Thursday, June 30, 2011

Shall I tell you about my weekend?

Hello. It's been a while. How are you? Yeah? Kids doing ok? They enjoying the summer? Good...good.

Alastair and I had a pretty big weekend. Well actually, we've had a pretty big month. We started it off with a trip to VIR, where we had something of an engagement gathering of my parents, K's parents, the boy, the dog, and well: us. Twas fun, if a bot hot.

Then, because I'm a lunatic, I decided to approach a very minor oil leak in the race car by tearing the motor out of the car and completely disassembling 12 days. With an overnight out-of-town trip in the middle. It was dumb, but it paid off: with 1 day left, it all got put back together in time to make Hyperfest (a big madhouse of car enthusiasts at Summit Point in WV), where I drove the untested motor, new clutch & flywheel, and hexagonal used tires to 2nd place. Yay!

So this past weekend, because I'd spent so very much of June dedicated to racing, I decided to dedicate entirely to my boy.

You may have heard about it, but Pixar had this new movie come out last weekend called Cars 2. Defying all of my personal rules about lines and crowds, I decided that this was one movie that must be seen on opening day. Surprisingly there were no major crowds to speak of, which was great considering how vocal Alastair was through the movie. He wasn't talking over it or being rude, but giggling and cackling like a loon at all the awesome. And it was awesome. The movie itself was ok, with some jokes for grown-ups tossed in for good measure, but watching his little face! My heart was bursting with joy.

So then Saturday morning we capitalized on that joyful attitude and made our very first ever day-trip to the beach! We took the Miata at his behest, packed to the gills with toys, food, and beach paraphernalia. All the way down he kept telling me that he wasn't going to get in the water--he was just going to play with his sand toys. I told him that was fine, but after 5 minutes of digging in the sand, he asked if we could go get wet for 'just a minute'. 2.5 hours later, I had to drag him out of the water. He loved the waves crashing over us, and went underwater innumerable times.

Even when we got out, he was clamoring to go back in. Which of course we did, high tide be damned! We weren't even 5 minutes out of the parking lot before his head drooped and he was out. I've never seen anyone sleep for an hour with the top down at 70mph.

And then, in spite of the sunburn (letting him spray my back was maybe not the best idea ever), we got up and went to King's Dominion on Sunday, where we met up with one of his pre-K buddies for a day of roller coasters. I hadn't realized how much of an adventure freak Alastair can be until I watched his buddy.

No disrespect to him at all, but that kid just did NOT want to have anything to do with speed or heights. Ghoster Coaster: ruled out. Swings? No thank you. But Alastair didn't mind one bit doing the slower / lower rides, and they had an absolute blast together.

Then, on top of everything that had come before, Alastair got to spend 2 days at his grandparents' house while I went on a last-minute business trip.

And lemme tell ya something...


My company has a manufacturing facility in a small rural backwater. We employ roughly 90 people at this facility, which was moved there to take advantage of lower real estate prices. Not the most noble of reasons, but the benefits are immediate and immeasurable for this community.

The town that hosts our plant is so small there are functionally only two last names. They plaster everything for a several-mile radius as you enter and exit the area. I joked with someone that that would make dating difficult, and she confirmed that they are facing a situation right now where an ENGAGED COUPLE is having to cull county records to see if/how they are related. Personally, I'd rather establish that before getting down on bended knee, but...

The area is so economically devastated that people cannot afford to feed themselves, let alone their pets. This has evidently lead to problems with people abandoning or downright killing their dogs. In response, the community has held "ugly puppy" contests just to keep the dogs alive.

The only other sources of income in the area are tobacco, a smattering of corn, and travelers with busted tires. And my company. There's no local* McDonalds. No Walmart. It's a choice between making a salary working for my company or scraping by. They do not even produce the raw materials that go through their machinery. It's all trucked in and out.

So let me re-iterate: we are giving 90 people a chance at a better life. No, let's rephrase: we're giving 90 people the ability to put food on their table.

That might not seem like a lot of people, but in an area as desolate as this one, it's huge.

*these things exist a couple of towns over, so while they may be accessible by car, I didn't see a single car in the employee parking lot made in the past decade.