Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Another stupid appliance.

Since my blog on the Microwave is the biggest attraction on this blog (I get more comments and hits on that page then any other), I thought I'd follow up with another stupid appliance story.

Up this time: The Vtech ia5878.

It's not all Vtech phones. It's just this model.

We had a set of Vtech 5.8 GHz phones but the batteries died. Actually I replaced the batteries once and the second set now died. I looked for replacements but could only find batteries that were $40 each.

I figured a new set phones had to be cheaper.

This is the worst cordless phone I've ever seen. They don't reach to half my house, you can't pick up on all three cordless phones in the set at once and no one can here you when you are on the headset.

Needless to say I looked a little harder and found batteries for the old set. The Vtech ia5878 is goin' back.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hazard Zet Forward

What is Hazard Zet Forward? I'll get to that. Hang on.

We spent yesterday in the footsteps of Tony Soprano.

It was our first visit to Seton Hall University with Oldest Son. He was accepted there in late January and we never visited it on the first round of visits. In fact, it only got on the list because we made him put a New Jersey school in the "the list" and it was the only one that met his criteria. I was thinking a New Jersey state school and it's lower priced tuition but God has a way of sorting it all out. Be careful what you ask for.

The University is located in South Orange, NJ 14 miles from the city. It's what appears to be a lower middle class town with houses that look Junior Soprano's scattered around the iron gated campus. It is definitely Soprano-ville. I fully expected to see the pig over Satriales and Pizzaland down the street but was a little disappointed when all they had was a Dunkin Donuts and Cold Stone Creamery. At least they could have had a Jamba Juice store.

I'm sorry but I had Sopranos on the brain the whole time while driving around. Maybe it was the Turnpike. Right now I'm listening to Woke up this Morning by Alabama 3 and last night I watched an episode of the Sopranos on HBO on Demand. I'm stuck.

Overall, Seton Hall was a pleasantly surprisingly nice school.

Educationally they have a very good communications department and offer a Masters Program in 5 years, which Oldest Son likes and they are fireproof which I like.

Let me explain. You may not remember, but in January of 2000 one of the freshmen dorms at Seton Hall had a serious fire killing 3 freshmen and injuring over 50. The fire was national news and caused New Jersey to change it's laws about sprinklers in College dormitories. Either way, let's just say that Seton Hall is still a little sensitive to fire safety.

Today I was surprised to learn that the fire had a Sorpranos-like connection. Two freshmen started the fire to get back at a resident assistant. They set a bulletin board on fire with lighter fluid to burn up some signs that the RA had made up welcoming the freshmen back from Christmas break. They were mean and had mafia ties.

After the fire they clammed up and then lawyered up. It took years for the county prosecutor to get a case against them but when he did, it came from a surprising source.

A convicted Mafia hit man. I am not making this up. It's all here.

Somehow, a convicted mafia hit man (and a State's witness) overheard a conversation between one of the Mom's of the boys stating that the boys had done it. Based on his testimony, which he traded for his freedom, a wire tap was obtained.

In 2006 the boys pleaded guilty and received a 5 year sentence apiece in a youth facility.

The hit man walked and was put in the witness protection program.

Anyway, Seton Hall moved to the top of the list based not on it's fire resistance and mob ties but on the scholarship money and the school itself. Today Hofstra came back with scholarship money too but not as much as Seton Hall. Susquehanna also accepted him so he is three for three so far.

So what of Hazard Zet Forward? It is a combination of Norman French and archaic English meaning at whatever risk, yet go forward (What, no Algonquin?)

Hazard Zet Forward is official motto of Seton Hall.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Perverse and often baffling.

Last week's radio program, This American Life, featured an "act" (or segment) by Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Tipping Point and Blink, where he told stories of what it was like to start out in Journalism.

Story culminated with a tale where a fellow young journalist and he had a contests to see how many times that they could get a certain phrase into the Washington Post. The championship round consisted of the phase "Perverse and often baffling".

I think you can see why this was the championship round.

Something could be baffling or something could be perverse.

The trouble starts to come in with "often". Often implies timing. Sometimes it's not baffling but often it is. It was nearly impossible to find something "perverse and often baffling".

I won't spoil the program for you. Go over and give it a listen. It's a great story told by a great story teller.

On Saturday morning I was reading the paper about Steven Phillip Kazmierczak, the graduate student who shot and killed five people at NIU. The paper said he was was a "bright, stable young man and a helpful student" yet he committed this awful act.

