Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Not so fast.
She called today only to find out they need ten days to "clear" her past testing attempt and they only do this on Friday's
So now we know what they all do on Wednesday and Friday. That leaves Monday, Tuesday and Thursday for ........?
Maybe on Friday they will clear her to accept the current application and then next Wednesday approve the application and then by next Thursday she will receive the approved application back. If not it's another week in limbo.
So another week of torture as she studies for the test that will never get here.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
He is a neighbor only by geography. His backyard fence touches mine in the corners of the two properties.
In thirteen years of living here I think that I may have seen him once. Maybe twice.
It's more like a bigfoot sighting.
He is single, unmarried and this is his boy-hood home. His parents passed way in the early 90's.
He maintains his house less than I do mine and that is saying something. He has needed a new roof for 4 years. The hedges cover the front of the house like a a teenager covers his eyes with his hair. The pool hasn't operated in 15 years. We have a pool and pond, the pond would be better for you.
There are things living in the pool. Loud things. I think it must be a bull frog or two. It's just kind of like a cough going over and over again. Every once in awhile a bull frog croaks.
Everytime we have mosquitoes, I think of all that still water over there.
There is always light on in the back window but you never see him.
It's just creepy.
I'm saying all this knowing it is a problem. Like you know that some day channel 6 will be out front and all the neighbors will be saying "he was a quiet man, stayed to himself".
The trouble is I don't know what to do about it. We used to have a girl that lived across the street from him, Amy. Amy lived here her whole life as well and knew Bruce growing up.
She was ambassador to Bruce-world.
Now Amy is gone, moved away, and the neighborhood has no one that knows what is going on in the house.
I often wonder if He has any relatives.
Once US Mail was redirected to our house for him. It was a Christmas card. I think I wrote down the address.
I worry about safety. What if some small child gets in that yard with that nasty pool? It might be days before they are found.
I should do something, but I don't know what to do.
These pictures were taken in 1998.
Monday, May 29, 2006
It was a near perfect day. Started off great and is now wrapping up nicely.
I didn't do much at all: hammock, pool, puttered about fixing a few nagging things around the house, cut the solar cover to fit the shape of the pool, made a great dinner, rescued a gerbera daisy and am ready to watch a little TV and sleep like a baby. Maybe even some hot tub.
It was really like vacation, but at home. It was the kind of day where you think that hitting the lottery wouldn't really be bad thing.
I have this thing with the lottery. I believe it is a tax on the statistically challenged and if I play my biggest fear is that I might win.
You never hear stories of happy lottery winners.
The common tale is one of divorce, bankruptcy, relatives hounding you for money, friends hounding you for money and finally strangers hounding you for money. Oh yeah and sometimes it's like an episode of "behind the music" on VH1 - a slow descent into drugs and alcohol followed by a come back album.
Today though I was almost tempted.
Mrs F studied (the passport signature!) ( A new thought on the unsigned passport: If you ever encounter a brand new passport and it is signed, it's fake. Only someone with a fake passport signs the thing before they use it) all day and is anxiously awaiting the new application. Tomorrow will bring anxiety again as we rush the application out to the evil ARRT, but for now I am enjoying doing nothing.
This was far better and peaceful memorial day weekend than in the past. There was the tequila soaked weekend at the Sea Isle Inn in 1986. We laughed so hard for three days that my cheeks actually hurt on Tuesday. We had no idea how to get home from the shore. Four of us drove back to Philly by navigating to WMMR as a beacon. If WMMR got stronger, you were going the right way. If it got weaker, turn around.
There was the first weekend in the house Jamie, Rick and I had in Sea Isle in '87. It was a hundred year old house that for the previous ten years had been a party house for Penn State people. It was cold foggy weekend in house with no heat that reeked of ten years of keggers.
They actually just bulldozed that house down after we left in September without removing as much as spoon. I was very sorry we cleaned it.
Those were fun but empty. Today was different. More satisfying. Longer lasting.
Tomorrow it will be back to the grind. Today is for relaxing.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
He scored once on Friday and had a breakaway last night where he hit the post. He is playing well despite playing about half the time.
