Monday, September 29, 2008

The Last Sin Eater

We watched, "The Last Sin Eater," this weekend. Good movie. Kind of slow at times but had a good story and I liked it. Here is a link to a preview:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7A7G4QXKFx8

Every day I think my back improves by about 5%. I am doing a lot of stretching and resting and it is slowly coming along. I sure wish I knew what I did to bring this on so I never do it again, but from what I read, sometimes it just happens.

On Sunday we went to lunch with some friends at Famous Daves BBQ place. Pretty good and lots of food. The menu was huge.

Ashleigh has a game this afternoon that we will go to. It is nice out, after a rainy weekend, so it will be good to get out for a while.

I have a couple of interesting employment prospects cooking. I can't post info on them here, but there is some SLOW movement on a few things. I am optimistic. As always.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Back Fire

As I continue to battle this back pain, I continue to try new treatments. All day I have been wearing some heat pads (like the chemical hand warmer packs) on my back and on top of that, a heavy duty wrap brace thing. Been feeling much better. I decided to add some Ultra Ben Gay to the mix today. Whoa boy what a mistake. I took off the heat packs and had Lucie rub some Ben Gay on there. Felt OK for a second. Then I put the heat packs back on and a volcano erupted on my back! Burning and burning! Lucie wiped it off with a paper towel and I raced to the shower. I think my back must have been sensitive by having the heat pad on there all day. Yowza. At least for a few minutes it was a different pain to deal with...

Ashleigh's team got killed in field hockey yesterday 10-0. She and Elliott got home after 8 (he was at birthday party at a rock climbing wall). Then we watched the debate for a while.

Today was errand day and Ashleigh had a short practice at a park far away. It was raining off and on and very humid. The grocery store near us had a grand re-opening day today so we went there and made our way through the free food giveaway tables. That should take care of us for supper...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Somebody Rack Me, Please

I stumbled across this device online as I searched for ways to fix my back. I think it is just the thing I need. I find the more back stretching I do, the better it feels. Maybe I can rig something up in the garage. I spent the day on the couch yesterday with the heating pad. It is bad enough I am home all day, but usually I can find a project to keep me occupied. Yesterday was rough just laying there. I did venture out yesterday to give Ken the key to the church as he so graciously took over running basketball last night for me. Driving over there was a killer. I took one shot and went back home. I am a little better today and I know it will get better over time.

Windy and cloudy today but not much rain. Ashleigh has a field hockey game today away on the other side of Wilmington but we are not going. Elliott has a birthday party sleepover.

My cable routing project seems to have paid off as the modem has stayed online for almost 48 hours. Of course it was fine all summer and only recently started acting up so I won't really know if it is fixed for some time.

I may venture out to Walmart and get a non-electric heating pad so I can be more mobile. Maybe I can invent a solar one with a panel I can wear on my head to power it. I was also thinking of getting one of those neck brace things that I could modify with a pump handle to "jack up" my back and stretch it out.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Cable Guy

I have read, and now fully believe, that exercise will help my back. So rather than lay on the heating pad for the day, I decided to tackle a job I have wanted to do for years. Recently, I have had internet issues and without getting too technical, the problem has to do with the signal strength coming into and out of the cable modem. I fixed the inbound issue a couple of years ago with a signal booster but a return signal booster (from the modem back to the cable company) is too expensive. My signals need boosting due to the number of splitters in the house for the TVs. Ideally, one dedicated cable should run from the street connection directly to the modem. However, I have a TV card in my computer so I need a splitter so I can watch that TV and get signal to the modem while online. So yesterday I went up in the attic (and found if I hang by my hands from the rafters, that stretches my back and makes it feel much better!) and ran a second cable line down into the computer room. I removed the splitter and now have a dedicated line to the PC TV and a separate one just to the cable modem. It actually went smoothly and I should have done it long ago. Now my signal strengths are well within the acceptable range (instead of pushing the limits) so I should be able to tolerate line noise much better without getting thrown offline. Time will tell...

So I was feeling pretty good while I was doing that - all contorted to reach wires in the attic and behind the big oak computer desk. I took a shower and drove over to pick up Ashleigh and about died. I am finding that sitting, and particularly driving, is terrible. So I got home, dropped down and stretched, and that helped for a while. On the way out of church last night, I hung from the church awning support frame for a few seconds and that helped. Perhaps I need a rack in my house (notice that is "a rack" and not "Iraq.")

