helens played Hillsboro High School in an unusual venue where both JV and Varsity teams played adjacent to each other. Diane, I, and a gathering of perhaps 10 other parents attended the game to cheer our girls on, which some of us did in very enthusiastic, loud voices which that were apparently regarded as unnecessary, and definitely unwanted, by the opposing team.

It was interesting to see how the Varsity game was going while also watching the JV team. We couldn’t catch-all the activity over there but the scoreboard kept us apprised of the situation. The JV field didn’t have a scoreboard so we had to keep track in our heads.

Adding an element of great interest, and challenge, was the fact that JV and Varsity Hillsboro teams were unbeaten. As we watched the scoreboard progress from 1-0, to 4-0, in favor of Hillsboro Varsity it was evident this trend would continue on the varsity side. The final score was 7-1.

On the JV side, things were a little different. Varsity had 3 umpires, we had one. In our St. Helens crowd we also had 2 lady soccer umpires who know the game and helped prompt our lone ump to pay more attention to activity away from the ball. It was pretty physical and there was a distinct danger that someone was going to get hurt if fouls weren’t called when made.

The JV game was very well-played defensively on both sides for much of the first half, then St. Helens scored. It was 1-0, something Hillsboro wasn’t prepared for and it appeared this was used as a reason to escalate the physical nature of the game. We in the stands, cheered all the good plays, and pointed out obvious misses by the umpire which seemed to upset the opponents who started explaining to us the reason an infraction was committed, even if it wasn’t called. It served no purpose other than to make them angry, for no reason.

Soon it was 2-0 and, when the final whistle blew, it was 3-0, St. Helens. Our JV girls held the previously unbeaten Hillsboro girls scoreless for their first time. It was a glorious win and our girls displayed exceptional behavior. They know what it’s like to lose, and they accept defeat gracefully. Sadly, even though they play a great game, that’s not true for all teams.

Oh! Did I mention that our Lydia is the JV goalie? She made some awesome saves and will be sporting some impressive bruises for a while as a result. Team defense helped secure the win by ensuring the ball was kept in play at the other end of the field for much of the game.

Dermatology, iPhone’s, & Blood Blisters

Today Diane took me to my dermatology appointment at Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland where the doc caused me excruciating pain as he burned off a fairly large number of suspect moles from various parts of my body. I was very disappointed to learn how many pain receptors there are behind my ear lobe. Maybe yours are different, but I doubt it.

Eventually the pain went away and the doc helped me up off the floor and allowed me to exit his facility without further injury. To celebrate my release we went to lunch at Home Town Buffet in Beaverton. It’s an all you can eat place, but I didn’t. I could have eaten lots more.

On the way home we stopped at Fred Meyers in Scappoose. I bought a new case for the new iPhone 6 that’s supposed to be on its way to me.

In case you’re curious about what’s been going on for the past bunch of days you’re out of luck because I don’t remember right at this moment. Not all of it, anyway. There is a memorable moment I had alone while chipping through some really old cement in order to make room for a new fence post when I received a career ending blood blister on my left pinky. It really hurt and had something to do with a small sledge-hammer and a wedge meant for splitting wood that I was using as a tool to dismantle portions of a cement curb. It worked better than I thought it would. Turns out it works pretty good for splitting really hard rocks, too. Who knew?

Now I’m tired and must quit.

Wash Cloth Rules

This morning I was retrained in how to tell which wash cloths on the shelf I’m legally allowed to use. Apparently there are rules regarding wash cloth selection that I’ve forgotten. Sometimes I will leave the hall light off and grab the first one I touch when reaching into the towel & wash cloth closet (T&WCC). That’s probably the way it works in most homes but I have no data to support that theory. Now that I’ve been properly re-educated, wash cloths have become more important in my life. I’ve lost the carefree notion that it is OK to use whatever’s available and now understand that I better watch my P’s and Q’s when making future selections.

Here’re the two washcloth rules, as I understand them …

  • Diane’s — New, Soft, Fluffy, Colored
  • Jerrie’s — Really thin, well-worn, look like they may have been white at some point in the past, are within one machine washing of hitting the rag-bag, weren’t colored when purchased

Simple, right? Perhaps my mistakes in grabbing the wrong cloths stems from a sense of unfairness. Seems like I could at least use the colored ones.

