Wednesday, November 30, 2005
For a Wednesday, it sure was a slice of fun jam packed with activity. The kids had missed their usual swim lesson last Saturday. Something about being 300 miles away or something. We went to the make-up session held at 1800 on Wednesday evenings. Trying to pound my way through traffic during rush-hour triples the time it takes to get to the club. It's sad when even the suburban roads are packed curb-to-curb with rage induced screeches. Everyone is looking for that secluded residential road that they can go full tilt on. Micro-Autobahn ... except for us residents who have to live in fear of someone blasting through our yard when they loose control. This happened once a few years back. Woman lost control and slammed into one of the pine trees I cut down after mowing down two large bushes, the chain link fence and a 30 foot evergreen juniper.
We manage to make it to the swim club in spite of the post-apocalyptic nuclear nightmare that fronts as Pennsyltucky traffic management. I rip the clothing off the kids and wrap them in their swim-suits and flotation vests in record time. They are excited to be at the pool, and who can blame them. There are two monster pools, indoors, heated to bath-water temperature. They jump right in and start harassing the elderly who use the facilities to conduct their simulated exercise regimen. It's only 1740 so they get a good 20 minutes of taunting in. 'Look at me, I'm only 3 and I'm swimming around you like a dolphin about a foundered oil tanker'. So the lessons are about 30 minutes. Over the next 50 minutes, the kids insist that they need to go pee. Jacob three times, Alexis only once. Yes, they are wearing swim diapers too. It must be the warm water. In spite of getting in and out of the pool (BTW: Trying to get wet float vests, swim trunks and swim diapers off and on is a trying endeavor) they had a good time and did quite well. Jake is starting to learn how to do the back stroke like a champ. Future Merman/Aquaman in training. Or a SEAL.
Afterwards, it was late so we went to the Japanese Hibachi restaurant up the street and prayed that the kids would be somewhat manageable. For some odd reason, they were about as well behaved as ever. It must have been the ravenous hunger that clouded their usually violent and hostile minds. That or the fact that Jake once again had to go to the bathroom twice. I swear he extracts water directly from the air into his bladder since he always produces SOMETHING when on the toilet. The meal was great. It turns out that the kids have a leaning towards Edamame (Salted soy beans in the pod) and really enjoy Udon noodles. The Mrs had some fried soft tofu and pot-stickers. I, being the sushi pig that I am, ordered marinated beef Negimaki rolls, Seaweed Salad, Miso Soup, One Green Tea Martini, ate the 3 other miso soup, the 3 other house salads with ginger dressing and the Love Boat Sushi Feast ... Deluxe. I would make a snorting piggy noise but I am afraid that some air might find it's way to my stomach and I would certainly explode. It was not too crowded so I did not feel too bad about the occasional outbursts from the twins. Additionally, after racking up a $130 bill, the owner was quite thrilled with the kids. He came over and talked to us for a bit ... the kids charmed the pants off him. I guess the in spite of not having a paying job, the kids do pull their weight in other way. PR Representatives for the Haupertonain Empire.
Technorati Tags: Family | Japanese Food
Technorati Tags: Gas | Winter
Everything was going well for a change. More or less till this morning. Last night, the kids went to sleep without much fuss and got up in a good mood. The fire still had some wood and embers in it this morning so I stoked it a bit to keep the heat going. Since PECO is going to raise rates 29% for natural gas, it's in my best interest to keep every little BTU I can find. It was raining since 1500 so the commute was a bit of a bugger. Not as bad as it could have been though. I even managed to drop by the local Parochial school and drop off the Encyclopedia Britannica set that I brought home from the FOB. Things got done in spite of the miserable weather. Later on in the evening it started to rain like a cow pissing on a flat rock. It was good to be inside, warm and dry.
That is the tail end of the 'easy living'. The commute this morning was straight out of Voltaire's idea of hell. I think there should be an extra ring in hell outside the ante-hell where people are stuck in traffic forever inching forward to detour signs. It was horrible. Some kind of magnetic disturbance caused all sorts of accidents this morning and the worst of it had to do with the Turnpike. First off, a semi truck had overturned at the Norristown/Mid-County interchange where all the construction and Jersey barriers are in the East-Bound lanes. This caused the turnpike to be closed ... CLOSED ... from Mid-County all the way out to KOP. That should have sucked for East-bound traffic but it had repercussions for the West-bound (my direction) as well. A looky-lou gawker rear-ended someone else going west and an ambulance had to be called: strike one. Then, an accident on the NE extension just north of the Mid-county interchange caused a back-up onto the west-bound lanes: strike two. Finally, because the east-bound turnpike was closed, all vehicles were routed off at KOP and down 76 so they could go back up 476 (Blue Route/NE Extension) to get back on the turnpike. This effectively paralyzed the tolls at KOP since there are only 3 EZPass lanes that are really useful. There are two others in the furthest left lanes but since I need to make a right offramp about 10 inches from the tolls, they are not an option. Especially when there are semi-trucks doing a conga line as far as the eye can see. Needless to say, the traffic soon became a visceral mire of anger, treachery and automatic gunfire. Well, at least in my head. The moronic perpetual state of construction on the turnpike is the single-most source of my angst ... ever see 'Falling Down'? Yeah, it could happen.
Technorati Tags: Family | Traffic | Rant
UPDATE:This is frustrating.
Technorati Tags: Environment | Politics
Christmas Letter 2005 Edition
Dearest Friends, Family and Mortal Enemies;
Yet another year flows away like water between the banks of time, taking with it the memories and experiences of the Family Haupert. Waxing poetic, not my style but I come up with a gem every once in a while and just HAVE to use it. It's like having that dollar in your pocket when you are walking past the Home Depot Hot-dog stand ... it just leaps out and says 'BUY THAT! It tastes goooood.' But I digress. This year has been somewhat mundane at an initial glance but when I go back and review my Web Log entries, I find a veritable treasure trove of ... mundanity. Little things were completed or started. Like the garden.
The kids got into the whole peas, beans, cucumbers and such this year. They LOVE eating raw sugar-snap peas. Well, they mostly like opening the pods and lining up the peas in the 'life-boats'. We play 'Titanic' and they are the Ice Bergs that gobble up all the survivors. Pretty dark, but at least they are eating their vegetables. All in all, the garden did well. The carrots did horribly again in spite of Mom's best efforts. I'm guessing that a combination of mutant killer vampire rabbits chewing off the greens and the concrete-hard baked-clay soil have something to do with that. The tomatoes, green beans and peas made up for it though. Non-stop bumper production. Must be the mountains of compost I've been tilling into the garden over the years is finally starting to garner some returns.
Other outdoor activities include the completion of the kids playset. Oh, yeah, it took a year and about 20 tons of sand ... hundreds of retaining wall blocks and having to replace the cable television after I severed it ... twice. Sure, you can live without food for a month ... water for a week, but cable TV (Disney) and broadband internet? Seconds. At most. Purely a sanity issue for the 'authority figures' in the household. Don't even ask what we do when there is a power outage. Mass chaos, anarchy, collapse of society, fries with mayonnaise and such. Thank goodness I have that back-up power supply. We've lost power twice this year for a reason that is beyond my control to fix other than sitting on the local power company and insisting they fix the same problem every time. It's gotten to a point where I can show them where to dig and how deep. Of course, after cutting my own TV and phone lines, I really should not be throwing rocks. Glass house, don't you know. Speaking of rocks and stones and sticks (may break my bones?), Uber-Dad has spent a bit of time helping me cut down the dying white pines along the back property line. I'm a big fan of evergreens, but these seemed to be in a constant state of shedding needles. The pollen, the needles, the loss of 15 feet of yard became too much of a con for me and we cut them all down. Mostly. The chainsaw finally gave up the ghost on the last tree. The poor little 46cc bugger was just not meant to be lopping up 60 foot monstrosities. In place of the trees, I'm planting bamboo to act as a sound barrier and a visibility screen. Less mess, less fuss.
The job front is stable for the Mrs and I. I've been working at the same client for two years now and will be wrapping up at the end of this year. New work is set up for me at the home office of my consulting company so I have no great concerns. After working somewhere for 8 or so years, you become an institution rather than an employee. The Mrs is doing exceedingly well at her company. They have had a few shake-ups and some other issues that you may have heard of in the news. Every time though, she ends up either getting promoted or assigned new responsibilities. Now she works out of 3 different locations and seems to have her position upgraded to 'Corporate Goddess of the Internal Computer Software Stuff'. I believe that is the official title ... that or Level 0.1.2, but I might be wrong.