Yesterday was national See You at the Pole Day. It is a day where Christian kids gather at their school flagpoles, before school, to pray for a few minutes. Ashleigh was the first one at her high school but then several other kids came and so did a few teachers. Very brave of her. Elliott missed his because of the timing and he couldn't be at two places at once. But he will join her next year.

Should be a quiet day today. Basketball tonight but there is no way I can play so I will go and stretch and maybe leave early.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Both The Pool And The Yankees Are Shut Down

Yesterday I did the depressing job of shutting down the pool for the winter. This was the earliest I have ever done it but it was time. Did the whole thing, bad back and all, all by myself in exactly three hours including putting away the pool toys and putting on the safety cover. I made a guide that I update every year with step by step instructions and pictures so I know what order to do things in and how things are supposed to look as I go along. Changing valves, blowing out lines, etc. Go to the Hale Family Web Page to see a picture of the closed pool (not very exciting).

My back is still killing me. Sciatica according to my Googlnosis (Google diagnosis). Nothing I can do but rest and do some stretching. It hurts worst when I am sitting or bending.

Lucie and I made it through Heroes last night. Entertaining but convoluted. Fringe was on again last night. That is a good show.

And of course the important news is that the Red Sox have made it to the playoffs and the Yankees did not. I hope Johnny Damon is happy with his move... On the other hand, Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers seem to be on their way to the playoffs out west.

The dang cable internet went out again last night. But I think I have figured it out. I have a booster to amplify the signal coming into the modem, but it does not boost the return signal. The return signal level is very close to the cutoff limit so I am thinking that when it crosses the threshold, the modem drops. Now the problem is finding a way to boost the return signal without compromising the inbound signal. That will give me something to think about today.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Take Your Snake To School Day

A few weeks ago I found a ring-necked snake drowned in the pool skimmer. I was put in contact with a University of Delaware professor in the Entomology Department who asked that I bring it in for their collection. He was away for a couple of weeks so I keep the snake in the freezer (just a little thing - the snake, not the freezer!). So I took it in yesterday. Oddly enough, yesterday morning there was a live Northern Brownsnake in the skimmer. He was alive so I turned him loose in the backyard. About 10 inches long or so. If I find another one, I will try and get another picture but I don't mind them running around the yard eating mice and bugs.

The darned solar panel on the roof leaked again. It is hard to glue a PVC joint once it is sealed and the 'proper' thing to do is to disconnect the pipes and re-seal them. Easier said than done. I am going ahead with closing down the pool today anyway. I can try and get it re-sealed later this fall or next spring. It was just a seepage anyway.

Ashleigh's team lost their first game of the season yesterday 3-1. They did pretty well but just couldn't seem to get some good shots off. Early in the varsity game, during a timeout, one of the refs yelled at all of us (20 or so) sitting on the sidelines that we needed to move to the other side of the field. What?! Never heard that one before and it made no sense. No one was crowding the sidelines or yelling or anything. We just line up our chairs with our backs to the sun and enjoy the game. She jinxed the team I guess.

We tried to watch the entire 3 hours of Heroes last night but Lucie and I fell asleep. She went on up to bed but after that nap, I was good for a while so I watched Boston Legal and a new comedy, Worst Week. Worst Week was pretty funny.

My back is sore again but I will go ahead with the pool closing - exercise seems to help it. I think I aggravated it by carrying some tables and full garbage bags after the church picnic and spreading 100 pounds of salt in the pool yesterday.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Up On The Roof Top

If you look closely, you will see a friend of mine up on our roof fixing the leak in the solar pool water heating panel. He went up on our lower roof, then climbed to the top of this roof and walked across the top. He made his way down to the leak and sealed it. It was at a pipe seam so it should be OK. Scared me to death and I sure appreciate him doing that for me. I will let it dry for 24 hours without pumping water to the roof to heat (not that there is much heating going on now anyway), then pump some water up there to test it. Meanwhile, I dumped a few gallons of algacide and winterizer in the pool, along with about 100 pounds of salt, to start the shutdown process. I like for it to circulate for a day or two before I shut it down.

