Friday, August 29, 2008

Michelangelo Who?

What a day of painting we had yesterday. First we painted one wall in the living room a darker color. Then started on the family room. That room has a very steep, angled ceiling so I got on the rickity ladder, next to the top step, and managed to tape it off and do the trim painting all the way across and down. We painted the ceiling (it had wet tennis ball marks where Elliott had played catch off of it like Jack Nicholson in The Shining...) and the walls. It went pretty well actually except for the time when my right hand didn't know what my left was doing and while I was rolling paint with the one hand, the other was pouring paint out of the tray onto the carpet. Of course in that area I did not have any plastic down so I spent the next 30 minutes mopping up paint and shampooing the carpet. But I got it all and it is fine. My back is killing me today from arching it while trying to keep my balance on the ladder. And a night of basketball too. But I am sure after a few minutes of putting on the second coat later today, the fumes will clear my back pain right up.

The kids are off from school today so we will get them into the action.

I got a follow up call today on the job I am pursuing. They had some more details about the position and will start interviews next week.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

21 Years Today

Today is my and Lucie's 21st wedding anniversary. Yes, we were married when we were just 5 years old... And what better way to celebrate than painting a couple of rooms for the day, and me going to basketball tonight...?

It's been good.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Brightness and Backups

Today I fired up an external backup drive and backed up a lot of data from the computers. I back up some data every weekend, and completely copy the hard drive on the first of each month - all to external USB drives. You can never have enough backups. This drive I will keep separate from the others in case something happens to those.

I got the screen on the kids' laptop fixed finally. But when it came back from the shop, the screen was dark. I put it next to Lucie's and made sure all the settings were identical but it was still dark. Then I found that when the techs installed the new screen, they must have reversed something because when I tried to brighten the screen, it darkened and vice versa! So back I go tomorrow. Should be a quick fix.

The kids seem to be enjoying school but are having to get used to going to bed early - after homework. Ashleigh actually starts driver's ed tomorrow! Yikes!

We went to Texas Roadhouse for supper to celebrate a friend's birthday. Always a good time there. The rest of the day was spent unpacking boxes that have been in the basement for 12 years, vacuuming, laundry, and burning DVDs of Lucie's ceremony the other night. Pretty slow. The update on the job I have an active application for is that interviews will begin September 8. Meanwhile, I keep looking and following leads from all sources.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Celebrations Weekend

We went to our friends' wedding on Friday night. That was fun and we had a good time and some good laughs. They have rode off into the Florida sunset for a week at Disney then a cruise. Above are a couple of pictures of the Hale family at the wedding.

On Saturday, I got up at the unholy hour of 4:45 AM and took Ashleigh to school to catch a bus for a 2 hour ride to the southern part of the state for a field hockey day. A lot of schools participated and she had a good time. Lucie spent the day preparing for her girls honoring/recognition program at church Sunday night. Which went very well by the way.

Today was Elliott's first day back to school and after wearing shorts all summer, we found he has outgrown all his long pants. So it looks like a trip to Kohl's tonight. Ashleigh starts school tomorrow.

The Olympics ended last night so it is back to hum drum TV. But with all the new channels, there are some good older movies on that I have recorded. Everything else is pretty quiet.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Every night we watch the Olympics and for the most part, I love it. There seems to be less behind the scenes, personal stories this time around, but I like watching pretty much anything. There is a second Olympic channel on the new digital channels we got so we get to see some of the less popular events. I really enjoyed watching table tennis the other night (I swear I could keep pace with some of those guys) and beach volleyball is pretty entertaining. Gymnastics is good, track and field, etc. But I could do without a few hours of coverage of the women's marathon race. Honestly, that was pretty dull. But tonight I actually got mad at the 'sport' they had on: race walking. What the heck is that? First, it looks ridiculous. Second, who in their right mind ever decided that was something they wanted to take up? Hey look, there goes someone walking like they are in a desperate search for a bathroom. Perhaps I should follow them! Better yet, let's race!

Ashleigh is still doing double sessions of field hockey practice. And trying to finish her summer reading and report writing. Elliott is fine tuning his Halo and Guitar Hero skills... I am still waiting on the finaly tally for the books I am selling online but we donated a bunch to our church and the Cancer Federation is coming tomorrow to pick up about 300 of them. Lucie is planning the Honors Celebration for a large group of girls at church Sunday night. After that, we are going to paint the family room.

No basketball for me tonight as our cruise friend is having her wedding rehearsal at the church. I told her we would play real quietly but I think she is afraid some of the people in the rehearsal would run over and play with me! ha ha Best wishes, Katie...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Are You My Father?

