No No NO!

29 09 2008

Don’t you get it, stupid sky? I want the overcast without the rain. Stop this stupid “95 today and wet tomorrow!” business before someone gets hurt. I have your children and I will send them to the coal mines if I don’t start seeing some 68 and foggy in the next 48 hours. This is not negotiable.

It’s been one of those

28 09 2008

Foretastes of morning alight on my pillow

My thoughts start to settle as sheets start to billow

What is it that keeps me addicted to sleep?

Perhaps it’s the opium — much better than sheep.


24 09 2008

WordPress tells me that someone actually searched for “Andrew Mollenbeck” and thus stumbled upon my blog.

I can only wonder if it was a potential employer or a mortal enemy.  Of course, these days, it’s pretty hard to tell the difference.

Thank you, Mr. McManus

24 09 2008

Probably for definitelies the best part of communicating with children is trying to figure out what examples to use so as to embed knowledge in their minds most effectively.  For instance — Chris asked me this question: “What does Rectify mean?”  I know that, in my mind, an easy way to learn its definition is to point out that “correct” and “rectify” share the identical arrangement of four letters — the etymology may not be wholly on my side, but it serves the purpose for the assignment.

Of course, some kids look at me like I’m insane when trying methods like this one. Those are the ones with whom I adopt old Mr. Hanboder’s method of instruction:

(Edit: I didn’t say it at the time, but this was some of what I later used for TST.  The “final draft” (mmm…draft…) can be found a few posts after this one. No, I won’t give you a link, you lazy pig.)

Old Mr. Hanboder, by Robert

Old Mr. Hanboder was a man who expected great things. When my parents sent me to work in his wheat fields after I turned ten, I quickly discovered that he saw children much like my Grandpa Abraham did. Just like Grandpa Abe, Old Mr. Hanboder was always willing to tell you a story or two about how hard it was in his day; and just like Grampa Abe, Old Mr. Hanboder always had a wink and a rock to send your way if you stopped cutting the wheat for even a second. The work sure was hard, and the scars may never go away, but I’ll never forget the lesson I learned at Old Mr. Hanboder’s side on the day we buried Jimmy.

As the cardboard coffin tumbled into the pit we had helped Jimmy dig just a few short days before, Old Mr. Hanboder leaned in way close to me and whispered to me, “That’ll be you next week if you don’t start cutting more of my !@#(!@# wheat.”

I only wish Grandpa Abraham had eluded the police long enough to meet Old Mr. Hanboder. I think they would have been the best of friends.

One week to go

21 09 2008

I spoke to everyone imaginable at the La Mirada Olive Festival this weekend, and I was impressed by the fact that the most enjoyable conversation of all was with Councilman Pete Dames, who was more than willing to bring me up to date on everything I could have ever wanted to know about La Mirada. Apparently Beatitudes Church was having their carnival, which really took a lot of the crowd away from the smorgasbord that was the food tent; the boss gave me a punch card to “sample” the food when I arrived to cover the event, which translated into more food than I could ever have wanted after using only 20% of my food credits. There was food there.

Anyway, I quickly recalled how much I do enjoy talking to people after getting over the hump (the first interview is always the toughest — you haven’t really gotten a “feel” for the event in some cases, and what they want to say may not line up with what you’re asking) and striking up a few fun conversations. I talked about classic cars, the economy, local bands, the hardships of owning a business right now and why most of the businesses there were stupid. 

It was fun.

However, it would have been a lot more fun if I hadn’t been sick. I donned my standard outdoors disguise for interviewing, but I suspect that my pallor still radiated noticeably in the midst of the waning summer heat. Not that anyone specifically minded, you understand, but still — feeling less than 100% always leaves me wondering if I really performed my duties to the best of my abilities. 

Thankfully, I really like to talk about cars. That helped a lot. 


At the end of the day, though, I really couldn’t put it any better than Dick Gard the Retired Aluminum Shop Owner did:

“I mostly babysit my grandkids now.”


(My throat is scratchy now. Go away.)

Everything, insanity

14 09 2008

Vida fue muy sabrosa en la fin de la semana pasada.

My dad has spent the last six weeks or so without a voice. After another one of many procedures on his throat in an effort to slow the progress of his Amyloidosis, he found himself with but a whisper with which to communicate. As a pastor, this also began to raise fears that had remained relatively far from the realm of likelihood since the onset of his disease nearly five years ago.

Seeing my father struggle to be heard because of a vacuum or a passing car was hard. Knowing that his condition was the result of a procedure to restore his voice was one of the most bitter ironies I had witnessed in some time. After going through the fairly difficult process of accepting his hoarse-ish voice as a replacement for that of my father’s over the last few years, I began to sadden every time I thought about how much I had resented his affliction before it became severe.

My mom has been working hard in the midst of a flagging economy to limited success; her hours have seen reductions to the point where she was looking for a new job despite really enjoying what she has now. Her and our prayers were finally answered and fulfilled when she was given enough seniority a few months ago so that she would be able to maintain a worthwhile schedule.

I remember also resenting my mom’s employer over the last year on a number of occasions; her pay was substantially lower than he skill set should have garnered, and her work environment was often maddening. My love for my mother often made it difficult for me to be thankful for a troubling job that my mom needed directly because of my dad’s medical troubles (college is also expensive, apparently).

Now, of course, I can see how weak my faith was in those times. My mom is currently blessed to be working with friends on a regular schedule that puts bread on the table.

Today, my father preached for the first time since that last procedure, having “discovered a voice” that at first sounded much higher than his original “croak” but has since come down to practically normal (for an amyloidosis patient) levels.

