Tuesday, May 31, 2005
It has ended
Sunday: It's early. Much too early. The Mrs is not well and I've got to go let the Hounds out before they chew a hole in the brick wall. That, and the kids are starting to wake. I'll have to redirect them to go harass Child Charmer Karen or the Grandparents. We all need to get our act together so we can head off to the 1000 morning mass, but not before I throw together a hearty breakfast of toast, eggs and, of course, bacon. I mean, what self respecting Minnesota Son would have breakfast without bacon. Now, I did sin and fail to provide coffee, but since I'm going to church to attend the 1000 mass, I'll consider it a form of fasting. Speaking of sin, the kids were a disaster during mass. Not the usual screaming mess you typically associate with unruly children, but the 'Stuff your face with snacks till you gag and spit out all the masticated matter on the pew' type of mess. In an attempt to placate them, Grams gave them suckers near the end. Yes, the big ones. Not the little dum-dums but the 'Oh my God how did you get that all in your mouth' kind. If I were writing this in German, it would probably be described as Kopf-Kreig-Verboten-Sussigkeiten. Jacob dutifully worked on his without loosing a single savory drop while Alexis made it her mission to crush every last sliver of solidified sugar into a saliva paste. About 10 percent of Alexis' stick borne payload ended up as a cherry decoration down the front of her shirt. We are looking at a wardrobe malfunction that a parent is not appalled or outraged at, just resigned to pick up the pieces and move on.
We left quite abruptly to go to the Air Show for the other events that we did not arrive in time for the previous day. There was enough planes, artillery and vehicles to sate any war-monger's appetite. Except mine. The Wart-Hogs doing dry runs with accompanying music of 'Flight of the Valkyries' and pyrotechnics (napalm burning off) was something else. I could feel the heat and pressure shock wave all the way across the tarmac. We ended up buying a couple of die-cast collectible planes for the kids who promptly began mimicking the flight patterns of the aircraft we had been watching. I hope they don't get the idea that this is how all planes fly, our first flight on a commercial craft will be mightily disappointing. That and the lack of fiery explosions will certainly make them yawn. Jake even went for a tour in one of the larger anti-submarine hunter craft. With the addition of Dove bars (ironic, eh?) and m&m ice-cream cookie sandwiches, we found the whole experience rather affordable. They even had free water, what a country! The only downside is that either the brilliant high pressure front with accompanying sunshine or the napalm explosions gave me a bit of a sunburn on the forehead and nose. No biggie, just a precursor to a little melanoma.
Back at the manor, I was cranking up the grills so that Amish Dad could flip a few prime beef burgers and I could grill up a dozen foot long hotdogs (HUGE) and just as many brats. A quick dinner, but still very satisfying. A little salad on the side with a few radishes and the meal is complete. Of course, there is more than enough to go around but leftovers are what makes this household great. Never any shortage of delectables to fill your gullet with. Dinner was a bit of a challenge with Jake, but nothing we have not come to expect from him. His meal-time shenanigans are easily met with a bit of persistence and a load of bribery or overt threat. Yeah, eat your dinner and you get desert, fail and you go to bed. Pretty standard stuff. Later on in the evening, after all the play-mates are 'played out', we send the kids to bed. Now the little ones would like nothing more than for this unfettered play time to go on forever, but they (mostly we) need the sleep. But not Jacob ... noooo. It might have been the smores he and his sister made (and devoured) but Jake is up for quite some time pleading for mommy or daddy. Eventually, we crack and the Mrs goes up to lay with him for a few minutes. That's all it took, he became comfortable and passed out. Good thing too, because I had a surprise waiting for me later in the night. It turns out that the last of the family of cousins that were visiting needed to be picked up ... from Philly. At midnight. On a Weekend night. Argh ... I'm exhausted and need at least a 15 minute nap before going on this extraction mission to fetch Pretty Girl Peggy. It goes off fairly well. I make it there in no time and make no wrong turns. Right down to parking on Walnut and 10th in front of the fire hydrant. Philly style. She is hanging out with a friend (Ivy) who is going to nursing school at Thomas Jefferson University. I think that's the place ... it was late and I was wearing nothing but slippers, shorts and a t-shirt. I didn't look out of place either. We had brought Happy Guy Herbie's dog along and it apparently did not like the ride. After a few moments of waiting outside the dorm for Pretty Girl Peggy, the micro-dog yacked up 55 gallons of whatever in the quad. It was a nice, clean space till we got there. People coming and going would look down at it and grimace before stepping over. I guess they thought it was the usual Weekend Night Sidewalk Decorations. We made it out of town rather quickly and got back to the Manor shortly after 0100 ... Monday. And the crew was hungry again. No problem, I laid out the leftovers and found that they quickly were demolished. Talk about descending locust! Well, now I have a defense when the Mrs complains that I cook too much food. Hey, hon, you never know when your family might show up! ;)
Monday: Morning rolls around and the Mrs is not feeling well again. The allergies are really pounding her into the sand. She sleeps in while the kids entertain themselves with pounding on the inlaws and grams. All the while, Amish Dad and I are out working on the Twin Towers of Dooooom. It's time to put up the tarps for the roof and being 12-15 feet up in the air on a ladder is by no means an easy thing. Especially when you have the business end setting on loose sand. We managed to get it up with eye-hooks and snaps with no falls or bodily injury. While we were at it, I also put up a pair of gymnastic rings between the swings. That became very popular with the kids. The roof was intriguing to Jacob. I just have the roof on Alexis' tower and then the construction will be finished. Only the blocks and additional sand need to be done and I am certain that I'll be able to finish that this summer. It took a bit of time to get what needed to be done finished, but it was time for the inlaws to start drifting off. First it was the Mrs's cousins. Then it was my Big Little Brother. The Grandparents stuck around a bit longer to have dinner. Gramps grilled some chicken on the deck while Grams made some potato salad that the Mrs loves. Some more greens from the garden and dinner was served. We took the kids out back to play on the towers while the Grandparents snuck out the front. The departure is always heart-rending so this is the best way. Yes, the kids have been asking about the raft of visitors and play mates ever since. Soon enough, we will see them again. To ease them into bed, I set up the portable air-conditioner in their room. The Manor seems to collect heat and funnel it into the sleeping quarters. Nice in the winter, not so nice in the summer. It is summer now after all. Let the simmering begin.
It has begun
FRIDAY: It has been quite a busy and relatively fruitful weekend. But like all grand epics and tales of wonder, it was fraught with trials and tribulations as well. I did manage to get the entire lawn mowed just before the Big Little Brother arrived on Friday evening. That was a good thing. The kids love it when he comes down from the Tundra of the Finger Lakes in NY. That, and I can be fairly certain that if I need something for any particular project, he will be more than happy to go out with the Mrs and pick up the hardware. It's like having a personal Home Depot/Lowes/Sears shopping consultant. If I sent the Mrs out for a left-handed smoke shifter with sky-hook upgrade (not that I would do that), she would be out for hours and come back home with adhesive bathroom hooks and some flower seeds. The hardware store is the last domain of man (except for that bathroom we like to use and smells like it). I collected significantly less clippings from this lawn 'harvest'. The weed count is much greater than anticipated as well. In spite of the various compliments from my neighbors, I believe it is time for the early summer fertilizer with a healthy dose of weed oriented herbicide. Front yard only. The back yard gets nothing but liquid fire from the hounds and a various sprinklings of spore. Next year, I'll put sod in the areas that have been the worse for wear.
Later on in the evening, the Grandparents arrived much to the amazement of the kids. They went into a flurry of activity while running back and forth between the slow moving procession of Joy Incarnate and the destination play room. I think they may love their grandparents, we will need to conduct more observations to make an accurate assessment. The Tumultuous Twins played into the wee hours of the evening and furiously resisted the idea that going to bed was for their own good. The mere mention of the concept was greeted with raucous cat calls of denial and disgust.
SATURDAY: We started out with the usual schedule. Swimming at 0830, Perkins Pancakes at 0930, BJs shopping at 1030, Lunch or Snack at 1130 and nap time at 1230. We had to add the BJs stop in so we can fill the 400 gallon capacity fuel storage unit in the Family Tank at a 2 cent lower price. It still hurts to see that many zeros flying out of the budget. As for the standard weekend clause, the big difference this time is that I put a few racks of ribs on the NG grill before we left and managed to turn the succulent swine flesh into blackened lumps of carbon. I had some beef ribs in the oven that I had set to 250 and they came out just fine. I think I've finally figured out why they burn on the NG ... direct heat. If I set them on one side and turn on the burner on the other side, they come out just fine. I'll have to put a note inside the grill to remind myself for next time. I tend to forget these lessons all to quickly. Oh, and speaking of burnt, the anticipated nap time for the children never came to fruition. No, their 5 minute cat nap on the way back home proved to be more than sufficient for them to completely recover. Must be the sugar fueled nanobot fusion reactor dynamos ... pancake syrup power.