Watching him play amazes me every time. I was the most shocked when it turned out that despite his size, he was good at sports. He was six and playing rec-league. Someone pushed him and he got angry and the next thing you know he is charging down the field with the ball having hustled around the defense.
He plays striker mostly and has been enjoying the longer fields for this tournament. If the field is longer the mid-fielders can pound the ball over the heads of the defense and he can beat the defense men to the ball in the no man's land behind the defense and before the goalie.
It is fun to watch and hear people cheering for my son.
It's most amazing considering his heritage. I was not athletic at all as was my Father before me and his Father before him. In Italian our name is best translated "and you go play right field". His older brother played soccer for exactly one year and spent most of the time in the backfield staring up at the clouds.
But youngest son is different. He is fast. Small, but fast and passes well.
This tournament went great, three games, all shutouts and the team won their four team bracket. It's a good team with a good coach (Hi Jon) that should hold together next year, their final year together.
Friday, May 26, 2006
Some times when you are in the middle of a bad situation it's hard to see that it might turn out alright.
It turns out that the business about an unsigned passport isn't is true but as it turns out you can just "sign it there". So what to do? We could fight the whole thing with a written response but, surprise! that would take 4-6 weeks again. I think She just re-apply and we'll go from there.
I have really got to get my eye-sight checked. I bought a kit to replace the battery of my iPod and it arrived this week. I sat down at the kitchen table I swear I couldn't focus up close unless the thing was at full arms length. Try snapping a tiny connector together from a mile away or putting a micro-sized 20 Gig hard drive back in from across the room.
But I didn't dare ask for help.
Anyway, the new battery works great accept I didn't shop around much. I later was told there is an 1100 mAh instead of the 850 I bought. With a nine hour plane ride coming up the 1.5 hours I was getting out of the old one wasn't going to cut it.
I saw this on Dave Barry's blog. Scientist have developed a robot cockroach. Did we really need a robot cockroach? Why didn't my high school guidance counselor tell me about this job anyway? The article goes on to say that the robo-roach can be used to "bring other roaches out into the light" - where they can all be stepped on, I suppose.
I 'm sorry, did I just step on your four ba-zillion dollar robot roach?
Well the hot tub is about up to temperature so I am getting in.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
She graduated last week and has been studying for the certification test for the past 8 weeks through hot water heater floods, parties and everyday living.
She was due to take the test this morning.
She spent the night in Atlantic City and went to take the test at 8 AM.
She handed her new brand new passport over as ID and was promptly rejected from taking the test.
Her brand new passport was unsigned and the test proctor would not allow her to take the exam.
So we are back in limbo. She is officially a "no show" to the exam and the accreditation board must process her as such ( a two week process ), she has to re-apply ( a four to six week process ) and finally take the exam again.
It will be July before this can happen and we are scheduled for vacation the first two weeks of July. It may be August before she can take this test.
Over a signature. It seems absurd. Unbelievable, in fact. The proctor would not let her sign it there.
I mean how is the passport going to get signed anyway? She is going to take the passport and sign it.
I hate to see this hanging over her head like this for weeks. Again. Over vacation. Just awful.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
After all the work and worry that went into the week before, the party went great. The caterer was great and had all the food setup by 2:15.
And then we waited. 2:30 and no one was there. 2:45 and no one.
No one wants to be the first one there.
At almost 3 Mrs F's brother was the first to enter sans family. His daughter was ill and couldn't make it. I went to pick up the cake and by time I got back all hell was breaking loose. It seems everyone showed up at the same time and now were coming to the party. I had a car full of ice, NA beer for Dad (oops) and a cake. I was swept into the chaos of a party starting to crank up.
The house was just cacophony of conversations, people greeting each other, getting going on the food it was just bedlam. My uncle was over-stimulated and had to find a quiet place. Good luck.
Someone needed directions.
What happened to 60 lbs of ice?
Neighbors, friends, graduates, family on both sides.
There is a Jack Russell Terrier my brother who-does-not-exist-on-the-internet brought.
The day goes quickly and before I know it we are serving desert. Really, my in laws were serving desert.
I find 20 lbs of ice in the garage, melting. Kids. It had to be kids. Thanks for helping!
