Sunday, December 23, 2012

Lighting Up My Life - At Least My Kitchen

What you see to the right is called a ballast.  Not to be confused with the steadying weights found in a boat, this ballast is a power conditioner for fluorescent lighting.  We have a 4 tube fixture in the kitchen that wouldn't come on the other day.  I checked the bulbs in another fixture we had and they were fine so it had to be the ballast.  Ashleigh and I made a quick run to Home Depot to get a replacement and came away with much more - a new ballast, 4 new bulbs, and an education in "new" lighting.  It turns out that the old style of fluorescent lighting - called T-12 - has become obsolete.  So it is very hard to find a T-12 ballast.  Plenty of bulbs though.  So I had to switch the T-12 ballast with a T-8 ballast but for once, someone did an upgrade with some thought - the T-8 tube bulbs fit in the same fixtures as the T-12.  The tubes are thinner but the end connectors are the same.  So I went home and clipped the old T-12 wires like I was defusing a bomb.  Wired in the new ballast, put in the new T-8 bulbs (a T-8 ballast won't fire up T-12 bulbs) and we were back in business.  Brighter actually.  More natural lighting.  And I guess within a year we will save enough money from the more efficient ballast and bulbs to pay for them.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

He's In!

As if that part above wasn't good enough, this next paragraph is like icing on the cake:

Elliott had completed the early admissions packages for a few colleges but Northeastern was the one he wanted to get into the most.  Lucie and I got our Master's degrees from there but we really didn't influence his decision.  He pretty much holed himself up in his room, researched colleges offering him what he wanted (accounting and marketing), and emerged with a Top Three list.  Over the summer he and Lucie and Ashleigh took a whirlwind trip to Boston to visit the schools and made a pit stop at the Patriots training camp on the way home.  That sealed the deal in his mind - Northeastern was the place for him!  And now he is in with some grants too!  We still have a few bucks to come up with but if that is where God wants him to be, the money will come.

He is ranked in the top 10 of his class of 350 at the high school with a 4.3 GPA so he can coast a bit.  Lacrosse is coming up soon and he will be traveling to Anaheim, CA this spring for another DECA competition (national business and marketing organization).  The other day, he scored the highest IN THE STATE on a practice test.

If things keep going as planned, Lucie and I will be able to enjoy our retirement with a son handling our finances and a daughter managing our health!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Stink Bug -> Bed Bug

Let me set the scene:  I like to read when I go to bed at night.  Our headboard has individual reading lights so when Lucie goes to sleep, she leaves my side on and turns hers off.  My bookmark is a solid, thin metal bar with an anchor at the top that slides over the spine of the book with the thin metal part in page crease.  So there I am, reading in the mostly-darkness, and out of nowhere something comes flying across the room and hits me smack in the middle of the chest.  That made me jump.  Now I have to find out not only what it was, but where it went!  In true Christmas spirit, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter...  Then my nose identified what it was - STINK BUG!  Whooey!  And it was on my arm.  They don't bother me much, but I don't like them crawling on me in the middle of the night.  I walked gingerly to the bathroom to flick it into the toilet but it took off and headed into my closet.  Which means in a few days I will pull a shirt out and it's dusty carcass will come tumbling out.  I went back to bed and flopped down - right on top of my anchor bookmark!  My spring sprang again!