Friday, July 29, 2005
- The executive director of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority was driving to the beach a few weekends ago when he looked at the cars backed up to pay a cash toll and thought: "Why don't these people have E-ZPass?"
"I don't think people realize how easy it is to get E-ZPass," Lapolla said yesterday. He estimated that between 300,000 and 400,000 applications will be handed out this weekend.
E-ZPass, introduced in New Jersey in 1999, is used by about 67 percent of drivers on the turnpike and 61 percent on the parkway, the authority said.
Got up at a reasonable hour, got to work early even though the turnpike was a mess (for no good reason), blah-blah-blah. The irksome item de-jour that really bugged me was that I did not lift a finger to work on that retaining wall once I got home last night. No, I picked up the kids and the pizza, then slipped into the standard 'run around and get everything ready' skit. After a day of frustration and tamping down the urge to throttle people out of their own ignorance, I just did not have the gumption to go out and stack blocks. Perhaps today will be different ... I need to mow the lawn tonight and that's not something I should really put off till tomorrow.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Parent of the year awards
- A convicted rapist wanted in the near-fatal stabbing of his 12-year-old daughter was arrested Wednesday after wandering into a convenience store following nearly a week on the run in the rugged Idaho mountains.
John R. Tuggle, 37, was dirty, hungry and wearing camouflage when he showed up at the gas station, and the clerk became suspicious and called authorities.
Tuggle had been sought since July 20, when his daughter was stabbed repeatedly and left for dead on the side of a mountain road. She was found hours later by campers who heard her yell. The girl remained in serious condition Wednesday.
"We have been struggling with why someone would commit such a violent act upon one of their own children or anyone else," the statement said.
- A mother was under arrest Wednesday on child endangerment and other charges after authorities said she abandoned her 4-year-old son on the Capital Beltway, then struck him with her car when he tried to get back in.
The boy was treated at a hospital for cuts and bruises, police said. He later was placed in the custody of a child protective services agency.
Police picked him up after receiving a call late Tuesday night from motorist who said she had found a child wandering along Interstate 495.
"I said, 'Why are you out here?' And he said, 'My mommy left me. She was angry and she pushed me out of the car,'" the driver, who asked not to be identified, told WJLA-TV.
It's nice to have very little to complicate your life sometimes. The whole FamilyTank fiasco yesterday was a real inconvenience. In the end, we paid 350$ in labor charges and 150$ in parts to have a tire fixed and the rear break pads replaced. I'm not entirely convinced that I paid a fair price for this work. No, I think I'll be taking the van to Chris, our regular mechanic next time. Since the tire puncture was not covered by any tire warranty, I did not get one cent of a break in the cost. Stinking GM ... no wonder they are going broke.
This morning had a mixed bag of delights for me. It was much cooler and significantly less humid this morning. In fact, it was warmer and a lot more stuffy inside the Manor than outside. I've indicated to the Mrs that I intend on taking advantage of this advantageous turn of events and work on the retaining wall around the sand pit tonight. It would be nice to get that task off my list and then I could liberate the uncompensated workers! The downside is that since the weather was nice, everyone else in the area slept well and got up bright and early. Thus, the turnpike was a disaster. There was an accident in the east-bound lanes between my exit and the next one. This would normally not cause me any angst but the looky-lou rubber-neckers managed to create an accident in the west-bound lanes as well and cost me 30 minutes of my life. Stay in the right lane ... stay in the right lane ... repeat ...
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
HAPPY BIRTHDAY HERO DAD
My father, who has put up with more nonsense than anyone who is reasonably sane would ever, is turning 60 today. The most awful thing about this is that the Mrs and I did not get around to spending a measly 5$ for a birthday card for the kids to scribble on. We'll just have to get the kids to do some art-work for him and give it to him the next time we meet. In it's place, I'm just going to have to make a reasonable attempt to salute his lifetime of achievements in this post. As far as role models go, you would be hard pressed for find someone who would be able to fill his shoes. He grew up on a farm in rural (I mean, 'if you can see your neighbor's house your are in the city' kind of rural) Minnesota with his 11 siblings. Not much space to have your own room (Like he provided for me) or even a smidgen of privacy. One 6x10 bathroom for 12 kids is not something anyone would try these days. He managed to drag his butt through college and marry the woman of his dreams to start a family. Things were difficult in the beginning, but nothing that he could not handle. Living in the Twin Cities provided new opportunities and a booming market for starter homes. So he raised his family on the banks of the Mississippi till a new opportunity became available out west. And so began our travels about the continental US. Later years tested him with death, illness of loved ones and the employment difficulties in the recession years. But he soldiered on for the good of his family and with nary a thought of giving up or slacking off one iota. In this 6th decade, he has shrugged off cancer and was granted the gift of grandchildren who love him dearly. His health, through an exercise regimen that would make a salty marine swoon, has made his stamina the envy 40 and 50 year olds everywhere. He has the mental sharpness that enables him to reduce the volumes of Federal Tax codes to a 'See Jane Run' pre-school read. One of my fondest memory is seeing my father, my hero, all decked out in his KOC hat and sword for the benediction of the new Bishop of Salt Lake City. He did not look ridiculous or garish, but noble for those who knew what he stood for. To sacrifice all that is necessary for the good of his family and to stand as an example under the benevolent gaze of God. So, Hero Amish Dad, here's to you: We love you more every year and hope to give you a proper 60th birthday greeting next time we see you.
Hot, Really Hot,I mean SUN Hot.
- In the harrowing case, prosecutors said 45 children between the ages of 6 months and 14 years were raped and abused by their parents, grandparents or acquaintances in a working-class neighborhood of Angers from 1999 to 2002 Â at times in exchange for small amounts of money, food, alcohol or cigarettes.
As defendants appeared one-by-one to hear their sentences, one of the main suspects, Philippe V., received a 28-year jail term.
His son, Franck V., received an 18-year term. Franck V's ex-wife, Patricia M., got 16 years
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
weekend in review
Yes Victoria, there is a MDMHVONPA. Since I have been offline or otherwise preoccupied, I'm going to wimp out and give you the low-down on the activities over the last few days in the crappy, bullet list format.
And there you have it ... mundane, but oh so tantalizing, eh?