I thought the music worked out well, Frank Sinatra when there should have been Sinatra. Nelly when there should have been Nelly, a little Bruce of course for Gail.
The pool was warm, 80 degrees. A pool is like a turkey. You have to get up early to get it going.
My sister and her kids like it here so much , they want to move in for the summer. Sure, everyone loves the summer. Where were you in January or some other month with an "R"? Just kidding.
The weather was great, mid seventies with a stiff breeze. It was like being at the shore.
I think everyone had a great time.
Our last guests leave at 9 or so. No neighbors complained and Mrs F had a great time.
It looked like familiar ground around me.
It was a trap. A no-win scenario. My very own Kobayashi Maru.
If I stopped what I was doing at home there was a very good chance that I would not get everything done in time for the 2:30 party. I had the pool to prepare, errands to run and last minute cleaning to do. If I went to the Graduation Ceremony I would not get everything done.
If I didn't go to the Graduation ceremony, I would hear how I didn't even go to her Graduation and I would hear it for life. I would feel horrible. I knew I had to go and I wanted to go.
Like Capt. James T. Kirk, I cheated. I prayed.
Here is what happened and you decide if I beat the no-win scenario.
I cleaned like a mad-man until 8:56 knocking out the remainder of three bathrooms and a kitchen floor in 1.5 hours and the I jumped in the shower.
I was out of the house at 9:14 and driving the 35 minutes to the college for the 10:00 AM ceremony. I forgot my cell phone 2 minutes from the house and turned around and got it. I should have gotten the boys up and moving too but you can only lead a horse to water.
I arrived at the college at 9:50 with a stop for gas and drove to the first parking lot I saw. It was pretty full and I took one short loop when I saw the last remaining spot in a grassy medial strip and parked in 8.5 seconds.
Grabbing my camera, I walked the 1/4 mile over to the ceremony just in time to see the processional with Pomp and Circumstance playing. Since I was by myself I figured the best thing to do was to make my way to the front to look for a single seat. I made my way towards the band where the professors were sitting up front.
There was a reserved section for the professors that had two and half empty rows of seats and people were lined up there stretching and looking for their graduates, using the area to take pictures since the processional was on the other side of this section. I noticed Mrs F's radiology professor in the back of the reserved section.
Eventually I made my way across the empty reserved section to the aisle. Across the aisle was the section of students in their costumes. I looked around and there, three rows ahead of me across the aisle was my wife in her cap and gown. I couldn't believe it.
I called out to her and she turned and was shocked to see me. Remember, I wasn't supposed to be coming and now here I was three rows away in the best seat in the house.
She was pleasantly shocked.
I was so proud of her. She had worked so hard to keep her 4.0 average and here she was graduating with highest honors and I was fortunate enough to be here to witness it.
I sat down. No one came up and gave me a hard time about sitting in the professor's section. If any one asked I was prepare to tell them I forgot my cap and gown. I even got a printed program, only the students and professors received those.
I looked behind me to see the 2 thousand people stretching and craning to see their loved ones and here I was 25 feet from mine.
I sat and listened to the speeches, waited until she went up and received her diploma, stage whispered to her that I was leaving and headed back to the car. I was out of there by 11:30
It was amazing and was one of those rare truly joyous events in life.
On the way home I knocked out the errands I had to do anyway and was home before 1.
So let's review: I made it to a seat in a crowded event in less than an hour and the only way I could have had a better seat was to be on the platform receiving a bouquet of roses from the dean. I had a clear view of my graduate, snapping great photos of her in one the best moments of her life and got out of there in an hour and half.
Lord, you are good to me beyond measure.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Mrs F and I had a serious discussion about when to turn the pool heater on. I wanted to do it yesterday and get a running start at actually getting the pool warm and she wanted only today. I wisely turned the heater off yesterday. It will take about 10 hours to heat 20,000 gallons of water 10 degrees. Talk about boiling the ocean. This will consume about 40 gallons of propane. Thank God we have the Money Tree.
Like I said, pool people are obsessed with temperature.
The Scout Troop must be just getting up now crawling out of tents and making coffee and breakfast before getting on the river to canoe.
