Thursday, November 20, 2008

Weird Lights

Last night we came home about 8:30 and saw something funny in the sky. It looked like the Aurora Borealis but it wasn't moving as much. It was weird so I got a picture.

It might have been the Aurora, it might be light reflecting into Ice crystals.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fun with the PA

I spent Thursday at a free technical "conference". It was hosted by a large intergalactic software company that is based out of Redmond, Washington. Their name starts with an "M" and has "oft" at the end. They make the operating system you are more than likely now using and something called "office". Maybe you've heard of them.

It was only a half day thing on "Virtualization". Virtualization is where software vendors have figured out that they can charge you four to eight times for the same operating system running a single hardware platform becasue you can't figure out how to share.

Its a win-win. Al Gore is happy and they get to keep making sail boat payments.

The one day "event" was held in a large Center City hotel and it drew people from all over the area.

The first speaker was OK but the second and third ones made me do this to the feedback form. (Yes, as a matter of fact I did hand it in that way.)

The best part of the conference was that I ran into old friends that used I used to work with and we spent a large part of the second and third speakers talking about "the old days". They are a bad influence. See above.

The "old days" were four years ago.

Really, we were 40 something year old boys who happen to work in a 30 something story office tower.

The building has a public address system manned by administrative assistants. These admins have rules about what can and can not be announced for all to hear. They are the dfenders of the airwaves.

In order to keep boredom from taking over our 9-5 existence, "the in crowd" would page people.

People that could not possibly be located in the building.

They would page body building stars of the 1970s and 80s.

I am not making this up.

You would hear, over the loud speaker on every floor, "Serge Nubret, Serge Nubret, please dial 4596". Or the same thing with Mike Menzter or Fransico Bautista. We found this endlessly entertaining. It was a way to make your friends on different floors crack a smile during the long day.

The admins never caught on. They might say something like "that's a strange name" when asked to page Dorian Yates, but "they" would always cover it by saying "He's a consultant".

It became a very popular sport until someone outside the little clique wanted in. They decided, on their own, to page a body building from the 1970s except they didn't know very many and were too lazy to to look them up.

The newbie paged "Lou Ferrigno".

The insiders just sort of looked at the newbie in disbelief.

You paged "Lou Ferrigno"? What the hell is wrong with you? Everyone's heard of Lou. We're going to get caught.

As is common with these things, as time went on, a lot of this "in crowd" moved on to greener pastures. It's been my experience that once the crowd catches wind that it's over, everyone finds a new job. At least that's what happened here. Over an 18 month period, just about the entire group of folks that worked together and made funny pages found new jobs and quit.

Now, so many of them quit and they were dispersed on so many different floors in different parts of the building that they needed a way to communicate that someone had left. It had to be clandestine and efficient.

It had to be the Public Address system. However, you couldn't ask the admins: "Could you annouce that Bill Smith has resigned?". The defenders of the PA would laugh at them. They needed a code.

The code that was developed was pure genius. If you resigned, you dialed the admins and asked that Matt PXXXXX be paged to your extension. Matt PXXXXX was the poster child for resigning at this company. He had done it 3 times at this point, always coming back and always resigning at some point.

He no longer worked there and it didn't matter. See above.

If someone "in the know" heard "Matt PXXXXXXX please dial 4596", all would know that the person with extension 4596 had quit. It really was clever and really funny.

There would be a page for Matt Pxxxxx and then cheering among the cubicled.

This is one of those little insider things that nearly got out of hand. Everyone started doing this. People we didn't know. People that we had to look up in phone directories.

Who is 7598? I don't know. Look it up. Ohh it's Bill Jones over in Procurement. I know him, I wonder where he is going?

Soon, as the population of those "in the know" dwindled, this code fell out of fashion and all the PA stunts stopped.

Now, today, some of the disbanded came back to work here and some of the same antics started up again.

If you happen to be in my building and hear a page for "Thip Needhag", just ignore it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

One day conference in Philly

Does this mean I don't win the Xbox 360?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Eagles Giants.

I am still pretty tired from last night's Eagles game. Mrs F went as did Mr C's son. Mrs F did not end up buying a Jersey but instead made a wise purchase of an Eagles Hoodie at the Flea Market instead.

The temperature never got below 40 but she dressed like we were out looking for Luke on Hoth. In the third quarter I cut open a Tauntaut and stuck her inside it.

There seemed to be a lot more drunks than usual too. I know this sounds like "there seemed to be a lot more mini vans in suburbs" but I guess the iggles fans had found themselves at the end of a very very long Sunday tipping a few back.