While the kids were riding rough-shod over Grandma and Mommy, Hero Dad and I got down to business and put up the rock climbing walls on the Twin Towers w Anti Aircraft Artillery emplacements. We did the first one the 'wrong' way and had a bit of retro-fitting to do in order to fit the second story correctly. Nothing that could not be done without a bit of craftiness and a dash of using tools improperly. Power tools. With sharp buzzing blades. Yeah, no safety net either. Once we had completed the walls, Hero dad went on to power wash the siding on the mansion while I negotiated a price with a drive-by contractor to resurface the grand drive. It's been a few years since I last had the chance to put down sealant on the drive. I admit this failing, but time has been short. That, and it is the nastiest, dirtiest and plain unpleasant task which I do not relish undertaking. For a meager 200$ USD, this fellow would be happy to do it. You're hired. And yes, I'll pay cash. Want a beer?
After the flurry of activity, the Incredibly Patient Wife's relatives appeared. The inlaws like to come to the Mansion since they are guaranteed to get a filling meal no matter what hour they arrive. The first to arrive were Happy Guy Herbie and Child Charmer Karen. Jacob is enthralled by Karen's long hair and had no qualms about curling up in her lap the minute she arrives. We did not have much time for him to work his charms on her though. It was getting late in the afternoon and we needed to head off to the Air Show at the Willow Grove Naval Air Station so we could watch the Blue Angels do their aerial acrobatics at Mach 5. I knew it would be mobbed and was vindicated. I fortunately had the foresight to take a northern approach and parking in the commercial complex next to the base where there was a Movie Theater. We quickly found parking (even though it was awash with double parking and hordes of wandering watchers looking skyward. The twins were mesmerized by the jets racing through the air and quickly spotted the jets as the appeared and disappeared along the horizon. The first sonic boom they felt was a bit of a shock though. I could feel Alexis tense up and jump a bit when it hit. After that, it was a little attended occurrence. The show was over at 1600 hours, just in time for a torrential downpour. Fine by me since we will be returning the next day to go onto the base and see the displays and participate in the other assorted activities. Since the base and surrounding area was filled to capacity with idling vehicles, I utilized my superior knowledge of the region to escort the caravan to a little used road-way behind the theater and out of the parking lots at the north end. Quickly out and on our way to a meal at one of our favorite restaurants: Bertucci's. This is the same place where I proposed to the Mrs before she became the Wife. It is harder to seat 9 than 4, but we managed to get in and were handsomely rewarded with superior food and liquid libations that sated my craving for vodka martinis. Reasonable prices too. Sounding like I'm pimping the restaurant? Even Jacob was thrilled with the pizza dough supplied for him to play with. Of course, he felt that mixed media was more entertaining and mashed the crayons into it. That was good for at least an hour of unattended goofing off. He liked the cooked pizza too.
Back at the manor, it has become late in the evening and Jacob is performing his typical "I'm not depleted enough to fall asleep yet" routine. After escorting him back to bed, I revisit him to sooth his troubled mind and guide him back to dream-land. Poor kid has seen so many awe-inspiring things today, his limited experiences have been overwhelmed. He has a bit of sweat on his brow leading me to consider setting up the AC in the nursery. I'll do it on Monday. I'm not in the mood (attitude and financial) for turning on the whole-house AC yet. The evening dwindles away with the Mrs working away on the 'Big Iron' computer in sub-basement 12H ... all the while becoming more ill from something she picked up in combination with her seasonal allergies. It looks like my 'Sleep Whisperer' services will be required once more this evening.
Friday, May 27, 2005
- "Steer It Clear" is now the law in Pennsylvania.
The new statute is designed to keep traffic moving when there's a minor accident. It requires drivers involved in a fender-bender to move their cars out of the line of traffic.
State Representative Kate Harper says it's a safety issue. She says people driving along may not be aware of an accident ahead and end up plowing into the vehicles involved in the initial crash. Harper says emergency responders are sometimes injured or killed because of those secondary accidents.
Under the new law, drivers who don't move their cars could face a $50 fine.
- On the eve of Memorial Day, the U.S. Mint is remembering America's fighting men and women.
Wednesday in Philadelphia, Mint director Henrietta Holsman Fore led the ceremonial first strike of a new series of commemorative coin: a silver dollar honoring the U.S. Marine Corps. The piece will be minted at the Philadelphia facility, and is scheduled for release this summer.
The front of the coin features an engraving modeled on Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal's picture of Marines raising the U.S. flag during the battle of Iwo Jima. That famous image is also the subject of a sculpture by Felix de Weldon, which honors fallen Marines at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
The back side of the coin bears the Marine Corps insignia and the words "Semper Fidelis" (Always Faithful), the Corps motto.
Nearly time for white clothing
The traffic situation on the way home last night was less than optimal. I believe that this is the beginning of the 'Great Shore Migration' and it is only going to get worse over the next 24 hours. Unending carloads of corpulent flabby white flesh tightly wrapped in bikinis and speedos. Hair sprouting from backs and armpits littering the shore like some kind of elephant seal mass beaching. It will look like some great sifter deposited tons of blubber down the coastline and then sprinkled it with volumes of coarse language, bad beer and unintelligible music. No, I'll stick to the back 50 and cook up some ribs, thanx. All I have to do is survive the sporadic stampedes and resulting pileups on the Turnpike till its over.
Jake was being difficult last night. He spent an extraordinarily long time pleading for mommy and daddy to come get him out of bed. He usually quits after a bit, but I think he was not as tired since they did not get to play outside. Too much bottled up energy I suppose. The Mrs tried to lay with him a bit to get him to sleep, but he would periodically check to make sure she was still there till he finally drifted off. It was pretty late by the time the Mrs completed her 'Comfort Duty'. She had some things to do in sub-basement 27L and needed some Cold Weather Survival gear before she descended into the belly of the beast. While she prepped, I could hear the gentle breaths of the kids sleeping over the monitor. No wails, no cries for attention. Good. Once the Mrs is finished subverting the opposing Central Asian Cabals from the command bunker, we can go to bed early and get some rest before the 'Memorial Day Weekend 2005 Tour'. She was not gone long, I heard her creep up the stairs. Each step emits it own distinctive creak. I like it, it lends character to the Manor and ensures that when the kids come home late there will be no mystery about the arrival time. Unfortunately, I think Jake also used this feature to figure out that Mommy had slipped away while he was asleep and immediately got up. I heard some noise outside the master suite and went to investigate. He was wandering the halls looking for his absent matriarch with the most distraught look on his face. When the Mrs came out of the master bath, he immediately reached for her and indicated that the Mile Wide Water Bed would be the only salve to ease his troubled mind. No, not this time. He was infringing on my snuggle turf (Mommy) but the Mrs cant sleep well in the water bed with the tossing and turning of our first scion. She put him down in one of the Guest suites and spent the night with him curling up to her. I had to hold down the fort in the Master Suite and make sure that everything else was taken care of in the morning. We'll have to make sure that he is sufficiently exhausted from now on before we put him to bed. Little affection grifter, he is.
Ahh, it's now time for the morning road-way Apocalypse/Armageddon/Ragnarok report. Only two accidents on the PA Turnpike this morning; one right after the Mid-County/Blue Route exchange and one at Ft Washington. Since I got going early, the first one was not too bad. It was in a place where traffic is ALWAYS backed up for no good reason. The second was a bit of a surprise. Sucked up 15 minutes of my time. Apparently, a tractor-trailer carrying steel pipes for a water main thought that the back of a sedan would be a wonderful place to park. The car was obliterated right up through the rear axle. I'm surprised that the gasoline did not ignite. I saw no ambulance and a tow-truck was already there so I'm guessing that there was not severe injury. Oddly enough, no air-bags either. Nearly no damage on the truck and I can pretty much guess that the car cut off the truck by where it happened and how the vehicles were deposited. You know, you might be able to squeeze into that space, but that truck is not going to be able to stop. This guy learned the hard way instead of applying some of that physics that was taught to us in high school. Something about an object in motion and a mass to energy conversion formula ... you know. Not affecting me, but still traffic related, some cars caught fire on the Vine Street expressway (676) in Philly and was causing no end of trouble on 76, 95 and assorted major arteries. I can only believe that this phenomenon will continue to haunt the local roadways till later tonight after all the vehicle-borne migratory blubber farms have made it to their destinations.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Drinking in the middle of the week
Back at the Manor, all was quiet. The hounds were ecstatic to see me as the Mrs set them loose when I got out of the Super Saturn. Yeah, their tails were wagging to hard I was certain that they would accidentally set themselves on fire. After the stampede subsided, the Mrs and I sat down and shared our days experiences with each other. When it came down to how here evening alone fending off the micro-hordette, she had a few interesting observations and experiences. Apparently, they were both very calm and affectionate without my horse-play to get them worked up. However, since they did not burn off the surplus energy that they accumulated during the day, Jacob was entirely uninterested in going to bed. In the first insomniac encounter, the Mrs had let the hounds out to ruin the lawn (damn, if they peed in the new sod I'll be 'pissed'). When she returned inside, there was Jacob clutching his Buzz Lightyear plush action figure (it's not a doll, dammit) and his flannel train blanket. Well, hello there! In a later cases, he had escaped multiple times and was turned back repeatedly. One of the final aborted maneuvers, he actually took the time to look UNDER the door to see if mommy was waiting on the other side before opening the door. The Mrs had wisely donned the light-bending camouflage gear and was waiting beside the door. She heard his pacifier rattling against the floor beneath the door before he began to jimmy the door control panel. Crafty little bugger learns quickly.