The house is quiet now with only the humming of computers, air fresheners and the occasional heater coming on. Even the dogs are quiet, banished to the breeder for a day. My ears are actually ringing from the silence as years of Flight Decks and iPods will do that to you.
Soon it will be chaos with mad last minute cleaning and then a house filled with people. Music, laughter, conversation and splashing is all I want to hear today.
Pool Temperature: 70 degrees and rising
Forecast Today: A chance of sprinkles before 10am. Mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high around 72. West wind 6 to 9 mph increasing to between 14 and 17 mph.
What does sprinkles mean?
Friday, May 19, 2006
Spent the day getting the house ready for the big event tomorrow. There have been no further plumbing issues and we got the rug back down the other night. I doesn't even smell!
The carpets need to be replaced at some point in the future but for tomorrow ......
I am not sure that I am going to be able to make the actual graduation. I think we timed the party a little to close to the graduation and We would never be able to go, watch the whole thing and get back in time to get the cake, beer, get the house in order etc etc. The caterer is showing up at 2:30 so someone needs to be here.
Busy day. Oldest Son went to GF's Senior Prom tonight. They looked great, but I felt horrible as the poor girl drove them to the Prom. I offered to drive but we couldn't swing a limo and do the party, vacation etc.
The boy needs a job but he still too young.
I can't believe this. It seems I was just putting this boy on a bus for kindergarten yesterday. Where did the time go?
I pray they have a good time.
Pool Temp: 71
Forecast for Saturday: A slight chance of showers after 2pm. Partly cloudy, with a high around 73. West wind between 6 and 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
anything with the plumbing as this is the first day this week without seeing the
smiling face of friendly local plumber.
I wonder if he misses us.
I now have a head cold and can't tell if the mildew smell is gone or I just
can't smell it. Baking soda abounds all over the carpets.
I also worked on pool chemistry.
I actually spent the night updating my ipod with song mixes for the party,
time I am sure that I am going to want back in the few days or on my death
bed. (Lord, I now wish I didn't spend so much time fooling with my iPod) We
also watched Lost of course.
Pool Temp: 69 fun degrees.
Saturday Forecast: A slight chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a high
around 71. Chance of precipitation is 20%. - ohh no!
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
I "fixed" this by shutting down the main value into the house and opening the bathroom sink faucets. We seemed to back in business.
At 2:30 I got a call that water was all over the floor. Again. The main valve leaked all over the floor again.
We called our new best friend, the plumber who came right over and fixed the issue.
Luckily (?) the carpet was still up and didn't get more water but the padding was soaked. Again.
Spent the night ripping out and replacing the padding.
Pool Temp: 69 degrees.
Forecast for Saturday: Partly cloudy, with a high around 75.
Monday, May 15, 2006
The plumber came back and "fixed" the water heater so now we have hot water in our bathroom again. It wasn't that bad since we could still use the other bathroom for hot water since it is in the "old' section of the house. I was a bit worried since he told me over the phone that technically he wasn't supposed to hook up the electric and that according to code an electrician needed to come in and hook the wires together.
So really all he did is open the hatch were the wiring is and pop the wire nuts out of the case for the water heater and the breaker stopped popping.
Not very reassuring however.
The smell in the den is not so great but isn't over powering. I bought 8 lbs of baking soda at the Supermarket and I was thinking that who besides Jeffery Dalmer buys 8 pounds of baking soda. I was thinking of asking the lady behind the register if "I have enough for a 5 foot 2 inch woman" but she didn't look like the joking kind.
I connected the dryer vent to the wet carpet (if you look in the picture in t-minus 6 days, you can see the hose). so I was using the dryer as a giant hair dryer, running it with out can clothes in it to prevent lint from blowing around my den.
I also have been using the shop vac like a mad man. I used it to suck everything out of my car and now it's all clean.
I don't have a PA but I did find one for $140 a day rental. That is a bit steep. We also have a final count: 58 people.
Pool temp: 70 degrees.
This week Mrs F graduates from college for the second time, this time with an Associates of Science in Radiography. We are having a party in her honor at our home on Saturday so we knew going into the weekend that it was going to be tough getting the house ready.
