Greetings and happy Spring! It's finally arrived and with it came beautiful flowers and warmer (relatively) weather. I can't wait to be able to bike and play tennis outside. I'm sure you are all feeling the same. This winter certainly seemed longer for fairly logical reasons, but it's over.
On top of that we have many of our loved ones fully vaccinated and many of us close behind. I get my first shot on Thursday and can't wait. Will there be a happy dance, like crazy, bored Barb? Well I guess you will all have to wait and see.
The Time Machine
Some of you probably never met my ex-husband. This year marks 10 years since our divorce and I'm happy and relieved to say we now have a very friendly, cordial relationship. It's been a very long road but it feels very good to be in a better place with him. Anger requires a tremendous amount of energy. Lots of history--both good and bad--between us so it's nice that it is now easier to remember the good over the bad.
My ex was a rocket scientist. Degree in Physics, masters degrees in Nuclear Engineering and Physics. He works at NASA. In the early 2000s, we started our own business; he was the actual worker and I did the payroll taxes, and other back-office type of tasks.
I must say he had a truly brilliant mind, but often the more mundane aspects of life did often elude him. I'm sure you all know examples of this type of person. Book smart, but maybe street dumb.
As part of this NASA contract, he was designing and building a full cell ultracapacitor system. What kind you ask? Specifically, a protron-exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell prototype. Oh, you didn't know I was fluent in nerd? Well, I am. I actually used to be the editor of a fuel cell magazine, but I'm digressing per usual. I believe it was intended for use in deep space, maybe Mars.
As part of the system, "we" (the company) leased the actual fuel cell from some company in Italy for some ungodly amount. What he was being paid to do was the systems integration of all the various components; kind of the secret sauce. I think the fuel cell costed around $80K. No company would insure us, but the initial conversations with agents were quite comical..."I'm sorry, fuel cell what? Can you spell that?" Never mind. We finally had to pay another astronomical premium to get Lloyds of London to insure it.
After it was shipped, it required a month to clear it through customs. Once it finally arrived and he began the work of integrating it with the rest of the system in the NASA lab. Shorty after that, he called me at work.
"Hey honey, there was a little issue in the lab. Apparently I had not filed the proper safety paperwork (I tried to feign shock at this news) so I got kicked off the lab."
My head began to spin.
ME: "Were you fired? Wait, they can't fire you. And, why is it so loud? I can barely hear you. Where are you?"
HIM: "The U-Haul I rented has no AC so the windows are down."
I was almost afraid to ask the next question.
ME: "Why are you in a U-Haul?"
HIM: "I told you. I didn't have the proper paperwork to run it in the lab so I had to get the fuel cell ultracapictor out of there."
Next dreaded question:
ME: "Where in the hell are you taking it?"
So the rocket scientist decided that our garage is now the perfect place to house the fuel cell ultracapitor. The exactly same garage that our kids and their motley crew of friends play in, ride their bikes through, etc. The garage where we once parked our cars. Same garage.
Now our kids, 6 and 8 at the time, must attempt to not only avoid running into this massive refrigerator-sized thing but also steer clear of the five-foot-tall tank of hydrogen that powered it that he just rolled next to the side of the garage.
One by one neighbors strolled over to inquire. Some asked if it a Time Machine, others feared it was some sort of bomb or something and just stayed clear. No one seemed convinced it was even marginally safe to have this thing in the garage. It was perfectly safe, per Paul...if he had the garage door open when he was running it, although even NASA had questioned that.
Eventually it broke. Why? Really a head scratcher considering the perfectly pristine lab conditions. Sure, there might have been a kid or two who ran into it with their bikes. Did a little dust or dirt somehow blow into the garage and contaminate its not-so-sterile operating environment? We will never know for sure.
So he did what he had to do. He took the fuel cell down to the local UPS to have it shipped back to Italy. He was greeted with great enthusiasm by Betsy, who immediately asked how she could help him. He did notice she had "Trainee" on her badge, but with somewhat blind optimism, he forged on and explained his situation.
"I need to mail this PEM fuel cell back to Italy."
Sounded simple enough. "No problem! I can do that," Betsy said. "Will you require insurance and proof of delivery?"
That's when things got sticky and Betsy went from being very confident in her ability to help him to quite grave and seemingly a little nervous as she stared down it. He explained it was worth $80,000 and it also had to clear customs, which was tricky because most customs agents have absolutely no idea what a fuel cell is. Perhaps we should have just called it a time machine.
Stuttering she manages to spit out: "Perhaps I should get my manager." And, that was the last he heard or saw of Betsy.
I believe it eventually got back to Italy. The best news is the Time Machine was leaving my garage! The photo above is Paul on the phone explaining that it broke.
The Parent Test
Quick love life update. I'm happy to report that Jon has overcome yet another relationship hurdle: meeting the parents. I knew my mom would like him, as their personalities are quite similar, but Dad has always been a harder sell. Fortunately he won him over as well.
Sunday he played golf with mom. For those of you who don't know my mom. She's a pint-sized dynamo with a hell of a golf game (7 holes in one). Happy to report he held his own with the sassy senior and they clearly enjoyed playing together. The golfers in the family are happy to have another one in the group.
Big love to you all. Hope this finds you all well. Until next time,
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