Friday, December 28, 2007

If the year had a weekend, this would be it.

It's a relaxing week at home as I've taken the week between Christmas and New Years as vacation. This is a tradition that started at the company I worked in when we first got married. They would shut down for this week and split the vacation days with you.

It's a great time to catch up and relax at the same time.

Here's what we've been up to:
  • Finding you what's up with Rex Morgan, MD. Youngest Son found the cartoon in the paper and the three panels on Wednesday made no sense at all. Maybe they do if you read it everyday for 50 years. Is anyone reading this cartoon any longer or is just a way for Al Qaeda to pass secret messages? Also, what ever happened to Prince Valiant?
  • Finally getting around to patching that hole the Plumber made when he fixed left handed spanner flexer back in March. Yes, for 9 months we've been living with a large hole made with a sledge hammer directly above our bed. Fixing it has been something of an issue since my wife doesn't like the way that I repair drywall. I'm getting better and I think I may have finally repaired one that someone else doesn't have to come fix.
  • Replacing the jabbering network card on the family file server in the Garage and the ridiculous 100 Base T only network switch that someone gave me for free. What, you don't have a file server in your garage? No redundant DNS and NTP servers? How do you even get up in the morning? Personally, I'm not going to be happy until I can telnet to my toaster and type "$ make toast -light" from my laptop.
  • Working on the two TIVO's that co-workers gave me. Yes, It's true, I have a file server and no TIVO.
  • Putting up blinds.
  • Cooking King Crab Legs.
  • Eating Chocolate.
  • Reading all about how the Eagles would be frightening if they were in the playoffs. Parade worthy? I think not.
  • Looking for bargains at my local CompUSA, which is closing. I found a USB video converter for $40 and.....
  • Converting old VHS video tapes to digital media. It's low quality but they are on youtube. Here is Oldest Son when he was a week old. It seems a long way from here to "Will you please finish those college applications?" and "You left my camera where?"

  • Growing a beard. Well, not shaving, really.
  • Playing Rock Band on Xbox 360.
  • Taking Youngest Son to the Doctor. He got Pink Eye along with a bad chest cold and now we are doing eye drops every morning, noon and night.
  • Baked a cake. Yes, I baked a cake. It was a crooked cake but it was delicious. It was for my mother-in-law's Birthday and now everyone knows how old she is. She's 7. Or 8. Not sure.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Lost in New Jesery.

This is a story about New Jersey. It involves two things essential to New Jersey, Diners and not making a left turn.

Yesterday morning I joined some old friends for breakfast. We used to work together in a place in New Jersey (so now it's about three things in New Jersey).

The breakfast was held at the Golden Dawn diner, which inexplicably is owned by Greeks. Go Figure. With a Name like Golden Dawn you may think it owned by Japanese Americans. Nope. Greek. In New Jersey, it's the law. All diners must be owned by Greeks.

I needed to get to the Golden Dawn from my home, which on the map above is to the east in the lower right. I thought I'd come north on 73 moving on the map above in the lower right corner to the top center. By the way, 73 actually travels east-west but for some unknown reason is marked north-south.

The Golden Dawn is strategically located in the little triangle of land between Route 73 and Route 38 and the ramp to get from north bound 73 and east bound 38. Right where is says "Kaighn Ave" to the right.

I drove North on 73 and got on the ramp to eastbound 38. I could not get off the ramp to Golden Dawn. I drove right past the diner with the giant "GOLDEN DAWN" sign on my left. I was 50 feet from the property, but couldn't get on it.

I am now headed away from the diner. This is bad. It's good though because at least I know the area because I have lived here 14 years now, I know a short cut. Let me repeat that. I have lived 5 miles from this spot for 14 years and now I can't get from point "A" to point "B".

I cut through the shopping center and get back on 73 North.

A Mulligan. A do-over

The next attempt I make to get to the Golden Dawn is to continue north on 73 and go the other direction on 38. I drive past the giant "GOLDEN DAWN" sign, now on my right, and head to the ramp to west bound 38. (Which, by the way, no one in their right minds calls Kaighn Ave., it's 38). I can see the giant GOLDEN DAWN sign directly across the highway as I pull onto to 38 as I circle off the ramp.

I am now moving right to left on 38. Towards Philly. I am not really sure where I am headed at this point but I turn onto 41 because I know I need to turn around.

I literally guess at which ramp to get off 41. I get off the very first ramp which means I really never get on 41. I stay in the right and get right off 41 on to the ramp to southbound 73 which is really eastbound. Never mind. Let's just say I am headed in the opposite direct from which I started on 73.