Unlike my son, I was no interested in exploring the potentials of being a night owl this evening and went right to bed. My head had begun to hurt a bit, but a glass of pseudo-toxic tap-water and a pair of buffered analgesic tablets did the trick. The following morning was free of any pain and I felt unusually rested. I even woke before my alarm and had a few moments to soak up the blissful feeling while cuddling up to the Somatic Mrs MDMHVONPA. I did find that I lost a few brain cells though. Science says otherwise, but for some reason I had misplaced my keys right after using them to load up the Family Tank. It was strange, but the Mrs figured out where I had mislaid them. I had thought ahead and used the powder room outside the mud room and set my keys next to the sink. Since it was raining out, I figured (correctly) that I would be on the road for quite some time. After washing up, I neglected to retrieve my keys and securely closed the door (the dogs like drinking from open toilets, kids love the blue water). We frantically searched and retraced my path till the Mrs shouted down at me to search the powder room. Argh, mystery solved but yet another memory hole had appeared in the old grey matter. Nutz.
The drive to work could have been worse. Well, only if there were four accidents on the way to the client site instead of the catastrophically crippling three. Rain, accident at Rt1, Rt309 and Rt202 turned the Turnpike into the usual ribbon of multi-colored plastic and metal. The rain only made it worse. And then, some ScrewHead from Florida driving a mangled Lexus decided that he did not have to wait and was weaving in and out of traffic so he could get to the places where the shoulder was wide enough to be used as a new 'jerk-off expressway'. Yeah, I was not in the mood but there was not much I can or should do about that. In fact, the only thing I could do is decide to go out with the guys for Dollar Pint Thursday at the local pub. Yeah, dog of the hair that bit me, but I had not bite so ... whatever. I'll have a pint of the 8.3% alcohol Prussian Imperial Stout. Or whatever I had, it was good with the Hickory burger ... with BACON!
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
- (It's amazing what she picks up. The other day I looked at her drawings, and noted a quartet of people in a row. One was large and rocky and orange, the other was elongated; one was on fire, and the other surrounded by soft squishy shapes.
"It's the Fantastic Four," she said.
I think she's seen a commercial for that twice.
"Mr. Fantastic is like Elastagirl in the Incredibles. He can stretch. And this one is on fire like Jack-Jack the Incredibles, and I don't know her name but she's like Violet, she can make circles to protect everyone."
"Who's this guy?"
"I don't know."
"That's Ben Grimm. He's the Thing. Very strong. Smokes cigars, has a girlfriend named Alicia. Jewish, but I'm not sure he's observant. Heck of an American, in any case."
"He's a hero."
That he is. Then we had a discussion about Johnny Storm, Jack-Jack, and why they were make believe, and how she should never set herself on fire.)"
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Crud. I left the car lights on ... again. I knew something was amiss when I was walking (gimping) out to the Super Saturn and the keyless alarm/entry remote was not evoking much of a response as I approached. Every few steps I took I would frantically push the disarm button and gain no satisfaction. No blinking lights or mechanical clank of the locks disengaging. Perhaps the remote went dead. No, I leaned over and found that the door was securely locked. I've been having some minor electrical system failures of late, perhaps this is the beginning of the end for the Super Saturn. Four years too early, mind you. We still owe a significant amount on that Gas Guzzling Family Tank Minivan. So I actually have to use a key to open the door. Hmmm, magic! So the key goes into the ignition and ... nothing. Not even the grating staccato of clicks from a low battery. It is deader than Vanilla Ice's career. I notice that I had left the light switch on and moan audibly. You know, I have my car facing the building and you would think someone would have mentioned something to the receptionist ... who would have sent out an email ... to everyone but the consultants ... of which I am one of. Crud.
I scuttle back into the building and beg my fellow consultants for a jump. I have left my jump-pack at home as usual. I only have the damn thing when I don't need it. It is good for power outages ... we can run the TV off it for a bit to keep the kids calm. Back to the car though. I got the jrPM to come out and lend me a few amps. When she pulled up, I saw she had a tiny little Japanese import ... a hyundi or something. The batter was about the size of my wallet. There was no way that with the alternator going full blast would she have enough juice to boot-strap my 9K Megawatt fusion generator. We gave it a pop and could only get a few measly grinding clicks out. At least the incessant dinging of the 'key in ignition' alert worked. <sigh> We returned to beseech another fellow blamesultant with an American car that had enough emp to turn over a pacemaker. The most junior of our troupe had such a vehicle and with a few revs, I was on my way to the Local Home Depot Temple to pick up more blocks on the way to the manor. I need to check my lights before leaving the car from now on.
The evening and following morning were not of any particularly interesting variation of Jake being a jester and Alexis being willful. They were a bit exhausted and did go right to sleep, which is always nice. Having to sit up in the master suite and wait for the eventual escape attempt by Jake can put a dent in the evenings activities. The following morning brought rain and that can only bode poorly for the inbound commute.
- 263 | Lower Moreland | Huntingdon Valley | Pa. | 2.067 | 1
Slate grey skies
Ahhhh, a dull day just in time. The planets aligned and the stars were in synch. I got to work early yesterday as the clouds slowly formed and left little droplets of water on the windshield. Alas, not enough precipitation descended to comprise a drop big enough to name 'Sebastian'. Since I arrived at the client site early, I likewise departed early and stopped off at the Home Depot Temple near the Valley Forge interchange at the KOP Mall. A little bit of this, some of that, and volia! Over 100$ in purchases. I did pick up 8 retaining wall blocks as well. Just to see how much I will need to finish this weekend. When I transported the booty back to the Manor and unloaded them, I figured that I would need 12 more (in addition to the 8 I just bought) to reach all the way across from the where I stopped this weekend to the corner. Then multiply by 4.5 to get the total. ACK! 90 more blocks just to finish the West wall! Oh boy, If I don't buy all these before the parental units come down for Memorial day weekend, I'll have to insist that Hero Dad bring his truck so we can buy another pallet full. If the weather holds out, I can certainly pick up 10-12 a day. Hmmm, that's only 48. Barely over half of what I need. And then there is the 3 South walls ... well, 2. We are mostly finished with the 1st part and have the more difficult parts 2 and 3. Some day, this will be finished and the kids will nod at my efforts as they head off to college. The grey clouds will descend and gently wash away the blood, sweat and tears that have fallen on the cracked soil that has been the unwitting foe to my efforts. Then again, I may finish this next month and do a little happy dance too.
Monday, May 23, 2005
I found this over at Vilmars place and had a hard time actually getting through it.
- Police found an 8-year-old Florida girl buried alive with minor injuries in an abandoned landfill Sunday morning, hours after she was reported abducted, according to officials in Lake Worth.
Authorities detained a suspect, identified as 17-year-old Milagro Cunningham, whom they said the girl identified as her attacker.
Searchers found the girl inside a yellow recycling bin, which was inside a 30-foot dumpster.
'There was a yellow recycling bin, and the lid was flipped open,' said Lake Worth police Sgt. Mike Hall. 'And inside the dumpster was a pile of rocks, boulders. And you could see a hand in there.'
Lake Worth Police Department spokesman Dan Boland said the girl 'was left for dead.'
He said the girl was taken to St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach, just north of Lake Worth. He did not know her condition.
- The suspect will be charged as an adult, said Mike Edmondson, a spokesman for the Palm Beach County state attorney's office.
Boland the charges will be attempted murder, sexual battery on a child under 12 and false imprisonment of a victim under 13. He could face life in prison if convicted on all counts.
Boland said Cunningham confessed to all three charges.
