Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Out With The Old

2008 is blowing out of here soon. And I mean that literally! All day there have been strong wind warnings and the house has been rocking! When I went out to get the mail, an older neighbor was wandering around looking for a check that blew away. There is zero chance she will find it but I told her I would keep my eyes open. And it is a cold wind! It did blow all of the remaining leaves into some corners so I took the leaf vacuum and sucked them all up.

Our Maine friends headed home this morning at 5 AM. They got there around 1PM and found 3 inches of fresh snow. They said it was rough driving through Connecticut due to snow but not too bad.

I don't like these mono-vision contacts. One contact is good for far and one is good for close. But the end result is that most of the time, everything is blurry. I will give them the week to try them and go for option B on Monday. Whatever that is.

There is food and games for the kids tonight at church so we will go to that for a while, then come back and go get the kids around 11. No big plans otherwise. Lucie is working tomorrow to make up for some lost time. I will start looking at taking down the Christmas decorations - although it seems I just put them up!! I went to Wal-Mart to get some LED Christmas lights for next year and everything is gone! You snooze you lose I guess...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Open Eyes

Yesterday I went in for an eye exam as it had been a long time since my last one and I couldn't get any more contacts without a new prescription. It took forever in there and there was a minor emergency with another patient and I got forgotten about alone in the exam room for a while. Looks like I am headed down the bifocal lane and they gave me new contacts to try out for a week. At the end of the exam, they dilated my pupils. That made things blurry for a few hours but no biggie.

We met our friends over at their hotel in the morning yesterday and hopped in the pool for a few minutes. It was kind of chilly and didn't have a hot tub. Surprisingly, there were a lot of little kids in there so we didn't stay long. We packed up and went to the mall and roamed around there for a while. I came back with Gregg and Ashleigh and went to my appointment. That night we went to Texas Roadhouse for dinner. Always a great meal there.

No real plans today. Their boys spent the night here last night and they all go back home tomorrow at 5 AM so this is our last real day together.

Monday, December 29, 2008

It Just Ain't Right

The picture to the left is an accurate depiction of the status of the Eagles as compared to the Patriots - below them! How can it be that the Patriots, with an 11-5 / 69% winning record NOT make the playoffs when the Eagles who are 9-6 / 60% are in? The Patriots have a better, or as good of a record, than three other teams that made the playoffs too! The worst part is now I have to listen to all the Philly fans crow about their lame Eagles when a much more deserving team is not in. And on we go...

Our friends from Maine made it down fine on Friday and we have been having a good and relaxing time with them. We had another Fry Night that went well and have mostly hung out at our house watching TV, talking, and sometimes playing XBox World Tour with the kids. After a couple of minutes of that, I really appreciate their skills!

The weather has been nice with no snow to be found - which is a nice change for our friends. Today we are going to their hotel and swim in the hotel pool. I have an eye exam at 3 and I am afraid it will be bifocal time...

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Family That Rocks Together...

We got Elliott the XBox Guitar Hero World Tour for Christmas (and a Randy Moss Patriots shirt and sweatband!). For those that don't know, the Guitar Hero is an electronic drum set, guitar and microphone that you play/sing along with on TV. Yesterday we had a whole concert going on with Ell on drums, Ash on guitar and Lucie singing. That went on for hours! Elliott showed me the callous on his hand this morning from drumming so much! After that, we watched the Narnia 2 movie. Lucie fell asleep in it but it was good. Long.

Ashleigh was playing a miniature version of Guitar Hero on the new Nintendo DS Lite we got her. It was a musical day here yesterday.

And what romantic thing did I get Lucie? Matching front and rear door floor mats for the house. ha ha But she loved them! (I also got her some nice perfume and stuff too - I am not that bad!)

I got myself an external Tivo hard drive so we can store more recorded shows and the new autographed Clive Cussler book. It was a good and quiet day.

At 2 AM Lucie got the call she was expecting that her uncle had passed away. She is sad today but our friends from Maine are on their way here for about a week. That will be fun.

So off I go to clean. They will be here around noon.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all! Lucie got back yesterday afternoon with no problems at all. No lines, no delays, no traffic, her baggage came through intact... Perfect! We got home and she finished decorating the tree and we watched The Grinch on TV and just hung around for the evening.

The kids are still asleep so I am going to post this and check their stockings. Gotta fill the dog stockings too. Lucie let me open one present early last night and it was a Belgian waffle maker! So I guess I have some work to do!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Freezing Dinners

Saturday night was the church buffet. That went well. I had put together a few Office Max dancing elf videos using the faces of the pastoral staff and burned them to DVD. So I showed the videos after dinner and there were different prizes and contests. Fun night. I took a picture of us sitting at our table and sent it to Lucie. She missed being with us and we missed her.

On Sunday Ashleigh had to be at church very early to set up a PowerPoint presentation she made for the choir cantata. So we ran through that and then went to Dunkin Donuts for some coffee and donuts before church started. Things were pretty iced over and it was cold and rainy but not too bad. Ashleigh's presentation went very well. That night we went to a friends house for a little Christmas party. That was a lot of fun. Lots of food and desserts.

This morning at 6:40 when we left to take the kids to school, it was 13 degrees out! COLD! With a wicked wind too. I took them to school and raced home and went back into hibernation under the covers. After school I went and made about 20 laps around WalMart getting stocking stuff but I think I am mostly set now. The wind finally died down this evening. The golden retriever loves the cold - she lays out in the blowing wind for hours. Doesn't bother her a bit!

Lucie's uncle took a turn for the worse Sunday night. He developed a blood clot in his leg and his kidneys shut down due to dehydrations. They called the doctor and wound up calling an ambulance to take him to the hospital. He is in ICU now but is getting good care. Lucie now has a bad cold and is run down. I am hoping she can sleep better at nights. She is still planning on coming home Christmas Eve. Tomorrow is the last day of school for the kids before Christmas break.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


It has been a few busy days since my last posting. Let's see, where do I begin? Elliott told me late Tuesday night that he needed 32 sodas for a math league meet on Wednesday and that I needed to pick him up from school at 4:30. Of course I had the cable guy scheduled to come out on Wednesday between 3 and 5. But on the way to school Wednesday we stopped and got some cases of soda so that was fine. The cable guy hadn't come by 4 so I raced over and got Elliott. The guy called at 4:45 to say he was going to be 20 minutes late so I beat him home. He did some more testing and then started checking TV lines in the house. Completely unrelated to an internet modem problem I thought but he was determined. So he replaced some cables and ends and so forth. Finally, I had to tell him we had to go to church. He called his supervisor and put him on speakerphone and told him my problem. He gave the supervisor my address and what node I was on. Immediately the supervisor said that it was a known problem in my area and the tech should just come back to the office and turn his paperwork in to the diagnostic people so they could keep working on it. They didn't know why it was happening but it was happening. So ALL THIS TIME they have known of my problem but no one took 20 seconds to check their records and tell me it! I have been testing modems and cables and the router and had a tech out twice! What an inconsiderate, inefficient waste of my time! But now the real fun begins - now we know it is something outside of the house and nothing I can control, how long will this go on?

Anyway, Thursday was quiet here - I fixed some odds and ends and cleaned the garage some. Elliott had a game that night and for the first time all season, his team lead for a while! Elliott scored the first and only points of the first quarter for his team and ended up with 6 points. Again, he played well but during the last quarter, the other team started nailing 3-pointers and they lost 24-31. But they scored more points than any other game. He doesn't have another game till mid-January now.

I played OK that night. I felt great and had one good game where I hit a few jumpers. Mostly I stopped my guy from scoring and we won a few games.

Friday came around and after school I took the kids stocking stuffer shopping for Lucie. They had youth group that night so I dropped them off there and went to dinner with some friends from church. That was a fun time with lots of laughs. Tonight is the church banquet.

