Wednesday, January 04, 2006

What A Difference A Day Makes

This is looking north toward Rocklin from atop Sierra College Blvd in Roseville. The day was sunny, breezy, and quite mild. After all the rain and drizzle and clouds, it was a welcome change! Posted by Picasa

This is a view of the snowcapped Sierra Nevada mountains, probably 40-50 miles east of Roseville. The air was amazingly clear.

It's fascinating the psychological difference between a drizzly, cloudy day and a bright, sunny day. It was nice to get out and drive around, even if it was just to the store.

And Then There's This Fun Little Quiz....

I narfed this from Joni over at

Advanced Global Personality Test Results
Extraversion |||||||||||||||| 63%
Stability |||||||||||||||||||| 86%
Orderliness |||||||||||||| 53%
Accommodation |||||||||||| 50%
Interdependence |||||||||||||||| 70%
Intellectual |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Mystical || 10%
Artistic |||| 16%
Religious |||||||||||||||||||| 83%
Hedonism |||||| 23%
Materialism |||||||||||| 43%
Narcissism |||||||||||| 43%
Adventurousness |||||||||||||| 56%
Work ethic |||||||||||||||| 63%
Self absorbed |||||||||||||| 56%
Conflict seeking || 10%
Need to dominate |||||||||||| 50%
Romantic |||||||||||||||| 63%
Avoidant |||||||||||||| 56%
Anti-authority |||||||||||| 50%
Wealth |||||| 30%
Dependency |||||||||| 36%
Change averse |||||||||||| 50%
Cautiousness |||||||||||||| 56%
Individuality |||||| 23%
Sexuality |||||||||||||||| 70%
Peter pan complex |||||||||||||||| 63%
Physical security |||||||||||||||||||| 83%
Physical Fitness || 10%
Histrionic |||||||||| 36%
Paranoia |||||||||||| 43%
Vanity |||||||||||||||| 70%
Hypersensitivity |||||||||||| 50%
Female cliche |||||| 23%
Take Free Advanced Global Personality Test
personality tests by

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Human Parents

It's the passing of an era to realize that your parents are only human.

My parent's house needs to be treated for termites, so naturally they need to get out of the house for about a week while the pest company puts up the big tent and treats the house. For the past two weeks I've been going to their home on one of my days off and moving a few things they wanted to be sure were kept safe, into a storage pod they rented. This has meant going through the house with them, looking into old closets and poking around in drawers, loading up a few boxes, and cleaning off a few shelves.

It has also meant dealing with both my mom and dad at a time when both a just a little stressed about the whole situation. They are both getting old. Dad is nearly 80 and about 90% blind, while mom is nearly 77, and has a very hard walking. Both are set in their ways. The house they live in used to be a duplex (my dad punched out a wall years ago when they bought it, making it one big house), so they both have their own "side" of the house. They have their own living rooms, their own chairs, their own TV's, and their own bathrooms, and their own bedrooms. About the only thing they share together that I see are meals.

Now, don't get me wrong. They love each other dearly. They've been married 57 years, and their commitment to each other is absolute and unending. They're not the most passionate couple I know, but they certainly are committed.

So, they got a room, I'd call it more of a studio, at one of the Extended Stay hotels near their home. They'll stay there for the week. It's a nice place, with a large handicapped access bathroom, a kitchenette, and two queen-sized beds. Not at all a bad place to stay for a week. I'm just not sure they can survive a week of intense togetherness in a studio while their house is treated!

My poor dad feels so lost and useless since he's gone blind. Oh, he's done a wonderful job of getting himself involved in the Blind Society, and he teaches cane-travel to other seniors, and goes on daily walks to keep himself busy. It's the day-to-day things around the house he can no longer do (things that were a snap just a few years ago), that get him down. During this move, mom has orchestrated everything, and dad just feels like a useless lump going along for the ride, something he is NOT accustomed to.

My poor mom is just running herself to rags. She has such a hard time walking (knee problems) but refuses to slow down. She's had a recent fall, and has been suffering some pretty painful headaches ever since. Add to that the stress and uncertainty of this whole episode, and my loving, kind mother gets just a little bit snippy.