This brings me to Mr C's son. He's a Giants fan. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just not for me. Not only is a Giants fan, but he's a daredevil as well - He wore his #17 Plaxico Burress jersey.

Your father owns Eagles season tickets and of course you are a Giants fan. It makes perfect sense as you could never like anything your father likes.

Knowing that the Birds Fans had been stewing in Jack Daniels all afternoon long, I told Plax that we needed a safe word like "vacuum cleaner" in case the abuse got to be too much. That way we'd rush him to safety if he said "vacuum cleaner". If we could.

We hung out for a bit in the Phils parking lot and then it was time to head in. Now I've been here before, I know how this works. The Eagles faithful are going to point and call you A--hole, A--hole, A--hole. They are going to say bad things and it will get worse and worse until you get through security.

He kept saying "I don't see much blue".

Then we ran into this guy and his girlfriend waiting for security.

He was at least coherent. She was just sort of standing there getting mouth sweats and bumping into people. Mrs F had to defend him a few times to the angry towns people with "his my son" which none of them questioned but we never quite got to "vacuum cleaner".

Dare Devil
Originally uploaded by mfalcian

He made through the gauntlet and finally found "his people". After that it was pretty tame for Eagles - Giants fan interaction. After the Eagles lost and we had to walk back to the car we did have the common sense to cover up the Plax jersey - with an Eagles coat. Ha.

I was home by 12:30.

Pictures here. Videos here.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Attending for Cycle

Since being forced at gun point to attend the World Series Game 3, you know the one that ended at 2 AM when it was 40 degrees out, Mrs F has become quite the sports nut.

Last week I got tickets to the Flyers and She was more than up for attending being the hockey is her favorite. She said she needed a jersey. I said that can wait.

They were excellent seats BTW.Yes, to the right of her is the glass. Third row. TV seats.

On hearing of her new sports fondness, Mr C has now extended the invite for her to attend the Eagles/Giants game tonight with us. She announced that she has purchased a Jersey for Lord knows who at the flea market this morning.

All we need is a Sixers game for cycle.

UPDATE: Pictures here

Saturday, November 08, 2008

5 Days in November

Donnovan McNabb is coming up on a dangerous time: The 14th through the 19th of November.

I've charted his injuries over the years and found that they always happen during this period and always at home. Maybe this is a good week to keep him safely tucked away on the sidelines feeding him warm Campbell's Chunky Soup. Queue up Kevin Kolb because it looks like he is going to play anyway. Do you think A. J. Feeley is warning Kevin to be especially ready this time of year?

Year Week Date Opponent H/A Results
2002 11 11/17/2002 Arizona Home Broken Right Ankle.Returned for playoffs Beat Atlanta, lost to TB.
2005 10 11/14/2005 Dallas Home Sports Hernia IR
2006 11 11/19/2006 Tennesee Home ACL Right Knee IR
2007 11 11/18/2007 Miami Home Sprained Right Ankle, returned week 14 vs Giants

This occurred to me last year when I sat in the rain to watch a miserable win over the winless Dolphins by A. J. Feeley after McNabb was hurt. I thought that he always seemed to get hurt around this time of year.

It's an amazing statistical cluster.

Another bad sign: I was at two of these games. Dallas on 05 and Miami in 07.

I'm planning on going Sunday thanks to Mr C.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Rock the Vote

I voted first thing this morning and two things struck me.

1. Oldest Son was in the voter registration records. It just looked odd.

2. The guy behind me talked too much. The first thing he said to me? "I decided to do this before my colonoscopy" You just can't make up stuff like that.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Run Around Mike and One Eyed Bob

We've had a lot of work done to the house over the summer and into the fall. I think we're done for a while but that usually doesn't mean much. Much like the budget review committee, I am a junior member of the capital improvements committee.

One of the things we did was to break down and buy a new oil burner. The old one was the original from around the time of the last Phillies Parade. More likely it was from the Flyers Parade era.

We had a couple of bids and finally settled on a new oil contractor, one that all our neighbors used and loved. This is usually the first sign of trouble. If other people like some contractor, we are going to have trouble.

We signed a contract and make date for the end of September to have our old inefficient heater removed and shiny new heater installed.

The date comes and I work from home to make sure the heating contractor has everything they need. Two guys show up in trucks and sit out front for a while. Finally they come up to the door and I can't help but notice that one of the guys has one eye. His name is Bob. One-eyed Bob. He is the lead installer.

Now normally I'm all for helping out the handicapped. Unless they are holding a hot solder iron in my house and they have one eye. I'm thinking depth perception is important when building a labyrinth of piping.

