Friday, September 30, 2005
- BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - The European Union insisted Friday that governments and the private sector must share the responsibility of overseeing the Internet, setting the stage for a showdown with the United States on the future of Internet governance.
A senior U.S. official reiterated Thursday that the country wants to remain the Internet's ultimate authority, rejecting calls in a United Nations meeting in Geneva for a U.N. body to take over.
A stalemate over who should serve as the principal traffic cops for Internet routing and addressing could derail the summit, which aims to ensure a fair sharing of the Internet for the benefit of the whole world.
At issue is who would have ultimate authority over the Internet's master directories, which tell Web browsers and e-mail programs how to direct traffic.
That role has historically gone to the United States, which created the Internet as a Pentagon project and funded much of its early development. The U.S. Commerce Department has delegated much of that responsibility to a U.S.-based private organization with international board members, but Commerce ultimately retains veto power.
UPDATE: The idea was soundly thrashed as noted by Instapundit.
Heh, fates work against us. Yesterday was quite enjoyable actually. Lunch was fun (a bit on the pricey side since beer costs doubled, damn Trilateral Commission) the kids were good, traffic in the afternoon was not the usual tooth-grinding, fore-head vein throbbing trial of patience, and I managed to get in and out of Norristown within 30 minutes. Why was I in the most depressing county seat since Camden you ask? I needed to pick up the voter registration lists for the County for the last 4 years ... don't ask, I don't know either. In any event, it'll take 10 working days for the public officials and drones to pull this together for me into a csv format file and then burn it to a CD. Whatever. In other news, one of my fellow captive contractors at the Client Site From Hell (TM) thought he was going to enjoy his last day today. Wrong! He found out that he will be here through the end of the month for two days every week. I feel for the guy, and worst yet, he still has not received a designated 'data dump' target for the knowledge he has accrued with the work he has done. Fortunately for me, most of my work will become obsolete by the end of the year, thus obviating any requirement for me to xfer knowledge. Oh, and in weather news, it was 54 F this morning in the Manor. The kids finally noted that it was 'Cold' and thus, were compelled to snuggle down into the still toasty temporary parental bed. No fending off the hordes while trying to take a shower or chasing them down to get them dressed. They were more than happy to stay put. The comfort of not needing to reconcile what that loud crashing noise in the lower floors exceeds the discomfort of that chill you get after breaking a hole in the ice that has formed in the toilet overnight.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Ok, gotta keep this one short. I'm under the gun for a few things and I'll be heading out with CHH and the Gang for a few beers at lunch ... 2$ Pint Thursdays! Anyways, I installed 32 of the 38 miser iridescent lights last night. I had to leave 6 out since those circuits had dimmers on them. For some reason, when you have a dimmer in the line, the lights flicker till you add at least 1 regular incandescent light ... Weird. It's as if you need a power sink to absorb the extra current. After wrapping up that effort, I put a bit of weather stripping on the windows and door leading to the back-50. It's in the room where the wood-burning stove is located so I'm almost certain that we have a lot of energy loss there. This should help a bit but I should get the door replaced with something that has a better solution than single pane glass crammed into a sold-wood core. It's starting to get cool and cranking up the stove is not long off. Oh, and traffic this morning was a bugger ... again. No accidents in my way, just a lot of depressingly congested volume. Bleh.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
PSEG in tepid water
I've heard from at least two sources in the last few hours that PSEG intends on raising rates by 19.4% if the PUC will allow them to. This being a major slug in the gut for the consumer, is in addition to a 4% increase at the beginning of September. They'll be coming back to this well again, that I'm sure of. The only thing I'm curious about is WHY the prices are going up. The official line was that this is a direct result from the Katrina/Rita situation. Most of the well-heads in the Gulf survived intact as well as refineries being spared any major damage. Virtually all of our natural gas is domestic (LPG is just too dangerous to ship overseas). Is it the cost of Oil? I can see no other direct link so it must be the oil fired power plants ... we shall see if they are just spreading the pain to make it seem less. I'm just not sure what is driving the cost up here ... I'm going to point my fingers at the Trilateral Commission and the Speculators. in any event, this will surely complicate the merger that Exelon-PSEG just went through with promises of lower rates:
- Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell today announced that customers in the PECO Energy service area in southeastern Pennsylvania will benefit from $220 million in rate relief as a result of the commonwealth's intervention after Exelon Corp., the parent of PECO, and Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. (PSEG) announced plans to merge last December. The merger also will guard against soaring electricity prices and protect utility jobs that otherwise might have been lost.
The settlement will provide approximately $220 million in rate relief to PECO's customers through direct rate cuts and a rate cap extension. Customers in the PECO service territory will receive $120 million in total rate cuts over four years, beginning one month after the merger is finalized. PECO also will cap transmission and distribution rates through the end of 2010.
UPDATE: It's not what I thought it was, it's actually PGW! you know, the bankrupt, fraud riddled Philly utility that the city so desperately wants to sell off.
Ahhh, a mundane day. I love the smell of banality in the morning ... it smell like ... a skunk!? Urg. I had left the windows open throughout the Manor last night and it seems as though we had a nocturnal visitor who left a momentary calling card. Initially when I woke, I thought I smelled coffee. As more and more of my higher mental functions came online, I managed to identify the acrid biting smell as that of the 'Peppe LePew' variety. I guess it was out-n-about late this morning and was startled by someone jogging. Either way, the aroma evaporated quickly from the morning air, heavy with the cold that late September brings, after I sealed all the windows tightly closed and went about the morning schedule. I do love that crisp morning air though. It was nearly 64 degrees this morning and I was in nirvana till I hit the Turnpike. There were 2 fender benders this morning, complete with flashing police cruiser lights and the horde of rubber-neckers doing their best to muff up traffic beyond all belief. One was between my exit (611) and the next (309). The other was just outside the KOP Toll gates where I exit in the morning. This caused traffic to back up a mile or two from the actual tolls and cost me 10 minutes of my life. Urgh ... pull off to the side of the road people! Give me a fighting chance at least. Oh well, some day it may be my turn.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
|You are a |
You are best described as a:
Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
- When gasoline prices topped $3 a gallon recently, Samuel Yoder couldn't help smiling.
Instead of paying dearly at the pump, he did what he's been doing for the last two years. He pulled his 1985 Mercedes-Benz sedan up to his barn in Berks County and filled it from a 55-gallon drum of used cooking oil. Total cost of fill-up: zero.
Yoder believes America's thirst for foreign oil will be its downfall, and he is walking the talk. He bought the used diesel Mercedes for $2,000 two years ago in Philadelphia and paid $1,000 more for a German-made converter kit that allows the car to burn any combination of diesel fuel and vegetable cooking oil. Except in the cold winter months, he burns vegetable oil nearly exclusively.
- Yoder and his wife, Annemarie, make their living as veterinarians in Kutztown, but it is on their 88-acre Berks County farm, which they share with their twin 5-year-old daughters, that their passion lies. It's the farm Yoder grew up on and where his Pennsylvania German father instilled lessons of frugality and self-sufficiency.
Now the couple are working to become fully self-sufficient.
- Near the house is an organic garden, where the family grows most of the vegetables it will eat all year, and a sun-powered dryer for preserving them. The garden is fertilized with the manure from the farm's animals.
Inside, the house is outfitted with high-efficiency appliances and heated with wood.
But the most obvious sign that this is no ordinary farm are the giant banks of solar-collection cells, some mounted on poles, some on the barn roof, that greet you as you pull into the driveway. Even on overcast days, the collectors are able to convert the sun's energy into electricity for the house and farm.
The photovoltaic system cost the couple a whopping $40,000, but it has no moving parts and they expect it to give them reliable, free electricity for the rest of their lives.
Sass-n-Frassin Gosh darned .....
Monday, September 26, 2005
Fall is coming
I had plans to write an elaborate dissertation about what I did with the family this weekend. Really, all it boils down to is me moving the 5 tons of sand that was dumped on the Grand (drive)Way sometime Friday afternoon. You may remember that I ordered 5 tons of it Friday morning and was told that it might be there by Saturday ... they were managing my expectations. So, I had my work cut out for me. Unfortunately, the Mrs returned home late so I had to do a majority of the work in the twilight hours. Managed to get 20% of it (1 ton) hauled off to the sand-pit before the sun finally set and the skeeters came out to drive me away. Oh, yeah. I did not mow the lawn. It's been a bit toasty of late and it did not grow much. Good for me, bad for the lawn.
The next day was ... well, Saturday. The day when I rest (PHAAA!) and recharge. I got up early enough to make bacon, toast and eggs for the Mrs and Kids. After that, it was off to the swim club for the kids lessons and for me to sit in the pool area (sweltering hot) and read a bit from Atlas Shrugged. Yeah, the first book I read for pleasure in years and I pick one with 2 pixel font and 1200 pages. Yesh! The Mrs, since she has sneakers, went off to run a bit and muck about on the exercise machines. Good for her. Perhaps she will get her college years figure back ... good for me! :) The kids did well with their new teen-age girl instructors. The two that are in favor this week were treated to the Twin Tyrants of Turpitude "I'm an independent thinker" show and spent a lot of time chasing after them in the pool. The instructors, Lori and Nicole, I think learned a lot more about kids than the kids learned about swimming.
