Monday, March 31, 2008

Ash Lacrosse Schedule

I have posted Ashleigh's lacrosse schedule on the Hale Family Web Page. See the link on this page and scroll down a ways. It has the dates and times, home or away. I will update it with Ashleigh's stats and scores throughout the season.

It was a pretty quiet weekend. Lucie and Ashleigh both have colds so we hung around a bit. Watched a movie (I Am Legend - really good), played games with friends, etc. We found some coupons for Hibachi - where they cook the food right at your table with the fire and all - and went early so we got a great meal and entertainment for really cheap! Cheaper than going to Applebee's. We will have to remember that.

A&E went back to school today and last night they decided they remembered they had homework to do - after being off all week.

For the moment, I am in first place in our church NCAA basketball pool. Not bad for a guy who didn't follow college hoops all season!

We are finally getting a tiny bit of rain today. That should help our grass seed. Every day I look at the Patmore Green Ash tree we planted last summer. It still hasn't bloomed yet this spring and I have looked at the darn thing so many times now I can't tell if there are blooms developing or not! I think so. But it is like watching grass grow. We will see. Our plum tree seems to be doing very well. Last spring it struggled with a lot of dead branches. So I pruned it up a lot. It looked skeletal all summer and sparse but it seems to be doing great so far.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Shawn Fought the Law...

... and the Shawn won! A month or two ago I had a rental car while my Pathfinder was getting repaired from the little accident I was in. We decided to go to the beach that day so I took my EZ Pass transponder from the Pathfinder, and brought it with us. When we went through the toll, I held it up to the scanner to be read. We were in the high speed lane so there were no red or green lights to let me know if it read or not. I did the same thing on the way back.

So a couple of weeks after that, I got a letter from EZ Pass with a digital picture showing me in the rental car driving through the toll and they claimed I didn't pay. The fine was $25.00 plus the cost of the toll ($1) but they had an area where I could contest the fine. So I did. I explained what happened and showed (I attached my transaction log) that the toll was paid on the way back. I checked my log the other day and they only assessed me the $1 toll. Good for me! Justice prevailed.

The weather people did it to me again. I went out the other day and raked the back yard and roughed it all up and threw around grass seed. Had to hurry to beat the two days of rain they predicted. Rain and thunderstorms no less. Well, actually, it turned out to be a LOT less. We got a thimble full of rain and I think I have fed every bird in the county some nice grass seed...!!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Simple Math

What you see above is a strawberry FROSTED donut and a strawberry FILLED donut. Now, it is plain to see, that the one on the left is not similar to the one on the right. Being the trusting soul that I am, when I ordered two strawberry FILLED donuts at Dunkin Donuts this morning, I didn't bother to look in the bag. Until I got home. Then it was too late. The damage was done. And my day has started off on the wrong foot...

Ashleigh has a bit of a cold so we didn't send her to lacrosse practice today either. It is raining and raw out so she got up, looked out the window, and piled back into bed. She will probably be able to go tomorrow but they are calling for rain so she might be here again.

Lucie has her scrap-booking buddies coming over today. Which means a day of chick talk. Which also means movie and nap day for me...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Office Online

I got an email from Microsoft about this Office Live Workspace. I don't want to sound like an ad for Microsoft, but it is pretty cool. They, for free, give you 500 meg of online space to upload your MS Office files (Word, Excel, etc.). You can upload them them and then access them from any computer (after logging in). That greatly reduces the need for a flash drive and is another backup location for files. AND, you can allow certain people to access the files and modify them online. I sent the link ( to Lucie so she might be able to upload some work files and let some of her leaders get to the files. Seems pretty slick.

Kind of a quiet day here yesterday and today is shaping up to be the same. We went out to a mall about 20 miles away. It is small but we hadn't been there in a while. Elliott had some money so he bought a PSP game. After a lap, he and I were done so we went back to the car. He played his game and I napped.

When we got home, I cooked up some knockwurst on the grill and we had them with chili and cheese for supper. Excellent. I also raked the back yard and threw out some grass seed. The weather people said today would be a rainy day. Of course it is sunny and nice out... I think that is a job I could handle.

Ashleigh was supposed to have lacrosse practice today but she is home sick.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Birthday and Stuff

Yesterday was our friend Katie's birthday. She swung by the house to see the progress Lucie made on her scrapbook so we surprised her with a cheese, uh, carrot cake. That was fun.

Easter was a great day. Lunch with friends, long nap on their couch, Lucie scrap booked and the kids watched movies (and napped t00). Then a little Nintendo football (I lost but didn't do too bad for not having played that particular game before).

The kids are off from school this week so yesterday we took the dogs for a walk at the big park near us. Probably just roam the neighborhood with them today. And, as a special treat for the dogs, I trimmed their toenails...

I did manage to find a vacuum belt that works. Got that put on yesterday. Now I have no excuses...

