Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Turning Pages

It's been a while since I have blogged and, as I always say, so much has happened.  I get a lot inspirational thoughts but by the time I sit down to blog them, the moment has passed and the energy is gone.  My wallet was stolen from my car in the driveway, Ashleigh spent the summer with Campus Crusade for Christ in Hampton Beach, NH, Elliott worked all summer and took a solo road trip up to see Ashleigh, Lucie was busy with kids stuff at church, I was busy with work traveling some to Chicago and NYC, etc. etc.  A few minor ups and downs but all good and moving forward.

Here we are today - our 26th wedding anniversary.  Seems like yesterday we were walking along the path to the Little Harbor Chapel in Portsmouth, NH.  Fast forward to today and we find that Ashleigh has started her junior year at Stevenson University and tomorrow we will be taking Elliott to Boston College.  It's bad enough that we are suddenly finding ourselves older than we feel or really recognize, but the house is sure going to be big and quiet without A&E coming and going.  All part of life and we are feeling so blessed - things could be much worse.  Turning the page and looking forward to what is coming next...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Power Washing

Today I power washed the house.  The vinyl siding is prone to algae growth in the summer time so I usually wait for a warm day to power wash it off.  I am always amazed how clean the house is when I am done.  And there are a few rules I am learning each year.  Here are just a few:

  • If the power washer is labeled, "Easy Start," it doesn't.
  • The choke on the engine is foreshadowing for what you want to do to yourself while trying to get it started.
  • There is never a neighbor around when you need a hand with the ladder.
  • There is always a neighbor around to watch you drop the ladder when you try to move it.
  • The hose will find any object in your yard to tangle itself around.
  • More time is spent working on the power washer than actually using it.
  • There is a direct correlation between the degree of dryness you are trying to maintain and the temperature of the water (dryer=colder)
  • You will have more water run down your arms when spraying overhead than what actually comes out of the end of the sprayer
  • Your legs shake faster on a ladder than they ever could on land
  • Everyone in the house suddenly has errands to run when the power washer is rolled out
  • The power washer will only run out of gas when you are at the top of the ladder
  • It doesn't matter whether you wash an overhang first thing or last thing - you will always get dripped on
  • The wind blows directly towards you as long as you squeeze the spray trigger
  • The dirtiest spot on the house is 6 inches beyond the reach of the spray
  • You only notice the spots you missed when everything is put away

Friday, May 24, 2013


Commitment.  Seems fairly simple yet I think it is becoming harder and harder to find.  For years I have been the adult basketball coordinator at our church.  Most of the people that have come to play don't go to our church but over the years have consistently come out every Thursday night at 7 PM to shoot some hoops for a couple of hours.  But over the past few months and years,  I have seen a change.  Attendance has dropped way off and no one has shown up for the past couple of weeks.  There just doesn't seem to be much of a commitment among the younger guys.  A lot of people have come and gone and usually they have a good excuse - they have gotten injured, a new job, school, family issues and so on.  But a lot just don't commit.  And not just to basketball - I hear them talking about their jobs as well and there is no dedication there either.  One thing I always did, and have instilled in the kids, is to do the best you can do at whatever you do.  That's not something I made up - it's Biblical (Colossions 3:23).  When I mowed cemeteries, I was the best mower the town had ever seen and the town knew that every cemetery I was assigned to (which was all of them!) would be mowed - on time and right.  When I was a breakfast cook, dishwasher, or whatever, I worked hard and stuck to it.  My name was on a schedule and I owned that block of time.  It was my responsibility to show up and show up on time.  It was not so much that I loved the work, in fact most times I didn't.  Rather it was me fulfilling my obligation.  Other people were depending on me and when I agreed to the job or duty or project, I was responsible for seeing it through.  One thing I hope people will say about me is that I was dependable.  Tell me once and it is done.  When Ashleigh and Elliott were growing up and involved in sports, there were times when they wanted to quit.  Lucie and I made sure that did not happen.  They committed to the team and the team needed them till the end of the season.  They took that simple lesson to heart and applied it to their schoolwork, jobs, and volunteer activity.  And they are successful in what they do.  And stand out.  And they are carrying on the "tradition."  Meanwhile, basketball is canceled for the summer until I can round up some people that understand commitment, dedication, and responsibility.  And I will be back - every Thursday night at 7.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Rocks And Rings