And my siblings and I wind up in the middle. Mom complains to me about dad, while dad complains to me about mom. I've taken what feels like the priestly route of just listening and nodding, and letting them vent and say what they want, without ever repeating what I hear from one to the other.

My older sister told my mom some time ago she didn't want to hear any more gripes about dad because, well, he's her dad. My younger sister thinks my parents are both kinda crazy, and although she is closer to the problem (she lives with them), I'm sure they're not crazy. They may drive her crazy, though.

But to see my parents, today, while getting the last things out of the house, being short with each other, arguing over little things (they were already arguing about the temperature of the hotel room when I left), revealed to me a very human, very normal side to them that, I guess I always knew was there, but never really let myself see.

I guess that's the little kid in me that's still very much alive, wanting to see the world as I've always seen it, through child's eyes. I've been accused more than once of being Peter Pan, always a kid, never wanting to grow up. Even though I'm 41 years old (and very grown up and well adjusted, in case there are any questions in your mind, dear reader), I still have a child-like part of my psyche that just refused to grow ALL the way up.

After I got them all moved in (with some help from my niece), mom sat down on the bed (so freakin' tired, just bone weary), and looked at me. "I don't know what we'd do without you, Michael." she said. I could tell she meant it.

I guess it's that little child-like part that had to take one more step toward growing up today. Long ago I went from being just their child to being their friend. Today, I feel like I took a step from being their friend toward being their parent.

I began writing this post saying "It's a sad thing to realize your parents are only human", but I decided to change it, because to me, it's really not sad. It is somewhat bittersweet, but not sad. It's the progression of life. I take some odd comfort in that, knowing that things are going and progressing as they should. Parents grow old. Children grow up. The children have children and become parents. Parents grow old, and the cycle continues.

(Feel free to break out with Elton John's "Circle of Life" any time...)

Yeah, my parents are human after all, and that's OK. They're pretty good humans, as humans go, and I love 'em to death. They've been my twin rocks in life, and for that I'm indebted to them in a way I'll never be able to convey.

I just hope they survive the week without killing each other!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A Wet New Year

Heavy rains Friday night brought New Year's Eve flooding in many low-lying areas of Sacramento County. News reports may have made it seem like a complete disaster, but it's not so bad as it may seem. Most of the City of Sacramento was just fine, with only local streets flooded due to storm drains being backed up. Several homes in Roseville, Carmichael, Wilton, Rio Vista, and other low-lying areas near creeks and the Cosumnes river were flooded, and that's always a tragedy, but there was no loss of life. For photos, see the Sacramento Bee's photo page, here.

As one of my co-workers pointed out, during the height of calls from citizens with water in their front yards, demanding that we do something, it wasn't Hurricane Katrina. It was a winter storm, that's all. A very wet, warm, winter storm.

The biggest problem I ran into, personally, was a foot of standing water on the freeway beneath an overpass. I hit it at 40mph on the way to work Saturday morning, in pitch black darkness and pouring rain. Scared the heck out of me! Water gooshed over the hood of my car! I'm glad I'm driving a larger car now, cuz my little Focus would have hydroplaned and spun out in a heart-beat.

So, the big warm storm was over by Saturday morning, and the sun was actually shining by about 9am, but the water was still rolling downhill. I think most of the creeks crested about 3-4pm Saturday. Today, the next storm began rolling in, and this one packed winds. 40-50mph gusts, I'm certain, with rain on the way tonight. I'm glad I live in the heights, where everything is dry (not flooded anyway).

Coming out of work today I saw this tree downed on 7th Street between G Street and H Street in downtown Sacramento. We got dozens of calls between 1pm and 4pm when I left work about trees falling.

On the way home I stopped to take a look at the swollen Sacramento River. It's not at flood stage, but I'd say it's not very far from it. The Sacramento is a carefully regulated river, though, and the true flood risk from her, as long as the levee's all hold, is quite minimal. The engineers watch how much water runs through the river very carefully.

This is the Sacramento River at the I Street Bridge. Note the very small amount of clearance between the bottom train tressle and the water level. Probably 5-6 feet.

This is looking the other direction, upriver, from the same spot just north of the I Street Bridge. Notice there's not all that much levee left above water!

So, Happy busy New Year to me, and all you out there. I hope the New Year is happy, prosperous, and enjoyable!