Lucie is doing better down in Florida but it is not easy. Her uncle got his first chemo treatment and tolerated that well but he is very weak overall. Lucie is showing his wife how to setup bathroom arrangements, transportation, feeding him, etc. Teach a man to fish... But Lucie's attitude is better and she has a good frame of mind. Part of the problem is that as much as she wants to be here, she is afraid of leaving them alone. She still has a few days and it will be fine.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ice Melt

Elliott finally had his breakout game last night. He was the only one on his team to score in the first quarter, then went on to be the team high scorer with 8 points. He also had 6 rebounds, and 3 steals. His team lost 21-26 but they really could have won. The other kids missed a lot of inside easy shots (rolled off the rim) and the other team hit a few miracle 3-pointers. But Elliott sure played well!

Today there was a short period of icing. Came down pretty hard for a little while but it didn't amount to much.

I went to the church and re-taped and numbered where the chairs go in the sanctuary. The Christmas banquet is this Saturday night and it really helps to have the floor freshly marked so chair put-back is more efficient.

Even after putting new springs on the garage door yesterday, it still seemed to struggle to close and didn't close evenly. So I released the garage door opener drive chain, sprayed everything with WD-40 (again), worked the door manually a few times, and now it is smooth and quiet.

Lucie had a frustrating day down in Florida. Her uncle is not very mobile and his doctor's office gave her a hard time saying she was not on the approved disclosure list so they couldn't tell her anything about his medical condition. And the doctor wasn't even in today. So she was trying to get on the approved list and then go see the doctor on her own before her uncle's first chemo treatment Friday.

I packed up the Comcast modem I had picked up last week because I am getting the same internet lock outs and error messages as the modem I own. Another tech is due out tomorrow to see what he can find. I will try to return the modem to him to save me the long drive and long wait at the Comcast office. I am noticing some other email issues too but the forums seem to indicate that is a national problem.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Spring Day

It was a nice spring day here - about 65º and sunny for a long time. It got cloudy later but it was sure nice. I took the kids to school and then came back and took Lucie to the airport. Earlier in the day a USAir flight with the only the crew aboard had to make an emergency landing with part of its landing gear up. That caused some sparks and the airport to close for a little while but it seemed to have helped. There was no traffic - I pulled up to USAir, let her out on the curb (short term parking is expensive and she already had her seat assignment and everything - nothing for me to do) and she went right in. No one in line ahead of her at the E-Ticket kiosks so she sailed through that and was at the security line by the time I got back on 95! Her plane boarded right on time and she even had an empty seat next to her. As if that isn't hard enough to believe, her checked bag got there the same time she did!

I came back and did some stuff around here and decided to tackle the roll up garage door springs. Each spring (two of them) have broken over the past 2 years but I just wound them back on and made them work. But I have noticed the door not closing smoothly so I went to Home Depot and got two new springs ($27) and put them in. It went smoothly but like every job I do, I have to allow for about 20 minutes of searching time - the time it takes for me search for whatever small piece I drop and can't find. This time it was one of the nuts on a cable clamp. I dropped one, then I set down the other to look for the first one and lost it too! I found that second one out in the driveway (I must have kicked it) and wound up having to re-create the crime - I kept dropping the one nut from the same height as the first lost one until it bounced in a way that lead me to it. But it is all up and working much smoother now.

Elliott has a game tonight. He is feeling good and I think this one will be a win.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ghost Hunting?

The other night on the SciFi Channel, the crew from the show Ghost Hunters went to the Portsmouth Harbor lighthouse in New Castle, NH. They were there to investigate reports of the lighthouse being haunted with reports of bumps and thumps in the night. The funny thing is, I grew up in that area and just this past summer, the Hale family toured the lighthouse. Not much to it - a spiral staircase leading up to a big automated light. I would think a ghost would fine more spacious accomodations to drift around in. The crew recorded some knocking sounds and what they said were voices and other weird stuff. Nothing too spectacular to me. It was interesting to see how they embellished the situation and tried to create a spooky atmosphere. As Elliott put it at the end of the program, "I have lost all respect for this show!"

Earlier we watched the movie "Hancock" with Will Smith. It was really pretty good and had an interesting twist I didn't see coming. Unfortunately it had a lot of unnecessary bad language. But still pretty good.

Elliott and I got the lights on the tree. It looks good. We never did find a replacement foot activated light switch but we made due with what we had. We still have to hang ornaments and I was shamed into making an effort to put them on by a friend. So I probably will. The thing is, Lucie usually hangs them and then puts them back into their individual boxes. She won't be here to hang them this year but she has assured me that if I hang them, she will put them away after Christmas. So I will give it a shot. Oh, and while I am talking Christmas lights, thanks Sally for the net lights!

Lucie goes to Florida tomorrow for a little while. Her uncle is very ill so she is going down to help out and visit him. My good friend from high school and college has a law practice near where she is going (she is going to Coral Springs - he lives in Miami) so maybe they will get a chance to visit. I am going to have to step it up around here for a while. She has worked many hours the past few days wrapping presents and doing all the Christmas cards and getting everything lined up to make it easy for me while she is gone. I will take her to the airport in the morning after we drop the kids at school. And then a steady diet of pizza and frozen dinners will... resume! ha ha

Tonight we went to a wedding and reception for a young man from church. He comes from a real good family and married a really nice girl. It was a good time. Very genuine and sincere and we just felt that they will live happily ever after. The reception was at a waterfront banquet hall which reminded us of a dinner on the cruise ship. In fact, virtually everyone who was on our previous cruises was there so that added to the feeling.

Off to bed for me - I have to start getting used to getting up early and driving the kids to school. Or just sitting there in a one-way stupor while Ashleigh drives...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Still Cold

I am going to stick with the cold basketball theme until things heat up for Elliott's team. They had another rough game this morning and lost 11-33. Elliott was feeling good and played very well. He was one of 2 kids on the team to score. He had good shots and played good defense but they came up short. There are a lot of inexperienced players on his team that are struggling to make strong passes. Lots of turnovers. But Elliott is recognizing he is a veteran and is stepping up his leadership on the court - directing the other players, taking shots, etc. It will come.

Last night we got the tree put up and I got the light strings ready to go. We cannot find our big light switch that the lights plug in to so I am going through all the boxes one more time, then it is off to Walmart.

Other than that, it should be a quiet day.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Elliott's First Game of the Season

Elliott had his first basketball game of the season and to say his team had a cold shooting night is an understatement. The coach this year is focused on plays but many of the kids on the team don't have the fundamentals down. There are only 7 players on his team so when they were practicing the drills, there were no defenders. They got a rude awakening last night and lost 18-40. The kids would lock up when the plays fell apart and they wouldn't take the open shots. Finally Elliott started to disregard the playbook and tried to make his own way. He had some good shots and played well but he was cold too. It will come. He has a game tomorrow and another Monday.

I, on the other hand, had a pretty good night at basketball. I had one game where I scored 4 of the 7 baskets and felt good.

My tooth was pretty sore today. I think it was more sore from the shots I got than anything else. When my dentist gets the file from the root canal doctor, they will schedule an appointment to crown or fill the tooth.

The new modem has already locked up once so that proves it is not my equipment causing the problems. I will let it go through the weekend and worry about that next week.

I got some potentially promising news about going back to work today but I can't post it here. Nothing solid yet but very encouraging.

Tonight Elliott is going to a Laser Tag outing with a bunch of church friends. I intend to start in on the Christmas tree. But I say that every day...

Lucie's uncle in Florida is very sick and facing several weeks of chemotherapy. She is looking into flying down there soon to help out with him and his wife and cut through some language barrier issues.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


My appointment with the endodontist (not to be confused with a run-of-the-mill dentist, was this morning. When I got to the office, I had to watch an ancient video that looked like it was produced by the Dharma Initiative in Lost. I tried my best to talk the doctor out of doing the root canal but he would have none of it. I told him I was not having any pain and maybe I just needed the broken tooth fixed. He did some tests including putting some cold Freon on the tooth. I didn't feel a thing which is good because he said if the tooth was healthy, I would have been on the ceiling! Now wait a second - what kind of a test is that?! On the other hand, it was bad because that meant my nerve was damaged so the canalling had to proceed. What he did is demonstrated above. Basically he drills out all four roots of the tooth, fills them with some anti-bacterial, and fills it. Took a little over an hour in the chair but was pain free and mostly not uncomfortable. No big deal. Except for the bill...

