Sunday, May 24, 2015

Now I Know

My daughter came to me today with a connundrum.  She has a longstanding friend who recently told her that he's developed romantic feelings for her.  When he initially told her this, she acknowledged his feelings, but said that she thought of him as a friend.  Since then, she's come to the conclusion that she has feelings for him as well.  She asked me what to do.  I told her to go for it.  She's concerned that things won't work out, and that she'll lose the friendship.  I still said that she should go for it.

When I was younger, I had the same thing happen to me.  I met Debbie my sophmore year in high school.  She was a freshman.  The first time I talked to her, I wanted to be more than friends, but she put me in the friend zone.  I was okay with this.  Over the years, we spent hours on the phone, hung out together all the time, and shared everything... except romance.  When I graduated high school and went into the Marine Corps, we still kept in touch... letters, phone calls, and the mandatory visits when I was home on leave.

When I was in the Persian Gulf, I called her one night while I was on liberty.  We talked for about 30 minutes, and during the call she said the magic words... "I love you."  I still remember it like it was yesterday.  I laughed out loud and said "WHAT?!?"  Yeah, that totally came out wrong.  I immediately apologized and clarified that my laughter and dismay was out of pure joy.  I had waited years to hear those words from her.

We corresponded incessantly during the remainder of my deployment, and when I returned to the States, I immediately went home... home to her.  We were inseparable until I had to return to duty, but we maintained a long distance relationship.  I flew her out to see me... the one and only time I did that for anyone.  We spent another glorious week together.

After that, things started falling apart.  I was a conservative member of the Armed Services, and she was a liberal Political Science major.  Both of us believed that our world view was superior to the other's... mine because I was out living in the real world and experiencing things she couldn't see in school... hers because she was receiving higher education, and I just wasn't enlightened.  Our conversations were increasingly confrontational, and then less frequent.  Eventually, I came home on leave again; but I knew that we had to end things.

When things ended, we went our separate ways.  Within a year, I got married and had my first child.  She went to law school and became an attorney.  As you'd expect, things were never the same between us afterwards.  I still called and sent cards for a few years, but eventually we drifted apart.  For a long time, I suspected that I broke her heart, but years later I learned that I probably loved her more than she loved me.

To this day, I occasionally wonder how she's doing.  Don't get me wrong, I know she's successful, and I strongly suspect that she's happy.  That's not really the point though.  The point is that I knew what I wanted.  I hung in there.  I won her heart... for a short time.  In the long run, things didn't work out, and we went our separate ways.  With all of that said though, I don't regret taking the chance.  Realistically speaking, we probably would have gone our separate ways whether or not we made the leap and tried a romantic relationship.  This way though, I will not spend the rest of my life asking "What if...?"  Now I know.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Quick Look at the Manchester Whitewater Park

I took my wife and grandson on a brief excursion to Iowa's newest water attraction, the Manchester Whitewater Park.  Since I had the boy with me, I didn't run the rapids, but I did stop to take a good look at the park's layout; I surveyed each drop, and watched a few paddlers enjoying themselves.  I also saw a couple of folks on inner tubes, and even witnessed a couple running the rapids in their open canoe.  (They made it through the first five drops and spilled on the last one.)

The river flow was low and slow today.  The Manchester USGS gauge showed a depth of about 4.1 feet, and a flow of about 160 CFS.  Higher water will make a tremendous difference from what I'm reporting today.

I had a great initial impression walking the length of the park.  There is ample parking at the upper end of the park, with easy access to the water.  Furthermore, there is a sidewalk along the entire length of the park, and you can quickly and easily put in directly upstream or downstream from all of your favorite features.

During the small amount of time I observed boaters in the water, I saw people primarily hanging around the second and fifth drop.  This is partially because there were people fishing on the first and last hole.  Apparently the guy on the first drop was kind of rude.  He was fishing with a treble hook, on the edge of the wave, and refused to move his line, even when people were trying to just run though to get to the other features.  The folks on the last drop were significantly more friendly... but then again, they were actually catching fish.

Last time I was in Charles City, people were wondering about the differences between the two parks.  All drops in Manchester are significantly narrower than the drops at the Charles City Whitewater park, leaving noticeably less room to roam across a given feature.  I estimate that each feature was about seven to eight feet wide today.  In my opinion though, this offset by the increased number of features available in the Manchester park.  The Manchester park is a good 50% longer than Charles City.  This means a significantly longer walk from the last feature back upstream to the first, but it's not a difficult walk by any stretch of the imagination.  And again, there are more features, so it's quite foreseeable that you'll take fewer walks back upstream in Manchester than you will in Charles City.

Here are some photos of the drops for your review...

Notice the ease of access to the drop, by walking along the rocks to the actual feature.  Each drop has this type of easy access.
This is the first drop.  The wife and grandson in the picture should give you a frame of reference for the size of the wave and feature.  All drops are roughly this wide.

Second Drop

Third Drop

Third Drop, closer up

This isn't an actual feature, but it has the potential to be fun.  In low water, you will drag going through this.

