Thursday, December 31, 2015

Endings And Beginnings And Some Things Never Change

We had to say goodbye to Britni the Beagle today. She has been with us almost 13 years. She stopped eating a few days ago, had difficulty getting around, wasn’t socializing anymore and was just fading fast. We took her to the vet who said she was bleeding internally and there was no real hope for her. She was aggravating, annoying, stubborn, disobedient and an overall pain in the neck. But she was family. And we loved her. And we will miss her.

But as her life has ended, a new life for Ashleigh is beginning soon.  She is engaged now and will be married in 2016.  Her fiance is a great guy and he did the "right" thing by coming to Lucie and I and asking for our blessing.  Classy move.  They are a natural together and we know they will be fine.  

And as far as some things never change, I played basketball with Elliott today.  Haven't played in about a year.  Hit my first shot, hit my last shot, hit some in between, missed some in between.  But overall I held my own and didn't embarrass Elliott or myself.  Still got it.  For now.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Knocking It Out Of The Park

Just a quick update (I need to MAKE time to update this more often...):  Elliott has been quick the young traveler to and from Philadelphia for internship interviews.  Lots of travel experiences and he is learning time management like never before.  Anyway, today was his last interview.  This morning before he went to the interview, Lucie was praying that all would go well and that whatever interview questions came his way, he would be calm and "knock them out of the park."  As is his custom, Elliott wrote a recap of the interview in an email he sent to Lucie and I.  In this interview, he was presented a case study to analyze and comment on.  After he was done, the interviewer said he did great and that he, "knocked it out of the park."  How great is that!  I told him to remember this for those times when he thinks God hasn't heard his prayers.  God is in the details.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

If It's THAT Important, Put TWO Of Them In!

What you see here is Crankshaft Position Sensor, which, according to Wikipedia, " the most important sensor in modern day engines. When it fails, there is a chance the engine will not start, or cut out while running." Ain't that the truth... There we were in the Pathfinder, just over halfway to Newfie Fun Days in Maine, when at XX mph (pleading the 5th here), there is a wicked hesitation and both the Check Engine and Service Engine Soon lights flashed on (and then back off). For the next 4 hours, anytime we got up over 60 mph, the car would hesitate and shudder. I had to keep looking for shoulders to bail out on if necessary and landmarks to tell our would-be rescuers where we were. Meanwhile, Lucie called the Nissan dealer in Portsmouth, NH and set up a Saturday appointment. We finally got to Maine and the next morning I took it into the dealer. Thank God we didn't stall out in the middle of the highway! This $49 piece was the culprit. They finally found one at the last possible place, handed me the keys to a 2015 Pathfinder, and told me to have a good time but be back by 4. So we got to have a great time at Newfie Fun Days, ride around in a new car, and get the old Pathfinder squared away. Lucie wasn't sure if she was going to be able to go with me. Can't imagine how we would have made it if she hadn't gone!

Now, if that part is the most important sensor, why aren't there two installed and a back-up?! At least a governor that drops the engine to 15 mph so you can limp off the road! The shuddering was the worst going uphill. Imagine if I was in a lane with no shoulder (which was often the case) and that thing completely died? Yikes...

Mocha picked up a skin infection which is causing some issues down in her privates. Took her to the vet and they are treating it. Should be no big deal. She is down 18 pounds from June and they are concerned about that. Not me. She hardly ate for weeks after her surgery but her appetite has come back stronger than ever and we are being strict with her diet. She will be fine.

Meanwhile at work, I have been going to NYC once or twice a week meeting with the new boss and working on some projects. He and I are due to meet next week to discuss my role going forward in the company. Should be interesting...

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Windows, Walking and Work

It has been quite a week.  There has been some movement at the senior leadership level at my work which made me feel a bit vulnerable.  We had a meeting with the company owner last Monday and he asked me if work stress was causing my beard to turn white.  So I told him that recent departures of the company president and two VPs made me feel vulnerable.  He looked me in the eye and said he would be very mad if he heard I had dusted off my resume.  He even made the time to send me a personal email the next day with words of encouragement and future engagement.  So that settles that...!

