Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Keb' Mo'

A few weeks ago I picked up Bonnie Raitt and Friends at my weekly library browse and on the CD there was a duet with Keb' Mo'. I liked what I had heard on the BR CD and decided to pick up Keep it Simple next browse session.

I heard the first cut, France, and I was hooked. You have to love a blues song that mentions the Internet. (I can't find the lyrics anywhere). It's a happy and contemporary blues with lots of acoustic guitar. I can't tell you the type of guitar he plays since I am no expert in this area but it has a steel front and this makes the sound to have a unique tinny quality to it.

So now I am looking for all the Keb' Mo' I can find. I usually do this with an artist. I'll find one track or album that I like and then I have to have them all.

Speaking of the library, Oldest Son and I went last night and he had a few things to return as did I. I was late and had a $6 fine, which is unusual but he had me beat: $34. I was stunned. Library fines are in the $1.60 type of figure, not one were I need to break out the debit card. Best of all, I got the blame. "Well you didn't go to the library last week". .... and the week before? ...and the week before that?

$40 bucks at the library.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Tile Man, Eliptical update.

We finally found a tile guy who would do our little job last week. He came a little late but he was excellent. Oldest son loved him and said he was like an episode of "this old house", explaining every step and leaving detailed instructions. He was even $50 cheaper than our previous germaphobe.

Only problem? We still couldn't use the shower until Tuesday. So tomorrow we can finally take a shower in our shower for the first time in nearly three weeks.

What did we learn from our little adventure? We need a replacement boiler.

Today Sears picked up the Elliptical from Hell. We didn't even have to box it back up in the cardboard puzzle that it was packaged in.

Sears good. Nordictrack bad.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Live blogging on the Oscars.

So how do they pick the actress that does the Science and Tech awards "earlier". This year it was Maggie Gyllenhaal. Last year it was Rachel McAdams. Where is she now?
Anne Hecke did it one year and she is now is "Men in Trees"

What the heck was "The Danish Poet".

Are you kidding me? Two flaffel stands? (West Bank Story)

OK here we go Best Supporting actor.
Alan Arkin was great in Little Miss Sunshine. "Grrr you are a Tiger" and he wins!
He speech is eloquent and short.

At least the Interpretive Dance this year doesn't include "It's hard out there for a Pimp". I'm missing Rome for this?

Is that costume thing where they had live "actors" in the costumes new?

We were just saying - Where is Tom Cruise?

The Japanese and French presenter for Foreign Language film go together like Onion and Cantaloupe.


I don't know about you but I know I wasted a lot of time in the 1980s trying to "win" at Pitfall!. I played on Intellivision, well not exactly Intellivision, the Searsknock off version that was $50 cheaper and ran all the same games.

I say "win" because I never saw or heard of anyone that won Pitfall!. It was impossible to collect all 32 treasures in less than the 20 minutes given.

Now I know why I never heard of anyone that won. Here is a map of all 256 screens.

Some person - No, it had to be a guy. A guy with no wife or girl friend - mapped out all 256 scenes of Pitfall!. He noted every barrel, rope, pit, crocodile and tunnel and how they all connect.

It gets better. This person video recorded the fastest perfect Pitfall! win.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

In The News: You might want to check your spouse.

I ran across this story earlier in the week and could not believe it.

This poor soul died in front of the TV and was recently discovered when a water pipe burst and someone investigated.


I just brings up all kinds of questions.

1) Why had no one realized he was dead? No friends, family, people he owed money to?
2) How did his bills get paid and utilities stay on?

And the Believe it or not continues. This is not the first mummified person in front of a TV:


Sunday, February 18, 2007

A series of unfortuante events

We seemed to be having a string of bad luck. Not "Job" like things like getting really ill, losing a job or a death in the family but little stupid things like the Tile Guy running away and elliptical hell.

Elliptical hell started at the beginning of the year when we decided that we needed a bit of exercise since we were turning into blimps parked on the couch or behind a computer all the time. I mean I was (am) getting winded climbing the stairs out of the Patco high speed line everyday.