Since we had breakfast before swimming (hush, I know the rule but it was well before they even entered the water), we were going to skip the regular outing for pancakes after the lessons. I was interested in heading up to Rt 1 to Gassiteria Row to fill the tank in the SuperSaturn at 2.81$/gal. Between the Swim Club of Uncomfortable Heat and the Gas Station of Cheap Fuel, there was a VW dealership. Today, they were having a massive sales event in the parking lot of KMart. Oh, the fickle fates were conspiring against us though. As it turns out, we spoke to a suitably 'hip' young lady by the name of Dara Gaddis who was sad to inform us that in the sea of vehicles, they had only 1 Passat TDI available and finding used ones was nearly impossible.
Ok, I wrote a TON more but Blogger ate it. I'll type it in, but I need to go stomp my feet for a bit.
UPDATE: The Rest of the story:
We put our names on the VW wish-list in the hopes that they would be able to locate a used model with less than 25K miles. That, or put us at the front of the line waiting for the new TDI models that seem to be on perpetual wait status. We put our names down and collected a few balloons for the kids along with a two cups of popcorn which were thoroughly enjoyed.
We had an lunch-date scheduled with Chris and Michele over on the Main Line. They are 3rd cousins of mine that we rarely get to visit. We are expected at 1230 so we leave at about 1115 just in case we hit traffic. There was no traffic, of course. It takes all of 40 minutes to get there leaving me with a dilemma: What to do for 40 minutes. It was fortunate that the SPCA was having an animal adoption fair on the corner of the last road leading up to our destination. Oddly enough, it's right across from the John Harvard's brew pub that I frequent with my coworkers. In any event, the kids got to prance about with puppies, bunnies, kitties and a horse. A larger animal, a Mastiff, was also present much to Jacob's amusement. No small dog but it was rather intrigued by the fact that Jacob just strode up to him and started petting him. Most people avoided it either because of it's size or the oceans of slobber it was depositing wherever it laid. There was also a moon-bounce shaped/patterned like a dalmation so the kids HAD to get into that for a few minutes. It was probably a good idea for us to let them burn off a little energy before we went over to our final destination, the kids can be so destructive when they are cooped up for too long.
After we burned some time at the impromptu animal-fare, we zipped on over to the Bradford/Nieland's house where they had set out a nice spread of sandwiches, cookies, watermelon and chips. All the good stuff that kids love to eat. The house is smaller than the Manor, which was a good fit for the neighborhood and had sufficient space for one more addition to their family. The back-yard was a dream though. Well shaded with an apple tree in one corner with bushels of ripe apples on the ground and clinging to low-hanging branches. We spent a good 3 hours there before it was nap-time for their one-year old toddler. Relation-wise, she is the 5th cousin of the twins. We don't keep in touch with them as much as we would like, but hopefully now that they are out of that difficult first year things will change a bit. Chris is doing the artist thing and seems to be making it work for him. He gets to spend a lot of time with their daughter which is always good. His efforts usually require him to attend evening gallery showings so it meshes nicely. They are near a train station so Michele can take Mass Transit into Philly where she works. A good fit all around. Oddly enough, they live a few houses down from where the JrPM whom I've been working with for a few years lives with her Beau. Small world. She mentioned that when they pass by my cousin's house, they admire his art-work through the upper window. I'll have to mention this to Chris to make up for my quip about his work. While we were eating lunch, Alexis need to blow her nose and I told her to give the Kleenex to Chris afterwards so he could get some ideas for his next great work.
On the way back to the manor, the kids passed out in the SuperSaturn. They needed a nap so I took it low and slow. Since they were out cold, I stopped off at the local Home Depot Temple to pick up a few things. First off, I needed just 6 more blocks for the retaining wall. I really want to get this out of the way. I also grabbed a few mums and some fan parts for the attic fan. I'm going to try to replace the motor next weekend when the Parental Units come down. If I can just replace the motor, it would be a significantly less costly and painful effort than if I had to replace the entire system. Not as expensive as my last trip, thank goodness. When we got back to the Manor, the kids woke up the minute the engine spun down and were completely recharged by their short nap. I, of course, would not be playing with them today. No, I spent most of my time and energy shoveling about 50% of the mountain of sand. That's the easy part. Transporting it to the sand-pit through the dog-poop minefield was the taxing phase of the engagement. Why did I not pick up the poo before starting? Because I could not find it among the carpet of leaves that had begun to fall from the trees. Argh ... I stepped in some. Time to get out the leaf-blower.
After expending nearly every spoon I had left, I threw in the towel and went inside to clean-up. One last activity for the night; BBQ 48 pieces of chicken for the Mrs. I made a delectable sauce for the thighs and drumsticks that the Mrs found to be most intriguing. When I told her that I made it from several bottles of mostly empty sauces in the fridge, she became despondent. I would never be able to replicate the recipe. Such are the peccadillos of my cooking. She should be happy with the result for a few weeks though since the first 5 pieces never made it through the weekend.
On Sunday, we stayed a bit closer to home. A desirable concept in so much that I was able to finish up the sand excavation and transportation effort. I need to develop psionics so I can do this mentally, my body aches. While the kids were busy burying themselves in the heaping mounds of sand, I went ahead and planted the pots of flower I bought to give them some time to set down roots. I also managed to raze the rows of beans in the agricultural sector and dump half of the compost heap on the top layer in preparations for tilling. All that is left in the garden is the tomatoes and carrots. Then, it TILLIN' TIME!
I was going to set out some pots and do some prep-work to get ready to take the plants in for the winter. You know, the plants that don't winter over well here in Pennsyltucky. Not quite tropical here. In any even, the Mrs took the kids out shopping with her so I would not be tripping over the two little conspiratorial daemons. She returned rather abruptly. Turns out that Alexis got travel-sick ... big time. I pretty much spend the rest of the daylight hours helping her clean up a few thousand gallons of curdled milk. This involves a hose and stripping down the booster seat. Not simple tasks when your hands are slick from stomach acid. Yetch. I wrap that up, take yet another shower and call it quits. Sure, I cook a pan of rice for the kids but anything involving conscious effort is no longer on the list for the rest of the night. I'm just plumb exhausted. After the kids go to bed, I open the windows in the Temporary Master Suite and immediately pass out. Thank God it's Monday.
Friday, September 23, 2005
1. Do you try to look hot when you go to the grocery store just in case someone recognizes you from your blog?
What is a grocery store? I shop a BJ's wholesale. People stop me there and ask me questions because they believe I work there.
2. Are the photos you post Photoshopped or otherwise altered?
That would be like Photoshopping Jabba the Hut.
3. Do you like it when creeps or dorks email you?
I mostly get spam mail about Viagra ... creep/dork mail would be welcome.
4. Do you lie in your blog?
5. Are you passive-aggressive in your blog?
Not really ... more Agressive-agressive-neutral(-aggressive) than anything.
6. Do you ever threaten to quit writing so people will tell you not to stop?
If I was going to quit I really would never have started.
7. Are you in therapy? If not, should you be? If so, is it helping?
If therapy consists of chopping wood and erecting massive wooden fabrications in the back yard ... then yes. I don't think a therapist would feel comfortable around me anyways.
8. Do you delete mean comments? Do you fake nice ones?
Actually, I don't think I've gotten a 'mean' comment yet. Even if I did I would probably leave it up. Enemies are fun. Faking nice comments is a little self-defeating.
9. Have you ever rubbed one out while reading a blog? How about after?
Hrmmmm. You know talking about my kids most of the time kinda makes this a really creepy question.
10. If your readers knew you in person, would they like you more or like you less?
Most of my readers do know me in person ... and they still think I'm a fairly grumpy guss.
11. Do you have a job?
Kinda ... beyond raising kids, I go to this hell-hole 5 days a week for 8 hours and spend another 2 hours driving back-n-forth from the said location. I get paid for it. It must be a job.
12. If someone offered you a decent salary to blog full-time without restrictions, would you do it?
I'd probably want a few guidelines but I would most likely jump on that ... the savings in travel cost (stinking gas prices/tpk tolls!) and time lost to commuting would be a micro-boon.
13. Which blogger do you want to meet in real life?
Hrmmm ....Lei in Vietnam and Victor Hansen would probably be at the top of the list. Blackfive and Steel would be in second place.
14. Which bloggers have you made out with?
Would you believe Lisa Ling? No? Yeah, ok ... Just one ... two ... ok, I can think of 3.
15. Do you usually act like you have more money or less money than you really have?
Probably less ... but I'm a penny pincher so what do you expect.
16. Does your family read your blog?
More than you can imagine.
17. How old is your blog?
Hmmm, just 17 months now ... only a baby-blogger.
18. Do you get more than 1000 page views per day? Do you care?
I'm small-time and like it that way.
19. Do you have another secret blog in which you write about being depressed, slutty, or a liar?
I have no secrets ... really. Well, except for that overseas job but I can't talk about that ... ever.
