Friday, November 30, 2007

'Twas Another Hale Night

And Lucie in her jammies, and I snuggled deep,
Had been in bed to get some much needed sleep,
When at the foot of the bed there arose such a clatter,
We sprang from the sheets to see what was the matter.

To the bedroom floor we flew in the night,
I grabbed a towel and Lucie hit the light.
When, what to our wondering eyes should appear,
But the beagle, puking on my clean carpet - oh, dear!

That little episode took place at 5 AM this morning. I couldn't believe it - my newly shampooed carpet! I guess the crock-pot chicken and dumplings didn't agree with the dog. So Lucie ran Britni down and outside and I toweled up the spot (it wasn't that big) and sprayed it down with cleaner. This morning I re-shampooed the area.

Our experience at Lowe's yesterday was not as positive as the last time. The idea behind shopping online, for me anyway, is to speed things up. I want my purchased items waiting for me when I get there. Like they are supposed to be. We wound up waiting at the Customer Service desk for 10 minutes while someone went and found the sink cartridge and brought it up. I could have done that... Anway, we got home and Elliott and I popped it in. Took 10 minutes and works fine.

I managed to rip the flashlight brackets out of the drywall yesterday when I pulled the flashlight off. So I fixed that and got that hung up right.

Two weeks ago at basketball I was on fire hitting about every shot I put up. Last night I barely got a shot off before I was stripped of the ball or rejected or just lost it out of bounds. My shot selection was terrible, bad passes - just not in the game. We won maybe one game out of seven or so. It was still a fun night but I was not very productive.

Tonight the kids have gym night at the church. Lucie and I are going to bring the Christmas stuff upstairs while the kids are there. Elliott is spending the night at a friend's, then I will take him from there to his basketball practice tomorrow morning. After that, we start putting up the tree and decorations and lights. I have it down to a science so it should run pretty smoothly. They are calling for an icy mix on Sunday so we will probably be in the 80º's...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Yesterday I loaded up the carpet shampooer and went to work with it. Turns out they did fix it. Apparently it was a known Oreck problem and replacing the cord was the fix. Good for me. Or not. I did half the house carpets yesterday and will do the other half today. They should make the pick-up tank black instead of see-through because I sure don't like looking at the color of the water that is sucked back up.

Lucie and I went to Home Depot to get the faucet cartridge but of course they didn't have any. Today I bought one online from Lowes and when I go to pick up Ashleigh from school, I will swing in and get it. I love that. They pick it from the rack, bring it to the front, and all I do is show my receipt and take it. (I pay for it online when I order it.)

By the way, I solved the mystery of the bungee bandit. I found it halfway up a nearby tree. It had sling-shotted itself up there.

It was one month ago today I left my job. We haven't had to touch our savings yet (thanks be to God). We have cut back a lot and been really frugal - something we will continue to do going forward.

One of our cruise friends sent us an email about a very unusual occurrence. I will condense it but basically, a friend of his who he only hears from once or twice a year said he felt impressed by God to send our friend a check for $140. Our friend thought that was strange and then realized that that was the exact amount that Royal Caribbean assessed him for their new fuel surcharge. On top of that, the check was dated November 20 - the exact date that I had emailed our cruise friends about the RC increase. Pretty wild. It is more than coincidental - $140 is not a common number. But it shows a couple of things - that we need to be obedient to God's directives and that God is in the details. Now if any of my friends want to send me a check to cover some cruise costs, don't disobey the voice of God!

Today I sold our old treadmill. Barely used. Ha ha. Actually, we used it quite a bit, but then the pounding on my knees was too much. The elliptical is much more 'body-friendly.' A friend of mine will come over Sunday and we will drag it up from my basement and get it over to his house. So I actually made money today. I wonder what I can get for the couch...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mr. Fixit

Yesterday I went to Oreck and picked up our supposedly fixed carpet shampooer. I have never used it before but I am about to give it a shot. I will undoubtedly find they didn't fix it and I will be hauling it back to them.

Our bathroom faucet went bad last night. It started dripping a week or so ago, then stopped. I declared it repaired. Last night it wouldn't shut off and was a steady trickle. I shut it off using the valves under the sink. It is a Moen faucet so there are no washers to replace - just the entire cartridge. I replaced the one in the shower this spring so this should go pretty quickly.

Yesterday I blew and vacuumed the leaves in the backyard. Again. This time no dogs got out and it went pretty quickly. I bungeed open the gate while I brought something in, but when I went back, the gate was closed and the bungee was gone. In like 30 seconds. Either there is a bungee burglar loose in the neighborhood, or that bungee just launched into the great unknown. I never did find it.

My cold is getting better. Down to just a cough now. I am hitting the elliptical for 30 minutes a day now and that seems to help. I haven't lost a pound but I feel pretty good. Full court basketball at church tomorrow night due to the youth gym night on Friday (normally we play width-wise so the court is shorter).

Monday, November 26, 2007

Feeling Loagy

My great uncle used to have a word for how I feel today; "loagy." That is perfect - I have a cold and a cough and my head feels like it is the size of the great pumpkin. I never get sick and of all times, now I get sick (when I could have used a sick day from work...). So today I am hanging around the house, doing some laundry and vacuuming (I don't think I have to take the vacuum apart today) and some other things.