Inside the Manor, we have been working on getting the last two rooms finished up. The master bed room and the smaller room which will be Jacob's new room. It should not take long, I just need to get motivated to get it done. Then we can move back into our Master Suite and get a new bed. The old waterbed finally shuffled off it's mortal coil and will not be returning. Nope, time for a new bed ... something that does not require a heating pad and constant vigilance. After the rooms are finished, I've just the bathrooms to remodel on the top floor and that should complete my efforts on beautification in that wing of the Manor. Of course, there is always the idea that I want to add solar panels to the house, but that is still a distant dream right now. I'm more than content with the wood burning stove that Dad and I installed. It has a fairly small box, but I've managed to burn 5 years worth of wood in it over a 3 year period. Now I'm going to need to order a new truck-load of logs (of which I'll need to borrow Dad's chain saw ... that we wrecked) and restock the wood-pile. It's worth it ... wood heats twice you know. Once when you burn it, once when you chop it.
Speaking of chopping wood, the kids have formed a fairly interesting perspective on my work efforts. Whenever I'm out chopping wood, My Most Lovely and Intelligent Wife tells them that I'm working. So now, whenever they hear that I'm at work or working, they assume I'm chopping wood. I can only imagine what they will tell their classmates about my endeavors. 'My dad is a fireman. My dad is doctor. Yeah, well, my dad chops wood! Ooooohhhhhh...' Oh well, it keeps the house warm for a miserly amount of cash. While we are on cash, we got a HUGE bonus this year. The kids were successfully potty trained and now we no longer need to keep a home equity loan to buy diapers. Our basement storage area was a mountain of the damn things whenever we could cobble enough coupons together to get the price down. We are just going to spend the money we save on braces anyways so I suppose I should stop counting my chicks before they hatch. Oh, and the counting. Both the kids are learning to count in English, Chinese (along with me) and German. They are not so good with the German and picked up Spanish somewhere. In addition to counting, they are doing well with addition. I'm so durned proud of them (as a daddy should be) and cannot wait to start subtraction. The Alphabet and Arts thing is in the bag as well. When your child corrects you when you mislabel a octagon as a circle, you know you are going to have issues with helping them on their homework.
We have spent quite a bit of time with the Grandparents this year. A birthday here, and vacation there. All the holidays and a few other major events ... like Boxing day and Lithuanian Summer solstice. All in all, the kids have managed to completely worm their way into the hearts of their intended targets. Every time they are clutching at the legs or arms of either of the adoring progenitors, I ask them "Who is your favorite? Daddy and Mommy or Grams and Gramps?" Of course, the answer is rhetorical and they feel no remorse about answering the question with their fickle hearts. Here is the catch though: The favorite is invited to the bathroom to perform audit functions. In the end, there is a price to be paid when you are the favorite. Indeed, I do not know what I would do without the sage wisdom and the boundless compassion of Mom & Dad V 1.0.
Here is to the hope that all your yearly activities have been as entertaining, exhausting and fruitful as mine. Oh, that reminds me, I won't be sending any more fruit cakes so stop sending all the hate-mail. ;)
Love, Hope and Gardening;
The Haupert Clan
Technorati Tags: Family | Christmas
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
- A deep-seated blaze destroyed Elkins Park Fire Chief Bill Obrecht Sr.'s home Saturday - and apparently killed his family's three cats - despite a four-hour battle waged by firefighters.
No people were in the house when the fire started, said Tim Schuck of the Cheltenham Township Fire Marshal's Office, and no one was injured.
Flames burned inside the walls and basement until smoke began spewing from the house and a neighbor called 911 about 2 p.m., Schuck said. Firefighters could not get inside because the first floor had partially collapsed, he said.
Schuck said investigators planned to get inside the house today to seek the cause of the blaze. The cats were not found, he said. Obrecht, who has been fighting fires for more than four decades, could not be reached for comment.
Technorati Tags: Cats | Dark Humor
- Suburban residents who heat with natural gas will pay $50 to $100 more each month this winter because of increases in the cost of Peco Energy's gas supply, the company announced today.
Peco, which provides gas service to about 470,000 households, businesses and institutions in Philadelphia's Pennsylvania suburbs, said it would increase the commodity price that it passes along to customers by 27 percent on Thursday, from $1.30 per ccf (100 cubic feet) to $1.65.
Peco spokesman Michael Wood [ed. ironic, his name is wood] said a typical rowhouse customer who uses 100 ccf each month will face an increase of about $50 per month in the six-month heating season, compared with last year.
The monthly price would rise about $100 for a customer in a 2,400-square-foot single-family home, Wood said.
Technorati Tags: Gas
After the last week, I had a fairly mundane evening. There are TONS of things I need to around the manor ... inside and out. Most importantly, I need to clean up all those damn pine tree 'scraps' littering the back-50. That, and I need to get my rear in gear and sand those floors. And put the poly on the boards ... and ... and ... aw crap. I need to get the Christmas letter started. Sorry folks, I've got to cut this short and get my rear-guard action moving. More later.
Technorati Tags: Family
Monday, November 28, 2005
The last three days were eventful and were recorded in detail. I'll now attempt to put pen to paper (finger to keyboard?) to accurately tell the tales of the Haupertonian escapades.
It's Saturday morning. The house is silent but for the rattling of bone bare branches on the slumbering trees outside and the cold winter winds wind their way across the land. From this sterile quiet, a wail rolls out and crushes my slumber like an over-ripe melon. Jake is up at 0200 and he is not a happy camper. I initially go in and try to comfort him, but to no avail. The Mrs steps up and lays down next to him with immediately gratifying results. Of course, once she is under the covers with him, there is no escape. My wife is being stolen away from me by a guy with no job, no money and who is absurdly needy. I think I took the wrong approach here. Of course, he is preternaturally cute. I guess that is his trump. Later on, after we have all woken up and shaken the sleep that clings to us like white dog-hair on a black dress, we get things going. Since we got a good 2 inches or so of additional snow, we bundle up the kids and tromp out into the tundra wonderland. It looks so perfect when the snow has just fallen ... perfect to pillage and plunder of course. After a bit of playing with the new toboggan that Amish Dad/Super Gramps bought, we head off to get a Christmas tree.
Yep, a real tree. Gonna hack it off at the bottom and throw lights and ornaments on it and put a star on top. A nice, compact blue spruce and we know just were to get it. Many lifetimes ago, I worked for a man named Mark Haag. He owned some properties and I was one of his legions of manual laborers. He took a liking to me mostly because I had an iota of morals and could be trusted with his truck and a wad of cash. In any event, he had passed on many years ago. His children have since taken on his business and still sell trees from his rather large plot of land. You can take any tree from 1 foot to 40 feet for a mere 25$. You cut it and haul it. They call the place 'SouthWind'. So we went up there with the FamlyTank and the MillionMilePickup to go tree hunting with the Tyrannical Twins. It's about two miles away so it's a fairly short commute. Damn near neighbors in this neck of the woods. As it turns out, that old white dodge ram I used to drive about was parked out by the barn. Brought back TONS of memories of summers spent waist deep in trenches dug for gas lines. The memories float through my mind like the snow falling about me as the family and I tromp through the field looking for that tree. It was a much deeper event for me than for most, but the kids got a real kick out of picking a tree and having dad drag it back to the MillionMilePickup on their toboggan.
Its still snowing when we pack up and head off to Rochester. We are invited to attend a birthday party (1st) for the twins of our family friends: Lucy and Digger. Lucy was my 'Little Sister' in college and is Jacobs GodMother. Sean was my Best Man. We go back just a bit. Before they were blessed with double trouble, they would drive all the way down to Philly to visit us. Just a 6 hour trip mind you. I cannot complain about driving a couple hours up their way since we are coming from Ithaca. They now live in the ass end of Rochester. A rural bedroom community called Hilton. Not much there but the lake, some orchards and farms and ... well, houses. Lots of space. To get there, we drive through Rochester and see a few sites that also bring back a flood of memories. Interstate 490 pierced the heart of Rochester. As as with any larger city, the roads are perpetually under construction. This one is a labyrinth of construction barrels, traffic cones, Jersey barriers, signs and potholes. Yeah, new road pitted with holes like General Noriega's rear end. On the less violent parts, I got a quick glimpse of an Old Gothic building that I quickly identified as Nick Tahoe's. Famous for their Garbage Plate dishes. On the North side just a few miles away, the towering building of Kodak's HQ rises from a mammoth complex that would make any big-wig Hollywood director blush at the post-industrial decay atmosphere invoked by the site. Like some giant artificial intelligence that is struggling to stay alive by patching and adding on new pipes, gears and pulleys daily. Add the unnerving cold and you have one of the most environmentally hostile cities this side of Detroit. God how I love that place.