20. Have you ever given another blogger money for his/her writing?
21. Do you report the money you earn from your blog on your taxes?
If I actually had ads or got paid for this I suppose I would.
22. Is blogging narcissistic?
For me ... probably. Otherwise I would have turned off comments.
23. Do you feel guilty when you don't post for a long time?
Guilty? More like dreadfull ... catchup is a bummer.
24. Do you like John Mayer?
Pop culture sickens me. Next question.
25. Do you have enemies?
OBL for one. Personal enemies ... very few. I can think of 2.
26. Are you lonely?
I have 2 kids, 2 dogs, a wife, a brother, parents, inlaws and no less than 100 cousins. I can't even use the bathroom without being interrupted.
27. Why bother?
Ok, that's like asking what use is living since you are going to die. You are stuck on stupid here.
28. Favorite Blogging tip
Write what you know.
Time to mess with someone elses cheese: Toni, Steel and Contentious Chick!
UPDATE: I'm tagging Amanda for good measure. :)
Another night home alone with the kids. The Mrs had one of her bi-annual medical checkups. There is on doctor she will go to and getting an evening appointment with Dr Pam is like finding a map to the Ark, The Grail and winning the lottery all at once. So if it's going to be on a Thursday night at 1830, that's what it'll be. Fortunately, Pam knows us pretty well so she will write me a script for my Maxalt and give it to the wife without me having to show up and wait for hours as well. I guess it's my status as their favorite (only) MS patient. Another chip in my pile for the night is the dinner. It's pizza night so I won't have to work very diligently to get the kids to eat. Not like Cold Boiled Liver and Steamed Okra, Brussel Sprouts with Spinach night. Mmmmm ... cold boiled liver ... almost as good as left-over haggis! That should help my diet, eh? In the end, the kids ate their slices of pizza and green beans. It looks like this might be the end of the green beans though. Nothing left in the garden but withered, dried stalks where once was the rows of green bushes. Fare-well green beans, I have your progeny ready for next year.
I've been doing mortal combat with a migraine that I inspired into creation on Wednesday. It makes nights like this so much more difficult and not as productive as I would like. I would have preferred to color or do some puzzles ... or maybe even some math with the kids. We are working on the 1 + 1 = 2 mystery right now. All I could do is lay there and wait for bath time. Perhaps Friday night. Ahhh, the promise of a new day.
Speaking of 'New Beginnings', I had some fairly unpleasant thoughts on the TPK this morning. There were a number of ... fellow travelers ... driving to where ever they were heading around me and all I could think about some of the more memorable stunts is how small, petty, selfish evil little monsters people can be. Maybe it was the pain on the right side of my frontal lobe, but I was in no mood for this kind of tom-foolery. It was my great fortune that there was no big accident today or absurd backup due to a flashing light or blinking sign. Man, am I in a pissy mood today. PICKLES! I meant 'poor' mood. Yeah. Whatever. When I did get to work, I sat down and ordered 5 tons of bar sand from Hatboro Lumber. They'll dump it in my driveway either today or tomorrow and then the sand-pit will be that much closer to completion. Amen. I can then work on the 1000 other projects that need attention.
An Upper Southampton woman with a long history of driving drunk pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges stemming from a fatal car crash.
Elizabeth Jovanovic, 41, of Willowpenn Drive, was sentenced to six months to 5 years in the county prison for her part in a Jan. 16 collision on Street Road, near Churchville Road.
The driver of the other car died in the crash. Police did not charge Jovanovic with homicide, however, because an investigation later showed that the woman also was driving drunk and had rolled through a stop sign into Jovanovic's path.
- "This is a very difficult case," said Judge Kenneth Biehn from his bench at the Bucks County Courthouse in Doylestown. "You are not charged with causing a death, but one can speculate as to whether, if you were sober, you could have reacted faster."
At the time of the accident, Jovanovic's blood alcohol content was .13, nearly double the legal limit of .08. The victim's BAC was not disclosed in court.
Jovanovic's attorney, Ronald Elgart, said Jovanovic was seriously injured in the crash and has been treated for depression in recent months.
A single mother of three boys, Jovanovic apologized for the crime and said she has been sober since the crash.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
9th year running
My unannounced absence ... well, I took yesterday off to spend a bit of time with the Mrs. It was our 9th anniversary and all. We did the most fantastic thing ... virtually nothing. Virtual, because we actually did a lot of work. The previous day was spent without her company entirely. She went to the semi-bi-monthly Mothers of Multiples rubbish sale and meeting in the evening so I did not see her till 2300 hours. Long after I had put the kids to bed. Our day off together was fairly fruitful though. Not THAT kind of 'fruitful', shesh!
We started off by sleeping in for an hour or so. The kids enjoyed it more so than ourselves of course. When we wake them on the average day, Alexis is really quite unpleasant. Given the extra sleep time, the morning routine was a snap. I suppose it helps that I fed them breakfast at home and helped the Mrs transport and deposit our greatest treasures to day-care. With that over, the Lovely Mrs MDMHVONPA began her four hours of 'working from home' which consists of her being on the phone the whole time along with being logged into the corporate network via an encrypted VPN. I'll not be getting the tiniest slice of her time for the duration. I do what I can to let her be and head off for a long overdue haircut. I get there at 0900 and am out in 15 minutes. I guess nobody else gets their hair cut at 9am since Sal and his buddy was there with no-one else waiting. Good for me, they are fresh and primed to give me my standard 2 week flat-top that I'll primp for the next 4 months. From there, I head off to the local Home Depot Temple to do a bit of 'Man Shopping' 24 fluorescent miser light bulbs at 10$ a pop and 27 ten-ton retaining wall blocks for the sand-pit. Yes, 27 MORE blocks for that never-ending project. Pulling the blocks off the shelf, putting them back into the Family Tank and then hauling them off to the back-50 was exhausting enough. Add in the shoveling, pounding, leveling, demolition, releveling ... oof-tah! I was pooped. The Mrs hung out on the back patio with the dogs, her laptop and the phone complete with head-set while I labored away. Yep, this is how we spend that special day together. The bad news was that with the additional 27 blocks, I was still way sort of the sufficient quantity for completing the project. After the Patiently Graceful Mrs was done with her conference calls, we both ran off to a different Home Depot Temple and picked up 30 MORE blocks. Even with these, I'm still short 6. And it's getting hot outside. The fun has begun. I need to start cutting some of the blocks to do the angle corners and things are not going well. I'm hot, sweaty and tired. Not a good combination. Even worse, I stop sweating entirely which tells me that I've inadvertently become dehydrated. Hello migraine! Since I'm tired and hot ... my vision start to get blurry and my corner-cuts get a bit ... sloppy. At this point I just want to finish what I've started. It would not be so bad but the blocks are several inches thick so I need to cut from both sides. The top is easy but the bottoms are uneven and I invariably end up cutting at a slight angle ... lots of trim-cuts end up with a block that is not quite perfect. Something that will be a nagging reminder to myself but no-body else will notice unless I point out the flaws in the wall. I finish up the remainder of the blocks and cuts by 18000 just as the Mrs arrives home after completing a solo S&R mission. The kids are happy to see me in so much that I've finished the wall so they can walk all the way around the sand-pit without having to jump off. Daddy is such a good work-horse. I still need to order 5 tons of sand to fill in the pit up to the correct level though. Yes ... actually 5 TONS of sand. No exaggeration. This is the easy part though. Just a shovel, rake and wheel-barrow. Easy stuff. No skill required. Oh, did I mention that I started to move the compost heap to the agricultural sector using the said shovel, wheel-barrow and a tined pitchfork? Did I mention that in my exhaustion I nearly put one of the tines through my foot? Yeah, about then I decided it was time to call it quits.
After the migraine had kicked in, I was nearly useless for the rest of the night. I helped get the kids fed, bathed and to bed ... but that was about it. I was saturated with pain-killers and Maxalt so my interactions with the Mrs were not entirely coherent. This also resulted in some rather peculiar dreams. For some reason, I was dreaming about a meeting I had where I was staying at Buckingham Palace and having dinner with the Queen of England. Later on, she was so endeared with myself and the family that she insisted that she come over to the Manor for a short stay. Weird.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
ZING! I had a little issue last night. Broke my schedule all to heck. I had arrived at the manor just before 1700 hours. With the SuperSaturn safely docked in the car-port, I was exiting the command capsule when my ears picked up an odd high-pitched sound. I knew this sound, I've heard it once before. It's the sound of metal grinding against metal. That high pitched tune of heat and vibration which only ends in a charred and smoky end of whatever is producing the shrill song. It was the attic exhaust fan all the way uptop the manor roof. PICKLES! I was not planning on spending my evening clinging to the precipice of the manor amongst the snarling Gargoyles and glaring, cackling crows. I was going to head off to the Gym tonight after feeding the kids their dinner. Well, I was going to the gym until I realized that I had no sneakers. Two pair of slippers, two sets of dress shoes and 3 pairs of boots. Not the kind of thing you would want to head off to the stair-master with. I suppose it was all for the best then. Once I completed the S&R mission and had the kids securely seated about the table, I could clearly hear the whine of the fan. Every second that ticked by the issues ground on my mind. The Mrs was going to be late ... she was in a meeting with her boss from 1500 till 1730 ... argh. Once she finally arrived, I scaled the manor and began the work of figuring out what was amiss. Of course, I had to shut off the fuse for the fan first which was a real blast. With miles between the fuse and the fan, communication was nearly impossible. The composition of the Manor creates a nearly impassable barrier for radio-wave communication. Too much steel, wire, stone and brick. Once we had identified the correct breaker, I had to shout down to the Mrs to turn on and off the circuit to test my 'engineering' efforts. Mostly, that involved me pumping silicone oil into the spindle housing and
tapping hammeringBASHING the unit with a locking wrench till the alignment was correct. Took all the daylight hours I had left and I managed to get nailed by 4 mosquitoes in the process. How was your night? I'm exhausted.