In an attempt to help me with this problem, I was reminded that Diane’s wash cloths are always on the left of the shelf. Anything to the right of her pile is fair game. Here’s what it looks like …

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Looking at that picture I’m sure all of you can see the reason why my grasp gravitates to the left pile, right? Isn’t it evident that going for the top of the pile on the right would result in serious injury to one’s knuckles by trying to extract the cloth on top. I will, however, abide by the rules with the hope that, one day, I, too, can legally use a new, soft, fluffy wash cloth.

Until then, in order to remove the immediate need for a wash cloth, I’ve decided to start using one of those sponges made for cleaning up grout on a tile job. You know, the ones that has a rough scrubby side and a soft side?

Or, better yet, maybe I’ll just use one of Diane’s really, really fluffy socks. She has lots of those because she has career ending cold feet. Since socks are always getting lost in the wash, i doubt she would miss one that doesn’t have a mate.

I’ll let you know.

Welcome to Rainy Oregon

Weather here is pretty funny. Funny because most people think about rain when Oregon comes up in a conversation. Last week, and even earlier this week, it really was raining, but it’s been sporadic so everyone can enjoy these first few weekends of fall. I think someone made a deal with the weather folks. there’s no other reason.

Yesterday it was so nice we took a trip to the beach. Really! We did that. It was 77 degrees when we got there and it was warmer when we left after enjoying the “crowds” that flocked around the Wreck of the Peter Iredale on a Fort Stevens State Park beach in Warrenton, Oregon.
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Ok … so there was just one person in the photo, but there was a moment when 4-5 people were there at the same time. For added emphasis, Diane shared the moment so everyone could get a true perspective of how large the remains are.IMG_0102

Before Diane and I walked down to the beach, we dragged her Mom, Jean, to the top of a sand dune so she couldnt escape. She also had a very nice view of the beach and didn’t have to expend a lot of energy to obtain this lofty location.IMG_0097

The reason is because it was just a short walk straight out from where Diane parked the Buick in the upper lot. Not a bad day.IMG_0107We returned home shortly before 6 pm which was a good thing because we discovered that today we had an opportunity to watch Lydia play a little softball in Rainier. Sadly, the first game started at 0900, but we arrived just as it was starting. It was one of the normal weekend tournaments that she’s played in many times in the past, with many of the same girls she’s played with for many years. It was like a little homecoming for her, in a way.

Lydia’s team won that first game 8-3, but they lost the second one 3-2. They play again tomorrow, but we won’t be able to attend. I need to attend church to atone for whatever sins I’ve committed during the last few weeks. Diane makes me do that once in a while because she’s a little concerned that lightening will strike me some time when she’s near me and hopes to avoid the moment.

Here’s Lydia at one of her at bats … that’s Diane with the pink sweater in her lap next to my green chair … Lydia was the lead off batter for both games.DSC_2420Here she is running to first base … that’s Daniel just to the right of #2 keeping score. Jennifer normally keeps score but she couldn’t make today’s games because of work. So Daniel, like a good husband should, stepped in to fill that void. What a guy. Jeran is sitting next to him.

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Here she is lounging on first base talking with her first base coach and Pete, the umpire. I think they’re talking about what to have for lunch. I’m not sure. There’s Daniel again, on the right.
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Here’s Lydia running to second base …DSC_2434

Here she is lounging on second base … this is as far as she got before the team got their third out. DSC_2436

Here she is playing first base. The runner was out which is evident because Lydia is holding the ball.DSC_2440Lydia played the first game in center field and started the second one in that position but was moved to first base due to errors. She didn’t make any at this position. Sadly, after moving to first base the opposing team started hitting long balls to the outfield, mainly to center field. Sadder yet is that the first base person who was moved because of errors was playing center field. Consequently, runs scored that Lydia would have, I’m sure, prevented. But, luck of the draw, and it is what it is. They all still had fun.

It was a little odd that Marty, the normal coach for this team, wasn’t present. He’s always there. Today, however, we learned that he is currently at the VA hospital in Vancouver where he’s learning to walk a straight line again after suffering a stroke earlier in the week. Apparently he’s going to be OK but currently has the tendency to veer left as he walks. We’re not yet sure if that’s going to affect is driving abilities.

That’s about it for today. Had we not attended the ball games, I would have had to work around the house. Probably in the area of building a fence to replace the one I recently ripped down. The new one will be made of wood instead of loosely stacked rocks. Really heavy rocks.

Now I must rest. Lastly, however, I must share my sadness over the fact that the Oregon Ducks rolled over for the Arizona Wildcats once again. They beat Oregon last year, too. Their only loss. Looks like history is repeating.

Summer, Golf, & TV Shows

Did I mention that summer here in our part of Oregon was so long that our hydrangeas bloomed twice? it’s true. They did.