At the party, we had a pretty good time. One of the family friends looked like Santa and that really got Jake and Alexis going good. We left six hours later and made fairly good time. Only 2.25 hours and managed to hit every green light on our way through Ithaca. Rare occurrence. Only thing of note on the trip back was a jogger, dressed in black, going down a road we call Stone Quarry Road. You nearly have to turn sideways if you meet someone driving down the road and it is carved into the side of a rather steep hill. It's nearly 2300 hours and this fruitcake is looking to get killed. I only mention it because I did not recognize that there was a guy on the road (there is NO shoulder) after I passed him. He was going down, I was going up and he only appeared after a car came bolting down the hill and back-lit him. He should really know better. Back at the FOB, I told the family about this after the kids crawled into bed and BigLittle Brother told me of a similar inbreeding problem where he lives. How some guy nearly got his car roof torn off by a chain while they were trying to get a van out of the ditch. People amaze me. Amaze me that they survive to reproduce.
It's Sunday. Right around 0600 and Jake is doing a rendition of 'Mooooommmyyyy ... Daddddyyyyy ... Heellllp Meeee'. Nothing dire, he just wants someone to rub his itchy skin and snuggle with him for a bit. The Mrs is more than happy to oblige. Since those two 'peas in a pod' are content, Alexis and I head off to church with the Grandparents to get some churchin' in. Maximum exposure for Alexis, get them all to herself. She acts like a darling and is all giggles throughout the service. Much more entertaining than the Deacon with the Homily. Later on in the day, Gramps goes out with the kids to build a snowman. He is dubbed Frosty and requires facial features. Yes, Dr FraaankenStEEEN requires some optical units made of igneous rock and a olfactory sensing organ fabricated in the shape of a carrot! Of course, Gram's has the carrot. On the way back from the organ retrieval point, Alexis is accosted by Katie who also desires said carrot and proceeds to bite the end off. Now Alexis feels slighted and takes out her wrath on the sulking hound by leveling an ego-crushing cavalcade of proclamations including 'Bad Katie' and 'Gehen Aus, Eine Sehr schlecht Hund!'. Katie was immediately outted and beaten down faster than you can say 'Plame is a CIA agent.'. Frosty was nonplussed.
Last activity in the FOB was dinner and then a bit of tree decorating. The kids did a fine job at that and never returned to the tree to 're-invent' it. Those blue spruce needles are like little steel knives. You just don't mess with 'em. In fact, you are inclined to leave the damn ornaments on the tree till all the needles fall off it's so prickly. Didn't seem to bother the kids though. Steel meets nuclear powered ferocity I suppose. The drive back to the Haupertonian Manor was tedious. Lots of cops, accidents, lane closures and excessive volume. We left at 1515 and took a whole 6.5 hours to get back. Friggen record for longest time ever. One upside was that we got 22 gallons of regular gasoline for $2.03USD. Did I mention that I LOOOOVE the Flying J? Shop there, often if you can. And as a closing note, Jake woke up at 0300 this morning and insisted on having a larger bed to sleep in. Spoiled, he is. I can understand though. He needed a carbon based heating unit since the Manor was around 48 degrees when we got home and did not warm up much after lighting a fire. I suppose I should get cracking on getting his room finished so we can get him a larger bed. My little man, growing up so quickly.
Technorati Tags: Family | Traffic
Friday, November 25, 2005
Technorati Tags: Bush | Politics | Rant
Black Friday My Butt
Well, the Mrs fled the FOB to do some shopping this morning. Myself, I would rather try to gouge my own eyes out with my elbows. No, I'll leave that nonsense to the unending seas of ebbing humanity which will be over-running the local retail outlets. These people are turning Thanksgiving from a holiday of home, hearth and reflection into another dollar based gorge-fest. Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, President's day .. what's next? Never mind, don't answer that. I know I should just accept that the holidays of my youth are lost, but it's hard to see them die like this. In any event, once the brave souls returned from the front lines of free enterprise we found ourselves with a toboggon. Nothing to do but put it through a few test runs out in the snow.
Checked online and noticed that even though gasoline prices are going up in general, the price at the Flying J is down to 2.04$/gal. Must be a temporary upsurge because of the massive holiday travel up-tic. No problem. I've finally come to terms with the existing prices and the Mrs has agreed that we will probably not find ourselves a nice little TDI VW as her primary car. Now, of all things, we are looking at the Ford Escape Hybrid. It gets better mileage than my SuperSaturn and even better with city traffic. The 4wd gets about 2-3 mpg less than the automatic 2wd and costs about $2.5K more so we'll have to see what our budget will tolerate. I figure that we may be able to find a 2005 model at cut-rate prices if we really want to, but we may end up waiting a year before throwing yet another car loan on the pile. We'll have to see. It may end up that I will be driving this car if the SuperSaturn cannot survive another year or two.
Oh, I was checking the weather and it looks like we'll get a bit of snow this weekend for our trip up to Rochester to visit Sean and Lucy. As it goes, the winter weather is rather unpredictable other than saying 'cold and windy' for this region. Snow is always a possibility. The amount is always in contention though. I find no comfort in the predictions for 60% chance of flurries. The idea of a 'flurry' to a Southern Pennsyltucky resident is not the same as that of a grizzled veteran of the Great Lake shores.
Technorati Tags: Family | Car | Rant
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Nothing to be thankful for
Just to catch up, after Katie chased down that 12 point buck, we headed off to do a bit of commercial trolling and some plane-spotting. First, of course, we had to go to the airport so Jake could watch a couple of the regional prop-driven puddle-jumpers take off and land at the local graded flatlands they call an airport around here. Alexis, in all the excitement, fell asleep. Jake was more than thrilled to watch a couple of Cessnas however. Afterwards, we schlep through the regional mall and head off to KMart. Mmmm, KMart, where you go for those Chinese import if you feel too crunchy to go to Walmart. The item of greatest interest to the kids was the singing six point deer head. Motion activated no less. The Tyrannical Twins of Turpitude were mesmerized. It was singing country songs no less. The fact that it moved it's head, ears and mouth was of great interest to Jake. Fifteen minutes later, I shut off the device and convinced the kids and the legion of ... rural fans ... that the show was over and it was time to get going. I like country/western too but hearing 'Friends in Low Places' for the 3rd time was the breaking point for me.
It's Thanksgiving day and Jake bouncing about like a lemur on sugar coated crack. We have done pretty much nothing but sleep in, watch TV, eat and wait till noon to shower. The bird is cooking and the other goodies are on the stove. It's snowing out and the Blogosphere is relatively quiet. Seems as though the MSM/Politicians are not entirely interested in fabricating any nonsense today. After thinking a bit ... you know, having idea things rattling about in my head-brain thing ... I figured I would cave in and give thanks for a few blessings in my life:
So, what are you thankful for?
Technorati Tags: Family | Hope
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
mon,tue,wed ... every day a party
A few days have come and gone and I'm just starting to learn how to relax. Monday I was preoccupied with a few things. Up early, wrassle with the kids, wash the dogs. Normal stuff. Later on in the day, Gramps and I got down to the really difficult task. Washing the mastodons. Usually I get to do this myself and it can be a fairly trying ordeal. They don't get all that dirty, but the recent activities of chasing logs down into the gully where there is a raging rapids at the bottom left the hounds carrying more dirt and grime than fur. So we got out the pneumatic scrubber and went to town. Since it was so chilly out and the FOB uses water from a well, Gramps suggested we use the heated water instead. The hounds quivered with anticipation. I guess bathing in 40 degree water when it's just above freezing out would have been ... unappreciated. Gramps produced a stiff tine brush that the dogs could not get enough of. Hopefully, the dogs will stay clean for a few more days.