First and most importantly, Lucie was in the hospital for kidney stone surgery this morning (planned).  She had yet another whopper of a stone causing problems so the doctor came up with a new approach (versus the sonic blaster and pulling it out) - lasering.  He went in with a scope and a laser and like Captain Kirk in the Enterprise, he blasted it to smithereens.  He put a temporary stent in so the tube wouldn't swell shut and the meteorites will wash on out.  Took about 3 hours including prep time and recovery.  She was in good spirits afterwards.  A bit uncomfortable but not necessarily in pain from the procedure.  She goes back next week for them to pull out the stent.  (BTW - I asked the doc why they don't just leave it in and let future stones just pass on through.  Turns out the urine is full of calcium and it would clog up the stent.  I think I just found a new invention - the anti-clogging urethra stent.  Any volunteer test subjects?)

Meanwhile, Elliott is out in Anaheim, CA sightseeing and having a blast - and doing a little DECA competing as well.  He is representing Delaware in the national competition.  He ran into some future Boston College attendees out there and he is having fun.  Ashleigh is doing well on her finals and will be home in a week or two.

Now about the rings...  The top left image is what is left of my original wedding ring from 26 years ago.  It was pretty thin metal and broke so we had it cut and mounted on another band about 25 years ago.  The other day I pulled the sliding glass door shut a bit too hard and it mashed the ring, and the finger in it, pretty good.  The ring took the biggest hit and it squashed into an oblong shape.  I had to get pliers to just get it off but I couldn't get it back into shape.  So I did some digging and found that tungsten is about the strongest metal you can get and it is quite inexpensive.  So I went to a few jewelry stores but wound up finding that one in the lower right at Kohl's.  After using a 30% savings coupon, gift card, and other markdowns, I got it for 74% off!  It is thick and heavy which are terms I can identify with...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hard To Get Good Service

Things have been going pretty well for the Hale Family lately - well, for most of us.  My job just keeps getting better and better and it is going excellent.  Elliott got accepted into Boston College and we are now waiting for his financial aid package to be revealed.  He is heading to Anaheim, CA later this month for his DECA competition and his last report card was straight A's keeping him in the Top 10 at his school.  Ashleigh came home for Easter weekend and is doing fine with her school work.  She spent her spring break in Panama City, FL with Campus Crusade for Christ doing beach witnessing (someone has to do it!).  Lucie is working part-time at Michael's teaching scrap-booking and is going to Phoenix, AZ next week to visit her brother (she had a gift card and got a great deal for the flight).  She will be bringing a little extra baggage with her - kidney stones.  They are back.  She has been managing the pain but it varies day to day, hour to hour.  Waiting to see what treatment plan her doctor recommends.

So customer service at restaurants - seems to be a thing of the past.  A few weeks ago we went to a new local seafood restaurant chain and waited quite a while to be served.  The food was good and they were new so we weren't too concerned.  Went back last week.  Waited 15 minutes just for our drink order to be taken and an entire hour (I timed it) for our meal to come out.  At the 45 minute mark I asked the manager what the problem was and he blamed it on the kitchen.  I made sure to say the waitress was very attentive and not to be blamed.  When the food came out 15 minutes later, the waitress was upset and had been crying.  To make it worse, our bill wasn't right (they should have given us the meal!).  A couple of days ago we grabbed our Hardee's coupons and headed off to the drive-thru for a buy one, get one free burger special.  Very simple - 4 burgers.  No meals or anything extra.  We got to the pick up window and waited, and waited, and waited...  Finally they told us to pull around to the front and someone would bring us our food.  So we did.  And we waited.  After 8 minutes we went back through the drive-thru.  Oh, they were so sorry.  Terribly sorry.  So sorry that they gave us free apple pies.  TWO!  What?!  Clearly there are 4 of us...  On a positive note, our friends took us out to Chili's and we had GREAT service and a good time.  So it's not all bad.  At least I didn't think so till this morning.  I was filling out the online customer review survey for Dunkin Donuts (they give you a code for a free donut when you submit it) and I happened to notice on the bill that without asking, they gave me the senior discount...

