Sunday, August 31, 2008

One less egg to fry.

Today is move in day at Seton Hall for Oldest Son. Like every camping trip I've ever been on with him, he waited until almost the very last minute to pack and thereby making us (i.e. his mother) a wee bit nervous about the whole thing.

His mother wanted to step in and essentially pack for him but he would have none of it. She pointed to her years of packing experience and explained that she was a very good packer.

He said "but this is a trip you aren't going on".

True. This is a trip we are not going on.

Of course it's not the first time he is on his own . There were band trips, camping trips and this summer he was almost an infrequent visitor in our home with shore overnights and sleepovers.

But this, this is different. We won't see him again until Parents weekend in October.

They say that it passes quickly and boy are they right, who ever they are.

One minute you are looking down at a tiny creature under a french fry light in the hospital and in the next you are dragging his refrigerator to his second floor dormitory room. Ohh and some other stuff happens in between.

Where did 18 years go?

So we moved him into his 3 person room. It was chaos for about 2 hours as we shifted heavy dorm furniture around among piles of boxes, suitcases and gear. Were was the TV Cable? Where were the network cables? Where will the fridge and stereo go?

The three of them worked out who was going where with Jordan on the only bottom bunk next to his expresso machine, the microwave and one of the two fridges in the room. I was told don't worry we have all worked out on face book and he was bringing the fridge. I was a little surprised to see two fridges but I guess it makes sense since you can get awfully thirsty walking from one end of the 15 foot dorm room to other. Now they have to only walk 7 1/2 feet for "water". Like that is the only thing going in the fridge.

The only things missed were a longer coax cable for the TV and light bulbs for the new lamp he has.

Finally it all came together and the leaving was sort of anticlimactic. A few friends that he had made during orientation came by and asked him and his room mates if they wanted to eat. They were about to blow out of there when his mother insisted on pictures. So there were pictures, a brief hug and he was off.

I know he couldn't wait for us to get out of there.

We left him and hit the bookstore where his mother bought a sweat shirt. She couldn't help herself and asked the girl behind the counter if they were hiring. She then called him and let him know that he could get a job there.

So much for being on his own.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I'm thinking of converting to buring twenties.

Up until the moment we received July's electric bill, I have to admit that as a household we were not very green. Lights are on 24/7, All the TVs are on while boys snooze in front of them and heaven forbid we turn the A/C off.

For July's usage we received a 700 dollar electric bill. Seven-Hundred-Dollar.

That is just unbelievable. Let me say it again. s-e-v-e-n hundred dollars.

We have had what we thought were high bills before but this was good 40% higher that anything we have seen before.

Suddenly I see what Al Gore and Ed Begely Jr are talking about. We have to do something about this global warming thing.

Part of the problem has to be our appliances. Most are ancient. Our electric clothes dryer sometimes takes two 80 minute cycles to dry towels. The Air Conditioner compressor would be more efficient if it ran on twenties. And don't forget the garage full of ancient computer hardware, the kind before they had that little energy star thing.

We started by turning the Air off on marginally hot days, not that this would helped in July. It's been great sleeping with the widows open at night but the boys have been complaining about "it's hot in here". I'd tell them to suck it up but I'm spending me day in nicely air conditioned office and it would be a tough sell.

I grew up with no air conditioning at all. In July you would stick to your sheets at night while fans blew hotter air in from outside. Then there was the cruelest of the devices, the oscillating fan.

While this moved a lot of air around, it only blew on you once every 60 seconds while you waited for it to come around again. Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes, ahhhhhh, there it goes, there it goes......

I've also previously documented the whole house fan that my father had when we were growing up, the kind where even the toilets need seat belts from the volume of air moving through the house. Now my father has central air and never opens the windows. My mother says "because something has to be on".

Since we had A/C we ran it all the time too. It's just that we ran it at like 79 degrees so the house was hot anyway. It was cool in the downstairs but upstairs was downright scorching AND WE HAD HIGH BILLS. It didn't make any sense.