The weekend is over, and not a moment too soon. Our Saturday morning started at 0200 when Jake woke up and commenced his pleading for Daddy to come and get him. He was apparently very itchy and needed some soothing. Mommy changed his clothing, wiped him down and gave him a good dose of 'Mommy-Medicine' so that he would drift back to his usual fitful slumber. Bracketed by the equally fitful bodies of the Mrs and myself, he bounce back and forth like a little flesh pinball between the bumpers of the Mile Wide Water Bed. And this little pin-ball has some pretty pointy elbows to boot. This was not entirely conducive to the Bumpers getting enough rest for the coming morning activities. We had swim lessons, which will be wrapping up soon. Since we were a wake early (Alexis was fraught with angst that she was not in the master suite as well), we got suited up and headed off to spend a little pre-lesson time in the pool. I've noticed that Jake is not all too interested in floating on his back. More so than Alexis. I guess the repeated ear infections have made him a little sensitive about having water in his canals. I really cannot blame the guy since it took me a long time to float on my back. He'll do it in the bath tub, but not in the pool. I'm thinking that this is a trust thing and he isn't quite sure what we have up our sleeves when we are telling him to do something this 'unnatural'. He is even hesitant about jumping into the pool from the side. We'll have to work on that.The Saturday Morning Perkins Pancake breakfast went well. We ordered as we were seated and the food came out nearly immediately. In and out in less than 30 minutes. Perfect. I love that place, the Mrs was so correct in suggesting that we switch from IHOP. Cleaner, better food, crayons for the kids, closer. Oh, and balloons for the asking. I suppose we could have pancakes and such at home, but this is for the kids. A kind of 'tradition' on Saturdays after swimming. Alexis even asks about it now so I think may have succeeded in my mission.
The new BJ's just opened up (Near the Barber shop, IHOP, Lowes, Target ... where Wegmans is going in) and we will be visiting them weekly now since they have a member discount program for gasoline. Yep, just scan your member card and top off. We'll take the Family Tank since it has such a voluminous capacity. It uses gasoline to get the fission plant going, you know. Have to drive the main plasma gun off of that ... and the magnetic repulse shields take a bit of juice too. It breaks my heart when I pump 45$ a week into that thing. I think of the amount that goes to PA taxes, to OPEC, to Wahabist Madrasas .... argh. If only there were a domestic bio-diesel hybrid vehicle .. if only wishes were pennies.
We stopped of at Lowes on the way back home and picked up 4 small rock-climbing attachments for the Twin AAA Towers. This will keep the kids from leaping/falling from the 5 foot perch and potentially hurting themselves. No, the will now be able to climb up 10 feet and leap to their doom. Alexis also saw a couple of 'pink' flowers that she just had to have. We got those too. While I was there, I felt the urge to expel some solid waste in the local facilities instead of trying to hold it in till we got back to the manor. Of course, noticing that I was going off the men's room, Alexis voiced her interest in using the bathroom as well. Great. She finally gets the urge and we are at a place where I would not feel quite right about sitting on the toilets myself. Someone told me that this would happen, I guess we will start to haul a kiddy potty seat around too. We got out of there as quickly as possible since we were going to try to get to the Swim Club picnic at noon. If need be, we could change Alexis once we got there and put the toxic bio-contaminated diaper in a hermetically sealed retention bin. Oddly enough, Jake fouled our plans by falling asleep on the way over. This is where the true level of deception and machination that our son has acquired shows. We get back to the Manor and begin to disembark. The Mrs conveys Jake up to the nursery to lay him down for a good 2-4 hour nap. He must be tired since he got up in the middle of the night. God knows that the Mrs and I are exhausted. Within 5 minutes he is up and scampering about the upper floors. "Nope, not tired at all, had a nap in the car, lets go play, I refuse to sleep." His bright eyed frolicking leads us to believe that he is hiding crack or meth in his toddler bed. The dogs find nothing but some small arms and a defunct suitcase nuke. It's too late for the picnic the Mrs devises other distractions while I go about mowing the lawn. The day was long and tedious. Jake was a whirling dervish while Alexis showed us repeatedly that redefining the word 'cranky' is an incremental task for her with many substantive data points along the way.
The kids were up quite early on Sunday morning. Well, early to us since they insisted on going to bed at an absurdly late hour. Their toddler kung-fu attitude powers are strong. After we do our morning routine for Sunday, the Mrs roars off to BJ's again to entertain the kids and return some VCR mag tapes that she paid too much for. The BJ's grand opening event was still going on and there were caterers in tuxedos proffering goodies as well as clowns making balloon animals. When we visited the previous day, there seemed to be more proctoring staff than patrons in the establishment. While she was off showing the children that the consumerism of Disney is no different than the consumerism of BJ's, I focused on making progress in the West Wall. The Uncompensated workers are starting to grumble that the project now entering it's 1 year anniversary is becoming endless. I am getting a bit nervous about a potential revolt. The reassurance that the end is neigh seems to carry some weight as the wall progresses quickly and our block stock suddenly runs dry. Ahh, it looks like another visit to the Home Depot Temple may be in the works. I'll need to pick up the tarps for the roofs as well as several pressure treated 2x4 to attach the rock-wall scaling equipment. By the end of the day, both the kids and I are exhausted. A whole weekend without naps can do that to a soul. Perhaps the kids will learn the value of a good nap. I'm a full fledged convert.
Friday, May 20, 2005
I have not posted in quite some time. In fact, not since Friday. I've been distracted. There was some good news before everything went into the shitter though. It turns out that Jacob's ear infection has cleared up just in time for a new round of viruses to settle in. We'll have to keep an eye on the Twin Tyrants of Turpitude. It all started on Thursday evening when the pizza philanderers gave away my pie. Yep, I stroll in after the agreed upon 15 minutes only to find that they did an oops and sent my Xtra Cheese circle of Kiddie happiness home with someone else. So they will be a few minutes late with my replacement ... at the same price of course. Fine, just get it done. After I get the pie home, I see that they actually made a bread bowl with pizza soup ... the thing was the sloppiest, nastiest piece of chewy bleck I have ever had the misfortune to lay my hands on. Slicing it up for the fomenting little ones was no meager feat either. Friday was a bit of a blast. We went 5 for 5 on the Turnpike delay score-card. Yeah, the rain didn't help much either. I left the car windows open and was treated to 75 minutes of sitting in a damp pilot's seat while watching the germination of 'liquid assholes' around me. I despise driving in the aftermath of a rain storm.
- As public-health workers brace for an eventual new strain of influenza that could kill millions of people worldwide, a dispute has arisen whether government officials should divulge their plans. These are strategic blueprints that set up a management team, evaluate hospital capacity, and consider who would be vaccinated.
Top experts worry that an avian flu virus in Southeast Asia, or another strain, could lead to a pandemic. They fear that the nation has not adequately planned for anticipated shortages in vaccines, antiviral drugs, medical staff and even food.
In contrast to a typical flu season, during which about 36,000 people die in the United States, the toll from a pandemic could number in the hundreds of thousands.
Because of the threat, federal, state and local governments have been drawing up response plans. In August, the federal government released a draft of a national pandemic plan for public comment.
- But Pennsylvania officials say their pandemic plan includes sensitive details - such as phone numbers and vaccination storage sites - that could devastate response efforts if the information got into the wrong hands.
"We are walking on a knife's edge," said Adrian R. King Jr., director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. "We want to act in good faith to give information. At the same time, we have an obligation for operational security."
State officials are discussing the development of a "reader-friendly" version of the plan for the public, said Troy Thompson, a Pennsylvania Health Department spokesman.
- Estimated Impact of a Flu Pandemic
Trust for America's Health uses a U.S. Health and Human Services computer model to estimate the effects of a pandemic flu contracted by 35 percent of the U.S. population. The estimates include:
89,000 to 207,000 deaths.
314,000 to 734,000 hospitalizations.
18 million to 42 million outpatient visits.
20 million to 47 million additional illnesses
$71.3 billion to $166.5 billion economic impact.
In Pennsylvania, there would be an estimated 12,686 deaths and 52,573 hospitalizations.
In New Jersey, there would be an estimated 7,924 deaths and 33,970 hospitalizations.
SOURCE: Trust for America's Health
Thursday, May 19, 2005
- "In reading the analyses accompanying studies conducted by American universities, it is interesting to note a great deal of discussion about such "contributing factors" as social behavior, academic self-concept, parenting styles, and socio-economic status of students. In other words, looking for excuses to explain the failure of American education has taken a great deal of time and effort. Wading through all these reasons for poor performing students does not lend itself to a short commentary, but given the industrial strength of the United States, should we assume that our country's economic success has been achieved in spite of, rather than as a result of, our educational system?
The numbers seem consistent, however. Thirty percent of graduating high school seniors attend college, and of those, only about 30% actually graduate. Of the 70% of students who graduate and do not attend college (at least immediately), few if any have ever received any meaningful technical or vocational training. The average income in the United States, at least according to the Bureau of the Census, is $43,318.00, but income averages among minorities and women are significantly less. Approximately 12.5% of the nation's working population is below the poverty level for the United States, which factors out at 36 million people -- an increase from the year 2002. The real income of the lowest 20% of all income earners declined 1.9% through the end of 2003. Of the 36 million poor people, 90% are minorities. "
- The newspaper reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has logged 13 reports of the engine shutdowns, while Edmunds.com, a popular vehicle-information and shopping site, has had 13 individuals post complaints in a Prius forum. Some of the cars that shut down had to be towed to the shop before they could be restarted.