Friday, July 22, 2005
Yet another uneventful evening at the Haupertonian Manor & International Empire HQ. The Twin Tyrants of Turpitude were happy to have been rescued in the daily S&R mission. The Pizza Pickup Program went off without a hitch. The kids ate, Daddy fomented, mommy arrived just as we were finishing up. Pretty standard stuff. Right up to the point where Mommy disappeared for a couple minutes and then reappeared with some of the princess costumes that Alexis had received as birthday presents. When my most darling daughter caught sight of them, you would have thought that she had spotted Elvis drinking water from the fountain of youth out of the holy grail. She quickly stuffed the rest of her dinner in her mouth and gesticulated madly that she wanted to go play. I let her charge into the livingroom and focused on Jacob who was playing the delay-game. I mentioned to him that Alexis finished her dinner and got to go play, wouldn't you? He then attempted to stuff all 6 remaining bites of pizza in his mouth at once. After the first two, I knew what he was attempting to do and had to intervene. He would just end up gagging and, well, loosing what little dinner he did eat. We worked together on slooooowly finishing dinner so he could go play.
Later on in the evening, Alexis was beginning to tire after switching between the 3 different Princess outfits and only wanted to snuggle in my lap. That was about the time that Jacob made his move to start trying on some of the outfits. I nodded disapprovingly and only noted to him that he may regret this when he gets older. On queue, the Opportunistic Wife appeared with the camera and started recording his foray into cross dressing. I feel bad for him, because once he brings home his first girl-friend I KNOW that these pictures will be the first one she sees. This all smacks of 'Sins of your Father'.
Got up late this morning, but so did the rest of Philly. There was nearly no traffic on the roads which leads me to believe that either people had gone to work absurdly early so they can leave early in the day to go to the shore ... or they have already left for NJ last night and are 'sick' today. Either way, I was not going to complain much. I did sleep poorly though and now have a sore shoulder muscle to show for it. This will probably only get worse throughout the day and become a major impediment when I mow the lawn this afternoon. One last thing, I finally got around to typing up a letter to a fellow in Iraq who is in Mosul right now. I had all the stuff that I wanted to send to him all boxed up, just getting down to authoring a respectful/somewhat understandable mish-mash of words seems to be impossible for me unless I'm blabbering away about things of little import. Go figure.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
- The Hot-Dog-Rollup (56k cardiac arrest) by Plinkey
Warning: This should not be made or consumed by anyone with heart problems, liver/kidney disease, diabetics, anyone who is pregnant or nursing, the clinically obese, vegetarians, anyone who wants to live past 35 without having a heart attack, also anyone with any health problems what-so-ever. I take no responsibility any actions or death that results from this thread and recipe.
...it's just that good.
This recipe is a result of me any my roommates acquiring a grill earlier this week. We've been grilling breakfast lunch and dinner for a week straight, and the fat and cholesterol have been flowing like water leading us to the ultimate question:
What is the most delicious worst thing for a human that can be made on a grill?. This is what we came up with: The Hot-Dog-Rollup
Nukes in your back yard
- A new book by an FBI consultant on international terrorism says Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network purchased 20 suitcase nuclear weapons from former KGB agents in 1998 for $30 million.
The book,"Al Qaeda: Brotherhood of Terror," by Paul L. Williams, also says this deal was one of at least three in the last decade in which al-Qaida purchased small nuclear weapons or weapons-grade nuclear uranium.
Williams says bin Laden's search for nuclear weapons began in 1988 when he hired a team of five nuclear scientists from Turkmenistan. These were former employees at the atomic reactor in Iraq before it was destroyed by Israel, Williams says. The team's project was the development of a nuclear reactor that could be used "to transform a very small amount of material that could be placed in a package smaller than a backpack."
"By 1990 bin Laden had hired hundreds of atomic scientists from the former Soviet Union for $2,000 a month Â an amount far greater that their wages in the former Soviet republics," Williams writes. "They worked in a highly sophisticated and well-fortified laboratory in Kandahar, Afghanistan."
Williams says the Russian Mafia made another mysterious deal with "Afghani Arabs" in search of nuclear weapons in 1996. The Russians who sold the material now live in New York.
Then again in 1998, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim was arrested in Munich and charged with acting as an al-Qaida agent to purchase highly enriched uranium from a German laboratory.
That same year, according to Williams, bin Laden succeeded in buying the 20 suitcase nukes from Chechen Mafia figures, including former KGB agents. The $30 million deal was partly cash and partly heroin with a street value of $700 million.
- Al-Qaida's prime targets for launching nuclear terrorist attacks are the nine U.S. cities with the highest Jewish populations, according to captured leaders and documents.
As first revealed last week in Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin, the premium, online intelligence newsletter published by the founder of WND, Osama bin Laden is planning what he calls an "American Hiroshima," the ultimate terrorist attack on U.S. cities, using nuclear weapons already smuggled into the country across the Mexican border along with thousands of sleeper agents.
At least two fully assembled and operational nuclear weapons are believed to be hidden in the United States already, according to G2 Bulletin intelligence sources and an upcoming book, "The al-Qaida Connection: International Terrorism, Organized Crime and the Coming Apocalypse," by former FBI consultant Paul L. Williams.
The cities chosen as optimal targets are New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Boston and Washington, D.C. New York and Washington top the preferred target list for al-Qaida leadership.
As previously reported by G2 Bulletin, al-Qaida has obtained at least 40 nuclear weapons from the former Soviet Union including suitcase nukes, nuclear mines, artillery shells and even some missile warheads. In addition, documents captured in Afghanistan show al-Qaida had plans to assemble its own nuclear weapons with fissile material it purchased on the black market.
U.S. military sources also say there is evidence to suggest al-Qaida is paying former Russian special forces "Spetznaz" troops to assist the terrorist group in locating nuclear weapons planted in the U.S. during the Cold War. Osama bin Laden's group is also paying nuclear scientists from Russia and Pakistan to maintain its existing nuclear arsenal and assemble additional weapons with the materials it has invested hundreds of millions in procuring over a period of 10 years. Al-Qaida sources indicate they would prefer to use Russian-made weapons for symbolic reasons.
- Bin Laden, according to Williams, has nearly unlimited funds to spend on his nuclear terrorism plan because he has remained in control of the Afghanistan-produced heroin industry. Poppy production has greatly increased even while U.S. troops are occupying the country, he writes. Al-Qaida has developed close relations with the Albanian Mafia, which assists in the smuggling and sale of heroin throughout Europe and the U.S.