This morning, I managed to get up at 0600, but then went right back to sleep for 15 minutes ... pickles again! The traffic was still a mess even though we managed to get going near 0700. This was due to an accident on the Schuylkill Expressway. Nothing to do with the Turnpike expect some Genius put up a notification on the electronic billboard near the 309 exit. Every single-cell organism had to stop their car, get out and read the gosh-durned tootin' message to make sure that their heads were not going to explode. Not that they would suffer from that malady. Grrrr!
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Coal Mine Weekend
One of these days, I'll figure out how to relax and do nothing. I've managed to work myself into a profound and inexcusable exhausted state. Just in time for Monday, of course. A long, long time ago ... Nearly Friday night if I recall, it all begin. We went to bed late as Friday night would dictate and had a restless, unsatisfying nights sleep. The next day was the morning swim lessons for the kids, but there was the smell of change in the air. Perhaps 'malodor' would be a better description. The twin tyrants had progressed enough in their swimming instruction so that they could be promoted to their next class level. The 'Parentless' instruction. No more would the Mrs and I be required to change into our full body swim gear and wade into the treacherous waters with our charges. No, we could sit back on the side of the pool and watch the bevy of buxom teenager girls wrestle with the troublesome tots. Yes, let some other poor soul deal with Alexis and her insistence on doing what she wanted (which, by the way, was in direct contrast to whatever you may have suggested). Let some other person attempt to fend off Jacobs irresistible amorous invitations as they tried to convince him that he should follow the instructions instead of trying to permanently latch on to their torso. Of course, none of these events would come to pass since that behavior was reserved for the parents exclusively. After a few minutes, the fretful parents were convinced that the kids were in good hands. Since it was a 1:1 instructor:pupil ratio, we could wander the health club to see what else was available for us. Surprisingly, the facility was much bigger than we had assumed. There's a raised track, a spinning room, tanning beds, massage/facial/nail parlor, juice bar, coffee stand, every weight lifting machine known to man, cineplex and ... my GOD! A child-care center! We may finally get our work-out time to enable us to shed these 10-20 (10 for the Mrs, 20 for me) ugly (ugly on me, feminine on the Mrs) pounds of fat (lard on me, padding on the Mrs). One down side is that if we intend on utilizing this new-found opportunity, we will certainly need to get up earlier so that I can get the kids fed before we retreat to the gym ... getting up earlier (read: on time). Urg.
After swim lessons, we decided that we would go to a new diner for the ritual Saturday morning pancakes. The Suburban Diner is just a mile up Street Road from the club so we won't have to drive 10 miles to get to Perkins. The service was a little shoddy, but the prices are comparable. Then there was the ultimate selling point for Jacob. It just so happened that the Trevose Fire Department was doing one of the annual fund drives where they would have their engines parked on all 4 corners of an intersection and the men (and woman) would stand out in the street with buckets for you to toss some change in. Well, let me tell you that Jacob nearly lost his eyesight from his eyeballs popping out and certainly could not speak for a few moments. He was delighted that I gave him a dollar to give to the towering men and even more enthused that he was allowed to crawl into the ladder truck AND the pump engine. It was a really good day for him. First, a bunch of teenage girls in wet swim-suits cooing over him, then fire trucks and finally bacon for breakfast. All before noon!
Since the diner was close to the intersection of the PA Turnpike and US Rt1, we decided to head up that way since gasoline prices in that area are abnormally low for the region. Not sure why, but there are about a dozen stations all with super-low prices. We stopped at Sunoco and put 9 gallons into the SuperSaturn at 2.89$/gal. Not too bad. We decided to drive my car this weekend since it gets 30mpg instead of 15. It would save us 3$ to drive my car. Ugh. The Mrs is dutifully combing the area for a VW 2 liter DTI. We'll probably end up buying a new one since it seems that the used ones are quite rare. Something about the good mileage and excellent service record. It still irks me that we have to resort to buying a foreign manufactured car, but until Daimler Chrysler comes up with something we have few alternatives within the price range we can afford.
After tanking up on gasoline that costs as much as milk, we headed off to the Local Home Depot Temple and Lowes that are just up the road from Gaseteria row. There was an old hospital/college/medical institution that was knocked down and a bunch of big-box stores were built. All the standard ones. It suits us, we just need a BJ's and perhaps Wegmans to be built and we would never need to go anywhere else. The Neshaminy Mall is in that area too where we go for the annual photo shoot with the 'Real Santa-Claus'. To top things off, one of the kids old 'day care professionals' works at the Lowes in the Big-Box-Farm so they had an opportunity to squeal with delight over meeting up with her. She actually lives near us so we are keen on having her sit the kids some day soon. The Mrs is comfortable with her and the kids don't recoil in horror ... it's a match made in heaven. A night off would be well worth the price. The rest of the day involved me taking care of a bit of lawn work and making dinner for the kids. I don't remember much other than making rice and 25 brats on the grill for dinner. The kids ate nearly all the rice and shared 2 brats between them. I ate one ... HONEST!
Then came Sunday. In spite of going to bed late, I got up in time to make the 0700 mass. I though about waiting a bit so I could take one of the kids with me to the usual 1000 mass, but I wanted to get the lawn mowed and it was cool enough this morning so that I would not broil in my own skin doing so. So off to mass, then back home. I did take a detour so I could drop off the used oil and dead battery at my Mechanic's shop. Oh, did I mention that I changed the oil in the SuperSaturn on Saturday? No? In any event, I got home shortly before 0900 and started rustling up some grub for the Mrs and the Soon-To-Be-Ravenous-Twins. Toast, bacon, sausage, cereal, OJ ... that should fill their cavernous tummies. Oddly enough, I was feeling exhausted after only four short hours. And yet, I have a lawn to mow that has not felt the blazing agony of the mower for nearly 3 weeks now. Oh, but the agony shall be mine, now wont it? The cool air of the morning evaporates into a steamy cauldron of fiendish proportions when I finally get my rear in gear. That, and chopping through the new growth jungle takes hours. Since I catch the clippings and the primeval jungle is so dense, I could only make one pass over the front expanse before having to stop and unload the hopper. At this rate, I swore that it would take until November to get it done. Fortunately, my estimation capabilities are rather poor and it took till mid-afternoon. Just in time to hunker down in the shade of the doomed white pine trees in the back 50 and work on the western retaining wall. It took little time for me and the hordes of uncompensated laborers to put 25 20 ton blocks in place and cut short the effort ... since I only had 25 blocks. It is looking like I'll need 25-60 more blocks to finish the whole shebang. Then a few more tons of sand it I'll finally be done. HONEST!
Final notes. We had soup for dinner on Sunday. Initially, both Jacob and Alexis were not impressed till they actually started eating it. Mmmm, nothing like chicken-noodle soup with extra noodles and not so much soup. This morning, I got up at 0615 and managed to get rolling, but the kids were not entirely interested in the idea of getting to school on time so we ended up about 15 minutes behind schedule. Oh, if I had only known that those 15 minutes were of no consequence. At the same time I was negotiating with Alexis that it would be in her best interest to put her underwear on ... a BMW was spinning out of control on the onramp of the rest stop near my exit ... oh, the humanity! There was a back-up from Valley Forge all the way to willow Grove, my onramp. Of course, it was on the onramp and not in the line of traffic. Gawker delay ... just add some flashing lights and people loose their minds. Friggen Turnpike
Friday, September 16, 2005
- Former Lower Moreland Township School District janitor Eladio Miranda used his access to the district's middle and high schools to rape a 10-year-old girl on at least four separate occasions.
Miranda, who knew the girl outside of school, was sentenced Tuesday to four to eight years in prison for raping the girl at Huntingdon Valley's Murray Avenue School in 2004. The girl does not attend school in the district.
Miranda took the girl to the school nurse's office, pushed her onto a bed and raped her, according to court records. He told her not to tell anyone.
The next day, the girl complained to her mother that she was suffering from vaginal bleeding. When her mother questioned her about this, the girl told her what Miranda had done, according to court records.
Her mother, also of of Philadelphia, reported the rape to Philadelphia police, who took her to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for an examination.
The clothes the girl was wearing at the time of the assault were tested for DNA, according to court records. Semen found on the girl's clothes belonged to Miranda.
The girl told police that Miranda had sexually assaulted her three other times - two times at Lower Moreland High School and one time at Murray Avenue, according to court records.
