White Lightning Axiom: Redux: October 2005

Monday, October 31, 2005


Weekend Bookmark

Chopped down trees ... more on that when I get a moment.
It's halloween, don't you know. The gremlins are about.

Friday, October 28, 2005


Good Fortune

It's Friday. Finally. Managed to cut some of that tree up last night. Now I'll just need to rent a chipper shredder from SunBelt to finish off the branches. I'll probably wait till I have all the trees down before I do that. I'll get one that you need to tow behind on a hitch. Industrial. The kind you shred Greyhound Busses with. The other notable event ... there was an accident on the turnpike. The interesting point to this is that it happened just before the 611 interchange where I get on so there was NO traffic at all till Mid-County. Good for me, bad for everyone else. Then, there was ANOTHER accident at my on ramp shortly after I got onto the turnpike. Dodging bullets this morning, I am.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Men Vs. Women and the brain ...

Stolen from Tyron
And then there is this little side note:I could say a lot of snarky things here, but given my predicament it makes me wonder.


Nothing to talk about but work

I've been a bit preoccupied of late ... at work. What a novelty. I find it so peculiar that I've been at the client site for nearly 2 years now and they only finally decided to load me up with 'IMPOTENT!' work in my final months. Actually, I've got about 35 work days left scheduled around all the vacation I set up at the beginning of the year. Nothing is more important than setting up your vacation around the holidays. Wait too long (like some of my co-workers) and you find that your requested vacation is ... denied. Mostly because of ppl like me who asked first and have a bit of seniority. Is the wisdom of age always so selfish? No matter, I'm passing some of my more interesting tips & tricks on to the JrPM. This Friday, it will be just her and me left at the client site. The other two will be finished and moved on to other pending projects. Rock-Star and Lill-Bill ... lucky dogs. In any event, this port job is going slowly. We keep finding textbook examples of why hard-coding actions and events is a 'Bad Idea'. Explaining this to the project manager, the other project manager, his manager, our manager and the manager of our manager is getting ... tedious. I swear I spend more time giving status than I do actually getting work done. The Mrs suffers from the same fate in her job, but she signed up for it. I'm not sure how she keeps her head from exploding ... I guess that's why I married her (outside of the obvious rapture-like love I have for her), her ability to keep cool when 'dorks' are running about her behaving poorly. Yeah, I mean myself. Okay, enough bitching about work. I don't feel like giving a traffic report since no trucks have exploded unexpectedly recently. The flooding never really happened from the rain and it's now sunny out. Calm before the storm? Oh, one interesting thing: I ordered a new chain-break for Amish-Dad's chain saw. The old one was in poor shape and did not function well. Since I believe that it is mostly used here at the Haupertonian HQ to cut down red-woods more so than at the FOB, I feel compelled to apply maintenance efforts when needed. Now he has a spiffy new red chain-break on the beast. If the Mrs can show up before the sun sets, I could get some of those trees in the back-50 reduced. Wish me luck and few injuries.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Raining again

Yesterday ... it was a bother. Long day of trying to port a content feed and test it so that production data was not impacted. Coupled with the fact that the software was developed, tested and released on the production host made it that much more dubious. I had to grind through each bit of code to and search for any hard-coded references to production hosts or data-stores. On top of all this, they want to switch over to a new database that may or may not be complete yet AND move the jobs to run under an Autosys instance that has not been successfully installed yet. A few too many moving cogs for a project dumped on a couple of unmotivated contractors who will be gone within 2 months. I suppose putting the job-security endangering jobs in the laps of the blamesultants is a politically correct thing to do in the 4th quarter. For a company that relies on commerce and we all know that 50% of all commerce happens at this time of the year ... this client sure knows how to play with matches!

The Mrs and I decided not to buy the diesel sedan from Gus. Not so much that it was an unknown quantity, but it would cause discomfort between Gus and ourselves should something go amiss. No, better that we wait for the exact vehicle we need. Someday, a wagon diesel with ABS, AWD, air bags, cd player and a 10 year warranties will show itself to us. Till then, we will continue to pour more cash into the coffers of the Oil companies, Hugo Chavez and the Sheikhs overseas. Argh. Speaking of gloom, it's raining here again. We had a few hours of 'non-precipitation' here but it was quickly vanquished when a NorEaster, a heavy cold front and the Farts from Wilma collided together over the Haupertonian Empire. The soil here is completely saturated from the last 2 day rainstorm and floods are in the making. It's nice to live on a hill, but we still have sump-pumps to run and if we loose our power ... bad things. Perhaps a generator is in the calling. Boy, I'm really itching to spend that diaper money we no longer are spending, eh?

Monday, October 24, 2005


Weekend of rain

Active weekend .. again. Late Friday evening, I got a call from the local swim club. It turns out that for some unspeakable reason, the pool would be closed this weekend. I'll assume it was for some cleaning or health reason, but I dared not venture deeper into the reasoning. All I could think was that it would be a good morning to sleep in, children permitting. This could be the start of a relaxing weekend, except I was doing the 'lion taming' of the children solo this night. The Mrs called me in the afternoon and let me know that she had a MOM meeting the same day and asked permission to go. Sure, why not. Bank one for dad some other time. So the kids and I lolled about for a bit and exercised our addition skills. Jake is starting to get the whole 1+1=2 and 2+2=4 thing. We'll see how it goes when we move on to subtraction. One thing I did have to do was to drop off Gus's Diesel Benz Sedan at the Mechanic's place so he could look at it and tell me what it would take to fix the oil leak and wrap up any other little quirks. It started on the first crank like the other 3 times I started her up and it lurched to life as I put her in gear and rolled out of the drive-way. It is a cavern inside the passenger compartment. Compared to the SuperSaturn, this thing is a beast. It's still shocking to find a car built 20 years ago and made mostly out of metal can get 40 miles to the gallon. It did have a bit of an acceleration issue but I cannot see that as a big problem with the Mrs. She is a bit of a cautious driver. We'll have to see what Chris can do for us with this baby. (UPDATE: Turns out that Chris did not make it in for the weekend and when called, was not in on Monday. His staff does not work with Diesel engines either! Not a good sign.)