Some of that money is used to pay off the notorious MS-13 street gang between $30,000 and $50,000 for each sleeper agent smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico. The sleepers are also provided with phony identification, most often bogus matricula consular ID cards indistinguishable from Mexico's official ID, now accepted in the U.S. to open bank accounts and obtain driver's licenses.
- Cnooc Ltd., China's third-largest oil company, may abandon its effort to buy Unocal Corp. and instead seek other U.S. oil producers such as Marathon Oil Corp., Amerada Hess Corp. or Murphy Oil Co., investors and analysts said.
U.S. lawmakers have threatened to block Cnooc's bid, calling Chinese ownership of a U.S. oil company a threat to the economy and national security. A decision by Cnooc to seek another U.S. oil producer might heighten political tensions. China today addressed one dispute with the U.S. by allowing its currency to strengthen against the dollar.
Cnooc might go after Houston-based Marathon Oil, the fourth- largest U.S. oil producer, if it abandons or loses Unocal, which is the eighth-largest, Leeb said.
Other takeover candidates for a Chinese company might be Amerada Hess or Murphy Oil, said Louis Gagliardi, an analyst with John S. Herold Inc., an oil industry research firm in Norwalk, Connecticut.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Not an entirely eventful evening. The Mrs had a meeting with some folks down in Australia at 1900 so I asked her to just slip on down to the basement command center when she got home so she would not disturb the kids while we were eating dinner. They asked about mommy a few times throughout the meal. Oddly enough, since Mommy was not around for dinner, Jake had no foil to use in order to disturb the meal. Daddy is a hard-ass and doesn't brook any insubordination. After dinner we play for a bit, do a few puzzles, watch some train videos and then head off for a bath at 2000. The Mrs wraps up her phone conference just as I'm finishing up with the bath. This would be nice except that Jake now wants to spend some quality time with the Mrs and insists that she stay with him for a while so he can tell her his daily tribulations before he falls asleep. This is mostly about Moi-Moi, circles and his bo-boos. The Mrs escapes after 15 minutes so she can go have some dinner (BBQ chicken thighs that I made for her earlier in the week - Country Sweet Style). She is shortly followed by Jake. I was in the hallway when he opened the door so he latched on to my hand and drug me inside so he had someone new to regale with his tales of the daily grind. Circles, Moi-Moi and bo-boos. He finally dozed off thirty minutes later and I slunk out of the room to spend some (poor) quality time with the television.
Flash forward to 0630 ... Jake is awake and busily harassing his sister so she will get out of bed and play. It's not working but the ruckus has prompted me to slide out from under the sheets and invite them into our bed. The Mrs lounges with them for a spell while I tend to the dogs and busy myself with packing up their lunches for the day. The morning air was cool, but still laden with excessive moisture. This will heat up nicely today as we are supposed to be in the 90's again. Time to start thinking about that cruise to Alaska or Nova Scotia.
- A pet hamster blamed for spreading a virus that killed three transplant patients in April has been traced to an Ohio distribution center that supplies hamsters to pet stores throughout the East Coast, officials said Tuesday.
State and federal investigators quarantined the distribution center Monday and plan to test the animals for the virus in an effort to trace its origin.
"We don't know whether the disease is there or not," said LeeAnne Mizer, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Agriculture. "It's a potential threat."
The hamster had lymphocytic choriomeningitis, or LCMV, a virus that usually causes little or no illness in healthy people but can be deadly for those with weak immune systems.
- Federal health officials have warned about such pets transmitting viruses and urge owners to wash after handling them and wear gloves when cleaning their cages. Two years ago, pet prairie dogs infected dozens of people with monkeypox, a disease previously seen only in Africa. The outbreak was blamed on a Gambian rat that infected prairie dogs at an exotic pet dealer in Illinois.
- California-based oil giant Unocal has rebuffed an $18.5 billion takeover offer from China's state-owned CNOOC with the provisional approval of an "improved" $17.1-billion-dollar acquisition offer from US-based Chevron.
Unocal, the ninth-largest US oil company, and Chevron jointly announced the proposed merger, which will be submitted August 10 to a vote by Unocal shareholders.
The CNOOC bid had set off a politically-charged controversy in the US with some lawmakers and a number of private-sector groups raising concerns about a major US firm being acquired, in effect, by the Chinese government.
The US has a mechanism to investigate international efforts to purchase American companies and can block those that as seen as a threat to national security.
Earlier this week, the Bush Administration told the Washington File that it would have been "premature to hold a formal review" of a Chinese oil company's bid for the California-based oil company Unocal.
According to media reports, CNOOC's Chief Executive Fu Chengyu had permission from the company's board to raise the bid to $19 billion, but it's know unclear whether CNOOC will up the ante.
Last week he offered to set aside $2.5 billion to cover Unocal against any shareholder lawsuits should a sale to CNOOC fail and depress Unocal's stock price.
CNOOC is one of three state-owned oil companies created by the Chinese government to acquire offshore oil reserves.
Established in 1982 as a joint venture partner with non-Chinese companies exploring such resources, CNOOC is 70%-owned by the Chinese government.
CNOOC's parent company, which is entirely owned by the Chinese government, had provided CNOOC with $7 billion toward the Unocal purchase.
In 1995, CFIUS approved a takeover of Magnequench Inc., an Indianapolis, Indiana-headquartered company that supplies sophisticated magnets used in a variety of precision-guided munitions, by Beijing San Huan New Material High-Tech Inc., the China National Non-Ferrous Metals Import & Export Corp., and an investment group led by the Sextant Group Inc.
In 2003, the company's Chinese owners shut down Magnequench's production plant in Anderson, Indiana, and consolidated its production of magnetic powders at a facility in Tianjin, China.
Shortly afterwards, the company opened a magnet production facility in Juarez, Mexico.