The newspaper quotes an official from Toyota as saying the stalling problem is due to a software glitch in its sophisticated computer system.
The car has both a gasoline engine and an electric motor, which is set to provide it with power during certain driving conditions, particularly in city driving. The gasoline engine is supposed to be shut down or run at a very low level when the car is driving slowly or idling but provide most of the car's power when it is cruising at highway speeds.
- Toyota spokesman Sam Butto told the newspaper the auto manufacturer identified a "programming error" in the computer systems of 23,900 Prius cars last year and sent owners a service notice advising them to bring the cars into dealers for an hour-long software upgrade.
- A California company has figured out how to use two simple materials -- water and salt -- to create a solution that wipes out single-celled organisms, and which appears to speed healing of burns, wounds and diabetic ulcers.
The solution looks, smells and tastes like water, but carries an ion imbalance that makes short work of bacteria, viruses and even hard-to-kill spores.
Oculus said the solution, called Microcyn, may prove effective in the fight against superbugs, crossover viruses like bird flu and Ebola, and bioterrorism threats such as anthrax.
The company has just been granted approval in the United States to test the solution in the treatment of wounds, and already has government approval in Europe, Canada and Mexico for diverse uses, from disinfectant to wound irrigation.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Day 4 on the turnpike and things are still a disaster! This morning, we had 2 multi car pile-ups. One just before and one just after the Fort Washington exit. This disaster dejour cost me 45 minutes of my life and most likely a good gallon of gasoline. It happened about 30 minutes before I got to the interchange where I enter the domain of the 'worker herd mentality'. I'm not sure what is going on recently, but I'm going to have to blame the nice weather we have been enjoying lately. People are out and about, doing spring things, having fun. Next morning, they are tired, groggy and distracted. The accidents were not catastrophic by any means, Bent fenders and dented bumpers mostly. But the tow trucks, police cruisers and victims milling about is just too much of a distraction for the rubbernecking gawkers to just ignore. As I was escaping the last of the jam-up, my cell phone rang. It was my buddy Pete who was about half way through the mess that I had just escaped. I gave my condolences and let him know that there was a second accident to contend with. He gave the standard commuter rant and we made a pact to go have lunch today. It'll be nice to catch-up with him. We have similar views on certain aspects of life. Like kids, politics, God, ... Turnpike traffic.
Enough kvetching about things I cannot change. One nice thing that I enjoyed last night was the salad that I harvested from the Agricultural Sector. There is nothing like a fresh bowl of leafy greens (spinach, red sail, regular lettuce) sprinkled with radishes. I just wish that the sugar snap peas were producing as well, but I guess I cannot have everything. I cut enough to make 3 bowls so that I can have something at lunch. I'm so pleased with the garden right now. When the tomatoes and cucumbers start producing, the grocery bill will plummet. I cannot wait to show Alexis where green beans and peas come from. Speaking of Alexis, she has been in a fairly sour demeanor lately. I'm thinking it might be the cold she gave me. In any event, I'm thinking of stealing barrie's nickname of 'Princess Grumpy Pants' ... it seems to fit with the new predilection of 'pink pants only'.
On the mend
The last few days have been particularly rough. The illness, the temperature variations at work, the horrible traffic. Not a moment of reprieve was granted! I took Monday as a sick day only to learn later that a high voltage line had fallen on the Turnpike. I spent my morbidity time napping and watching Sliders on the SciFi channel. The following day, I shuffled off the feeling that 'One more day, please' and crawled into work. There was an accident in the exact same spot where the line had fallen the previous day resulting in a 90 minute commute. Now, today, there was a disabled car between 611 and 309 resulting in yet another backup with the added bonus of construction traffic. I'm too worn down to be frustrated, but here I am bitching about it. And the building temperature is hovering at about 60 ... Kelvin. I'm not entirely sure how this has happened, but I'm actually cold! I mean, bone chilled shivering cold. No, something is not right in the world and I'm thinking that the Snow Miser is to blame for this!
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Well, I'm back. More or less. It was a very active weekend. The Mrs had run off to NYC to attend a Brides Maid convention of sorts and left me with the two little autonomous disasters. It was rough for the first hour or so since Jake was not so jovial. From the first moment we dropped of the Mrs, he began chanting 'NO!' and fell into a deep and dark melancholy. Yeah, he is pretty attached to the Wife. It probably would have been better if she drove my car to the train station and left it there for the weekend, but it was not in the cards. No matter, the Grandparents and Big Little Brother arrived for the weekend shortly after 2100 hours. The kids forgot all about mommy.
The rest of the weekend was fairly exhausting. Swimming lessons went well except we neglected to bring dry 'normal' diapers along. All we had was the 50$ a pop swimmers that we swore to promptly change them out of once we arrived back at the manor. Then it was off to Perkins and later, the Herb Sale at the local state park. The playground there has a top notch jungle gym and a swingset that the kids just love. Higher and higher was their only requirements on the swings. Since they were fully-encompassing seats, it was a wish easily fulfilled. After a bit, we went off to buy some herbs and then wander down to the pond to poke as some bull frogs. The kids were completely fascinated with the gargantuan amphibians. It was difficult to keep them out of the water, but we convinced them not to get wet so they can go home and play with their new toys. The grandparents had brought down a Radio Flyer Tricycle and a doll. Alexis was keen on the doll and Jake gravitated towards the bike. Needless to say, this is making the birthday gift thing a bit hard. I'm thinking about sticking with the ant-farm idea for them. While they played and napped, Hero Dad and I worked on the vexing South Wall of the kids Twin Towers AAA and defensive position sand pit. Hard, dirty work, but it will be nice to be finally finished with it. I'll certainly need a few more tons of sand and blocks to finish, but the end is in sight.
Sunday was a little tame. I started feeling ill right about then. Some sort of virus from Alexis most likely. Nice. We went to church, I mowed the lawn, picked up the Mrs and sent the family back north. Oh, and the kids. The kids found some corn husks and a few left over cobs that I was going to toss into the compost heap. I reconsidered and put them on the lawn so I could chop them up with the lawn-mower. They found them first and decided that they would plant the corn in the sand. After a few minutes of the corn not growing, they figured that since the corn was a dud, they would feed it to the dogs. Sand and all. I've been cleaning up the dogs corn-turds off the lawn for the last 3 days. Talk about the rental properties of corn!
1. You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be?
Necronomicon ... bet ya didn't know it was of arabic origin!
2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
MAJOR MOTOKO KUSANAGI?
3. The last book you bought was...?
Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
4. The last book you read was...?
see above ...
5. What are you currently reading?
STILL READING ATLAS SHRUGGED. One damn paragraph a night. ARGH!
Passing the baton? Quite frankly, I don't think I know ANYONE who has not had this up at one time! I should pass it back to barrie just out of spite.
Friday, May 13, 2005
- If you have a strong stomach, read this article by Keillor in "The Nation". It just drips with condescension. He plays the part of the Olympian God looking down on a the cute little kiddies below with their silly passions and concerns. He makes a superficial pretence of finding charming what he is really mocking. When it come to conservatives, however, the mask drops and the hate and abuse just gushes out.
Not much going on right now ... again. The kids got to play in the sandbox a bit before I sent them in so I could turn on the newly invigorated sprinkler system. You see, It has not rained in several days and that sort of thing is not good in the spring. I have several patches of dead flower sprouts now. No, not good at all. I'm wondering why I have not heard the usual rumblings from local farmers and such about the lack of spring rains. I guess the press is more interested in other pressing issues, like corruption in the Philly Government. That is a galaxy far, far away for me. I'm a little more concerned about all that sod I've just put down. Is that shallow of me?
Thursday, May 12, 2005
just ... about ... there
I was hoping for yet another mundane, melancholy day. I've been denied. I got up to let the dogs out only to find that Katie has determined that my erratic schedule has given her license to create a new great lake on the tile floor. Say hello to 'Lake Urine'. I suppose I should have let her out after 2100 last night, but I was ready for bed. Now I have 400 square miles of cold dog piss to mop up. Great. The hounds had the good sense to NOT dance in it when I came down though. Small blessings.
It was starting to rain and that could only mean one thing for me, a bumper sucking love fest was planned for the PA Turnpike. But wait! There's more. The sink-hole that the wonderful highway crews had purportedly fixed last month at the KOP exit had risen from the grave and now required that both of the lanes be closed. On top of that, there is a big led sign after the 309 exit that warned everyone of it. Soooo, everyone stopped, in the middle of the road, to read the damn sign. With the construction after the mid-county exit, the whole damn 15 miles was a slow-moving orgy of fury and cursing. By the time I got to the Mid-County exit, I had my fill of bile and chose to go the other route. I could get off the turnpike, go DOWN the Blue Route and then back up on Schuylkill Expressway to get to the same place but avoid the rest of the mess. Oh, I am so clever, so smart, so wise. Dumbass. Both 476 (Blue Route) and 76 (Schuylkill Expressway) were equally fouled up by all the other members of the brain trust who were doing the same thing as I. Nothing like spending 75 minutes with the worst face of humanity snarling back at you. That study showing that Philly traffic is getting better? Rubbish.