Saturday morning I was working on getting the outside ready when I hear "Did you spill some water inside by the steps?".
I came in and checked and sure enough, there is a minor flood in the den off the kitchen. The Hot Water heater is leaking, bad.
I start shutting it down and emptying it but some damage is already done. Two pieces of carpet are soaked.
Off to the home depot to buy, among other things, a wet vac.
We find a plumber who will replace the hot water heater on a Saturday and we start cleaning the house. The wet vac takes one of us out of the clean up operation and we work it all weekend long but it is still wet.
On Saturday plumber comes and replaces the water heater.
Sunday comes and we continue cleaning until it's time to leave to see the Moms. I take a shower and water is tepid.
The brand new water heater is not heating water which should be the major function of a Hot Water Heater.
So now it's Sunday night, I can't sleep, I have no hot water in my bathroom and I have carpet ripped up all over the ground floor. Ohh and we have 60 something people coming on Saturday.
Lord, please I am asking for a sunny day on Saturday.
I still need a cake. I still need a sound system rental and the caterer is asking for our final numbers.
Beer, wine and soda.
A new (and now possibly two) new hot water heater[s].
general party goods.
A new solar cover for the pool.
A new wet vac.
It's a good thing this house came with a money tree. I was hoping for $50s but we got a good crop of $20s this year.
Oh yeah I almost forgot, I left my windows on my car open last night and according to my handy home weather station we received 0.73 inches of rain this morning in my car.
Grrrrreat a wet car and a wet house.
Did I mention Sunday was my birthday......
Thursday, May 11, 2006
- Keith Richards is apparently doing fine after surgery. My favorite headline is "Keith Richards brain OK" That might be a stretch.
- Have you seen these guys: http://www.improveverywhere.com/ ? They stage "scenes". In the latest one they had a large group dress in blue shirts and khakis and head into a Best Buy. In another they dress like U2 and do a concert on a roof in Manhattan. Check out some of the other events as well.
- Here is a great blog: http://italk2much.com/index.php/weblog/index/ They review blogs.
- Start a "Golden Brother Friday" where you work. We greet each other with "My brother, my golden brother, my brother of gold" on Fridays. It's a lot funnier than it sounds here.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Now the Garden State has been slowly eliminating these hazards over the past 20 years to the point where we are down to about 35 of them left. I recall that about 15 years ago we had 50 or so.
Now New Jersey decides that a circle wasn't a bad idea after all. In this article it appears that traffic circles are making a comeback as roundabouts. Roundabout is of course a British word meaning "Traffic Circle". This is like saying that we are eliminating trucks but we've heard of these great new vehicles called "lorries".
According to the article, roundabouts are smaller and harder to enter.
Great. Great idea. A traffic circle that is harder to get into.
The problem with traffic circles is that they back up traffic! Did we forget that? Hellllllo.
Some of the better traffic circles have already been removed, like the airport circle in Pennsauken. You would think that maybe there would be an airport nearby, but noooo.
This one was thrilling because of the many overpasses you couldn't see the traffic coming at you as you approached the entrance and it was located so that all the traffic from Philadelphia flowed into it. It connected at least 4 major roads as well. Now it's a reasonable system of overpasses and traffic lights.
Please just get rid of the traffic circles so we can start working on making left turns.
Monday, May 08, 2006
We "opened" ours today. It's not quite ready to swim in just yet but it is good to have the ugly green cover off and see the water again.
The water temperature has got to be in the sixties but it should warm up fast.
Just like people with shore houses are obsessed with whether it is a "land breeze" or a "sea breeze", pool people are obsessed with temperature.
I've gotten to the point where I can dip a toe in and guess the temperature within a few degrees.
It's almost a status symbol to tell another guy with a pool that your temperature is 80 in May or early June. Whew! 80! I can't afford that!
Last year, during the heat wave in August the water temperature got up to 89 with out the heater.
We don't heat ours typically but we will this year because we are having a party in two weeks and we'd like to have the kids swim.
This year is the dirtest I've ever seen the pool after a winter so it is going to take a while to get the water clear and clean.
We put this pool in a few years ago and it was amazing to see the look on the kids faces the day we opened it the first time. It was like Christmas morning. The look on the faces was one of unbelief, like "was this really ours".