Fourth Drop

Fifth Drop

Sixth Drop

There is also a place to rent kayaks and tubes
If you're looking for more of a paddling oriented review of the park, feel free to look at this YouTube video.

Friday, May 22, 2015

What Goes Around?

On more than one occasion, I have talked about my older daughter's ex-boyfriend... the biological father of my grandson.  Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have nothing but contempt for this individual, and knows why.  The guy is currently 23 years old, has assaulted me and broken my nose, has run over my daughter with his truck, absconded with my grandson, and has been convicted of two felonies.  (That's just the highlights.)  He hasn't seen his son in over seven months, and hasn't paid a nickel to support the costs associated with raising a child.  To make matters worse, he tells anyone who will listen that it's my daughter's fault that he can't see his son, which is absolutely false; and during the most recent custody hearing, he told the judge that he had another child on the way, and that he was ready to stop fighting to see my grandson so that he could focus on the baby on the way.

When he ran over my daughter, DHS got involved.  They determined that he was a danger to my daughter and grandson, and gave him supervised visits with the boy.  He was told that he needed to complete a psychological evaluation and a drug abuse evaluation, and to get counseling if that's what the evaluations determined he needed to do.   He was given three one-hour supervised visits per week in the interim.  Over the next year, he made no attempt to complete his evaluations.  He was inconsistent in visits to the point where DHS dropped him down to one visit per week.  Eventually he quit showing up altogether.

His felonies consist of first degree theft and burglary.  His assaults on my daughter and me brought about two more convictions, but he has served no jail time to date.  A few days ago, I found out that he got busted for OWI. In addition to the OWI charge, he's been charged with speeding (20+ over the speed limit), driving without a license, driving with no insurance, failure to obey a traffic signal, interference with official acts, providing false identification and not wearing a seat belt.  When he got busted for the OWI, the court saw fit to re-evaluate his felony convictions.  (The first conviction earned him a deferred judgment, and the second conviction earned him a five-year suspended sentence.)  Based on the County's inmate roster, he's still sitting in jail.  Makes sense.  In order to get out on bail, he needs to come up with about $15000 in cash.

IF he's convicted, there's a reasonable chance that he will finally spend some time behind bars.  It's not guaranteed, and I'm not going to hold my breath.  But I am holding out a bit of hope that what he sent around will finally get back around to him.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Another Evening with Slipknot

Back in November, my best friend and I went to see Slipknot and Korn in concert in Moline, Il.  (Click here for my blog post on that concert.)  I was actually supposed to see that concert with my younger daughter, but she had a scheduling conflict, so I went with my friend instead.  It was a crazy good time.  Last night, Slipknot played in my hometown, and I was able to attend that concert with my daughter, and like the concert in November, I had a blast.

Doing a concert in my hometown is great.  I know the city, so I was able to find a parking spot that was free, easy in, and easy out from the venue... no waiting for all of the other cars to leave.  In addition, we stopped at a restaurant downtown and grabbed a quick bite before hitting the concert.  Once we arrived at the venue, we saw a group of conservative, evangelical Christians picketing the concert.  I didn't thoroughly read their signs, but what I read didn't incite anger on my part.  The signs weren't full of hate and anger.  Those of you who know me, realize that I'm a Christian.  Part of me was tempted to ask the protesters if they believe that it's possible to be Christian AND attend the concert, just to find out.  In the end, I didn't, and am glad I made that choice.

We arrived at the show kind of early.  This gave me a chance to grab a beer.  My daughter also took the opportunity to buy a T-Shirt before the concert started, and we were able to get relatively close to the stage.  This worked out well, because by the time the opening act was halfway through their set, we were in the third row.  By the time Slipknot came on, my daughter had worked her way front and center, with me right behind her.  This, by the way, is the first time I've seen a band twice on the same tour, and I once again left the concert very impressed, though the reasons were somewhat different.

Don't get me wrong, the crowd was incredibly energetic (probably, in part, because Slipknot was playing in their home state), and the band was on.  But I was taken by the fact that security was constantly giving water to a very hot and thirsty crowd.  I also saw that the band did a few things differently between the concert in Moline and what they did last night.  This tells me that they don't have everything rehearsed, and that the interaction with the crowd is at least somewhat genuine.  During the concert, custom percussionist Chris Fehn (AKA #3) went through the pit, and gave my daughter a high five.  Later in the concert, Mick Thompson (AKA #7) threw out a pick, and my daughter got it.  What's really cool about this is that I got a pick from the exact same band member when I saw them in November.  What are the odds?!?

I was also impressed with the security folks in general.  They weren't Nazis, trying to crush our fun.  In addition to them constantly providing us with water, they were going out of their way to make sure that everyone in the front was safe and having fun.  There were a couple of them who were very obviously watching out for my daughter... they gave her water every time they brought it out, and they frequently checked in with her to make sure that she was okay... not getting overheated, crushed by the crowd and so forth.  After the concert was over, I made a point of thanking them for watching out for the kid, and for doing a grand job in general.

By the time the concert was over, I was physically drained, and my clothes were soaked with sweat.  I suspect I lost a couple of pounds in water weight.  But I created another lasting memory with my younger daughter.