Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rainy And Dreary

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Contact Me

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Catching Up

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Back In The Saddle Again

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

First Flakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fryday Friday Success

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 14, 2008

Back To Work - Briefly

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dog Gone

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

Here is a link to the local story:

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Practice Makes Perfect

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 6, 2008

On The Road

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


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

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

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

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Don't Blame Me...

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

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

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

Monday, November 3, 2008

Back To The Grind

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ghost Hunting

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

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

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

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