So we have been digging out the fans and sweating a little. In our room I threw the box fan in our back window. In the morning, when the fan is blowing in chilly damp late summer air, it feels like Wildwood for some reason.

My wife and I have been "discussing at elevated vocal amplitudes" the merits of blowing hot air out of the house vs blowing air in. I'll come in find the fan sucking air out of the house because "that is how her father did it". I'm not sure it matters anymore.

I also bicycled over to the library and picked up a copy of Living Like Ed. I felt so green. People had no idea I had a 7-0-0 hundred dollar electric bill.

Ed says I should switch to those compact fluorescent light bulbs. I hate those compact fluorescent light bulbs. I had them once in back family room. In the winter when I turned them on in the morning, they would be dim and they would hum. Finally I just pulled them out and replaced them with the kind Ed and Al hate.

Ed says I should have an electric car. Right. So I can have a 700 dollar electric bill year round, I suppose. That electricity has to come from somewhere.

My wife also started hanging the wash out side to dry. On a hot summer day it makes sense but our dreaded home owners association frowns on laundry hung to dry. We are not even allowed to have clothes lines. It's as if they want to appear more prosperous, as if we all have maids inside drying our clothes for us. But, since we have no clothes line, she sticks the clothes everywhere including trees. It's like camping.

I guess our refrigerator has to go too. The freezer keeps opening just a little and that must make the compressor come on more frequently. I guess that has to go too.

There are so many things we need to replace that I am not sure we can get to them all in reasonable amount of time (and money).

In the mean time, I'm thinking converting to static electricity like Steven Wright:

I lived in a house that ran on static electricity...If you wanted to
run the blender, you had to rub balloons on your head. If you wanted to cook,
you had to pull off a sweater real quick.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Eagle Press

This Thursday the local Courier Post had this article with this picture on Oldest Sons Eagle project.

Eagle Scout delivers hand-crafted scarves for cancer patients

By VIRTUA HEALTH, Marlton


Eagle Scouts are required to complete a rigorous project before their 18th birthday. These projects must include leadership, planning and a caring heart. Jordan Falciani has shown all of these qualities to complete his unique project.

Jordan, a Mount Laurel resident, managed to raise $800 from a bowl-a-thon he organized to buy supplies needed to create scarves for cancer patients at Virtua Memorial Hospital in Mount Holly. To his surprise, he raised twice as much as he anticipated. Armed with the funds they needed, friends and family helped Jordan sew more than 200 scarves.

"The support I received from everyone was unbelievable," said Jordan. "It was a really important part of this project."

Jordan's mother, Karen Falciani, a cancer survivor, inspired Jordan to do this particular project. "I saw the bandanas helped her so much," Jordan said. "It wasn't just the treatment that made her better, but how she felt about herself that was just as important."

Karen is very proud of her son for doing this for cancer patients. "This was important to me because it's something he recognized on his own and wanted to make people feel good about themselves," she said.

Jordan recently delivered the scarves as well as DVDs which he purchased with the extra money he raised, to the nurses of the hematology-oncology department. Stephen Kolesk, M.D., Vice President and COO at Virtua Memorial was one of the many people who joined the gathering to show appreciation for Jordan's hard work and kind heart.

"We really appreciate everything you have done," Kolesk said to Jordan. "On behalf of the patients, we sincerely thank you for your efforts and your kindness."

Jordan has had the ability to touch many people with his selflessness and caring heart. "I think it's important to see that it's not about how much money you make, but how you spend it," he said.

Virtua Health is a comprehensive healthcare system headquartered in Marlton. A non-profit organization, Virtua employs 7,800 clinical and administrative personnel, and approximately 1,800 physicians serve as medical staff members.

For more information, visit www.virtua.org or call (888) 847-8823.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Family Trip.

Saturday was a little different, we had a family trip to a Tattoo parlor.

My college aged nephew wanted a Tat of his Greek Fraternity and Local chapter permanently printed on his arm so we made a family trip out it.

