Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Part II - You still can't fight crazy.

It's like entropy.  You can try as much as you want to create order, but chaos always prevails.

The board meeting

A few weeks have passed since the in-person encounter and subsequent email, so in my mind this issue is resolved (See Part I if you are just joining us).  We have proven to this woman that it is not our cars, they have moved onto harassing someone else, and we've all moved on with our lives.

A few nights ago I get an email from the homeowners association board inviting us to attend the board meeting this Tuesday night.

Why would I attend?  The issue is over.  We've moved on.  Or so I think.

A long day

Today has not been a great day at work.  As I'm looming in on a deadline, each day is a roller coaster.  At 4pm I realize a new crisis has sprung up and I spend the next 2 1/2 hours crafting a solution that will take 3 days and a weekend to implement.  I leave work at 6:30pm (way later than the 4:30pm I was planning on) and I barely make it home in time to play with the kids before bath time.  As we are getting ready for baths, Jeremy reminds me that one of us should attend this board meeting.

Ugh, fine.  I'll go.  I'm taking my wingman.

Jesse, the wingman.

So Jesse and I head up to this meeting.  He's my out if things go bad.  It becomes immediately clear that I will need him.  "ooh the baby, how cute"

There are a handful of people in the living room of this woman's house.  Let me introduce them to you.

Sane Woman #1 - maybe the president?
Sane Man #1 - some other board member
Polite Lady #1 - a new neighbor
Polite Man #1 - another new neighbor, possibly married to Polite Lady #1
Old Lady - very nice, but easily swayed by whatever the most recent comment was.
Other New Lady - couldn't really see her, she didn't talk
Crazy Woman #1 - this really needs no explanation
Crazy Man #1 - Crazy Woman #1's husband.  It is yet undetermined whether he is crazy or if his life is just made easier by appeasing his wife instead of pointing out her crazy.

The meeting has already begun but they stop their business to attend to the issue at hand.

(side note - what issue?  There is NO issue)

The memo

Crazy Woman #1 goes first.  She's written a memo to read aloud.  It's almost 2 pages long.

I politely sit there listening to her and making mental notes.

In her memo she has presented the following "data".

1) Each night the sound wakes her up, she looks outside and writes down which cars are parked on the street.

2) On the nights she hears the sounds, Jeremy's car or my car are parked out front.  But somehow she is sure it is the Toyota that she hears. "It's the louder one"

3) On the nights that Jeremy's car is parked in the garage, she hears my car.

4) On some nights she knows it has to be our car because there are no other cars parked on the street.  (um, really?  when this ever happen?)

5) On the nights she hears no sound, she wakes in the morning to see that neither of our cars are parked within 4 cars of her window.  (Apparently she can distinguish between the red Honda and red Mazda from her 3rd story window.  Also apparently she gets up before I leave, a point I forget to question her on)

6) She knows it's both of these cars because she hears us come home and lock them in the evening.  She is sure it is the same sound.

There may have been some other points, but that's the gist of it.

You still can't fight crazy.

It's my turn.

"First, it's not my car.  I promise you that I do not wake up in the middle of the night just to lock my car.  The only time that I am up is because of this kid (pointing at Jesse)."  (Sane Woman #1 laughs) "Secondly, Jeremy put apps on our phones that are sound activated noise apps and they have picked up no noise coming from the cars at night"

Before I can continue Crazy Man #1 pipes in.  "But that doesn't prove anything.  Those microphones aren't that good, they don't work well"

Me - "So you're telling me that my $700 cell phone cannot detect a noise IN THE CAR, but you can detect that same noise through your 3rd story windows while you are sleeping?"

Crazy Man #1 - "yes.  I know about smartphones."

Sane Woman #1 shakes her head in amusement.

Yep, still can't fight crazy.

I continue.

"Furthermore you claim that it is both of our cars making this noise but NO other cars on the street make it.  Do you know the probability that just our two cars, of two different makes and models, make this noise, randomly, only in the middle of the night, and only independently of each other.  It's astronomical.  That's insane."  (hands waving with big gestures for effect)

Crazy Man #1 - "It can happen.  Another man in the neighborhood, Tom, had to have both his car alarms replaced because they randomly went off."