Philadelphia eventually forwarded the case to Lower Moreland police who arrested Miranda.
- A drug from Genzyme Corp. and Schering AG helped reduce the risk of relapses in multiple sclerosis patients, but caused a serious side effect in three cases that led to a death, the companies said Friday."
In the Phase II or mid-stage trial, three patients developed idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, or ITP, a condition in which patients experience a low platelet count that can result in bruising easily and abnormal bleeding after being injured.
One patient died from the condition. Two remaining cases are being treated.
- Genzyme executives characterized the condition as reasonably manageable. Treatments include steroids, and in some cases, removal of the spleen.
- Genzyme and Schering said they have notified regulatory authorities in the United States and other countries, trial sites and patients about risks. The companies have consulted a panel of experts to advise the companies on how to reduce risks of ITP.
The companies said they will continue to collect both efficacy and safety data from this Phase II trial -- which compared Campath (alemtuzumab) with Rebif, a drug from SwitzerlandÂs Serono -- while preparing to initiate a Phase III trial.
While Campath met one of its key goals, reducing relapse, it just missed a second, which was to show a statistically significant reduction in the risk of progression of clinically significant disability.
The drug, however, did show signs of reducing the progression of disability, with at least 60 percent of patients experiencing a benefit.
- With gasoline prices ticking higher all this year and the impact of Hurricane Katrina driving them ever higher, a growing number of Americans are turning to alternative fuels to power their vehicles. But experts warn that simply filling up with these unconventional fuels could end up costing you down the road if you're not careful.
Frustrated with pumping gasoline that costs well over $3 a gallon, some U.S. drivers are turning to a collection of biofuels including E85, a mixture of 85 percent corn-based ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, and biodiesel, an alternative to petroleum-based diesel made from renewable sources such as vegetable oils or animal fats, into their cars.
- “It all comes down to lubrication, corrosiveness and viscosity,” said Stanley P. Miller of the Alternate Fuel Project Center. “You can get problems if you haven’t replaced parts of your vehicle that are not compatible with the new fuel you’re putting in your car.”
Millions of modern cars steer clear of these pitfalls, as they are so-called “flexible fuel” vehicles designed to run on biofuels like E85, ...
- “It all comes down to lubrication, corrosiveness and viscosity,” said Stanley P. Miller of the Alternate Fuel Project Center. “You can get problems if you haven’t replaced parts of your vehicle that are not compatible with the new fuel you’re putting in your car.”
Millions of modern cars steer clear of these pitfalls, as they are so-called “flexible fuel” vehicles designed to run on biofuels like E85,
Another potentially more destructive consequence of using ethanol-based fuel is permanent damage to a car’s gasoline tank, notes Dr. Timothy Maxwell, a professor of mechanical engineering at Texas Tech University’s Mechanical Engineering Department.
“Water is attracted to alcohol, and so with a metal fuel tank, especially one that’s made of steel, the ethanol in the fuel absorbs water from the atmosphere and water droplets form,” said Maxwell. “That can lead to rust and corrosion in the tank, and pin holes can form.”
Also potentially harmful for a car’s engine is the sediment that naturally builds up in a gasoline tank says Kahn.
“This is especially true of an older vehicle,” he said. “If you have a Ford pickup truck, for example, with about 50,000 miles on the clock, it’s going to have some stuff forming in the tank, and ethanol-based fuel, and more importantly biodiesel, has solvent properties that dissolve that stuff and ‘clean’ the gas tank, and it can get sucked into fuel lines and cause problem in engine — this is why important to keep changing your fuel filters.”
It was a slow night. Thank you God. Pizza night is a an easy time since I don't really have to fight with the kids much to get them to eat all of their dinner. I was feeling a bit worn down ... mostly from the activities of the previous night. After the kids finished up and the Mrs arrived home, I announced my departure for the upper floors of the Manor and got down to business. There were tons (count: over 100) of carpet staples I needed to pull out of the wood floor and a bunch of molding around the door frames in the Master Suite that I still needed to remove. It took all damn night and I still did not finish. Argh. A few dozen more staples and I can start striping the huge walk-in closet. I would really like to rent the sander this weekend but I still need to fill in some of the cracks left between the floor boards with wood-putty before I can do this. Perhaps next week.
So, I did not get to bed early. I woke up tired and with a head-ache to boot. My shoulders and legs are sore for no real good reason. I feel a migraine coming on. This bodes poorly for the weekend. That, and I'm running low on Maxalt ... time to call up the medical team and get them ramped up for my bi-annual visit I suppose. Bleh, I just want to crawl back into bed and forget that today all together.
- An Omaha man mowed an obscenity into his lawn, and now his neighbors are upset because they don't want their children to see the nasty language.
The homeowner, who neighbors told KETV NewsWatch 7 has the last name Miller, cut a two-word expletive into his front lawn after being warned by the city about excessive grass and weeds around his house. His house is near 68th Street and Park View Lane. The phrase is about 30 feet long across his yard.
City prosecutor Marty Conboy said little can be done legally about the yard.
'There really is no criminal law that covers these kinds of vulgarities,' Conboy said.
Conboy said it would be different if the homeowner threatened city employees by saying the expletive, but on the lawn, it's a passive statement protected by the First Amendment.
"As much as you might shake your head at what kind of reasoning is involved, it's not prohibited," Conboy said. "A person who wants to make a statement in public, that doesn't invoke a violent response, is protected by the constitution."
Conboy said he is "disappointed" that someone would use his First Amendment rights in such a manner."
If what he had created said "Muslims Suck", CAIR and the ACLU would be all over his rear like a mower on a lawn. But alas, if he had scripted "God Sucks", they would be supporting him ... well, at least the ACLU would have.
- "Eight Republican state senators from the Philadelphia suburbs said yesterday they would press to reduce property taxes by giving local governments and school districts the option of levying an income tax.
The GOP legislators made the proposals just two days after Gov. Rendell issued his own property-tax agenda.
They announced a package that would also cap state spending, use some revenue from gambling to expand the current property-tax-rebate program for senior citizens, and freeze property taxes for lower-income seniors.
The likelihood of any of these measures passing is unknown."
Thursday, September 15, 2005
In a rare validation of Pavlovian training, I've learned that I need to be prepared for the evening activities before I leave the house in the morning. If all the preparations are in place, everyone is happier and everything goes smoothly. As it should be. So yesterday evening's S&R with dinner went ... well. I picked up the kids early, gave a superficial session of admonishment for them jumping in the puddles on the driveway (I wanted to do that SOOO bad), got them started on dinner and had them nearly done by the time the Mrs arrived home ... early. Play time went well except for Alexis asking Mommy to take her to the bathroom to go pee ... and then peeing right there. Guess she really had to go. We need to work on the concept that she can pee in private too. They have already cast a jaundiced eye on the training pottys and insist on using the toilet ... they like to flush it I think. After a bit of coercing, we got them into the bath and off to bed before 2100 hours. I wanted to put in the fire-bricks that I bought while on vacation last week. The damn things cost about 2.50-4$ each and I might as well get them installed. Well, they did not fit perfectly which is ok since the original ones did not either. I needed to chip away a notch along the long side of the 2 bricks that will go in the back of the fire-box so that they would fit into the retaining clamps. No problem, just chip a little at a time ... chip ... chip ... SNAP! Oh, PICKLES! Yeah, I swear like that now ... it sucks. The durned thing snapped right down the middle. Normally, I would have pulled the next brick out but since these were so hard I went ahead and put it in. It was fixed in there solidly and would not move so I think I can get away with it. I have 5 other bricks so if it starts to disintegrate I can replace it. The other brick that needed 'modification' snapped too but this was the one that had to have a corner removed. There was no reason for it to snap the way it did. I got really pissed over this one and stood up to give it a good 'Daddy Glare' when I noticed that I was perspiring ... a lot.
For those of you who know me, you'll understand the panic I fall into when I start to get hot and begin to sweat. I'm ok with it as long as I'm prepared for it. I used to have 'sweet sweat' when I was an aerobics instructor. No stink, no nasty filmy oil ... just a thin layer of sexy, shiny moisture. Not anymore. Now I'm a nasty pig with fetid liquids squirting from my pores. Bletch. What's worse, I don't seem to cool down at all and quickly deplete my fluid reserves. Then things get messy. Overheating is a bad thing, hydration is gooood. The bothersome fact was that I was sweating inside my wondrous central air conditioned manor. The furnace fan was on, but upon checking the thermostat dials, readouts and blinky lights I find that the temp is going UP! Well, in technical terms, that's "NOT GOOD". I ask the Mrs to go out and check the external unit while I wash the soot and grime off my hands in preparation to ... well, get dirty. She reports back that the 20 foot fan blades in the unit are not spinning and the compressor is silent. I turn on the external flood lights, disarm the cyborg anti-personnel guards and collect my tools to start my investigation. After about 30 mosquito bites, I reassemble the unit and proclaim that it is indeed not running. Curses, I did not need to have this burden so late in the summer. At least the portable AC we have in the kids room works ... they'll be able to sleep comfortably. I glance up at the flood lights and notice that only half of them are lit up. Odd, I could have sworn I flipped both switches. The realization of what I was seeing did not hit me until the Mrs made a comment that the stove and refrigerator were also offline. Then it hit me ... the Annual PECO Power Issue is in effect. Every year, the buried transformer across the street sinks a bit due to erosion from a broken storm sewer drain and we loose one of our power feeds. Every. Damn. Year.