Got the free update to Windows 10.  Installed without a hitch but I had to tweak a few things.  Overall it was pretty good although Microsoft continues the trend of taking away our ability to control some things (updates are now forced upon us and installed automatically, etc.).  I suppose it is progress.  Certainly can't fight it.

Meanwhile, it has been just over 3 weeks since Mocha's surgery.  Her appetite is just starting to come back.  We take short walks in the evening now.  Still no stairs and I have to keep her calm in case she gets a notion to run.  She can't do that till she hits the 8 week mark.  But she is coming along.  Here is a video:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Mocha Repair

Back on May 1, Mocha suddenly came up lame.  VERY difficult to walk and was favoring her right rear leg.  Off to the vet we went where she was diagnosed with a bad sprain.  Time went on and she would have good days and bad days.  We went back to the vet and got more meds but she still was struggling.  Finally, our vet referred her to a specialist.  This morning we took her in and she is having surgery soon to repair her CCL (the dog version of the human knee ACL tear).  Meanwhile, in anticipation of the bad news, I took a crack at making a ramp for her over the back stairs.  Got some plywood and a 2x4 from Home Depot, had them cut it up for me, slapped it together, and made what Ashleigh called, "Frankenstein stairs."  Got an old piece of carpet and it doesn't look bad!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Picking Up The Pieces Of My Broken Pump

This morning I went and flicked on the switch to the pool pump.  Fired up like normal.  For about 5 seconds.  Then it shut off.  All done.  Motor burned out.  I checked the switch and breakers but it was toast.  Can't have a pool without a pump so I did some quick research and found the replacement pump I needed online with free overnight delivery.  Elliott and I went out after church and did some local shopping anyway to put our hands on one and ask some installation questions.  Had to talk to an electrician friend too.  I ordered the pump and then went out to take out the old one.  Not so fast.  There is an electrical connection of course and an intake and output pipe.  Got the electrical part disconnected (it really was fried in there) and got the output pipe disconnected with no problem.  But nothing is easy.  The intake pipe SHOULD have unscrewed at the big grey pipe connector you see above.  Nope.  I broke one tool trying to get it apart and was afraid I would damage the underground piping or the black valve (above).  As you can see, the pipe was pretty much destroyed as was the coupling.  So I came inside and watched some videos.  Everyone in the videos just takes a hacksaw and cuts the pipe, then re-plumbs it.  Seemed like a plan to me.  45 seconds later the pipe was cut and now I am bringing my bag of broken pieces to Home Depot to try and re-create it.  I will re-plumb it so when the new pump comes, I can just screw it together and fire it up.  Sure....

Oh, and Happy Father's Day to me.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Shear Boredom

Been awhile since my last post but not a whole lot has happened.  Still waiting to see how that last vague post works out but I am choosing not to worry.  It is work related and I would be as bad as the Israelites wandering in the desert if I didn't learn from the last time.  So on I go.

Looks like the only way to fix the pool (see March 21st post) is to pull up the liner and fix the bottom.  The liner is 11 years old and they have a lifespan of about 15 years so I might as well get the whole thing done.  For now, it is not leaking too much but I keep a close eye on it and patch it as necessary.  It should hold out until the Fall when I close it down.  Got one estimate (ouch!) - waiting for two others.  

Got the Financial Award notifications for A&E for their Fall semesters.  Ashleigh changed her major so she is going for another year - which means her 4 year scholarship dried up.  But we were approved for a low interest loan so she is all paid up.  We can worry about paying that back another day.  She is working in MD at a hospital that is affiliated with her school so she has a good foot in the door for full time employment when she graduates.  She is living down near there at her boyfriend's mother's house.  That is working out really well.  Elliott got the same award as previous years but tuition went up but we got a loan for that too and he will be fine.  He is pounding out his online classes (needs the credit hours for the CPA exam) and working and playing a lot of tennis.

Lucie is in Colombia finishing up a missions trip and visiting family.  Really having a good time connecting with family members she has either never seen or hasn't seen in 40 years.  We text when she gets a WiFi signal but she is fine.  She comes home Tuesday.