We had a pretty good weekend. Quiet day Saturday doing things around the house and running around. It was the annual church picnic Sunday. The weather was great again and we had a nice, relaxing afternoon.

The replacement LCD screen for the laptop is in so I am taking that over today to get swapped out. The brightness controls for the one they put in worked backwards. Could just be that the replacement screen is not a Dell screen and I will have to live with it but they were willing to swap it out to see what happens. The computers have been running well and I can confirm it was the hard drive that was bad on the laptop (no errors at all since I changed it). The internet service has held up pretty well since the problems of last week.

Ashleigh has a field hockey game this afternoon so we will go camp out there in our chairs and watch that. Yesterday she smelled smoke in the family room so I checked it out. We thought it was someone burning something outside but then realized a bug had gotten fried in the halogen lamp and everything was fine.

Elliott laid low this weekend and is feeling fine.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Speed Racer

I found a new internet speed tester at: http://www.speed.io/index_en.html. My results are above. Only takes about a minute to run and the site looks pretty cool. As you can see, I am screaming along. All of my results came back as "Excellent." Try it at different times of the day as your results may vary.

Elliott came home from school sick today. My diagnosis: Halo-itis. Too much Halo-ing and not enough physical activity.

Nice and cool out today. Tonight during the yout group service I will be putting together a video slide show of church events that have occured over the past year. Sunday is the annual Founder's Day picnic and the choir director and I put together some pictures to run while the choir sings.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Apparently I Have A Dinosaur In My House

Today a friend brought a videotape over that was in bad shape and she wanted me to copy it to DVD. She gave me plenty of warning that the tape was in bad shape and I should proceed at my own risk. I stuck it in the VCR and hit 'play' and sure enough, it got eaten. No big deal, I got the tape out. I rewound it and tightened it and tried it again. But I pushed my luck too far and this time the tape got stuck and broke. It came out easily enough BUT, other tapes wouldn't play in the VCR anymore. They would start to play, then the VCR would eject them and shut down. The tapes wouldn't even fast forward or rewind. So I took it apart and checked the tape movement mechanism and used some compressed air to clean it out. No good. The tapes just would not play. So I figured I would go to Wal-Mart and pick up a new VCR. Well, apparently VCRs are a thing of the past. You absolutely cannot find a stand-alone VCR with a TV tuner. Gone are the days of setting your VCR to record on a certain channel at a certain time. They are all DVD combo units or you can only record off of the channel you are watching on your television. (I haven't taped a show in years - we Tivo everything. But we do copy VHS tapes to DVD and it is good to have a working VCR around.) They just don't have built in tuners anymore (due to the FCC ruling that all new video tuners be digital which is cost prohibitive for VCRs). So I went to eBay and there were none there either! Crazy! So I was determined to fix the newly designated Hale Family Heirloom. I went back in and disconnected different ribbon cables and re-seated the internal connections. It still wouldn't work. I wound up putting it back together and then relied on the tried and true method of technology repair - I banged it hard on every side with the palm of my hand. Popped a tape in and it works fine! Now that relic has taken on priceless fossil status and has taken a place of prominence in the living room.

But the original old dinosaur had a good night at basketball tonight. We only had 10 out but I was feeling really good. I stretched my back quite a bit and it didn't bother me at all. The glucosamine that Jasmine the golden retriever and I share every day has really worked wonders for us. No knee pain at all for me and I played pretty well at both ends of the court.

Ashleigh won her JV field hockey yesterday. She scored a goal and her team won 4-0. They are 2-0 on the year which is a good start. Elliott got his basketball league application the other day so that will start up soon.