Rainy day here today so of course the outside net lights started acting up. I took one net in that was only half lighting, checked every bulb and the fuses, but it still was out. I did the famous Hale whack on them and they all lit up. I went out and put it back on and all is good.

CCast read my blog yesterday again and called me this morning asking me about my "complaint" about having to wait in line at the service center. So I reiterated what I wrote - the center is too far away and is understaffed.

Elliott has his first basketball game tonight but he is still weak from being sick to his stomach yesterday. He will make an appearance but probably won't be at 100%. Tonight is my basketball night too. Maybe I can use his upset stomach as my excuse too...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Back In Line

Somewhere during my attempts with the cable company phone rep to get the inoperative cable modem working yesterday, I managed to screw up my router settings. I was finally able to get my old modem back on line but the desktop computer had some serious router issues. So I was on the phone with DLink (the router people) till 2:45 this morning! The wifi connection was fine but I had to bridge some connections and stand on one leg with with a coat hanger aimed out the window to get the desktop to get online. (It wasn't that bad but I had to go through some contortions to get it working right). The language issue with the DLink people was intolerable and I wound up thanking them for nothing and leaving it for the night (morning). Got up this morning and figured it out myself. Then it was time to make the 12 mile drive (one way) again to the only cable service office around here. I took my ticket number and then stood there in the waiting area watching the counter workers behind 7 service windows, (only 2 of which were open), barely move around and working with absolutely no sense of urgency or consideration. Haven't these people ever been in a waiting room and expected at least the appearance of efficiency? Finally my number was called and I returned the modem I had picked up about 24 hours earlier. The counter worker told me it was never added to my account (fine with me!) and this time they gave me a new one (the other one was in a bag). I made my way out of the crowded lobby and got home - only about a 2 hour experience... This modem fired up correctly and I am online again. However, there have already been a few T3 errors so I figure it is just a matter of time before I am locked up again.

Meanwhile, Elliott came home from school sick today and threw up. Probably something he ate but he has spent the day wiped out on the couch. Very nice spring like day here. It was rainy but almost 70 degrees. Tomorrow morning I am heading into Wilmington for a root canal but I don't think I need one. My tooth doesn't hurt so I am going to see what they think. Of course that is like asking Jiffy Lube if I really need to have all those things done that they checked off on the clipboard...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Another Day, Another Bad Experience

First, the cable company corrected the Blogspot filtering issues. They said it was a spam filter that needed some fine tuning and that is fixed now. Yesterday the cable guy came out and cut the end connectors off of the outside connections to the house and replaced them but my signal measurements were exactly the same afterwards as they were before (well within limits) so I didn't think he fixed anything. And he didn't. An hour or two after he left T3 errors popped up and at 11 I had to power down the modem and plug it back in to get online. Today I went to the single cable company office which serves a huge area and within 15 minutes I had rented a replacement modem. The guy at the next window was getting a new modem too but he was yelling and saying that he hoped this was a new modem since the last 3 he had been issued didn't work. The counter person told him they all have been tested before they come out of the warehouse and all work fine. So I went home to start the 10 minute job of switching out modems (1 minute to change the actual connections and 9 minutes to wait for the cable company to re-provision it on their end). Over an hour later, the cable lady on the phone and I gave up on getting the replacement modem back and managed to get my old one working again. Out of the bag, the one they gave me didn't light up right. We still went through the motions and several power cycles and PC reboots but it just wasn't going to work. So I put mine back into service (took no time at all) and I will be making a return trip way across town to try another modem tomorrow. The one they leased me is the same make as my old one and should have fired right up. The lady was very nice and asked if I was a teacher because I was so patient (a poll worker asked me that too back in November as she too said I was very patient). The lady said she would credit me two weeks of service for my inconvenience.

While that was going on, some friends from church called and said there was a school fundraiser at the Red Robin restaurant near us and invited us to join them for supper. So we ran over there. At the end of the night, each family presented our credit cards for the separate checks. A few minutes later our waitress and a manager came over and said they had accidentally put both charges on my card! They said they could try and reverse the charges but the bank would freeze that amount for 3 days. I said that was fine and the other family could buy dinner next time. No biggie. The manager was very apologetic and nice and going out of her way to say how sorry she was for what they thought was a huge error (it was no big deal to me). So I jokingly said that a little dessert to go might make things a little better for us... Next thing I know, out comes two HUGE chocolate mud slide desserts! And, they corrected the bill! So the lesson I told the kids was that being patient SOMETIMES pays off. There is nothing to be gained by getting belligerent or rude when people are trying their best and it just doesn't work out sometimes.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Lit Up

As you can barely see above, all lights are in place, and all are working. At least they were when this picture was taken. It has snowed since then and the tiny fuses in the plug kept blowing but that was due to moisture in the linked wires. They held up well last night.

And last night was the children's play at church. Another big success. About 500 people came to watch. Everything went very smoothly.

I talked to a former boss up in Boston today. He said I have home up there with his company if I ever wanted to go back and they would consider re-location costs. But it would involve starting up a branch for them out in the Worcester area. I thanked him and said I might take him up on it if things don't work out here soon.

No root canal today. I am on day-to-day notice should something open up.

So I have another internet issue. At the bottom of each of my emails, I have a signature added automatically. That signature includes a link to this blog: Suddenly on Friday night, the internet company decided to filter ALL emails that has any Blogspot link in it. And by filter, I mean they won't deliver it and won't tell anyone they didn't deliver it. I was sending an email to myself and it never came through. So I had a couple of friends who were online do some testing with me (they have the same cable company email also) and sure enough, if anywhere in any email a link to any Blogspot blog is included, the email goes off into the void and is not delivered. Take the Blogspot link out, and it goes through fine. I posted this issue on the internet and sure enough, it can be duplicated by the various forum readers. People are getting wound up that emails are not being delivered without any kind of warning or failure message. So I called the cable company and the first person didn't have an answer so she escalated the problem and about 10 hours later I got a call from an upper level person who was also able to replicate the problem. He said it was a known problem and the internet filters were marking those emails as spam and dumping them but they couldn't figure out why there was no cancellation notice sent to the sender. They said they will work on it. Makes me mad that now I cannot send anyone a link to my blog! At least warn me if you aren't going to deliver my email!

And while I am talking about internet issues, a tech came by today to look at my intermittent connection problem. Of course I was online and fine and it happens randomly. So he replaced the ends on the outside connections but said all of my signal strengths are well within range (I knew that). I will watch and see what happens.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

...And Rigging Up These Lights

Ah, 'tis the season... to freeze my fingers off and yell at the Christmas lights. I made the move and lugged up the bins of Christmas stuff and began the tedious task of checking the lights. So I unfurl the string of garage icicles and the daisy-chained bush net lights. Of course big sections of the icicles are out and I have to start yanking bulbs and popping them into another string to verify if they work. And when I find one, two or seven hundred that don't, I pull out the bulb and then spend 3 minutes trying to feed the little wire legs into the plastic socket holes. Oops, both in the same hole. Oops, bent one. Arrghh... Finally I got the icicles done and went out while it was still light and hooked them up. Great. When it got dark, I plugged them in and big sections were out! How could they go bad in the 20 feet I moved them from the couch to outside? So now, at 8 o'clock at night in 22º weather, I am pulling bulbs. After a few minutes of that, I pulled the whole stupid string down (actually two strings together) and took it back inside. A bunch of bulbs went bad. Replaced them, dragged the string back out, slapped it up, and all is lovely... Then onto the bush lights. Meanwhile, I invested $4 at WalMart and bought a bulb tester that also had a bulb pryer-outer thing. That made things go easier. But the bush lights are not all lined up in a row so it takes a well orchestrated attack plan. No joke - the very last bulb in the grid was broken on one of the nets. When I replaced that, the whole thing lit up. I then lugged that out and drapped that over the bushes. I have enough nets out there to safely snag a herd of blue whales. Should any happen across my front lawn...