At this point Sane Man #1 and Sane Woman #1 are both shaking their heads.  I'm fairly sure Sane Woman #1 is trying her best not to start laughing.

Crazy Man #1 has now informed me that he knows about car alarms.  Apparently this is in addition to his vast knowledge of smart phones.

Old Lady says that Crazy Woman #1 has presented compelling "data" and also very politely informs me that there is a rule that I may not know about that states you must park one of your 2 vehicles in your garage because of limited street parking places.  (Side note: I have just consulted said rules and this rule does not exist.  I did not know that at the time, so I did not rebut it).

Crazy Woman #1 thinks this is a great idea.

I politely inform her that I may do that on certain nights, but there are mornings that we get up at 4am to workout and I will move my car out to the street and lock it during that time.  (seriously, when else am I supposed to work out?)

Crazy Woman #1 thinks this is acceptable as long as I park it in front of my driveway and not by the curb which is in front of her window.  Apparently the properties of sound travel still allude her.

I am then further asked by Crazy Woman #1 to park the Toyota in my garage and the other car down the street at least 4 cars so it does not bother her.  Apparently 4 cars is her threshold.

Quick Analysis 

Lets stop here and analyze this for a moment.  I've provided a napkin diagram here for visualization.

You can see in the diagram both houses, mine to the right, her's to the left.  They both sit on the street in the same frontal plane as each other.

From her data she has concluded that she cannot hear the noise if the car(s) are not parked within 4 cars of her house.  Due to the nature of the road, this must mean to the left as the road curves after our house to the right.  I've circled the 5th red 'x' to indicate where to the left the sound drops off.  From her data she has also said it is acceptable to park our car in front of our "driveway", indicated above by the blue circled 'x'.

What this means is that there is an invisible sound barrier (denoted with black dotted line) between my house and her house, such that she can hear sounds to the left as far as 4 cars away, but CANNOT hear sounds to the right that are right next to the house.

This ladies and gentlemen is quite the phenomena.  Someone call a scientist, they are going to want to study this.


I politely do not agree to her request to move my cars and tell her that I will only agree to keep her concerns in mind but I can promise her nothing.

She counters with "Well, what's the point if you won't agree to this"

Exactly.  I'm out.

Cue the wingman

Jesse begins to fuss on que and I excuse myself.  "I can't keep doing this, I need to leave."  I thank the board and exit.

Jeremy is highly amused and mostly annoyed with the story and the insanity of the neighbors.

As I sit here putting the finishing touches on the, hopefully but probably not, final saga in our story I sit listening to Jeremy obsess over the situation.  I'm fairly sure he has made it his personal mission to quell the crazy.  But that's ridiculous, because we all know...


Good night.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Part I - You can't fight crazy

There are certain realizations in life and the sooner you accept these things, the easier your life becomes.

#1 - You can't fight crazy.

The saga of the crazy neighbor continues.  Let me back up a few weeks to give you a bit of history before we move on.

A few months ago.

A few months back our neighbor emailed us accusing our car of waking them up in the middle of the night.  Apparently we would lock it multiple times a night and wake her up.  Each night.  Randomly.  Sometime between 12 and 3 am.  Only between those hours.  Oh, and starting on October 23rd.  

I politely email her back telling her that it wasn't our car, that we go to bed at 9:30pm and that she should check with others.  I also inform her that it's possible that someone else is coming home from 2nd shift or a night out and wants to lock their car.

Jeremy is a much nicer person that I am.

A few days go by and one afternoon she comes over to the house.  Jeremy is home, I'm not.  She claims she is sure that it is our car waking her up at night.  So being the nice guy that Jeremy is, he agrees to move his car for a few nights to see if she notices the sound.  

Upon hearing this story, I, of course, do not agree to this, because the woman is crazy.  And I am not moving my car down a dark street to appease a woman who thinks one of our cars is making this ridiculous beeping between the hours of 12 and 3am each night.

A Crockpot?