There was a last minute "intervention" by my father and some extent my mother but pretty much he had made up his mind. He even had my Mother convinced she should get a Tattoo. That's when we kicked her out of the Intervention.

We tried to convince him that no matter how you feel about your fraternity now, you won't feel the same way about in 5, 10 or 20 years from now. Of course he wanted no part of that. In the end my Father determined that my Nephew wasn't drunk or crazy and gave in.

Off we went in the car to find Norwood, PA. While it appears that Tattoos are becoming more and more mainstream, I'm not sure Tattoo parlors are. Maybe the problem is with the word parlor. The one we went to was officially called a studio but still, inside it was a parlor. A studio implies art. One thinks of Paris if you stop and consider a "studio".

No one is going to mistake Norwood for Paris.

We didn't chose Norwood at random though, we had family in the Tattoo business. We're Italian so we have family in every business from Catholic priests to fringe mafia members but this was the first I heard of a Tattoo connection. Who knew?

First let me say the place was busier than an ATM at Christmas time. The small waiting area was packed with people waiting to get a tattoo or a piercing. Since we were family, we were escorted to a VIP area. The VIP area was mostly a spot where you could peruse tattoo art and chose what you wanted. For privacy reasons I won't show you the picture of My Brother, his wife and oldest son picking out art in the VIP section, but let me tell you it it was hoot.

Who decided that all Tattoos would either be topless women, fighting leprechauns or the Blessed Mother? Oh and devils. lots and lots of devils. Devils from every culture in the world. That's going to be hard to explain at the judgment seat.

God: "What's that on your arm?"
You: "Nothin"

Or automotive logos. Like your Taurus? Have one emblazoned on your chest in 4 colors.

I was thinking of getting a minivan or a weedeater on my ankle but I would never get a Tattoo because of my Uncle Joe. Actually, it was my Mothers Uncle Joe and I stayed with him one year in Wildwood. Uncle Joe was a Boxer and had been in WWII. He had gotten a Tattoo when he was much much younger than when I knew him. It was on his arm and it was about eye high to an eight year old. The thing is to this day, I'm not sure what it was because time and gravity had morphed it into a permanent blue blob. Maybe it was an anchor? I don't know but all I knew was that I never ever wanted one.

So my Nephew got his Fraternity on his arm above the sleeve. Forever. While the "adults" watched. I sat with my sister in law and my nephew while he got his and talked chit-chat with his cousin.

Since that day I've noticed that tattoos are everywhere. Everyone has one.

Maybe I'll reconsider and get a Tat of shed.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Preseason Fun

Once again I got the last minute call to go to the Pre Season Eagles game and once again I answered the call.

Once again, it rained and lightning forced the crowd out of the stadium for a rain delay.

However, this year most people left during the one hour delay so we moved down to the front row. Out of our section of what, a thousand people, 15 of us were left.

Just before the end of the half, just before we left, the attendant KICKED US OUT OF THE FRONT ROW.

I couldn't believe it. Yes, we shouldn't have been there, we didn't have tickets for the front row but still.

I also need to point out the cheer-babe professionalism ala Tuesday Morning Quarterback.

After the delay the cheerleaders came out smiling and danced and cheered looking like drowned rats. The Eagles won.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Singing Midget?

Great new blog crush.

You have to go here

Monday, August 11, 2008

Save Darfur Concert.

Yesterday was the big Darfur Concert. We pretty much came directly home from Vacation, took a shower, reloaded the car and went to the Iron Wood Outdoor center.

Let's back up.

In June, about one week after High School graduation, Oldest Son and his girlfriend decided that they were going to raise money and awareness for the current situation in Darfur by holding a concert of local bands. They had no location, no bands (other than Oldest Son's band) and little idea of what they were doing.

Yet, somehow, they pulled it off. I know, I was there and there were weekly meetings at my house on Sundays.

My biggest immediate concern was that this was sucking time from the Eagle badge work he needed to do but some how they did both.

