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

Poll-ish

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 - 36ยบ 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

Hayriding

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.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Dogs Are On To Something

Well, there you have it. The dogs having another rough evening in the Hale home. My back was feeling so good that I took them for a walk today. That usually wipes them out for the evening. I may have overdone it a bit with my back - took them for a walk and vacuumed my car and cleaned the windows and now my back is achy. But I played basketball pretty hard last night and it felt great afterwards.

Ashleigh had a game Thursday but they tied 0-0. Exciting game though. Today Lucie and I went our friend's daughter's volleyball game. That was pretty exciting. The rules have changed a bit since I played intramural in college. Now it is much faster. Their daughter did really well and is the team setter so she was busy. They won the best of 5 set three games to one.

Speaking of winning, the Red Sox won Game 1 versus Tampa Bay in Tampa tonight so they are off to a good start.

Elliott is down at the beach for a few days with a friend from school. That should be a great time for him.

Lucie and I stayed in and watched a Netflix movie tonight: "Shooter." Pretty good conspiracy movie about a former military sniper. Good action and it had some great scenes of Philadelphia including some shots of my old office building.

Tomorrow is a hayride that Lucie is organizing for the church at a local farm. She does it every year but this year she has opened it up to families - not just her girls' groups. The weather looks good.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Back Pain Gone

Monday night I went to bed with my back still nagging me and feeling pretty uncomfortable. Woke up Tuesday morning feeling 95% better! Unbelievable. I don't know what happened but I will claim healing... I took it easy yesterday and will again today. (Why not?!) I have a little twinge every now and then on one side but otherwise, I am feeling great. Weird how it came and suddenly went. Let's hope it stays gone.

I cleaned out the grill yesterday and did a few errands. The pool water was up higher than I like for the winter so I tried to siphon off some of the water using a long garden hose. After about 20 mouthfuls of pool water and it still not flowing out on its own, I went looking for a pump. Couldn't find anything cheap so I tried to use a drill pump thing. That promptly burned out so it was back to the siphon option. I finally got that started. It is draining slowly but at least it is draining. My brother contacted me and he is going to make me some clear skimmer lids. I mailed him one of the ones I have now for a template. I can't wait for that. Now I will see what lies beneath before I lift the lid.

As I expected, a couple of the employment possibilities got delayed. I still have a couple more I am hopeful about and may find out some more info this afternoon on one of them.

Monday, October 6, 2008

On To The Next Round

In a really exciting ending to the game, the Red Sox won their first play-off series against the LA Angels. Tie game at the bottom of the 9th, close play at the plate, and the Sox win! Pretty exciting. They now play the Tampa Bay Rays. The winner of that series goes to the World Series.

Had a bad back day today. I sure wish I knew what I was doing wrong to make it hurt so bad. But I took it easy all day, put the heat to it, and stretched a lot. It is feeling better tonight. Maybe it is the Red Sox win that helped.

We had a good Sunday. Went to the mall for Lucie to pick up something from there and had lunch at the Food Court. Came home and watched Iron Man on DVD. We saw it at the theaters when it first came out. Really, really good. Not your typical super-hero movie.

I found out today my nephew's football jersey number is the same as my freshman basketball jersey number - 43. Coincidentally, I scored a total of 7 points all the year I played with that number. Surely he will put up better stats than me!

One of the leaders at church asked me to help with a group of boys earn their basketball merit badges on Wednesday nights. There are about 20-25 boys, around age 13, and I only have a few minutes to try and get some instruction in. Last week was my first week. That was an eye opener. Lots of fun but I need to change my approach so that I talk less and they play more.

A&E are off from school later this week. No real plans yet.

I still have a couple of exciting things that could potentially work out in the employment area. I am really optimistic about one option. The others are long shots but would be fine too.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

It Doesn't Always Have A Bad Ending

If you look closely at the picture, you will see a couple of mating praying mantids (yes, "mantids" is the plural of praying mantis). I found them in the front bush when I came home tonight. I figured the poor fella was about to lose his head but I did some research and found that that occurs less than a third of the time in the wild - it is much more likely to happen in a lab setting. So maybe today is this guy's lucky day...