Now I can see the giant GOLDEN DAWN sign approaching on my left. Thinking quickly, I turn on to the ramp from southbound 73 to eastbound 38.

I come under Rt 73 and find the Golden Dawn on my right, on a street I CAN ACTUALLY GET TO IT FROM. I make a right into the Golden Dawn.

Now, keep in mind that I have lived here for 14 years and I travel through this giant mix master several times a week. I'd still be getting on and off ramps with the giant GOLDEN DAWN sign whizzing by if I wasn't familiar with the area.

For future reference here is how you get from north 73 to the Golden Dawn.

Now that I see it from the air, looks like a giant bow.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What's wrong with this country.

I have found the root of everything that is wrong with this country. No make that world. I have found the root of everything that is wrong with the world.

It's a TV show and surprise! It's on the CW.

The show is Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants and last night I watch approximately 30 seconds of this show and tasted the vomit in the back of my throat. My wife was watching it and I literally had to leave the room.

Mother and Daughter teams compete in some sort of wacky Pageant. Each team has theme. There's crying. There's that guy from Queer Eye for the straight guy. There's make-up, OMG, is there make-up.

I'd rather shave with a cheese grater, spend an afternoon at Pottery Barn or have the Humpty Dance make a come back.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Parade Watch: 22.2 QB rating edition

This officially ends parade watch as Brad Childress and the Vikings eliminated the Eagles last night by beating the Bears.

But hey, they should throw a parade anytime they beat Dallas in Dallas.

You know she (right) had to be thinking "Now that I think about it, Carrie was right, his ears do stick out a lot" in the fourth quarter.

Did you see A. J. Feeley never made on to the field and was still penalized 15 Yards?

Did you see Reggie Brown made a donation of himself to the Salvation Army?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Emerson MW8998B

Last year sometime our Microwave died. The next time we were at Target I picked up a microwave. I literally went down the aisle, picked one that looked good and put in the cart and paid for it.

No research. No Consumer Reports. No google.

Microwave. Cart. Visa card. Done. Check-that-off.

I chose it because it :

A. Was Smaller
B. Was black
C. Seemed to have numbers 0-9, etc on the controls.

This was a really bad idea.

We got it home, started using it and quickly realized how hard it was to enter a time and just have the stupid thing cook something. There seemed to be an "express cook" feature where you could press numbers 1-6 and have it cook something for 1-6 whole minutes but there wasn't a way to enter 2 minutes and 37 seconds and start cooking while watching the timer count down to 0:00 like every MICROWAVE I'VE EVER SEEN DOES.

I figured it had to be me being stupid so I searched the 7 page manual in 15 languages for "timed" cooking and other such topics.


I did find that if you pressed the "start" button by itself, the oven would cook for 30 seconds and you could cook popcorn by pressing one button.

In the past year I have found no way to cook food for anything other than 1-6 minutes or 30 seconds by using the handy number keys. This usually results in chilly food or a smoking pile.

I didn't think this was going to be a big deal until I cooked rice for 4. That's 2 cups of rice, two cups of water and 8 minutes in the microwave.

This used to be simple enough:

Press "8" followed by "0" followed by "0" and then press start.

No, now you need to be a computer programmer. Press "4", cook four minutes and when done press "4" again OR press 2 and 6, etc. Ohh and be there waiting for the first cycle to stop.


How about those tasty microwave breakfast sandwiches I buy once it while? The instructions read "microwave for 40 seconds". Not 30, not 60 but 40. It turns out they are right. 40 seconds is perfect.

I asked the boys what they do to get around the "40" second rule and they were clever. Youngest son presses express cook for "1" and grabs the handle when 20 seconds are done. For Oldest Son this is too much math and too much waiting. He does the "30" second option and eats the sandwich partially chilly.

I cheated. Having read the instruction manual, I used one of the three "memory" slots for "0:40". But now I have to remember to Press "Memory" 3 times, twirl in place and say "there's no place like home" three times and press start.

Tonight I found a new secret. The buttons for "common foods" allow for lengths of time greater than 6 minutes. I discovered that if I press "Frozen Vegetables" three times, that equals "8:00". The display reads "16.0" and an LED lights for "Oz" and another little tiny chef hat LED lights. I have no idea what this means but when I press start, 8 minutes comes up on the display.

Somewhere in China, someone is laughing at me.