Final parting gripe: The office has been extremely hot the last few days so I've dressed cooler today in order to keep some of my bodily fluids from bursting out of my sweat glands. They fixed the AC late yesterday and ice is forming on the keyboard. If anyone finds my desiccated, freeze dried body still seated in the sensory isolation chamber, tell the wife and kids I love them and bring me some thermal underwear. Thnx.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
My kingdom for a soda.
I'm going to give the middle of the week a bit of a short shrift. Nothing of consequence happened yesterday other than the lights going out in the Kitchen again. I had to crawl through the lower attic to get at the junction box I installed only to find out that the Mega-Wire nut I used had melted. Melted! This is precisely what happened to spur me into installing the box in the first place. Way too much juice is going through this circuit and I think I have the 2 computers to blame for it. I've replaced all the power sucking light bulbs except for 1 in the kitchen with the miserly fluorescent ones. Other than abandoning the room, I will have no choice but to install a new fuse and circuit to handle it. Not a choice I am prepared to make right now.
Out side of this, nothing. Well, there is something but I cannot talk about this due to the sensitivity of the subject. In a few days, I'll be able to say something but the individual who has informed me needs that time to let the authorities sort out the details. Oh, and there was an accident outside the client site just before I arrived. I missed an awful traffic log-jam by seconds. There is something to be said for mundane days.
- Greenpeace's ship came to Alaska to conduct an anti-logging campaign in the Tongass National Forest. The ship was carrying more than 70,000 gallons of "petroleum products" at the time, court papers said.
Under state law, a large non-tank vessel must file an oil spill response plan application five days before entering state waters. Greenpeace had not, but said the oversight was quickly corrected.
State regulators charged Greenpeace, ship Capt. Arne Sorensen and ship agent Willem Beekman with multiple counts of misdemeanor criminal negligence last July for not filing the spill plan or having proof of financial responsibility in case of a spill.
- Criminal negligence carries a maximum $200,000 fine for an organization, and a year in prison and a $10,000 fine for an individual.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
- The victim said that his girlfriend was "very apologetic" about the stunt. He said that the two are still together and he hopes state police who are investigating and could file charges the case, will see it as a harmless prank.
Curtin said that teachers confiscated most of the photographs and he has turned the investigation over to state police, who may file harassment and disorderly conduct charges against one or both girls.
- The state wants to collect your taxes:
Not just your state taxes, which makes perfect sense, but also some of your local taxes, such as the earned income tax now collected by your elected tax man, or the school district, or some firm like Berkheimer Associates.
The state wants to do that now and thinks it can do it better than the local guys.
The local guys disagree.
- At a hearing yesterday to discuss proposed reforms to Pennsylvania's earned income tax collection system, officials with the departments of Revenue and Community and Economic Development argued that municipalities are missing out on $100 million in revenue, "lost" to a structure that is inefficient and fragmented.
A report issued by the Governor's Center for Local Government Services estimates that, statewide, it costs $51 million in overhead to collect the local income taxes, which themselves total $1.7 billion. It says the state Revenue Department could do the same job for about $17 million, not including $18 million in startup and transition costs.
"Significant consolidation is appropriate," said Ken Klothen, a deputy secretary with the Rendell administration. The local earned income tax collection duties should be performed by the state or, failing that, the counties.
- Local earned income taxes aren't unique to Pennsylvania, but they are nearly so. Only 11 other states allow local agents -- that is, school districts and municipalities -- to levy income taxes. In Pennsylvania, there are 2,878 local income taxes, more than in the rest of the states combined. And the taxes themselves come in varied shapes and sizes -- the lowest rate is 0.28 percent, while the highest, Scranton's, is 2.4 percent.
Yeah, Monday, it's history
Hmmm, perfectly lousy start to the week. The Mrs and I rolled out of bed a bit late. Since she would be escorting Jacob to the clinic this morning, she did not mind the extra hour of snuggling at all. I should have been more diligent. It seems that an alien race had invaded the steering columns of vehicles throughout the Metro Philly area and compelled the vehicles to smash into one another. The local roads and Turnpike were all at a near stand-still. Everywhere I turned, there was a cop car and several cars in various states of disaster. Argh.
The upside to this morning is that the kids polished off the French toast that I sliced up and set out for them this morning. Apparently, they were sufficiently hungry. Jake too. The Mrs informed me that she managed to get an 0840 appt this morning for Jake even though the clinic did not open till 0900. I guess they got a fire lit under them when told that this might have been a case of a reaction to the antibiotics. Needless to say, Jake was in very good spirits this morning after an extended session of 'Mommy time'. Me thinks that he just got some bad dim-sum and his system took action. The pediatrician seemed to concur and we are continuing the twice daily treatments of oral dosages for his ear. Remarkably, his ear seems to be improving as well, but we have been provided with a list of throat and ear specialists 'just in case'. Lets just hope that this is just a CYA move on their part.
The evening went well. I played in the sand with the kids and they really enjoyed the little play steering wheels I attached to the towers the previous evening. The sod is still trying to get a toe-hold around the edges of the east wall though. The problem with this is that the copious volumes of water I need to keep the sod alive till it gets integrated is leaking into the sand pit and making a bit of a mess. The kids love it because the sand will now form proper castles, but we have to take all their clothes off when they come inside. Pros and Cons ... oh well. On to a completely different subject, Tuesday morning. The Mrs and I got up late and mostly due to the cold that we have been fighting off. Yeah, if this keeps up we may just need to lump it and take a sick day to get back on track. Problem is that if I'm at home, I feel compelled to do something useful. Damn work ethic, ya know.
Monday, May 09, 2005
SEPTA to resume rebuilding of Market-Frankford Elevated Train run. Only $74 million dollars of taxpayer money that they hope to extort from the State coffers. Oh, and the disruption will be unbearable for those who can still afford to pay the raised rates on that particular line.
- Next month, SEPTA will hire a replacement contractor to finish work on the western end of the $567 million project to rebuild the century-old elevated train line, SEPTA general manager Faye Moore said yesterday.
SEPTA remains locked in a lawsuit brought by PKF Mark III of Newtown, contractor for the Cobbs Creek project terminated by the transit agency last December.
Still unknown, Moore said, is whether the bonding company that insured the project will pick up SEPTA's costs for delays and unfinished work. Moore declined to put a value on those costs yesterday.
PKF Mark III contends that the transit agency persistently interfered with construction. SEPTA has countered that it sought to remedy serious safety concerns.
Meanwhile, Moore announced plans to close Market Street and detour up to 150,000 El riders onto buses for parts of the spring and summer.
Beginning May 31, SEPTA will close the 56th Street station until late November. Shuttle buses will transport riders from Upper Darby's 69th Street Terminal to the 40th Street station when the El shuts down on weekends in June.
- The shutdown will bring giant cranes and a hive of workers who will rebuild stations, cut down and remove the old El, and erect a sleek, single-column structure in its place.
"It will be noise, lights and dirt, 24 [hours a day] seven [days a week]," Moore said. "This is one of the largest construction projects in SEPTA's history."
Sunday, May 08, 2005
Weekend activity-fest; Sunday Version
Ahhh, Sunday, a day of rest. NOT! The Mrs had big plans for this Mother's day and she knew I would not have an iota of influence on it. First thing on the list was to go down to Philly's Chinatown and have some dim-sum with the In-Laws. It was packed, but we found out that there was a second floor to the 911 Race Street place we usually go to. The kids were apprehensive about some of the food (rightfully so as we learn later), but did take to learning how to use chopsticks. It was amusing to watch them endeavor to get the smallest morsel of noodle in their mouths with the giant plastic ones provided. Eventually, they would pick up the food and set it on the sticks. Amusing indeed. We then went around all 10 blocks of the surviving area of Chinatown before heading back North to the Franklin Mills mall. We were going to spend some time in Man-Hell before dropping off Paw-Paw (grandma) and the BIL (brother in law) at the train station just down the street. Have I ever mentioned that the only think I can tolerate about the Franklin Mills Outlet Mall is the multitude of food courts inside and the ever growing expanse of eateries on the outskirts. They did add a Jillians at one end. I try to start at the other end where the Movie theater is so I have something to work my way to. Happy Mother's day honey, you got a mall walk out of me with not one complaint.