Today we got our first cable bill since we got the new package. Chock full of errors and overcharges. $125 worth in fact. I called them and got everything resolved pretty quickly so I was happy with that. But about an hour later, my email and web page was shut down. I thought it was a cable company problem so I went to hoops to give them time to fix it. I could still surf the net and go to various web sites. When I got home, I still couldn't get to my site or email. So I called them back and quickly came to realize that my lack of access was no coincidence - they had 'moved' my service after I called about my bill and had to re-register it all (whatever that means). The service rep kept telling me that I was not 'targeted' but sure enough, anything related to my account was disabled. So he reset my internet modem and then our phone cut off (we are on cable phone service now) but the service rep got that going and called me back. A few minutes later, I was back online and now the service rep can never again say, "I have never heard of that happening..."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Free And Not So Free

Well the job 'fair' was poor. I was one out of about a million people who was dressed in a suit. It was in a conference room at a local hotel and it was packed and hot. Only about 20 companies there and most were hiring sales people. The 2 or 3 companies that did look interesting just told me to look online for current openings. Then what the heck were they doing there? I took their web site information and left my resume with one company but it was a waste of time. No chance to speak with anyone in authority. Just sort of an informational presentation. I was very disappointed. Oh, and the layout of the booths wouldn't allow me to use my 'garter' method for resume distribution so I brought all but one of them home.

From there I went to the grocery store and just like last week, they overcharged me for my pizza that was on sale. So I went over to Customer Service and they gave it to me for free (their policy is that if their computer scanning is wrong, you get the item for free). When I got home to put it in the refrigerator, I was really amazed at how full the fridge was. I had to just smile and thank God for His continued provision.

And speaking of provision, last month was the first time in 10 months that my average weight went up. Only four tenths of a pound, but that is not going in the right direction. Gotta work on that... (but I am still down 30 pounds from my all time high).

Meanwhile, Lucie was out buying a few scrapbooking things (imagine that?!) and after she left the store, she realized she was not charged for at least one of the things she bought. Being the good Christian woman that she is, she turned around and brought the stuff back in and paid for it.

My back is slowly but surely doing better. Keeping the heating pad on it helps. Funny, I can still do my 30 minutes on the elliptical every day with no pain at all.

Last night was Ashleigh's open house at the high school. The Cambridge program she is in has her doing senior and college level work as a sophomore. If she takes all of the advanced classes and exams that she can over the next 2 years, it is possible that she will have enough college credits to allow her to start college as a junior. That is aggressive and best case but encouraging. Her teachers were good and it was an educational night.

Today Elliott goes back for another toe procedure. It doesn't bother him at all and each time we go, they do a permanent procedure so it doesn't happen again (different toes and different sides of the nail).

Monday, September 15, 2008

Job Fair Today

Today there is a job fair by the University so I am going to head over there. I have printed a bunch of copies of my resume to bring with me. I may distribute them using the "garter" method - walk in, turn my back to the recruiters, throw all of the resumes over my shoulder and let the recruiters scramble to see who gets me...

Pretty quiet weekend. My back was sore all weekend (but it is slowly getting better) so we didn't do a whole lot. Ashleigh had some school friends over and we had some friends over. We watched the movie "21" which was pretty interesting. Sunday was quiet but hot. It hit 90ยบ here. We had leftovers for lunch and watched some of the Patriots game. I recorded it while we were at church and watched the rest of the game when we got home. Not the best game I have ever seen but they won.

Interesting to see those knuckleheads down in Texas who didn't evacuate, and now have to be rescued. They should fine them or seize their property or something. There really is no need for that.

Tonight is open house at Ashleigh's high school so we may make an appearance there.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Spidery Saturday

As I do each morning, I went out in my slippers to dump the overnight catches from the pool skimmers while my coffee is being made. I still have not gotten around to making the clear skimmer covers that I want to. So I lift the cover off of the first skimmer, and a spider about the size of a silver dollar comes racing out. I was able to stomp on that one pretty quickly. I then took the basket out and dumped it over the fence (full of leaves and one frog happy to be on his way). I stuck my fingers in the skimmer lid to put it back on and felt something squishy like a grape. Sure enough, under the lid, there was a much bigger, fatter spider. I didn't even want to step on it but for the good of all mankind, I did. Put the lid back on and went to the other side skimmer. Two more silver dollar sized spiders under there! Sent them back to hell where they came from. Then as I was on my way out to grab the newspaper, a big spider had made a web across the walkway! Yikes. So I grabbed one of my strategically placed spider sticks and wound him up and pounded that one to death. I then was able to make my way out to the newspaper and back into the safety of the house. By the way, those are not my legs in the picture.