3/30/09 UPDATE
This entry has taken on a life of it's own and remains the only entry that people actually comment on. The Comments fall into two categories:

1. If you press the power button, the numbers all work like you suspect they should.

2. What the hell is wrong with you, I love this microwave. It saved my life.

Thank You for the many comments on "1". And you "2" people: You all work for Emerson, don't you.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Shed update.

Just when you think it's over......

Let's see where were we?

We had obtained the final inspection for the shed and with the final inspection comes of course the tax reassessment.

The township tax lady came out to visit and examined the shed. She determined that the 30 inch by 42 inch decorative porch on the shed was in fact "usable space". I am not sure by who. Leprechauns perhaps.

That added $14.85 to our annual tax bill for the township.

However we never actually pay our tax bill. The Bank does through the escrow account.

We received one bill for $14.85.

We received another for $14.85 plus interest.

Then, today I received this bill with "final notice" and more interest and something about "subject to tax sale" and that doesn't sound good. Are you telling me that after all this, they might sell my house for $15 lousy dollars?


I think I'll just send them a check for $15 and change.

Crisis on 18th.

As previously documented, I eat every Thursday at the Chinese food cart on 18th and Market.

Monday and Tuesday I bring a sandwich.

Wednesday is Stouffer's "Swedish Meatball" day.

Thursday is Chinese Cart day.

On Friday, anything can happen (throw hands wildly in the air).

For the second week in a row, there was no Chinese food cart on the corner of 18th and Market. Needless to say this is very disruptive to my well established schedule. Of course I am very concerned for Ben and Nee but WHAT ABOUT MY CHINESE FOOD! I need my Shrimp Lo Mein!

I was just about forced to visit the cart at 17th and JFK. This is the "other" cart.

The "other cart" is a little different. You have to order in one window on the side of the cart and then get back in line for the front window to pick up your food and pay. At "My" cart Ben and Nee are like a well oiled machine. One window, Ben builds the platter and Nee bags and takes money. It takes seconds. They are like Edward Scissorhands back there.

New cart and I need to figure out a new meal. I swear everyone that eats at a cart eats the same thing everytime they come. New cart and now I have to figure out what to order and go through the goofy two window thing.

I had sweet and sour shrimp with streamed rice. It just wasn't the same.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Parade Watch: Street Corner edition

One block away from some future parade route, this guy is telling it like it is.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Parade Watch: Sleet and Rain Edition.

Well I had an opportunity for tickets to todays game and I was sure glad I didn't take them.

When ever there is a parade, be assured that AJ Feeley won't be smiling a waving from a float.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


After being woken up at 9:15 on Saturday morning by these people.

I made the mistake of saying "why, yes I need some windows replaced" when they moved through our neighborhood like a pack of Jehovah's Witnesses intent on making YOU one of the 144,000 last summer.

They made an appointment for a Tuesday at 7:30. It was one of those "make sure both husband and wife are available" appointments. I should have canceled it then.

On that Tuesday a young college aged kid showed up at the house with like 15 suitcases full of samples, books of "letters of appreciation", newspaper clippings and windows sliced in half. He spent an hour and a half explaining how these were the best windows on the planet all the while making a face like "You look like nice people, I'm sorry I came into your home to sell you really expensive windows".

He told us about K values and R values and vacuums and gold mixed into the glass and all kinds of made-up window science.

After an hour and half of explaining that if we happened to reenter the earth's atmosphere in our home, the windows would remain intact, he measured the tiny window over our sink and lone remaining original window in our bedroom.

He came back with a discounted price of $2100 for the two smallest windows in our home.

That was discounted. We politely said "thanks for coming" and he packed up 14 of the 15 suitcases and we said goodnight.

Now they call every three months with some cock-a-mamy story about how they just got a big order for town houses in the town over from you and how they can now offer even bigger discounts if you let them come over again.

Even bigger discounts? Ha, what's that $1700 per window?

I don't know what it is about them wanting to come over and bore you with explaining how these are the greatest windows in the world but that is all they want to do. They are intent in always coming over.

I keep telling them to just tell me the price over the phone but I know they never will, they just want to come in and make you uncomfortable about leaving your family behind such shoddy windows. I also know that as I keep saying no I'll move higher and higher up the sales shark food chain until we finally buckle.

What they fail to realize is that it doesn't matter if these windows are 200% efficient at keeping your heat and cooling in, it doesn't matter because I have half of the inhabitants in my home THAT KEEP THE WINDOWS OPEN ENOUGH TO LET SQUIRRELS IN.

So I'm a little grouchy this morning. I tell the guy "I remember you, you are the ones with those outrageously priced windows" and "I'm not interested" and hung up.