Yesterday I went golfing with Vern, Jim, and Doug at Wildwood Golf Course. When we go there it’s an 18-hole event which generally wears me out. We had a great time and I even parred a coupe of holes which is totally uncharacteristic of my normal play. I don’t get many pars. In truth, my goal for any given hole, regardless of what par may be, is to finish it in single digits. I can truthfully report that I accomplished my goal for almost all of the 18 holes played.

It’s raining today and pretty dreary. But, it’s going to perk up later in the week and there’s talk of going golfing again. As many of you know, weather isn’t really a factor on whether or not we go golfing. Weather just comes in to consideration when deciding what to wear. You know … shorts and zories, or shorts and boots.

Speaking of golf … I saw the following joke on Facebook …

A married man was having an affair with his secretary. One day they went to her place and made love all afternoon. 
 
Exhausted, they fell asleep and woke up at 8 PM. 
 
The man hurriedly dressed and told his lover to take his shoes outside and rub them in the grass and dirt. 
 
He put on his shoes and drove home. 
 
‘Where have you been?’ his wife demanded. 
 
‘I can’t lie to you,’ he replied, ‘I’m having an affair with my secretary. We had sex all afternoon.’ 
 
She looked down at his shoes and said, ‘You lying bastard! You’ve been playing golf!
 

Last night we sat down to watch the season premier of “Sleepy Hollow” which was one of the many shows recorded on Diane’s DVR. About half-way through I commented on how confusing it was and how ridiculous the story had become. It wasn’t a fun one for us so we took it off our viewing list and will no longer record it. We will, however, continue with “Blue Bloods”, “Person of Interest”, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, “The Good Wife”, “The Big Bang Theory”, “Madam Secretary”, “Dancing With The Stars”, “The Blacklist”, “Castle”, “Rizzoli & Isles”, “Forever”, “Criminal Minds”,  “Scorpion”, anything with “NCIS” in the title, anything with “CSI” in the title, “Hawaii Five-O”, “The Middle”, all the Ducks & Beavers games, and pretty much anything on HGTV. A little bit of basic math reveals these shows cover more than 24 hours a week so it’s pretty much a part-time job to watch them all. But, we manage to get it done. The dogs aren’t real happy about it because they don’t get a lot of escorted time outside. You may also be wondering how I find time to play golf with all these TV watching responsibilities hovering over me. Well, that’s when HGTV gets watched. Oh, ya! We watch some of the NFL games, too, and will be watching the Portland Trailblazers when the NBA gets going again. Wears me out just thinking about it. Maybe I should get a hobby.

Did I mention that a famous local social figure in Scappoose has a new hip? He’s doing well, last I heard, which is good. He told me he was limited to being up no more than an hour a day unless he was compelled to attend a quilt show. Then it was OK to be up and around for six hours. That makes sense in a complicated sort of way.

Yesterday (I think) I called the new hip owners brother to make sure he was still living in Idaho. He is, but he’s getting slower on the draw when it comes to answering the phone. It must have rang 7-8 times before he picked up. Considering his advanced age, perhaps I should be more understanding. He should adopt my modus operandi that ensures I’m never more than 18 inches from a phone, even in the bathroom. So, don’t hesitate to call me. Any time.

Now I’m going to watch Monday Nite Football.

Bomb Scare @ St. Helens High School

This morning the St. Helens High School was evacuated because one of the sophomore students brought an explosive device to school. This was discovered when the perp disclosed this information to other students while off campus at the near-by McDonald’s. The students who were apprised of this situation informed the assistant principal who initiated the evacuation.

Turns out the device was in a locker outside Jeran’s first period class. Although the device was determined to be one that wouldn’t have destroyed the school, it could still have caused significant damage.

We learned of all these “goings on” when Jennifer texted Diane this morning to alert us about the evacuation and to invite us to lunch at Zhen’s. Those event go together because after the school was evacuated, all the students were transported to the Columbia City School and parents were informed they could pick them up there. That’s what Daniel and Jennifer did just before lunch. Since the kids weren’t allowed to take anything with them, all their lunches were left at school, so they were hungry, like most other teenagers in the world. So, we had Chinese food for lunch.

While dining we heard all about the morning events from our three high school grandchildren – Cedric, Lydia, and Jeran. During the conversation a question about who the errant student might be. At the time that information hadn’t been shared by authorities. Without hesitation, Cedric, our “in-house” empath, mentioned a name and explained why he thought it was that person. Hours later we learned he was dead on about who made the device.

Interesting day.

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