In the afternoon, the Mrs, Grams and the kids head off to do some shopping and to get Jake a haircut while Gramps and I rake up a few acres of leaves and put up the Christmas lights. That will leave me a bit sore. Not so much the lights as the strange concept of raking up leaves in a forest. The next day was a bit better in so much that we did NOTHING. Other than look at the snow flakes and sleeping in, it was utterly unproductive. Most excellent. Of course, my left leg numbness progressed up a bit to my thigh. It's more of an ice-water feeling than a numbness right now. Quite annoying. The staccato attacks recently are nearly predictable.
Wednesday, my transformation is complete. The Mrs and I have slept in well past 0700 and the kids targeted the grandparents for a morning wake-up instead of us. It's 20 degrees out now but the snow is just a dusting. Not enough to play in. Except for Katie. She spotted a deer in the yard this morning and thought it best to chase it off before taking care of her morning constitutional. Speaking of constitution ... Jake proclaimed that his ear is feeling much better now. Guess that antibiotic is doing it's job. Not much else for today (thankfully). I'll pop in if anything new happens.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Friday night was a bit busy. More so than the usual weekday evening. Since I had made appointment for Jake, I had to get back to the manor and surrounding territories. The typical traffic nightmare of Friday Night creates a particular dilemma for me. Leave too early and I'll be spending all night in the waiting room with an anxious toddler, too late and, well, I'll be late. The first a major discomfort, the second a major sin in my book. I leave at 1600 and find enough time was squeezed out of the universe so that I can prepare dinners, light the fire, and let the dogs out before clawing my way through to the day-care. I had the staff bring out Jake so that Alexis would not feel abandoned before hammering my way back down to the pediatrician's office. In a fit of sanity, I heated up a plate of pizza for Jake and fed it to him all the way there and for the few moments we had while waiting for our appointment. You see, we were actually 15 minutes early for something that we usually end up waiting 60-90 minutes for. Not a wise move, but it's in my nature to be either early or on time. So be it. At that precise moment, an alien scientist was experimenting with super strings formed at the heart of a singularity while trying to coordinate an inversion at the juncture of time and space. For some reason, we were ushered right into a room and were tended to immediately. The coincidence between these two occurrences was determined to not be a causal relationship. Perhaps though, they were more with Jacob's penchants towards deconstruction of waiting rooms. It is fortunate though. The entire time, he is greatly concerned about the absence of Alexis and their primary target, Mom. Oddly enough, the Mrs tells a similar story of how Alexis nearly had a melt-down on her trip home. She was exceedingly upset that the Mrs had abandoned her brother at day-care. In an interesting side story, the Day-care professionals went into a near panic when the Mrs showed up to bail out the kids and they could not find Jake. I guess he is a regular Houdini. Nothing like a little fiduciary invoked panic to keep things lively.
When Jacob was the willing recipient of prods and pokes by the healer, he was proclaimed to be on the road to a class A ear infection and my suspicions were confirmed. Had we not preempted this, we certainly would have spent a bit of time searching for a willing pharmacy to dispense antibiotics in the hinterlands of Ithaca. That is significantly more difficult than finding a willing vendor of various controlled substances, hallucinogens or test answers from Cornell graduate classes. Indeed, we would bring our own bacterial slaying solution. We got our script for ear drops and Cefzil and out the door we ran on our way to the pharmacy. This, of course, was about a mile on the other side of the daycare. We would be covering the same ground we just went over and then some! Back through the gauntlet and into the queue to wait for our prescription to be covered. Twenty minutes ... what the heck am I going to do with a bored and sick child in a Wallgreens pharmacy. Ah, head over to the toy aisle, of course. He was quite entertained by pointing out all the gifts that would be great for Moi-Moi and which ones would be perfect for himself. We grab a couple of Wiggles books and some junk food. We goof around in some of the aisles and do a little sword fight with a couple of the 'grabber' tools that you use if you cannot reach things. Much levity.
Back at the manor, it was still cold. Apparently the fire I lit did not do the job and the ambient temperature never cleared 60. Uff-dah! I crank up the fire and we get down to loading up the Family Tank for the morning commute to the FOB. Flash forward to the next morning and we are under-way at 0730. Jake is cranky and Alexis is subdued as she usually is on long trips. This time, we take 4.5 hours. Of course, it's mostly because I'm taking it easy on the velocity and we make a couple of stops along the way. The first stop is at the Allentown rest-stop where we get some breakfast for the kids and pick up a few pounds of organic grapes from the farmer's market. Alexis is quite enthralled taken with them and eats most of them. The second stop is at Gibson for the usual 1000 gallons of gasoline. Now at a low-low price of 2.05$/gal. Since we signed up for the discount program at the Flying J, we got a penny off too. Not too shabby, but I'll be happier when it gets back down to the .80$/gal it was back in 1995. Fat chance, eh? Once we make it to the FOB, the kids fall into their true form and begin their command performance of wreaking havoc at the grand-parents house. While they are busy with their activities, I spend some time with Gramps bringing up FireWood to the upper deck. Since we are going to be in house all week, we'll need to keep the place above freezing. We are in the Tundra zone now.
Speaking of tundra, Gramps and I endeavored to move that arctic circle down a few degrees latitude by chopping down a dead tree. The good old chain-saw was in the scrap-can so we had to improvise and use a dull hatchet to bring it down. It would have been faster if we had used a nail-file though. Then, the dull ache of an oncoming migraine showed it's ugly face and I spent the rest of the night in the doldrums.
Sunday, crack of dawn, migraine, church. 'Nuf said. Amish-Dad and I wandered about the turf and surveyed some beaver damage. We kept it low and slow on this day of rest ... just for a change of pace. One of the most exciting parts of the day was observing how much Jake and Alexis liked Grams' ham. They ate more than the usual whole shank that I did. Well, that is a feat worth mentioning. Also worth mentioning is that the pain in my hand has stopped expanding and may indeed have started to recede. This is most likely because I now have numbness, burning and the feeling of 'wet skin' that has started in my left food and is steadily progressing up my leg. Figured that this was coming down the pike. I guess the restful vacation came a day or so too late. Hopefully, the week-long holiday will shorten the length of time I get to enjoy the symptoms.
This past evening, the turnpike was a blast. Ok, first off, its pitch dark now during my commute back to the manor. Optimal driving conditions are a thing of the past. I'm used to that by now. The fun began when I tuned in the traffic report and to my surprise, there was an accident in the construction area at the MidCounty interchange. SHOCKING! Indeed, a tanker truck had once again overturned and was blocking some lanes and an exit. STUNNING. Even more important, it was a milk truck so they had to have call in the HazMat team. Much crying over spilt milk was done. I'm not too concerned though. It IS pizza night after all and the kids are typically malleable when it comes to a dinner of Italian Flat Pie ... with extra cheese. It should be an easy night. Yeah, time to call the Fates and put a quick end to that thought.
At the manor, with everyone huddled around the mile long glass dining table, I was going over the reams of mail we get every day. The PECO bill stated that we used less electric and NG than last year, and thus, a lower bill. Nice. Total sum of 112$ is tolerable. The other 'bill' was quite a bit more noxious. The water company had sent us a shutoff notice. I freaked at first. Apparently, since we have been living here for 10 years now, they were under the impression that we had never applied for service. Like we had not been paying bills on time every month since the dawn of man. CRIPES! The Mrs, being the rational and punctilious, noted that the meter number they provided was not the same as the meter number for the manor. In fact, it was the seasonal meter we had removed on October 13th. You know, the one they were supposed to remove on the 10th. Fine, but I still have to contact these boobs and make sure that they do not try to shut off the water service to the manor since the curbside meter for the sprinklers is missing. This is how they operate. Whatever is most inconvenient for the customer is the path of choice.
Perhaps due to the stress of work, traffic or home life, my right hand started to hurt. Right around the middle finger knuckle. No good reason though. It feels like a strain injury, but outside of clutching the steering wheel like it was the last doughnut on earth, I have not been doing anything of late that would cause injury. By the next day, the pain had spread to the tip of the middle finger and down to the center of the palm. This is definitely a friendly reminder from my MS buddy that I've overextended my spoon equity loans. I was hoping to get through the holiday season without having to deal with this. I loose. I'll have to back off a bit I suppose. Good thing I'm going on vacation for the next week.