We decided an elliptical machine in the house was the way to go since we could do it at home and not have to show our fat selves outdoors.

The search was on and having no idea what we wanted we looked at high end $2,000 models at the professional exercise places. We decided those were nice but if we ever stopped using it we would be unhappy that $2,000 was sitting there doing nothing.

The cheap ones were not that exciting and I could just see them falling apart in a short time so we settled on a NordicTrac AudioStrider 990. We saw it in Sears and thought it was pricey but we liked it and so we told the salesman we would buy it if it went on sale again. Going on sale meant we could use Mrs F's Mom's Sears discount to get the price really reasonable and afford to get the in home service as well.

When I was away for the weekend, it went in sale. Mrs F seized the moment and bought the thing over the phone. It was to be delivered that Friday and I was to put it together myself. That not a big deal, I could put it together no problem.

On Friday it was delivered no problem and that night I started putting together. I was nearly finished and I was putting the "left link arm" on. I picked up the part and took a look at it. It looked funny, like someone had taken tool to try and fix it some how.

Then I knew why. It had been welded crooked and an attempt was made to fix it. It didn't work. I couldn't connect the parts together and if I did I would have broken something.

Time to call support. I get all the paper work get the number and dial and as the phone is ringing I look at the support hours and notice they say they close at 6 PM. I look again - 6 PM mountain time and Jersey is eastern time! Whew, I look at my watch and literally the second hand sweeps past 12 and it turns 8 PM - 6 PM mountain time and I have to wait until Monday to talk to a person.

Monday comes and first thing I get my call in and ask them to order the part. No problem - the part is ordered.

A week goes by and nothing - no part in the mail, no messages, emails etc. That Friday I call them again. Yes, the part is on order but they have no date on when it be delivered. I wait until Monday, check again and it's the same story but this time I ask to talk to manager.

The Manager calls back and tells us that the part has to be made in China and delivered. It may be 4 weeks before they even hear anything let alone tell us when it will be delivered.

Great. Now what? Call Sears. Sears says the part will be there in 5-7 days. Great.

A few days later Sears call back - they can't order the part after all we have to deal with NordicTrack directly for the part.

OK we want a new one - Sears says they'll get back to us. This Friday they got back to us and we can get a new one - delivered 15 April.

So that is where it stands. I think we are going to just dump it back in Sears lap and walk away from the whole thing.

But these sort of things are happening to us on a regular basis in 2007.

Example: Yesterday at the Shoprite, I bought a Brita filter for the spigot because Heaven-forbid we drink unfiltered water out of the spigot like we did when I was kid. I looks simple enough except step 2 says "If your Brita filter doesn't fit call 1-800-for-brita".

Guess what - ours didn't fit and now we have to wait 1-3 weeks for an adapter.

I got a speeding ticket. I haven't got a speeding ticket since .... I don't think I've ever got a speeding ticket.

I got yelled at by Policeman at the mall for picking up Youngest son in front of the mall. Yelling. He was screaming at me about a firezone. I didn't park, I pulled over and picked up 4 boys at the mall.

I am afraid to buy anything.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Girl Scouts annouce manned mars mission.

(New York, NY) The Girls Scouts of the USA today announced a manned mission the the planet Mars in 2009. "This is a proud moment for Girl Scouts everywhere and space travel will help build girls of Courage, Confidence and Character" stated Kathy Collins, CEO of this organization of 3.8 million girls. Mrs Collins also announced that the Girl Scouts have been secretly building rocket bases in Arizona and New Mexico for the past 40 years.

Funded entirely by cookies sales over the past 50 years, the secret Girl Scout space program has developed the 6 person Do-Si-Do rocket, two launch facilities in the US desert and a new Girl Scout Mission control facility in Georgia. It is estimated new mission control alone has cost over 1 trillion dollars. The program employs professional scientists and engineers supplemented by volunteer Moms and older Girl Scouts.