Saturday morning rolls around and the kids are up at 0700. Urgh, I watch my sleep flutter away like the morning doves shaking the heavy dew from their wings as the kids begin their weekend ritual of jumping on our bed to wake the slumbering giants. It would be sweet if I were not so groggy from an ill conducted rest. So be it. I look outside to see the sun quickly being shrouded by the greyest of clouds and think to myself that if I am to get any yardwork done today, I must strike while the iron is hot. But now, it's breakfast. Bacon, of course, is the first order of business, then toast and eggs for the hungry troops. The dogs get fed too, but not the priceless bacon of course. No, they get their kibble which disappears quicker than it takes me to fill their monster bowls ... bowels ... whatever. In any event, they've taken quite nicely to the new feed we got for them. Same brand but instead of the Lamb and Rice variety, we got the Soylent Green stuff. Much cheaper if you get the right composition. When they wrap up their feeding frenzy, we go outside and I let them dig up the back-50 while I get my gear gathered up. I'm going to try to cut down a tree today.

My intentions were that I would cut down the tree in three parts this drizzly and uncomfortably chilly morning. I had Hero-Dad's chain saw, a branch lopper, a few lengths of cord, a tree saw and a gut full of bacon. That and my usual helping of gumption and fool-hardiness should be more than enough, you think? But no, the 60 foot white pine would stand firm (Fir?) against me and resist my efforts. First, the Ladder would only reach to a foot shy of the 'Y' in the tree where I intended to work. Second, the gas in the 20 foot chainsaw (ok, only 2 foot but the thing is unwieldy as hell when you are on the top rung of a 12 foot ladder) ran out just as I was getting into the cut. Ok, find a tank, mix up the oil and gasoline ... add pixie dust and head back out to the tree-line. Just as I was climbing the ladder to get into it again, I heard the tell-tale creaking-crack of wood starting to give way under the harsh bite of a metal chain .... ut-oh. I quickly scurry back down the ladder as fast as my feeble legs will carry me and bolt off to grab the tow line so I could direct the branch as best as I could. But challenging the science of physics and probability is what my fate in life falls to. It fell about 1 foot shy of where I wanted it to go and only a small branch hit the deck promptly snapping at the point of contact. My efforts at the line came too late to do any good, but luck smiled upon the hapless lumberman in sodden clothing. Yes, wet from perspiration and an ever increasing rainfall, grimy from bar-oil soaked saw-dust and fallen needles, and just the right around of mulch and garden soil. All I could hope to do now is to take off the smaller branches and chop the 'trunk' into manageable rounds. If I could get that much done before the rain-fall became a down-pour, I would declare the day a success and go in to spend time with the family. And that was that. After cleaning up a bit, we headed out where I bought up all the gasoline at my new favorite Wawa at 2.55$/gal and did a bit of R&R at Lowes. Went there to pick up some small items and ended up buying 100 feet of poly-braid rope with a load-bearing limit of 1092lbs. Good stuff. Never can have too much rope, you know?

Sunday came in like a roaring lion. The sun was shining and there were ethereal wispy clouds dotting the skies at a level beyond bird and man. Oh, if the ground were not a soggy layer of muck, I would have given the lawn one last pass with the mower, but I had slept in and church was in the cards. We missed the 1000 mass by a mile so the wife was able to attend the 1200 mass with me and both of the little ones. They were active, but not too much so. Having the Mrs along to help was a blessing. We had arrived early and as it is with the Noon mass, everyone showed up in the last 5 minutes before and after noon. We managed to get a very good parking spot which allowed us to escape immediately instead of having to wait 15 minutes for the straggling chatter boxes to wander out to their cars and release us. We had plans today to go see some farm animals at Freddie Hill Farm in Lansdale. It was a fun-filled agrarian afternoon. There were pig races, hotdogs (gotta do something with the loosers!) chocolate milk, ice cream and a hay-ride. The grounds were a bit soggy, but the proprietor did his best to spread out enough saw-dust to soak up some of the muck. He should have let me know, I have loads of the stuff now! The kids got a bit impatient after a while and we took off towards home, only stopping at the Super Asian Market Assi to pick up some items we can not find in our local stores. Jacob was intrigued by the multiple frozen delicacies from the sea, however, Alexis was horrified by the frozen Squid, octopus and flounder. The live crabs in a bowl was also a bit too much for her sensibilities. The tanks of grouper, lobster and eel were a bit more acceptable though. After an exhausting hour of trolling the aisles for delectables, we loaded up the SuperSaturn and headed home. Within moments, the twin tyrants transformed into heavenly cherubs and dozed off. Of course, this did not last long and they were up to their typical dinner and pre-bath antics. 2200 hours is much to late for them to be going to bed. Much to late for the Mrs and I as well after a day like this. Oh, did I mention that I cut down the rest of that tree later? No? Just 11 more trees to go.

Monday. Not much to say about that awful day except that there was an accident on the turnpike. GASP! I know, so shocking isn't it? Closed down my exit at KOP. To make the week that much more rotten, I called Chris the Mechanic only to find out the bad new about Gus's diesel. I'm not sure what I'll say to Gus, I'll probably let him take it away and sell it to some Philly native who will run it into the ground within a year. Shamefull.