A couple of weeks ago, Lucie and I went to my work annual seminar at their HQ in Miami.  Lucie got to visit some family there while I was in sessions and we had dinner on the beach one night.  The seminar ended on Friday but we stayed with friends until Sunday.  (The company paid for me to fly down of course and the room at The Palms Resort and Spa on the beach.  I used some Southwest points and Lucie got to fly down for $11...).  Had a really great time with friends eating out on the water, going to the movies, and walking around South Beach.

Had a good birthday last weekend.  A&E were home so we went to Texas Roadhouse for dinner and had a little party with some friends the next night.  The family got me (or will get me) a package to drive around a NASCAR track.  I am no NASCAR fan but I really want to drive one of those cars.  Looks like we can schedule that for August.

Very boring here.  Elliott comes and goes and Ashleigh came home for half of the weekend.  She is at the beach today.  I went out and did some yard work today in the tropical rainforest (so humid!) and jumped straight into the pool after.  The mower was falling apart and leaving parts in the yard (no more self-propel option now) and the shears in the picture above literally fell apart in my hands.  I went to replace them and saw they are guaranteed for life.  Took this picture and filed a claim - let's see how this goes.

Overall, all is good.  Waiting to see what happens next...

Monday, May 11, 2015

Just a quick story today of how God managed something in a way I never saw coming.  I do have to admit that I am getting better at anticipating the unusual solution to my problems though.  And He came through again...  Elliott is taking some online classes this summer at the local community college so he can earn his CPA quicker from Boston College.  He did his research and today we headed over to actually register for the classes.  We went in, he picked out the ones he wanted, we got registered, and then headed over to the Business Office (which is a nice way of saying, the Cashier's Office...).  I actually was not prepared to make any payments today so the nice lady told us we could just log on and make an online payment Friday.  I have been praying about how to pay for these classes and did not want to get yet another loan.  For the past week or so, I have been logging on to the BC site to see what financial aid Elliott was getting for next year.  While looking at his bill, I had noticed he actually had a surplus amount.  That was very unusual as BC is exacting when it comes to loans, grants and awards - they usually calculate the costs very closely.  As we started to leave the community college, I was reminded of that surplus.  Wouldn't you know it was almost exactly the amount needed to cover his summer classes?  We got home, applied for a refund from BC, and the money should be electronically deposited into our account by the end of the week.  Never saw that one coming...

Friday, April 10, 2015

Never Saw That Coming

It has been a pretty busy week with all sorts of unusual activities.  Mostly good, some challenging, all requiring me to stop and think about how to proceed.  One thing I am trying to learn is stop a bit quicker - before I start getting stressed and nervous - and ask God to help.  Many times I think I have exhausted all of my options, and I probably have exhausted all of MY options.  Invariably, the plan and approach I think of, if I have a plan or approach, is not how it actually works out.  And when it works out (after a lot of prayer), it works out in a way I never saw coming and in a way much better than I could have thought of.  

Without going into specifics, I had two challenges this week where my standard resources were not available and I had nowhere to turn to get these particular jobs done.  Out of the blue, I got a call from someone affiliated with one of those resources who said that not only could he help me out with one of the issues, he could handle the other one as well!  Perfect.  And that was just one of the week's challenges.

God knows I have enough past experiences to reference.  Now it is just a matter of moving them up in the memory priority list...

Saturday, March 21, 2015

But Where Did The Water Go?!

A couple of weeks ago I took a look at the pool through the mesh cover and my heart sank straight to the bottom.  The first two pictures in the top row were what I saw:  9 inches of standing water (there should be 5 feet) and the liner falling in.  Never before has this happened and I didn't know what to do.  I pulled the cover back, threw on my hip waders and jumped in expecting the worst.  I looked around for a tear, hole, or leak - something that would explain what happened.  For some reason I never even looked under (through) the cover this year to see how it was doing. Sometimes in winters past, I would need to drop a submersible pump in and pump out the excess water.   Never has there been a decrease in the water level.  I grabbed a garden hose and slowly started to re-fill it.  Googled and researched and contacted the local pool company - no explanation could be found.  We are talking about 10,000 gallons disappearing without a trace.   Over the next few days, the pool re-filled, the liner smoothed out, and not a drop has leaked (see last picture, bottom row, for current status).  I haven't opened the pool so the water has not been filtered nor the bottom vacuumed.  I have welcomed any and all explanations and theories but none, well, none really hold water.  (The pool liner still has some silt in it but I have swept it all over and turned on the pool light at night looking for any indication of leakage.  Nothing.)  We have heard stories of Jesus performing miracles at the Pool of Bethesda.  Now I can tell the story of the miracle at the Hale pool.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Needs & Wants

If you look back through my posts, you will see several instances where I documented how God had come through and met our needs.  Sometimes at the last minute (or so it seemed) but it always worked out.  Lately I have been noticing how He gives us some “wants” too.  A few months ago, I saw on the Acura Owner’s forum that people were changing their license plate bulbs to LEDs.  Makes the plate show up whiter and brighter and looks pretty cool.  But each bulb (there are two), were about $10 each!  That is an extravagance we don’t need.  So I filed it away in my mind and went about my business.  Wouldn’t you know that about two weeks ago, in my daily “super special electronics sale” email, there was a set of TWO LED bulbs on sale for $3.99 including shipping?!  Ha ha  I thanked God and bought them (and they look great!).

I have to be respectful to the Creator of the universe, but at the same time, I often think of Him as “one of the guys” who feels what we feel and knows what it is like to have wants – as frivolous and unnecessary as they may be.

Monday, January 26, 2015


We had this house built so I know it is not built on an Indian burial ground, no workers were killed during the construction and no little kids were walled up inside.  That being said…  Many times at night we hear walking sounds above us while we are in the living room downstairs.  Both dogs are with us and no one is up there.  No one up there.  Of course it is the house settling or something but we laugh nervously and move on.  About a year or two ago, I went up to bed and found that a small picture frame that is kept on top of the bed headboard was on the ground and there was a dent…  in the ceiling!!  How in the world did that thing jump up on its own and leave a mark in the ceiling?  Weird.  Last night I finished a book so I set it on the credenza to put away on the bookshelf in the morning.   I put my bookmark on top of it to put in the next book I was going to start.  (see the picture that I "ghostified")  When I got up this morning, the bookmark was gone.  I clearly remember putting it on top of the book when I set it down.  I looked high and low.  I even thought maybe it got caught in Mocha’s tail as she walked by so I re-traced her steps all the way outside thinking maybe she carried it out there.  Nothing.  Weird. I started tearing things apart looking for it.  Finally I found it – under the comforter at the foot of the bed.  But the strange thing is, the comforter was off and on the floor last night when I got into bed to read…

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Online Shopping

I have had some hits and misses lately with online shopping.  Overall a big hit, but not without it's issues.  Before Christmas, I purchased something from Best Buy and later called to see if they would price match a competitor's lower cost.  They wouldn't but that call led to a two-month ordeal that never did fully resolve.  After multiple calls, emails, and online postings, we finally determined that the BB rep who took my call left my account information open on her screen and then took a call from someone else placing an order.  His information ended up on my account history.  To make a long story short, BB determined they couldn't remove it from my account, sent me a generous gift card, and the guy who placed the order (that ended up on my account) is now my email pen pal...  Another miss:  rebates.  I bought several computer items that were on sale after rebate and each one of them requires cutting the UPC code off of the item box and mailing it in along with receipts and forms.  What century are we living in that we have to do that?  Surely there is a better way.  Out of about 10 recent rebate submissions, 8 have worked out fine, one was lost (luckily the box actually had 2 UPC codes so I was able to re-submit and confirm it was received) and one is probably not going to work out - there were actually two rebates for the same item but each requires an original UPC.  I will send the original UPC to the bigger rebate and a copy of it to the lesser one and hope for the best.

On a positive note, I have found that purchasing online for store pickup can be MUCH cheaper than buying the same item off of the shelf.  Wal-Mart is my favorite for this.  Bought something online for $50.  Same item (that an employee went and pulled off the shelf for me to pick up) sells for $88 in store.  Just last night I bought an HDMI cable online for $10.  Hanging just feet from the pickup counter is the same item - $17.  I think I am on to something here...