Rainy day yesterday. We wound up just hanging around watching TV last night and taking it easy. My back is still killing me so I am alternating heat and ice.

I am reading a book of short stories and was just telling Lucie how good this one story was. Then last night it abruptly ended with an 'ending' that made no sense. It was sort of like the author ran out of paper so she quickly slapped an ending on and finished. I literally turned the page to read on, and saw there was no more. Crazy. I feel like I wasted my time on that.

It is partly sunny today and humid from the rain. I am worried that my front yard has moved from dormant to dead. Usually in the fall, the dormant grass comes alive but it is looking terrible out there. I will just watch it and see what happens I suppose.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Backs and Nuts

Ashleigh got to play in her first varsity game on Wednesday. Her team won 4-1 so they are off to a great start.

On Thursday, I watched a few 9/11 specials on the History Channel. Man, that is still so powerful. While I was googling for a blog picture for yesterday's blog, I came across a conspiracy web page about the attacks on 9/11. Hard to believe there are knuckleheads out there willing to believe that wacky stuff. And then I saw some statistics that 54% of people questioned don't believe that Al Qaeda was behind the attacks! I saw a show the other day debunking every single aspect of the Kennedy assassination conspiracies. I guess some people just need something off the wall to believe in.

Somehow I managed to pull something in my lower back and it is killing me. I don't know whether to ice it or heat it. The internet gives different answers. Heat didn't seem to help much so I am icing it now. I played hoops last night (carefully) to try and stretch it out. It felt better until I sat out a game and it tightened up. I wasn't very mobile either and all of my shots were off or short. But 4 other guys from church have hurt their backs too and at least one of them has no idea, like me, what he did. Now I am starting to sound like a conspiracist...

No big plans for the weekend. The kids may be doing some stuff with their friends.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fringe Fan

Tonight was the premiere of the new Fox TV show, "Fringe." Loved it. It is on again Sunday if you missed the pilot. It reminds me of an updated X-Files. I was impressed.

Rainy day here today. Ashleigh was able to squeeze in field hockey practice and then she had a team building spaghetti dinner. The first varsity game is tomorrow. Not sure if she is going to play or not, but she has to suit up.

There is a big job fair here on Monday so I will make about a million copies of my resume and start the circuit.

Today Lucie and I voted in the Delaware primary. We went to a local high school and wandered around a bit trying to find the voting booths. They are usually right in the lobby. Kind of scary for us to walk around unchallenged. Within a few minutes someone did approach us and directed us to the gym.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Money For Nothing and Pizza For Free

I finally got around to boxing up the books that we had cleaned out. I went back to the online site where I first ran the ISBN numbers to print the packing slip and see what the total amount was that they would pay me. Well, today the site showed they would no longer buy a bunch of them. So I went to a different site and they would buy them all, and pre-pay the shipping (instead of re-imbursing me). So I got $47 for the box of books and didn't have to pay postage.

I had to take Ashleigh's field hockey uniforms to the high school because she forgot them and today was team picture day. But the office has a policy not to hold items for students and they will not call kids out of class to pick up stuff. AND you are not supposed to call or text the kids in class. So there I stood with a bag of uniforms. Not enough time to go back home and come back. So I ran to the post office and then just took a nap in the car for 40 minutes until Ashleigh could come out and get them.

The local grocery store had a great pizza deal that they modified so now you can buy one pizza for $5.99 or two for $10.oo, Saturday through Monday. So I went in and grabbed two but when I checked out, they charged me $8.99 each! Hold the anchovies! I pointed out the error to the clerk who sent me to the customer service desk. They refunded the cost so that I wound up getting one pizza for $5.99 and the other one free! Not bad.

A new TV show called "Fringe" begins tomorrow night. It is from the creator of "Alias" and "Lost" and looks a lot like one of my other favorite shows, "The X-Files." I am looking forward to that.

Speaking of favorite things, in case you were wondering how the picture above related to the title of today's blog, the picture is the cover of an old Dire Straits album (my favorite band). Their popular song on that album was "Money For Nothing." The complete line is "money for nothing, chicks for free" and is a song making fun of the perks of being a rock and roll band. Getting the money for the old books and a pizza for free made me think of that song. Here is a YouTube link if you are so inclined to listen in: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNaKWXqXkhw.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

It's The End Of The World As We Know It

Well, in case you haven't heard, the world will end Wednesday. Yup, it's true. Fox News has a story that a physicist is going to be conducting an atomic test in a 17 mile long tube in England that could result in the creation of black holes that will consume the earth. Check it out: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,418204,00.html Don't say you weren't warned.