There is something amiss with the comment software. Sorry if it affects you, I'm looking into it.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Happy-Happy .... addiction

I won my eBay bid for a SB100 Flavia coffee maker. A new one from the vendor costs $199USD and then add tax and shipping. I got mine for $175USD along with a couple boxes of coffee and tea packets. Nirvana. Upon arriving at the Manor last night I saw a HUGE box on the front porch and the craters left along the walk-way from the anti-personnel defense grid. I used the anti-grav nano-bots to help me transport it inside. It was cumbersome, but not entirely heavy. No wonder it cost $22USD to ship UPS. Although it only took 2 days to make it here, I was anxious to pop it open and inspect my booty. No, it would have to wait. The dogs need to relieve themselves and I need to go get the pizza and the twin tyrants. Later on, after dinner had been eaten, I set about unpacking and setting up the newly acquired toy. It took me about 5 seconds to find the on switch and I was in caffeine nirvana ever since. Tea, coffee ... ahhh. When I can see through the haze of brain-addling chemicals, I'll let you know.


RIT Alumn Not in the News

Just a interesting note ...
MSM Uniterested.

Thursday, October 20, 2005



I just had to put this one out there ... it really made me laugh out loud:That James Lileks ... such a HOOT he is!


7th inning stretch

So, what do you think the odds are that there will an accident on the turnpike today? Hmm? Well surprise, there was not only one, but two that I could see. You know, it would seem to me that insurance companies would levy a 100% surcharge to your rates if they found out you drove on the Turnpike. ARGH! I even went to bed early so I would wake up on time. That did not work either ... ended up sleeping till 0615. One of these days, I'm just going to take a mental-hygiene day and not get out of bed. The kids will stroll in, snuggle down between the Mrs and I ... and we will watch the tube and eat dried fruit all day. Ahhh, dreams made of pillows that hold you like your mother and sheets with more threads than fish in the sea.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005



Today is official whine about traffic day. It was a horrible commute home last night. Interstate 95 had a truck accident as well as some sort of bru-ha-ha on the Schuylkill Expressway. Then, to cap it off, there was a car fire on the Westbound lanes of the Autobahn of Love, the PA Turnpike. Now, this would not bother me much since I was going East and the incident was in the West-bound lanes ... right. Apparently a FireTruck ... the kind that has a water tank ... had shown up to put out the fire and after completing the task, broke down. It completely blocked all three lanes somewhere after the Fort Washington exit. They could not tow it out of the way because it had a nearly full tank of water. Disaster! Of course, all the Rubber-Neckers had to take a peek from the East-bound lanes which caused a massive backup all the way to KOP where I got on. For the Love of Mary! Of course, there were accidents on the East-Bound lanes after that. Took me 75 minutes to get home. Urgh.

I got home with enough time to let the dogs out and get SOMETHING ready for the kids dinner. Some rice, broccoli, cheese and Hot Dogs. I usually make grilled cheese but I did not have the time. Oh well. In other news, my neighbor Gus told me he was selling his old Mercedes ... diesel ... for about $2K. Ahhh, fortune smiles upon me for after voicing my interest, he insisted that I get first crack at it! I'll be taking it to my local mechanic to see what the damage for the engine service will be. Its about 20 years old but he is really good about maintaining his vehicles and has ZERO rust. Just needs a bit of work to stop an oil leak and it will be good to go. Sometime later, after all the expenses have been tallied and corrected, I'll start the work on the Grease Car Project. Yeah, another project to chew up my time and resources. What a glutton, eh?

Monday, October 17, 2005


Day of rest v3.1

Sunday is usually my most active day of the week. Not sure how this happens, but it seems to be habitual. Even if I managed to cool my heels for one day, my recidivist ways would take over and I would work twice as hard the following Sunday. I guess it's in my genes. I started the day by hauling Alexis off to church since Jake decided he would be better off hanging with Mommy at home. It was the normal Family mass and since the basement chapel opened, we headed down into the damp bowels of the building. Alexis immediately emptied her back-pack to see what goodies I had stashed away for her. There was a little 2+ year old boy down at the other end of the pew and he was intrigued by the containers of marshmallows, cashews and gummy-bears. As he crept closer, I asked Alexis if she would be nice enough to share some of her booty with the little boy. From then on we had ourselves a little tea-and-book party in the pew. He just was not interested in going back to his flustered mother. It was cute to see the two of them sitting side by side on the kneeler ... munching away and turning the pages of an oversized book with those thick cardboard covers. Fortunately, as fate would have it, I pack enough food-stuffs to feed several hungry marines so we did not even get close to running out. But alas, mass ended and we evacuated to the SuperSaturn ... which was blocked in. We had to wait another 10 minutes till the right set of curb-surfers made it to their cars and released us.

Back to the Manor, and out again. We loaded up the family and trundled off to Mr Wilson's house of Bamboo and poultry. When we got there, he was mowing his yard. He was surprised to see us show up, I guess he does not get a lot of follow-up on his inquiries. The kids truly enjoyed the chickens and were startled to see the eggs in the coop. Even more shocked when they felt the warmth from the eggs that we were given as parting gifts. I fear that if I have to explain exactly where the eggs were prior to their delivery, they will no longer be a staple of breakfast. We'll have to do something nice for Mr Wilson. I think he is either a bachelor or a widower. Perhaps a nice fruitcake or bottle of Vignole or Shiraz.

After we stopped off at the Manor and deposited the bamboo runners, it was time to take a trip to BJ's wholesale to do a bit of shopping. Nothing fancy, but since I was hungry we ended up buying much more than expected. All we needed was some popcorn chicken nuggets and a bag of Swedish meatballs. In the end, I'm certain we spent closer to 200$ in foodstuffs. Urk. Me and my hollow gut. After ravaging the local food repositories, I shuttled the family back to the manor to get some weekend labor in gear. While the Mrs stayed warm inside, I went out back to plant the bamboo at the edge of the property and to bring up as much wood as possible to the staging area. So from 1200 till 2000, I ran that wheel barrow into the ground going all the way from the corner wood pile to the patio and back again. Fill the tub, empty the tub, stack the wood. In the end, I've brought up ALL the wood except for a few large chunks that need to be reduced a bit. After I get those white pine trees taken down in the back, I'll have to order another delivery of tree-trunks and start all over again. I shudder at the though. Of course, the thought has passed my mind that I could burn the wood from the white pines, but the cresol would certainly cause a chimney fire and that is not something I would want to deal with at the moment ... or ever. I still remember the problems my High-School sweetheart and her family had when they had to deal with that. Messy is an understatement.