Tonight is going to be knockwursts on the grill. I got my back up propane tank filled today so I am good for a while. We got some grass seed for the back yard too. I go through the same routine every year back there. Seeding, watering, it grows, then dies. The soil is too shady and sandy to sustain life. It turns rock hard in the summer and everything dies (near the back fence). The part of the back lawn nearest the house does pretty good but the dog pee leaves it patchy. The front yard is always good though and that is what counts.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Off Into the Sunset

I figure it has been about six weeks since the cruise, so I updated the Hale Family Web Page and took off the itinerary and boat pictures. Boo hoo. Kind of sad. Is it too early to start planning for the next one?!

All is quiet here. A&E got back from convention around 12:30 last night (this morning) and were exhausted. So today is a sleep in day for them. We watched movies last night with some friends and the women scrap-booked. They brought over a great sub sandwich that was made with Thanksgiving ingrediants - turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce. Excellent! We watched Oceans 13 (lots of little stuff going on throughout the movie) and The Bourne Ultimatum. Both were good. With 36:20 to go in the Bourne movie, my DVD player locked up. Over and over at that spot. I cleaned the disk but it didn't help. Finally, I popped it into a laptop and it played right through it fine. So we watched the last half hour, with all the big action scenes, on a 15-inch laptop screen with no surround sound... But it was still good.

While vacuuming yesterday, I managed to suck up one of Elliott's socks. Now you might be wondering why a sock is on the floor and not in the laundry hamper or dresser where it belongs... I ask myself that daily. Anyway, I sucked it up and managed to burn out the vacuum belt. Now I am on a quest to find a replacement belt today.

Other than that, it should be quiet around here. Going to friends' for Easter lunch tomorrow. That should be good.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Few Notes

Just a few update notes as to what is going on around here. A&E are away at Youth Convention. They left Thursday afternoon and will be back tonight around midnight. It is out in Hershey, PA (about 2 hours away) and they are having a great time. A bunch of kids from church went.

Lucie has been seizing all of her free time to scrapbook. She sometimes has a couple of friends over to work with her or she will work on it on her own. One of her friends is away this weekend so she will have some serious catching up to do when she gets back.

Yesterday I went to a security professionals' luncheon. Did some networking and got some leads. Nothing concrete but encouraging.

The church youth group leader put together an NCAA basketball tournament bracket challenge. Now I have a vested interest in the games. For a while I was in first place, but it fluctuates a lot. I think I will do OK. Oral Roberts lost in the first round but I didn't pick them to win anyway.

I have lost about 15-20 pounds since getting back from the cruise. I wore a suit to the luncheon yesterday and it felt great. My basketball game hasn't gotten any better but I am much more mobile and blocked a couple of shots last night. My back and knees aren't nearly as painful as before now either. How did I do it? I am on the elliptical for 30 minutes a day, four days a week. After the cruise I got pretty sick and had zero appetite. It hasn't really come back so I am able to eat a lot less. I am not sure if I can recommend that approach but it is working for me. Of course that Cinnabon I had for breakfast isn't going to help the cause anyway...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

How Does The Common Person Do It?

What a day of fixing and fixing and fixing! After Elliott and I fixed the basketball hoop, and I got the water heater thermostat switches installed (still working by the way!), we went and picked Ashleigh up from school after her all day science competition. We came home and I was all ready to cook us up some nachos and watch a movie. But wait - somehow Ashleigh managed to download some nasty and pervasive spyware on the laptop! NOOO! She swears she didn't intentionally do it but it happened just the same. So for the next 5 hours or so, I went to work scrubbing it out. It changed our wallpaper, went online, kept popping up warnings and false error messages and blocking access to files I needed to get to to shut it down! Even in safe mode I couldn't wipe it out. And by "it," I mean the many files and running programs and .dll's that were scattered all over the computer. I would think I got it, run a scan for 45 minutes, and find there were still bad things going on. Finally, I found a fix that would kill the process, then wipe it out. And it did a great job. Once that was killed, I then had to go through and eradicate all the orphaned files. But I got it and all traces of it.

So I am thinking to myself, how in the world would the 'common' man have taken care of this? Really. I have a clue what I am doing and it took 5 hours! And I have access to two other computers in the house to go online with and look things up. Someone should sue the people that write these spyware and virus programs for lost productivity time. Tonight, it cost the family Nachos by Shawn (they had to settle for Nachos by Lucie). And the value of Nachos by Shawn? Priceless...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Keeping it on the Level

Today Elliott and I attacked the basketball hoop to try and raise it to 10 feet and make it level. The front seemed low and it measured about 9' 8". We took the rim off, after fighting through about 15 years of rust and found it and the backboard were level, but the base was not. So we got it all back together and adjusted the pole. Now the pole looks angled but the rim is perfectly level. Then we put some concrete patio blocks under the base to raise it and it is sitting at a perfect 10 feet right now. It must be throwing off my shot because Elliott has now beaten me twice in a row at "P-I-G."

I then went to Home Depot and bought a couple of replacement thermostat switches for the hot water heater. I read online last night that they might be the culprit. Yesterday, Home Depot quoted me $1,088.00 to replace our hot water heater!!! I think their version of a hot water heater was a full time butler who would carry pales of fire-warmed water to our bathtub... Anyway, the switches were $20 (total for top and bottom) so Lucie and I went down to put them in. I wanted her there to call 911 if I got zapped. 220 volts is not forgiving. Even with the breaker off, my hands were still shaking when I switched over the wires. But I am happy to report that so far, so good. The hot water is back to a tolerable temperature (when the switch reset button wasn't tripped, the water was coming out scalding - which made me think a switch was bad, causing the water to get too hot, causing the switch to trip) and it hasn't tripped after a few showers. Now what to spend that 'extra' $1,068.00 on....