Oh, just because I need a little more to chew on these days, Jake woke up at 0230 this morning and insisted that he be allowed to sleep in the 2 inches of space between the Mrs and I. That 2 inches became 2 feet rather quickly which left me perched precariously on the precipice of the bed. No restful sleep for me. On top of it, we get a call at 1015 this morning to tell us that Jake has a fever. Something is going around the DayCare/Interment center. Great, just in time for vacation. We'll probably have to take him in to the Pediatrician's to get a 'just in case' prescription for antibiotics. He WILL get an ear infection while we are not in the Philly area if we do not do this. ARGH.
UPDATE: Jake has an appt at the Pediatrician's for 1750 tonight ... looks like we may survive this week after all.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
The next time this happens, it's going to be a blizzard. I left the client site yesterday at about 1615 hours. They had been predicting that it was going to rain that evening for some time now and I had no doubt about the efficacy of their predictions. When I sauntered out the 'service entrance', I saw it. I giant black line of roiling clouds slowly consuming the sun and sky. Little drops of rain were being carried on the winds from the head of the storm and I knew it was going to be pouring buckets soon. I jumped in the SuperSaturn and raced away, determined to make it over the turnpike and to the manor before the whole damn sky opened up on me. It seemed as though everyone else on the Turnpike had the same actions planned. Get home ASAP before the place became a parkinglot. The minute a drop of water hits the asphalt, every car grinds to a complete halt. It's an engineered result, I tell you. I nervously watched the thunderheads descend and spread like a giant metastasizing cancer. It was hard to keep my attention on the road so I ended up with one foot on the brakes and one on the metastasizing. The Brown-Grey cloud would boil and grow right before my eyes. At one point, I managed to get ahead of it as it tacked North-East around the bluffs and hills of NE Philly, but I was doomed to loose the race. The wind was stripping the last of the leaves from the trees and sending them into whirling vortexes on the road. Just as one car or truck would blast them apart, they would reform in a second and obscure the vision for the driver behind. Within minutes, the sun winked out as if the forces of nature slid a giant slab over a sarcophagus. All the roadside lights started to flutter to life in a feeble attempt to extend the dying light of dusk.
When I got to my exit, the convolutions and backup cost me the critical seconds that I needed to get to the security of the manor before hot-rain started pelting me. Fortunately, the traffic on the local surface roads is awful no matter what the weather so I was not stuck in a blight of traffic all night. Not only did I need to let the hounds out, but we had planned to take the kids to a make-up swim lesson at 1800 hours. Since we are going to be gone from Saturday till the following week's Sunday, we were going to miss 2 lessons. We can manage that, but letting the dogs out in the rain is not a task to take lightly. You see, even though they are Labs, they are not happy about trying to go potty in the rain. I'm not happy about it either, it takes all damn night for them to get down to the task at hand. Much gnashing of teeth and wailing was to be heard. Dry them off, let them in, tell them to be good and leave a few snacks. With that 'behind' me, I run off to conduct an S&R mission for the Twin Tyrants and zip off to the Swim Club. Well, not exactly zip but plod or trek. Traffic was awful, congested and slow. The Mrs was already there by the time I made it and we hustled the kids in and got them changed as quickly as possible. As it turns out, Mrs Wilda was teaching the class and the kids ADORE her. Jacob now puts his head under water and will swim on his back if she asks him too. Their ability to swim is getting so much better, but we are still not going to toss them in the Delaware river to see if they can make it to the other side. No, just the knowledge that they won't panic when they find themselves in a bit of water is enough for me. For now. We'll talk to the bio-boys later about those genetic retro-virus gills that they have been crowing about.
After swim-time was over, the Mrs and Crew went over to Applebees for a dinner out while I took off to replenish the fuel supplies. Only 2.18/gal at Wawa on Gasseteria row is not too bad, but I'm still waiting for sub-two dollar gas on this side of the state line. Of course, I miss the days of 0.80$ ... but that is long gone. 25,000 gallons later an 30 minutes pass before I get to the punch-press eatery with fake ferns and mass produced memorabilia. The Mrs is just getting seated so I'm guessing she is exhausted from keeping the kids under control. Of course, the minute we sit down the kids want to go to the bathroom. She takes them in shifts while I detain the other. Before this, the Mrs lets the wait-person know that we are in the last minutes of the time window before the kids switch over to AutoDestruct personality and we place orders for them ASAP. Smart move. The Mrs is pretty sharp when it comes to sanity preservation. Later on, I order some tiny brown blob they called a steak and a 5 gallon beer. Hmmm, the beer substitute is kind of fruity, but cold. Later on, I order a vodka martini which I learn is actually ammonia with spritz of bile. It was horrid. Worst ever. And yes, I drank it anyways. I DO NOT have a problem. Hush. After we got the kids to eat a good portion of the dinner, we were off to the manor where I would quickly crash. Wednesdays are supposed to be dull dammit.
This morning was nice. Got up a bit late, but the Tiny Twin Tyrants of Turpitude were cooperative and did not try to rip our larynx' out. The sky was clear but the air was quite cold. This ensured that many of the other denizens of the turnpike would be getting a late start. You know, it's cold and dark so you roll over for another 15 minutes of sleep. That kind of thing. The temperature was supposed to get down to 40, but I heard that it was below freezing in outlying areas. Ahhh, the winter of freezing rain might be upon us soon than expected!
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Grind redux v3.17
Ahhh, sweet monotony. The traffic last night was unpleasant, but not so much so that I wanted to chew the accelerator pedal off. Sooo, leaving at 1615 and getting home at 1705 has become the standard. Of course, the sun immediately burns out at 1700 so I spend about 15 minutes hunting for dog plop in the dark. I should train the hounds to use the toilet. Well, except for Thor. He has to circle and spin around about 100 times before he will settle down and drive some spikes. Once in a while, he does not settle down and ends up dancing on his own mountain of remains. Nice. I wonder what goes through his mind at these times, but it is a fleeting concern. I'm sure he is thinking that as soon as he is done, he'll get a snack and will get to go play some more. Dog's life indeed!
Picked up kids, served them dinner, bath at 2100, lights out by 2130. Simple enough. I'm sawing wood at 2330 after finishing all the preparations for the next morning. Standard stuff, lunches, breakfast, clothing, weapons check, lock down the car-port, arm the security system, etc... Here is where things go south. Usually, the dogs wait till the but-crack of dawn to start making a fuss. Right around 0600. Not today. Some time around 0400 Katie starts to bark in her usual low, muted way that means either she has to pee or Thor is doing something he should not. Well, this is not good. I run down to the kennel to find her standing over Thor who had stolen her blankie out of her kennel. So, this is what all the fuss is about? At friggen 4am? Ok, fine. I throw the blanket back into the kennel, tell Thor to go sleep on his EXPENSIVE DOGGIE BED and lock Katie in her kennel so Thor can no longer steal her precious ragged, worn, chewed up and stained blankie. I crawl back up the grand stair case and back under the sheets for a couple more hours of dream-less and yet fitful sleep. At least my sinuses are starting to drain out a bit so falling asleep is a bit easier. When the alarm start bashing my consciousness at 0600, the dogs are at it again. I find that Thor drug his blankie out of his kennel this time. Not sure how he got it open to get it out though. I let them out to wreck the back-yard and set out their morning meal consisting of 25 tons of kibble. On auto-pilot, I get everyone out of the house, drop off the kids by 0700, get to work before 0800. Of course, I sit in the parking lot for a bit till someone shows up. Still did not have my stupid building pass. Well, I did not till I was in the office for a bit. I was schleping through the 100 or so 'emergency' emails I get on a daily basis when I overheard a couple of Ops people talking a few cubes over. Linux this, Solaris that, Backbone here, Router there, Oh, did you loose your key? That's when my ears perked up. I went over to talk to Jenny who I had known from a previous contract. I asked her about the key noting that I myself had lost one late last week. And there it was. So, no covert infiltrator, no consumption by the hounds, no sneaky act of sabotage by the Twin Tyrants. I just dropped it in the office. ARGH.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
I lost my damn key pass again. No, no I did not lose it. Someone STOLE IT! Some nefarious Commie Pinko Nazi Infiltrator from the Empire between the intersection of time and space found comfort within the Haupertonian empire and is wreaking havoc within the borders by sabotaging my schedule. SEDITION I say! I only have 22 more days here and my building access pass is AWOL. Argh. I'll have to send out the cybernetic nano-bots to sniff out this treacherous little spy and deal with him ... or her. Most likely, one of the kids grabbed it and stuffed it into the grandparents luggage. Devious little buggers. And no, of course I did not loose it. It's never my fault. Sheesh.