Monday morning. I'm sore, but not as sore as I'm going to be when I try to get on the road. I get up late. Very late. I try to make up time but cutting corners and revving the internal engine, but alas, for naught. I get about 2 miles from the manor when I hear it on the am 1060 news radio. There is a 3 tractor-trailer pile-up on the east-bound turnpike. Well, that should not be too bad since I'm going West. However, the looky-lous have popped in and caused 3 different accidents in the west-bound lanes. One of them is at my on-ramp and effectively closes the entrance down. The local roads in the vicinity are paralyzed. I try to avoid the choked arteries but find myself shoulder to shoulder with dozens of like-minded souls. Soon, I'm going no-where fast so I start to take the lesser-known local roads ... like everyone else. It's no use. I've managed to get 20% of the distance to my destination and see gridlock everywhere I go. I opt to just get on the turnpike at the Fort Washington Sliplane. Nope, blocked. Then something strange occurs. I'm all queued up to get to the toll gate and the traffic starts to move rapidly. Ok, I guess we are getting diverted ... to the Expo Center! Argh! Apparently I was in line to get Flu Shots instead of getting on the turnpike. Fine. I give up. Perhaps God was just telling me that it would be a good idea for me to get jabbed. So I head on in and get inoculated within 15 minutes. It's strange, that among the 200 or so elderly (yeah, I counted), they pick me out and ask if I have some sort of prescription or card saying that my immune system needs this. Since the county health officers were completely overwhelmed, they did not push the issue when I told them that I had no proof on me that I had a good reason to be there. A shrug of the shoulders and I'm queued up for the needle. I hate needles. Man, do I hate needles. However, these nurses were PROS! It was in and out before I could finish the 'I don't like needles much' complaint. Now I just have to wait for the inevitable aches that I get with these things. Ahh, good times. Although, the real flu isn't half as bad as the side effects I would get from the ABC injections. Perspective.



Toni at My View, tagged me on Sunday.

Seven things I want to do before I die:
1. Get my kids through college
2. Finish all the pet projects I've started on the House.
3. Grow the perfect garden
4. Get off the Energy grid (i.e. become a producer not a consumer)
5. Travel in space.
6. Become closer to God (He's pissed at me right now)
7. Be a grandfather and spoil the daylights out of them!

Seven things I can do:
1. Touch my nose with my tongue.
2. Eat a 120 oz cowboy ribeye steak
3. Make my children laugh no matter what mood they are in.
4. Change the oil, filters and soon, breaks in the family cars.
5. Eat things that would make a billy-goat puke.
6. Amuse the Mrs
7. Be a Great Parent.

Seven things I cannot do:
1. Abandon the Family
2. Tolerate Race-Baiters
3. Tolerate High Humidity & Temperatures
4. Get lost without loosing my temper
5. Eat just one chip.
6. Pay my taxes without loosing my temper.
7. Tolerate clutter.

Seven things I say a lot :
1. No, no, NO!
2. Jacob/Alexis, Eat your dinner.
3. Mrs MDMHVONPA .....
5. I'm hungry.
6. Ohhh, that's no good.
7. Do you smell something?

Seven things I find attractive in a feMale (this is a fluid list):
1. Organization
2. Sense of humor
3. Long Black hair.
4. Rational Behavior
5. Physical Strength.
6. Ummm ... boobs? That's always good.
7. Consistency.

Seven celebrity crushes? Hmm.... this could be trouble.
1. Mary Steenburgen (Damn that Ted Danson)
2. Tia Carrera
3. Angela Jolie (Yeah, she's psycho, so what?)
4. Kelly Hu
5. Jennifer Connelly
6. Jessica Marie Alba (Too damn young)
7. Jane Seymour (The quintessential Super-Mom)

Seven people who have nothing better to do than to get tagged:
1. Alex at Pstupidonymous
2. Steel at The Steel Deal
3. Lei at Cotton-Pickin' Days
4. MaidInk at Life, Family, et al
5. Dave at Ms not just a diary
6. Pat at Out of the Frying Pan
7. Amanda at My complications

Sunday, October 16, 2005



Okay then, let's rooooollll this way back to Friday. It was a fairly stressful one. Mostly work related. Fortunately, I had a lunch with some old Infonautics friends scheduled so I could at least kick back with a plate of ginger shrimp, wan-ton soup and a nice bathtub of Glenfiddich scotch. Ten dollars worth. Initially, when the bartender brought me the drink, he sloshed a bit out and it got on my hand ... he then proclaimed 'One Dolla'h off!' with a heavy Chinese accent which prompted myself and my Rock-Star co-worker to blurt out 'One Dollah!' in faux accent. We looked at each other and all laughed fairly hard. Strange minds under stress do very peculiar things.