The funny thing is - this is not our first one eyed contractor.

We also have Ed.

Ed is single handed the best Tile Man around. I'm not really sure where we found him but we've used him for years now, most recently to re-tile the boys bathroom. Excellent work. And he has one eye. I'm guessing here, but maybe depth perception isn't that big a deal for a tile guy. I mean you are only working in two dimensions, right? Anyway, Ed does great work.

But piping? Three dimensions. Maybe two eyes are important.

So Bob and his side kick go to work. It's a two day job and at the end of the second day, Bob approaches me around 5 and says that he has to go because his son is in intensive care because they had to remove his arm. Now he says this like he has to pick up a loaf of bread. The side kick will finish things up.

Obviously, I'm concerned. "Is your Son alright?" I ask. Bob doesn't tell me much. He was in a traffic accident yesterday and removed from the vehicle with the jaws of life.

It was just the way he said it. Like the son was stupid or something. Talk about nonchalant.

So Bob comes back in the morning and finishes up. I ask him more about the son and it turns out it's really his son in law and everything is fine. He tells me everything is fine with the heater too and if I have any trouble call them right away.

Fast forward three weeks. It's cold for the first time and I turn on the heat. I get nothing.

I call the contractor and a service guy comes. He has two eyes. He does something with the heater and declares everything should be OK now. Bye.

Hold on there, you of great depth perception. I actually try the heat this time, something I neglected to do in my sympathy for one eyed Bob and his now one armed son in law.

Still nothing. "Ahhh, it still doesn't work" I tell him.

He asked me who did the install.

I tell him "well, I know his name is Bob and he ahh, ahh had eye one". Of course! It's One eyed Bob he says. He tells me Bob gets really mad when you call him that too.

New guy has to call for back up. I bought a Buderus Logamatic R 2107 and apparently one eyed Bob is the only one that knows how the thing works. Now there are two of them down there. Bob can't come so another guy is back up.

They ask me for the manual. This can't be good.

After about and hour they get the heat working, but in some sort of manual bypass mode. They'll tell the home office that I need a visit from who else but now famous one eyed Bob.

I figure that I'll call Monday, they'll know what I need and I'll schedule something for Wednesday when my wife is home.

I spend most of Monday and Tuesday getting the run around. They tell me that I need to talk with Mike the salesman. Not good.

When we bought the new heater I had told Mike that we might be interested in buying Oil from them as well as the heater. Mike signed us up for a budget plan and sent coupons before I could say "one eyed bob". We checked out their prices. They were high. Real high. Outrageously high.

I check with our old company and frankly they were cheaper, I could cap the oil price for free and I knew they were reliable. I bought Oil from the old company for this year.

I called back Mike and Bob's company and told them to remove me from the budget plan. Well, you would have thought I walked up and slapped them across the face. "Why don't you want to be our customer any more" they asked. I'm thinking, I never was.

Finally, I get Mike on the phone at like 3 PM on Tuesday. Yes, Bob will come over on Wednesday and make everything nice-nice. I'm not there, but Bob does something to the Buderus Logamatic R 2017 on that Wednesday. I have Bob's report in my hand. It says:

"Set Up Logamatic"

Bob has a certain economy with words.

We seemed to be OK for a while until colder weather sets in. My wife says the heater is coming on a lot and I agree. There really isn't any science here other than "It seems to be coming on a lot". I also check the boiler temperature. It's coming up to full temperature or 180 degrees.

On Friday I has some time so I called the contractor. About ten minutes later I got a call.

"Bob will be right over"

I explain to Bob that we think the boiler is coming on a lot and that it is coming up to full temperature. The big selling point was that the Buderus Logamatic R 2017 was supposed to limit the boiler temperature during warmer weather so that you use less oil.

Bob is all attitude.

I'm asking questions and Bob is talking in circles. Bob is not planning on checking anything and is all talk. Finally I tell him that the boiler is coming up to full temperature in October and I'm concerned that I am not going to get the efficiencies I planned on for my oil.

Bob drops the bomb.

"Well, who do you buy your oil from?" he asks.

I tell him "what does that matter?". Apparently it matters a lot to Bob.

He tells me "Normally, we don't even work on equipment for non oil customers"

Whaaaaaaat the .......

I explain to Bob that yes, I have two years of maintenance and you had better well plan on working on this boiler.

I tell Bob we're done here and he leaves without a goodbye.

So now I have a problem. I guess on Monday it's back on the phone to talk to run around Mike and then I'll have to call the manufacturer. I want to know how all this works. I want to make sure it's hooked right.

I'll keep you posted.