I hate to sound like I'm 100, but kids these days have it so easy. In my day, the Internet didn't answer our every trivial question. And in my day, there was a dad who wouldn't take, "I don't know- Let's move on," for an answer. If I asked a question and he didn't know the answer, by God, he'd find it. Not only would he find the answer, but he'd show me how to find the answer. In detail. Great detail.

One time, we were in the car on Highway 101. We had to take 380 to get over to 280 to get home. "Where did the highways get their numbers?" I asked to make conversation. I was 11.


"Well, Shorty. I don't know." At that moment, I realized that my weekend was over. We’d spend it researching how highways got their numbers.

When we got home, we sat at the table and went through the Ma Bell Phone Book. DMV? No. They do motor vehicles. Department of Transportation. Yes, they handle the roads. Dad helped me write a letter (several of them until it was right— no backspaces or Control X/Control V available). We then went and got stamps and mailed the letter.

A few weeks later, we got a letter back telling us that North-South highways are odd numbered and East-West highways are even numbered. It went on with more detail, but I didn't really care by then.

Just now, I googled this question. I got 28,500,000 results. The first is Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Numbered_Highways), “United States Numbered Highways," which explains it in great detail without having to use the Ma Bell Phone Book, pen, paper, draft letters, final letters, envelopes or stamps.

But Googling isn’t nearly as memorable, either. Nor as endearing, like the sleeping bags.

When I was nine, I'd saved up $50 and I wanted us to have sleeping bags so that we could go camping. Dad said that he'd buy his and Mom's and that I could buy mine and Todd's, but I had to research different sleeping bags to find the best for what we had to spend. I was nine; I didn't know anything thing about sleeping bags. But not to worry-- Dad was to teach me how to research. At age nine.

This process would have been a lot different today. Today, I could teach my kids to open their Internet browser on their iPods and search, "best sleeping bag." Done.

But back then, there was no internet, internet browser, or Google. What did we have? The library and store clerks. Dad explained that we couldn't just go to the store and trust the clerk. Sometimes they are stupid and sometimes they just try to sell you the most expensive. So you have to know before you go.

Dad took me to the library and we we were there for hours. We first asked the librarian where the best place to find this information would be. She directed us to the issues of a magazine called, “Consumer Reports”. Dad had me look through them and I found an old issue about camping equipment that including sleeping bags.

I read the article and made notes. It outlined the different outer and inner materials with pros and cons. We talked through it and decided we wouldn't be camping in snow so crossed those off the list. Rain wouldn't be on purpose, but dew could happen, so while water-PROOF wasn't imperative, water-RESISTANT was.

I remember deciding on an nylon exterior with a Dacron II interior. I remember this clearly almost forty years later. In my quick Google search just now, Dacron had is founding by Dupont in the 1950s and by the 1970s it was in it's second rendition. It's still used in pillows and, likely, sleeping bags.

So then it was time for the shopping. Did we just go to the store and buy them? No. We went home. To the telephone and back to the good ol’ Ma Bell Yellow Pages. Dad had me call Montgomery Wards, Best, Sears, and a local camping store. I asked if they had Dacron II filled nylon sleeping bags and the cost. I made a chart of each and then we chose Sears. The next day (yes, this took all weekend) we drove to Sears and I chose our sleeping bags and counted out my dollars to the clerk. I got green, Todd got orange, Mom got brown and Dad got blue. We used them for many years and my pride at having shopped for them never dwindled.

All of that said, I still just teach my kids to open their Internet browser and search. It’s a different world and they need to learn the skills of the new world, too. Not all old school skills are still necessary. That said, they did have to listen to this story about road numbers and sleeping bags. No sense in wasting a good story about how I had to walk 5 miles in the snow to get to school research all weekend to find answers.

For a few months now, Dad's my car has been overheating randomly in traffic.  It doesn't happen all the time and it never happens when I take it in to get fixed.  Just randomly have to turn the heater on full blast as I'm commuting to or from work in horrible traffic. 

Last week, I took it in for an overdue oil change.  Since they have to run the car idly, it happened to them!  And because they are all really nice, I had every mechanic there huddled around my car trying to figure it out.  They finally determined it was the fan but couldn't figure out why.  They had me come back the next day when the head mechanic would be there and it took him awhile to get the car to overheat, but then he quickly found the problem: not a bajillion dollars!  It was just the wire housing unit that the fan connected to and it was all corroded inside.  He replaced that and now... now it doesn't overheat AND I hadn't noticed, but sometimes it was hard to start.  It is no longer hard to start.  So YAY!  Not expensive AND fixed.

I really didn't realize how much this was wearing on me until it was fixed.  I feel this load of stress off my mind now when driving.  Huge load of stress just GONE! Love that!

Plus, today I had a new client meeting in Napa.  Not only did the car NOT overheat, but the new client happens to be a conglomeration of wineries and they let me shop in the employee store for 50% off.  My wine cabinet (also known as the dining room table...) is full of great wines.  Good thing we never eat in the dining room...

I'm going to post about the kids soon.  Signa sent me some pictures of things they did for school, but I can't figure out who did what, so I have to wait until I can discuss with her.  But they are both doing really well!