Ryan "Zieak" McFarland dabbles. Beards. Making things. Travel. Genealogy. Frugality and excessiveness. Fitness and fatness. He's a PE teacher in India, usually calls Alaska home and is a happy father to two boys and the husband to a suddenly crafty wife.
Today was the culmination of Ganesh Chaturthi (I believe yesterday was the end of the Muslim celebration of Bakra Eid and tomorrow is the height of Kerala’s Thiru Onam — India has no shortage of festivals) and that meant immersion of the Ganesh figures in the ocean. Jacob and I didn’t spend much time there but I captured this…
We moved. Not far, just a few blocks away from the home we had for our first four years in India. Things have been a little disruptive as a result.
Before departing for the summer we packed most of our things. We knew we would return and need to move immediately. When we landed in Chennai we went straight to our new home. Not everything had been moved many things had. We just had to find our bed sheets and get some rest. The next couple of days we spent unpacking, moving furniture, and getting settled.
This place has a big lawn so we now own a lawn mower and string trimmer which we didn’t plan on buying. I would like to limit the number of continents that I own a lawnmower on to two.
Our boys had to get physicals done for school so we went to a nearby clinic. We didn’t have their blood type information so that test became part of our scavenger-hunt-like wander through the hospital. Jordan, who has a fear of needles, decided he wanted to go first and get it over with. Pepper rubbed his back and shoulders as he had his head down and didn’t watch. An older man in the wakting area (seated just two feet behind Jordan) noted Jordan’s fear and told him “boys don’t cry” and to “be a man” because he was a man and never cried.
It took me no time at all to be shouting at him that men and boys do cry. That I cry. He flexed his bicep and held it up pointing to it saying he was a man. Pepper was telling me to stop. I visualized making the man cry which in my mind was quickly followed by my arrest. I backed down. I know I can not change him. But I do not need either of my boys believing that they should not cry or that such gender stereotypes should be tolerated.
For the second December in a row, Chennai had disaster strike in the form of a natural calamity.
For a week I watched this low pressure system build up over the Bay of Bengal using this wind visualization tool (use your mouse to move around and scroll in and out) and this cyclone and hurricane mapping site. It ended up ramming right into Chennai. Our home was just south of the center so the winds were actually coming from inland and heading to the sea, which I had never considered a possibility.
The cyclone rolled into Chennai on Monday the 12th. School was closed by mid-day, but we were not able to leave until the Head of School because our car was being repaired and we were getting a ride with them. Fortunately a neighbor took Jordan and Jacob home before we were able to leave. We were without power before we arrived home and water on the roof had pooled and was coming in under the door. I’ll let my video tell the story…
Almost every weekday for almost six years straight, Pepper has made smoothies for breakfast. Summertime and vacations we usually take off from that routine, but it still probably comes to well over 1,000 uses of a blender. With no sign of that changing, we decided a long time ago that we needed a blender that made the task even better.
The problem is that finding a high quality blender was difficult because we needed one that runs on 220 volts. I finally found a commercial restaurant supply company that imports from the UK and bought the Blendtec EZ600. We’ve used it for a week now and are really happy!
Things that frustrated us about our other blender (a Panasonic):
Cleaning the jar required disassembling. Then when reassembled sometimes it would leak.
That leak poured over the base which had a number of spots where milk and yogurt settled and festered.
Cleaning the blades was a little dangerous. (The Blendtec has blunt blades.)
It had a short cord which frequently came unplugged.
The jar cracked. It didn’t leak, but like having a functional phone with a cracked screen, it is annoying.
Things we didn’t know we would like so much about the Blendtec commercial blender:
One button operation. Pepper puts in the ingredients, presses a button and walks away. It stops automatically.
Power. Oh gosh, what power. If you’re not familiar with their YouTube channel where they put things like iPhones in the blender then check out how it pulverizes things.
If you’re looking for a place to buy a Blendtec blender in India, I suggest Kiwi Bar.
Here are the songs that I used to get me through long nights of work, the commute to the school and the occasional workout. See my 2015 list here.
There are ancient tracks (from 2011) that I did not know from Rusko called Everyday. and plenty of more modern tracks.
Duke Dumont’s songs with video story telling like Won’t Look Back (about pogo stick jewelry store robbers), The Giver (about a Jesus figure granting wishes to people’s detriment. Or Need U (100%) which has a miserable Duke Dumont with an old school tape deck in his abdomen.
With my other measures of my travel (countries and UNESCO World Heritage sites) I realized that even though I have been to almost all the US states (I think North Dakota and Hawaii are the only ones I have never been in) there are other great measures of my travel — US National Parks. So here is a list of all the parks along with when I was there (many are estimates).
Arches, Utah in 1988
Badlands, South Dakota in 1996
Big Bend, Texas
Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado
Bryce Canyon, Utah in 1988
Canyonlands, Utah in 1999
Capitol Reef, Utah
Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
Channel Islands, California
Congaree, South Carolina
Crater Lake, Oregon
Cuyahoga Valley, Ohio
Death Valley, California/Nevada
Denali, Alaska in 1994, 2015
Dry Tortugas, Florida
Gates of the Arctic, Alaska
Glacier, Montana in 1996
Glacier Bay, Alaska
Grand Canyon, Arizona in 1988, 1998, 2008
Grand Teton, Wyoming in 1988, 1998, 2016
Great Basin, Nevada
Great Sand Dunes, Colorado
Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee, North Carolina
Guadalupe Mountains, Texas
Hawaii Volcanoes, Hawaii
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Isle Royale, Michigan
Joshua Tree, California in 2004, 2011
Kenai Fjords, Alaska in 1994
Kings Canyon, California
Kobuk Valley, Alaska
Lake Clark, Alaska
Lassen Volcanic, California
Mammoth Cave, Kentucky
Mesa Verde, Colorado
Mount Ranier, Washington in 1994, 2017
North Cascades, Washington in 2017
Olympic, Washington in 2017
Petrified Forest, Arizona 1988
Redwood, California in 1998
Rocky Mountain, Colorado in 2006
Theodore Roosevelt, North Dakota
Wind Cave, South Dakota
Wrangell-St. Elias, Alaska in 1994
Yellowstone, Wyoming, in 1988, 1998, 2017
Zion, Utah in 1988
That’s 17 out of the 62, just over a quarter of the nation’s National Parks. New goal: add at least one new park each summer we’re back. Looks like Florida and California should be in our plans!
I’ve not ever been very good about giving gifts. I really want to be better though and finally feel good about one here so have to share it.
One of my grandfathers was a pilot. A student at our school likes to make scale models of airplanes. I asked my dad what kinds of planes my grandfather flew and commissioned the student to make a series of them. Here are the first two.