Been a couple of quiet days around here. The kids had youth group last night so Lucie and I did some grocery shopping and got new pillows. She picks out some super duper thing, and I was fine with the Wal-Mart $8 one. We got home and she laid down on hers for a few minutes, then tried mine. Ten minutes later she was asleep for the night on mine so it looks like I get the super one.

Ashleigh has a field hockey game at the University tonight on their astro-turf. It is a big tournament and it is usually pretty exciting. She had a friend stay overnight last night who played in the tournament yesterday.

My stupid wifi has started acting up again. Just out of the blue it will shut down. Then start up again. The randomness is what is so annoying - I don't know what is causing it or how to stop it. Something must be interfering in the neighborhood but I have no idea what.

Looks like a quiet day tomorrow too. The Red Sox could win their first playoff series tomorrow. I guess I should be glad for the slow days to allow my back time to get better. It seems to be settling in just above my hips in the back but I don't need the brace so much. I just keep stretching and taking it easy. But bending over to like touch my toes, or rising from a sitting position is still painful.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Field Promotion

Ashleigh had another field hockey game last night and they got beat 11-0. The only good news was that it was 9-0 at the half and her team slowed the scoring down in the second half. Ashleigh was really passionate on the field and was trying to motivate her team. That effort paid off today as the team voted her team co-captain. The original captains got bumped up to the varsity team so the team took a secret vote and she and the goalie are now co-captains. Now she can put some of her energy to work in the practices and calling plays in the field.

Meanwhile, Elliott was one 'kill' away from a field promotion of his own in the XBox game of Halo but one of the other online players quit which denied Elliott his glory. Major bummer for him.

Lucie and I took a road trip down to Maryland today and did some shopping at a scrapbooking store (she shopped - I napped in the car) and we went to the Baltimore IKEA. That store is great for ideas. We got some little lights for the bookshelves and I got a folding, high stool for the church soundbooth (where I do the video operations on a regular basis).

Tonight I played basketball. I played pretty gingerly at first, but then I felt pretty good and my back loosened up. My shot was off and I didn't play at full capacity, but I kept up with the guys and feel pretty good now afterwards.

Things are still looking good for a one-day job next week in NYC. I cannot provide details here but it is a fairly high profile opportunity that will pay enough to cover a bill or two. Still early but I am optimistic.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Did My Duty

A couple of weeks ago I got notice that I had been selected to be a potential juror. So last night I called the courthouse and got the message I had to report this morning. I made my way in to the Wilmington courthouse and sat with about 125 other people in a big room. There was only going to be one civil trial so the coordinator said we should get out early. I got a coffee and pumpkin donut and settled in but then they called names to report to a courtroom for selection. Sure enough, they called my name. Had to leave the coffee but got to finish my donut. Whew! So about 50 of us head up to the courtroom and file in. It was a personal injury case as a result of an accident. The clerk read off names of attorneys and witnesses and the plaintiff and defendant. Then she asked if anyone knew of the case or anyone involved and if sitting on the case, which could go for a few days, would be a hardship. A whole bunch of people raised their hands so they lined up and one by one marched up to the judge, with both attorneys, and told their stories. Meanwhile, the bailiff turned on this static generating device which played static over the courtroom speakers so none of us could hear what was being said. About a third of the people were dismissed. Then they called up 12 people to the jury box. Both attorneys whittled the list down one by one and as each person was dropped out, the clerk would call another name to go to the box for review. Pretty soon there were 11 of us left "unpicked" (reminded me of my younger days when they were picking teams at school...!), twelve in the box, and they had to pick two alternates. First alternate picked. One to go. And guess who they picked? Yup. So up I went and took my seat and was designated juror #14. I was bummed - if I have to be on the jury, at least I want some say in the decision! Anyway, we all got sworn in and lead off to the jury room to wait for a few minutes. Some woman immediately starts running her mouth and fussing about parking and another woman decides to entertain us with chicken trivia (apparently she is in the chicken industry and felt compelled to share her knowledge). After about 20 minutes, the judge came in and said the case had been settled. He said it was very unusual for that to happen at this stage - after the jury was seated but before opening arguments. So we got our certificates and were free to go. And I am out of the pool for at least 2 more years.

That frees me up to make it to Ashleigh's game and won't interfere with a potential consulting job next week.