And another fun part of the night was trying to find my X-10 light control module. It is an electronic device (think of the "Clapper") that is part of my home lighting setup. Each year I plug the outside lights into it, and it into the outside outlet, and then via computer I can program the lights' on and off time. And somewhere along the way it rains and the module gets wet and stops working so I have to dry it out and on and on. Well, this year, I cannot find the stupid module. Searched high and low. Looked in all the Christmas bins too. Went outside and looked at the new weather-proof mechanical timer I put in last year to see if the module was plugged in that. Yup - you read that right. I looked at the new mechanical timer. Dummy me had gotten sick of the X-10 soakings and failures every year so I bought a 6 outlet electrical box with a mechanical timer to replace the module! I must have forgotten that and chucked the X-10 module as I didn't need it any more. Crisis resolved.

Today is inside Christmas work I think. Setting up the fake tree and all of that. I wish someone would invent a hologram Christmas tree that you can just turn on and off every year. Takes up no space (you can walk through the image) and is up and down in 10 seconds. If someone with some ingenuity is reading this, please contact me...

Speaking of, CCast contacted me several times yesterday. Notice the spelling of that. Of course I am referring to the company that provides our TV and internet service. I asked them how they came across my little blog in the big universe and the guy said they have a Google alert set up to scan all of the Google blogs for key words. Their company name being one of them. And they say they don't know where bin Laden is... (I think they know exactly where he is and are keeping an eye on him...). Anyway, I talked to a few reps (very nice) and told them of my problems and how it is intermittent and aggravating. They are sending a tech out on Monday but I am not optimistic they will find anything since it comes and goes so sporadically. Happened once this morning already.

Speaking of this morning, Elliott is off to take a charter school acceptance test. Four hours long in Wilmington. Another parent was bringing a van load of kids over so he rode with them. They were supposed to pick him up at 6:45. My internal clock went off at 6:25 and not a creature was stirring... So I jumped up and woke him up (his alarm was set for Monday through Friday) and he had plenty of time to eat and get ready (they didn't arrive till 7). And to jump start our day, I killed a giant spider that had come into the house seeking warmth. Probably lured by all the lights... And I am sure it is warm now - in hell!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Monday was a pretty laid back day. So laid back in fact I cannot remember what I did! I went into work on Tuesday and they asked me to extend my contract another 40 hours or so. Of course I said yes - I really enjoy working there and would love to go full time. I spent the day getting ready for an on-site presentation that was scheduled for Wednesday. But about halfway through the afternoon, the client funding the project temporarily halted work. So I had to wrap things up and call it a day. Pretty disappointing but I am optimistic that other projects will develop and they will have me back.

Wednesday I ran around doing a few odds and ends and finally got the dogs out for a walk. Oh, I just remembered what I did on Monday. The images from the laptop that Lucie uses at church would only project black and white on the big screen. So I tried updating drivers and this and that and then dragged another laptop in and lo and behold, projected images from that computer were also black and white. It turned out a pin on the connector cable was broken. Ran to WalMart and got another one and all is good now.

Today I was going to start in on the Christmas stuff after lunch. So I sat down with a big bowl of ROBIN's beans and thought I had found a little piece of bone in one bite. I was partially right except the piece was a piece of my filling! The tooth that I had fixed at the end of October broke and a piece of the filling came out. That exposed the nerve which was pretty sensitive. If you recall, I had work done and then a few days later I had to go back to get the filling ground down. I am convinced something was still amiss and the uneven filling acted as a wedge so each bite I took caused my tooth to crack a little more until it broke completely. The dentist took me right in and was all defensive that it wasn't their fault. They numbed me up and pulled out the little piece of broken tooth. They also admired the work done by my dentist in NH (Dr. Swallow - no joke!). But they said they couldn't do his type of work on my tooth and I need a root canal AND a crown. So they patched it up and were very nice and friendly and didn't charge me. About two hours later I felt the numbness wearing off and a sharp edge on my tooth. Sure enough, the temporary filling had fallen out (and undoubtedly ingested with a fork full of cheeseburger pasta...). But it doesn't hurt and I have an appointment for the canal work on Monday. I can't keep my tongue out of my broken tooth/filling hole!

Lucie got word that her uncle in Florida was very ill with tumors on his liver. It was an emotional time for her as he was like her father growing up, gave her away at our wedding, and besides her brother, represents her last living relative in the US. She has spoken with him a few times and he sounds better today. He is going home from the hospital tomorrow and will follow up with an oncologist for a treatment plan. He is 85 but looks and acts 60.

Had an OK night at hoops. Hit a few shots. Missed a few. But it was a good run.

Tomorrow I will start lugging the Christmas stuff upstairs and start setting that up.

Finally, how weird is that comment below on my "Rainy and Dreary" post? Comcast got flagged on a comment in my little ol' blog? I am not sure if it is good or bad but it is a little "X-File"-ish to me! I wrote back to them and explained that at least once a day I lose internet connection and have to power down and then power up my modem. I am convinced it is a problem with their lines as I see different noise error messages on the modem log. And I can go weekends with no problems. The problems generally only happen during business hours. They must be doing upgrades or other work. We'll see what happens...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rainy And Dreary

Been some dreary days around here. Thanksgiving was very nice though. We ate later in the afternoon and I got a little nap in. Of course while I was napping the beagle got a hold of the bag of turkey Lucie was making and ate the meat off one of the legs! Don't they eat dog in Vietnam...? Anyway, we then watched the Sean Connery movie, The Rock. That was a good day.

Friday was a busy day at our friend's funeral. Long day at church setting up and helping out behind the scenes. It was the very least we could do for the family and it was not a chore at all. It was a cold day and that night the kids went to an outside movie with the youth group. They were frozen when they got done. Lucie didn't do her usual Black Friday excursion this year. While the kids were doing that, we were at friends' watch the movie Deja Vu. Interesting time travel movie. Pretty entertaining.

Saturday Elliott had basketball practice. Only 5 kids showed up so they practiced and scrimmaged another team. His team has some work to do before their first game... After that we headed way across town to the Comcast place. I am still having connection problems and so I thought I would go get one of their modems to try. Well, apparently everyone in the state had problems as the place was packed! So Elliott and I packed up and went home. Stayed home that day doing stuff here and just catching up on Tivo-ed shows.

Sunday was a cold and rainy day. Another low key day. I am off tomorrow so I will go back to Comcast and check them out again. I ruled out my router as being a problem. That leaves the modem or, most likely the wiring!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Contact Me

It is Thanksgiving but I will spare you the typical "I am thankful for..." ramblings. Not that I am not thankful for ALL that I have, but the list would be way too long for here and some thing or some one would be left out. I am a very fortunate and blessed person and am thankful for all I have. Hmm, I guess I rambled anyway...

Yesterday morning I opened my contact lens cleaner case and somehow one of the lenses split during the night. How in the world did that happen? Maybe I caught it in the act of some form of fission replication (so that is where contact lenses come from...). So I reached into my supply box and only had lens left. I called Costco for a refill but my prescription had expired. I called the eye doctor but they can't see me until December 29! I made an appointment and they were kind enough to order some lenses to get me by (I usually change them once a month but just in case another one should decide to attempt to reproduce I want some on standby). But that of course raises the question of why the heck do you need a prescription for contacts? I haven't heard of someone overdosing on them or selling them on the street corners. If they require a prescription for them, why not shoes? Makes just about as much sense. Moving on...