The mission will be managed from the recently completed Juliette Gordan Low space center in Savannah, GA by GSUSA Space Ventures, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Girl Scout program. Two lucky Girl Scouts will be among the first Astronauts to crew the Mars mission to search for new minerals and establish cookie booths.

Local Girl Scout leaders were stunned at the announcement. "We always wondered where all that money went" stated Ms Stacy McCormick, local leader of GS Troop 12,460,378. "All we knew was that we weren't seeing any of it. Did you know that each girl has to sell 500 boxes? Now we know why."

Government Officials were also stunned at the announcement. "We've all seen the bumper stickers that say It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber but this is ridiculous" stated General Norman Eisenhoff.

In a related story NASA is eying an annual "Brownie Drive".

When asked how the Girl Scouts could afford such a program, an unnamed Girl Scout Official was quoted as saying "Well you didn't think 5 cookies actually cost $3.50, did you?"

Friday, February 16, 2007

I hate being right.

Last week I said some kid was going to fall through the ice. On Wednesday, it happened in the next neighborhood.
Luckily, the boy fell through the ice across the street from a firehouse so he didn't spend that much time under the water.

About 4 PM we heard helicopters circling overhead. Helicopters never circle for the fun of circling. Later, on the news, we heard the story.

MSNBC story.

You can see the firehouse in this picture taken the following morning.

Tile Man

I used to hear Mrs F complain all the time about how hard it was to find good contractors and now I have first hand experience. As you may remember, I needed to have a tile guy come and fix the leak in our master bath. I had a couple references and invited two to come in and see the problem. Neither showed on the appointed day. One called and said he was going to be late but then never came. The other just never showed and never called. Jilted by two tile guys.

We found a third guy and he came on a Saturday. We'll call him Joe, since that was his name, Joe. Joe is a character - South Philly Joe. Joe Bagadoughnuts. Hey how yous doin - Joe.

Joe said it was an easy job, remove some old grout, replace a little drywall, $150 bucks. Only one problem, we had to let the shower stall completely dry out and that would take a few days. We decide that he'll come Friday and that is nearly a week away.

Now we have 4 people and one full bathroom. No problem, we'll share and work out schedules so that we all are not trying to take a shower at 6:30 AM.

Mrs F and I discover how bad the other bathroom is. We hardly ever go in there so we don't really know.
  • The water is cold. The two bathrooms have two different hot water supplies. We have a 50 gallon tank and they use the boiler. Betsy the old boiler ain't what she used to be.
  • To get hot water all the time you have to turn the pressure to almost nothing.
  • There is a noisy fan that evacuates what ever steam the not-so-hot water has made.
The boys bathroom needs work but the boys never complained. We shoved one of those radiator space heaters in there, disconnected the fan and then were able to keep warm despite the low water pressure. Mrs F is walking around looking like Jerry in the "Low Pressure Shower Head" episode of Seinfeld. She is not happy.

The boys however, are happy. Someone fixed their shower.

Friday comes and Mrs F gets ill. She calls out from work and is in bed.

Joe Bagadougnuts the Tile Guy shows up. Now we just had an ice storm two days ago and my Cul-de-sac looks, quite literally, like a skating rink. Thursday night you could have laced up and had a hockey game out there.

I safely put the barking Schnauzers in oldest son's room and let Joe in. Joe has all his tile guy gear and is coming behind me and I say "Mrs F is sick in bed" and Joe freezes in tracks.

I have no idea Joe is stuck and I am headed up the hall. I turn around and no Joe. Joe is still in foyer at the bottom of the steps. I am trying to tell him the bathroom is up here (you remember, don't you Joe?) but he doesn't budge.

"She has the Flu?" Asks Joe.

"I don't know what she has" I say. This is true. She is nauseous but sleeping it off.

Joe says "I can't come up there".

It's gonna be hard to work on the bathroom from down there, Joe. Maybe he is like the bubble boy or something - He can't go near germs. I'm thinking Joe has chosen poorly at a profession then. Joe spends a lot of time in other people's bathrooms and kitchens. Where the heck else do you have tile? Where are all the germs? Right! They are in the kitchen and bathroom.