And in other devastating news, Tom Brady hurt his knee in the season opener today and could be out for the season. He and the Patriots are about the only reason I have any interest in football so it could be a long winter.

To complete the catastrophe trifecta, I just found out this is Boston Legal's final season. With no football or TV to watch, and no planet to watch it on, what will I do with all my time?

We survived Hurricane Hannah. We got at least 3 inches of rain (I think more) so I was busy pumping the pool out but the winds never really got that strong and we didn't have any limbs down or significant issues. Ashleigh was working on a school project that Lucie wound up taking over all afternoon. That night we went to a friend's house to play games and eat.

It was a nice sunny Sunday so we went out for burgers with friends after church and I took a nap. The laptop seems to be running fine still but it has a few more days to go before I am convinced.

Not much happening this week. I think Ashleigh has her first field hockey game.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bad Movie For Middle Aged Man

I thought I would add some culture to my life so tonight Lucie and I watched the Academy Award winning movie, "No Country for Old Men." Not only did it win the Best Movie Oscar in 2007, but it won 3 other awards for supporting actor, director, and screenplay. Basically, it was a very violent movie about a guy who stumbles upon the aftermath of a drug deal gone bad in the Texas desert. He finds and takes a satchel of money and a ruthless killer is after him. Tommy Lee Jones plays a small town cop who pursues both guys while pondering the state of the country in terms of the evil of mankind. Yawn. It was intriguing as we kept waiting for something to happen and the end to come so we could see how the whole mess gets resolved. But it never did! I won't ruin it but the ending is horrible. And this thing won Best Picture?! I was going to make a joke here about how if something that bad could win the popular vote, Obama might actually have a chance at the White House but I gotta believe there is some sanity left in the world...

I got a replacement hard drive and popped it in the kids' laptop but the computer wouldn't recognize it. Elliott and I had to run out to get our hair cut in the middle of me fiddling with it and I was going nuts trying to figure out why in the world the computer wouldn't recognize the new drive. So I closely inspected the new drive and the old one and found there was an adapter slid over the connection pins that I hadn't transferred. So I pulled it off the old one, popped it onto the new one, and I was in business. Ghosted the old data onto the new one, tweaked a couple of things, and we are back! I need to watch it for a while to be sure it was the drive that went bad but I have put it through some tough tests and it is holding up well so I think I got it (famous last words...).

Our local grocery store ended its' low price pizza program. That was the weekend staple in the Hale household. A big 18-inch, one topping pizza for $5! Elliott and I were just wondering how they could make money on them and sure enough, they stopped it. Actually, they modified it. Now they are selling the pizzas at a reduced price on Saturday, Sunday and Monday but for $6. Still a great deal.

The rain from Hannah has started here. Looks like Saturday will be an inside day. Ashleigh is having friends over to work on a school project. I suppose I will continue on my organization projects here in the house. Lucie has caught the bug too and has started cleaning up some of her stuff too.

Friday, September 5, 2008

I Have Dead Things

Naturally my limited optimism for the laptop was crushed this morning when I came downstairs and saw the Blue Screen of Death signaling the demise of the hard drive. Fortunately I had backed it up completely so it SHOULD just be a matter of slapping in a new drive, and restoring everything back to it.

I corresponded with a guy from the Delaware Museum of Natural History about my dead snake and he said they would like it to mount as a specimen. So I will go to the University and make a donation. That will be my contribution to the State of Delaware.

Lucie gave me a tip about working at the polls for the upcoming election (next week). So I called the county offices but I am too late for this election. I have an application to send in to work at the next one. Ashleigh may work it too.

We didn't have many people out last night to basketball but I had a very good night. Missed some shots early on, but came alive towards the end rolling off of screens and hitting outside jumpers. I even had a nice drive and finger roll that would have made Ken proud (he wasn't there so he has to take my word for it!). I did pretty well. That glucosamine is working well for me and Jasmine - both of us are a lot more mobile it seems (my knees don't hurt after basketball any more and she is hopping up onto the couch again).