One of the springs on the garage door snapped again yesterday. It makes a wicked bang when it lets go. There is a safety cable that runs down the middle of it to keep it from wreaking too much damage when it lets go but it severed the cable. Didn't do any damage and I got it all back together. What happens is the hook end of the spring snaps off. So I thread the remainder part of the spring around the anchor like putting a key on a key chain. We use the garage for our main house entry so it gets a workout many times a day. Elliott said he thought he heard soda cans exploding when it broke too. In a completely unrelated yet weird-timing situation, one of the soda cans in the garage fridge froze and exploded! What is even weirder is that it was a Coke One can - none others are frozen and last week we noticed another Coke One can had frozen (but not exploded). I dialed down the fridge then but not enough I guess. I wonder what it is about those particular sodas that lend themselves to freezing more than others.

I managed to get all the leaves blown to the back fence yesterday before it got dark. I am going out soon to rake them up and over the fence into the woods behind the house.

Lucie is busy cooking away. We plan to eat around 4.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Catching Up

So work has been going well! Geez, I haven't said that in over a year... Actually, I rarely said that with my old job...! The company is progressive and professional and they have a good strategy for growing in a new market. I am ahead of the project timeline so they are getting me more involved in other aspects of the business. I am thrilled and really hoping this turns into a full-time position. I can bring something to the table and learn some new things too. Challenging, rewarding, local, respected company... Everything I was looking for.

Being busy at work means that the blog entries have had to slow down. Things are going well at home. Elliott is doing better but has a real raspy voice and a little cough still. He missed one basketball practice and sat out another (watched the plays). He should be ready to go by the next practice. I will be posting his games schedule on the Hale Family Web Page in a few minutes and then updating his stats throughout the year. He and Ashleigh are out of school for the week.

Yesterday was Lucie's birthday. We had a gift card from a friend so we went to Olive Garden. Oddly enough, the name of our waitress was the same as the person who gave us the card. Anyway, I haven't been to an Olive Garden in years. It was pretty good. We started off with the big salad and calamari for an appetizer. I got the Tour of Italy which had lasagna, fettuccine alfredo, and chicken parmesan. Took a slice of pumpkin cheesecake home for dessert. I feel like I need to take a walking tour of Italy now to burn off all of that!

It wasn't the happiest of days for Lucie or any of us though. The mother of one of our cruise friends (and grandmother of Ashleigh's boyfriend) passed away early yesterday morning. She had lung cancer. We were over to her house on Labor Day for a cookout with huge steaks and had a really nice time. She was a great woman. I remember she didn't know us too well but still came to Lucie's mother's funeral years ago. That really made an impression on me. The funeral is Friday. I will be helping with the sound and video and Lucie is coordinating a lot of the other details.

Today I might try and get out and blow the leaves out of the yard. Looks like a good day for that.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Back In The Saddle Again

As some of you may know, I am back to work again although for the moment, it is a temporary assignment. An engineering company that a couple of my friends work at added a security assessment division over a year ago. I contacted the division president and my friends were kind enough to bring my name up on occasion to him as the division grew. Every few months I would send an email to keep the communication open and our paths would cross every now and then in various security related venues. Then on Wednesday, I got a call from them saying they were working on a project and needed some help and they asked if I would come work with them. Of course I said yes so we worked out a quick contract and they said they couldn't guarantee me beyond 80 hours of work but it would be mutually beneficial. I said it was a great opportunity, and a rare one, where I could "test drive" the company before deciding to go to work for them or not (if an offer is made). I cannot go into details of what this particular project involves but it is related to a security vulnerability assessment and coordinating getting the data from that assessment to the Division of Homeland Security. Pretty interesting stuff and this company has targeted a unique market. Right up my alley in terms of the scope of the work and it is local. So I have put in about 20 hours in two days and it is going well. The office is small but their technology is current and the people are knowledgeable and professional. How refreshing...! I am very, very grateful to be working when many around me are facing uncertain times but hopefully I can be a witness of perseverance and not giving up. This company has said that if they are awarded more contracts, they would be interested in hiring me full time so I am really hoping that works out. Thanks for the prayers and thoughts and I will post more here when I can.

Meanwhile, Elliott caught my cold and that became bronchitis. He has missed most of the week at school but is not feeling too bad. His cough is persistent but not a body wracking one either. We are going to his basketball practice today and he will watch but not run around.

We got a dusting of snow yesterday. It looked very wintery while it was coming down. Pretty cold too with the high temperatures only in the 40º's. Jasmine the golden retriever loves it. She goes out early in the morning and just lays out there in the freezing cold watching the leaves blow and the squirrels run around.

Today Lucie and some of her friends are going to a scrapbook class. I am going to work on the house of the husband of one of the friends while they are gone.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

First Flakes

As you can see, around 4:30 this afternoon, the visibility dropped significantly. Why? A fast and furious snow squall. It popped up out of nowhere and the sun was actually shining during it. It has been quite chilly and windy lately. I guess winter is upon us...

Elliott has had a little fever and felt run down the past few days so he has stayed home from school. Today he and I went and got our hair cut. He really needed it. I think they should collect all the cut hair and weigh it and charge according to the amount cut. Only seems fair...

Tonight there was a fundraiser at Applebee's for Ashleigh's lacrosse team. We invited a few families but only one was able to make it. We had a nice time. We rarely eat out during the week.

Not much else going on. Editing the report I wrote. Just switching up the format a bit.

I am happy to report that my back never hurt after carrying that washer up the stairs last Saturday. I guess I am doing better.

I had a little McGyver moment today. Lucie called and said the screen on the electronic thermostat at the church office had gone blank. She put new batteries in but still nothing. So I dug back into the recesses of my mind and remembered a similar situation I resolved once. I told her to take out the batteries, put them in backwards for a few seconds, take them out and then put them back in the right way. Sure enough, that somehow reset it and it worked perfectly. Even after 21 years, I can still heat her up a little!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fryday Friday Success

We had our first Fryday Friday and it was a great success. Despite one plate of fried fish getting knocked on the floor and half eaten by the beagle, a bag of battered mozzarella sticks ending up being emptied on the kitchen floor, and a few other minor setbacks (the mozzarella sticks disintegrated into a mass of gooey cheese in the fryer - that never happened before). But the preparation part was fun and overall, everything tasted great. The fried ice cream was fair - I need to try another recipe. We will do it again some day - but it may be awhile so we can let this last experience get completely purged from our bodies.

On Saturday the temperature got up to about 72º! Beautiful, warm winds blowing. We opened up the house to air out the carnival smell from the fried food. Then a friend called us to help move their washer machine upstairs. They live near a scrapbooking store so Lucie was more than happy to go. So off we went and I took my back support belt (which worked great - I have no pain now). I helped the guy move the washer upstairs and hook it up. Lucie and the ladies went to the scrapbook store. I then got involved with helping install a garage door opener but then Lucie came and we had to leave. A tornado watch was declared and the skies got ominous. The kids were home alone so we headed out. It rained really hard on the way home but all was OK. I offered to go back and help with the garage door next weekend but he wound up getting it installed. The washer leaked a little around a hose but he fixed that too.

Sunday was pretty quiet but turned very cold with a strong wind. I finished my report and emailed that in. A friend of mine forwarded me a lead for a security manager position at a local place where I have a profile set up. The place is supposed to look at the online postings for candidates but something didn't work out. Anyway, I am grateful that he sent me the link (it was from our professional security organization web site). I applied online and will see what happens.

After church we watched a show called Half Ton Mom. This 900 pound woman decided to have gastric bypass surgery. So for 50 minutes, they interviewed her and showed the procedure and how in the 3 days after the surgery, she lost 60 pounds, etc. etc. Suddenly, they said the woman died of a heart attack! I didn't see that coming! Not a very happy ending. Next on our hit list of shows was one about polygamy. This woman went and interviewed these people with a million kids and 3 wives living in these huge houses. The guy had his "man cave" to retreat to when he needed some peace and quiet (bedroom office with TV, etc.). It sounded pretty good until they showed his wives and explained the uh, sleeping arrangements. Then it was time for bed for me. After a little blogging of course...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Back To Work - Briefly

I have fallen a few days behind in my blog because I have actually been busy working! Hard to believe... It was just a small consulting job in Philly and I am writing up the report now but it was something. Felt good to get back to it. I should finish that up today and email it in.