The Mrs gives the SkyNet PECO Impersonal Phone Outage Logging system a call and it scans her brain waves to verify that she is indeed the person who pays the outrageous 3000$ monthly utility bill. Her DNA sample is on file and they WILL clone her should she meet some unfortunate end in order to keep a faithfully punctual bill-payer on their rolls. The Deus ex machina assigns a faithful servant to let us know that they will not be able to diagnose or resolve our problem any time soon due to the number of reported gas leaks they have recently been alerted too. This is a standard 'expectation management' technique they employ and with us putting in a call at just before 2145, I'll expect to see someone within an hour. Unfortunately, this would have been an accurate assessment if the dispatched 'unit' had not been on call for the last 16 hours and could see straight. He was hopelessly lost within our development. I cannot imagine how anyone could not immediately identify the Haupertonian International Combine World HQ and Manor on sight, but I had to talk him through the directions just to get him near the GPS coordinates. Even then, he blasted down the street and past the driveway where I was standing in slippers and silk boxers, frantically waving my hands to get his attention. Alas, his REM Sleep deprived condition prevented him from noticing the frantically gesticulating figure as I raced down the street after him. I considered taking off one of my slippers and throwing it at the truck but thought it unwise should it land in the back of the truck as he drives away. Nothing would suck more than having to waddle back towards the manor sans one of my foot coverings. He eventually discovers that he has gone too far and begins to turn around. I stand in the middle of the road and wave him down ... he see me and pulls over. Finally, I get to tell him how to get there and he still pulls up to the wrong house. When I do speak with him and tell him the same story I recite every year, he ignores my ballad as if it were yet another wild story by the usual White Collar smooth hand elitist. He is as gruff and surly as they come but after a few tests begins to see that my tale rings true and calls in the digger crew.
The back-hoe gang show up at midnight and begin the task of digging in the same spot they dig every year. I should just put a man-hole cover there instead or replanting the grass. If this had been earlier in the day, Jake would have been delighted to have witnessed the excavation. But alas, I'm barely coherent so the job of keeping him from beneath the wheels would have been too much for me. The Mrs and I had hoped to be in bed by 2200 hours tonight. Best laid plans and all, you know. By 0130, they had polished up their work and I bid them farewell, see you next year. The Mrs fumes that their work will be shoddy and ineffective come the next storm. I feel the same but am grateful that I have electric service unlike the poor souls in the South. Small blessings, great fortunes.
Morning ... is awful. Up late, tired, sore and it's raining out like a cow pissing on a flat rock. Perfect, the road-ways will have an extra helping of delays and accidents due to the 'Instant-asshole, just add water' nature of metro traffic. Today, I think I'll be going out for that pint or two of beer at lunch. BTW: It's now 2$ instead of 1$ for a Thursday Pint ... keeps the riff-raff out, don't you know.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
- A truck carrying tons of quarters caught fire Tuesday and spilled most of them on a highway, where workers used heavy equipment, shovels and buckets to scoop up the singed coins.
The driver said the truck carried 39,000 pounds of new Kansas quarters, part of the U.S. Mint's state coin series, that were worth some $800,000, said Police Chief Michael Putnam.
Police called in a front-end loader to scoop up the coins and deposit them in buckets. The road was partly closed for 12 hours, Putnam said.
Another truck from Colorado-based American Armored Transport Inc. was headed to the wreck site to collect the quarters.
Ahhh, the joys of the familiar. Well, the familiar stink of ill conceived rollouts and lax project management. The JAR rollout that was supposed to happen at 1000 hours on Tuesday got bumped to the following day because of complications with other requisite actions. Oddly enough, this firedrill has caused the part I'm concerned with to be done at the time when a 1000 hours FIRE DRILL is planned. Complete with evacuation and Firemen. Good Grief. Destiny is upon us, and it goes by the name of FUBAR.
Speaking of unprepared, I've been woefully negligent in getting things set out for the evening schedule the last couple of days. Vacation-head is still plaguing me. I've gotta get my head back in the game. That, and I need to get to bed before midnight. Going on a half tank of sleep is certainly not supporting the cause in the least. It's going to be a really busy weekend. Did I mention that I'm borrowing Hero-Dad's 5 foot chain saw? Heh-he-he. It might be a long weekend, but at least it will be fun. Now you know what that 10 gallons of gasoline I bought on the trip home was for.
- Philadelphia Inquirer | 09/13/2005 | Infant girl born to severely brain-damaged woman dies: "McLEAN, Va. - A girl born last month to a severely brain-damaged woman died yesterday after emergency surgery to repair a perforated intestine.
Susan Anne Catherine Torres, who was born prematurely Aug. 2 after her mother was on life support for three months, died at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, a family statement said.
The infant's condition had deteriorated rapidly during the weekend, according to the family. Her prematurity led to an intestinal disorder and an infection that overwhelmed her body, and she died just after midnight, the hospital said."
Monday, September 12, 2005
I survived the great vacation of 2005
Hmmm, things are getting a bit complicated. I'm just not keeping up with the whole blogging thing. But enough of my insufferable whining, let me tell you about the final days of the GREAT VACATION OF 2005 (pause for echo effect). Things actually went a bit better after the Mrs started to recover from whatever had pounded her down into the sand. She was still a bit on the frail side and seemed to be inundated with frantic emails and even more frantic phone calls the entire week. These, of course, were regarding work. While the Mrs was valiantly trying to deflect as much occupational detritus as she could, we continued on with exposing the children to all of the wonders of Metro-Ithaca. We went off to some of the parks and gorges (so we could throw rocks into the water), we stopped off at the Science Center to play with snakes (much to Hero-Dad's horror) and we stopped off at Purity Ice Cream for a little treat. We also made it down to Owego for a ride on the old diesel train which was a big hit with Jacob. He really enjoyed the puppet show that they had on the train and was extremely upset that it only lasted 2.5 hours. The experience, as bumpy as it was, led me to believe that train travel is actually a lot nicer than driving the tank about. This conclusion was inspired by the long stretches of highway that were reduced to 1 lane due to 'ditch digging' between Ithaca and Owego. Bletch. Made me want to cry. Alexis, who has been having a rough spot with a virus, was acting up a bit as well. One evening she learned to pronounce Machiavellian on the first try. I was mildly amused but not entirely surprised. Later that evening she engaged in a massive temper tantrum that solidified my belief that she will be the end of me before she graduates from college. On the last full day of vacation, we drove up to Rochester to meet our friends (Sean & Lucy) with twins. Sean was the best man in my wedding and Lucy was my 'Little Sister' in college. We are all very familiar with each-others lives. So much so that we put them on our list of people to take care of our twins should something happen to the Mrs and I. Their twins are just as adorable as ours were at that age and they look very happy in the new home they had bought. They are somewhere between Rochester and Buffalo actually, just beyond Greece. Nice, rural, quiet. Something that the Mrs would never tolerate. We only brought Jacob along since Alexis was a bit ill yet and we did not want to infect the infants. It was a long drive but well worth it.
While we were out and about, we had left the hounds outside on the back deck at the FOB. This, as it turns out, was a bad idea. Every time a car drove by on the gravel road they would start barking and howling thinking that it was us returning from wherever we had gone. After a couple days of this, the neighbors got a bit tweaked and left a few messages for the parents. Sure, it was a week-day and you would think it would not bother anyone ... but apparently there are 3 people who live in the darkest deeps of the woods who would rather listen to the donkey bray on the distant farm than have to hear a couple of dogs howl. We kept them inside when we were gone from then on. Odd, they don't do this at home. Must be all the liberalism in the air getting them all buggered up. That, or the damned Trilateral Commission. Either way, I spent a bit more time with the dogs after that. They really enjoyed chasing after rocks that the kids would throw down into the gully-wash. You know, if we had spent the whole week throwing rocks into the gully or creek, the whole family would probably have been just as happy and entertained. I think I'll plan for that on our next trip up to the FOB.The trip home was awful. 230 miles of misery. Alexis did not drink nearly enough of her Dramamine spiked water and ended up spewing 10x the volume of her stomach. Jake, on the other hand, drank his entire bottle of ambrosia which only seemed to agitate him more. He was a non-stop chattering machine and insisted that he had to pee before we got to the first charted stop. When we did finally get to Gibson, we tanked up on gasoline including the two 5 gallon containers for a total of 28 gallons. At 2.89/gal (pretty good price, eh?), it was a small fortune. With prices here in the Philly area topping off at 3.35, I'll certainly have to talk to the Mrs about using the SuperSaturn for our weekend shopping trips instead of the FamilyTank. The damn thing has a 26 gallon capacity and she refills it every week. Grrrr.