I dropped off the kids yesterday and it wasn't too bad. Something about them being in a near coma after a ingesting a belly full of carbs I'll wager. The Mrs arrived home in time last night to help pick them up. It was nice to have a slice of her time. Something about being at Jury duty all day made her want to be among the living as quickly as possible. She was selected to be on a jury early on so was not allowed to have access to her phone, pda or lap-top. Totally cut off. Going cold turkey like that could have killed her! I've been called a few times but never was selected. Good thing, I would have gone bonkers without a few good internet blogs or news-articles. My God, I would have to read a PAPER BOOK! Will the horrors never end? Since she was around, I fixed a few minor things about the Manor that the auto-repair maintenance bots had not been able to do right. Stupid Microsoft operating system ... always trying to bring down all the windows in the house and reset the power whenever a bulb burns out. So I've dropped off the kids again this morning and things did not go quite as well. I put up a bunch of glow-in-the-dark stars on the kids ceiling and they probably stayed up well past when they should have nodded off. This made Alexis REAL cranky the next morning and not entirely interested (Read: Total Meltdown) in getting ready to go. I had to be the bad-daddy while the Mrs played soft-mommy. I took off her jammies and sleep-diaper while the Mrs comforted her into using the potty and getting dressed. I ended up leaving at 0720 hours and just managed to get to work by 0815. Urk. I'll have to make sure the kids are in bed by 2100 hours tonight so we don't have a repeat of this. One interesting note about this morning. Katie has figured out how to move the woven carbon-string steel (cardboard) barrier we put across the doorway. We keep the dogs in a tiled room at night just in case they have 'issues'. They rarely make a mess these days, mostly horking up grass and bile. Icky, but easy to clean up from tile. So I hear her whining outside the door of the guest suite that we are currently sleeping in. I jump up at 0600 and swing open the door just in time to see her tail disappear around the corner. I know it's her because Thor is too slow to disappear that quickly. He is more of a Rock of Gibraltar type of dog. Just stand in the way and make you decide that the path you wanted to take is much too dangerous now. Katie prefers the flanking maneuver. Zip around to your side and plant her cold wet nose on the back of your leg or on whatever food you had in your hand. That would pretty much make it hers. Unless you are a 3.5 year old kid and have no qualms about 'sharing'. Yetch.
Monday, November 14, 2005
Age of machines
Another weekend makes it into the memory banks. The parental units came down to shower adoration on the children. Saved my rear since the Mrs did not get home till after 2230 hours. She wanted to wrap up a few things since she has Jury Duty on Monday ... those few things took much too much time and the kids went to bed without her. So be it, they had the warm embrace of a couple of doting grandparents. It's good to see that I'm not the only one who is being manipulated but a couple of kids who never knew the world before the Internet, Tivo, HDTV and DVDs.
Saturday morning started out normal ... tend to the mammoth dogs, re-light the fire in the wood stove (have not turned on the heat yet), get breakfast ready and ship off the Mrs/Kids to swimming lessons. This time, Grandma went along while Gramps and I surveyed the remaining trees out on the perimeter of the back-50. I had re-assembled the flaming chain-saw +5 and we were ready to get cracking. First things first though, I needed to stop off at the Local Home Depot Temple and pick up a 2 inch hitch ball so I could go up to the rental place, SunBelt, and bring back a large tow-behind chipper shredder for the pine bows. Well, to make a long story short, I missed renting the beast by 30 minutes. Rats. I'll need to try to get it some other weekend or pay a tree service to come by and deal with it. Amish (Psycho) Dad and I (Psycho son of Psycho) make pretty good progress till the last tree. The chainsaw was seriously degrading due to parts flying off while we were cutting through the impenetrable dark forest of Untergoth. In the end, the muffler housing breaks down ... drops onto the assembly chassis and melts a hole through the oil reservoir. Not good. After 5 or so years of nearly continuous use, the overworked single piston 46cc work-horse is nearing it's final days. Tis a shame. We had only one lousy tree left to chop up. I've checked about and Sears no longer carries this product and for that matter, sells no chain saw with a 20 inch bar. They do, however, sell several similar (underpowered) products with shorter bars. I think I may see what we can do for him ... something in the line of a 55cc. Even if it comes with an 18" bar, we can swap out. It's like putting a bigger tow hitch on your car. If you have the power, go for it. I might be able to patch to hole with an epoxy plug, but once the chassis is compromised, the fate of the whole is sealed. Since we were short a chain saw for Sunday, we ended up doing minor yard-work. Dad Mowed while I planted the remaining bulbs. He spread fertilizer while I spread seed. The man tried to wear me down, I tell you. Fortunately, we ran short of 'Manly-man' activities so he headed in while I mopped up some minor branches remaining in the yard. All in a day's work.
Much of what happened this weekend was made possible by Super-Mom-Grams ability to cook food that the Twin Tyrants will eat. I'm not sure how she does it ... she must put opium or something in there because they will polish their plates no matter what is loaded up on there. Good thing she cooks for 20 so we can leverage this bounty for the rest of the week. It's going to be a long week too since I know that the kids will be asking to go to the FOB every day till we do so this coming weekend. Going to spend a week up there in the hinterlands for Turkey Day. Ahhh yes. There will be sleep to be had since Gramps has pretty much attempted to do everything under the sun and only minor work remains to be done on his plot of dirt.
Speaking of dirt, the Mrs had jury duty this morning and that left me to drop off the kids. Since the DayCare/Interment Center opens at 0700, I had to have the kids fed and ready before I got there or I would never make it to the client site at a reasonable hour. It all worked out, and I could probably do this every day to boot. So long as we get out of bed and on the road by 0655, it is entirely possible that the Mrs could be at work earlier and home for dinner. That would be perfect. I'll have to see how she feels about me taking over both drop-off and pickup. Perhaps I could convince her to pick up one of my chores ... like picking up dog poop? A boy can dream.
Friday, November 11, 2005
Speaking of 'run down' ... Here I am. Friday. Sweet Friday. And by Sunday I'll be begging for Monday. Grass is greener on the other end of the week, eh? Last night, I TRIED to get some work done that was assigned to me in the 11th hour, to no avail. The machine we use for development has become an ad-hoc production machine and after 1400 hours it becomes virtually unusable. I'm trying to import a file that has all manner of errors and data set inconsistencies which in the end, needed manual editing just to pass muster. I end up leaving 30 minutes late which causes me to get to the Manor way beyond late. Jeeze, it only took 1.5 hours to get home. Nice. Teach me for trying to be goal oriented.
It's finally getting cold here. By cold, I mean that is it nearing the freezing point of water. Just about time to bring in the last of the less hardy plants. I'm not sure how they'll do inside, but abandoning them to the cruel whims of Jack Frost will certainly do them in rather quickly. I'll have to be a bit more judicious in the future when I visit the horticulture section of the Local Home Depot Temple. Just because it looks pretty does not mean I should plant it in the flower beds. No, I'll stick to the mums and bulbs from now on.
When I slunk onto the Haupertonian HQ grounds yesterday evening under the cover of darkness, I was glad to see that the Chain Saw parts had finally arrived. I pushed the UPS delivery man's motionless body off the front porch (guess the assault nano-bots got him) and scurried away to the garage/machine shop/dumping ground to inspect the booty. It was all there. The air filter, the Chain brake and the new exhaust diffusion manifold. And they fit too! It took on less than 15 minutes to reassemble the machine from the billions of disparate parts scattered about the crime-scene. Since the Parental Units are making another visit this weekend, Amish Dad will certainly want to trim the grass with it. Oh, and probably a couple trees in the back 50 as well. Hopefully, I'll be able to shake the last vestiges of this cold/flu/ebola by then.
Go Solar or go dark.
Recently, I heard that ANWR Drilling is once again 'on the rocks'.
- A solid phalanx of Republican moderates drove House GOP leaders to drop a hotly contested plan to open an Alaskan wilderness area to oil drilling as a sweeping budget bill headed toward a vote Thursday.
A plan to allow states to lift a moratorium on oil drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts was also axed. ...
The Senate has included ANWR drilling in its budget bill and GOP leaders are likely to push hard for the final House-Senate version of the bill to include it. ...