There was one other interesting thing that happened at basketball. I get some emails forwarded to my cell phone and between games, I noticed a friend was struggling with a spelling issue. So as I was replying to that email, one of the other players noticed me typing (texting) on my cell. He said it was "cool to see an old guy texting." I told him I was pretty good at it but still having a bit of trouble texting while steering my wheelchair...

Ashleigh was selected as an alternate varsity field hockey player. That is pretty good. She has two uniforms - one for JV and one for varsity. Varsity plays first so she will suit up to play with them, and if not needed, will change and play JV.

Looks like a rainy day tomorrow as Hannah goes through. We can sure use the rain though.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Skimmer Surprise

There is quite often a surprise in the pool skimmers when I check them each morning. (I actually have the brilliant idea that the lids should be clear so you can see what lies beneath before lifting it off...). Anyway, today there was a dead ringneck snake in one skimmer. About 10 inches long. I put my advanced lifesaving skills to work and tried some CPR but it was too late...

The pool solar panel on the roof has developed a minor leak. Another friend of mine is going to stop by and go up and fix it. It happened once before and all it took was a spot of glue at a joint to seal it up. My knees get too wobbly up there for me to do it.

The Labor Day cookout at our friends' house was very nice. HUGE steaks and lots to eat. I teamed up with a guy there and we dominated Ladderball (that is a new game where you throw two balls joined with a rope at a ladder like thing and try to hook it on like a bolo). He and I were undefeated. Of course our competition included Lucie and his wife, and a bunch of kids all under 15...

The computer hard drive problem has stopped for some unknown reason. Well, it has stopped for about 40 hours now. It may pop up again so I won't be convinced it is gone for another week or so.

The kids are doing well at school and getting back into the swing of things although they are still struggling with going to bed earlier and getting up much earlier.

We have been watching the weather for our newly married friends. They are on a Caribbean cruise and there are about 3 active tropical storms/hurricanes active in the area where they are at. It doesn't seem to be affecting them directly although their stop at the Bahamas was canceled due to the weather. I bet the seas are pretty rough though. But hey, it is hurricane season after all...!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Let There Be Light!

Last night I noticed the pool light wasn't on (the one that is actually in the pool). I have it on a timer to come on automatically from 7 PM to 10 PM. It makes for a nice look out there. Anyway, after checking the GFI, it was obvious the bulb was burned out. Now how in the world do you change a light bulb underwater? (That sounds like one of those, "How many pool owners does it take to change a light bulb" joke...). So I googled it and found a nice site with step by step directions and pictures. Turns out, the light is sealed in a funnel shaped 'can' with long power cord out of the back. Unscrew the retaining screw, and the whole sealed can floats to the surface. The cord is long enough to pull the can out of the water and up onto the edge of the pool for replacement. Which is a simple task of loosening a clamp, and unscrewing the bulb (looks like a flood light). Except this bulb burns wicked hot and is meant to be lit underwater only. Our local pool place is open today (Labor Day) and they had the bulb I needed ($30!). So I ran down there, bought that, and put everything back together. By the way, I was doing all of this laying on the pool deck and never did have to get in the pool. So I got it all back together and put back in the pool. Flicked on the circuit breaker, re-set the GFI, and it lit up! The ultimate test was to be sure that there was no short with electricity in the pool so I dunked the beagle. She survived. (Kidding!)

The next problem we are having is with the kids' laptop - the very one I just replaced the screen on. Now I am getting disk errors. The strange thing is that the hard drive passes all sorts of diagnostic tests, as does the RAM and other tests. It is sort of a random thing. I have the entire drive 'Ghosted" so if it fails completely, I have all the data. I cannot stand the inconsistency of the occurrences. So I have swapped the hard drives between the kids' and Lucie's computer to see if it is a drive problem, or a computer problem. Hopefully, the problem goes away entirely but I hope it is a hard drive issue - that is much cheaper and easier to replace.

We had a good weekend. Pretty quiet. Watched some movies and mostly hung out. Today we are going over to a friend's house for a cookout.