The kids brought home excellent report cards again - Elliott's doesn't show his school ranking but Ashleigh is ranked #16 out of 463. Pretty darn good.

Elliott's basketball practices have been going well. He hit 8 out of 10 free throws again last night to lead the team.

I have had a little cold for a week. It felt good to get out and play ball last night. I had my typical inconsistent night but I felt pretty good.

The latest count on the dogs in that house is 42! Turns out there is no law against the number of dogs you can have as long as they are clean. The vets have said the dogs were healthy and the people have moved back in. The dogs are not up for adoption. I bet I see a bunch of them right back there again soon...

Tonight is Fryday Friday at our house - having a few friends over and they are all bringing something for me to deep fry. Now that is some healthy party! I have actually been working on preparing some ice cream to be fried - takes a little work and it is only supposed to fry for about 30 seconds. That should be good.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dog Gone

This morning as I was driving out of the 'hood, I saw about four county police cars and another 4 animal control trucks at a corner house (see picture above). The guy who lived there was a very large individual and he always had a bunch of dogs in his yard. He wasn't well liked in the community because he had a giant satellite dish in his yard and a chain link fence - both against the community regulations. Not to mention the dogs (although the yard and dogs always looked clean to me). I would walk by there when I walked my dogs and it was interesting to see what new dogs they had - they would all come charging out to the fence in a frenzy. Lately there were a couple of St. Bernards that grew really fast and it was fun to watch them get bigger almost every day. When I came back home today, I saw a news van from Philadelphia was there along with the police and animal control officers so I hooked up my dogs and went for a walk. I talked to the news woman who was covering the story and she said the owner of the house died of a heart attack this morning and when the ambulance arrived, they found the house filthy and full of dogs. Last count: 32 of them! The woman was asking me questions and the camera man was heading over to start recording when another woman pulled up with a better story - she said she was going to buy a dog from the people who lived in the house. So the news woman runs off and leaves me standing there and the other woman got interviewed on camera! The house is condemned now and the dogs are all gone. I bet their neighbors are happy.

Here is a link to the local story:

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Practice Makes Perfect

Elliott had his first practice on Thursday night. That went well. Only 7 kids on his team so that is a little tight. They ran through a lot of drills and his coach this year seems very instructional. During the free throw portion of the night, Elliott hit 8 out of 10 - the best of anyone on the team. They should do OK this year. From his practice we went straight to my basketball night. I had a pretty good night and my back felt great.

On Friday we met a friend for breakfast (Lucie is off on Fridays now) and then Lucie and her friend went to work scrapbooking and I got the oil changed in my car. I then joined Lucie at our friend's house. The cable guy was due to come to their house and fix their slow connection and I was going to talk to the guy. While we were waiting, I poked around with their connections and cable modem and lo and behold, about 15 minutes before the cable guy arrived, suddenly their connection speeded right up! I had to go pick up Ashleigh from school and the guy came after I left. Of course all was fine by then so he didn't have to do a thing. How coincidental...

That night the kids went to youth group at church. I hung out here with our friends watching the new Indiana Jones movie while Lucie... scrapped. I had a small sore throat coming on though.

Another practice for Elliott on Saturday. It was a rainy day so after practice, we just came home and I took a nap. My sore throat cleared up but now I have a little bit of a runny nose. Feeling tired but it could just be that kind of a day.

Our good friends from Maine called tonight and they are going to come down for Christmas (the day after). That will be great fun. They are going to find a local hotel with a pool so we may actually go stay with them!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

On The Road

Well, there it is: Ashleigh's driver's permit. They don't let you smile for any license pictures in DE so that is why she doesn't look too happy. But believe me, she is! She and Lucie finally got it last night and she drove to church and home in the dark and rain. She can only have one other adult and one other passenger in the car when she is driving. She has to log 50 hours before she can upgrade her license too. But she will drive with Lucie and Elliott every morning on the way to school and it will add up.

Tonight Elliott starts basketball practice with the city league. He is returning to his old team (as a veteran now!) but it is a different coach. The new coach sounds good and fun and not a "yeller." We will go to practice, then race back to my basketball night.

All else is quiet. I have a small consulting job next week in Philly. That will be good to get back into the swing of things

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Today Ashleigh got her completion of Driver's Ed form and wanted to go to the DMV to get her permit right after school (of course!). Lucie's car was due for inspection and re-registration so we all went over right after school. (Elliott's bus was late arriving to his school so he just went home.) While Lucie and Ashleigh went in to get her permit, I went through the inspection and registration process. In Delaware, you have to go to the DMV and pull up to a giant garage like building with several bays. Once inside, they test your emissions and brakes and lights, etc. If you pass, you then get the privilege of going inside and waiting in another line to get the sticker for your license plate and new vehicle registration. Her car passed everything fine so I went in to stand in line. The good news is the line moved along pretty well and she is all squared away for 2 years now. The bad news is that we didn't bring Ashleigh's social security card (we brought her birth certificate but didn't know to bring the SS card) so she couldn't get the permit. We came home, Lucie got the card, and they just went back. From there they are going to the field hockey banquet.

I was able to fix a little problem on the kids' computer today by uninstalling and re-installing the program that was acting up. Had to do it twice but all seems good.

I have a small consulting job in Philly next week. I am looking forward to that.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Don't Blame Me...

... I voted for McCain. There. Let's just get it out in the open from the get go. Not knowing who all will be reading this, I will simply say I cannot understand how anyone could possibly vote for someone whose only claim to fame is his promise of socialism and to raise taxes, a person with no military experience or support, a person with no history of ever accomplishing anything as a politician, a person who has stated his intentions to try to negotiate with terrorists, and a person who has promised to bankrupt the coal industry. How he got a single vote to be the Commander in Chief of the United States of America is beyond me. And let me go on record saying racism, in ANY form, should never be tolerated and no person should be elected to any office based solely on the color of his or her skin. Moving on...

Ashleigh and I had a very educational day working at the polls today. It went very, very smoothly. We were assigned to the huge lobby of a vo-tech school where three districts were assigned to vote. Ashleigh and I were in different districts but within 50 feet of each other all day. We got there at 6 AM and got home after 9 PM. I had 1700 people registered in my district and we had 1291 people vote (76%). Ashleigh had about 900 people in her district with a 68% turnout. The other district had about 600 people in the district but I don't know their turnout numbers. Voting was very heavy early with long lines but it tapered off around mid-day to a steady but manageable stream. Some of the candidates shipped in pizza and subs for us poll workers. There were different positions that we worked at - voter ID and signature card distribution, card filing, voter information updating, and assisting people at the voting machines. Everyone pretty much gravitated to doing what they preferred - I preferred to work the voting machines; Ashleigh liked to work with the card distribution. The voting machines were touch screen, electronic devices. Many, many people voted for the first time or the first time in a long time. Working the machines meant I was on my feet all day but I was busy and personally helped over 500 people vote. I felt like I accomplished something. One of the state representative candidates voted at my booth. But when I announced his name, I accidentally pronounced it wrong. It was in that column I didn't read when I voted... ha ha At the end of the night, I was responsible for counting the writing-in votes. One item was of particular note: Huckabee and Palin for President and Vice President! It was a long day and we generally enjoyed it but it was an interesting election process and from our view, 100% legitimate and valid with checks and balances throughout the system.

More importantly than all of that, we both made some money and Ashleigh got school credit...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Back To The Grind

Today I had to go back to the dentist to get my filling ground down. There was a raised bump and my teeth wouldn't close right. So I went in and they immediately saw the problem and ground down the spot. No pain. No charge. Much better than before. A perfect trip to the dentist.

I saw I am down to my last contact lens and so I called Costco to order some more, and found my prescription had expired. Which means a trip to the eye doctor. Last time I was there they said I would need bifocals on my next visit(or reading glasses). Not looking forward to that... Maybe I can get them to just call in a new prescription.

Saturday Ashleigh had a bunch of school friends over. Lucie got into hosting and helping as usual. I pretty much stayed out of the way. That party gave us a good reason to get the house all cleaned though. I walked the dogs just before everyone arrived so they were tuckered out and behaved. She had a good time and her friends are fun.