The decision on the Arctic refuge was a big setback for those who have tried for years to open a coastal strip of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, to oil development. It was a victory for environmentalists, who have lobbied hard against drilling. President Bush has made drilling in the Alaska refuge one of his top energy priorities.
I have been rooting about for data on what it takes to install solar panel along with the requisite electronics and have found a couple of little interesting kibbles of knowledge.
The first one, The Energy Cooperative - Solar Power, is a Pennsylvania based organization. The page describes various solar powered case studies (read: active installations) that made me sit up and say "I want THAT!" till I got to the price tag. In most cases, the installations generate more power than what is used for the household. This would be perfect for power initiatives in the sunny southern states. Distributed micro-power generation. An interesting note here is the ability to apply for a grant to have this work done.
The second link,ALTERNATIVE ENERGY STORE, is solar also. Oh boy, it's like being a ADD hyperactive kid in a candystore here. If only I had $30K or so just laying about. The biggest tickler here is the 25+ year warranty and a stated 40+ year system lifetime. Then, there is this:
- SunWize systems are easy to operate SunWize Residential Grid-Tie Systems are quiet and operate automatically. The system 'wakes up' and begins to deliver power as the sun rises and 'goes to sleep' as the sun sets. On-site installation can be completed within a few days. Because there are no moving parts, SunWize systems are virtually maintenance free. All components carry an Underwriters Laboratory (UL) listing and meet the National Electrical Code, the benchmark for safe and efficient electrical installations.
> Generate your own electricity and reduce your electric bill
> Protect against future rate increases
> Produce electricity from free sunlight and watch your meter spin backwards
> Reduce the burning of fossil fuels contributing to a healthier environment
> Increase the value of your home
> Save money on your system puchase with state rebates and incentives
> Solar modules have a 25-year warranty
> Systems typically have a lifetime of 40+ years
Your system includes everything you need Solar Modules with roof mounting structure. Solar modules convert sunlight into DC power and are attractively mounted on the roof of your home. SunWize Power Center mounted in your garage, basement or on the outside of your home and includes:
> Inverter with LCD meter converts DC power produced by the solar modules to household AC power.
> AC/DC Disconnect Switches allows the modules to be disconnected from the inverter and the inverter to be disconnected from the utility grid.
> Optional kWh Electric Meter displays net power produced by your system.
> Complete Documentation and owner's manuals
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Breaking the back of infirmity
Aside from being a bit off yesterday, work-based silliness was in high gear. One of the most notable fiascos was the attempt to switch 25 marketing reports from one database to a newer Linux Hosted Oracle instance which receives 4 updates a day. Getting to the point, the data in the existing db was not the same as the newer db. These 25 reports have about 2-15 sub-reports with each sub-report having up to 100,000 lines of data. Since the reports were slightly different due to the data replication issues, one of the boss guys here at the client site wanted me to find each of the report differences and give an explanation for each. Ummm, great. The worst thing is that since the databases are updated 4 times a day, any inconsistency for a report that runs for 10-12 hours will be long gone. It took a while to explain this and I ended up spending 1 hour on 1 report to show in detail what the road-blocks for investigating this were. The worst thing, the 2 different reports may have had 2 lines different, but they were in different order and thus made finding the differences nearly impossible. Painful at best. I love my job, really.
Traffic incident of the day? A tanker truck filled with paint pigment overturned on the Schuylkill Expressway and they had to shut it down all night. Fortunately, I was already well under way and did not experience and added discomfort on my commute. Speaking of discomfort, my fever broke last night. Good thing, since I had to abandon the kids with the Mrs after she got home. I was not in fighting form and the kids were taking advantage of that. While in my restless on and off sleep, I had some fairly peculiar waking dreams. I guess it goes with the territory, eh? SO off to work again this morning after climbing out from under the sweat sodden sheets. Ugh, I'll have to do laundry early this week.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Let's cover the basics today. I have a full blown cold now with the peripheral grating fear of the inevitable sinus infection. I'm hoping it's a cold because if it's the Flu I'm going to be something south of PISSED. It'll mean that the shots were ineffective. The upside is that I went to vote last night with the kids. We were assailed at the polling location in the high school by various hopeful candidates and their
lackeys cronies sycophants assistants. Pressing the flesh for that one last vote. Well, since all 3 of us were ill, I'm guessing we did our part to spread the love. Alexis did her usual coy 'hide behind daddy' thing while Jake went right up to the candidates to shake their hands with. Not that he has been wiping his runny nose on his hand and sleeve or anything ... We bumped into the candidate for the local Magisterial District Judge position, Howard Rovner. Democrat. Our previous one, Silverman, had died recently. In any event, I was glad that Alexis did not blurt out 'Vote Republican!' during our brief exchange. We scuttled into the building and found that aside from the gaggle of political elites outside, there were only 2 officials inside. No voters. Hmmm. We signed in, I had Jake push the electronic buttons for the candidate votes and Alexis hit the 'Submit (to my will!)' button. An early life civics lesson. Of course, on the way out we were nothing more than chopped liver to the crowd and nobody was interested in doing any post-vote polling. Good, time to get home and draw on the driveway with chalk.
Morning news: I feel like poop and nearly remained at home ... wish I had. Some dufus neglected to secure his load and dumped a forest worth of lumber on the turnpike. It was bunged up going west from Mid-county all the way through to Rt 1. East-bound had an accident at Ft Washington and was backed up all the way past KOP! Then, there was some kind of fiasco on the Schukill expressway that caused the Blue Route to back up Southbound in addition to the Northbound halt due to the Turnpike. A grand time was being had by all. I did not know of the fate in store for anyone on 95, the Vine Street Expressway or 422, but I'll wager it was no better than mine. Stupid bumper sucking love fest that is the local Philly roads. Beh.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Vote or .... Don't whine.
Yesterday was nice. We have hired a new employee back at the home office and since almost everyone is out-and-about, we had an introductory lunch. Did not get to talk to the guy but we did have a wonderful little 'free' lunch at Maggianos. Love that place, had some broiled Tilapia. All on the boss-lady's dime. I had a nice plate of Tilapia, a salad, an espresso and some calamari. All done quite well. It was a rather pleasant lunch indeed.
Ok, it's official: I'm ill. Not the usual stuff but a nice little virus that Alexis was so kind to cook up in her bio-warfare lab. I warned her several times that if she does not wear her coat outside she will get sick, then daddy will get sick and daddy will be grumpy. There you go, the cycle is complete and I am grouchy. Mostly from lack of a good night's restful sleep rather than any particular cold symptom. Unfortunately, this has had a dramatic effect on my mental processes and I neglected to stop off at my polling place and vote this morning. I suppose I'll need to do it this evening. Perhaps I'll bring the kids along to see how this works. If traffic is as light this afternoon as it was this morning, it might just work out. We'll see. Of course, all the candidates on the local ballot are running under both parties so it's not much of an election. Unless someone writes in my name a dozen times, there will be nothing of note to report this year. The off-year elections can be such a dud.
A new pathway for treating multiple sclerosis may have been found, if “exciting” results in mice can be replicated in humans.
But researchers trying a novel therapy on a mouse version of MS report that the mice showed “almost no inflammation of the myelin sheath and no nerve damage”. Furthermore, MS is characterised by periods of remission and relapse, but the mice recovered with fewer and far less severe relapses.
The therapy targets immune system cells called T-cells. These malfunction in MS patients, producing inflammatory molecules that destroy the myelin sheath. The new treatment, which uses a class of molecules called kynurenines, works by inhibiting the T-cells’ production of inflammatory molecules and prompting them to produce agents that “mop up” the molecules.
First, they selected a break-down product – a kynurenine – of a naturally occurring amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan is a constituent of most proteins and is known to play an important role in immunity.
The group then induced an MS-type illness called experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in 24 mice. On the occasion of their first relapse half were given a daily dose of a synthetic version of the kynurenine for 49 days.
“All the mice went into remission, but the mice on the tablets stayed healthy for much longer," says Platten. "The relapses were far less severe and they did not have a return of the paralysis. The drug actually suppressed the disease and slowed its progression.” [editor emphasis]
Another advantage kynurenine has over other candidate treatments is that it is has already proved its safety. Not only is it a derivative of an amino acid that occurs naturally in the human body, but it has passed phase I clinical trials in Japan as a potential treatment for allergy sufferers.
