Random Questions from Trey

Posted in home service, kids at 6:32 pm

I was just checking my email when Trey came up to me and asked…

“Dad, do people have to cut the skin off of penguins before they eat them?”

Uhhh… I don’t think people eat penguins. But I suppose you would have to. Wouldn’t you? Or is it like chicken?


Shiny New Blog

Posted in administration at 2:19 pm

Well how about that… The Roterts in Italy got a facelift!

We’ve ditched the old Blogger blog, and switched to a WordPress blog. There’s lots more features, and things are just generally easier to set up and maintain.

Hope you like the new look. Leave a comment and let’s see how this thing works…


Gifts from Grandpa

Posted in family, home service, kids at 1:59 pm

We were very happy to have beautiful weather nearly the entire time we spent in Iowa visiting my dad. The kids were able to play outside all the time, and it was good for them to just run around and be kids.

One evening, my dad surprised Lance with a little present. He had noticed Lance taking an interest in baseball. My sister had just joined a softball team, and spent some time in the backyard practicing. Lance was somehow hooked. The kids haven’t been exposed to baseball very much – it just isn’t popular in Italy.

My dad called Lance over and placed his very old, very worn baseball glove in his hands. Lance’s eyes were huge, and the only thing he could say was a sheepish, “Thanks” and a big hug. He ran outside to go try it out.

Throughout the next few days, my dad found an old baseball bat and baseball for them to play with. He learned to toss the ball up in the air and practice hitting. And he got really good! Since we’ve been back in Rockford there hasn’t been a day where he hasn’t gone outside to practice – and so far no broken windows!

I guess it’s time to find a baseball team in Ancona.


Actual Conversation with Trey and his Doctor

Posted in home service, kids at 6:46 pm

Trey is currently sitting on the exam table after his checkup. The doctor is filling out paperwork. I and the other kids are sitting in the room, waiting for the doctor to finish.

Trey: Doctor…?

The doctor continues his paperwork…

Trey: Doctor…?

No response

Trey: Doctor!

Doctor: Yes?

Trey: Am I crazy?

The room chuckles

Doctor: Well that’s up to your dad!

A few moments pass…

Trey: Doctor…?

The doctor continues his paperwork…

Trey: Doctor…?

No response

Trey: Doctor!

Doctor: Yes?

Trey: I have a lot of gas.

The room erupts into uncontrollable laughter, and the kids notice that dad’s face is bright red.


Self-Checkout is the Bane of Human Existence

Posted in home service, technology at 11:57 am

One thing that changed in America from when we left for Italy until now is Self-Checkout. When I first saw one, I thought, “How nice! I can check out on my own and save so much time.”

How wrong I was. Saturday night I went to Wal-Mart and the place was packed. Every checkout was four and five people deep. For some reason the express lanes were closed. The perfect time to try our self-checkout. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The self-checkout lines were also full, and I got behind three young men from Africa. They were speaking to each other in French, and we generally confused by the whole process. The last of the three to check out was having trouble with his card, and the machine kept beeping at him. His friends thought this was hilarious. The people behind me were getting very impatient. I was less so, because boy have I been the foreigner before!

Finally, the harried supervisor of the self-checkout (whatever they’re called) comes over and quickly swipes the man’s card and punches some button on the screen. Now I realize that he has a credit card and doesn’t know his PIN. But the supervisor punched debit. The beeping begins again. Lots of groans behind me. I try to help them out, but by now the machine is convinced that someone is trying to rip it off and says “Please wait for assistance.”

The supervisor swoops over, speaks to the man very loudly (because all foreigners who don’t speak English well are also partially deaf), and gets it all squared away. The man apologized to me, and I smiled and said, “No problem.”

Now it’s my turn. Scan number one – hydrocortisone. Scan number two – super glue. The machine locks down again, waiting for a supervisor. She’s now nowhere to be found. I wait and wait, and the people behind me are again moaning. Finally, she comes over, types in some magic code, which then causes the computer to have her verify my age. You have to be 18 to buy super glue. As I paid, I turned behind me and wished the couple next in line good luck.

In theory, self-checkout sounds great. But why do stores want to give up the last chance to leave a good impression with their customers? And why do so many items require the supervisor to come over and type in her magic code? Checkout with a real live human being may be slower, but she can at least glance up and see that there’s no need to card me for super glue.