Joe says he can't afford to get sick and he can't come up there. Now he is like a little kid that is afraid of heights halfway up a climbing wall at summer camp. He can't go to the top and he can't come down either. Joe just stands there in my foyer and I stand there in the hall by the master bedroom door.

We kind of stand around for a minute awkwardly and then I show him the door. Goodbye Joe.

I go upstairs and kick the trashcan in anger. I imagine another week in the Seinfeld shower as I let the barking dogs out of the room. I clean up the trashcan. Ten minutes later, I come downstairs and hear Joe's tires spinning like mad on the ice, now wet from melting a bit in the sun. vrrrrrrrrrr. Vrrrrrrrrr. goes Joe's tires. Joe hasn't left yet. He's trying to, but can't get away.

As I watch through the window, my only hope of having a fixed shower is cartoonishly spinning his tires trying to escape the germs as fast as he can.

So now we are back to interviewing tile guys. It's like dating all over again.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Deep Freeze

Today may end the streak.

Using my "highly" accurate weather station in the back yard, the highest temperature reached yesterday was 31.8, 2 tenths of a degree below freezing. This marks the 8th day in a row where the daily high was still below freezing. Today is expected to be 34 so it may end today.

Officially, using data by the weather service at the airport, the streak ended yesterday at 4 PM after starting 4 AM Saturday 2/3. That marked 180 hours in row where the official recorded temperature was below 32.

Which got me thinking: What is the record?


It turns out that two years recorded 15 days in row: 1961 and 1979. Tony Wood at the Inquirer determined that in 1961 385 hours were recorded below 32 and 377 were recorded in 1979 when he examined the hourly data after I posted a question on his blog.

So officially we are 205 hours short of the record this year.

But the streak lives on here in Jersey.

Among the many implications of cold temperatures like we have been seeing is the freezing over of many ponds, streams and rivers. I can almost predict an upcoming news story: some boy falls into a cold pond after being on the ice on a day when it hits 40 degrees. It will be on a Sunday.

Warn your kids to stay off the ice.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Halfway House

Oldest son and I spent last weekend on the annual Troop ski trip. We go to a small ski spot in the Poconos and usually stay in the condos near the slopes but this year the Adults fell into a house rental near the secret ski spot.

It was a very old house. Turn of the century. Turn of the 19th century.

I was last to arrive and so I got the "Shawshank" room. I felt like a a recently released ex-con.

It had a sink and a range, a small card table and sad little wooden chair and a single bed.
The only thing missing was the timber with all the names carved into it where the ex cons hung themselves. The bath upstairs was a claw tub and the basement was literally carved out of the surrounding rock. After skiing we watched a little TV but the only thing on was a episode of This Old House. I still find this funny. Not as funny as two guys in horse outfit, but still funny.

Afterwards I put on a can of beans and pondered my future now that I was out of prison.

The most direct drive up from our town is using all back roads through places like Flemington where all the car dealerships have gigantic US flags flying and Butzville, a name the boys never tire of. On the way up the snow cover got deeper and deeper until route 402 which was still snow covered the morning after our little "storm".

On the way back I got a speeding ticket in of all places, Butzville. I was passing a slower moving car on a spot of 2 lane road downhill and with a breeze before the road turned back into a single lane in my direction. I saw the State Trooper sitting in the parking lot waiting for me.

He did the strangest thing when he pulled up behind me, screaming in his bull horn to keep moving until "the diner", like I knew where I was. Where is the freeking diner?

He came up on the passenger side and my passenger didn't know how to open the car door, not being familiar with the car and attempted to open the door. Bad move. Friendly Mr State Trooper slammed the door shut and barked at her to open the window. I'm sure that speeding minivans with middle aged Americans are often confused with terrorists so he had to treat us like one. He continued to bark orders the whole time.

So now I have an unwanted connection to Butzville and it will always be known as the "place where I got that ticket that time".

At least I have somewhere to go after they let me out of the big house.