Fast forward a few days and Jeremy and I are both working at home.  Around 1:45 the crockpot finishes with a beep and no 2 minutes later does the woman come over and insist that she heard our car beep.  At the time she claims "I don't know if it was the same sound, but I heard something."  

Yes you crazy woman, it's my crockpot!  Stop stalking me!

Jeremy, being the much nicer person than I, speaks with her in a very understanding tone.  I, however, get fed up with the harassment and tell her that she's crazy and she needed to stop harassing us.  I inform her that people coming home at night have a right to lock their car and that is probably what is happening.  But, what have we learned? 

You cannot fight crazy.

So, said woman continues on with her rant that you are not allowed to lock your car in the middle of the night because it is "quiet hours."  Again, crazy.  She also tells me that she feels like she has kids because it wakes her up in the middle of the night.  Oh, honey.  You have no idea.

I explain to her that she has no data and she needs to learn the scientific method.  (que perplexed look on her face).  She leaves and I move on with my life. 

Read that again.  I move on with my life.  

Jeremy, however, cannot let it go.  He's obsessed.  "I've been besmirched!"

So that night he installs an app on an old cell phone that is a sound activated recorder.  He places it in the car, locks the car, and goes to bed.  

The next morning he checks it.  Shockingly there was no sound detected except for the initial lock.  The next night it is repeated with my car.  Again, same results.

Moving on

At this point I emailed the neighbor and the homeowners board, which she has now gotten involved in her quest, and tell them about our data, some other random observations that Jeremy has made one night, some information about creating a proper experiment, data collection techniques, properties of sound travel, and some suggestions for double pane windows or ear plugs.

And we all move on with our lives.

Or do we?...

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A big family Christmas - Part II

Howdy Folks!

Day 1 and our little cowboy was ready to go.  We found these awesome hats in the main house and if you've read Part I already then you know that there were just about enough for all of us.

The first two days of our stay were pretty darn cold.  So cold that we even got some snow!  Yes, we traveled from sunny California to be met with snow in Texas.  What is going on with this weather!

The first day the cold didn't bother us too much since we spent most of the day inside unwrapping presents.  I wish I would have taken a picture of the gift table.  It was ridiculous.  And yes, we had to find a way to get all those presents home.

I think it was at least 1 or 2pm by the time all the Christmas gifts were unwrapped and even Max was ready to take a nap.  Though our baby monitor reached from the cabin to the main house, Max was perfectly content to sleep in his "fort" in the kitchen.

Let me explain.

In the kitchen proper there was a small nook, enough for a twin bunk bed and nothing else.  It also had a curtain across it. (see the picture to the right)  So this is where max would sleep each afternoon and also play fort with Uncle Matt and Daddy.

Needless to say the child was quite spoiled this Christmas.  When you are 1 of 2 grandchildren on both sides and the other can't yet talk or walk, you tend to get very spoiled.  His favorite toy was the playdough.  Here's one of many pictures of him playing with the stuff.  Even now, we have to keep it hidden or it will be everywhere.  He especially loves the pusher tool in the lower left of the picture.

That night as we headed back to the cabin it began to snow.  Like, significant snow.  And in the morning there was a beautiful dusting of snow across the ground.  I had to sit Jesse down to take his picture.  His first snowfall!  I'm sure he didn't understand, but he sure did smile big.

Day 2 headed out to some wineries.  We were, after all, in the Texas hill country.  I cannot believe how many new wineries have popped up along 290 out by Fredericksburg.  There was no way we could even hit a quarter of them in our stay.

Because it was so cold, we focused on indoor places.  First we hit up Becker, then Grape Creek, then Woodrose. Although we would have loved to visit a few more, the low 40's temperatures kept us from enjoying the outside.  Also, we'd already purchased more bottles of wine than we could drink, so it was time to stop.

Back at the house we gathered for more play time, drinks, and lively (?) conversation.  Well, lets just say it was a bunch of tired adults and two very awake kids.