A friend of ours stopped by with a really nice present for Lucie's birthday. It is kind of a funny story but I will save it for later in case Lucie reads this before she gets home.

We brought our carpet shampooer in to Oreck a while ago to get it fixed under warranty. A month went by so we called to check on it. They could find nothing wrong with it. Of course, it would have been nice if they checked it for what the problem was: every time we squeeze the trigger to release the shampoo, the protection fault on the power cord trips. They didn't test that. Now they say they have it fixed. I may venture over there and pick it up. Then I will bring it home, try it out, find out they didn't fix it, and bring it back.

Last night was a close game with the Patriots but I figured experience would prevail. And it did. Still, it was pretty exciting. I think I would rather watch a blow out though.

We paid off the remaining balance for the cruise yesterday. It was the last day we could do that so now we are official. Today I made reservations at the airport off-site parking area so we can leave our car there. I picked the same place we used last time - they were convenient and had a nice drop off service.

I did a pre-emptive strike on our leaves a few days ago figuring most of them were down and the rest would eventually fall. Well, the rest fell - the next day. So now I have that exercise to do again. It is rainy today so maybe tomorrow I will blow them in a pile and get them out the back gate.

I think I will go and spend some time on the elliptical and try to sweat some of the cold out. I think a solid two minutes should do it.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lucie's Birthday

Today is Lucie's birthday. It was pretty low key. We went to lunch with some friends after church using some gift cards she had received. Then came home for cake and a nap (for me). Going back to church tonight. Later on the Patriots are playing the Eagles with the biggest spread I have ever seen (24 points!).

Yesterday I was pretty wiped out from a cold. Lucie went shopping and left me strict instructions on how to strip and mop the kitchen floor while she was gone. But I found out that it is impossible to clean the floor while asleep in the recliner. I woke up feeling better and my sore throat was gone. I went out and checked the tire pressure on the Pathfinder and sure enough, all of the tires were at 32 lbs. - they were supposed to be at 35. So I put air in all around and the low pressure light went out on my way to the gas station.

When I got there, a couple of girls approached me with some story about being kicked out of their boyfriends' car and needing taxi money. I certainly have no money to spare and I told them so so they went after someone else. He gave them some money and they meandered behind away behind the gas station for a while, then started walking down the road. No taxi in sight.

Lucie wanted to put the Christmas tree up last night but I was not up for that. So Elliott set up the game of Life and we played that twice. That was fun - we hadn't played any family games like that in a long time.

When I let the dogs out for the last time around midnight, it was snowing. It didn't accumulate but there it was. And winter has begun...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Late Bird Gets the Worm

Lucie's birthday is tomorrow and she had pointed out a couple of things in the Kohl's flyer that she wanted. But we decided they weren't necessities and given our current situation, we should wait. And, they were 'early-bird' specials that ended at 1 (and when she pointed them out to me, it was 12:45). So she and Ashleigh headed out to go shopping and Elliott and I went out to trade in some video games for a new one. In our travels, we went by Kohl's. It didn't look too crowded so we went in and found the very last one of one of the thing's Lucie wanted. I took it over to the electronic bar code scanner and even though it was now 1:40, it still showed up as on sale. I asked a clerk and she said the scanner was tied to the main computer so if it showed it on sale there, it was probably still on sale. Elliott and I beat feet to the cashier and got it at the sale price. Not bad.

The rest of the day Elliott spent playing his new game and I blew the leaves out of the yard. I opened the front gate to blow some leaves out there and Britni (the beagle) took off. I just let her go hoping someone would take her in and give her a good home. But the neighbor across the street was trying to catch her for me so I figured I better bring her back. All I had to do was open the garage roll up door and she bolted back in. About an hour later, I had the back gate open and Jasmine (the golden retriever) took off. She is usually pretty good about not going out but not this time. I was concerned about her being shot by a deer hunter so I went out and coaxed her back in. Not all of the leaves have fallen so I will have more to do later but I got the bulk of them.

The kids went to the youth pastor's house for an outdoor movie and cookout around fires last night. So Lucie and I went out to do some Christmas shopping. On the way, my low tire pressure light came on in my Pathfinder. It has done that at least 10 times and I have taken it in to get fixed about 4 times. They replace a sensor or re-set something each time. It is very annoying as I have to get out and check to be sure it is not a true reading. So I guess I will take it to the dealer next week to get it checked out again. That light went off one time in my old Bonneville - and I really had a tire going flat then.

Last night we watched the three hour movie of "IT" and took a break from turkey with one of the special $4.99 large pepperoni pizzas from our local grocery store.

I woke up with a sore throat this morning. Usually I wake up grumpy but then she goes back to sleep...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Hispanic Friday

I was going to call this blog "African American Friday" but I figured that years from now, when I am running for Congress, someone will dig this up and get offended. And Hispanic Friday it is - our three-quarters Hispanic family is heading out to...shop. Actually we have some errands to do at the church and at the youth pastor's house so we figured we would hit some local places while we were out. Elliott is trading in some old XBox games and is going to use those proceeds to get a new game.

Thanksgiving went well here. This is the first time in a few years we have stayed home (though we have had good times at the friends' houses we have been at before) so that was nice. Ate and napped and watched TV. This whole phrase of 'turkey and trimmings' has me confused though. The term 'trimmings,' when used here, means more. However, when Elliott and I go to the barber for 'trimmings,' we come out with less. So what's it going to be?