Yesterday was a rather hectic day, and most of the activity took place AFTER work hours. I've been looking to 'upgrade' my life insurance for some time now. It's hard to do so when your medical history is as spotty as mine is. In any event, I've found a new place that seems to be a bit more rational about the coverage. I do not need to perish in a volcano for the policy to pay off and the amount is significantly higher. The medical tech. was supposed to stop by at 1700 and do what she needed to do. Draw blood, take measurements, etc. She was running late which complicated things. If she was going to be 15 minutes late, that means I had to pick up the kids early. Of course, since I had to leave the manor to pick up the kids, I would be late for her 1715 arrival. Crud. The whole visit took 45 minutes, but probably could have been shorter if things were not so fouled up. The kids were actually pretty friendly towards the woman and Alexis proved to me that she is only wary of strange men (or giant costume characters). The dogs were howling, kids running about grabbing things, security alarm going off. Mass hysteria. Chaos. My life ... perfect. So she took some measurements and the data I provided was right on. 5'11+, 205lb, 34 waist. Well, mostly 34, I did suck in my gut a bit. Ok ... A LOT. Bite me. Anyways, the interesting part was when it became time to draw blood. Just as we were starting to prep, the Mrs came home. The second she walked in the door, the kids went nuts and the hounds started in on a refreshed tirade of howls and barks. So here I am, about to get my blood drawn and the kids are climbing all over me like they are some sherpa team scaling the north side of Everest. I managed to get the attention of the Mrs and she herded them into the other room ... where they promptly escaped and went for a renewed frontal attack. The second time, the Mrs stayed in the other room with the little Houdini imitators and we were able to get the 2.75 gallons of precious bodily fluid needed for 'testing'. I thing they intend on cloning me actually. But that is just an unconfirmed rumor.
Later on, after the technician had left, Alexis and Jacob were inspecting my new heart plug (bad dune humor), and asked me about the owchie. Yes, it is a bandaid, please don't touch or it will hurt. Alexis then quipped that the needle bit me! Now where did that come from? The Mrs and I quickly covered our bases and noted that yes, the needle did bit me but it was good because I needed to get the 'shot' so I would not get sick. You know, their booster shots are coming up in a year or so and we need to condition them to the idea that needles are yucky, but not necessarily evil. Ok, yeah, needles ARE evil (I despise them) but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
The evening was interesting right around bed time. We tried to get the kids to bed before 2100 so I could watch the SCOTUS announcement ... to no avail. Jake and Alexis were not ready to go to bed quite yet and Jake was not satisfied to have mommy sleeping next to him. No, it had to be daddy laying on the sofa next to his bed. So I laid there for about 30 minutes. He would reach out every so often to make sure I had not slipped away and then his eyes would slooowly close. With a sudden crash, Alexis would toss something from her bed to let me know that she was still there and this would wake up Jake who would HAVE to go investigate as well. Heh. Once they both closed their eyes, the light from the musical nightlight was cast across their faces and presented the visual unparalleled in my mind. It was the incarnate representation of what makes parenting so worth while. They are a fine art crafted truly from the blood, seat and tears (with copious helpings of laughter) poured out from the Mrs and I in our various labors. Yes, certainly sleeping angels.
The Mrs and I were up at 0530 ... 0600 and 0630. Yeah, we slept in a bit. The kids appreciated this and woke on their own. This is a serendipitous benefit in so much that Alexis woke in a GOOD mood since she was in control of her waking time. Got going and pounded my way through traffic. Today, I kept my wits about me and STAYED in the right hand lane. The temptation is so great to barge into the faster lanes, but that quick moving traffic soon comes to a frustrating halt and I always end up asking myself why in the world did I do that!? In the end, I got to work on time (0815) and found myself alone. My co-workers would not arrive for another hour or so. I was alone with my thoughts and the sounds of bad music from the fitness center next door. If I hear one more bubble-gum pop-culture hit of the day I swear I'm going to bring in an electromagnet and subdue those speakers once and for all.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Then there is the subsidies on top of that which boosts the cost even more. What is not mentioned here is what we can do with plain old sugar beets or cane. If we lifted or eased the restrictions created by the Sugar Program for ethanol production only, I believe that some opponents may change their tune. I've read (unsubstantiated) rumors that the Brazilians have managed to produce 300% more energy in ethanol than energy it requires to create.
I mowed the lawn last night. I think that it could have possibly been 1 or 2 percent more humid, but only if we were actually underwater. I could not put it off for any longer though, I had to get it done before the jungle got so thick that I would have to use daisy-cutters just to bring it down to a manageable height. The front yard was all I could do though. The air was so thick it was like trying to breath through a wet quilt. I broke a sweat just by walking between the SuperSaturn and the car-port entrance to the Manor. Skipping the back-yard will do no harm since it is fairly shredded from the Mammoth Hounds and their antics. I'm usually a moderate summer guy. Summer is nice in that I can get the agricultural sector really going by now. I've been having a hard time finding things to put in place of the peas that we have removed though. Anybody out there got some suggestions? Super Grams suggested Broccoli or cabbage, but I have yet to find any seeds or sprouts at the usual outlets. I do have 3 potted eggplant sprouts that I put in the ground a while back. But that would not even come close to maximizing the utilization of open space. I'll figure something out ... like giant kudzu pomegranates or something.
The NYC Chinatown Fridge from hell is gone. I set it at the curb with it's 36$ white-goods sticker and POOF, the magic garbage fairies took it away. Or was it the perturbed Furies? Either way, good riddance, the thing has been nothing but misery from the moment I set eyes/hands/arms on it. Still, it bugs me that we had to pay to get rid of it. I could have left it on the side of the road in NJ or on the street in NYC ... but that would not be right. Argh, the curse of moral clarity.
Other things of note: our electric bill was nearly 300$ for last month. Running the ac nonstop the whole time had something to do with that me thinks. I really need to look into what it would cost me to have a heat-pump installed. I'll wager that I would recover the cost within a year or two. Anyone out there have any experience with these?
Monday, July 18, 2005
"Boomer rode into the pet store parking lot with his head out the window and his tongue flopping out of his mouth.
His owner, Maria Morales, wore her seat belt, but Boomer didn't have one. Just a pink blanket to sprawl on in the back seat.
A lawmaker from suburban Pittsburgh wants to have Boomer, and all animal passengers, restrained in vehicles.
Rep. Tom Stevenson's bill would also restrict owners from letting their dogs hang out the window.
The idea for Stevenson's bill came from an 11-year-old boy who entered an annual 'There ought to be a law' contest."