Friday, March 14, 2008

And On It Goes

This Wednesday night Elliott won again for best looking car in the pinewood derby competition. The other day, he was the sectional winner. This time he was the local winner. He did the entire thing by himself and has already started designing next year's car!

Today I decided to take a long hot shower to ease some post-basketball aches and pains. Hopped in the shower, cranked up the hot water, and all I got was luke-warm. Sadly finished the shower and then went down to the basement to re-set the water heater again. Hmmm. Houston, we have a problem. I see that Home Depot and Lowes have same day delivery and installation of hot water heaters so we may have to take a look at that.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pressing Buttons

This morning I got up to the exciting news that there was no hot water in the house. Nice. The kids had to go to school after a brief and brisk shower. I went to the basement and drained the hot water tank (with Lucie manning the other end of the drain hose). Turned off the breaker and then turned it back on. Nothing. I found some panels on the tank so I unscrewed them and found a reset button. It was popped so I pressed it and all seems to be good now. Makes me wonder what made it pop in the first place but that is what they installed it for I suppose. The best news is, now I get a hot shower...

Saturday, March 8, 2008

...And Good Looks Too

Today was the Sectional Pinewood Derby for Elliott at church. Based on previous years' experiences, and the shame I have brought on my kids, I stay as far away from participating in the design and work on the cars as possible. This year it paid off. Elliott designed this car and had worked on it to include the design and painting and even the affixing of real guitar strings. It didn't win any races, but it did come in 1st place for best design! Nicely done.

Meanwhile, Lucie has had some of her cruise friends over to scrapbook. What a process that is. Our dining room looks like a Chinese sweatshop. They were up till after 1 AM this morning scrapbooking. But she is having fun and it is coming out really good.

It finally stopped raining and the sun is out. Tonight is cheeseburger pasta night. Tomorrow night at church is the annual Missions Banquet and we are encouaged to bring ethnic foods. Maybe we will bring some leftovers. You don't get much more American than cheeseburger based foods (bring on the comments...)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

It's a Zoo Around Here

Yesterday it was in the 50ยบ's here so it seemed like a good day to wash the dogs. The golden retriever is good and hops right in the tub. She is so big and hairy though, it takes a long time to get her completely washed and shampooed and rinsed. By the time I am done with her, I am soaked. But she just sits there and enjoys it. The beagle is bad. I had to go extricate her from under the bed and carry her into the tub. She only takes about five minutes to do. So off they went clean and happy.

That afternoon, we came home and found a skinny black and white cat sitting on our front porch mat. It ran in the garage and started eating spilled dry dog food. Lucie and I had come home from shopping so I held the cat while she brought stuff into the house. Elliott said the cat had been in the garage for quite a while when he got home and it had just come out. I closed the garage door and went to pick up Ashleigh from lacrosse practice. When we got back, the cat was still there. So we gave it some dog food and went about our business. Came home from church around 9:15 and guess who was sitting on our front mat again?! So we gave it some more food. The kids were concerned for it as it got chilly last night but I was not about to bring the cat in the garage or the house. Later on, I saw the cat had managed to get into the inner pool fence area. That drove the dogs wild for a while. No sightings yet today.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Get It Right the First Time!

A few days ago I wrote that I had to order 11 rubber headphone jack covers for my cell phone to replace the one I lost. I had to order 11 because they said that while each one was only $0.98, the minimum order was $10. So the package arrived yesterday and there was just one in there! They charged me $0.98 for one, and $9.02 for shipping and handling! I called up LG and they said due to some logistical baloney, they couldn't send me 10 more but they could keep it off the radar if they sent me 5. So I took it. 5 more on the way.

Then yesterday I decided to check the status on a rebate I had send in months ago. Went to the web page, it is said the rebate was invalid because I didn't send in the UPC code. Of course I did, now I don't have one to send in! So I wrote a nice email asking what to do. Some knucklehead wrote back. BUT, where he was supposed to cut and paste directions on what I should do, there was just a code (supposedly for him only) and nothing for me to follow! So I wrote another email, not so nice this time, pointing out that first they lost my UPC code, then they failed to give me proper directions, so I asked them to give it another shot. Surprisingly, they wrote back and said they went ahead and validated the rebate. Nothing more for me to do. Good for me!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

This is scary movie marathon weekend at the Hale House while Lucie is away. There is a big hint as to the movies we are watching to the left but I will neither confirm nor deny any titles... We watched one last night after the kids got back from gym night. Pretty good. #3 and #4 on tap for today.

As usual, the weather people predicted a rough night last night and we didn't get a single snowflake. Lucie is out in central PA for a Kids Camp and was concerned about the weather. Nothing out there either.

I finished burning cruise DVDs last night and am happy that project is behind me. It was fun though. Lots of laughs.