Saturday started out mild, but quickly picked up into a kiddy-fest-o-rama. It starts out with me making the standard breakfast for the family. Omelets with cheese, Bacon, Sausage, toast, beverages. You know, the usual. I always forget to make my coffee though and end up with a caffeine withdrawal head-ache. While the kids swim, I run off to tank up the SuperSaturn, which was running on fumes by the weekend. Much like myself. In any event, I went to the AAA gas finder for our area and was pleasantly surprised to find some of the least expensive gas could be found at the new Wawa on Gassiteria row. At the time, it was a rockin' 2.65 for commoner-grade unleaded which was nearly the lowest in the area. There was a carwash that sold it for the same price, but it was cash-only and it was doubtful that the price was presented could be for those who did not want their car cleaned of road-grit. I managed to fill the SuperSaturn, the two 5 gallon tanks I brought along and then zip back to the swim club just as the lesson was ending. I'd rather spend that 30 minutes reading a book, but it's best that I take care of this now instead of wasting everyone else's time. With that, we hearded the kids back to the car and started home. Before we got too far, we spotted a man pruning back the bamboo grove that we admire every weekend as we drive past. I pull over and leap from the car trying to catch the man's attention. It turns out, it is the owner of the property and I introduce myself as an interested observer. After a brief talk, we discuss the aspects of the grove and he mentions that it is the running bamboo instead of the clumping variety. Of course, both varieties cost about 50$ a bucket so his offer to me of free runners was too much to pass up. We were on our way home, but I promised to stop by on Sunday after church services to collect some. When I mentioned the Tyrannical Twins, he was intrigued and insisted that we bring them along to see his chickens, ducks and geese. Sounds like a plan. How could I say no to either party? In any event, the gentleman (Mr Wilson) was rather pleased that I actually asked before trespassing. He noted that he has seen people leap out of their cars, rip clumps from the ground and then drive off with little attention to property rights. I can sympathize.

The gas station on the corner down the street from us has been closed for a few years now. It's in a rather difficult location so I'm guessing it was not that selling the property was difficult, it was the buried tanks that kept the eye-sore in place for so long. Finally, Commerce bank bought the land and threw up a branch office. It took about a month to extract the tanks, demolish the old building and throw up the new one. So, in traditional bank CRA mode, they had a big fair. Clowns, stilt walkers, raffles, balloons, food and, of course, Elvis. Guts filled and crooning liberally applied, we left with shaped balloons and bags of chachkies. It's nearly 1100 hours and we have one more stop to make. Yet another Open House at a fire company. This time, it's the Huntingdon Valley crew. We managed to get there a few moments before they started closing down the tail end of Red Lion Road and managed to park right behind the building next to the police station. Sweet, just a hop-skip and jump away from the garage and not a rain-drop in sight. We rolled through the activities quickly since we were the only ones there and Jacob was beside himself. They had a remote-controlled fire-engine with a talking 'Sparky Firedog' that would squirt you with a fire-hose. It was the center of attention till the REAL dalmation fire-dog arrived. My little ones are certain that all dalmations are 'Pongo-Old-Boy' from 101 dalmations and asserted his name was thus to all within range of their declaration. The kids were also finger-printed by one of the police officers so we could save their prints in a safe (just in case) and then off to the ladder truck where we got to ride up in the cherry-picker and see all of Lower Moreland from 40 feet up. The wait for the ladder was long, but immediately after we disembarked they pleaded for another ride. No, we had to now. We had to go home and prepare for our final activity for the day.

Joyce has a few relatives in the North Jersey Suburbs. Some are closer than others. Her Grandmother has a sister who has a son. This would be considered a second cousin but due to hierarchal honor rankings in the traditional Chinese familial society, he would be an Uncle. We split the difference and denote him as a cousin. He and his wife (married about a year now) have recently moved into a new condo up in Orange NJ and have finally managed to get an house-warming party together. Good thing, we were starting to feel guilty about having them drive all the way down to our place every time we were to see each-other. Yes, of course, it's easier to traverse the NJ Throughway without kids in tow, but the guilt was still there. It did not take us long to put the 100 mile distance behind us. A mere 90 minutes to get there. All of the available relatives where there and since the space was limited, so where the attendees. I prefer smaller, more intimate gatherings anyways. The kids were on their best behavior to boot. Odd. They ate quite well and we let them dive into the various chocolate cheese-cakes, cookies, chips and other sundry verboten food-stuffs. We left at about 2030 and were making really good time till we were within miles of our designated exit ... then tragedy struck. Congestion ... at 2130 hours. Argh. It was not as bad as it could have been, but it still cost us 30 minutes of discussing with Jacob that the car is not actually broken. We did not get home till about 2200 and by then an evening bath for the kids was right out of the picture. Not due to the hour, but mostly to the sheer exhaustion of the Mrs and I. I do not think we could fathom the destruction the Twin Tyrants would do if we even attempted to bath them when we are not at 100%. Nope, just carry them off to bed and let them doze till the next day. Such angels when they are sleeping, you know?

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Thursday drudge

It's been a particularly busy day. This software suite port/test is really chewing me up something fierce. Almost as bad as what the crew outside is doing to the parking lot over the last few days. It started on Wednesday I believe. When I got to the client's site at 0745, I noticed that nearly all the early-arrivers had parked either in the front lot or the side lot. This was rather peculiar since the back lot (where all the handicap spots are) is much closer to the building entrance. There is a spot that I park in nearly every day where I can see the SuperSaturn from my corner office (next to the gym, loud music, grunts ... bad). Since I can see the spot, I can quickly find out if I have yet again left my lights on. It's getting to be quite dark in the morning and I'm starting to use my headlights again. But I digress. The parking lot seems to have been a giant sheet of asphalt that was plopped down over a couple of active surface springs. The water continually seeps up through the soil and has created a few cracks. Through these cracks, the moisture makes it to the surface and freezes during the winter creating large, permanent patches of ice over which many vehicles travel. Consequentially, if any of these cars moving at a high rate of speed try to stop or turn ... well, accidents happen. There has been a few damaged cars and some hot tempers exposed. So, the lot is closed, long trenches are dug up and drainage pipe is being laid. I am fairly certain that this will work, but these pipes are of the standard black PVC plastic you see and once a large truck parks over one of these buried treasures, they will slowly compress the installations and the asphalt will crumble. It will not be pretty. Glad I will not be here to witness this ominous prediction come to fruition. In the short term, I have to hobble across the packed parking log from another time-zone in the rain. I suppose it could be worse tough. It is only a place to park my car, not the building that is poorly constructed. Pakistan/Afghanistan comes to mind.