It was baffling. In fact some of the news coverage used the word baffling.

"Those who knew him were baffled by the attacks, in which Kazmierczak stepped from behind a screen on the lecture hall's stage and opened fire on a geology class." - Msnbc

Yet in my mind, I could see that some people just snap.

I was oscillating between a reasonable explanation (he snapped!) and bafflement (but why), leaning mostly towards bafflement. This was "often baffling"!

I think you can see where I am going here. Shooting all those unarmed young people in such a setting is also perverse.

The Steven Phillip Kazmierczak shootings were "perverse and often baffling"!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Laundry chronicles

My wife and I went to a Sixers Game last week thus completing my "Philadelphia Sports Viewing for cycle" for the year with visits to the Phillies (3), Eagles (2), Flyers (3) and now the Sixers. It was a sad "sit where ever you want" affair with the stands 35-45% full.

We got the tickets from her sister and brother-in-law (Thanks Linda and Rick!) and they were good seats.

The Sixers won but I'm not sure what that says about their opponent that night, the LA Clippers. Now that's a bad team. They had this big slow white center named Kamen that couldn't hit a basket if the hoop were the size of a hula-hoop. He got a lot of rebounds though.

I think the NBA might be in trouble.

My wife was hurrying to get some laundry cycles in before the game. She didn't quite make it and had to leave a load running in the dryer.

While we were out Oldest son decided to do his laundry.

This is a recipe for disaster. While it's great that they do their own laundry, it's like having two bad room mates.

When his clothes were done in the washer, he asked his younger brother to move his clothes from the washer to the dryer for him.

Faced with a full dryer, youngest son decided the best course of action was to dump the clean clothes in the dryer on the floor in the family room and then place his brothers clothes in the now empty dryer.

We came home to the pile of clothes and the inquisitions started.

"Who did this to my Laundry?

His older brother ratted him out of course and youngest son admitted that he had done it but stuck to the "but I was doing him a favor" defense. This defense is based on the premise that one can do anything they want as long as the actions were not self motivated. You can always say "but he asked me to".

It's like a German soldier in World War II "only following orders".

We spent a half an hour trying to convince youngest son that he was responsible since he did it but in the end this fell on deaf ears. It became clear that neither party was budging and we (she) ended up picking up the Laundry. Of course the real guilty party walked away scot-free.

The next day however, fate stepped in. The Washer drain backed up and I put draino in it to clear it out. I turned off the water to washer and pulled the drain so that no one would use the washer while this maintenance was taking place and I put the draino in the plumbing.

Oldest Son missed my signals and dumped his clothes in the washer with the detergent and turned it on. Nothing happened.

I had to flush the draino which was safely way from the clothes with a cycle or two of the washer while his clothes sat in the detergent.

Guilty as charged.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Wardrobe Malfunction

Yesterday while walking from the train to the office, my shoe was untied so I bent over to tie it back up. When I pulled on the lace, one side snapped off in my hand.

Great, now I'm on the corner of 15th and Walnut in Philly with no lace on one side. Do I just walk on and hope my shoe doesn't fall off until I get to the office or do the shift the lace around to make a lace repair resulting in tiny shoestrings?

I opt for the repair. Now I'm trying to get a broken shoe lace back through the tiny eyelets were the lace goes through the shoe. No way. I just shift the lace and tie it the best I can.

I get to t he office, repair the lace and nature calls. In the stall I unzip my pants and the zipper is stuck half way down. Unbelievable. I get the pants down enough and when I am putting myself back together, the zipper becomes unhinged.

My fly is now open.

I zip the pants ans best I can and then press everything down so that I do not "feel a breeze".
I ask discreetly around for a safety pin (does no one bring safety pins to work any more? Girls? Come one I'm depending one you for safety pins) no luck.

I spend the day at my desk which works great until I have to vote on my way home.

I realize that the ladies at the polls are sitting oh about crouch high at tables across from me standing in front of them.

No one says anything so I have to assume I was OK.

Monday, February 04, 2008


Oldest Son is beginning to hear back from colleges that He applied to in 2007 and so far he has heard from 2 of 5 and been accepted in 2 of 5.

He could be going to Seton Hall or Hofstra so far.

Of course they are coming back in reverse order of desired school but being accepted is a fine start.

I'm proud of him and it's an exciting time.

Eli Mannning winning the Supperbowl is like

Princess Leia winning a light saber battle with Darth Vader...

Spock getting the girl at the end of the episode instead of Kirk....

How did this happen?