“I expect we will be able to proceed directly to phase II clinical trials in patients in 2006 and start helping people with MS,” Steinman says.
Monday, November 07, 2005
Weekend Wrap-up 20051107
After I returned to the swim club after my tragic experience with petro-chemicals, the Mrs and I changed the kids back into dry clothing and headed on over to Mr Wilson's Grey Goose farm. I intended on making a barter exchange with him. A bottle of wine for five one gallon buckets of bamboo clumps. We found him puttering about his driveway and quickly made our presence known. Surprisingly enough, he and his clan were in the throes of a minor flu outbreak. This was not known to me until I had finished what I was doing and rendezvoused at the SuperSaturn with the Mrs. This little 15 second snippet of data did not convey the importance it should have. Little did I know that within 24 hours I would be well aware how ominous it was. More of that later. Once back at the Manor, I went about planting the last of the 1000 bulbs in the back 50 and doing a little bit of clean-up. Flowers are so aesthetically pleasing in the warmer months, but the dried remains are not to be tolerated in the arboreally and sylvan setting of our grounds. Chop-chop, hack-hack. Sweat began to trickle down my spine.
We are scheduled to drive up to Chinatown for the Mrs's Grandmother's 82nd birthday bash at one of the finer banquet halls in Manhattan. Leaving at 1300 hours for an event to be held later in the evening is called for due to the unpredictable traffic on the NJ turnpike, Holland Tunnel crossing and Canal Street Free-for-all bisect of lower Manhattan. Indeed, we were well underway at 1330 when the Mrs got a call on her brain-tumor cell phone. It was her Minister in the Making brother informing us that He, his Lady Friend School Marm Eileen and the Mother-In-Law were interested in returning to the Manor with us after the banquet to spend time with the kids. Fine, ok. Good thing we got the alert before I hit the point of no return on the PA Turnpike. You see, once you are on that road, you just cannot stop and head back home unless you really need to. For example, if there is a nuclear strike or a meteor hits the bridge over the Delaware river or a volcano erupts beneath the east river. Acceptable interrupts to invoke a back-track. In any event, we return to the Manor and transfer the personnel and hardware to the Family Tank and do an IPL on our trip. Fast forward an hour and a half ... we are sitting about 3 miles outside the Holland Tunnel staring at sea of what must have been 1 BILLION blazing brake (see Paul, I spelled it write) lights. Once we hacked our way through that mess with a battery of rapid-fire LAW rockets and a few well placed daisy-cutters, we then found ourselves in queue to get on Canal street ... which made the wait for the Tunnel look like the AutoBahn. Thinking quickly, we swerved off course to the South to the Court House and came up Bowery to Confucius center. Quite a bit out of the way but much more expedient. If you have ever tried to hammer your way through lower Manhattan on a weekend, you know exactly what I mean. We pass off our keys to the well groomed and courteous parking attendants (an obvious rarity in any part of the world, let alone public parking in NYC) in the bowels of Confucius Center and make our way up to Paw-Paw's apartment. We are an hour early so it gives us a bit of time to do some minor socializing and a quick shopping excursion. All this before the mammoth feast upon the best beasts that land, air and sea have to offer.
The banquet goes well as far as the traditional ones go. Various dishes of which the components have never been identified by western science landed upon the table momentarily before quickly becoming so much molecular residue upon clacking chopsticks and the gasps of awe by onlookers. It almost made me feel bad, but I did let others get a taste too. ;) Jacob and I eat like the kings of old while Alexis reserves her palate for noodles and butter sauteed sugar snap peas. That, and the concluding desert dishes. My precious little angel was coming down with a cold and had the resulting moody disposition. Combine that with a multi-hour meal and you understand how this could be a synergetic combination that the Manhattan Project architects would blush at the consideration. After a few visits to a less than anti-septic disposal center, we called it a night. Rounded up the troops and got ready to make the loooong trek back to the Haupertonian HQ from the lands concrete canyons. Amongst the raging truckers hopped up on illicits and the drowsy purveyors of Broadway we clawed our way down the safe grounds of Pennsyltucky. Arriving shortly after 2300 hours, we shuttled the Twins right to bed and I retired shortly afterwards. The great upside to the evening is that even though I left the dogs out of their kennels, the did not use the floor as a dumping ground. Ahhh, halcyon days!
Sunday Morning ... Mass at 0700. I fed the dogs and stoked the fire before departing the slumber filled manor. Apparently, after I left the Hounds finished their 2 tons of morning feast and spent the next 10 minutes howling at my abrupt departure. Poor guys, just can't do without daddy's attention on weekend mornings. I too often howl at the departure of the Mrs. Of course, it's because she has gone shopping with a credit card. This morning though, it is I with the credit card and permission to use it at the grocery store. Oh, and use it I shall. The meat section shall feel the wrath and unending depths of my appetite. No comfort shall be found in the Dairy section either. No, I left great swaths of destruction in my wake ... bacon and kielbasa were things of fond legend and myth. When I arrived home, the kids and Mrs were now awake. The rest of the day was spent either cooking breakfast (bacon, eggs, toast, sausage, hash browns, turnovers, etc...), cooking lunch, cooking dinner (20 BBQ chicken legs, 20 BBQ thighs, a skillet full of provincial chicken, 3 racks of BBQ ribs, salad) or doing laundry. Oh, I did throw wood on the fire every so often and completed the day by driving the outlaws ... err, inlaws to the local train station after the sun had set and filling up the FamilyTank with gas at 2.25/gal. Busy weekend indeed. Little did I know that keeping my activities inside would not save me from an impending virus that had slowly crept upon me.
- A first-grade Teacher, Ms Brooks, was having trouble with one of her students.
The Teacher asked, "Harry, what's your problem?"
Harry answered, "I'm too smart for the 1st grade. My Sister is in the 3rd grade and I'm smarter than she is! I think I should be in the 3rd grade too!"
Ms. Brooks had enough. She took Harry to the Principal's Office While Harry waited in the outer office, the Teacher explained to the Principal what the situation was. The principal told Ms. Brooks he would give the boy a test. If he failed to answer any of his questions he was to go back to the 1st grade and behave. She agreed. Harry was brought in and the conditions were explained to him and he agreed to take the test.
Principal: "What is 3 x 3?"
Principal: "What is 6 x 6?"
And so it went with every question the Principal thought a 3rd grader should know.
The Principal looks at Ms. Brooks and tells her, "I think Harry can go to the 3rd grade . Ms. Brooks says to the Principal, "Let me ask him some questions. "The Principal and Harry both agreed. Ms. Brooks asks,: "What does a Cow have four of that I have only two of?"
Harry, after a moment: "Legs."
Ms. Brooks: "What is in your pants that you have but I do not have?"
The Principal wondered, why would she ask such a question!
Harry replied: "Pockets"
Ms. Brooks: "What does a dog do that a man steps into?"
Ms. Brooks: "What starts with a C, ends with a T, is hairy, overly delicious, and contains thin, whitish liquid?"
The Principal sat forward with his mouth hanging open.
Ms. Brooks: "What goes in hard and pink then comes out soft and sticky?"
The Principal's eyes opened really wide and before he could stop the answer
Harry: "Bubble gum".
Ms. Brooks: "What does a Man do standing up, a Woman does sitting down and a Dog does on three legs?"
Harry: "Shake hands."
The Principal was trembling.
Ms. Brooks: "What word starts with an 'F' and ends in 'K' that means a lot of heat and excitement?"
The Principal breathed a sigh of relief and told the teacher, "Put Harry in the fifth-grade. I got the last seven questions wrong."
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Things are a bit out of control right now. No real control over things in general, but this is crazy. Traffic is out of control since we are all now driving home in the dark or driving to work with the sun burning holes in my retina. I don't know why, but working conditions at the end of the year always seem to deteriorate badly. Man, I need this weekend. The good news is that I've managed to plant several bags of bulbs over the last few days. Just 3 more bags (75 daffodil, 30 & 30 giant crocus). I still need to find the time to mow the yard one last time, rake up leaves/pine needles, till under the garden, dispose of the pine branches, clean up the dead flowers, seed the lawn, throw down a winter fertilizer ... argh! That and finish up the wood floors and clean out both the basement and garage. I've overwhelmed myself! Ok, one thing I CAN do is show a few pics of the kids.