In much happier news, yesterday was the 'Little Gym' day for the kids. We dressed them in sweats and for 30 minutes, a gymnastic instructor shows the kids how to tumble, roll, swing and jump. Like it takes much prodding to get the Twin Tyrants to do any of that. I imagine that they probably launch shurikens and thowing stars at the feet of the instructor to see her dance! Dance! Whip-Zing! Whip-Thud!! Dance like you mean it! The Day-care professionals were provided with a disposable camera so they could document these events. Kind of like UN observers in pastel helmets. That was yesterday ... today is fire prevention day and a real live fireman (the fire chief for the township happens to have a child at the center) will be present. If they bring a dog, the kids will go ballistic. There is also an open house tonight at the fire company house which we will be attending. It's pizza night too. The kids should be sufficiently stimulated. We'll have to keep them away from any sugar to keep their heads from exploding. Personally, I'll just be glad that I'm one more day closer to the weekend.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005



It is still raining here in Philly. The clouds are low, grey and heavy. Yes, the standard fall weather of the North East is upon us. I suppose that means I should start throwing the grass seed down so the lawn can recover a bit from this year's fiascos. Oh, and I suppose I should pull the rest of the tomatoes out of the Agricultural Sector and till that under. So I can get started on removing the dying white pine trees along the property boundary. And bring up wood to the staging area. Damn, I've got a wad of work laid out for myself, don't I? If it would just stop raining. Sure, blame it on the rain. I suppose I should really try to finish up what I started in the basement. Oh, the mess I have made.

I would love to just take a few days off from work and wrap up all the half finished projects I have abandoned. It would be a snap with the kids at pre-school all day. Alas, as a final slap in the face I have been assigned to a task at the client site that is probably one of the most heinous they could drudge up. I, along with the JrPM, will be responsible for the migration of some content import and data feed export software suites to the new Linux hosts. Oh, what joy. The guy leading up the project is none to enthused about the effort as well. Only 46 more work days left till I can put this sordid chapter behind me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Numb, dazed, present but not quite.

It's been a while since we have had a corporate meeting. A 0700 meeting. Oh man, am I bushwhacked. I set the alarm for 0515 knowing full well that I would not wake until 0530-0545. Buzz-smack ... BUZZ-smack ... BUZZZZZ-smack-click. Only three snooze-bar delays, not too shabby. Getting out of bed, tending to the dogs, making enough racket to wake the Mrs and hauling the kids out of bed, prepping lunch and breakfast ... yesh. It's a small wonder that I was able to get out of the Manor before 0600. It was raining out so traffic was slow but since I'm addled by an incomplete sleep, it does not aggravate me. As long as I could get there in time to get a full 55 gallon drum of coffee, I'll be ok. I did go to bed early but my sleep patterns have shifted so I could not really fall asleep till late in the evening. Even so, I woke up several times in the night just to make me that much more sluggish. I tried to do some physical activity the night before just to get my system ready for a good solid 6 hour down time. I've been breaking down cardboard boxes in basement level 1A and now I had to drag all this recyclable material out to the curb. About a dozen bags of cardboard and half as much packing peanuts or other styrofoam cruft. It's a long haul to the curb, next time I'll just toss it in the wood-stove. The cardboard, that is. The styrofoam is just encumbering. I'll wager the recycling crew are going to be annoyed with me.

Monday, October 10, 2005



Busy day, this is going to be a rather curt entry. I suppose the Saturday events are the most pleasing so starting with them would be chronologically correct and aesthetically pleasing as well. But for the rain. The cold, bone penetrating October rains. If only that were true. The manor ended up being a steam-box as the thermostat steadily inched up to 80 degrees. Fortunately, we were out on errands for a large chunk of the day. The time I was home was spent primarily in the basement where I was breaking down old card-board boxes so I could move some of the old children's stuff to rest along a wall. It's time we removed a load of our belongings so that the kids can take possession of the finished basement. Then, we can retake the living room and affect repairs to the food-splattered walls.

Earlier in the day, we had the swim lessons to attend where the Mrs would stand by and watch the kids while I would put the uber-expensive gasoline in the SuperSaturn. Yes, we are taking my vehicle now instead of the Family Tank. It saves us a gallon or two of gas and we don't buy as much 'stuff' since the storage space is limited. When we got to the club though, we noticed that there was an open-admission policy since they were having a St Judes Fundraiser at the time. It really did not make much of an impression on me since we are in an area of the gym where very little activity takes place. While I was off, the Mrs wandered about a bit and found that there was a 'Moon Bounce' inflated in one of the basketball gyms. Well, we certainly could not pass this up. The kids ran about the gym, kicking balls, flinging hand balls and doing their best to keep the moon bounce occupied for a good hour. The Mrs and I held out a glimmer of hope that the kids would tire themselves out and ask to have a nap. But alas, there was no nap to be requested. Even later in the day, around 1500 hours, the alarm inspection/repair technician from Zechman Alarm Systems stopped by to do the annual 'kick the wheels' thing to make sure every thing was in order. He normally would be out at his children's soccer games but since the field was quickly becoming flooded, he opted to get some things done ahead of schedule. My little Twin Tyrants must have sensed that he was of sufficiently 'Daddy' material since they took an immediate shine to him. I'll have to kidnap him and learn his secrets.

Sunday was a bit of a downer. I had big plans to get the basement polished off and to do a bit of cleaning to boot. It was much to wet outside to muck around with the wood. It's all wet now so it does not matter all that much as to when I bring it up to the staging platform. So, I've convinced the Mrs that it would be a great idea (TM) if she came with me to church and helped me look after both the kids. The were fighting on Saturday over who got to come with me to Mass. Far be it from me to deny either of them but I would not be able to handle them should things get out of hand. Right around the time that I was about to set out on my hallowed sojourn, the cell phone rang. It was my primary contact at the client site. They have a problem. Someone decided to launch an online store that I had done some work for. On Saturday. They need me to come in and deploy my untested software. Now. Needless to say, I was a bit miffed. It takes me a good hour to drive to work for which I receive no compensation. This, on top of gasoline and Turnpike tolls. That's two hours and 9$ cost to me. So, I'm off to do some marginal work with the family in tow. We'll an hour or two pushing some untested code (it works, it just has not been blessed) and minimal data (they have not produced the input file that I need for a week now, have to use old data) into production for which I'll probably get chewed out for not acting too fast or being too late. Alas, there is no happy middle ground to retreat to. This is the thing that makes my job interesting.