Did I mention that it rained a bit this past Sunday? Since the Haupertonian World HQ and Manor sits upon the crest of a hill-like geographical formation, we do not get a lot of sitting water. However, I was not surprised to learn this about yesterdays echo of biblical times:
- Emergency workers rescued several motorists stalled on flooded roads in Lower Moreland last night as thunderstorms moved across the area.
A spokesman for the Huntingdon Valley Fire Company confirmed that its workers had responded to multiple emergency calls but could provide no details.
A storm system with lightning and heavy rain moved across Northwest Philadelphia and southeast Montgomery County, according to Larry Nierenberg a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly.
Standard weekend ... except it was either outrageously hot and humid or we were cowering beneath angry thunderstorms. This means that the lawn did not get mowed. Even more fun, I spent a lot of time standing in the rain and telling the dogs that they need to go potty before they can come back inside. Durned sissy dogs.
Back to Saturday for a moment. We did the Swim thing in the morning but we could not go to Perkins as we always do. No, we had to go to this diner near our home since we had an 1100 appointment with the pediatrician's office. The diner ... well, it sucked. The food was marginal and late. The home fries were torched scalloped potatoes and the coffee was thin and not promptly served. No, we will most likely not be returning. We had gone to this place before and the service and offerings were poor then too. It has only gone down-hill. It's called the Olympus Diner now ... I forget what it was once called. Perhaps the 'Mt of No Return'. In spite of our delayed exit from the land of languishing wax-food, we managed to make it to our appointment on time and were able to tick off the kids 3 year checkup. They seem to be right on track according to the doctor, Dr Endo. When the kids had their blood-pressure checked, I told them that they were getting MUSCLES and to watch them grow. They were delighted and Jacob insisted that he put the sleeve on himself. For the entire weekend, the talked about getting muscles. With all the measurements and figures taken down, we found that Jake was in the 50th percentile and Alexis was in the 25th. Odd, she is 1 lb lighter and 1 inch shorter then Jake, but the 'ranking' was so much lower. If they only knew how much more she eats than him!.
The notary public stopped by the Manor at 0200 on Saturday. Just to sign off on the last of the loan paperwork for the refinancing. Nice enough lady. The kids liked her and Alexis was actually not shy when meeting her for the first time. Odd. It took about 20 minutes to get all the paperwork signed, initialed and notarized. The wife made a comment that we've been living in the Manor for nearly 8 years now and we STILL have 30 years to go on our mortgage. Heh, yeah. Except we are 40K closer to having the house paid off now and within the next 10 years I can pay off the loan with my 401K and pay the interest to myself instead of some bank. Ahhh, the stuff that dreams are made of.
Oh, it rained all Sunday, not much more to say about that.
Friday, July 15, 2005
at last ... it's done
The big even over the last 24 hours is not something that I thought would be terribly interesting to write about. No, not that we got the POTS line fixed at 1630 ... boy was the Mrs pissed about that. Stayed home all day so they could arrive after 1600. Only took 'em 15 minutes to figure out that they had erroneously disconnected it. Run out to the distribution box and reconnected it, like I told them. And no, not that it was pizza day or that the kids had found a present that they already had. Duplicate present ... we had put the original away so brought it out instead of opening the new present. Great fun was had. Not that Jake and Alexis are calling me 'Too Big' or 'Too Fat' to play in the tunnels of said toy. The Mrs must have taught them that. Revenge is sweet my dear. No, this event is noteworthy in so much that it is another step towards easing our financial situation and promoting developmental growth ... in our son. He was gorging himself on peas and pizza last night when he suddenly started to become distracted. He stopped eating and was mumbling something that required me to get up and close in to decipher what he was trying to say. After a bit of probing and attempted translations, I bluntly asked if he had to go potty. He said "Yes!". I then asked if he had already filled his diaper as I could faintly smell the aroma once I had gotten close enough. I assumed that he was uncomfortable and wanted a change. He said "Nooo.". Now I am not one to presume the worst of people, but I know my kids and they are class A liar when it comes to bodily functions. Of all varieties. So I'm guessing that I have a diaper change to engage in but want to condition Jacob to try to use the potty. So onward poopie soldiers march ... up the stairs and into the kids bathroom where their kiddie-potties are placed. I slowly and carefully assist Jacob with his pull-up diaper and ... well, no poop! I guess he was prepping for the show by letting out an artillery burst before delivering the pay-load. It may not amount to anything, but I ask Jake to do his best to use the potty now that we are here. I dash off for a moment to take care of something in the next room and return quickly as possible. As I assumed, Jake did not stay seated and was waddling around the bathroom with his trousers about his knees. I thought he had only go pee so I went over to extract the catch basin so he could wave bye-bye to his 'product' only to find the biggest piece of lumber I had ever seen. Given that it was in a micro-toilet, it looked like it could have been a world title contender. Well, I immediately shouted for the Mrs to come on up and congratulate Jake on his successful attempt on keeping his diaper clean. It was a proud day for all of us. Is it mundane to celebrate your son taking a dump?
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Rough day at the client site after 1500 yesterday. I found out that the 11th hour that the input I would be getting from the client would not be an xls spreadsheet, but rather, a tab delimited cvs file. I had to go in and make some rather extensive changes to the feed input routines to handle this. But hey, change is good, right? I ended up staying at work till 1845 and had to set off the 'Honey, could you pick up the kids tonight' alarm before 1600 or we would be in a mighty pickle. Sure, it's done, but I was really looking forward to spending a bit more time with the kids. I'll have to make it up to them tonight.
The Mrs is staying home today to wait for the Verizon phone repair technician to come and look at our dial-tone issue on one of the POTS lines. At the NDT block, there is no tip or ring so I'm guessing that it is shut off at the curb rather than this being an issue with the house wiring. We could only get an appointment via the automated voice activated call center and it was a vague "some time between 0800 and 2000" variety. When the Mrs called this morning (for the 3rd time), we actually got a HUMAN and she set it up so we could expect someone between 1600 and 2000 ... hmmm. Would have been nice if we could have had that the first time.