Lucie wants me to put up our tree today but I am not too enthused about that. Namely because we won't have much to put under it. So I am proposing that we stand a poinsettia in the corner and put all 3 gifts around it. If you didn't know or remember, last year about this time I had to cut down a spruce tree in the front yard. So I cut the top off and turned it into our Christmas tree. A picture is below. I suppose I could go out and cut down another one but that would ruin the landscaping. Maybe one of the neighbors'...


We had a limb blow down in the backyard overnight. It didn't damage anything and it was good for it to come down - it was hanging on by a thread for a long time.

Tonight our youth pastor is having a drive-in movie theme night at his house tonight. I am bringing our fire pit over so they can cook s'mores and stuff. Going to be a cold one for them tonight but I know it will be warm in my recliner.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Turkey for me, Turkey for you

For those of you who don't know, the title of today's blog is a line from Adam Sandler's Thanksgiving song. And I know that line well - I heard it FIVE times on the radio yesterday! Two of the local radio stations went all Christmas music yesterday and apparently this song must be played on a regular basis...

The new church laptop performed well last night in it's first live run. Of course the first song on the list to be sung somehow didn't migrate over when I imported the songs from the old computer. I typed it in but now I am wondering how many others didn't make it. It is kind of weird because I checked both computers and the number of songs in the databases were the same after I imported the songs. We will just monitor it I guess.

The weather people said today would be cold and rainy so naturally it is sunny and in the mid 60º's. Beautiful day. We have no plans but to stay home and eat ourselves into oblivion. Isn't that what Thanksgiving is all about? (Obviously I am thankful for all we have...).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Knuckling Down to Marbles

Yesterday I worked on the new church computer for a while at the church getting it set up with the different projectors in the sanctuary and chapel. Then came home and ran some more updates on it and so forth. We watched some Charlie Brown special about bullying and the main story line had to do with playing marbles. So Elliott decided we should play. He ran up to get his bag of marbles (everyone knows I have long lost mine - har har) while I looked up the rules online. Elliott cleared out some space in the living room and we used a thin blanket to serve as the playing field. It is kind of tricky but we managed to have a good time. Of course there was one obstacle we had to work around:


Today I went back to the church and finished setting up the computer. Tonight will be the first run through with it at the Bible Study. I think it is going to work out fine.

Elliott went over to a friend's house today to work on a school project and Ashleigh and I went to the mall to get something for Lucie's birthday (which is Sunday). While there, we ran into some of her friends so they walked with us while we got what we were looking for.

I talked to a couple of former co-workers today who gave me some updates on what is going on at the old office and one is going to forward me some leads he has tracked down. That was nice.

I think tonight we are having pizza for supper because starting tomorrow, it will be turkery, or a variant thereof, for the next three weeks...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hooverin' Hale

Again yesterday I had to take apart the vacuum and find out why it wasn't sucking properly. There was plenty of suction at the hose, but not from underneath when I attached the hose. I stripped the thing down but didn't find anything wrong. Got it put back together and fired it up. Like an early Thanksgiving miracle, it worked fine. I don't know what I did but it is back to its old self. Now Lucie has no excuse...

Elliott had a good basketball practice last night but now he has no more practices until next Monday night. No hoops for me either due to Thanksgiving.

The sanctuary computer at our church died last week. We use it to project the words to our worship songs and PowerPoint presentations on a roll-down screen. I resurrected it but it was ancient and slow. So our Pastor shopped around and found a great deal on a Toshiba laptop. He bought it and I set up the song projection software on it. This laptop runs on Vista which takes some getting used to but I got everything running. I will take it into the church to test it live later today but I think it should work fine.

Royal Caribbean hit us with a fuel surcharge fee for our cruise in February. I emailed them and called them up to complain but that did no good. They extended us another two weeks or so to get a refund without penalty but I guess we will fork it over. It is only $70 (for us - others in our group are being hit for $140) but it is the principle of the thing. And $70 is $70. That money could be used for a downpayment for another on-board salon session for Lucie...

Not much happening on the job front. It will be a dead week for hiring this week I imagine due to the holiday. Gives me more time for my beard to fill in.

I have been after the kids to clean up the family room. They shed their clothes and books and shoes and wrappers in there as soon as they walk in. I hate that because it is the first thing I see when I come home from a long day at work. Wait, let me re-phrase that... Anyway, today I scooped it all up and after several trips, I deposited it all in front of their bedroom doors. Now they will have to step over it to get into their rooms. And I have no doubt that is exactly what they will do for a few weeks but at least they are getting some exercise.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Have Some Football With That Food

Today I was invited to go to the Baltimore Ravens football game (in Baltimore) versus the Cleveland Browns. (I was thinking that this was the first NFL game I have been too that I was NOT on the field! I have been to about 14 pro games doing security assessments and was on the field each time). A friend of ours is a VP at an engineering firm that has a suite at the stadium. He drove us down with his son and we picked up the mayor of a neighboring town and the mayor's son. The suite was about above the 15 yard line on the Ravens side. It was pretty cold out but the suite was warm. There were about a total of 40 people there with lots of places to sit inside and a balcony outside with rows of seats. The people were friendly and nice. There were five flat panel TVs in the suite tuned to different NFL games (and the one we were watching). I met someone I had been corresponding with about an employment opportunity so that gave me a little chance to network.

