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What does a teenage girl do to a car?

Or maybe the question should be "what doesn’t a teenage girl do to a car?" Because the answer would be "maintenance."

Today the inside of the Jeep was drenched. I look at the Neon parked in the driveway and recognize that I have not inspected it in quite some time. My simple instruction to the teenage driver was "Make sure it has oil and tell me when any problems arise." I once drove it an eon ago to find that the speedometer worked…sometimes. So this teenage driver was guessing how fast she was going. How she avoided tickets was beyond me. With a little research, I learned it was a common problem among the Dodge Neon’s and the fix was to remove the instrument panel and resolder the connections. She claims to have had no problems with the speedometer after that but the fact she never told me about it in the first place should have been a clue about how future problems would be addressed (er, ignored).

First thing I noticed this morning? No oil! 2nd? Check engine light. The inside of the car is filthy. The trunk/boot is full of what appears to be half Goodwill, a quarter stuff sent home from the grandparents, and 1/4 teen’s stuff. A positive! The tires look great. A negative. The transmission slips (you’d think she’d mention that one). Oh, and the windshield wipers are worthless. But it did perform well on the Interstate.

I suppose if I were a better father, she and I would have spent many a weekend together performing maintenance on the car. Teen driver 2 approaches so I’ll have a chance to do better.

Update 29-March: Changed the oil today. Discovered the transmission had no fluid whatsoever. Not even sure how the car was moving.

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18 hours of ice

So in the past 18 hours:

  • My wife couldn’t get off our street due to ice
  • Our friend managed to get onto our cove returning our son 11pmish but couldn’t get out
  • My neighbor had to use 4 wheel drive to escape the ice
  • The postman slid into a neighbor’s yard
  • My father-in-law had difficulty leaving the street
  • My 17 year old daughter slid her car into our retaining wall and had to climb out the passenger side
  • My 17 year old daughter took our van to pick the 5 year old up from school

Waiting with bated breath to hear that the 5 year old makes it home safely and that the van survives.

Oh, and btw, secondary roads in Knoxville are still precarious. This is why schools get canceled.

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Oy vey! My daughter is Jewish!

Despite her grandparents regularly taking her to a Baptist church on Sundays and her boyfriend introducing her to the Methodist church which they regularly attended on Wednesdays, I’ve just realized that my eldest daughter is Jewish. See, she drives a car that burns oil, feh!, and I’m quite certain that it ran out weeks ago…yet it still runs!

Happy Hanukkah! Shalom.

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Annnd they’re off! (to a bad start)

Sarah has a portfolio review today near Nashville for a summer art program where she would get to live at a university and work with some very talented people. This is very important which is why I cringed when I saw Cathy’s tweet:

Why is the teenager dressed like a clown for her portfolio review? [Source, Twitter, @cathymccaughan]

After a grueling day yesterday, I failed to do the standard road checks last night. This morning as the girls were walking out the door, I found a nail in a tire. The same nail I found in the same tire weeks ago and forgot about. No problem! I could plug it in minutes only I was out of plugs. 30 minutes later, I had purchased plugs, discovered McDonald’s at Northshore and Pellissippi still has free air, fixed the tire myself, signed a conversation with an old friend, and had two very upset women driving to Nashville. Good luck Sarah!

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From the mouths of babes

Why fathers should skip their daughter’s teen years.

Me: "How are you doing on lunch money?"
Sarah, 16 years old, looks at me like I just asked the craziest question ever: "I dunno."
Me: "You don’t know how much money is in your account?"
Sarah: "Well no. There should be a few days."
Me: "Today, when you buy lunch, could you check on your balance please?"
Sarah, looking very put out: "I guess."

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Summer is officially over

I had my first carpool to school today. School officially starts on Monday with a half day. But today the high schooler had class pictures. She and her best friend are on the outs because of a boy. Isn’t that always the reason? So it appears that I’ll be driving to the high school everyday. (Actually a friend of ours works at the school and has offered to do some carpooling.) Today was a dry run.

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Child Protective Services – Don’t read this

Juggling with EvanJuggling with Amy
Juggling with SarahJuggling with Sarah
Cathy on topJuggling with Noah

Here’s some additional information about the rolla bolla from my comment on Cathy’s flickr set:

I now get to tell a story which may or may not add a little bit of a technical appreciation for what’s happening in this picture. My rolla bolla freaks other jugglers out. Mine is completely homemade. It uses a 4 inch diameter thick pvc pipe. The board itself happens to be exactly the same length as a shelf in a homemade bookcase I built for my dorm room in college because it is one the shelves which happen to be precisely 19 inches in length. Most jugglers are more accustomed to using rolla bollas closer to 3 feet long. For instance, Dube’s is 29 inches (btw, there’s your spec).

Juggling is all about physics. This is center of gravity trick. The longer the board, the greater the center of gravity. In essence, if you drew a line from the ground up to the top of your head (or the head fo the person on your shoulders) that divided your torso symmetrically and simply made sure that line never passed over your foot, you would never fall down. Since my board is so short, there is very little room for error. One way to cheat the physics is to use a larger diameter piece of pvc but frankly the 5 inch pvc tends to flatten a little taking away from the visual effect (in addition to simply being disproportionate to the other equipment and plain ugly).

Regarding the pvc when making a homemade rolla bolla. I learned the hardway that the pvc pipe should be the same width as the board (or slightly larger). If it is smaller you create a third degree of freedom and you might as well be doing this trick on top of a ball.

Don’t use those stupid stoppers on the bottom of your board! If you look at the Dube rolla bolla you will see that the underside of the board has stops at each end. This prevents the board from flying at high velocity to your left or right severely hurting people. Instead the board stops and you go flying at high velocity to the left or right breaking yourself and the people standing beside you. When we were first learning this trick. My brother fell off the board and sent it flying into a filing cabinet. 3 days later we were still trying to open the drawer. Without the stoppers you can safely take the board to the very edge without falling. I mean the very edge being exactly at the halfway point on the pvc pipe. Instead of the stoppers, control your board.

You can break things with a rolla bolla! These things may include: glass, bones, teeth, spines, and metal cabinets. When learning to stand on a rolla bolla do these things:

  1. Get a partner! Have the partner stand behind you with their arms underneath your armpits but not touching you. When you fall, they will spot you and keep you from breaking yourself
  2. Make sure your feet are at the edges of the board.
  3. Wear shoes!
  4. Practice daily in short spurts
  5. Start with the board touching the ground on one side and about one third of the board on the pipe. Starting by jumping up to a horizontally balanced board is cool and fun but an advanced trick that will land a beginner on their hind side.

The rolla bolla will increase your balance, develop your abs and back, and tighten your buttocks.


  1. Don’t let people stand to your left or right. I cannot emphasize this enough.
  2. If you fall…er…when you fall, think of yourself as being on a skate board or inline skate. Protect your wrists! Better to belly flop on concrete than to impact your wrist, elbows and knees

I will happily get together with anyone that wants help learning the rolla bolla.