In other news, I'm thinking about changing my life insurance. I'm currently being extorted for a rather large amount in return for a rather paltry sum of coverage. It always comes down to the MS thing. Sure, I'm healthy as a horse and twice as strong, but they feel the risk is too high. I can see their point, they are not in it to make my the lives of my family better, they are in it for the money. It really clarifies things when the true motives ... the base concepts ... are known and understood. I called a firm that I heard about on a talk radio station and found that they could quadruple my coverage with no increase in the bill. Well, I cannot pass that up, now can I! I have to take a quick medical exam next Wednesday for this (Blood pressure, medical history, etc ...). Same night that the township council meeting is. I'll have to skip that once again. Wanted to get them to put up a speed limit (25) sign on our street and a child-at-play warning. Drivers use the street to avoid traffic on the main road and treat it as an extension of the Autobahn. ... You know, looking back over this chowder-like spew ... it's all quite mundane! Nothing but suburban middle-class cream-of-wheat with dry white toast on the side. I'm turning into a regular Morty Q. Public here. I think I need to drink more scotch to replenish my madness level.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
- Twenty-four Iraqi children were killed by a suicide car bomber targeting U.S. soldiers as they handed out chocolates in a Baghdad neighborhood they had entered to warn of a possible attack.
Some 20 more children were wounded in the blast, while a U.S. soldier died and three were injured, hospital and U.S. sources said.
"Children gathered round the Americans who were handing out sweets. Suddenly a suicide car bomber drove round from a side street and blew himself up," Sergeant David Abrams told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
"The vehicle, laden with explosives, drove up to a [U.S. military] Humvee before detonating. Many Iraqi civilians, mostly children, were around the Humvee at the time of the blast," Abrams said.
Charred remains of an engine block wrapped in barbed wire sat in the road. A child's bicycle was crumpled beside the street, which was splattered with pools of blood, reports the Associated Press (AP).
At the nearby Kindi hospital, hundreds of distraught parents mingled in blood-soaked hallways shouting and screaming as they looked for their children, many of whom were badly mutilated.
"Most of them are children. The Americans were handing out sweets at the time of the attack," a duty policeman at the Kindi Hospital said.
"We have received the bodies of 24 children aged between 10 and 13," said an official in charge of the morgue.
Among the young bodies at the morgue, some headless or missing limbs, two children still clutched blue chocolate wrappers.
"Why do they attack our children? They just destroyed one U.S. Humvee, but they killed dozens of our children," he said as women screamed, slapped their faces and beat themselves over the head.
"What sort of a resistance is this? It's a crime," he added.
At Kindi hospital, one distraught woman swathed in black sat cross-legged outside the operating room. "May God curse the mujahedeen and their leader," she cried as she pounded her own head in grief, reports the AP.
Our honorable mayor of Philly, John Street, has been under investigation for quite some time now by the FBI. He is up to his neck in bad publicity. Especially when it comes to him funneling business to his brother. You would think that given this intrusive oversight of his activities down to the microscopic level would give him the impetus to be reserved in his activities. No, apparently not.
- CITY SOLICITOR Romulo Diaz says there were no conflict of interest issues under city law when the Street administration gave a no-bid contract for vending services at Live 8 to a company that subcontracted with Milton Street, Mayor Street's brother.
But City Councilman Michael Nutter, who has spearheaded ethics reform in city government, said city managers need to exercise better judgment and probably need stronger laws.
'It's inescapable that the mayor's brother had a financial interest in this contract,' Nutter said. 'It certainly sounds inappropriate what has happened and in the final analysis it just may be.'
Diaz cited the current law that only focuses on contracts between the city and a contractor and the potential for conflicts of interest flowing from those relationships and not subcontractors.
Further, Diaz said, 'The mayor didn't make a decision to have anyone on this contract. I negotiated this contract.'
Diaz said the mayor was not required to disclose a relationship or remove himself from decision-making on the contract 'because there was no direct dealing between the city and Milton Street.'
- Nutter said it's a "lawyer's exercise and a tortured splitting of hairs" to require a public official to remove himself from awarding a contract directly to a relative but to allow it to happen when a contractor in turn hires the public official's relative as a subcontractor.
Asked about a hypothetical situation where a city official purposely structures a deal to benefit a relative by using a once-removed subcontractor, Diaz said the question was "unfair in its implication."
- In an interview with the Daily News, the mayor defended his brother's partnership.
"I don't think it's a problem. I don't know his deal. I don't get involved in his business, but I will tell you if my brother Milton can't vend then he can't work," Street said. "It's a free country and he's entitled to try to create opportunities for himself just like anyone else."
Nutter said the current law needs to be read "for both its intention and spirit."
"At the end of the day this is about good judgment," Nutter said. "To argue that someone won't be able to work is nonsense. There are a host of people working in this city without any contractural relationship with the city."
- LAKE HARMONY, Pa. - The pilot of a small plane was forced to make an emergency landing on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Northeast Extension after he ran out of fuel yesterday. No one was injured.
Hollie E. Ewing, 75, landed the Cessna 120 without incident around 10:30 a.m. in the southbound lanes in Kidder Township, according to Pennsylvania State Police.
Ewing, of Garrison, N.D., told authorities that the highway was the only place he could land that was not covered by dense woods.
Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration inspected the plane, which was then towed to Hazleton Airport.
Shoot me ... now.
Last night went well with the kids, but this morning was none to pleasurable. I spent at least 66% of the trip in stuck behind a semi-truck hauling hogs. Yeah, sure, they are really clean animals. WRONG! I've seen these guys in action and I can attest that the Jews and Muslims may have been on to something with their religious dictates. Since the traffic was overrunning it's banks this morning, I could not get around this mobile stench-mobile and was subjected to the wafting fumes of decomposing swine excrement for the entire duration of my commute on the turnpike. Now my head hurts ... probably from frustration more than any chemical or affluence inhalation. That, and the one project I'm working on today for a client involves reading from an IBM MQ queue that is painfully slow. I have 250K rows to read and it takes a second or 2 to read each row, process it and write it to an internal database. Ugh. Pot boiling, paint drying, grass growing, MQ reads ... sluggish factors listed in order of pain index.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
- THEY may look like lovable pets but Britain's estimated 9m domestic cats are being blamed by scientists for infecting up to half the population with a parasite that can alter people's personalities.
The startling figures emerge from studies into toxoplasma gondii, a parasite carried by almost all the country's feline population. They show that half of BritainÂs human population carry the parasite in their brains, and that infected people may undergo slow but crucial changes in their behaviour.