Sunday was quiet - lunch after church, nap, evening service, watched the Patriots lose...

Tomorrow, Ashleigh and I work the polls. We have to be there by 6 AM so today we are packing breakfast, lunch and dinner for a LONG day. Should be interesting. I will give a full review afterwards. I think they told us that the districts in Delaware have a maximum of 3000 people each so even if everyone shows up, it doesn't sound that bad. They also said they had already received a lot of absentee ballots so that should reduce the number of actual voters that arrive.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ghost Hunting

My aunt in NH sent me a link about an upcoming episode of Ghost Hunters where they are featuring the New Castle, NH lighthouse. The full article can be found here:

Part of the article states that sounds have been heard and "he had also heard a voice and some muttering." That happens when I am home alone too but then I realize it is just me doing the muttering to myself...

Ashleigh is having a few school friends over for a little party tonight. Nothing too big. We will hang around and clean.

Below is a picture of the Hale family in the "haunted" lighthouse from this past summer.

Friday, October 31, 2008

16 Plus 1

We made it down to the Rainforest Cafe but Lucie forgot her camera so I had to take pictures with my cell phone. This is Ashleigh with the Chocolate Volcano. It came with a lit sparkler on it and the wait staff all sang to her. There was enough for all 5 of us and some to take home. There was no one there hardly so we got great seats in the middle and had good views of the fish tanks and moving "animals." On the drive down, she opened some presents and then opened the rest on the way back. I got back in time to get a couple of hours of basketball in and we all had a good day.

Today we have scattered to avoid the trick or treaters. Who, at least for the past couple of years, are teenagers in jeans and t-shirts looking for free candy. No effort on their part means no effort on my part. There. Showed them... We are all headed out to eat to stay out of the house during the peak of activity.

Tomorrow night Ashleigh is having some school friends over for a little party but not much else is planned.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ashleigh's Birthday!

Today is Ashleigh's 16th birthday!

We are going to surprise her and pick her and Elliott up from school and go to her favorite restaurant - The Rainforest Cafe. It is down near Baltimore and is a pretty fun place - it is like a rainforest (oddly enough) with thunder and lightning and stuff going on. That should be a fun time. (She won't see this blog before we go in case you were wondering.)

She gave herself an early birthday present by scoring in her final field hockey game of the year. The game ended in a 1-1 tie.

Chilly and sunny out today. Not much else going on. My back is feeling really good and it is great to be able to chew using both sides of my mouth!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Last night Ashleigh and I braved the wind and cold and went to our poll worker's class. There was a lot of information and the place was packed. Fortunately, they don't expect us to know everything - we just need to be able to look up what to do if we need to. They were pretty good and most people have worked the polls before. So we spent two hours of classroom lecture, then another hour of hands-on machine working. Setting up the voting machine, taking it down, ADA assistance, etc. Pretty interesting. Our trainor for the voting machine reminded me of Angela from The Office. As soon as she started teaching, she introduced herself: "Hi, my name is Angela..." ha ha No joke.

Today marks my one year of leaving my former company. Been a quick year, and it has been a long year. But God is still providing and we are stretching our five loaves and two fish...

Tomorrow is Ashleigh's 16th birthday!

It is a bit frosty around here. Lucie and Ashleigh are at her last field hockey game of the year. Brrrr. I just got back from walking the dogs. One of the people in the neighborhood has a huge inflatable spider in their front yard for Halloween. It moves its front legs up and down too. As we went by that house, Jasmine (the golden retriever) growled and barked at it. That is good to know in case a real one every gets loose and tries to get in the house...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sometimes The Tooth Hurts

Well, there it is over there to the right: the root of my tooth pain. Actually, the root is fine (fortunately). The tooth with the filling was killing me when I bit down hard on it. So I finally went to the dentist. He drilled out the old filling and gave me a mirror to see how it looked (pretty weird). He said there was a lot of decay under the filling so he dug that out but said the root looked healthy and I would probably avoid a root canal. He had to give me quite a few shots to numb the area while muttering such encouraging things as, "You have a tough jaw to give injections into" and "your gum is going to feel like a pin cushion tomorrow..." Meanwhile, while he is drilling away, he is asking me if I am a McCain supporter and how he cannot understand how anyone could support Obama given Obama's comments on redistributing wealth and raising taxes. Good thing I was in agreement although I must admit I would have probably said I was voting for Nader if that is what he wanted to hear - he was the one holding the drill!

So now half of my jaw and mouth is numb and I feel like I am talking like Sylvester Stallone. No cold stuff on that side for 2 weeks (that is no problem really). Tonight, Ashleigh and I go to poll workers' training so I will have her keep an eye on me to make sure I am not drooling. Glad she is going so she can do that and save me from asking some stranger to let me know...

Ashleigh drove for the first time today in Driver's Ed. Good day for it too - rainy and wind gusts up to 60 mph! But she said she did fine.

We went to Taco Bell and waited in the drive-through for our free tacos. I ate mine over the sink at home and I think most of it stayed in my mouth. Here is the line ahead of us:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Taking What They're Giving

The only good thing about this World Series is that someone stole a base in one of the games so between 2 PM and 6 PM tomorrow, Taco Bell is giving away a free taco. Looks like Mexican night at the Hale House tomorrow.

Pretty quiet weekend here. We never did make it to the church game night on Friday. We were moving furniture and stuff all day so we grabbed a quick pizza for dinner with friends and came back. Ashleigh and Elliott were at the high school football game so we wanted to be home before them anyway. On Saturday night we hung out and watched stuff on Tivo - Ashleigh was at the high school homecoming dance and Elliott was at the movies.

It rained pretty hard on Saturday and I noticed one gutter was overflowing. So I went up on Sunday and found the remnants of a bird's nest blocking the downspout (despite my gutter guards I have in place). Cleaned that out and all should be good again.

Been having cable modem problems. Verizon has been in the neighborhood putting in FIOS and every time they do that, my line gets messed up. Comcast blames me and offers the sure cure-all: reboot my computer. Uh, no. I usually just wait it out...

Today I called the election board and got a different person and she changed Ashleigh to my polling place in 2 seconds. Great! So Ashleigh and I will go to training tomorrow together, and then work on November 4th. We will be at the place where I usually vote. So without giving away who I am voting for, I will say I want to be the first to cast a vote so I can say that at least for a little while, McCain led in our district...!

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's A Bird, It's A Plane

This morning around 2 AM I was in bed reading (post-basketball adrenaline still pumping) and I heard some sirens and a roaring noise outside (which I must say is a lot better than hearing them inside...). Anyway, away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the curtains and looked out the sash. When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but... a helicopter. (I went a little Christmas-y on ya - heard Christmas music playing at Kohl's the other day...). Anyway, I could see steam (smoke) rising from the other side of the townhouses in our development by the main road and a helicopter was hovering with its' spotlight on. Every once in a while it would rotate and shine its' light all over our neighborhood. When I got up this morning, I read a guy was in a hit and run on the main road up there (very minor - no damage) but took off fast. He tried to turn onto a side road, flipped over, was ejected and killed. They say alcohol was involved...

Our new furniture arrived yesterday so I spent the WHOLE day moving it around and stereo equipment and such. Everything fired up and communicated with each other on the first try. So that is good. Lucie is off today so we will work on moving books into the bookshelves and moving the old bookshelves. Where, I don't know...

Played pretty well at basketball last night but still a wary of my back. It was twingey and a little sore from all the moving. When we got out, it was pretty chilly - 36º when I went to bed.

Ashleigh's varsity team won Wednesday 6-1. She got to play some.

Tonight is game night at church. Oddly enough, we will be playing dice and card games...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Believe Me, I Know Where Everything Goes!