Last night I got a strange message on the home answering machine. It was from a girl in North Carolina who was looking for a Shawn Hale - who also happened to be her father... She said he had blue eyes, was in the Air Force, and used to live in Massachusetts. Isn't that just my luck? Why couldn't it have been a call from someone to let me know my real last name was 'Gates'? ha ha I called her back today and left her a message to keep on with her hunt - I was not her Daddy. It was kind of sad actually and certainly not a call you ever expect to get.

Meanwhile, I continue loading ISBN numbers on to the web trying to get some prices. I have gotten a few hits. It is like playing a slot machine - I enter the numbers, hit SEND, and see if I am a winner. It is strange what they want to buy - obscure, dated books, cookbooks, etc. When I get a hit, I then do some online research to see if the book is actually worth a lot more than they are willing to give me for it. I have done a few hundres books so far and should finish the rest tonight.

Ashleigh started double field hockey practice sessions today. She and Elliott went to Six Flags with the church youth group yesterday. It was pretty hot out but they had a great time. School starts for them next week (though for some dumb reason Ashleigh starts this Friday...).

Someone posted a comment in the Constituting blog post asking who Elliott was mimicking in the picture. Neither he nor I remember. They had plaques on the floor saying who was who but we don't recall.

I have an application under review right now. I got an initial email saying that I was qualified for the position I was applying for. Now to wait for the interview. I will post details when I can.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Books For Sale, Get Your Books Here...

Today was MAJOR reorganization day today at the Hale House. We started at around 2 and didn't stop till 11. Re-arranged furniture in the family room and in the computer room. And went through ALL the books we have. What you see to the right is PART of a stack of books we are getting rid of. We estimate about 450 that will go (and believe me, we kept a whole lot more!). A friend of mine recommended a website - - where you enter in the ISBN number of your book, and they will tell you if they will buy it and for how much. So for about an hour tonight, Ashleigh would read the numbers, Elliott would type them on a handheld, wireless keypad and I would verify the numbers on the computer and send them. If the site wanted the book, we set it aside. If not, the book went into another pile until we figure out what to do with them. After an hour and about 85 books, the site wanted to buy 3 books for a total of a little over $6. Better than nothing I suppose. If we tally up $10 worth of books, they pay 100% of the shipping.

The house looks a lot bigger and more organized now. Moving the stuff around really opened up the place. We bagged up at least 6 big bags of old stuff (and I mean stuff like an MS DOS 6 upgrade package, Ashleigh and Elliott's homework for the past few years, and cookbooks that were never opened...!).

One thing you can say about us Hales, when we put our minds to something, we work at it till we are done! All of us were working on sorting out stuff, throwing things away, vacuuming, moving furniture, etc. Good day!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Digital Dialing

Comcast came out yesterday and switched over our phones to digital. That went really smoothly. They put a modem in the basement and ran our phones through it. Now we have unlimited long distance calling and we can track our calls and messages online. More importantly, it is going to save us at least $50 a month. I was concerned about how it would impact our home alarm system but that worked fine in a test I ran yesterday. They also upgraded our television channels to digital. Now we have so many channels that by the time I am done scrolling through the list of what is on, the shows at the top of the list have ended and I have to start over again!

We have been watching the Olympics every night and loving it. Very exciting. Almost as exciting as the on-going story of those guys in Georgia that found the body of Bigfoot...!

Ashleigh survived her first day of field hockey. We are going to be doing some furniture re-arranging today (thus I am online 'working'!). I think we may unpack some boxes from 12 years ago when we moved here...

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Today we went to the Constitution Center in Philly as part of a summer work assignment for Ashleigh's advanced high school class. It was pretty nice and informative. There is a little "show" where a woman performs a narrative while videos are shown. Then you can walk around and see different things from our country's history. There is a room with life-sized bronze sculptures of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Here is a picture of Elliott mulling over the country's future.

From there we stopped by my old office and saw some old friends there. Walked around a bit and came home. It was an easy drive in and out and a good visit.

Basketball tonight then more of the Olympics! Love it! Tomorrow Ashleigh starts field hockey practice.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wii Wii Wii All The Way To The Bank

The cable company called me yesterday in response to my email where I laid out my not-so-favorable experiences with them. The lady was very nice and gave me a credit for the cost of a Wii game system for my troubles. I suppose I would rather have the Wii and that they get their act together but I will take it. They are due to come here Friday morning to switch over the phones so this story may continue...

Saturday was a beautiful day at the beach. Once we got there... Traffic going down was horrible and it was more crowded than I have ever seen. But we met a bunch of church friends there and it was a good time.