Infected men, suggests one new study, tend to become more aggressive, scruffy, antisocial and are less attractive. Women, on the other hand, appear to exhibit the 'sex kitten' effect, becoming less trustworthy, more desirable, fun- loving and possibly more promiscuous.
- THEY may look like lovable pets but Britain's estimated 9m domestic cats are being blamed by scientists for infecting up to half the population with a parasite that can alter people's personalities.
The startling figures emerge from studies into toxoplasma gondii, a parasite carried by almost all the countryÂs feline population. They show that half of Britain's human population carry the parasite in their brains, and that infected people may undergo slow but crucial changes in their behaviour.
Infected men, suggests one new study, tend to become more aggressive, scruffy, antisocial and are less attractive. Women, on the other hand, appear to exhibit the 'sex kitten' effect, becoming less trustworthy, more desirable, fun-loving and possibly more promiscuous.
Back on track. Yesterday afternoon was a blessing. I was actually pretty well frazzled for a Monday. I had five different projects come to a head at the same time. I can multi-task, but being witty, creative and poignant at the same time can be a stretch. I ended up being curmudgeonly, befuddled and derisive. Eh, I guess that suits me as well.
After I picked up the kids (Boy, were they glad to see me!), we went and played on the twin-towers. I'd love to spend some time to finish up the last few yards of blocks, but I was not in the mood to sweat last night. It was hot and humid enough to make me break a sweat on my brow just thinking about moving blocks. It'll have to wait till the weekend when I have the bandwidth. For the most part, I spent my time playing 'road-block' in the back yard trying to keep the kids from stepping in some of the sloppy puddles of excrement that the Mammoth Hounds had left. They need to dry out a bit before I can remove them ... bletch. The Mrs had arrived at 1800 and we spent some time sitting outside and watching the kids. If it was cooler, I would have cuddled up and held her. In this muggy environ, that would be like snuggling up to a steaming hot wool sweater. Bletch. After some time, we tricked the kids into leaving the play-area so we could wash up and get ready for dinner. A real family dinner where the Mrs and I are not pressing our noses against a CRT or tapping away at the keyboard. I'm going to implore that the Mrs keeps the table clear so we can get the little ones used to an hour of the whole family eating and talking every night ... together.
When 2000 hours rolled around, we tried to get the kids to bathe and go to bed but was met with stiff opposition. They are not quite to the point where they are ready to accept that the birthday week celebration is over. After the bath, they insisted that it was a necessary component of bedtime for them to read a half dozen books. Even then, Jake needed someone to lay beside him or he would wail out for 'Mommmmeeeee, Dadddeeeeee' till one of us came in and consoled him. He was up till 2200 when I eventually heard his light breathing slow and lapse into a regular pattern of faint snores.
One parting item of note. I taught the kids a new trick. When someone tells them something is hot (the sun, food, stove, anything...), you take your finger and touch your butt and say 'SSssssss'! Yep, the Mrs nearly sprayed her soda when she saw that little display. The kids love it and the Mrs proclaimed that I'll be spending a lot of time explaining things to their future school principal. Heh, I'm counting the days.
Monday, July 11, 2005
Weekend Grill Warrior Federation
It was a rather intense weekend. Yes, it was. We had the kids OFFICIAL birthday party and it all went very well. Nothing blew up, burnt down or flew away. Those are the three greatest concerns with our parties, don't ya know. That and giant radio-active space insects, but I'll save that for another time. We had the kids 3rd birthday this past Saturday and as usual, the food and liquid libations were well received. For the three-grill-o-rama scorch-fest we had the following:
I forgot to add myself and Hero Dad to that list ... although the temp was a bit more reasonable this year, hovering over a rack of sizzling meat can impart a fair amount ambient heat to your own flesh.
The kids tore through 2 metric tons of gifts in a matter of seconds. Alexis got mostly princess type stuff with a bonus present from the grandparents of a doll house while Jake beefed up his Thomas train set collection. We'll have to empty out the living room of their current toy collection so we can fill it up again with the new ones. We no longer live in our house ... it's a giant toy-box for the kids. We had about 40 people over, with a small assortment of micro-dogs tossed into the mix. Yes, the floors are filthy, the carpets are stained and there are odd splotches of God-knows-what on the upholstery. But once again ... nothing blew up, burnt down, flew away. As people left towards the end of the day, we would say our goodbyes and pack up some leftovers to send along. Not much was left over, but more than what we could cram into the walk-in refrigerator. Alexis, in a moment of cuteness, made an interesting observation. Since she was intently preoccupied with her new items of obsession, she did not notice that people were filtering out of the manor. When she did come up for air, she started asking 'Where everyone go?!'. Yeah, when the booty runs out, the horde moves on. As much as I would like her to remain happy, having 40 permanent residents in the manor is not something that I could endure for more than 8 hours. As a parting shot, the hounds got their jaws around a couple of beef bones and ... well, the end results were none too pleasing for me. I have got to buy a back-hoe.
Ahhh, yes, and then there is Sunday. We slept in and so did the kids. How nice. Since we slept in, the latest mass was our remaining option. The Grandparents had already gone to the 1030 so they would stay home while I went with Big Little Brother and my most adorable daughter. Jacob was less than interested in going to Holy Aerobics so I left him in the fawning care of the 'Grandparent Adulation Squad'. This is were life takes it's peculiar turns and makes you scratch your head. Alexis was a little angel in church and was eager to shake hands with our fellow parishioners at the sign of peace. Doppelganger I tell you! She is usually a little whirling dervish. Diving under the pew, throwing fruit snacks. Not today, she just sat there quietly reading her books and playing with her princess figures. Stepford child! She did implore me to take her home once all the gummy bears were gone though.
While we were at mass, Amish Wonder Dad went ahead and mowed my lawn for me. The day was reasonable so he did not get to experience the wonders of 'absurdly oppressive heat pummeling you into the ground'. The rest of the day was spent working on the garden with the assistance of Super Grams and Hero Gramps. Every so often, the kids would come out with the Mrs and check in on what we were doing. Since the high heat of summer was on us, the peas, leafy greens and radishes were all but done in. Time to rip them out and start planting things like onions and begin to look for other summer crops. The tomatoes were bearing fruit as were the cucumbers and green beans. The kids enjoyed supping on some of the carrots that had to be removed to keep them from crowding each-other out. No shortage of produce, but lots of required labor too. Farming is not for the weak of heart or fragile of spine. Hope the kids learn that lesson too. Keep a garden, it promotes good study habits. The choice between life-shortening manual labor and the cerebral crafting advanced sciences is an easy choice when you've eaten from both plates.