They:
  • Found a location that would allow them to hold this and had a generator.
  • Got Permits and Permissions
  • Got port-o-potties
  • Got 10 bands including a headliner.
  • Hired a sound guy with real equipment.
  • Organized food, water,parking.
  • Organized a bake sale.
  • Organized donations.
  • Had T-shirts made
  • Got a web site.
And they did all this in 8 weeks.

We had our concerns of course, especially this week when we discovered that they were funding things like the sound guy ($500) and port-o-potties with their own money.

In the end it was a micro-mini Woodstock with a lot less nudity and acid. (At one point I was tempted to grab the microphone and tell the crowd "The New York State Through-way is closed, man" and "Don't eat the brown acid" but I think it would have been largely lost on the kids).

My favorite character had to be Mike, the Banjo playing Hamburger cook.

He made a mean hamburger but did not get a shot at the stage. In what was close to the these kids only off color moment, Mike called the hamburgers "friggin' burgers" on the PA.

He also had a home made Bar-B-Q sauce made from Dr Pepper.

The crowd was mostly bands, friends of bands or Parents of band members. I was firmly convinced that he was to have worked all summer only to buy a lot of water, ice and t-shirts base purely on the size of the crowd but they ended up raising a small profit for the cause.

And of course, the neighbors complained even though they are 1/4 mile away. The Police came, the kids showed them the permit and then the Police said "Well, I guess it's OK".

By the end of the day I was really proud of them. They had done a great job. Everyone who went had fun and they did a good thing.

Pictures from the day are here including the one of the cop who said I better not see this on the Internet.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The second most popular blog ever.

And now for what will become the second most popular of my blogs ever right after the MW8998B

How to change the tail light of a 2002 Honda Odyssey.

1. Open the tail gate and pop the two plastic covers that cover two phillips screws.

2. Remove the two screws.

3. Pull the tail light directly out the back. Do not move the light assembly left or right. It's hard but pull the light directly out the back. There is a plastic snap at the forward end like this.

And now the money shot.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Elevator incident

Today's elevator incident:

The C family's oldest and his girlfriend got in on 3 pressed "G" and when the elevator stopped, they opened the gate, opened the locked door and stepped out.....

to the apartment on the first floor.

No one was in visible but they heard someone taking a shower. The got back and pressed "G" again.

The bad possibilities with that one are endless.

Not sure how that can happen.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Elevator education.

It looks like someone in the building needs elevator education. I found the gate AND the door open on the ground floor! This renders the elevator useless. Today I timed it. It takes 45 seconds to travel 3 floors.

That doesn't seem long until you are standing in a closet waiting to get out.

Ur finds the Merits

I went to the Wawa around the corner from undisclosed location this morning for my coffee and newspaper via bicycle. I'm standing in line behind a late 40ish looking woman.

Behind the counter is Ur, an obvious Al Qada sleeper agent posing as a Wawa clerk for the summer. At least I'm pretty sure his name is Ur. Ur has a Wawa apron and a name tag that says "UR". Maybe it was Arthur and the A-R-T and H fell off. He looks more like an Ur though.

The woman asks for a pack of Merits in a gravely Simpson's Aunt Patty voice.

We are about to witness a clash in cultures.

Ur looks at her like she just requested a white chocolate cross bow and quarter pound of salami.

The search begins.

Ur is looking high into the cigarette racks above the registers. scanning. scanning.

Aunt Patty says "they are yellow". Ur is looking through the hundreds of cigarette brands and finds a gold pack. He reaches for them.

Aunt Patty tells Ur those aren't yellow.

More searching.

Aunt Patty is now trying to look above the counter on her side which normally we are blind to. She is stretching to view above and behind the counter. She keeps repeating the brand and color.

MERITS - YELLOW. MERITS - THEY'RE YELLOW.

Still, Ur remains baffled.

Finally Ur's fellow clerk points them out to Ur.

Ur has found the Merits.

I ask for Parliaments.......

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Rock Band.

If they are not on the boardwalk or beach, the kids are playing Rockband on the Xbox-360. At home it's not bad, that have their own room for such things but here at undisclosed location there is only the living room for such activities.