A couple of months ago we ordered a new entertainment center and it is finally going to be delivered tomorrow. But that meant I had to take all of my stereo/home theater equipment out of the old one. So I put little numbered stickers on all of the wires and then printed copies of the diagrams of the back of each components. Then on those printouts, I labelled the numbers of the wires. I was able to pull all of the pieces out and stack them on a TV tray while I moved the old entertainment center into the other room. This morning I saw that the TV tray was looking pretty wobbly so I went to move everything from that onto the subwoofer which was much more solid. Well, things got away from me and the whole dang stack went over. Nothing broke and I was able to re-stack and re-connect everything. But I found that my Tivo wireless adapter would no longer see the home WiFi network. After re-booting and re-connecting, I realized that the connector cable was nearly severed. I grabbed another cable that fit and sure enough, the Tivo linked right in. Off to Radio Shack I went and found a replacement cable - for $21! No way. I found a longer one on Amazon for $12 but I wound up taking the old cable to the laboratory (garage) and did some micro-soldering. Four little wires. Soldered them and wrapped each in electrical tape. Went back and plugged it in and it worked fine! So I may treat myself to Taco Bell with the $12 I just saved. But I think it wouldn't take a whole lot of self-dialogue to convince myself to go to Arby's and spend the full $21...

Ashleigh has a field hockey game tonight late but I cannot go because I have to do the video and audio at church tonight (the sound lady is out of town). It is going to be chilly out there.

Nothing much else going on. I moved a lot of other furniture around to make room for the stuff tomorrow. Didn't bother my back surprisingly enough.

The Patriots won big Monday night and the Celtics are doing really well in the pre-season. Everyone around here is going nuts for the Phillies but I think Tampa Bay is going to be real tough to beat.

Monday, October 20, 2008

There's Always Next Year...

Well, since my last blog post, the Red Sox had a thrilling win to tie the series at 3 games each going into the decisive 7th and final game. But they came up short. Only scored one run off of a home run and actually left the bases loaded in the 8th inning. They certainly had their chances... Now I have to endure the Phillies fans for another week or two...

We had a quiet night last night watching the new show Crusoe. It is like a cross between "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Swiss Family Robinson." I like it. I fried up some apple cider based donuts last night and had them for breakfast today. Pretty good.

We went to Arby's for lunch today with some friends and then over to their house after church tonight to watch part of the game. Had some grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, and pumpkin pie ice cream. That helps ease the Sox pain...

My back flared up again today. Just enough to be annoying.

The Patriots are on Monday Night Football so I have that to look forward to.

Not much planned for the week ahead. Unfortunately.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Watering The 'Hood

This morning I came downstairs and thought I heard Lucie upstairs taking a shower, but she was reading on the couch. Hmmm. She said, "there is a fan noise coming from behind the TV." In that corner of the house is the outside faucet. I knew immediately what that sound was then. So I ran outside and sure enough, the faucet was pumping out water full blast. Turns out that last week when I was washing the car, I had left the faucet on. But we have quick-disconnect connections on the faucets so I didn't realize the water was on (nothing was coming out of the hose). Sometime overnight, the hose became disconnected (animal bumped it? pressure blew it off? who knows...) allowing the faucet to just free flow. The yard was soaked and there was a stream all the way down the road...

It has turned pretty cool overnights. Very fall feeling outside now.

I was able to get Ashleigh and I in the same poll workers' training class, but so far I cannot get us to work at the same polling place on election day. They say the assignments are all made and they can only have so many students at each polling place so they would have to juggle some things around. We'll see.

Meanwhile my frying ways continue - last night I fried mushrooms and more mozzarella sticks. A&E helped too and they came out really good. The mushrooms and sticks I mean. A&E are good already...

We recorded the new show Crusoe last night. That looks really good.

Speaking of shows, I am so sick and tired of these late night talk show guys (Letterman, Leno, Conan, etc.) endlessly attacking McCain and Palin. I read that the jokes ratio is 7 to 1 against McCain versus Obama. Sickening. It is non-stop. Most of the time the jokes are not even funny but are really mean-sprited. I don't know whether it is a fear of making an Obama joke and being called racist or just their thinly veiled support of him. Combination of both maybe.

Anyway, the Red Sox play again tonight. Another must win. Trailing 3 games to 2 in the best of 7 series. In Tampa Bay. I am getting anxious already...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Thursday Was FryDay

Today I fired up a deep fryer I bought on sale at Kohl's yesterday. Did my research and it got great reviews and it was less than $50 so I made the plunge. And what a great move it was. I was the Fry Master today. I got my flour, vegetable oil, bread crumbs, an onion, a block of mozzarella cheese and about a pound of tilapia. I whipped up a simple batter from the recipe in the owner's manual and made some excellent mozzarella sticks and fried fish. And I mean excellent. Came out great. And I made what I am going to call New England onion rings. That means the onions are battered in a light coating - not that hard crunchy coating you get at the chain restaurants. (The secret is using a milk based batter...). Anyway, it was a good experience but now the house smells like a carnival. Tomorrow I plan on trying fried mushrooms and donuts using apple cider in the recipe. Come on over!

A couple of weeks ago, Ashleigh and I applied to be poll workers at the next election. She will get school credit for it and we can both make some decent money for a long day. Today we got final approval but her training class is on a different day than me and we are assigned to different polling places. I hope to correct that tomorrow.

I played basketball tonight and played pretty hard. My back twinges every now and then but I think it is doing pretty well. I did OK but I was tasting fried food all night...

Ashleigh lost her game the other day 0-2. But she played really well. The other team scored on a sort of penalty shot with no time left in the first half and Ashleigh had a goal taken away due to a referee's call.

Tonight was a HUGE night for the Red Sox. They are down 3 games to one in a best of 7 series with the winner playing the Phillies in the World Series. So while I was at basketball, I was checking the score on my phone, and pretty quickly, the Red Sox were down 7-0. I figured it was over. Got home, showered, settled in, and dang if the Sox didn't creep back in to tie it 7-7, then win it at the bottom of the 9th 8-7! Thrilling. So now I have to get all anxious again Saturday night when they play again...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Down and Up

As the stocks went down this month, my weight went up. For almost two years now I have been recording my weight and body fat (we have a scale that figures that out). For the first time in about 11 months, my average monthly weight went up. 3.57 pounds. Due to a lot of eating (duh) and being much less active due to my back. On a positive note, my weight is still down over 28 pounds from my all time high and down 21 pounds from the same period one year ago. I can live with that. My back has been doing really well the past few days so I am back to walking the dogs daily and will be able to play full speed at basketball this week. Which is about half speed compared to the other guys...

Been a slow couple of days. The Red Sox are getting wiped out in their series - the games are essentially over in the first 3 innings. Not looking good. And the Patriots looked bad too. All good things must come to an end I guess.

Ashleigh had an away game on Monday but lost 0-2. She has another game today against an undefeated team. Could be trouble. A friend of hers from church who plays field hockey for another school broke her nose at a game and has to have surgery on Friday.

Elliott tried out for the math league at school and made it again. His basketball coach called the other day and talked about starting up practices but nothing has happened yet.

The weather has been really nice out. Mowed the lawn and cooked out a few times. All else is quiet.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Actually I didn't ride the haywagon because it was pretty full, but we went to a hayride with a church group tonight. Lucie organized it and there were over 40 people there. I stood by the fire eating a hotdog that Ashleigh made for me and a s'more I made for myself. There were more mosquitoes there than I had seen all summer. It was sunny and warm to start off but towards the end of the outing, it got dark and cool.

Earlier today I washed my car and power-washed the front and one side of the house. You really don't know how dirty something is until you power-wash it.

After that, we made a run to Costco's and the grocery store picking up some stuff for the hayride and a birthday party for the associate pastor at church tomorrow night.

We miss Elliott around here - he is at the beach with his friend still but he comes home Sunday night.

Right now it is almost 1 AM and I am still watching a Red Sox playoff game. Extra innings, tied at 8. My old friend from NH, who lives in CA now, is texting with me as we comment on the game. I told him that I was tired and ready for bed but he convinced me that the Red Sox Nation needs my participation so I will soldier up and stick it out.