And there was food. Lots of it. I had a crab cake, chicken tender, hot dog with chili, a slice of pizza with pepperoni, chicken and bacon, a chocolate chip cookie, a can of Diet Coke, two bottles of water and a cup of coffee. I watched the first half of the game outside and it was pretty frosty. So to warm up, I filled my coffee cup with hot crab bisque. Twice.


Meanwhile, there was a game going on. The Ravens were behind by two touchdowns at one point and it came down to the end of the game. The Ravens scored and went up by 3 with 26 seconds to go. Cleveland returned the kick-off and attempted a field goal attempt with four seconds left in the game. The ball bounced off one of the uprights and then off the support pole that comes out of the ground and back onto the field. The refs said the field goal was no good and the crowd went wild. The game was over. The Ravens ran off the field and half of the people at the game left. But wait. A full five minutes later, the refs determined (correctly) that the ball HAD to go through the uprights to hit the support pole - which made the field goal attempt good - then bounced back out. So Cleveland was awarded the points which tied the game and put it into overtime. Some people trickled back in and the Ravens had to come out of the locker room and back onto the field to play the overtime period. Cleveland scored a quick field goal and won the game. I bet there were people that left the first time the game was over and the Ravens 'won,' got to their cars and heard that the Ravens had lost! It was quite a controversial call which will be debated on ESPN for a while.

We came back in a cold rain. I sure appreciated being invited to go. The eating part was a good warmup for Thanksgiving...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Paintball

Today was the church paintball outing at a farm near us. First time we had been there. There were about 13 adults and 23 youth who went. We got to the place and they were short paintball guns (they rent them to players who don't have their own). Ashleigh, Elliott and I all had ours (thanks Gregg!) so we were all set. The other adults got their money refunded and gave up their rental guns for the kids. They required our guns to be chronographed to about 280 feet per second. But when the guy tried to calibrate my and Elliott's guns, the device wouldn't register correctly (it kept showing 360 FPS or so and wouldn't change regardless of our adjustment of the velocity screw. So the guy wandered off to check on it and never got back to us so we played with our guns at whatever speed they shoot at. We had a good time. No Hale got hit very hard - but we all got hit at least once where the ball didn't break. Elliott probably took the most people out and Ashleigh once made a sprint to the other side to win the game for our team.

While we were out shooting and getting shot at, Lucie went to breakfast with some ladies in a group she just met with.

We got a call last night from Royal Caribbean saying that they were adding a $70 fuel surcharge to our cruise. I was not pleased with that - nor were several others in our group that have TWO rooms which will cost them $140! So I sent an email to RC complaining and will follow up with them on Monday.

A friend of ours from church invited me to the Baltimore Ravens football game tomorrow. His company has a suite at the stadium and some clients weren't able to go so he invited me to. I guess you could call me a 'suite filler.' That was cool. We will go down after church tomorrow morning for a 1 PM game. Oddly enough, this will be the first NFL game I have ever gone to where I was not on the field. They are calling for rain but it won't matter to us. Suiteness!

Friday, November 16, 2007

R, B, and P Ball

Last night we had a good turnout for basketball. One dude came down hard right on the back of his head. Made an ugly smacking sound. His first words were, "I can't feel my legs..." Five minutes later he was up and playing and he was fine. I told his buddy to watch him during the game and afterwards in case he had some other problems. That was bad one at first. I, on the other hand, was good. I had some great shots and steals and a coast to coast lay-up. The game resumed 10 minutes later after that - once they got the oxygen tanks off the floor. Actually, my breathing has been much better due to my daily time on the elliptical. Speaking of, since getting it in September, I am only down an average of two pounds. Time to push the number of minutes per day up...

This morning I played racquetball with 4 other guys from church. We were on two courts at the Y with the winner of the 3 players playing the winner of the singles players. It was pretty fun. One of the guys (Gary) got hit in the eye (by me) and that drew blood from his glasses. Later on the youth pastor nailed him in the back and someone else got him in the right rear cheek.

Which brings me to tomorrow's outing for paintball. Looks like about 13 adults going and 20 kids. The first round will be adults against kids. We will have a state trooper on our side so that will help. We are playing at a farmhouse right near us. Should be a good time. Always is. We will pack our lunches to eat there and layer ourselves in clothing for warmth and to lessen the paintball pain.

I am almost finished putting the handles on the drawers and cabinets. Gotta run down to Lowes today (I didn't make it there yesterday) and get the last ones. Lucie likes them so much that I now refer to them as 'love' handles...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

In My Drawers

I made my way to my local Lowes yesterday to buy a few more drawer/cabinet handles and of course they only had 1 left. So I bought it. I needed at least 2. Picked up Ashleigh from school and went home and installed them. I had a template to drill with so the screws would line up through the wood. I rigged up a plastic bag to catch most of the drill-dust and that worked OK. They actually came out pretty good. Like Lucie said, how did we live here for 10 years without them? I went online and found some more handles at another Lowes down the road so I bought them and will pick them up later.

One of the church computers is acting up so I ran some diagnostics and fixes on it overnight. I call Lucie every couple of hours to check the status and run something else. I will go over there shortly and do some more. I think it is salvageable.

FedEx came by yesterday and delivered a rejection letter to me from the place in DC that I interviewed with. Polite but pretty much saying that their current positions are all in the DC area. I sent the interviewers a thank you email and asked them to keep me in mind for future consideration. My friend who works there says he will look into it when he returns from an assignment but told me that new projects come in all the time and something may open up up here.

Basketball night tonight. Some people are off tomorrow so we should have a good turnout. Some other church guys invited me to play racquetball again tomorrow at the Y so I might go do that.

If the rest of the handles install smoothly today, I may have to think of making it a career. I am enjoying working in my drawers all day...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

15 out of 488

Ashleigh came home with her report card yesterday. 7 A's and 1 B+. Her GPA is 4.2 (they gave her extra points for being in the Cambridge Program) and she is ranked #15 out of 488 in her class. Below is a link to the Cambridge Program and if you look at the classroom picture, you will see her in the back with a white and pink shirt on and her head resting on her hand.

http://www.christina.k12.de.us/Newark/Cambridge/Index.htm

Today I saw there was a security project manager job in Wilmington for a consulting firm. I sent them my resume and asked for more information.

Yesterday I utilized all of my management skills and scooped about 800 pounds of dog poop from the backyard. It is the kids' chore to do and I even have a calendar with the responsible name printed on it to reduce bickering over whose day it is. But rainy afternoons and busy schedules, early darknes, and a bit of laziness on their part, has kept them from their appointed task. So I showed some great initiative and did the duty (doodie?).

I was going to install the cabinet handles but found when Lucie bought them, she was two short (no - I did not just write that Lucie is too short!). So I went to Home Depot, after picking up Ashleigh from school, and found that she had bought them from Lowes. So I will go to Lowe's today and get some more. I made a little template to use as a guide to be sure I put them in consistently. The biggest challenge was to install them horizontally or vertically (insert Pastor Ben joke here for those who know that one). I fell back on my decision making matrix processes and came up with the best solution (I asked Lucie how she wanted them).

In another effort to exercise my abilities, I took apart the vacuum to see why it wasn't sucking as much as I thought it should. Gave it a thorough cleaning and now it sucks no better than before. But at least I got it all back together and I am sure I can use the leftover screws for something else.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Yesterday I took out my paintball gun ("marker" as the pros say) and tuned it up for the church paintball outing on Saturday. A friend of mine gave it to me for my birthday and I bought another one from him for Ashleigh. We bought Elliott one from a store over the summer. Mine has an electronic trigger that I can set to shoot single shots, bursts, or full automatic. I configured it to shoot single shots for Saturday since most everyone else will be renting guns from the place and those are all single shot ones.

A few of our crusie buddies ran into some airline problems over the weekend. Their flights were changed by the airline but they were never notified! Good thing someone checked and spread the word. They are all set now but we will have to watch that airline in case it happens again. Most of us are going down on Air Tran (the airline that changed the flights) but another family is going down on USAir. And if someone is wondering what I am thinking going on a cruise when I am unemployed, let me answer that: (1) we have already pre-paid for most of the cruise, (2) the airfare is non-refundable, (3) the hotel is 'paid' for by using points I accumulated, and (4) I intend to be employed soon. So there.

Ashleigh has pretty much decided to give up on the swimming. She was the only one on the team that has never swum on a team before. Working on the fundamentals (getting off the blocks, etc.) is becoming too time consuming during practice and mostly she is not having fun. Practice is two hours a day, six days a week. The practice pool is actually closer to the house than her high school but it is another trip out and back every day. Her drama class teacher has been after her to try out for the school play (Romeo and Juliet) so she is supposed to talk to her today. Needless to say, we did not go buy a swim cap yesterday.

Lucie bought some cabinet handles that I will be installing today I guess. I applied to another place online today but that well is running dry. I should hear from the place I interviewed last week within the next few days or I am to call them Friday.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Everyone's Home Today

Lucie took today off for her day off (instead of Thursday) and the kids don't have school. It is a wintery looking day out there so we will probably just hang around here today. Our quest over the weekend was to find a swim cap for Ashleigh - you would think that since all the local high schools just started the swimming season, somebody would have some for sale. Nope. I finally called the YMCA and they have some so we will venture out and get her one later.

Last night we all settled in to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark and it went as it usually does around here during movies: Lucie and Elliott fell asleep 15 minutes into it and Ashleigh was IM-ing the whole time. I enjoyed it anyway.

Not much else happening on the job front. I emailed my contact at the State Police licensing division to tell her I was no longer the license holder for my old company. She gave me an idea to pursue and said she would keep me in mind if she comes across any openings.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Four Years till 11-11-11

Last night I decided rented Raiders of the Lost Ark to show the kids what a real action movie was like but we never got around to seeing it. Elliott had a friend over working on a science project so we took him home, picked up Ashleigh's friend, ate dinner, but by then it was around 9 and the kids just wanted to do stuff on the internet with their friends so we shelved the movie till tonight. Lucie and watched another episode on the Discovery channel about a group of lunatics thinking they are going to climb Mt. Everest.

The new software unlock code for my GPS map update finally arrived in the email so I installed that. That went fine so now I can find my way to the mailbox.

I watched the Kevin Costner movie, "Mr. Brooks" yesterday afternoon. Not exactly a family movie but very well done and interesting. Lucie wants to see it so we will watch it (again for me) this afternoon. The kids are going to a birthday party between church services. Then I am going to sit them down and watch Raiders tonight. They don't have school tomorrow.

The Patriots are off this weekend. The Celtics are undefeated so far this season. Could this be the year the Red Sox, Patriots, and Celtics all win their respective championships?

I spoke with the friend of mine in the local security chapter. I tried to call him all afternoon but I had two numbers of his home phone transposed. Googled him and got the right number. He was very supportive and gave me a couple of leads to look into and asked me for my resume to float around his contacts. So I emailed him that and will work on the leads he gave me.

The kids are off tomorrow and so is Lucie. My schedule looks pretty clear too... We will probably do some fun family thing like me standing in the hallway with a yardstick yelling at the kids to clean their rooms and then using the stick to point out the piles of clothes that remain after they say their rooms are all picked up.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A...A...A...

Elliott got his report card yesterday. A+'s in 6 out of 9 classes; A's in the other 3. Obviously I am very disappointed in those last three grades which means his internet and TV time will be taken away until they improve. Of course I am kidding and he is doing great. Even while busy with after-school sports, church, and other stuff.

Today he had basketball practice and has picked up one of his old man's traits - lack of on court stamina. Starts off like a shot, but wears out quickly. So I will be introducing him to the elliptical machine later to work on that. It has done a lot for me with my breathing and pacing. He did really well though and scored several baskets during the scrimmage.

Meanwhile, Ashleigh came home worn out last night from her first swimming practice and had another practice today. Today they were going to be filmed underwater to analyze their technique. She is the only person on the team who hasn't swum (swam?) on a team before but she is doing fine. They will work with her on some of the fundamentals like getting off the blocks and turns, etc.

Still no success on the map unlock code for my GPS. Another tech in India and I went around and around yesterday - each time him telling me they will email me the new code in 12-24 hours, and me asking why he can't email it to me right then - or just read the dang thing over the phone to me? I think I should move to India and be a tech support person who speaks English as a first language. I will be the most sought after person in the country...

Lucie's hayride was rained out last night. Sort of. She canceled it because they predicted a lot of rain but it mostly just sprinkled until about the time it would have ended - then it rained. But she had to make the call based on the information at the time. She did learn something from The Weather Channel yesterday - even though the radar shows a huge cloud cover and they are calling for a 70% chance of rain, that doesn't mean the rain will hit the ground. Sounds like a nice alibi for missing another forecast...

Ashleigh and I saw a meteor or shooting star or something like that the other night. We thought it might be a firework that never exploded shooting across the sky. But at least one other person I know saw it too. Nothing in the local news about it. The strange thing is, we lost about 3 hours of time that night and I woke up with puncture marks in my stomach...

Speaking of losing time, I still cannot get used to this time change. At 5:30 PM it feels like 10:00 PM. And no one is going to be able to convince me that changing the clocks has any benefit to mankind at all.

Yesterday I made myself a note to contact someone I know in our local professional security organization chapter . I thought I would give him a call on Monday. Well, he and some other former co-workers were at a function in NYC yesterday and my situation came up. He told them to tell me to call him at home today. So that is a good sign. He is a real nice guy and connected so he may have some leads for me.

And you know the holiday season is upon us when the fruitcakes are available. Of course they might be the fruitcakes that didn't sell last year just put out on the shelves again. But that doesn't matter to me. I dug deep into our reserve fund and bought one yesterday. Tis the season to be jolly...

Friday, November 9, 2007

Are You in There?

Not a whole lot going on today. Ashleigh has no school today OR Monday due to teacher conferences and the holiday. She has her first swimming practice tonight which should be interesting. She had her field hockey banquet last night and won the Rookie of the Year Award! That was good.

Elliott has basketball practice tomorrow morning. He is really liking that.

Lucie is supposed to have a church hayride tonight but they are calling for rain so that may go down the tubes.

Still no unlock code for the GPS from Magellan. They have taken the upgrade off of their website due to technical issues with it. I call every 24 hours and speak with a tech rep in India who tells me that they will email me the new code in 24 hours... When I told the guy yesterday that I was tired of hearing that, he told me he had emailed his bosses my request and that he had designated it as "hyper-important." That sounds like a line from the movie Spaceballs...

Based on that interview yesterday, I am going to look in some other directions for employment today. And the first place I am going to look is in the second racquetball court at the Y around 10:30... (I am meeting a friend there to play a few rounds.)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Post Interview

Well, round 1 of an unknown number of rounds is done. I got to the interview location in plenty of time and was feeling really comfortable. I met a friend of mine who works there and we went for coffee before the interview. We went over what he does, his interview experiences, the company culture, etc. I was really pumped up and ready to go. So I went in and was escorted to a conference room. The first interviewer discussed the company and my resume - typical interview. The second guy put me to the test in some scenario management which was heavy on analytical analysis and very quantitative involving measurements, formulas, regression curves, etc.. The last person was a combination of the previous two and we discussed some practical scenarios and the project assignment process. All were very nice and supportive - challenging but not rude or combative. Finally, an HR rep came in and she and I went over the benefits package and set a desired salary range. She told me they would de-brief after I left and I could expect a decision in a week.

I see some potential issues - this company's main client is the federal government and I have no experience in that area. That issue also means that most of their work is in the DC area which is too far of a commute for me. On the other hand, I bring to the table a lot of experience and an approach that is different from what they may be used to. So at the end of the day, I am not sure what is going to happen. I did my best and maybe I am a fit for them, maybe not. At the very least I got some interview experience going forward. I guess I will find out in a week.

Pre-Interview

Most of you all know I have an interview today at 2 PM but I will come back to that later.

Yesterday I spent some more time with Magellan trying to get the map update code to unlock. The problem is spreading across the nation but the fix is slow in coming. I was told they will email me a new code today. We'll see.

Lucie and I went to Costco's and picked up 25 chickens and bread and other stuff for the church fundraiser dinner last night. When we got to the car to load the stuff in, we found a box of Hershey bars at the bottom of the basket. A quick check of the receipt showed they hadn't charged us for them. So Lucie headed back in to pay for them and was met with astonishment and amazement. And confusion. Seems they have procedures on how to respond to thefts and shoplifting, but not much experience with returning items to purchase! So she set a good example there yesterday and paid for the candy.

The dinner was a great success and everyone had plenty to eat and a good time.

I am about to head out for my interview. Giving myself plenty of time to get there. I have to admit I am a bit nervous but I have no reason to be (besides being human); the company looks great, and the position I am interviewing for is something that I like to do and do well. I was reminded of the Biblical story of how God spoke, and spoke intelligently, through Balaam's donkey. So, with that in mind, I am praying that I get down there and talk like an ... well, like a donkey.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I Have Known This for Years

Before I add the part that I have "known," let me recap yesterday. I worked on the application paperwork for my interview tomorrow and called some former co-workers for references. Everyone continues to be very supportive and understanding. One of the people I spoke with knew the company I am interviewing with very well and said he had only heard positive things about them. Several of his retired FBI associates work there and he encouraged me to use his name in my interview.

Elliott was home from school yesterday so we did a little food and clothes shopping (hard to find basketball shorts and shirts in the beginning of basketball season... imagine that). Last night we hung out and watched Heroes and Lucie finished off some shows she had started to watch, but fell asleep in before they ended.

I called Magellan about the GPS map update problem yesterday and they said it would take 48 hours to come up with a fix. I posted the problem to an online newsgroup and someone responded that he got through to another tech who knew of the problem and gave him a new unlock code. So that is my mission today.

Tonight is the annual fundraising dinner at church so Lucie is spending the day prepping chicken and the rest of the stuff. I am going over in a bit to set up tables and do some manual labor.

Tomorrow is the big interview day but I know my abilities and this opportunity is what I do really well at so I am pretty relaxed and comfortable. Just going to be me.

So here is the news that I have known for years:

Being a little heavy may have some benefits
Study: Those up to 25 pounds overweight may better survive some illnesses

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21655928/

CHICAGO - Being 25 pounds overweight doesn’t appear to raise your risk of dying from cancer or heart disease, says a new government study that seems to vindicate Grandma’s claim that a few extra pounds won’t kill you.
Released just a few weeks before Thanksgiving, the findings might comfort some who can’t seem to lose those last 15 pounds. And they hearten proponents of a theory that it’s possible to be “fit and fat.”
Having a little extra weight actually seemed to help people survive some illnesses — results that baffled several leading health researchers.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

E Ball

Elliott had his first city league basketball practice last night. It went pretty well. The coach is a nice guy and had them do some good drills and warm-ups. There are only 7 kids on the team - 5 came out to practice. Elliott did well and scored over his guy several times. The kid he defended didn't score. I told Elliott if he thought I was bad when he played baseball (something I never played) he is in for a surprise during basketball season (something I do play but not very well!). He really enjoyed it.

We came home and watched Chuck. Lucie and Ashleigh went to bed and Elliott and I were ready for a late night (he has no school Tuesday). I went into the kitchen to put my dishes away, and he was sound asleep on the couch when I came back 30 seconds later.

Today I am working on my application and getting Elliott a haircut. Local voting today too. Then we are off to Kohl's to get him some more shorts for basketball.

Yesterday I got a map upgrade for my GPS. Went to install it and it wouldn't accept my unlock code. Of course customer support was closed so I will try it again today.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Seven Days to the Hour

Today I had a phone interview with a DC based consulting firm that was almost too good to be true. It seemed like a perfect fit for me and I was able to talk honestly and openly about my skills and abilities because it seemed like the job was made for me. The interview came seven days to the hour from when I resigned so I am taking that as another confirmation sign. I spoke with the interviewer about openings and positions and local offices and it seems that might be something we can work out. Things must have gone well enough for me as I have a face-to-face interview with them this Thursday. I am praying it works out. I am pretty excited.

Sunday was a pretty laid back day. Cooked some burgers on the grill after the morning church service. Ashleigh worked at a fund raiser car wash for the afternoon while Elliott and I hung out. I recorded the Patriots / Colts game and successfully navigated around those who knew the score at church Sunday night. We raced home and watched the game (mostly fast-forward). I have to admit the final two minutes of Brady taking a knee was anti-climatic but a win is a win.

Tonight Elliott has his first basketball practice with the city league. He is on a team of seven with at least one friend so he is pretty excited about that.

My blistered foot from the hike (over two miles by the way) is still sore so I am using that as an excuse to elevate it and stay off of it... ha ha

Saturday, November 3, 2007

An Aphid a Day...

Mowed the yard Saturday morning and did some more online resume posting and job searching.



Then the kids and I decided to go hiking in the back woods. They go quite a ways back but not so far that we could ever really get lost. For long. So we headed out and found a weird clearing in the middle of the woods – like a former UFO landing spot. Nothing growing in a wide area. Anyway, we came across a corn field so we hiked through the middle of that and eventually found a road. Followed that for a while back towards home with the machete and hatchet hidden so people driving by didn't think I was Jason from Friday the 13th marching the kids to Camp Crystal Lake. Then we decided to get into the woods again for the final leg. That was a mistake. We ran into the thickest mass of prickly bushes I have ever seen. I had a machete with me but that wasn’t much help. We were too far in to turn around so we kept pushing on. I wound up forging through backwards while the kids followed with their hands over their faces. Woo-hoo, that was some fun. Then I developed some nickel sized blisters on the back of the heels of my feet. Finally we saw some houses and just made our way to them and emerged from the woods through someone’s backyard. Not too long of a walk back home. We were gone for about two and a half hours.

Ashleigh got some video on her cell phone of these weird looking things we saw on some branches. They looked like dandelion fuzzes all swaying on a branch. Did some research and found they were woolly aphids.


Click the play button to see each video (you may have to hit it twice).




video


video

TGIF

Yesterday I found a few more places to post my resume online including an executive search place. That one seems to have some promise. I did receive a call from a consulting firm that wants to conduct a telephone interview with me on Monday. That was encouraging. The firm is very respected and apparently a great place to work. So I have that to look forward to. I downloaded their annual report and will review that before the call.

Lucie and I took our carpet shampooer in to be fixed while it is still under warranty and then picked up the kids from school. Used our club card to buy a large pepperoni pizza for $4.99. I am thinking if we had lived like this the past 14 years, I wouldn't have to be looking for a job now...!!

On the way to dropping Ashleigh off for her field hockey bonfire, we were stopped at a red light. There were several lanes of traffic and the car next to us had the music thumping wicked loud. It was slightly ahead of us on the right. So I rolled down the window on my passenger side (the side that the thumping car was on) and yelled out at them to turn it down. Horrified Ashleigh and Elliott. Of course the people in the car didn't see me and certainly couldn't hear me (I knew that) so I carried on a bit. The light changed and as we pulled off, I realized that the car I had been yelling at was NOT the car with the music - it was the car in the next lane beyond! So it was a good thing they didn't hear me after all.

During the kids' church youth group, we had friends over and played cards.

After picking up the kids from church, we came home and watched the Discovery Channel show about a group of people climbing Mt. Everest. That is crazy. One guy was 400 feet from the summit and couldn't make it. 400 feet! That is something I have absolutely no interest in ever trying. But I would interview with the Sherpas if they called me...

Friday, November 2, 2007

At Least I Have My Health

Yesterday was a fairly productive day. Updated the resume and posted it on various local company websites. Some of them I just had to post the updated resume, others I sent info to for the first time. A friend of mine corresponded with me about an exciting possibility being formulated with his company. We will see how that goes but at the very least, it looks interesting.

We had some quality Hale family time yesterday and watched The Blair Witch Project together. You can either get freaked out by that movie or think it is a waste of time. It scared me. I can't look at our back woods the same anymore. A&E want to go running around there this weekend after seeing it.

I have been on our elliptical most every day since we got it about two months ago and yesterday I walked the dogs. At the very least, I and the dogs are going to be healthier!

Played basketball last night. We only had 7 out and one hurt his knee. Playing 3 on 3 means there is nowhere to hide. I played pretty well and had a great blocked shot. The teams were pretty even and it was a good workout.

Today is a day of more resume submission and online networking. I got a call from a place I had submitted my resume to a while back and we will have a phone interview next week. And I will be taking our carpet shampooer to a factory place to get it repaired (under warranty).

Tonight is Powerline for the kids at church. Ashleigh has a bonfire party with her field hockey team before that and then we will take her over to the church. Lucie and I would usually go down to the University after we dropped the kids off on Friday nights and get something to eat but tonight I think we will come home and heat up a can of Spam. Again.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Take Your Son to Work Day

Last night Elliott says, "I wish tomorrow was take your son to work day so I could stay home with Dad." Nice.

Yesterday was another day of phone calls and emails spreading the word and convincing some that I have not lost my mind (completely). Still most everyone knows my situation and are confident I did the right thing and the right job for me will come along. This morning in my Daily Blessing email, I got this (the title was Doing the Right Thing):

When you do the right thing, God knows it, and He makes sure you get blessed in return. It’s not always easy to do the right thing! Galatians 6:9 says, Let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap.

It is things like that that give me confidence that I am on the right track.

Meanwhile, Ashleigh had her last field hockey game yesterday. She is moving on to swimming now which will consist of 2 hour practices, 6 days per week. After that, she better be qualified for the next Olympics.

Elliott has try-outs for the school basketball team today. He is signed up for a city league with a friend of his. Seven players on the team. I think that will give him some good exposure to team playing and will develop his skills.

Elliott missed the bus this morning so I drove him to school.

That is the events of the day. Basketball for me tonight. Today I will be updating my resume and creating different formats for various opportunities. I found some online executive job search sites but I need to track down a headhunter.