A living room with a tinny sounding TV.

Gimme Shelter, Living on Prayer, Don't fear the reaper, Should I stay or should I go over and over and over again.

If I hear Orange Crush one more time I'm going to hurt someone.


Elevator update:

Today, Tuesday we found out that you do not need a key to go down the elevator. It will go down if you press "G"

Monday, August 04, 2008

Elevator update

We had a key to the elevator delivered to us yesterday. I am not sure it helps but it takes the heat off the Realtor. We were told it is the "only key on the island" like I thought there was a treasure trove of them somewhere.

I had an errand so I promptly went over to the elevator, got in, shut all the gizmos and doors and turned the key.

Absolutely nothing happened. So I waited a bit and pressed every button in the thing. Still nothing happened.

I got out and walked. On the way out I thought I'd call for the elevator so it was ready when I got back.

The ELEVATOR WAS ALREADY THERE. Somehow it had beat me down. It's possessed.

I had the key and used it on the way back up. No problem. It's just slow. It takes over a full minute to climb three flights. It's even slower going down because you have to wait a minute for it to "get ready".

We also figured out what my wife did wrong. If you don't wait for the elevator to line itself up and stop completely it won't open the door. No the only problem is that if someone leaves with the key, we are back to the proceedure.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The elevator.

I'm on vacation this week downashore.

We are with our usual cohorts, the C family staying in undisclosed location.

This year the women got a late start on finding a rental property and went in April. There's not much left in April. Last year we looked for a place in May and found a beautiful property, nicely equipped, not far from the beach. We thought we did great, had a great week and then we found out the the owners were from crazy town when we got an emotional message about how we wrecked the place and they were keeping our cleaning deposit.

Like we were The Who, on tour or something. Look we are not smashing TV people. But that is another story for another day.

This year, all that was left was a third story. A third story in undisclosed location is unheard of. This is mostly because no one wants to walk to the beach, walk home and then have to climb 3 stories.

But it had an elevator. Ahha. An elevator.

We arrived yesterday after noon, unloaded the car and loaded the elevator. Oldest son was trying to operate the elevator. He press every button (one) and tried the only key we had in the many key slots. No elevator. Then I suggested that we call the elevator from the 3rd floor.

We went upstairs, all 900 of them and called the elevator.

Still no workee. We figured out that ALL the doors need to be closed. Each floor has an iron gate and locked interior door. There are 4 floors including the garage level. That is 8 doors. If any of the doors are ajar, the elevator no workee.

Back downstairs, close all the doors. Back upstairs, call elevator. pant. heavily.

Our goods show up on the third floor as if by magic.

OK we have a work-around. Now all we need is procedure.

1. On your way out, call the elevator to the bottom floor. This will save time later and if one of the other tenants uses the elevator - so what.

2. When you return, get in the elevator, close ALL the doors and use your cell phone to call the 3rd floor.

3. Some one upstairs calls the elevator and you whisked away to the heights of the 3rd floor.

We also called the Realtor about maybe having a key for the elevator like the other tenants.

This seems flawless. What could go wrong you ask?

Yesterday afternoon I got a call from my wife. "Can you let me out of the elevator?" She was locked in there. Oldest son made the 3rd floor elevator call and then left via the stairs. She was locked behind the iron gate and the interior door.

We are still not sure what happened.

So far there are only 3 of us in the elevator club. Myself, oldest son and my wife. Well 2 and a 1/2, the "trapped in the elevator thing counts as 1/2. Also, Oldest son keeps breaching protocol by calling me on my cell instead of the house phone but he makes it successfully.

The Realtor says that "you don't need a key and there is no elevator key". No, but you need a cell phone and fortunately all nine of us have one.

This "no key" thing will lead to my wife's favorite hobby: "getting money off the price", especially since she was locked in there. I'll keep you updated on that.

I'm guessing that by the end of the week we all have calves like a female Russian Luge pilot. Except me. Because I can work the elevator.