Final note, I've managed to crawl through the 2000 emails in my work email inbox. Bletch. The Garden went wild while we were gone and the tomatoes have formed a new union to conquer the whole agricultural sector. The cucumbers are done and the green-beans are on their last cycle. It's nearly time to haul in the compost and start to till it under. That, and the thousand other tasks I have in my queue ... some vacation, I'm glad to be back home and get some rest!
Friday, September 09, 2005
Monday, September 05, 2005
Late to bed ... late to rise? I guess, if 0800 is considered late. Since the macro-mastodons relieved themselves late last night, they did not believe it was a pressing issue. It was a good morning for sleep ... Jake was sleeping across the bed and Alexis had tossed off her blankets. They woke once they heard me enter their rooms and immediately pounced on the opportunity to bum-rush their greatest proponents. The Mrs, however, is still under the weather and stays in bed. I thought I would be the one getting direly ill, but somehow I'm managing to escape it while she is reaping the worst of it. At this rate, we may not get to visit our friends in Rochester.
After getting cleaned up, the kids and I headed out to do some rather important stuff ... like throwing rocks into the gully. The dogs thought that this was the most brilliant thing they had ever seen and would chase each-other down into the stagnant pools of skeeter infested runoff. Of course, after they ran out of sticks, branches and redwood trunks to haul back up out of the ravine, the started hauling boulders and bracheosaurus thigh bones up for the kids to toss back down. This could have gone on indefinitely if it were not for our appointment with the fishing hole.
We stop off at Big Little Brothers place and feed some apples to the horses before heading off to the pond where we will spend a few hours harassing the big-mouth bass. The horses are not spring chickens. One of them, Rebel, is 30 years old and has only two teeth left. Perfect for the kids since he cannot do much harm even if he tried to bite. Since he is quite fond of kids (who incidentally only want to pet, scratch and feed him), it's a perfect match. After we ran out of apples and grass, Jacob spotted an Ithacat off in the hay storage. Yes, it's an ITH-A-CAT. A particularly inbred version of a tom-cat indigenous to the area that has several toes on each foot. I believe the genetic term is called polydactyl. The peculiar version of it here can allow you to have 6 toes on one foot and 8 on another so they don't match. So Jake was in hot pursuit of the farm cat that had no real interest in being molested so made a quick get-away after a short time. That left Jake perched precariously atop several bales of hay from which he had to repel down. Fortunately, his descent was buffered by a rather loose pile of hay that mostly ended up within his clothing. Most entertaining by his judgment. Enough of the agricultural adventure ... off to the fishing hole.
The fish were biting even though is was nearly noontime. Best time to have done this would be early in the morning or late in the evening. Uncle Paul pulled a little Big Mouth Bass out of the drink and the kids got a bunch of nibbles. The patients part about fishing became rather evident and the luster of activity soon worn off.
I suppose that later on in life, just sitting about and throwing back a few cups of milk will appeal more to them. Wait till they actually catch something. Nemo will be horrified.
We head on back to the FOB and find that the Mrs has actually got out of bed today and bathed. That's good to see. Once we get settled in, she and grams go out to do a little shopping. That seems to be a good sign, but by the time they get back she is on the skids again and I send her right back to bed. Second night in a row is not a good sign. If this keeps up, we'll have to cut the vacation short and drag her back to Philly and right into the emergency room. While she is in her convalescing period, the remainder of the family dives into dinner and does a little cook-out thing afterwards. Yep, you can't go to the Grandparents FOB and not cook marshmallows over a campfire and make smoores. Of course, the kids think that this is some sort of opportunity to play with flammable projectiles. We spent most of the time trying to keep the kids out of the fire and nearly the same amount of time trying to keep the sugar balls from exploding in a napalm like slurry of flaming death. It was getting late and the only thing keeping the kids awake was the sugar. They got a quick bath, a few stories and then into bed. After that, it was daddy time. I watched a few episodes of 24. I'm not a big TV watcher so I've never seen the show before. I was actually quite impressed. It helps that we got to see several shows back-to-back. I suppose I'm impatient (wonder where the kids get it from) so waiting a week to see a 30 minute slice of something would kill my interest. Afterwards, I threw in a DVD player and watched Sahara till about 0100. Dried up river, eh? I'll betcha the fishing is pretty crappy.
The dogs bark at midnight; I lock them up. The dogs bark at 0200, I admonish them. A branch falls in the forest and the dogs are there to hear it. I tell the Mrs that the axiom of a tree falling in the forest has now failed. For indeed, the tree fell, no-one but a couple of dogs heard it, and now I know of it and am explaining the matter at an hour that I should be sleeping. Alas, 0700 rolls around and it is time that I should letting the same two tree-aware beasts out to tear up the Grandparent's turf. After sending the sylvan canidae out to do their worst, I go up and roust the little ones to attempt the same. They wake quickly and the morning begins in ernest. We've got places to go and ... well, livestock to see. We are heading off to the NY State fair to do a little sight-seeing. First, we pick up the Big Little Brother and head off towards Syracuse.
Not a long drive, however, the kids enjoyed it as long as there were tractors, cows and other assorted agricultural implements to observe along the way. We have a short bus trip from the outer rim parking lot somewhere in the orbit of Saturn. The slower than molasses trip into the inner planets is not too arduous and is thoroughly enjoyed by Jacob. Alexis, however, had to be woken from a drug-induced anti-carsickness coma and was entirely unimpressed with the ordeal. Once inside the fairgrounds, we were quickly swallowed by the mass of thousands of people ... or hundreds of teeth. Yeah, including the carnies. It's a blow to ones sense of respect for your fellow man when you are but-to belly with some people clad in not nearly enough clothing who are in dire need of it. The most spectacular sight was a 12 year old in a mini-skirt, tube-top and 2 inch platform heels. It makes me feel proud to be a parent. Yetch. Given that, we also saw some more modest sights. Cows peeing, pigs pooping, goats bleating, green sheep, austere llamas, crowing roosters, ducks, rabbits, and 'cavies'. Yes, 'cavies' are guinea pigs. I learned something new! The down-side of all this is that the Mrs was not quite in peak form and quickly became less intrigued with being amongst the waves of humanity moving about us. We went over to look at the honest-to-life train display, used the potty and then worked our way back to the outer rings of Saturn to get back to the Family Tank.
The trip home was uneventful except for the kids nodding off and the Mrs climbing into a darkened internal place so she could escape the absurd discomfort of illness. We shuttle her off to bed once we arrive home and continue with the evening events as she sleeps it off. Dinner, play, bath, bed for the kids, the same for me. Well, minus the bath but I tossed in a viewing of 'Sin City' to make up for it. It's an ... interesting piece. Especially to watch with your parents. Mmmm, yes.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
sleep is for the dead
Vacation is going well, as long as it was not planned for me to actually get any rest or sleep. Of course, that was the PRIMARY plan. Men, mice, etc... The dogs spent a lot of time barking at deer and other nocturnal trespassers. I had to go down a couple time to admonish and cajole them to be quiet. It would be an early morning. With the entire contingent up here in NY, there was the usual raft of duties that had to be performed. So I was up at 0530 to let hounds out to ruin yet another patch of turf. There were an extraordinary number of new scents and smells to soak up so they were only interested in coming back in after I rattled some mastodon food about in their metal bowls. Ahhh, the siren song of their morning meal. Those kibbles don't stand a chance. They were in and chowing down in no time at all and I was off to go crawl back under the bed sheets ... I can dream, cant I?
At 0930, we had an appointment for Jacob to have his mop-top shorn. There is a lady barber up at the Grandparent's, Denny at Hairy Canary, that Jacob will stay statue still for. I don't know how she does it, but every where else we go It usually takes 3 people. Little wiggle worm. After the the tiny tyrants of turpitude got their hair trimmed, we left Grams behind to get her haircut and headed off to the Commons to look about. There were a few stores that the Mrs wanted to visit while Gramps and myself monitored the playground to make sure that our charges did not foment too much havoc. I stopped at a leather shop on the way back and picked out a new pair of boots to replace my current boots that are starting to wear thin on the sides. They are about 7 years old now and are nearing their 'end of life' deadline. I'm a bit surprised that there is an establishment of this nature in the liberal college town. PETA is a major force around here. Growing up in the mid-west, I was instilled with a more pragmatic and realistic view of cattle though. Warms the cockles of my heart to know that I'm helping support the store, they could probably use the sale since we were the only people in the shop. But enough of my proselytizing, there is breakfast to be had and merry-making to engage in at Cass Park. There was a Korean-American Business gathering there so the kids had plenty of inquisitive play-mates to mess about with. As the minority there, they were easy to identify so they quickly became the focal point of attention (and not just from the grandparents). After a time, the kids energy level started to flag and we packed it in. Keep 'em moving, keep 'em engaged, limit the potential for diversion from control. On the way back to the FOB, we make a quick detour and stop off at the local Agway. It's one of the last bastions representing rural America. This particular icon happens to have a grain silo with corresponding rail-road tracks, much to Jacob's delight. My delight came moments later when Gramps pointed out that they had a box of firebricks of the EXACT size I was looking for. EXACT. It was eerie. Of course, they only had one box of 10 but the wizened proprietor noted that they expected another box next Thursday. I think I'll be patronizing the establishment in the near future
Since we are planning on a visit to the NY state fair on Sunday, a Saturday evening mass is in order. The local parish has a scheduled 1630 gathering and that would seem to fit our purposes well. If it were not for Alexis's tender stomach, it would have been true. She fell asleep on my shoulder half way through the hour long mass and was incoherent on the way home. She kept whining and mumbling that she hurt 'Down there' but could not elaborate ... till she reproduced her meals for the entire day in a highly explosive fashion. Messy. The volume and spread of her expulsion will require that the child car-seats be removed, dismantled and washed before the next day. The Mrs is also in a bad way so I'm assuming it is the final throes of the virus they have been tussling with. I think the only reason I did not fall ill myself is due to my ability to fill my body to capacity with scotch and vodka. I think my 4 hour hang-over was a blessing in comparison to the viral impact the rest of the Haupertonian clan is coping with ... poorly.