After dropping off the extended family, we head back home for nap time. Jake falls asleep in the Family Tank and we spirit him upstairs immediately. Alexis, however 'plays' a bit, then falls asleep next to me on the floor. We leave her where she fell and go about our business. The Mrs goes shopping and I muck about in the back yard. I need to keep the sod wet till it takes. We've been promised rain for the last week but have yet to see a single drop. Normally, I would just turn on the sprinklers but since I'm working on the sand-pit walls, I really cannot do that without dire consequences. So I water the sod by hand and shovel sand about till Jacob wakes up. I sit with him in my lap till mommy comes home and he is gone in a flash. The weather is still nice so the Mrs agrees to a little time outside in the sand. A bit later, Alexis is awake and I bring her outside as well. It was a grand old time till dinner. Which is to say, dinner was not all that bad either. No, we watched Elmo in Grouchland and had fish sticks and lo-meign. Every thing was winding down nicely till about 2000 hours.
The kids and I were playing about in the entryway where we have a puzzle of alphabet letters that measures about 5x20 feet. Its a nice and soft neoprene sheet so if they fall on it, no harm is done. So Jacob is clutching his trains to his chest as usual, but then doubles over like he is going to do a somersault. When He does not follow through or get up, I ask if he has to poop. He erects himself and immediately starts to empty the contents of his upper digestive tract. Ohhh, not good. I can see noodles from this mornings meal as well as everything he has eaten since. Remember that quip I made about the food early on? This is where it comes back to haunt us. After producing nearly his bodyweight in semi-liquid undigested mash, I run off to acquire towels with sufficient absorption properties to 'mop up'. The Mrs hold him still till I get back. Well, she holds his body still while he continues to fabricate more projectile matter out of nothing. Needless to say, there will be individual baths tonight. I bring him up to the bath tub and pour warm water over him while he lays or sits in the tub. It appears to be soothing and his little heart-melting smile of genuine happiness reappears. That's my little soldier. After I get him all scrubbed down, I turn him over to the Mrs while I go deal with Alexis and the 'Fallout'. She is a bit concerned about Jacob 'Coughing' and I assure her that everything will be OK. Getting ready for bed is one thing, but going to bed is quite another. Alexis falls asleep rather quickly, but Jacob just isn't in that frame of mind right now. He stays with us for a few hours. Near the end of his 'milking it' show, he chugs a large glass of water and manages to keep it down. The Mrs puts him down and we check in on him every so often to make sure he is not gearing up for a repeat performance. This shoots some pretty big holes in our evening for the Mrs and I. We discuss the potential causes of this. Bad food or an allergic reaction to the antibiotics for his ear. Either way, he is going to need to see the doctor ASAP tomorrow.
Saturday, May 07, 2005
Weekend activity-fest; Saturday version
It all started on Friday afternoon. Relatively early since I managed to grind through my usual 80 hour work week quickly. Honestly, it's closer to 40 these days. I guess I'm guilty of working to the level of expectations right now, but I can live with that. I wanted to get home early on Friday so I could meet the sprinkler guy who is scheduled to show up at the manor between 1500 and 1600. As these things go, I understood that if I am late, he will be early and leave. If I'm early, he'll be late. The later is preferable since I want to chop down the jungle that has sprung up in the location that was once the front yard. When the sprinkler guy did finally show, I was nearly half done with the front yard. Ahh, the sprinklers. He got them working in no time. As a former computer technician, I believe in the magic of the specialist. Many times have I been called to the scene of a complete meltdown for a particular piece of technology only to find that by looking under the hood, all the symptoms and ailments simply go up in a puff of ether. All he did was to go to each control valve, open the cover and give it a good tap. The magic then invoked itself and the sprinklers worked like a charm. Black arts of water management I tell you! Expensive prestidigitation as well. So, the sprinklers are working and I now have a half lawn of wet grass to mow before heading off to pick up the inlaws from the train station. Oh, did I forget to mention that? Now that I am covered in wet grass clippings, I will be going out into the public eye to pick up my mother-in-law and the minister-in-training brother in law. They'll be so happy to be chauffeured by the 'Swamp Thing'.
The next day was one long string of activities. Swimming at 0830, which went very well. Alexis was completely in touch with her inner aqua being now that we figured out what her touch-stone was. All we need to do is bring a little yellow bath duckie. She was overjoyed and we presume it was that she associated that bath duck with the swimming-pool duck. Now, the pool is one giant bath-tub with unlimited license to splash mommy and daddy. No wailing at infinitely high octaves or the death-grip clutching of daddy. Yes, the whole 30 minutes was one long session of splashing, squirting, kicking and paddling. The Inlaws were there to take pictures the whole time and were significantly amused. You see, they are from Manhattan and the thought of swimming is a bit foreign. The Mrs does not know how to swim and I believe that is no different than the rest of her clan. Incentive: learn to swim and we will go on a Disney Cruise. 'Nuff said.
Perkins Saturday Pancake Bonanza went well. Not much to say about that. The big task of the day was to leave the kids with the In-Laws while the Mrs and I brought the Hounds to the Vet for the battery of shots and inoculations that they were due to get. Now there is an exhausting task. The dogs LOVE going to the vet. Of course, they love to play with the other 15 oz creatures that people call dogs. Not a good mix; 125 lb leviathan playing tag with a 5 lb fru-fru lap dog. They (the hounds) caught me off balance a couple of time before I got them calmed down. Since they were all worked up, a surplus of slobber was available for spraying as Thor shook his head vigorously due to the ear infection he managed to get again. Drool everywhere. The smaller animals headed for higher ground as wave after wave of saliva battered the occupants of the painfully small waiting room. That kind of performance typically gets us escorted into a private room quite quickly. From there on, things went pretty well. The Doc looked at the dogs and whistled. He knows them well and is aware that dealing with them makes him earn his fee. They like this particular vet (Dr Shields) and he has the dubious honor of getting head-butted to show for it. After a few shots, ear cleanings and nail clippings, they release Thor first and I walk him about the grounds for a bit while they cope with the more energetic Katie. The Mrs deals with the insurance and bills in the mean time. While walking about, I notice that the Japanese Split Leaf Red Maple out front is coming to the end of it's days. The bark is peeling away and revealing the grey and cracked bones of the trunk. Too much dog pee I suppose, but the visual is quite interesting to me. Half the tree is still alive, but the dead half is quite stark in contrast. I'll have to come by and take some B&W photos some time.
The rest of the day is consumed by my efforts to dig up the ground where I want to lay the original 25 lengths of sod + the 25 additional lengths that the Mrs picked up after the Vet Visit. It is slow going since the ground I am working with is like baked clay bricks. I have various implements laid out to attack this formidable foe that has manifested itself. One part dog pee, 2 parts Pennsylvania clay = one pisser of a time. I manage to muddle through in my own time after putting down a 6 pack of Mountain Dew and a liter of cranberry juice. I'll just have to make sure that the dogs use a different location to pee from now on. I'm thinking of opening up an area under the pine trees where grass will not grow. While I am scoping out the area under the pine forest, my gaze pans off to the uncompleted North Wall of the sand pit. Either the caffeine is giving me inspiration or the sun has cooked my grey matter in the bucket of a skull I have perched on my broad and muscle wrapped shoulders. Ok, that last part was not necessary, but it was a train-of-thought sort of thing. A more apt description would be 'clay speckled sheets of white flagging flesh' but that is not much of an ego booster! Anywho, I digress. I decide to start in on the north wall and have completed it before the chilly fingers of dusk rake across my ache riddled back ... oh, there I go again. Lets just say that the uncompensated workers completed the North wall even if it was a bit crooked. I'm caked with filth, sweat and sand. I need a shower and a shower is what I'll get. The rest of the evening is aptly described as a couple of tired kids laying on top of an equally exhausted daddy. A little untrue since Jacob is not really tired and escapes his containment unit a couple of times after his curfew. The Mrs goes to Lay with him after the 2nd successful escape and puts an end to his Houdini ways for the evening.
Friday, May 06, 2005
So far, so good. Got up on time thanks to the Lucid Mrs and got out of the Haupertonian Territories by 0645. Traffic at that time of the morning can be hot-n-cold. Either you have a guy in an F150 Diesel trying to scrape the dust off your bumper at 85mph or you are stuck behind a guy in a mini-van going 53 in a 65. I got a little of both this morning. Nothing of any note happened last night except for the follow-up visit for Jacob. He apparently STILL has the ear infection and we are now down to the last oral antibiotic with him. The next visit will tell us if he needs a shot with a 3 foot needle. The visit apparently went well with the Mrs since he had a new toy to preoccupy himself with. When the pediatrician came in to visit, Jake was unusually cooperative. He even assisted with the heart beat monitoring by grabbing the stethoscope and applying it to his chest. This made the attending healer proclaim that Jacob may be spending a little too much time at the clinic. I concur, so let get out the premium stuff and kill this nasty little infection once and for all.