On Sunday, Lucie had a bunch of church lady friends over so I and another orphaned husband took the kids out for lunch and to the mall. That evening we had a rough storm come through quickly and it hailed for a while.

We have been re-arranging some furniture and Lucie is wanting to paint some more so that has kept us busy. The pool valve that regulates the water return to the steps or the regular jets is acting up when the solar valve opens. Not sure what to do about that besides watch it I guess.

Watched one of the all time worst movies I have ever seen last night: The Signal. It was supposed to be scary about a tone that comes over the TVs and cell phones and makes people go nuts. It was nuts all right. Fast forwarded through it. Terrible.

I have a good lead on a job that looks promising. Some things have to line up just right for it to work out but there is something in motion.

Elliott has a final toe appointment tonight and then it is boneless ribs on the grill!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

No Wii For Me

My friend Nick reminded me of the current cable company promotion that says new subscribers receive a free Wii game console. So I called up the company (for the second time today - see below) and asked about it. First, the rep said I was eligible since I had just signed up. Then she backed off of that and said I was NOT eligible since I was already a subscriber! I told her that their company was the only cable TV provider in the area, how could I not have been a previous customer? She tried to assure me I was a valued customer and yada, yada, yada but I told her I was not impressed.

We are heading to the beach later today so I called the cable company again and asked if I could return the box that doesn't work to a cable place down there since our local one is in the opposite direction. Nope, can't do that as the boxes are configured differently. While I had the rep on the phone, I asked her if and when I do get the right box, will it work as soon as I hook it up? "Sure," she says. I told her last night the rep said I had to wait till Friday. So she digs around and finally says that the tech that is coming out Friday has to activate the digital channels and she can't do it any sooner or it will mess up the phone switching schedule so I am out of luck.

I need a day at the beach after this...


This is going to be a long one:

This morning I was thinking of ways to save money and got thinking about the service bundling option that combines your cable TV, internet, and telephone service into one monthly bill. I had been thinking of switching over to digital cable anyway (no HBO or anything like that though) so I got online and chatted with a cable company rep. She told me some good things and after a quick review of our expenses, we would actually save $50 a month and get better phone service (unlimited long distance!), faster internet speed, and more channels (not that I need those but it won't hurt). I wrote the rep to NOT do anything but I would talk to Lucie and get back to them. As soon as I got off the online chat, our internet connection dumped and wouldn’t come back. Called the cable company and sure enough, the person I had chatted with had done the upgrade anyway which interrupted our connection! So this new cable company person on the phone told me there was an even better plan available. He restored my internet and I agreed to the new plan which included a rep coming out next Friday to install the digital phone service.

Off Elliott and I went to the cable place to get a digital box (we have never used one nor needed one with the basic cable we had). The person behind the counter handed over the unit (actually handed the unit through a bullet-resistant one-way door at the cable service center fortress) and we headed home. We did some other running around for the evening.

When we got home, I hooked up the digital converter box and called the number on the sheet to activate it. However, that number rang to a hotel reservation desk in St. Lucia (in the Caribbean!!!). That person said they get those calls all the time! So I called the cable company and this rep told me that I was given an HD converter box (which I didn't need) and it was going to cost me an additional $6.95 a month! Not only that, but even if we had the new box, it wouldn't be active until the following Friday when the guy came out to hook up the digital phone service! What?! So now the box has to go back and after a LONG day, we are no better off tonight then we were this morning! Except we are saving money I suppose.

Amazing how we really couldn’t get a straight answer from anybody at the cable company. They all seemed to mean well, and it will end happily, but it was kind of aggravating.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

They Can See Clearly Now

Yesterday I took Ashleigh to get her contact lens exam and annual fitting. From there we went to another doctor's office to get Elliott new glasses and Ashleigh new lenses for her frames. That worked out really well and they will be all squared away in time for school.

Lucie hosted a pool party for a girls group from church last night. Great day for it and everyone had fun. Especially the person who took home a parting gift - my swim goggles! But I am sure they will turn up somewhere. Elliott went to a pool party last night with the boys church group.

Had a nice talk with a friend from NH who is in IT security. He was very kind and forwarded my resume to his HR people. He also put me back in contact with an old friend who retired from the Army as a security specialist.

Made some adjustments to my new outside light last night. That seems to be working really well.

In the middle of grilling some chili cheeseburgers, the gas tank ran out. Swapped that out for a full one so I will be exchanging the empty one today too I guess.