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Does Elliott Capture Awards?

The answer is YES!  Elliott came in second in the state of Delaware for the annual DECA contest (see what I did there in this post title?) so again, he heads west to represent the state.  This time he goes to Anaheim, CA for a few days.  Right next to Disney.  He is really looking forward to that.  The picture above is a screen capture where he and his team were featured on the district web page.  I circled him in red although it is hard to see - far right.  The boy has been real busy with a lot of stuff - he decided not to play lacrosse this year (the short-sighted coach continually shoots himself in the foot with his unwavering policy of benching players who don't go to every practice - including over breaks and for school events like the DECA competition) so rather than put up with that foolishness, Elliott is making a career enhancing move and taking up golf.  Earlier this month he, Ashleigh and I ventured north for a campus visit at Northeastern in Boston.  It was a typical New England day on the day of the visit - 50 mph winds, 6 inches of blowing snow, wicked cold...  But we stayed with my brother, visited with my mother and some old friends, and ate well.  So that was good.

Ashleigh is doing fine at school and is active at her church - looking at doing some outreach ministries over spring break and maybe the summer.  Hard to believe that soon she will be halfway through her undergrad nursing program.

Work just keeps getting better and better for me.  Loving everything I do and the people I am working with.

The lease on Lucie's Rav4 is ending later this month.  We thought we would just buy it outright or possibly lease a newer Toyota.  But our local dealer, a guy we have worked with for years, went to the dark side and was so focused on putting us into a new, more expensive car, that Lucie got sick of him and his half-truths so she went across the street and leased a Buick Verano.  More features, newer, nicer car - and cheaper.  She is pretty happy.  The color?  Mocha...  Picture below:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cracking Me Up

About a week ago I noticed our garage door was really struggling to close.  It just seemed out of alignment in the rollers when we hit the garage door opener/closer button.  I gave all of the rollers and hinges a good shot of WD-40 but it was still banging and rattling and not closing smoothly.  Upon closer inspection, I noticed the top panel was split and the door was flexing every time the door opener pushed it closed.  The door is so thin, it really isn't repairable - like trying to repair a soda can.  So I called a garage door company and it looks like a big chunk of our tax money will be handed over to them.  We will probably go with an upgraded door that is insulated so that may help with some heating and A/C costs.

On the way home the other afternoon, a rock flipped up and took a chip out of the Acura windshield.  I am like a rock magnet.  I don't know how many windshields I have had repaired or replaced over the years.  I immediately called GEICO and within a couple of hours, a tech from Safelite was in my driveway fixing the crack!  He finished in about 15 minutes - no charge.  The trick is to get it sealed up before it spreads.  So that worked out well.

The final story, staying consistent with the "cracking" theme, is that I read it is not only OK, but encouraged to feed your dog raw eggs.  No danger of salmonella since dogs can eat raw meat and other things humans can't.  It is a good source of protein and makes their coats shiny.  So every morning I barely crack an egg in Mocha's bowl and she eats it right down!  Britni the beagle doesn't like them though.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

You Can't If You Don't But You Can't

That pretty much captures my day so far.  My last post told the happy ending of my ADT story.  The tech came out yesterday and put in a nice new keypad.  Of course he didn't leave a manual or write down the numbers of the alarm zones but I am working on that.  Anyway, the original keypad issue came from their proposed cost for repairs because I didn't have a maintenance agreement.  Since they were kind enough to waive the repair fee, I thought I would go ahead and sign up for the maintenance plan.  I called and asked the rates.  They told me I was not eligible for a maintenance plan because my system was over 8 years old.  My only option was to upgrade the entire system.  So I needed a maintenance plan to avoid a high repair cost but I am not eligible for a maintenance plan.  Nice. At least I tried.