After spending WAY too much time at the King of Prussia Mall (waaayyyy to much time AND money), we headed back to the Manor. Along the way, Alexis started to show signs of her trade-mark car sickness so I made a plan to stop just short of our destination so she could get a bit of fresh air before completing our journey. So I dropped in at one of the local parks and was really quite surprised at how nice it was. I pass this particular play-ground in Masons Mill Park every day but never actually got a good look at it. After a goodly hour, we tear the kids away to get our rear ends back home. Unknown to us, Thor has already determined that we were never coming back again and crapped a mountain on the floor. Good dog, just make sure that we are indeed not returning so I wont have to drag you outside to chew you out for fear of you pissing on the floor to boot. Katie is smart, she knows better. Better dog, except she feels the primal urge to put her cold nose on the back of your knee every time she can. Better than cleaning up several metric tons of semi-digested dog food I suppose. Of course, with all the rain we have been getting there was a good chance that if I did let the dogs out back, they could have been washed away.

Finally, this morning was a good case to take a 'do-over'. Got up late, feel cranky. Lots of trees and wires down. Flood damage in low-lying areas. Traffic is bad, accidents everywhere they are the most inconvenient. Calgon, take me away!

Friday, October 07, 2005


Lighter side.

A co-worker of mine pointed this out. Kids today, what are they learing? I guess this is better than sitting in front of the tube or experimenting with controlled substances.


Daddy Dearest ... you deserve so much worse...

This man ... animal ... I just do not understand. Is it the spoiled lifestyle we lead these days?Murdering bastard, let him rot.


Deadly high heating gas bills

It's not looking good for people who have had their gas shut off this summer due to unpaid bills from last winter. PGW is not allowed to disconnect service during the winter months for the elderly or families with small children.But once that service is shut off, it does not have to be turned back on until the bills are paid. That bodes ill for many on fixed incomes who just let the bills ride through the summer. Even if they do manage to get the service back on, it will certainly be shut off the following spring. Then their debt will most likely be insurmountable:It's going to be a long, cold, harsh winter. No matter what the temperature. If you have elderly friends and family in the area, I would recommend pooling resources and inviting them to stay with you for the colder months. A few months of heat is cheaper than a funeral.Let's hope that the environmental groups feel the bite of the winter before they try to strike this project down. Sometimes the alleviation of human suffering trumps the requirements for the banded stalk marsh reed.



I went to the monthly Young Republicans meeting last night. Karma. I had a few drinks and today I feel a bit ... under the weather. Stupid scotch. It was actually kind of fun, to be honest. We got to meet some of the local candidates for a few of the bigger townships in the area. More importantly, I was able to talk shop with Alex, Satish, Jim V and other notable members. Apparently we have a lot more in common than just political ideology. Nice change of pace. I stayed there till about 2230 and then high-tailed it on home. Stopped off to pick up some milk and found a couple of pumpkins for the kids. Other than that, I've been leading the boring life. Well, except for work but I'm going to save that story for later as I am just too bleh to really get into the situation today. Stupid scotch.

Oh, and the traffic was awful this morning. Stalled busses, flashing LED signs with dumb messages that ppl stop to look at, fender benders with ppl refusing to move over to the shoulder. We had it all this morning. It's now raining so it'll be awful on the way home too. Finally, if I hear one more lousy point of view on the Supreme court nomination I'm going to explode. Talk about 'topic burnout'. I need this weekend, badly.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Magic Bullet

Well hello there!I'm waiting for the eventual complaint that it was unethical to let those 21 people get cancer.Genetically engineered anti-virus vaccine that prevents cancer (mostly). Dr Jonas Salk would be doing a jig right now.



On the upside, things getting better at work. Mostly. Code is being deployed to production and data seems to be making it's way into the destination tables ... correctly. I just have to keep my eye on the feeds. Like any little varmint, the minute you take your eyes off it, they get into all kinds of trouble. Need to enforce boundaries and all, don't-cha-know.

It's starting to get really cold here ... in the office that is. I'm not sure when they are going to shut off the AC here, but you would think that once you start to get blue lips and your coffee starts to freeze over that you would consider easing off a bit. Green office my ass. They must be really chewing up the mega-watt hours here. At this rate, I'm going to have to start wearing a Mr Rogers cardigan around the office.

In other news, I brought a few more loads of wood up to the staging area. It's slow going though. Trying to keep an eye on the kids and haul all this 'potential BTU material' up to the manor is keeping my from finishing in a reasonable time frame. The kids seem to be interested in what I'm doing, but they are playing in their bare feet so the minute they crawl out of the sand-pit they are in danger of opening their feet on a sharp rock or tripping over one of the Belgian blocks I have strewn about the Agricultural Sector. I also hear that it's going to rain on Friday so I'll need to throw a tarp over what is stacked now so it stays bone dry. Burns better, cleaner, etc. I suppose I'll have to start doing this after the kids go to bed. I just don't have the kind of energy I need to pull myself off the floor after 2100 though. Working in the dark ... well, sucks. Speaking of sucking, I've been desperately trying to find a VW Passat/Jetta Wagon TDI Diesel 1.8liter Tiptronic automatic with very little luck. I've heard various stories (None for this year, no used ones available, would you like a sedan instead?) and have pretty much come to the conclusion that they are now as rare as an iceberg in Texas. We may just have to settle on a sedan if I want a diesel. Nutz.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005