Lucie is off today doing a bunch of stuff. I may drive her around for the day. Basketball tonight. Looks like another really nice day out.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Letting My Light Shine

I noticed the other night that the motion detector on my outside security light wasn't detecting motion. So I performed the universal diagnostic test and tapped the lens. And my finger went right through the housing. So off to Lowes I went and got a replacement one. Seems pretty good - I can set it so it stays on all night at 50% power, then ramps up to 100% when motion is detected. Went up with no problems. I was so proud of myself that I installed it without dropping a single screw. Then I realized I needed to run the ground wire through the grommet. Unscrewed the screw. Dropped it. It rolled away. Had to get down from the ladder and on my hands and knees to find it. But I got it all back together and all is good.

Yesterday I took the kids to the dentist (they are fine - no cavities and Elliott's teeth still aren't ready for braces the doc says). While I was there waiting in the lobby, an old man was having difficulty getting out of his chair. His granddaughter couldn't pull him out so a couple of nearby women got up to help. Well, I couldn't let them put me to shame so I got up and took over. The old man had me turn this way and stand in that way and then he finally grabbed my arm and I raised him to his feet. As he shuffled off to his car, he thanked me and explained that he had no legs below his knees...

Cooked up some steaks and scallops (on sale) for dinner last night. That was good.

Today I am taking Ashleigh over for her annual contact lens checkup and tonight there is another girls church group pool party over here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Dentist Time

Today the kids have dentists appointments at the perfect dentist appointment time: 2:30 (get it? 'tooth hurty'!) I love that joke. Anyway, they are going for cleanings and probably start the process for straightening Elliott's teeth.

Ashleigh got back after 10 last night but had a good time. Not too tired as she slept in the van quite a bit. Things are going to get busy around here for her soon as she has some school work to do and start training for field hockey.

I added a link to the left of this which will bring you to a photo album of all of the pictures I have used in the blogs. I grabbed a lot of them off of the web so feel free to do the same.

Our outside motion detector light stopped detecting motion so I will be replacing that today.

Monday, August 4, 2008

On Her Way Home

Ashleigh is on her way home from Alabama after spending a week there with a church group. I guess she had a good time - we didn't hear much from her!

Pretty quiet weekend. We went to some outlet shops this side of Baltimore and I got a new coffee maker because I broke a little tab off my old one and the filter holder wouldn't stay shut. Got a great deal (cheaper than WalMart).

We picked up Elliott from his campout on Saturday night at 5 and he slept from the time we got home till 8 the next day! He had a great time riding behind the jet skis and getting bounced into the water.

On Sunday we got some great prices on steaks so we cooked out and hung around the house.

I sent my resume to a friend from NH today who is going to review it and possibly send it on to his company. Still looking to stay local here - his company has many locations.

Looks like a nice day so I will go mow the dead grass. Hardly worth the effort but it is kind of uneven so I will spruce it up a bit.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Things That Go Bump In The Night

Last night we went to the late showing of the new Mummy movie. (Pretty good by the way) Lucie went to our friend's wedding shower and didn't leave from there till after 9:30. Ashleigh is still away on her church trip and Elliott was camping out with a church group. So we got home late. I had my yogurt and milk and was reading and heard a thump in the house. You may recall the last time I heard a thump in the middle of the night - it was the thump of Lucie pounding my chest when the closet shelves fell! Anyway, the beagle barked once at the door and then nothing. The house alarm didn't go off so I waited a few seconds, didn't hear anything else, then did what I would consider the most reasonable thing to do: went to sleep. Got up this morning and saw that a jug of cleaner fell over on the basement stairs from where I have them all lined up on the edge down there. Nothing spilled. But why in the world, at 2 AM, would that thing tip over?

After about 4 hours of sleep, a thunderstorm rolled through which meant the 74 pound golden retriever was in bed with us shivering and shaking. We all survived that and slept a little longer.

There is a small outlet place between us and Baltimore so we are thinking of making a quick run there to look around today.

Today is my 'little' brother's birthday:

Friday, August 1, 2008


So Elliott and I are at Costco yesterday picking up some vitamins and paper plates. I am looking at different bottles and sizes and prices per unit, etc. and finally get what I needed. We had a Costco rebate check as cash-back on our previous purchases. I didn't pay attention to how much it was for but knew it was more than what we were buying and I would get change from the check. So the guy rings up our two items: $30.68. I had him the check, and what is our change? $30.68! Now how weird is that? Turns out the check was for $61.36. I don't know what significance that is but it sure was freaky!

We did some errands all day and then it was basketball for me last night. I played fair all evening but did well in the last game. Good workout.

Tonight Elliott is going to a campout with a bunch of kids from church. Not sure what Lucie and I will do.

Oh, and I almost forgot to add that the Red Sox traded Manny Ramirez to LA. I guess our picture of him on the refrigerator has to come down...