It is fun.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
No church visit for us this week but we had soccer tryouts in the afternoon so it was still rather hectic.
Dad made the traditional "pizza" bread. This is a Easter tradition from his side of the family but since we did Easter at my brother-that-does-not-exists-on-the-Internet's (long story) we did not get to "enjoy" this tradition.
I say "enjoy" because people either love this stuff or hate it. There is no in-between. My family is sharply divided on the subject with my Father, my sister and my brother-that-does-not-exists-on-the-Internet for and my other brother, mom and me against.
This Marchigiano regional delicacy is made with literally pounds of Locatelli Pecorino Romano cheese bake into a bread.
When I was growing up My Grandfather's family used to make it and proceed to eat it in one sitting, drinking beer all the while. As a little boy it was very confusing since they called this "pizza" and I knew pizza had mozzarella cheese and red sauce and came from a pizza parlor.
My Dad learned how to bake this bread in the 1970's and makes it for special occasions now.
I only remember how the house stank like baked, grated Locatelli cheese as he was making. It.
The smell would creep through the house like that green cloud of death in the first Passover scene in Egypt in "The Ten commandants".
I would put towels under my door if I knew Dad was going to bake it. It was foul.
Eventually the smell would dissipate.
We had a new inductee into the "pizza" bread club this weekend. Cousin J tried it for the first time and for the record he is for it. Rat.
Here Cousin J gives it the sniff test
Friday, May 05, 2006
Architecture Friday: The Wanamaker Building
Location:1300 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA
Architect: Daniel H Burham
Style: Italian Renaissance
This building was constructed on the site of the John Wanamaker Depot which John Wanamaker, retail pioneer, bought from the Pennsylvania Railroad. The Depot was contructed on what was then the western edge of the city.
John Wanamaker revolutionized retail by having set pricing and the ability to return goods. This was Philadelphia's finest store in it's day and the interior still remain as beautiful as it was in it's heyday. At one time this building was largely retail space with Wanamaker's offices on the 8th floor. Also on the eight floor is the Crystal Tea Room which when it opened in 1911 was the largest dining room in Philadelphia.
Wanamaker also purchased a pipe organ with over 30,000 pipes in the grand court and recitals are still given everyday at lunch. The pipe organ was made for the Louisiana Purchase exposition in St Louis and shipped to Philadelphia.
Wanamakers was the place to meet in Philadelphia as everyone knew what "meet me at the eagle" meant.
The Eagle statue is in the grand court on the main floor. The main hall extends upward 150 feet and several stories high.
The grand court was also the site of annual christmas light shows with organ music, fountains and light up holiday decorations.
The Wanamaker stores were sold by the Wanamaker family in 1987 and the store passed through several hands until Federated department stores purchased the brand. In 1997 Wanamaker's flagship store became a Lord and Taylor.
The Lord and Taylor is now in the process of closing down and it's really sad to watch. The clearance signs are everywhere and only the clothing remains on the first floor and a portion of the second. The rest of the building is office space. The place looks more like a Marshalls rather than the finest store in Philadelphia.
It is expected the store open as a Macy's.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Here we have the Invisible man in a Double-Chained Cable in bright red.
It takes a confident guy to wear a bright red sweater like that!
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
The place for the first communion last week had two choices: Women and Handicapped.
I was pretty sure I wasn't a woman.... So that makes me handicapped?
Monday, May 01, 2006
Oldest Son and I were in the car on Sunday when I was driving him to a friends house. The above mentioned story came on the News Radio and He and I turned and just looked at each other with "what the?" looks on our faces.
It brought forth scores of questions.
What was a 62 year old man doing in palm tree? Going after coconuts?
Why doesn't a $7,600 per night resort have coconuts on tables, ready for their guests?
How did he get up there? Did shimmy up the palm trunk since they don't have branches near the bottom?
The article goes on to say that he actually did this last week and only on Saturday took the 3.5 hour flight to New Zealand.
He had a concussion for a week and no one noticed? Since this is Keith Richards we are talking about here I'm guessing that diagnosing a concussion is difficult thing to do.