After putting both the Sickened Mrs and the Ailing Alexis to bed, the grandparents, Jake and myself eat a bit of dinner and generally putter about the house till Jake starts to display signs of exhaustion. It takes a long time before this becomes evident. Fortunately, he got a bath earlier when Alexis did and I can just shuttle him off to an awaiting bed and tuck him in. I swear he was sleeping before I had left the room. I spent the rest of night watching 'Shaun of the Dead' with the Grandparents before sacking out myself at 2330. Standard day. Sleep comes quickly.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Once again, due to events well within my realm of control I've been distracted and have let my blogging fall silent. Sorry folks. Let me regale you with a dissertation of my recent activities and the awful shape it has left me in. It all started Thursday night. I had been invited to a YRMC (Young Republicans of Montgomery County) meeting. Now, before the hew and cry rises, one of the primary reasons I went is to feel out my sister organization and see who else is a party to this cause. A couple of my buds (Satish the lady Killer and Alex from pseudo) were also there and we would be comparing notes the following day. The meeting was held at a not-so-local bar which I had patronized before and found to be satisfactory for meeting my needs. There were some things I liked ... some people I adored ... and some statements that I did not want to hear. I suppose I'm a bit too pragmatic and find that if I'm going to compromise my beliefs and principals, it had better only under extreme duress. 'Nuff said about that. One interesting culture vulture accomplishment of the night: Raj from the Apprentice is apparently a member. I didn't talk to him, but I found a significant number of other rather interesting and talkative members. In the end, I drank a few too many vodka martini and glasses of Glenfiddich. The end results are as predictable as my drinking habits. It's a good thing that I no longer habitually use alcohol as a conversational lubricant. I got back to the Manor shortly after midnight. Due to this, I was not around to help the Mrs start packing for our eventual trip to the Haupertonian FOB in upstate NY.
The next morning, I felt the full weight of my sins pressing fully down upon my detox jittered brain. Fortunately, work was fully engaging in a perverse manner so as to distract me from my ills. The day zoomed by and I was on my way back to the Manor to help prepare for our trip to the Haupertonian FOB in upstate NY. One small hitch, the SuperSaturn is running on fumes. The local neighbors have been making a run on the gas stations in the area and we have been experiencing spot shortages all throughout the region. I stopped at one of my usual 'watering holes' only to find that they have been sucked dry of not only regular but plus as well. All that was left is premium at 500$/gal. Ok, not quite that high, but it might as well be. So I buy a couple gallons at 3.75$ and head off to a more secluded establishment that I know would be fully stocked. Actually, it's a car-wash that sells gasoline at lower prices near our day-care so I'll be able to pick up the kids and tank-up as well. I love it when circumstances work in my favor.
I chase after the kids and help the Mrs pack up the Family Tank. It takes a bit longer than normal, but that's fine since the local roads are all gummed up. We eventually get going at about 1900 hours. I deduced that it would be within my interests to take it slow and easy this time. No more than 65mph the whole way. Given that and the fact that we stopped three times for the kids to stretch their legs, it took 4.5 hours to go the whole 230 miles. One of our stops was at Gibson along Interstate 81 in NE Pennsyltucky where they were GIVING away gas. Ok .. not for free ... but for $3.15/gal which is just as good these days. Heh, days. Yeah. To see gasoline go from 2.15 to 3.50 overnight is just a bit shocking. I've been talking to the Mrs about buying yet another car for her so she doesn't have to drag her 100lb self about in that beast of a mini-van. It gets about 15 mph and she manages to burn through 30 gallons a week. Not acceptable. I'm thinking of getting her a nice used Mercedes Benz Diesel stationwagon of sorts. We'll see. I was hoping to wait till after I had her new car paid off but I don't think it'll do us any good to wait if she's going to be burning 100$/week on gasoline. But I digress. We got to the FOB at about 2330 hours and because the kids were all worked up, we did not get to bed till well after 0100 the next morning. Of course, we did have one disturbing incident on the way. No, not the crazy drivers or excessive traffic. This time, Jacob threw up just as we made it to Owego. Only 30 miles to go and it just too much for him. So be it. All the McDonalds frenchfries came up and we had a little bit of a mess ... looks like I'll have a bit of clean-up to do the next day. More of that in the next entry.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
"NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- New Orleans' Charity Hospital halted efforts to evacuate its patients after it came under sniper fire, according to Dr. Tyler Curiel, who witnessed the incidents.
The attack came as New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin issued 'a desperate SOS' for the thousands of people stranded in an around the city's convention center with no food or water and fading hope.
Curiel and his National Guard escorts, were returning to the hospital after dropping off patients at nearby Tulane Medical Center, when someone started shooting at their convoy of Humvees.
'We were coming in from a parking deck at Tulane Medical Center, and a guy in a white shirt started firing at us,' Curiel said. 'The National Guard (troops), wearing flak jackets, tried to get a bead on this guy. '
The incident happened around 11:30 a.m. (12:30 p.m. ET). About an hour later, another gunman opened fire at the back of Charity Hospital.
'We got back to Charity Hospital with with food from Tulane and we said, 'OK the snipers are behind us, let's move on,'' Curiel said. 'We started loading patients (for transport) and 20 minutes later, shots rang out.'"
Yes, I've been extraordinarily busy for the last few days. That One legged man is a slouch for not keeping up in the ass-kicking contest if you ask me. On Tuesday night, Alexis had finally come down with the nasty virus that had struck down Jacob. On top of that, the Mrs had not left the 'Death-Bed 2000' since she came home and the room had the odor of illness. I was on my own with one recovering tyrant and another very sick one. Alexis decided that she was not going to tolerate the whole being ill syndrome and insisted that she be allowed to go right to bed after dinner. Not her bed mind you. She was going to sleep next to Mommy. She is the one who tends to vomit when ill. To top it all off, she refused to swallow the last bite of dinner. What can you do about that? After an hour or two, I checked in and she still had it in her mouth. The Mrs, in a spot of lucidity, got her to spit it out and be done with it. Even with that, it looks like the sofa for me again. I got to sleep on the sofa the previous night too since the Mrs had retired shortly after dinner started with a bad case of the chills. By the time I got to be she was sprawled out across the mattress like a New Jersey suburb ... not a suitable plot left for me to set down. Third night in a row. It's almost if I have been banished!
In any event, I got to do bath-time with the kids on my own which actually went a bit better than expected. The hounds were not too enthused about this since I usually let them out to pee when the kids get their bath. I guess the running water really gets them in the mood. Fortunately, they held it till I had put the kids under the sheets and kissed them good-night. The other night (Sick Alexis Night), I ran off to the Seliga's place to pick up the swim gear that we left behind at Mrs Seliga's mother's house where we went to the pool party. We need the float-suits for a make-up swim lesson we are taking the kids to. It's on Wednesday ... at 1700. Yeah, a very impossible hour. Anyways, I picked up the gear and stuck around a bit to chew the fat. Great people, we need to spend more time with their family. One of the few people in the area who both the wife and I can actually connect with on a personal level. But I digress. This past day, Wednesday, I was tasked with bringing the kids to the Swim Club for their make-up lesson for the class we will miss this Saturday. I managed to get the dogs, meals, kids and equipment all taken care of and we made it to the lesson with seconds to spare. Getting two little excited children ready to go swimming while trying to keep them in an open locker room has got to be a sliver more difficult than proving that super-string particles exist. The swim lesson went great even though the Mrs got hung up in traffic and missed the whole thing. I had mis-placed one of Alexis's swim shoes and we had to go without for the lesson. It ended up being a boon for her in so much that she could swim twice as fast without the shoes. She was just as delighted at this discovery as the Mrs Wilda (swim teacher) and myself. After the lesson ended, Mrs MDMHVONPA arrived and we spent a bit of time playing the game known as "Try to get mommy wet and then insist on a hug when all else fails'. Great game, the kids love it. The rest of the night was just me and the kids since the Mrs collapsed shortly before 1900 hours. Exhausting.
As for work (slavery), the last two days have been virtually IMPOSSIBLE. Nothing else to add to that. Well, nothing that would not get me into trouble. Traffic has been frustrating as well. No goats, just jack-asses.