Our last day at the ranch the weather was perfect.  And it's a good thing too, because everyone needed some outside time.  Max loved playing on the swing set and enjoyed the bird blind too.  Jeremy, Matt, and their dad played basketball, and the rest of us sat outside drinking wine on the beautiful sunny day.  It was still chilly enough for jackets, but feeling the sun on your face was so nice.  That night Jeremy and I even left the kids at the ranch and headed out for a date night!

We had such a wonderful time at the ranch and we were sad to have to say goodbye to everyone.  In retrospect I wish we would have booked at least one more night at the place.


Of course no trip would be complete without a stop in Austin.

After our stay in Fredericksburg, we headed back to Austin to visit with friends and enjoy some good Tex-Mex and BBQ before we left.  We were so fortunate to be able to see so many friends in the short time we had there, and to those we didn't get to see, we will catch you next time!

Of course we also enjoyed some scrumptious meals at Hula Hut, Rudy's, and Torchie's.  It was so great to see our friend Mark for our traditional lunch stop at Torchie's and even more fun to be able to randomly text him with a "hey, what are you doing for lunch Thursday" message.    We also got to see our friends new little baby boy who arrived just in time for our visit :)  I'm sure he took us into consideration when he decided to make his debut.

Though it was nice to see everyone, it is great to be home and was nice to have a few more days to relax and adjust before coming back to work.  Speaking of work, I should go...

Check out the set of pictures HERE.  

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A big family Christmas - Part I

About a year ago, Jeremy informed me that he wanted to have a big family Christmas.  At the time I thought he was crazy and perhaps had one too many drinks that night.  I reminded him of the hilarious, and oh to real, movie National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.  But he insisted, "It'll be great" he said.

A few weeks later and we were still talking about it.  A few months after that the Quiet Hill Ranch was booked for the entire family, just 30 minutes west of Fredericksburg, TX.  We were committed.

So the day after Christmas, we hopped a plane at 6am and headed down to Texas.

After some short delays and the very fortunate circumstances that allowed us to get a free SUV upgrade from Alamo (thank you), we were on our way to our first stop, Torchy's Tacos!

Living in California, I cannot begin to express how much we miss good tacos and BBQ.  Even my parents in PA miss it.  So much so that they stopped by Rudy's for BBQ before meeting us at Torchy's.

While we all arrived in Austin at different times, it seemed appropriate that our first family gathering would be at Torchy's.

After some quick eats, we loaded up the caravan (3 cars for 7 people) and headed west.  Second stop: Stonehouse Vineyard.

Now, we've been living in California for about a year and a half at this point and because we live so close to Napa and Sonoma we tend to head up there fairly often.  Despite the wonderful bold reds produced in California, I've always held a special place in my heart for Texas wines.  Texas is where I first started enjoying wines and visiting wineries.  A Texas winery, Flat Creek, is where Jeremy and I went on one of our early dates and it's where we got engaged.

However, somewhere in the middle of our first tasting at Stonehouse, I realized something.  I realized that I may have turned into a wine snob.  Even those reds from Australia, the sister winery to Stonehouse, just didn't taste that great to me.  They all tasted very smooth and fruity, not bold and dry like I was used to.  We even left without buying a bottle of their signature Tawney port!  Something has changed indeed.

With two bottles of wine in hand, it was time to head to Fredericksburg.  The boys headed to the grocery store and the rest of us headed to the ranch.

A quick note about the Quiet Hill Ranch.  This place is amazing.  Because we were four families we were able to rent out the entire place to ourselves.  4 cabins and 1 main house.  The cabins were small but cozy and the house was large and beautiful.  Very Texas, very open, huge kitchen.  Also, the cabin that my parents were occupying, #4, was a handicapped cabin.  I'm not sure how we stumbled upon a place so perfect, but it was awesome.  The grounds even had a swing set for Max and an enclosed bird blind for viewing wildlife.  I could have stayed for 2 or 3 more days easily.

By the time the boys got back from grocery shopping it was already 10pm.  For those of us coming from the west coast this wasn't so much of a problem, but for the east coast folks it was pretty late, and we hadn't eaten dinner yet.  So Dad and I threw together some chicken noodle soup, we all chowed down, and then headed to bed.

... To Be Continued with Part II