My reason for leaving early today is so that I can meet the sprinkler guys at 1500 and get this little through-flow issue resolved. I hate to call in professionals for something that is going to be trivial, but the chance of me breaking a pipe while messing about in the 'pump-house' is too great of a risk. If the rain will hold off till I get back to the manor, perhaps I can get a bit of the lawn mowed while 'supervising' the hydraulic activities. Later on in the evening, the inlaws will be coming down for a visit. This means I'll be making a short trip to the local NE Corridor train stop near the Franklin Mills mall. It's a relatively short distance, but rush hour traffic ensures that the time delta will be excruciatingly large. Ahh, what I do for family ... hope I'm racking up the points here with the Mrs. I made a quip to her the other day about the difference between visits from my parents and visits from hers: with mine, they drive down, bring dinner with them, cook, clean and monopolize the kids for the entire visit and then vanish into thin air Sunday night; with hers, I need to pick them up, drop them off, cook, entertain and chauffeur them and still need an HONEST interpreter the whole time. We persevere though, don't we?
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Good news! They fixed the air conditioning at work! Yes, no more 'stuck in 451' (quote from barrie) for me. I was considering going out and getting some supplies for the mother's day gift that I wanted to build for the Mrs, but I had a load of work to finish up and time was short. I've got some of the supplies at home, I just need some yellow and pink finger paints ... and a picture frame with glass ... and a matte. I think you might know where I'm going here. The Mrs is going to pick the stuff up for me. Part of her gift is the 'guilt free' shopping spree ... HONEST! It will be nice.
Back at the Manor, the Virtuosically Brilliant Mrs and I were drawing on the driveway with the kids and their 24 different colors of chalk. God forbid we only have 20 or 18 colors. Banish the thought of only 4! As a child, I remember 1 color ... white. Anyways, the driveway is very coarse and it eats the chalk away pretty quickly. I'll need to call in a paver to have the whole thing resurfaced with REAL rubber coating. The water soluble stuff I've used in the past cleans up nicely, but doesn't seem to last the whole year. I'll probably fill the cracks in first before I call in the contractors. It's a dirty, malodorous, exhausting job that needs to be done when it is warm and dry. I can skip this one with no great insult to my industrious nature.
Spent a little time in the Agricultural Sector putting up trellis racks for the four rows of peas. I should probably relocate some of them since there are gaps where they did not germinate. I'll also have to do something about the multitude of grass that seems to be sprouting up everywhere. Grass clippings will keep that down but I just have not had enough of it to cover the whole garden yet. On a side note, we have had some fairly cold nights recently and there was a couple nights were frost was projected. One of the tomatoes looks like it took it pretty hard and the cucumbers were completely wiped out. I guess I'll have to stop off at the KOP Home Depot Temple on the way home and pick up a new set of sprouts. This is what I get for making fun of my mid-west friends/family for all the snow they have been getting recently.
The Mrs and I went to bed early last night. It's been a tough week and a little extra sleep would help. I was doing the mid-week laundry chore, but it can wait till tomorrow. There are only 4 loads and I've got the first two nearly done. That, and it would help her fend of the cold that I am desperately trying to give her. Since we sacked out at 2200, I got in my full 5 hours of sleep and promptly woke up at 0300, 0400, 0500 and finally 0600 when I convinced myself that it was time to actually get going. Nothing like waking up and knowing that you can just roll over for another hour of sleep! It probably was a good thing that I got going so early (0650) since there was a multitude of construction related accidents on the turnpike. What normally would have been a 35 minute trip turned into a 60 minute slog through legions of irrational and extremely irritated motor vehicle operators. Half of us just wanted to get going and but quick, the other half wanted to slow down and ogle the twisted metal frames produced by the accident. That, and whenever an accident happens where a fender gets dinged or a signal light is put out, the people think it's a major crime scene and refuse to clear the road till the State Troopers come and order them off the road at gunpoint. Argh. You're supposed to clear the road if the vehicle is in driving condition. It says it right in the drivers manual! Argh, argh, argh. I need mass transit from my house to the client site. It's actually a doable proposition too!
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
I've been tagged by Toni to participate in my first meme. The rule is that I'm supposed to select 5 occupations and describe them as they would apply to me. The jobs come from a list (shown below) and then coerce 3 other people to do the same. The 3 others are supposed to be actual bloggers and not one of my many alternate personalities. Darn. The categories are as follows:
If I could be a scientist ... If I could be a farmer ... If I could be a musician ... If I could be a doctor ... If I could be a painter ... If I could be a gardener ... If I could be a missionary ... If I could be a chef ... If I could be an architect ... If I could be a linguist ... If I could be a psychologist ... If I could be a librarian ... If I could be an athlete ... If I could be a lawyer ... If I could be an inn-keeper ... If I could be a professor ... If I could be a writer ... If I could be a llama-rider ... If I could be a bonnie pirate ... If I could be an astronaut ... If I could be a world famous blogger ... If I could be a justice on any one court in the world ... If I could be married to any current famous political figure ...
Hmmm, I'll go with chef, farmer, and doctor. Mostly due to my predilection with not being too extroverted I suppose.
If I could be a chef ... I would not have a menu that is consistent from day to day. It would be based on what was the best product I could find in the markets that I would troll daily with my legion of cheffettes armed with butcher knives and tenderizers. We would patrol the grocery stores and farmers markets to find the best of the best and then in our spare time mete out justice and vengeance to those who would prey on the meek and innocent. Ever think about the damage a meat cleaver and tenderizer could do?
If I could be a farmer ... I would work with a group of industrialists to help me find a way to make farming less destructive to the land and more productive in countries that need it. Many genetic strains of grain have been developed to produce greater yields but it has not gone far enough. I would plod along my fields tending the vast array of genetically altered crops that would survive in deserts and tundra and yet, produce tasty, nutritious and abundant food sources. It would be a test bed for the new generation of farmers who would never have to worry about irrigation, pesticides or fertilizer ever again. The family farm would grow in popularity as the ease and reduced cost of farming came to fruition through the efforts borne of the labor by my hands.
If I could be a doctor ... I would cure MS ... dammit.As for my next victims? Heh, I think I know some superlative bloggers who might take the bait! I'm going to ping Lei the Cotton Picker, Barrie the Dog Sitter, and reBecca the Librarian. Go get'em gals.
Yeah, the Monday monster is still alive
Things have been fairly wild at work and at home over the last few days. This anxiety incarnate has taken more than it's fair share of spoons so the blogging had to succumb to my 'spoon transfer protocol'. Monday started out with a bang as Jacob wanders into the Master Suite at 0500 and spend the next hour thrashing about. He is fine, he just wants to play. The kid really knows how to burn the candle at both ends. I, however, but a stub of wax left since I have contracted a cold from Alexis. It's not a horrible EBola cold, but annoying and a bit of an energy sapper none the less. To add to my spoon deficiency, the Office was STILL hot. It looks like the air-conditioner for the zone I now work in have bit the dust. Repairs are forthcoming, but I'm suffering now! It's no less than 90 degrees and we cannot open the windows without a brick or rock. To top it all off, it rained. Ergo, the traffic sucked. This would make it a pretty standard Monday, eh?
As the world spun up, Tuesday provided no relief from the oppressive office heat and I found that some of the work I have been doing was under misguided terms. I used a template that was a 'hack' and now have found out from the end consumer that it is not what they wanted at all. Crap. On top of that, there is a rush job to get some data into a load table for a client that will burn up most of the day. 1615 did not come soon enough for me, but then again, I could have used an extra 4 hours at work. When I do make it back to the manor, I find that the Suburban Water lummoxes have indeed re-installed the summer sprinkler water meter as requested. This elation is quickly squashed as I find that no water seems to be making it out to the sprinklers. I pop open the pit where the water meter is installed and find it completely filled with water. Great. The meter counter is not spinning so I assume that there is no leak and somewhere under the water a valve has not been opened. The water is murky and heavy with suspended clay ... just reaching in there has coated my arm with a fine silt that will not rinse off. This looks like a job for the sprinkler guys I had brought in to replace some of the stepper motors a few years back. I call them but find that I have missed them by 15 minutes. I'll call them tomorrow, but will continue to fume over a job that should not require this much 'consultation'.
The middle of the week starts with Jacob wailing in his bed. It's 0500 and I wake from a dead sleep. The Mrs does not wake till I hurl myself from the bed and begin my drunken walk to the origin of the consternated pleas for attention. He has most likely caught the cold that has been grinding it's way through the household. By the time I get there, Alexis has woken up too. I haul Jake out of bed and send him in to paw at mommy for attention. I hoist his sister into my arms and pray that I do not run her into a wall or door-jam. Alexis immediately falls asleep in the mile wide water bed while Jacob does his usual whirling dervish routine for about 15 minutes before settling down into a semi-comatose state. Needless to say, once asleep they were less than inclined to wake back up again. Oh, and they let us know that in no uncertain terms. Yes, we are feeling the pressures of life now and this isn't a simple rolfing!