Friday, July 08, 2005
I really cannot see anything outstandingly bad about this article. It does speculate about the reasons that prompted the Senator to put this book out though:
- The book has prompted speculation as being the first chapter in a possible 2008 presidential run. After all, the title invites direct comparisons to another potential candidate, U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D., N.Y.), who wrote It Takes a Village, a 1996 book described by Santorum as "feel-good rhetoric masking a radical left agenda."
But the book is likely to put a more immediate stamp on his 2006 Senate reelection bid. National and state Democrats see the book as a treasure trove of opposition research that they say illustrates how far he sits outside the mainstream.
- Generating perhaps the most criticism are his comments on two-working-parent households.
"In far too many families with young children, both parents are working, when, if they really took an honest look at the budget, they might confess that both of them don't really need to, or at least may not need to work as much as they do," he wrote.
He went on to question why women find a career more gratifying and socially affirming than staying home with their children. "Here, we can thank the influence of radical feminism," he wrote.
Wow, Friday already? I really don't have a lot to say about this morning and yesterday except rain, rain, rain. I do need to get back to the Manor so I can help with the cleanup that we have not done for ages. I did scrub the bath-tub and shower last night. I'm a little drained right now so I'm not getting as much done as I would like. Must be the mid-summer blues ... is there such a thing?
Saturday, July 02, 2005
I'm baaaaaa-ck! I took off the last two days to be with the kids, wife, brother and grandparents. Since this 7th is the kids 3rd birthday, we've been trucking them all around to experience some things that they have not seen yet. Before we get into that, I'll let off a bit of steam first. This contractor of a consulting company working though a consulting company that maintains ECommerce sites for other companies is starting to get a bit strained. I have to do two time sheets and then print out one of the time sheets so my company has proof that the timesheet that I sent electronically to the middle-man consulting company matches what I just printed out from the same source. Got that? One of these time sheets needs to be done at the end of every week while the other needs to be done at the end of the week AND at the end of the month. Last week, the 1st required me to do 2 time sheets for my company, 1 for the client and then another 2 print outs that I return to my company for the middle man company. I'm amazed that I even get paid!
Now for an abbreviated happy-happy family interlude. The grandparent made it to the manor on Friday night and the kids nearly popped a frontal lobe when they saw them. It does the heart good to see that the little ones are so endeared with the grandparents. They were going full tilt the whole evening till it was time to put them to bed. That was rough. I think they were afraid that if they went to sleep, the holy grail of fun grams and gramps would be missing when they woke. Saturday was the usual Swim-Perkins-Shopping thing. It was hotter than what would be considered comfortable so I skipped mowing the lawn yet again. Later on, Big Little Brother shows up and now we have the complete Haupertonian Set. Sunday ... Church, Mow the lawn, Harvest HorseRaddish. All good. Not so good: Delivering a refrigerator to Chinatown NYC for Wife's mother. Yes ... driving the Family Tank into the heart of darkness in the middle of the night to haul a refrigerator up 12 flights of stairs only to drag a broken one down the same stairs and back out of NYC ... from Philly. Ugh. The apartment is configured in such a way that the door only opens partially and was blocked by a jerry-rigged book-case. This book case was in 3 parts and had to be disassembled so we could move it and get the old fridge out. It could have been worse ... I did have a migraine at the time but other than that, no 'Towering Inferno' issues or run-away kitchen appliances crushing the inhabitants of the building as they tumble down the stair case. It's a good thing that the Big Little Brother came along or I would have just set the fridge on the front stoop and drove off. We have not heard from the Mrs's mother since so I'm guessing that the fridge is working well. The traffic into the city was a bit congested, but leaving was relatively easy. Except for that lamborghini that was stopped at the light and did not go when it was green. Had to beep my horn at him. Imagine that!
Now for the rest of the week:
Yeah, I'm too pooped to write about it. Today is the twins actual birthday. They'll be going to Chuck-E-Cheese while I'm here at work. I can't tell you how much I love those two little buggers, no matter how much they try to get under my skin. I'll share some of the photos from this week-long festival of turning three when the Mrs has a moment to upload them from the camera.
Friday, July 01, 2005
- From 1990 (Kyoto's base year for measuring changes) to 2002, global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, increased 16.4 percent, reports the International Energy Agency. The U.S. increase was 16.7 percent, and most of Europe hasn't done much better.
Here are some IEA estimates of the increases: France, 6.9 percent; Italy, 8.3 percent; Greece, 28.2 percent; Ireland, 40.3 percent; the Netherlands, 13.2 percent; Portugal, 59 percent; Spain, 46.9 percent. It's true that Germany (down 13.3 percent) and Britain (a 5.5 percent decline) have made big reductions. But their cuts had nothing to do with Kyoto. After reunification in 1990, Germany closed many inefficient coal-fired plants in eastern Germany; that was a huge one-time saving. In Britain, the government had earlier decided to shift electric utilities from coal (high CO2 emissions) to plentiful natural gas (lower CO2 emissions).
On their present courses, many European countries will miss their Kyoto targets for 2008-2012. To reduce emissions significantly, Europeans would have to suppress driving and electricity use; that would depress economic growth and fan popular discontent. It won't happen. <...> Since 1990 Canada's emissions are up 23.6 percent; Japan's, 18.9 percent.
"We expect CO2 emissions growth in China between now and 2030 will equal the growth of the United States, Canada, all of Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Korea combined," says Fatih Birol, the IEA's chief economist. In India, he says, about 500 million people lack electricity; worldwide, the figure is 1.6 billion. Naturally, poor countries haven't signed Kyoto; they won't sacrifice economic gains -- poverty reduction, bigger middle classes -- to combat global warming. By 2030, the IEA predicts, world energy demand and greenhouse gases will increase by roughly 60 percent; poor countries will account for about two-thirds of the growth. China's coal use is projected almost to double; its vehicle fleet could go from 24 million to 130 million.