As I was sharing a hymnal with my grandma this morning, I wondered how my dad must have been feeling. Surely, he was nervous, wondering if people would really think of his “new” voice as much of an answered prayer at all. Surely, he was apprehensive, wondering if it would hold up to the rigors of a long sermon. Of course, he was faithful and strong, and it seemed to me that his voice rang with a note that echoed what I have heard over the past four years to a nearly exact degree.

My dad preached about Ecclesiastes this morning to a congregation that has supported him in innumerable ways while some of us chose doubt over faithfulness. To be sure, I cannot say that God’s will has finally seen its fulfillment in the matter of my father and his voice. I still pray earnestly for his complete healing and the restoration of his health. In the meantime, however, I could not have received a more blatant reminder to be grateful for what God gives, and to be grateful for everything under the sun that God has given to us. The rather languid tones of Ecclesiastes 8 resonated this morning in an audibly iridescent manner:

14-There is futility which is done on the earth, that is, there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked; On the other hand, there are evil men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I say that this too is futility.

15So I commended pleasure, for there is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and to drink and to be merry, and this will stand by him in his toils throughout the days of his life which God has given him under the sun.

16When I gave my heart to know wisdom and to see the task which has been done on the earth (even though one should never sleep day or night),

17and I saw every work of God, I concluded that man cannot discover the work which has been done under the sun Even though man should seek laboriously, he will not discover; and though the wise man should say, “I know,” he cannot discover.

Matt is going to have KIDS someday. What? What? No. What?

Foggy? Bottoms up, boys

11 09 2008

The sky has finally arrived. A beautiful grey pallor has greeted me after too long an absence, and I must do my duty and heed its call. RUNNING TIME!



Here be Dragons

Here be Dragons


9 09 2008

Woke up at 5:10 this morning, not totally sure why. Couldn’t get back to sleep, so finally crawled out of bed at like 6:30. Bleah.  I suspect that my body was refusing to relax again since it knew I had to be at a morning Chamber of Commerce meeting/breakfast at 7:30, but still — 5? Really, Mr. Body?

Dressed appropriately/garbed with pure hot, I left the house feeling ready to sleep in my car. Instead, I got to sit at the table which all the city employees chose to bless with their presence. No, thanks, I’d rather not admit that I will be asking you all for a favor in the near future. Let’s just eat. Pass the caffeine, hm?

As if my energy levels weren’t depleted enough, Randall noticed a blood drive going on down the street, which had FREE ICE CREAM. I’ll trade my plasma for milkfat any day of the week, baby. Randall was so excited that he blew his vein (artery?) all over the floor. Good thing I got the reliable nurse. I always seem to get along well with nurses, especially female ones. Maybe they just sense that indefinable quality within me: The quality of being a smarmy mass of pomposity who will submit to the demands of the healthcare professional with a smile and a compliment.

Oh yeah. I really wanted that ice cream.

Tried to overeat at lunch to make up for lost nutrients, but I think I broke the scale in my attempt to tip it. Insert fat jokes here, but be aware — I’m in better shape than I’ve been in years. Specifically, a sort of pentagonal shape. Say pentagonal again without laughing. Now again….again…gotcha.

At teaching land, I got yanked from 4th grade (where I’ll be for the forseeable future) back into 6th today since Kevin apparently didn’t feel the need to get a replacement. Hey, at least I knew two of the kid’s names right off the bat.  Biggest accomplishment? Getting a smile from Jason, who only speaks Korean, when I communicated to him, through pointless English (habit) and gestures, that he only had to do one page of homework instead of two. Oh, the adoration these kids bestow upon their lenient taskmasters…

Dropped Randall off once I got home and went straight over to the city council meeting — was about ready to sleep, but the halls of justice wait for no man. Fortunately, the civic center usually takes its time, so I just got to hear the “under God” in the pledge of allegiance. It’s a good sign, right?

If you’re interested, Sam’s Burger’s was denied a liquor license because of density concerns. Please, try not to scream that loudly in the future. The kids are asleep.

Happened to see Jason and John O. there too. Small world. Especially when you only go across the street, turnsout.

And, how was this day capped?

Colbert. Doyle. Ethier.

It felt so right. Except that I wanted to go to bed at 8. Grandma would be ashamed of me.

Cleaning House

5 09 2008

As far as my organizational skills are considered, I’m a slob. My desk will never, ever stay clean for more than a week, and it takes months before I’m willing to clean it all the way off again. 

I think this is part of my penchant for engineering. I mean, really, how great must I be at designing after constantly having to utilize smaller and smaller amounts of space for more and more things? I’m pretty sure that a certain Frank Lloyd Wright don’t gots nuttin’ on mes. 


See? Nothing.

See? Nothing.

The Optimist Rains

3 09 2008

Even over the weekend, I’ve noticed my disposition maintaining a level of positivity that, even a few months ago, would have seemed foreign and repugnant. 

Oh, don’t worry, I’m still a sarcastic and biting son of a gun, but I know something you don’t know, and it’s really been keeping me aloft pretty regularly over the last little while. 

I suppose now would be a good time to dwell upon the peaks and troughs of life, but I’d much prefer to continue immersing myself in the first real patch of unadulterated bliss since my high school days. 

Writing makes me happy. Not here, so much, but in general. Being able to categorize myself as such, and receiving little (trivial, even) affirmations on a regular basis has done a lot to solidify my notions about who I am.

And, I know something you don’t know.


Hey, have a little Chesterton for now. This quote had me at “hello.”

Yet He restrained something. I say it with reverence; there was in that shattering personality a thread that must be called shyness. There was something that He hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray. There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation.

There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth.