Monday, February 28, 2005
- "We are hoping the community will help by collecting poo for us and dropping it off in plastic bags, preferably recycled bags," Gair told The Advocate. "New or old (poo), we'll take it all."
- New MS drug pulled after patient death
Sales suspended after 2 cases of serious side effects
BOSTON - The makers of Tysabri, a new drug used to treat multiple sclerosis, announced Monday they are voluntarily suspending sales of the drug after one patient died and another developed a serious disease of the central nervous system.
Both patients had taken Tysabri for more than two years in combination with Avonex, the companies said.
You've probably heard of my fabulous evening out with the YCOP gang on Saturday night. Sunday morning at 0030 consisted of me drinking 5 glasses of water to ensure that there will be no suffering the next day. For the most part, it was fairly successful. I felt a bit of malaise which could be mostly attributed to waking at 0530 to let the dogs go out. They got their kibble and they got to lay waste to yet another acre of the back 50. I, on the other hand, got cold. Back to bed for me! Sometime later on in the morning, the kids woke and we went down to the play room. I was feeling below prime which was not too bad, all things considered. Not much happened for the rest of the day. A good Sunday indeed. I filled one of the wood brackets and made a couple of packs of beef ribs for the Mrs. The Hounds got the bones (4 of the buggers) and were in friggen doggie heaven for the rest of the evening.
This morning, we were woken to the cacophonous racket of the Wife's alarm clock. Apparently, Jake had cranked up the volume when he was in the room yesterday. It wakes myself, the wife, the hounds, the kids and some 2000 year old mummified alien corpse in sub-basement Y8. After the Xenology cloning staff got the escapee returned to the near-zero Kelvin retention pod, I went down to release the hounds. Back up to fetch the kids where Jacob was once again unhappy about having to get up. He is lucky to be so damn cute, I just cant bear to drag him out by his feet and douse him with icewater. I'll have to wait till he is a teenager first. Not much else other than having to pump up my darned tire again. I need to get the darned thing to the shop but finding the time is darned near impossible. I need to get solid vulcanized rubber tires, put an end to this nonsense already. One thing of note though - Happy Birthday Mrs MDMHVONPA. Hope the years have given you everything you wanted.
Saturday, February 26, 2005
Disney makes a buck
Ahhh, the weekend is upon us once again. The birds are singing, the sun is casting its warmth down upon us, flowers are blooming - there is peace in the Haupertonian Empire. I struck out onto the turnpike a bit earlier this time so I could get back before the sun went down. The Mrs and I had decided that it would be nice if the kids could enjoy our snow before it all melted away. In one day, it has nearly all vaporized. I go directly to the Child ReEducation Interment Center (and day care) to snatch them up as early as possible. They were in various stages of unpreparedness, of course. After assembling all the shoes, socks and assorted clothing items, we dash off to the Manor so we can get an hour or two of sledding in before the sun sets. Get home, disarm the robo sentries with anti-personnel flechette rounds, let the Hounds out to rip up the back yard and make yellow snow. I quickly ensconce the kids in their nuclear winter combat armor and we go out to make the best of a melting situation. They happily seat themselves in the two sleds that the Grandparents bough for them and tell me to MUSH. Over the next 90 minutes, I pull them across the 3 properties until every inch of snow has been flattened or eaten. Yeah, the kids love to eat snow. As much as possible, the dirtier the better. Yetch. I just have to make sure to keep them away from the yellow stuff. Speaking of yellow stuff. We had a problem with Thor. The Mrs let him out in the morning and he did not relieve himself. He did not do it the evening before either. After a day plus of holding it in, he could not do so anymore and left a mountain of crap in his kennel The odor hit me like a sledge when I got to that part of the Manor. Once the Mrs arrived home, I turned the kids over to her and set forth to deal with the toxic material spill. It was horrendous! I'm not sure how he managed to escape getting none of it on him. It must have been a friggen miracle or holy act of God. There must have been a gallon of the stuff ... and it had remained sufficiently 'juicy' so that completely soaked into his blanket. I had to dismantle the kennel (under strict supervision from the AIEA, those bozos) so that I could drag it outside and spray it down. The EPA will probably set up the back 50 as a superfund site now.
The rest of the evening was fairly placid. Jake tried to sneak out of his room once. I caught him at the door and he ran back to his bed when he saw me. My daddy-senses were tingling when I heard the little thump of him jumping off the futon. I just waited there at the door as he jiggled the knob to spring the latch. He had a huge smile on his little face that always makes him look so innocent and cute. He knew he was busted and that the jig was up. All he really wanted was a different book to look at till he fell asleep. He loves the Disney Character books that the Grandparents bought. I spend the remainder of the evening in the Master Suite, watching the Sci-Fi channel and waiting for a second escape attempt by the little ones. Keep on my toes, I must. Three hours later and no repeat performances from the wandering ones. Time for the 'Big People Who Feed' to get a few hours of shut-eye.
It's a good start for a Saturday. The kids sleep in till 0730. The Mrs and I take advantage of this. Yeah, we sleep in too. When we eventually mustered the strength to extract ourselves from the tangled web of sleep's tentacles, we immediately started to get ready for the day. She hit the shower while I extracted the kids from their interment cubes. Alexis was fully awake and sprung into my arms but Jake was still asleep. His head was resting on the futon while the rest of his body was still on his mattress. He is going to need a fairly large bed when he gets older. I open the shades and make a bit of racket to try to wake him slowly. There is no perceivable impact at all. I start to slowly rub his back. This sensory input seems to break through and he begins to stir, stretch and roll over ... and go back to sleep. You have chosen wisely, little man.
We load up the Family Tank and leave the Manor. It is a few minutes after 0900, a new record for Saturday departures. We want to get to IHOP as early as possible to avoid the wait we were forced to endure last weekend. We failed. It seems that the IHOP we are going to is in a perpetual state of being mobbed. Ahh, and by the literally unwashed masses this early in the morning to boot. We wait in the Tank for a good 10-15 minutes before making our assault on the front desk. The Mrs had gone in and put our name down. Rule #1, if you are going to wait it out, make sure to get your reservation in ASAP. No sooner did the Mrs complete her pinpoint precision strike, a wave of multi-member families unloaded from the stowage class minivans and bogged down the front desk. We strode in and were seated within a minute of our appearance. I could feel the eyes cast upon us, following our fluid movement through the Ellis Island Lines of interment. The envy was palpable. The meal went well. No flying condiments or cross outbursts of dissatisfaction. The kids behaved well too! Pancakes, sausage, toast, pancakes, hot chocolate, eggs, and more pancakes. After we settle the massive bill (15$) and trek out of the magnificently over-stuffed restaurant, we head off to the local mall. The Willow Grove mall is a special sort of place. It is special only in it's history. Other than that, it is a mundane representation of consumerism repeated a thousand times over in a thousand separate cities. The Mrs wanted to pick up some things and the believed this would be the best place to do so. Malls are like anti-matter to most men. I gritted my teeth, girded my loins and dove into the fray. There was a battalion of stroller-pushing mommies. A phalanx of senior mall-walkers making their rounds (kept note of where the defibrillator was). Disengaged flocks of doe eyed teenagers migrating between the various clothing stores and the food court. Not an environment that I flourish in. It's akin to planting an orchid in the steppes of Asia. Not good. Somehow, we end up in the Disney store. The kids were keen on making sure that I understood the gravity of the situation that we found ourselves in. They proclaimed eminent domain over the stuffed dolls and insisted that they have the God given right to inspect every single one before deciding on which one shall be offered in tribute for the prevention of wailing in a public place. Bribery bad? Yes. Did I care, no. Alexis got Jessie from Toy Story 2 and Jake got Buz Lightyear. They were more than happy to surrender the characters to the cashier for him to ring them up, but they kept their laser sights focused on his name tag. He was well versed in this manner of negotiations and swiftly returned the hostage products. Disney got their money, the kids got their toys, the parents got their sanity ... all without any bloodshed or missing digits. Life is good, time to go home and tuck the little ones in for a nap.
I was fortunate enough to have the Mrs allow me to head out for a night with my fellow members of the local YCOP. The dinner was to be at 1700, but I ended up getting to the restaurant thirty minutes late. It was the Bertuccis in Bryn Mawr just south of Villanova. I miscalculated and got off at the 76 exit on the blue route. That added a bit of time to my trip. The group was fairly large, I think every Republican in SE Pennsyltucky was there. All 25 of us. I was able to talk freely with several people and was relieved to hear that my non-conformist views were not immediately struck down with slurs and personal assaults on my integrity. It made me so relaxed, I ended up buying a martini and forgetting that I had given up alcohol for Lent. DOH! Later on, the group broke up and some of us ended up down the street at the local Great American Pub. It was myself, Alex, John Morley and Steve (I think, the evening is foggy at best) sitting at the bar while John spun fabulous tales between vociferously hitting on the bar tender. The Bartender, Michele, did her best to gracefully decline the invitations to NYC after revealing her primary career as a performance artist. More about the evening can be found here at Alex's blog, he was much more lucent at the time. The marine (CPL Philips) we met was indeed a true hero. When his car ended up being towed, I had did not have to think twice about giving him a lift to retrieve it from the impound lot. The lot was somewhere along CityLine Ave along the backside of the Schuylkill expressway. It was a 160$ toll that will most likely be refunded, the tow truck operator was in no position to be generous and felt as bad as anyone could. Philips made his way home down to Drexel Hill while I scouted a return path through the wilds of NE Philly. Something along the lines of Rt1 past Einstein Trauma to 611 to 309 to the PA Tpk and then on to my standard route. Driving in the NE can be a pain, the darkness of a winter's night where everything is the same shade of pale grey can make it that much more disconcerting. I arrive at the manor sometime after midnight and relay the evenings events to the Mrs who either found them as interesting as I did, or was unusually amused by the vigor in which I described the proceedings. All in all, a well used day.
Friday, February 25, 2005
It's 1600 and I need to get out of dodge quickly since the snow looks like it is not going to let up. I can only assume that the traffic will be nightmarish. My assumptions were unfounded. It seems that since many of the schools were either closed or had early dismissal, many of the commuters were already tucked safely away in their peasant domiciles. Even at 60mph, it only took me 45 minutes to make it back to the Haupertonian Manor. The sun still had not set so there was sufficient light left in the day. The Mrs and I made the tactical decision that we could take out the sleds that the Grandparents of Infinite Adoration had left behind and play outside with the kids for a little while. It was all that it could be and more. We battled against the polar winds till we reached the end of the block, and then retraced the footprints of the Donner party till finally arriving at the flag left behind from the Clark Expedition. Upon arriving back at the Manor, we made a few circuits in the front lawn until the sled dogs (me) became exhausted and it was time to call off the Great Haupertonian Transect Excursion. As for the twins, they had eaten their fill of snow so there was no complaints about the brevity of our outside time.
We played for a while inside until there was a disaster of unparalleled proportions. The twins were filled with a bit of the devil after coming in from the cold. Alexis was keen on looking out the back window so that she could watch the snow descend on the wood pile and instructed that I should fulfill her request immediately under pain of screech. While I was moving some of the post-industrial Modern impressionist dining room chairs to the blast-proof windows, Jake noticed what I was doing and came blasting into the Grand Dining Room at top speed. At molecule smashing velocity, he lost control due to gravitational pull and interference by Anti-EMP device we have running in basement level 5Y. The course alteration caused him to loose his bearings and consequentially, he slammed right into the jagged (but beveled) edge of our 10 ton glass formal dining room table. Down he goes with a thundering WHUMP. It takes him a second, but the silent roar of pain begins. I pick him up, his face is contorted in pain as he continues to suck in air ... then after an eternity frozen in my memory, he lets out a wail of heartrending tribulation. I can see the blood welling up behind his battered lower lip. The brilliant red seeps up into the gaps between his glistening white teeth like an onslaught of rust upon a fleet of decaying fishing trawlers. The Mrs and I do the best we can to comfort him as his body shocks itself into a rigidity not common for him. He only cries out a few more times as I hand him off to the Mrs. She cradles him in her arms and scurries upstairs to help him rinse out his mouth and checks his mouth to see the severity of the damage. The emergency medical staff is alerted and the robotic ninja EMT battalions are activated. A small cut, a bruise and no chipped teeth. His first bloody lip. Sometimes, learning is hard. Hard on the doting parents too, of course.
Later on, the Mrs and I are discussing the critically serious topic of pizza, toppings and where to get it from. We decide on Maggios since it is less than a half mile away. As I start to call the listed number, the Mrs cries out to me that 'You need to pick it up, they charge for delivery.' I indicate that I understand, but that was apparently not enough for Alexis. A little voice sternly warns me 'They charge for delivery!', her index finger wagging at me to accentuate her assertion. The Mrs and I start laughing uncontrollably. She'll make a good teenager some day. The pizza from this new origin goes over big with the kids. They are especially fond of the cheese, extra cheese, hamburger and crumbled Italian sausage. Damage: 8.57$. Everyone is happy tonight.
It's early in the morning and Alexis is complaining. She does not leave her bed, but waits for the Mrs to haul her into our bed. She is coughing a bit still, just can't shake that congestion. The Hounds got out again and were milling about the upper hallway. I imagine they woke Alexis. Our doors were open but they did not have the intestinal fortitude to come into the rooms. The minute they saw me getting out of bed, they took off like their tails were on fire. As long as they dont have an accident (which has not happend in several months) on the new carpet we got from the Subterranean Spider Queen of Alpha Centauri, I'm not going to go ballistic over their transgression. We got a bit of snow last night. Probably 3-4 inches. It is unusually light an fluffy. More like Rocky Mountain Powder than the typical East Coast Crud. Oddly enough, my commute was not effected by this. Stranger and stranger.
Thursday, February 24, 2005
- Ten labor unions representing 300,000 civilian employees of the U.S. Department of Defense filed a federal lawsuit yesterday against Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, saying Rumsfeld's department violated the law by refusing to negotiate changes in its labor-management system.
About 4,000 Navy employees in Philadelphia will be affected, said James Winward, an engineer and vice president of Local 3 of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers in Philadelphia. "This system threatens their pay, job stability and unions," he said.
Tick-Tock the week drags by
Fairly mundane afternoon on Wednesday. Good. Oh, and the leaky tire did not deflate while I was at the client site. I'll have to get it fixed though, I cant live my life waiting for a damn tire to go flat. The (secret government alien genetic research) Hospital called to let me know that the found my MRI films and I could pick them up anytime. No CD, just the films. ARGH. The whacked out part is that they have everything on a CD, why could they just not burn a second copy!? Instead, they produced actual film of the new images for me. In 10 years, they will have technology to embed data within crystals or something and I'll still be getting the clay tablets with hieroglyphics imprinted on them. Back up the 150 ton gravel truck, gotta load up my images. ARGH v2.0.
Later in the evening after I had finished the evening S&R mission, I had the opportunity to try to give Alexis some potty training. She is usually pretty vocal and animated at the dinner table. When she gets quiet and starts making that face as if she were Jimmy Carter reviewing the election polls, I know I will have some work to do shortly. This time, I decided to head it off at the pass and bring her upstairs to use the potty. All the way up the stairs and into the bathroom I pleaded with her to 'Hold it in' for just a few more moments. We managed to get to her potty and she remained seated till the dirty deed was completed. I began to giver her the reward stickers as we have been when she caught sight of the fruits of her labor. I'm not sure if she was mortified or terrified, but she bolted from the room screaming into the Mrs's arms. No matter how much I tried to placate her, she refused to return to the bathroom or accept any stickers. This continued well after I had disposed of the offending matter. I was sincerely concerned that this might be the beginning of a nasty case of toiletphobia (Scatophobia?). Once we cleaned her up and replaced her diaper, she calmed down a bit and we returned to eating dinner. Later in the evening, we started the bath-n-bed routine. She showed no lasting effects of her near-poop of the number-two kind and happily went pee. That was a close one. She is very perceptive and was probably fairly shocked that something like that would come out of her. She did not seem quite as disturbed or perplexed when it comes out of her brother though. Puppy dog tails, don't you know.
The rest of the evening was fairly dull apart from Katie trying to sneak up the stair case so she could have a good view of what we were doing in the kitchen. Thor can just stick his head over the kiddie gate since he stands about 15 hands high. She knows she is not welcome upstairs (I got tired of waking up with dog hair in my mouth) so I'm not sure why she thinks she can get away with it. Permanent mind of a 5 year old. Not that I should complain, she is a pretty good dog and has a respectable fear of the kids. In the past, she has accidentally bitten me when rough-housing about but has never bitten or snapped at the kids. It's much easier to lick their faces which makes them stop doing whatever it was that needed to stop. This evening, the Mrs had some more of the pork ribs that I made. We decided to give the fat, excess sauce and bones to the dogs. Within 15 minutes, there was nothing left but a bit of drool hanging from Thor's mouth. If I could render 15 bones to dust in that time, I would be rightfully feared. I feel bad for the burglar who dares to cross the Haupertonian Hounds.
Long story short for this morning: Tire was half flat, had to pump it up. Snow projected: 6-9 inches. Daycare called, half day today - come get your brats. The Mrs is going to leave at noon to pick up the little ones while I sit here and work on more requirements. Next week, we are expecting more snow (is this really winter now?) and the Mrs will be in Florida. On business ... for her birthday. That means that while she is sunning herself poolside, I'll be dashing through the snow to pick up the kids since day-care will probably close if we get more than a quarter inch of snow. So be it, the kids and I will share a few Domino's pizza pies and a gallon of French Vanilla Icecream. Good times are the dictate for the week.
- The 7-month-old has been removed from a respirator and is eating on her own, County Child Protective Services spokeswoman Estella Olguin said Wednesday.
The baby suffered damage to every vital organ and her tongue had been nearly severed when she was admitted to the hospital Feb. 2, police said. Prosecutors say she was sexually assaulted.
The baby and her 16-month-old sister were expected to be placed in an adoptive home.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
- Some University of Michigan students are cleaning up their acts in more ways than one.
They are getting $100 cash payments for keeping their dorm rooms presentable and opening their doors so prospective students and their parents can take a look during campus visits.
- Monthly heating bills for many Philadelphians will fall by 11 percent starting March 1.
The city-owned Philadelphia Gas Works plans to cut its gas cost rate in response to a decline in the wholesale cost of natural gas. That would mark the first price drop since 2003.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
SWEET MOTHER OF PEARL! It's already Wednesday? Where does the time go? Oh, yeah, right here into this blog. Fortunately, I have something to engage me at work right now so my time is actually being put to good use. At least in my boss's eyes. My requirements document is going fairly slow. The jrPM and I misunderstood the mission and have to redress what is being produced. We need to produce a FUNCTIONAL requirements document. Some of the elements I am working with do not exist within the current system architecture and will most likely re-worked to fit into other existing code bases. Not so much for the correctness of where they belong as for the politics and work distribution that will come to bear in the near future. So be it. My departure hour comes quickly and I hit the road faster than a bug on a windshield. As I'm racing down the Turnpike, a black guy in an older hatchback pulls up behind me and waves frantically at me. I am startled at first. There is no 'Friendly' interchanges of ideas on the Turnpike. Either it is honking horns, angry gesticulations or hot lead. In my case, searing sub-atomic particle streams. In any case, the gets my (shocked) attention and points in an exaggerated motion towards my rear passenger side tire. Wow, he is telling me that my tire is flat/going flat. I'm speechless. I give a gesture of acknowledgement and he falls back in behind me. Someone is getting a karma-bump today.
When I disembarked the SuperSaturn after reaching the Haupertonian Manor CarPort, I saw that the tire that was in the process of deflating was the driver side rather than the passenger side. I'm a bit disturbed at this. This is the third tire that has been punctured within over the last few months. I'm starting to suspect sabotage. Either at the client site or at the Manor. Most likely the client site though. Someone may be unhappy about my parking privileges. If I did park among the masses, it would be yet another spot that would not be available to them. The fools. Or, I could just be absurdly unlucky and have run over 4 nails in 2 months. I attach the pump I keep in the trunk and let it run for a bit to replace the lost pressure.
Twin S&R, Refuel at the USA Carwash, dinner ... it's all good. Try to get Jake to Poop, the dog won't hunt. Go figure. I have bigger (more predictable) fish to fry tonight. The Mrs and I have decided that at 2.5, the kids no longer need to sleep in cribs. The Child Detainment Cubes we purchased for the twins are upgradable in so much that the can go from a crib, to a toddler bed to a regular day bed. It was expensive, but not nearly as cost prohibitive as the three combined. I apparently had the parts for the conversion stored in basement level 5W and the tools needed were two Allen wrenches. Converting both cribs took less than an hour. There was one hitch though. We only had one 'roll bar' to keep them from falling off the mattress. When we let them sleep in the mile-wide water bed, we put pillows along the sides of the bed or sleep along the sides to keep them from falling over the 500 Ft drop to the carpet below. With the reconstruction complete, the Mrs escorts Jake up to the palatial nursery to get his opinion. He is thrilled. He immediately jumps into bed and pulls the quilt up over himself. If he enjoys it this much, we may not have to deal with his penchant for escaping. Alexis is a bit more cool in her opinion. She seems concerned, reserved even. I'm guessing it is a "We'll see if this is doable." class of discernment on her part.
Did I mention that I prepared two racks of baby-back ribs for the Mrs on Monday night? No? Well, she complained about the cost, but not about the most delicious and succulent preparation that she dove into. In the end, she nearly consumed one whole set of ribs. I know that she liked them, she did not say a peep until I pressed her for an evaluation. I have a feeling that the remaining rack will have a brutally short lifespan.
The night went peacefully till 0500. I heard the sweet melody of Jacobs aquarium-night light-music box softly bubbling forth from the monitor. No complaints, no little thumps of running feet, no banging of slammed doors. The Mrs told me to get back into bed and let him go back to sleep if he wasn't going to leave the room. He didn't leave, neither did I. Interesting development. Eventually, we do have to get up. While the Mrs prepares herself for a day of corporate combat, I check in on the twins. They are still blissfully asleep. We had put the futon next to Jacobs open crib to keep him from falling out. When I removed it, he stirs and begins to quietly say "No. No Daddy." I guess he is not ready to abandon his bed, but the morning is quickly dissolving. My little ones are truly growing up before my eyes. It so ... rewarding.
- Last week, West Chester residents were hit with a flurry of warning stickers for not following the borough's new trash-disposal law.
This week they could be hit with a blizzard of citations, with fines from $25 to $1,000, as the borough continues enforcing rules on trash-can sizes, lids and placement.
- Residents who were issued warnings last week will likely be fined if they do not follow the rules this week, the borough said.
Last year, poorly managed trash at downtown restaurants was partly responsible for a rat infestation at the Chester County Courthouse, the county Health Department said.
The strict enforcement comes at an inopportune time for local Democrats trying to preserve their 6-1 majority on Borough Council. It is an election year and there are four seats up for election.
Work to do
Just before I left for the day, the PM came over and asked the jrPM and I to come with him for a talk in a meeting room. Very super-secret cone of silence type of deal. Hmmm, VRWC meeting? Naw, jrPM is a Democrat. Maybe she is a double agent! Nope, it turns out that we have been tasked with doing some work that we cannot admit to doing: writing requirements. Ok, here is how it works. The Sr Engineer (me) and the jrPM will be reading some docs and producing a minimal set of requirements for this (super secret double probation) project. Normally, the Business Analyst - BA (someone else) would do this, but the PM is doing it instead because he has no confidence in the current BA. Here is the snappy part, we cannot do this work since we have not been assigned to the project so any work we do must have the PM's name on it. I've done this kind of thing before so I have been ethically calloused. The jrPM is not pleased and voices her concern to me. This is really no different than being a TA in the academic world. The upside is that I have some work to do over the next few days ... idle hands and all.
I left shortly after the meeting so I could get back to the Manor in order to give the Mrs some air support. She has been alone all day with the kids and probably has a few interesting stories to tell. Some new wounds too, I'll bet. I'll put her name in for a purple heart. Getting back was easy enough. If you leave at 1530, the commute is something around 45 minutes. Not too shabby for a 30 mile sortie. Of course, since it was Presidents day, I'll assume that the light volume was more a function of the effectively reduced labor force rather than anything related to my attempts to avoid the rush hour. When I disembark in the car port, I give the Mrs a call to let her know I have arrived. The dogs will be barking and making a ruckus when I enter the house. They are protective of the Mrs and kids that way. I would like her to bring the Humongous Hounds to the Car Port Airlock and transfer station so that they will be able to see it is me and not some radical Islamic fundamentalist assassin squad. If the kids are asleep, the barking and rending of flesh from bone might wake them. That would be a Bad Thingtm that I would prefer to avoid. Indeed, the kids are still in the throes of their afternoon cryogenic down-time. This gives me a few moments to run down the chore check-list and put some items behind me. First on the agenda, get the fire started in the wood stove. Pumping a few BTUs into the Manor should bring the kids out of their cryo-sleep.
The rest of the evening was fairly mundane. We ate dinner and then set off to the full-contact obstacle course to simulate combat for a bit. I was feeling a bit woozy and not quite lucid for some reason. Probably beef/alcohol/coffee withdrawal symptoms. The Twin Tyrants seemed to be more interested in their toys and books so I curled up on the sofa under a blanket and dozed off. It did not take long for them to realize the weakness of my defensive position and quickly laid siege to my sofa redoubt. Some day, I'll be hauling them out of bed at 0530 on a cold winters day and my revenge will be sweet. We end up putting the kids to bed an hour late and I feel exhausted. My body does, my mind is still running around and shooting off inquiries into deep memory. These mental gymnastics keeps me up till a bit after 0100. Ugh, of all the nights that the kids wake in the middle of the night, this would be a good one. Alas, everyone but the ever-watchful daddy is dreaming of 529s and 401ks.
The hour of judgment comes quickly. It is 0630 and the Hounds are agitating for release. Of course, I prepped their food the night before so they make short work of their outside duties. There is very little snow left and the temperature is above freezing. This means more mud. I have to wipe them down before letting them back into the Manor to get the 3 gallons of mud off their paws. Ahhh, the solemn beauty of a SouthEast Pennsylvania Winter. Yetch. The rest of the morning is all about getting out of the house. The roads are infinitely more congested than the previous day. Nobody does anything really surprising though, which, in itself, is surprising.
A few things need to get done today. I have decided to abandon the whole swallow/speech test thing. They could tell me that I have a problem (I already know that) but the therapy will not be covered. Ok, so I'll have to ante up loads of cash and time which could be better spent on my kids/home/wife so I can speak better and stop aspirating my tea and coffee. Naw, I'll just have to speak slower and pay attention to what I'm doing when I drink my 10+ cups of tea and coffee during the day. I also need to call AMH so I can get my MRI films back. The Mrs volunteered to drop in and pick them up since she drives by the Secret Government Genetic Research Lab disguised as a Hospital. Hmmm, when did I start growing these extra fingers on my left hand. Heh, that reminds me of the cats they have in Ithaca, NY. They call them Ithacats and they are polydactyl. The one that visits my Little Brother has 4 extra toes on each of the front paws. Something to do with the Cornell Cyclotron and its proximity to the 500 KW TRIGA Mark II nuclear reactor that they have decommissioned. Hmmm ... fingers ... yes. Speaking of fingers and hands, do you recall the fun I had shredding the skin off my knuckles this weekend when replacing the dying battery for the fusion cannon in the Super Saturn? Well, today I thought it would be a good idea to put some antibacterial gel on my hands. There are a number of sick people at the client site and I am just getting over a chest cold (that I got from Alexis). I have not experienced such a combination of general and localized pain in quite some time. I'll recover, but I know that any bacteria on my hands were done for in the first few seconds of my 'Ouchie-Ouch' dance. Hmmm, ingredients: 60% Ethyl Alcohol. Then there is water and about a thousand other additives with names like Agent Orange, DDT, Diazonol and Technetium-99m. Well, there goes my extra fingers ... burned right off.
Monday, February 21, 2005
- Now in the Oval Office is a man who clearly wants to stand among the few presidents who made a lasting difference. Both visionary and radical, he said on election he'd come to Washington to change things, and many things have changed, probably forever, thanks to him, with more to come.
When you're in the rapids, at some point you have to wish the pilot good luck. At no time - especially not times like these - can you wish evil on the president. You have to hope he knows what he's doing.
Reset, restart, IPL.
Jake was up early today, complaining and moaning. It was 0500 and I was not ready to greet the world yet. The Mrs hauled him into bed and he did not seem content to just lay there. No, he wanted his milk and he wanted to watch TV. Not quite in our right minds, we gave in to his subtle hints by letting him have his way. We did this by not stopping him from taking his bottle from the fridge and putting it into the microwave that we keep next to our bed in the master suite. I helped him with the microwave of course. He would put the bottle in sideways and the heat would cause the milk to shoot out the nipple. Not a good thing. I hoisted the littlest giant onto the water bed and let the Mrs restrain him for the 60 seconds it would take to heat the bottle. He was extremely incensed that this indignity should be thrust upon him, but was quickly silenced by the soothing properties of a warm breakfast. He watched the television for a bit, finished his bottle and then went in search of Grams. Much to his dismay, she was gone. I jumped in the shower while the Mrs dealt with his exasperation. During the night, we managed to get another 2 inches of slop posing as snow. If today were not a govt/bank/school holiday, the traffic would be outlandish. The plows were only making things worse. As I pulled out of the Manor, there was a mountain of near frozen slush piled up across the street. I know if I hit this going at any speed, I would either incur grave damage to the Super Saturn, or loose control/get hung up. Chose wisely, I did. Go around anything you do not have to go through. There is an old Boy Scout axiom like that: Step over anything you do not have to step on, step around anything you do not have to step over. Works for operating a motor vehicle as well.
In spite of the massive snow removal incompetence, I get to work quickly and without incident. Speaking of incompetence, the table change I requested was done at 1730 on Friday afternoon. Yes, 45 minutes after I had left for the day. I immediately launched the processes this morning at 0730 to pull in data and load the tables when I saw the message. I had put together a script that could be called and would do the 4 tasks that needed to execute. It is 1300 and the processes are still loading the table. Oh, more on incompetence ... the water department sent us yet another bill for the 'Meter Privilege' fee for the lawn sprinkler meter they forgot to remove for a month. This little dispute over 27$ has been going on for about 5 months now. We have been getting assurances that this will be rectified by several parties and still nothing has been done. The Mrs will be going over there today with the Crack Haupertonian Nano-bot Ninja Corps to crack some skulls. It makes me want to sink a well and be done with this nonsense! Since the external sprinklers just put the water back into the ground, I cant see this as being a big issue. I don't even need the water to be treated. So I don't end the day on a sour note, the Mrs informed me that our Neighborly Neighbor Gus came over and cleaned off the driveway with his 3000 hp snow blower and Atmospheric modification device. I guess this is his way of saying thanx for the nuts that I gave him before they flew off to Greece. We need to invite them over to dinner sometime. Or out, whatever is easier.
Sunday, February 20, 2005
Sunday was chock full of family goodness. Yep, at roughly 0300 we had Jacob wake up and crying out for mommy and daddy. We are guessing that he had a bad dream or something of that nature. I ricochet of a few walls and end up in the nursery where he is standing in his child detainment unit. He sees me and immediately stretches out his arms knowing that I will liberate him. If not for his predicament, but to silence him so he does not wake his sister. Ohhh, but the hour is late (early?) and my awkward attempts at expediency are for naught. The minute I leave the room with the tiny giant in my arms, Alexis starts to wail and insist that I return ... post haste! I lay Jake next to the Mrs where he curls up against her and immediately falls back to sleep. Little bugger, trying to usurp my authoritay'! I look on in envy as I pull the quilt up to his chin and quickly head back and acquiesce to the demands of the clamorous pint-sized jeremiad queen. All I need to do is be in the room. I sooth her for a few minutes by stroking her hair and back. Then, I slowly walk across the room to the futon. The floor boards moan and creak beneath my lumbering hulk but it serves only as a sign to her that I am still in the room. I reach into Jakes crib and pull out a pillow and quilt. Only then do I allow my body to collapse into the cushions. She is still somewhat awake, but my rustling is soon silenced as I listen to her quickly slip underneath the gossamer veil of halcyon slumber. It is a bit chilly since Jakes quilt is about the size of a postage stamp. The kids never did really take to a favorite blankie or teddybear. They could even do without a pacifier if we put them to task. In any event, the futon is about half a meter to small for me so my rest is quickly ended as my neck cramps wake me. It is 0400 and I slip away to leave Alexis to sleep away the rest of the morning. When I crawl under the quilt in the mile wide water bed, Jacob senses that I have returned. He rustles the sheets a bit and then comes over where he nudges up to me and falls back to sleep. Equal opportunity schmoozer, he is. We fall back to sleep together.
It seemed like only seconds, but 2 hours had fluttered away in my dreams. The dogs were up and making a racket. They were very interested in going out to the wasteland that was the back-50. I'm not very fond of being awake at the time so I give them the evil eye. They understand that I am not pleased right now so they lumber over to their patented mastodon-chew proof beds and lay down. They are quiet and subsuming even though I did forget to feed them. Later on in the day, the Mrs asks if I did feed them and remember that I had not. I immediately go down and dump 5 cups of kibble on the floor. They seem to like it more this way, I don't know why. When I fill their bowls, a few kibbles will fall on the floor and they eat those first. It also gives Katie an advantage since Thor is unable to scoop up a mouthful with every chomp. He has to graze the floor one kibble at a time. We run off to church for the 1000 family mass and manage to get a fairly decent parking spot near the front of the Parking Lot of Purgatory queuing system. There is only one car in front of us and it is a big old Lincoln Continental. Probably one of the Ushers which will mean that it will not be removed till long after 1100. With a little luck, one of the cars to either side will be gone before we get back and I'll be able to slide out. We (SuperMom, Little Bro, Myself and the Wonder Twins) disembark and make our way to the basement chapel. It is sparse right up until 5 minutes into mass where a whole flood of families tromp into the basement. My kids were a bit noisy as they were spilling the goldfish and veggie crisps all about the pew. Then, they had to shout out the names of items they spotted in the 'I See' picture books. They were loud, but not nearly as loud as the boy with autism a few pews in front of us. He is here with his parents and 2 siblings every Sunday and today he is having a bad day. His parents drag him up to receive communion and do the best that they can do to manage. It must be rough for them, but some people think the same about me, the wife and the kids. My response is that you just have to do it, there is no choice. I'll wager that they would have the same response. With that in mind, things went great. The kids love 3 parts of mass. The sign of peace, the collections and communion. The latter is because they get to walk around a bit. As for the collections, well, they love to throw the money into the basket. So much that if Jake finds the envelope with the check in it, he will sit there at the end of the pew searching and calling for the usher to come by. He just could not wait for the usher on the second collection and ran up to the front of the church and insisted that it was in the best interest of everyone involved that he escort the man to our pew so that the transaction could be completed post haste. Well, everyone thought it was quite amusing and I actually managed to suppress my Type A Personality Reflex. I just let it play out. Low and behold, every thing was fine. Who 'da thunk it? The only other things of note is that we got a new pastor who came right out and said that he had Bell's Palsy. If he should fall on the stairs, we should leave him to his own devices since he was a fairly portly fellow. Closer to 300lb than I ever will be. He is warning us that two 50 lb boys will be no help and may not come away from the experience if he should tumble forward. He was quick with the mass and got down to the point in the sermon. No dancing around with nuance or trying to lead you gracefully to a conclusion. Wham-bang, pow. He said that there were a few types of people in the world. Stoics and epicureans. He said that if you are going to be anything during lent, be and epicurean because no-one likes a stoic. Old time religion with a twist. We shook hands on the way out and he complemented me on my flat top haircut. I hope he stays around for a bit, he seems like he could be a pretty fun guy. The kids grabbed their tootsie rolls on the way out and we managed to leave quickly from the parking lot because my hopes had been fulfilled. A car on the right had left before we did and I had enough space to slip out. Nice.
After going to church, we stopped off at the local grocery store called Giant. Super Mom needed a few items and I thought that I would head off to the meat department and blissfully cast my eyes upon the rows and rows of forbidden fruit. It was too much for me though. I just had to buy a big old slab of brisket and 4 racks of baby-back ribs. Pork is not a red meat ... right? And the brisket is going to be beef jerky tout de suite and thus will be waiting for me at the end of lent. The ribs are for the Mrs and I'll have to get them sliced and wrapped sometime later this week. Mmmm, cant resist meat. I'd make a really angry vegetarian. We zip back to the Manor with our booty and settle in for some of Grams' specialty French toast. The kids ate one slice each and I, having not the chance to eat yet today, wolfed down two slices. The kids did pretty good on their own and seemed to enjoy the toast ... or the puddles of semi-liquid maple flavored sugar. Oil, Sugar, fat, cholesterol. All of the food groups were present. Good for the kids, not so good for me. Once the kids were sated, I left them to play with Grams and the Mrs while the Little Brother and I went out to remove the car battery from the Super Saturn. After 8 years and 4 complete drainings, the battery was pretty much shot. The retaining bar and bolts were rusted beyond belief. I put a generous helping of liquid wrench on them but ended up with some mangled sheet metal screws and a couple of bloody knuckles. This task, seemingly simple, ended up being on of those things that I could have let a well paid and equipped mechanic do ... for a price. Inside the manor, the kids were upstairs using their potties and getting ready for their afternoon naps. Lucky little buggers. From what I was told the fell asleep within seconds of their heads hitting the pillows. In the mean time, I was still ripping flesh from bone with a vice grips and a wrench. Ahh, the memories this will make.
I dropped the quickly expiring battery into the Family Tank and bade my Mrs and Brother goodbye as they went off to get a new battery and do some shopping in the process. I still had work to do. Once again, it was time to stock up on firewood since I had emptied one of the brackets. There was no snow and the air was moderately chilly. Kept me from sweating out twice the volume of my precious fluids within the first few minutes of labor. We ended up with a 300$ utility bill last month and winter isn't nearly over yet. Nope, gotta keep up with the wood till the temps get above 60 on a regular basis. While I was fetching wood, Alexis started to wake up. I got her first and let her wander about the kitchen while Grams cooked some vittles for dinner. Shortly thereafter, Jacob woke and make his own way down to the kitchen. I've gotta remove the front panel from his crib soon. It's just too dangerous for the little mountaineer.
The Mrs and my Brother arrive back a the Manor and it is time to get dirty again. The new battery is the right size and we attempt to put it into place. Things to not go well. Saturn has some good design ideas but their battery mount was not one of them. We manage to snap off a plastic tab at the bottom of the battery support and had to wedge the metal screw retainer into a cross beam for it to hold up properly. Then, when trying to attach the screw to the engine compartment, the head snaps off. In the end, we manage to get 2 out of the 3 securing devices applied and decide that this should be enough. What a mess. I do not expect to have to change this battery for another 5-8 years. By that time, I expect the Super Saturn to be well beyond 250K miles and probably a lot closer to the junk yard. I'm still waiting for my Reardon Metal Flying Hybrid Assault Tank. In any event, once the battery was secure, we set to the task of loading onto the truck the two leather sofa's that were rotting in the basement. The Mrs and I were not using these so we figured that they could be put to better use in my Brother's new apartment. Getting them out of the basement (level 3b) and into truck was not very difficult. Wrapping them in the plastic that would eventually disintegrate was the interesting part. There was lots of tape involved and it is unfortunate that the end result did not prevent some water/snow getting on the seats. In the end, they could be easily wiped off and we have transferred assets from the Haupertonian Empire HQ to our of our Northern outposts that needed it.
We had a quick dinner of Swedish meatballs with pasta that SuperMom had spent the day putting together. I skipped the meatballs. The kids enjoyed the egg noodles with the cream sauce as much as I did. We should have enough for a few more meals. Our most welcome and beloved visitors left just before 1800 to make their way home before the predicted snowfall arrived. We distracted the kids so they would not be excessively distressed over the departure. They will be searching the guest rooms for our absent family the next morning, that is a given. The snow started at 2000, right about the time we go through the nightly routine with the Noble Resistance. They were not too difficult but made sure we paid dearly for trying to dress them. The snow falling in the mean time was a light, fluffy snow at first that tailed off by the time we were done with the kids. It appeared that we were only going to get a dusting not even worthy of note. A few hours later, we got a call from our Northward bound company that they had been delayed by a full force blizzard in the Pocono Mountains. It stuck with them all they way to NY and had sucked up at least 90 minutes of their time. I guess they could have stayed the night after all since they didn't beat the storm. I think the kids would have agreed!
Saturday, February 19, 2005
end of the week
Ahhh, the Holy Grail of the Family Man: Friday night. Yes, the night that the Master Of All He Surveys can kick back in his lounge chair, don his smoking jacket, light up a good cigar and enjoy a sifter of brandy while the wife and kids sit dutifully about his feet and admire his presence ... Yeah, right. When I left the client site, I was still bickering over the table change with the DB group. They were now waiting on the authorization from the director but it is too late. The day is over and I was not going to work more than 9 hours ... WAIT more than 9 hours. We asked 2 days ago and this was preposterous. I'll let them explain to the customer why there is no current data on the sales for the week. That should set my mood appropriately for the weekend. The upside is that the Neurology office called with my MRI results. They had already processed my images and have found very little major damage since 1996. Healthy living? Married with kids? Dumb luck? Grace of God? Any of these will suit me fine. I'll just keep doing what I have been for the last 5 years and try not to deviate.
Since Monday is a bank holiday (and govt and daycare), SuperMom and Little Brother have come down for a visit. We kept the kids up past their normal bed time so they could enjoy the short time that the relations will be here. They arrived shortly before 2100 and we had already given up on the evening bath. Alexis was already getting surly and the prolonged detention in the tub would only exacerbate the super-nova fury of a 2.5 year old. Nope, she played and made hostile threats, commands and vitriolic warnings that if we sent her to bed, the Haupertonian Empire would be consumed in a sea of nuclear fire. It was bed time anyways so let the nukes fly. She writhed, kicked and shrieked for about 5 minutes and then passed into blissful sleep. Tyrant Management 101.
The kids slept in till 0730 but the dogs got up at 0615. I nudged the wife out of bed to let the dogs out since I was in my tightie whities and she had her full suite of battle gear on. Since she got the dogs, I got the kids. Actually, Grandma ended up with the kids since all I did was take them out of the crib and hand them their bottles. It did not take them long to figure out that Grams would be a much more entertaining party than the semi-comatose parental units. Jake pretty much just relaxed in the guest bed while Alexis extorted Grams' jewelry. As it turns out, ear rings make really good pinky rings if you are careful about the posts. After a while, Alexis took to calling Grams Mommy and Mommy v2.0 was relegated to 2 steps beneath chopped liver. Nice to see you down at my level hon. We let the kids take advantage of Grandma while we showered up and prepped for the Saturday Morning IHOP expedition. Crayons, paper, milk bottles, water-based magic markers ... everything needed for a 2 hour cruise ... a 2 hour cruise. So just sit right back and we'll tell you a tale, a tale of a fateful trip ... hmmm, getting carried away with that. Anyways, we got there shortly after 1100 and had to wait a bit. It looked like the entire population of Greater Mongolia had the same idea and stuck to their guns once they arrived. Oddly enough, I managed to dock the Family Tank right in the first row of parking. We had about a 15 minute wait, but it is worth it. Grams orders a 3 egg omelet. Little did she know it was 3 pterodactyl eggs. The thing was bigger than her! It came with a side of 3 pancakes. The kids enjoyed those. And there was the bacon, the sausage, the French toast, eggs (over easy and scrambled), hash browns and a full Yak carcass. The kids ate well and there were leftovers to boot. I think the bill came out to 37 cents or so. Knowing our limits, we paid the bill and made a hasty retreat back to the manor for our scheduled mid-afternoon nap. It has been a good morning indeed.
Friday, February 18, 2005
- An advisory panel is set to decide whether to recommend future sales of arthritis drugs Vioxx, Celebrex and Bextra despite data linking the drugs to higher risks of heart attacks.
Merck & Co. Inc. made a surprise announcement Thursday that it would consider selling Vioxx again if the Food and Drug Administration decided the cardiovascular risks were similar to those of related prescription pain relievers.
If the FDA approves this, expect Merck stock to go through the roof as all those class action law suits are crushed.
Update: It's a go.
The more things change ...
- jrPM: So what do you think the dba group's chances are of getting that table altered today? high? low? never going to happen?
MDMHVonPA: Well, if I were an llama ... and the dba group was an chlorofluorocarbon molecule ... the ratio of atomic decay would be an asymptotic relationship of the man-hours integrated over the burn rate of the sun ... thus: never.
Night of the Brain Zappers
Oddly busy day yesterday afternoon. I had that lunch meeting with the Boss Lady scheduled for noon. As you can imagine, she was a bit late and I was a bit early. Ten seconds past noon, my type A personality starts to kick in and go through the different scenarios about what has gone wrong. Did she forget. Is there another restaurant called Bamboo Club that I do not know about? Is this the wrong day? All the usual crap that I cant seem to suppress. I start to wander back and forth in the open space within the mall that has chairs and such set out. There are a series of restaurants in this part of the KOP mall that would probably need this kind of waiting space. Mortons Steak House, Cheesecake Factory, and a few others. I plopped down into one of the chairs and looked up to the skylights some 3 floors above me. Then I noticed it. There was a big wireless hub tacked to the side of one of the openings. Well, now that is good to know. Next time the horde wants to go to the mall, I'll bring my laptop and spend my time here! I heave myself back out of the chair after a few minutes of contemplating my discovery. As I slowly make my way back to restaurant entrance, the Boss Lady sneaks up beside me and slyly quips 'Fancy meeting you here!'. Heh, stealthy, she is. We make our way into the delightful culinary establishment and get seated promptly. She comments that she likes lunches with me because I always select a new restaurant each time and it isn't McDonald's. What can I say, I like to eat. I would have chosen Ruth's Chris Steakhouse but I have given up red meat, coffee and alcohol for lent. Can't go to a steak house and not have a porterhouse with a glass of shiraz and a post dinner coffee ... it just isn't done! But I digress (digest?), the meeting was fairly low key. We talked a bit about how well the business was doing this year and the issues with the client that I am working with right now. Mostly, we talk about kids and raising kids and kids and a bit more on ... kids. We did do the mandatory Conservative Secret Handshake on how awful the UN is and how absurd it is for Germans and Austrians to sue the NOAA over the Tusnami. Our eyes meet and we show each other our Illuminati Right Wing Conspiracy pinky rings. Heh, never would have guessed a life-time Yankee and a Minnesota Farm Boy to end up in a dimly lit restaurant talking about business and politics. It was a good meeting indeed.
The drive home was relatively uneventful. Today is my big MRI day. The appointment is at 2100 so I need to get everything taken care of before then. The bulk of the concerns revolve around the kids. Need to get them in bed before 2030 so the Mrs does not have to go it on her own. The second I get into the heart of the Manor, the phone rings. It is the hospital calling about my appointment. The voice on the other end wants to know if I could possibly come in NOW? Ummm, no. How about later then, the voice inquires, like around 1800? I counter with 1830 as a more doable time since I'll have the kids home by then and the Mrs should be back from Corporate HQ by that time. I let the pleading voice know that I will tentatively accept the new appointment time moved from 2115 to 1830 but will reserve the right to call back and reschedule back to the original time. Life with kids is ... unpredictable. Since tonight is pizza night, I immediately leave the Manor after tending to the Hounds and getting a fire started in the wood stove. The Pizza Joint is only a few hundred meters from the Day Care and ReEducation Facility, so I stop in there first and slap down a Franklin. I demand that they provide me with the tastiest pie available and I need it yesterday. They have slices ready so I get 2 cheese & garlic, 2 pepperoni and 2 sausage to go. 12 bucks ... yikes. At least I got it in 5 minutes and they took a charge card. I dash out of the store and run into a trio of young skate-board punks mucking about on the curb by the parking lot. They pay little attention to me but eye up the pizza box like it was the Ark of the Covenant. Ahh, I recall those days of youthful hunger. I jam the steaming box into the front seat and dash off to complete my S&R mission. I grab the kids and skillfully deposit them into their seats without letting them run wild though the car. They would have discovered the pizza quickly and complained about it the whole trip home. Or stepped on it. Neither is a good way to start the evening. We zip back to the Manor at Mach-6. The dusk sky is heavy with clouds and the twins remark that there is no moon because of the clouds. I see the dark orange sun setting over the western hills, crowded out by two banks of clouds so only a narrow column of light pushes its way through like a cartoonish arm of a drowning victim. It's been a long time since I last say a sunset. Finally, winter is ending. It's 1730 and the kids are happily munching away at their full-size pizza slices. Jacob got the sausage and Alexis got the cheese & garlic. They dearly love pizza night and tell me so with their shrieks of delight. Now I just have to change and get ready for my magnetic brain wipe. I expect the Mrs to be home at 1800 ... but the best laid plans of men and mice come into predictable play. I have my sweats on, my leather slippers and not an ounce of metal outside of that tracking implant that the Mrs slipped on my finger many years ago on that fateful day. I sit there and watch the clock slowly tick off the minutes. At 1800:15, the psycho-type-a personality kicks in and starts fretting over where the Mrs has gone to. Abducted by Aliens? Or even worse, Socialists? Has she run off with the CTO of her global pharma hegemony? Nope, bad traffic. There are isolated snow flurries in the area and people are panicking ... you know it is the apocalypse afterall. She bolts into the house at 1820 and I demand that she fork over all her liquid assets so I can pay for parking at the hospital. She pulls out a couple stacks of Benjamins and I dump the contents of her coin purse into my hand (not pocket, mind you) and run off with one last instruction: Call AMH and tell them I'm running late, but will be there.
I make it there by 1835 and they are indeed waiting for my. All 4 of 'em. The reception assistant gives me the typical health history encyclopedia for me to fill out ... in triplicate. I zoom through it since a great deal of the questions involve menstruation, implants or aneurism clips. I do not mention the carbon-tungsten reinforcement rods I use to hold the finger tip laser beams in place. A super-hero/world conqueror in the making has to keep his secrets, don't you know. After I finish the form, I am escorted by nurse #2 to the second waiting area where I am to change out of my clothing into a hospital gown. She takes one look at me and tells me to skip that since I have no metal on me. She starts asking some questions and I have the answers half way though her utterance. She smiles and notes that I am a pro at this. Yes I am. She asks some of the questions from the sheets I filled out before and I make some wise cracks about alien probes and such. She grins and thanks me for not wearing my tin-foil hat in.
I have brought my old scans from 1996. Back in the days when they imprinted the artistic interpretations of what they think your brain looks like into clay tablets. She said they would digitize them for me and I could pick them up in a few days. Cool. The things are huge and I never seem to find a good place to store them away. Too important to put on the book shelf and too big to put in the safe. It will nice to have the palm-sized holographic emitter version. I hear they make coffee now too. The actual scans are mundane. They toss me into the pigeonhole and the machine makes sounds like an old Chevy engine on it's last mile. Each time they take a set they let me know how long it will take. It is either 6,4,3 or 2 minutes. I nearly fall asleep in spite of the noise. I can see how this would be dreadful for a person with claustrophobia but I am enjoying it. Right up to the second set where they have to fish me out of the bowels of the man-eating machine and inject me with some plutonium isotopes. She said I would feel some tension for a few seconds ... yeah, except for that needlephobia of mine. That is the real tension. It is over pretty quickly, but the universe slowed time to a near standstill so I could fully imagine every flash of pain. Some day, the universe will pay dearly for it's imperiousness. Who will be laughing THEN! After putting a gauze pad on the gaping needle wound the size of Rhode Island, She stuffs me back in and we go through a second flight at I start to nod off. Almost immediately, they are pulling me back out. Nothing is wrong, they are finished and they thank me for being so cooperative and professional about it. Heh, I guess some things can be done in your sleep. I wander out and navigate the maze of hallways that seemed to have shifted ever so slightly from their configuration from when I came in. Not a person in sight either. A bit eerie. Perhaps the MRI exploded and sent me to an alternate spatio-temporal continuum! Nope, there's the hallway to the parking garage and it is still damn cold out. Definitely my dimension. Damn.
I'm driving up to the Haupertonian International Combine HQ and Manor ... it's nearly 75 minutes since I left and I can see the kids though the bay window in the front. I'll expect that the Mrs will be happy to see me. I sneak in but the hounds detect my entry and begin baying almost immediately. They catch sight of me as I make my way to the kennel room. The howling stops and they start their patented happy dance. I don't think we need a burglar alarm anymore, these two would wake the dead and scare off any unauthorized intruders. What would you do if you saw a 125 lb ball of raised hackles and flashing fangs bearing down on you? My kids drag their nose and yank 'em to the ground. Ballsy! I give the dogs a quick back-scratch and throw a bit of wood into the stove before I head off to be with the family. The Mrs is sitting on the leather sofa with Jake at her side. They are going over the alphabet puzzle and seem quite content. Alexis is dancing around and instructing me to come into the play room, NOW! Heh, ok. I sit down in front of the Mrs and Jake as Alexis grabs a book for us to read. In speaking with the Wife, I find that something wonderful has happened tonight. We have been bringing the pottys down to the kitchen lately so that we could try to catch Jake before he unloads into his diaper ... quite unsuccessfully mind you. I did not bring them down tonight to save the Mrs the inevitable hassle their presence incurs. Shortly after I left, Jake apparently requested to go pee. The Mrs lead him up to the kids bathroom where the pottys were stored and let him use his. So he went about his business of peeing and then ... in his excitement, he went poop. Big time too from what the Mrs described. Well, there were smiles all around and Jake got his Big smile sticker for the toilet lid. He even bade the 'poopie' a fond farewell as it circled the tank on it's way to turd heaven. Well, some things take care of themselves, don't they!
We spent the rest of the evening playing the ant-march song on the cd player really loud, like, all the way to 11 loud, and marching about the living room. Jake was high-stepping it while Alexis trailed behind in lock-step. Did that for about 10 minutes before we got settled down again. Play, bath, lotion, dress, milk, story, bed - all is right with the world.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Holoscan to the rescue
- A Philadelphia high school science teacher was arrested this week after he allegedly sold cocaine and marijuana to an undercover Pennsylvania state trooper, authorities said.
District officials and police said there was no indication Baum was involved in selling drugs to students, but Vallas said: "We're going to work to determine whether there's anything else to this, whether there was anything going on in school."
Police said that on Jan. 26, Baum, a teacher in the district since September 1999, sold about one ounce of cocaine and one ounce of marijuana to an undercover trooper. On Feb. 10, he sold two ounces of cocaine to an undercover trooper, police said. Investigators said both sales took place in Philadelphia.
- A British nuclear reprocessing plant cannot account for nearly 66 pounds of plutonium, but authorities believe it's an accounting issue rather than a loss of potential bomb-making material, the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority said Thursday.
- In 2003, the processing plant reported it could not account for 42 pounds of plutonium. The plant said that was consistent with figures published since the 1970s.
Well, VP boss lady had to delay our lunch coffee klatch a day since she was home with her sick kids. Fine by me. Every time she delays a meeting with me because of her kids is one more piece of artillery for when I need to stay home with my progeny. She's a pretty good mom and I suppose that is what makes her a pretty good manager. I had a bit of work to do yesterday/today/tomorrow. It looks like one of the tables I use for a process has a column that is too small for a unique sequence. This is reversible in about 7 minutes ... tops. It will take 2 days because of process. Oh well, it is a weekly job and it can wait till Friday morning.
Yesterday afternoon was nice till about 1300. Then ominous clouds rolled over the area and dumped sheets of rain across the land. This simple act of nature added 20 minutes to my commute. I love that about the metropolitan Philly roads: Instant Asshole, just add water. The IRiver mp3 player with built in back massage and robo-valet arrived on the door stoop yesterday. The Mrs was pleased and we charged it up overnight. Now, for loading the songs. There will be an abundance of music on there that I cannot tolerate. If I hear it, my brain will burst forth from my skull and do a jig on my lap before melting into a puddle of molten flames. Well, not really. I'm just not a big fan of Duran Duran. Sorry hon. Other than that, nothing out of the ordinary. I wonder if my executive lunch will be delayed again today.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
- The NOAA is accused of having registered the earthquake but failed to alert Indian Ocean countries of the impending tsunamis as the Hawaii centre covered only the Pacific.
The lawyers said that if the NOAA and Thai authorities, which had their own information, had passed on their alerts in time, it would have enabled people on shorelines to flee inland.
Ahhh, finally a dull day. The only things of note is that the Executive Assistant for my client came over to my Sensory Deprivation Cube and complained that I was slurping my tea too loud. Argh. I had some choice things to say, but I kept them to myself. Meddlesome indeed! I took my cup and tea home to resolve any future potential disputes. Ahhh, the life of a consultant. It can be so ... rewarding. The other proceeding that was noteworthy is that one of my peers has apparently been stricken ill again. He has been suffering from some sort of gastro-intestinal malady. It was provoked by a late night internet gaming session and he needed to see his doctor at noon. Apparently, he ended up at the emergency room. I believe, from my experiences, that the front desk at his family practice sent him there since there were no open appointments available. Hope he does better today. The site he monitors is frequently subject to copious issues.
The drive back to the Manor was uneventful. I did have a small crisis though. I was hurtling down the asphalt speedway at warp 11 and was caught by surprise by a minivan. No ordinary minivan either. This one had a Nine Inch Nails bumper sticker on it. My brain froze for a moment ... the dichotomy .. it was, ugh. When I hear people refer to NIN, Sex Pistols, Black Flag or Skinny Puppy as 'Classic Rock', I have a mini-midlife crisis on the spot. Argh. When did I become middle aged! I dread the day when I see a KMFDM sticker on a volvo. My head will probably split in two.
Kids were pretty good in the evening and it was not raining. I was still exhausted from the previous night so I nodded off in the play room while the kids assaulted me. Strange what you can semi-sleep through if you put your mind to it. They are both using the potty before bath time now so we believe we are making steady progress. They still feel the need to get completely undressed when they use the potty though. Odd habit, but I can see where it comes from. Now we just need to get them to inform us when they need to go instead of denying it. Bed time was easier than the previous night, but Alexis need some company for a few minutes before she would go to sleep. She is not drinking much milk before bed time so we could probably wean her off that now. Would be nice to be able to abandon that particular requirement. Jake still does his best to finish off the whole bottle. I guess it gives him energy to escape. Which he attempted. I thwarted his efforts and that was the end of it. This thing that they have adopted of needing us around a bit till they settle down will need to end quickly. I don't think it is a good thing. I'm kind of a hypocrite though, I cant go to sleep until the Mrs comes to bed. Must be genetic.
Not much planned for today at work. Got here in record time. Did not take the Mill Road of Infinte Waiting like I did yesterday. TPK traffic was the standard fare. Nothing out of the ordinary. Good. I do have a lunch date with the VP of Development today. I'll have an update later on about how that goes. My 8 year anniversary with the company is just under two months away. Too bad we don't have a pension plan, I would be nearly vested by now!
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
- Back in 1990s, California's dimwitted legislature passed a law requiring that by 2003, 4% of all new cars offered for sale have electric motors. The dimwits weren't concerned with whether the vehicles actually existed or if people even wanted them.
And that saves him almost $300 a month in gas. It's great for Just but bad for the roads he's driving on, because he also pays a lot less in gasoline taxes which fund highway projects and road repairs. As more and more hybrids hit the road, cash-strapped states are warning of rough roads ahead.
The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again.
Ick, what a miserable day. The winter rain has been coming down all day and it seems to be getting heavier as I near my departure time. I am not entirely fond of winter rain. Snow can be a pain, but rain ... It's just not right! The up side is that the temperature is going to stay pretty high so all the runoff will not freeze into a smooth landscape of ice this time. Of course, that means mud instead. Lots of it too. I'll be spending a lot of time cleaning the dogs up over the next few days. Mmmm, muddy paw prints. For the most part, they know the drill these days. Come to the door, shake one paw (it gets cleaned), shake the other paw (ditto), walk between daddy's legs and let him clean off the back paws. It takes time but the alternative is not very desirable. Some of that mud in the back 50 is NOT from dirt. Yetch! After I finish up with the dogs, I start a fire and get down to preparing the kids dinner. I am deliberately avoiding taking out the used diapers and trash. The rain is coming down in buckets now and my short haircut offers little protection from the near freezing torpedoes of water pelting me from above. Eventually, I run out of 'inside' tasks and have to get down to the dirty, nasty job of the trash and the recycling. It was everything I expected it to be ... and more. Yep, even got that trickle of semi-chilled water going down my neck. I have to remember to wear a hat next time.
We had sleeping issues again. Not myself, mind you. I'm still tired from the previous nights escapades. This time, Alexis did not want to go to sleep and screamed for 'DAAADDYYYYY!' till I came in an soothed her. She insisted that I stay in the room till she nodded off. I tried to leave a couple of times, but she heard the door creak as it opened. That started a whole new round of howls of discontent every time. I think it all started with Jacob getting out of bed and slamming the door behind him as he left the room. We caught him halfway down the stairs and escorted him back to his bed. I was in the room the second time I caught him going over the wall. I reprimanded him and left a book in his crib so he had a distraction. He tossed and turned a few time but quickly drifted off. As I lay on the floor next to Alexis's crib, I could hear her breathing slowly descend into the rhythmic song of slumber. I very nearly dropped off myself listening to the tiny gusts of respiration. Hard to believe that such a tiny little thing can make noises that bring grown men of calloused nature to their knees ... sobbing. Sounds like she is on track to be quite a heart-breaker.
This morning was interesting. Not in a good way. We got up about 15 minutes late. Well, the Mrs got up 10 minutes late, I got up 20. Average? Anyways, the kids did ok and for some reason, the Wonderful Wife took care of the hounds. It must be all the leftover love from me telling her about the present I got for her birthday/v day. I wish some of that love had spilled out onto the roads this morning. The local arteries were a compete disaster. Early this morning there was an accident on 95 near the airport. Apparently, one of the airport firetrucks was out on the road and was struck by a semi truck. They promptly burst into flames and effectively cut off the airport from 95. It happened early enough that people made alternate plans for getting into the city. The stickler that this causes is that these people are not familiar with the different roads and new accidents occur because of it. And indeed, there were. A vehicle on Rt 1 overturned and was causing mass hysteria and then an accident on the sure-kill expressway caused a backup to the blue route (476) that then overflowed onto the west bound turnpike. Just where I was. So there I was, sitting in a wonderland parkinglot called 276-PA Turnpike. Nothing I can't cope with and accept, but the real kicker was the accident I saw before I even got there. The road that I usually do not take to get to the Turnpike is called Mill road. I only take it when I am going to pull into the gas station across the street. This means that I do not get into the turn lane and thus avoid the 100 miles of backup that seems to accumulate there after 0700. Today, I start up Mill road thinking that I will get gas. As I round the corner just before the hill that the road winds up, I see cars backed up, side by side. This is unusual. It is not backed up this far and not in both lanes. Well, 'both lanes' is a misdirection because there is only 1 lane. By common concession, we have established that if you are turning, you stay as far left as possible and if not, you stay to the right. Trucks are not welcome on the road. A trucker had driven his semi-truck up the right side of the road trying to pass the backed up turn traffic and had found out the hard way why trucks are not appreciated. A very old oak tree has its branches looming out over the road like a roof over a covered bridge. The truck was just a few inches too high and caught one of the branches. It was about 5 inches across and the resulting mess was a disaster. The cab was separated from the load and there were log sized branches everywhere. The right hand lane had to merge into the left hand lane. Oddly enough, we all cooperated and did a onsey-twosy thing with no jostling for position or creep-aheads. Very civilized. Made me proud. As I drove past the truck, I could see the driver wearily looking down at the branches as he aimlessly walked about the mess. He had some cables in his hands that looked like they were the power conduits between the cab and the trailer. Poor guy, never had a chance.
Monday, February 14, 2005
- In the next few weeks, about 6,000 city households will start earning $5 for every 10 pounds of recyclables they set out on the curb, up to $25 per month. They get the money in the form of coupons, good at more than 50 local and national stores and restaurants.
- The main goal is to save the city money.
For every ton of trash that is recycled instead of being thrown away, Philadelphia avoids paying a $54-per-ton landfill-disposal fee.
Last year, the city spent about $40 million in landfill fees for about 750,000 tons of garbage. Residents recycled just 45,000 tons of trash - for a "diversion rate" of 6 percent.
If the city could double that rate to 12 percent - still modest by suburban standards - that would save more than $2.4 million.
- Wilson predicted that the RecycleBank approach would work better than what some cities, including Philadelphia, have tried in the past: fining those who don't recycle.
"Most cities they go with the stick. This is a nice carrot," Wilson said. "Capitalism at its best."
Mostly Sleepless in Huntingdon Valley
Last night was a disaster. The first nick in the armor of Haupertonian Clan Cohesion was the battle to the death with Alexis. She has had a nagging cough and chest congestion for some time now. The Mrs and I have had a difficult time giving her any medicine to relieve her. It would do her good to have a restful nights sleep. She had other perception. We had to pin her to the floor and wedge a spoon in her mouth to keep her from spitting out the cough medicine. It was the most violent administration for pharma I have ever had the misfortune to participate in. Once we were finished and made sure that 95% of it made it past her mouth, she got up and walked away like nothing had happened. Argh. Little manipulators, these offspring are. After the bath, milk and story time, the Mrs and I went on with our evening. I laid down on the floor for a moment to rest before I went back to my typical evening duties of preparing for the next day. The Mrs had some show on about the medical achievements of the last decade or century or something. I was not really paying any mind to it, just background noise. Then, in stumbles Jacob and lays down next to me. Little bugger made it out of bed again. He was more than pleased to snuggle up to me and stare at the electronic garbage nipple. Luckily enough, 102 Dalmatians was on the Disney channel and we watched that for the next hour or so. He pretty much stayed put and was thrilled that there was a steam locomotive in the show. Puppies AND trains, it doesn't get any better than that! After the show was over, we tried to get him to go to bed, but he was up to his new tricks again. When we were down in the kitchen, he went over and turned on the light in his room to read a book. This woke up Alexis and she thought it was time to get up. Not good. Eventually, the Mrs convinced him to lay down on the futon and go to sleep. Good job Mrs MDMHVONPA.
It is 0300 and Alexis is awake. Awake and not too happy about it. We were not interested in trying to wake up full so the Mrs just dragged her into bed and let the little one lay beside her. The Mrs dresses in full battle gear when she goes to bed. I, being the fully engaged supernova of heat emission, dress only in shorts. This does not escape Alexis's sharp evaluation of her environment and she promptly scuttles over to my side of the mile wide water bed. I spend the rest of the night with her laying over my arm and snuggled up against me. I am acutely aware of this and do my best to suppress any coughs or urges to roll over. The next 3+ hours pass slowly and I wake with either a mild migraine or a sever tension headache. Alexis, on the other hand, is quite perky and refreshed. Ahhh, the spoils of Monday Morning. It is cold enough so that the seriously depleted battery in the Super Saturn will not turn over. I think it is time for a new battery since this one will not hold a charge anymore. The more cash I pour into this auto, the more it needs. Four more years ... that's all I need out of it. Fortunately for me, I had the Porta-Jump so I could get the car started with little difficulty. I think I'll be making a trip to BJ's soon to get that new battery. It'll be a weekend job if it is not raining. Or snowing. Snowing like it is this morning. Making traffic on the turnpike really awful. It's Monday, get over it.
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Well, it's been a fairly calm weekend. I spent Saturday night doing nothing of any great value. I did manage to finish up the laundry, but afterwards was all BoobTube and no synaptic confluence. There was some show about terrorist dirty-bombs in London and then a dumb time-travel show on the SciFi channel called SlipStream. I could have done better by dreaming I tell you. I just have to remember to hit the OFF button, you know? Morning came quickly and I was up tending the great trio at 0700: Kids, Hounds, Fire. The combination of the 3 is probably not a good thing, but when done in order and moderation, its a good thing. Later on, while the Mrs was chasing the munchins of malfeasance about the upper floors of the HQ, I took a glance out the window in the guest quarters. The wood smoke from the chimney was descending because of the cold and was weaving it's way among the bare branches of the locust tree in the front yard. The sun had just come up and was casting shadows in the smoke that would appear, waver and then vanish as the gentle wind created eddies among the branches. The silence made it look almost surreal. Haupertonian mists.
Off to the 1000 mass we go. Me and the little authoritarian missy. The Wife wanted to take one shopping and Jake got into the Family Tank first so he didn't get to come to church with me. Since we got going fairly early, we managed to get a decent parking spot. One that would not condemn us to a 15 minute wait while staring at the road dirt caked on my windshield. The mass went well, Alexis did not stray too far and soon became tired. This made holding her a bit easier. Her two favorite parts of church are when she gets to bless herself with holy water and the times when she gets to put the money in the collection basket. Anything to make her happy, I just wish she wasn't so please to give MY money away! I guess I should get ready for more of that kind of thing. The trip back home was uneventful and we hit all the lights just right. No red lights at all. Got home in about 90 seconds ... new record for me. Since we got back so soon and the Mrs was not going to be back for some time, I thought that we could go outside and play with the wagon for a bit. Well, by play I mean that she will sit in it while I pull it around the neighborhood. The best part for her was that she did not have to share it with Jake. We were all over the place and she was jabbering at me the whole time. Telling me which way to turn and not to drive on the snow. She did not budge an inch though. Next time, we will have to go out with Jake on the big wheel and her in the wagon. That should be a treat. The sun was out so it was not too chilly for her, but when we crossed the street, the shade from the trees deprived us of our warming rays of sun. That pretty much spelled the end of the ride. We doubled back and trekked back to the manor where we warmed up inside. I stoked up the fire a bit and she sat in the kitchen watching Monsters Inc ... Mike and Sully ... for the bazillionth time. The Mrs and Jake show up within minutes and we have lunch. Then it is nap time, or so we would like to think.
When we put the kids to bed, they will goof off for a few minutes but in nearly every case, fall asleep very shortly. Jacob has decided that this will no longer be the case for him. Today, he has started climbing out of his bed/crib again and leaving the room. Alexis see this and reports it to us with great consternation. The first time Jake escaped, he made it all the way to the basement where the Mrs was looking for some things in the food storage vault. She was quite surprised to see him there. I was laughing my heart out when I saw him duck through the doorway. The Mrs dragged him back into the nursery and laid him back down. The second time came moments later when we were both in the Kitchen cleaning up after lunch. He came ambling down the grand staircase with a big old grin on his face. The kind of grin that says "There is nothing you can do to stop me now!". Little bugger. The third time I had barely left the room when I hear the door opening behind me and he bolts out to get past me. The fourth time, he wanders into the Master Suite, turns on the TV and sits down to watch a bit of tube. He would have gotten away with it if the volume was not too loud. The fifth and final time, he just got out of bed and laid down on the futon that we have in his room. My Amish-Hero Dad and Super Memory Mom had given us this sofa/futon to use and has it ever been used! Jake is especially fond of it and will sleep a good 8 hours on it if left undisturbed. Of course, we only left him there for 3 hours. I'm thinking it might be time to turn his crib into a toddler bed by removing the front. He can leave anytime he wants now so we might as well make it less dangerous for him. Once he is ACTUALLY asleep, the Mrs and I set about some minor tasks. One of the standard weekend chores for me is to restock the wood brackets. Usually only one. I like to keep both of them full so one can dry out while I use wood from the other one that I filled the previous weekend. The Mrs's task is to open the door when I walk up to it with a tote full of wood. My job is to fill the tote, march up to the manor, unload the wood and repeat a dozen times till the bracket is filled. It's still a bugger of a task and I get winded much easier these days. Upside of this is that it counts as exercise and it is much easier without all the snow. No cold feet, no falling down, and no frozen snot hanging from my nose.
When Alexis woke up, her first act was to order the dogs downstairs RIGHT NOW. She will brook no insubordination! I think she picks this up from the Mrs since I just look at them and point with my head and they go downstairs. I love the Hounds, they are the only ones who believe that I carry any weight in the Haupertonian Household. Jake wakes a few minutes later and we start in with dinner. I made pasta with meatballs and they had yogurt to top if off. Later on, they got icecream for desert so I think they got enough to eat. The were pretty excited about the icecream and spent a bit of time dancing about in celebration. Funny stuff to watch.