Meanwhile, I have been having terrible internet connection speeds with my internet provider and after 3 calls, I found a knowledgeable rep who determined I had faulty equipment.  He ordered me a brand new gateway (combo modem and router) and said I would get it early this week.  It is not something I can pick up at the local cable center.  Meanwhile, he scheduled a tech to come out and look things over.  The tech was out the next day, checked that all of my wiring was good,  and confirmed the gateway would be delivered within a week.  So I patiently waited a week (until today) for the gateway to arrive.  It didn't.  I called the cable company.  Of course they did NOT order the gateway and said the tech was supposed to bring it.  Wrong.  The rep said she could place the order today and I would get it NEXT week.  Unacceptable.  I asked if I could pick one up at a cable center.  No.  I asked if a tech was driving around in my area with one that he could bring by.  She had no way of knowing that.  After explaining to her that none of this was my fault, and I am paying for service I am not getting, she said she would ship me one priority.  But since it was after 10, I wouldn't get it until Friday.  The tech who came out last week was kind enough to leave his cell number with me so I called him but he couldn't help me either.  Guess I will have to wait and hope they placed the order this time.

And on it goes...

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Almost 15 years ago we had ADT install a home alarm in our house.  We got motivated when someone stole all of the copper piping from our neighbor's house while it was under construction.  It is a great peace of mind and has only activated three times in all of that time - once due to a bad circuit board, once when something fell over and activated the glass break sensor and another time when a "Get Well" balloon drifted in front of a motion detector.  That one generated a police response and I got to watch the responding officer search the house top to bottom.  (I think she was using it as an excuse to look for contraband...).  For a little while now, one of the numbers on the keypad was wobbly and hard to recognize that it was being pushed.  So I called ADT to have someone come out and replace it.  I about called 911 myself when they said it would be almost $200!  What?!  Of course the phone person doesn't have any authority to make deals so I didn't get too upset at her but I did pull the customer loyalty card.  That got me transferred to Sales where I could get a super updated system for free (including a new keypad) but my monthly monitoring rate would go up$15 per month.  Nope, not doing that either.  So I went back to the ADT page and wrote a brief recap of my frustration on their Customer Service page.  Meanwhile, I did some research on the home alarm system Comcast has and almost switched over.  However, I got a very nice call the next day from ADT and the person said because I was a long term customer, they would waive the fee and install it Tuesday for free.  Nice.

Speaking of Comcast, lately my internet has bogged way down.  If I reboot the modem and router, I get my usual fast speeds.  But during the day, the speeds drops way down.  After 3 phone calls and a tech visit to the house, I am getting a new gateway - combo of modem and router all in one.  Looking forward to that.

Northeastern University is in town today to play the University of Delaware in men's basketball.  The NU Alumni Association offered discount tickets along with a pre-game social time at Wild Wings.  Elliott and I were all set to go but he couldn't get off of work so Lucie and I are going to the social event, then another friend and I will go to the game.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

En Garde

The dogs are actually "on guard" but I made an attempt at a little fencing joke.  There was a big garbage bag blowing around a few houses down and that got Mocha all riled up.  But I noticed when she was leaning on the fence, it was swaying quite a bit.  So I took and old metal fence post and drove it in for support.  The fence is over 10 years old and in pretty good shape overall but a couple of pieces could use replacing.  And of course today I have a swollen and stiff finger from where I nailed it with the sledgehammer.

All is going good.  Very busy with work but it is a good busy.  The weather has been great.  Ashleigh goes back to school on Sunday.  Elliott saved up his money and bought himself a laptop (obviously disappointed he didn't get one for Christmas!).

This month both the Pathfinder and the older Rav4 were due for inspection and registration.  The Pathfinder needed a new windshield (for over a year actually) and rear brakes and the Rav4 needed new tires.  We weren't sure how we were going to pull that off but we had some unexpected money come in that just covered the costs!  What a miracle.  Got all of the work done and both cars passed inspection with no problems.  They are good for 2 years now.  I'm pretty happy and relieved that both of them are safer now (they are the cars the kids drive).