Work is ... unbearable ... today. It's mostly minor annoyances. Little cuts. But when you time is frittered away on nickel-and-dime interrupt driven activities, its a like a death of a thousand cuts. With salt ... and hot-wing sauce. I'm feeling drained from trying to explain things to people who are not interested in understanding things ... they just want what they want and don't have any time to explain it. Synergy is the key here. I need to understand what you define these terms as or we are not going to come to a consensus! ARGH! I guess it helps if you insist that people examine the end-product that you produced for them so many weeks ago rather than waiting for them to get back to you at the 11th hour. It's never a good thing when you get a call from a panicked 'analyst' or 'business manager'. It comes in 2 varieties: pleading or assailing. Neither is preferable, but I would rather not be assaulted. Whine-whine-whine. Just a few more months and I can (fingers crossed) put this all behind me.

Oh, I brought up a couple of loads of wood to the staging patio last night. The kids kept me from doing much more, but that's ok. We expect temps to get into the high 80's next week. Not much need for the wood stove with that heat. I'm also putting up the kids names on the Twin Towers. Right above the swings they prefer. One letter at a time. The letters are about 6 inches high of carved wood. I shalacked them with a load of polyurethane so the should look nice after I finish. I'm working on the pictures ... HONEST!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Easy as pie

Because week-days are my 'Vacation', I have very little to write about at the moment. Well ... there was the delight of what happened at dinner last night. Apparently Alexis was none too thrilled about having fish-sticks for dinner. I cannot blame her either. Initially, they were pretty tasty and the kids would eat them with great gusto. Then they discovered breaded pseudo-chicken soylent green nuggets and the whole pressure-formed fish emulsion molds became a food-stuff of scorn. So there she is, doing her best to choke down the last 2 pieces and ... BLARGH!!!! Up they come along with the rest of the dinner. A veritable tidal-wave of semi-digested chicken, fish, green-beans and curdled milk pureed with a generous helping of digestive fluids and bile. It was in her hair, down her shirt, pants, chair ... EVERYWHERE! Sooo, I carried her upstairs, still in the booster seat and we plopped her into a warm bath. The Mrs put her through the rinse, scrub, rinse and spin-dry cycle while I went about gathering up the aromatically soiled clothing for an emergency wash cycle. After the newly fabricated cleansing activities were completed, I prepared a bowl of little-smokies and she gobbled down a couple before settling back into a tv-induced haze. Later on in the evening, she snuggles with me in the semi-temporary master bed while Jacob gets his come-uppance (bath) and that calms her even further so that she goes down with no argument or disruption. She is a joy the following morning. Perhaps this is the key. Early bath, quiet time, then bed. I'll have to try to reproduce this. Given the chaos, many things I want to do were left undone: bring up fire wood, break down cardboard boxes, pull up plants, trim vines, etc. Tomorrow, I suppose.


Spain Immigrants Get Through Border Fence

God forbid this ever happen at the US border ...Can you just imagine the outrage from the ACLU if this would have happened in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona or California? And here we are saying that Europe is such a civilized and compassionate model to follow.

Monday, October 03, 2005


Older Women More Likely To Have Twins

Saw this over at Vilmar's blog. It's probably something that has been on the mind of the Mrs and I in anticipation of adding to the Haupertonian Horde ... perhaps adoption is in the works? What about triplets ... quints?I'm tired just thinking about it. BTW: Brandy, if you're reading this ... what do you think about this little nugget of data?


Weekend: sucking sound of profound exhaustion

Whew, long weekend. Well, not longer than 48 hours, but I'm pooped none the less. The Grandparents came down for a quick visit with the kids and found that the little tyrants wanted 101% of their time. No such thing as a quick shower with them bursting in every 5 minutes. Bath & Bed time was the best, of course. Not sure who got more water on them, but I can attest that of the 100 gallons in the tub, not a trickle remained! Saturday was the standard rush-job to get breakfast made, consumed and run the kids off to swim lessons. The up-side was that I could leave the club and put gas in the car (and 2 5gallon tanks) while the kids were swimming since Super Grandma was along. She stayed and stood look-out while I was off looking for the fabled 'cheap gas' in gassiteria row. While we were off doing that, the Mrs and Gramps went off shopping. Her little 'Me' time with a male porter. Just like old times except Gramps would never tell her 'No, we don't need that.' Nirvana.

Once we all rendezvoused back at the manor, the kids were left in the capable hands of the spoiling grandparents while the Mrs and I ran the hounds off to this new kennel near-by that just opened up. Apparently they do kenneling, grooming and they have an variety of services available including an attached vet clinic. It was all there ... for a price. Just getting the dogs washed, dried and pressed cost us 80$. Worse yet, they still stunk a bit afterwards. I suppose it was worth it though. Since I'm the only one that has the pleasure of climbing the ladder to scrub the dog's backs, I appreciated not having dog hair in places I did not know I had and being soaked to the bone. We had to leave them there for a few hours so we took that time to lug some junk out of the basement and leave it at the donation center drop-off. Aquarium stuff mostly. I had so much of that when I had so much time to devote to it. Now, just 2 little 20Gal tanks will do ... for the kids of course.

Sunday was a lead-in to my final collapse. We did the church thing at 0800 and that left the whole day open for all kinds of potential trouble including; pulling the rest of the compost out of the heap, pulling up carrots, peppers, picking tomatoes, potting the lemon grass, cleaning and setting up the wood brackets in the house, setting up the stove-fans, bring up some wood to the house (get it started) and replacing a couple of switches and an electric outlet for good measure. In the end, I could not make it through the final hours of the day so there were a few things left unfinished. It's going to be a bugger of a day once Monday is over. So much to catch-up on, so few spoons. Damn MS keeping me down, don't ya know. At least the kids had a great weekend and that is what mattered to me the most.

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