Monday, August 30, 2010

Looking Good Billy Ray

We are having a last summer fling with the The Chancellor's Family and we are back in Ocean City. We have considerably upgraded accommodations compared to last time with a beach/boardwalk/pool view out the front deck compared to a view of the Wawa last time around.

It's an incredible house with 5 bedrooms and 4 baths and it shares a pool with the attached duplex next door.

I can not begin to describe the fun of watching people pass in the boardwalk and just gawk at the pool and house. I feel like a rapper. Call me Alpa Chino.

I've had the final scene of Trading Places stuck in my head for a while now and am intent on teaching my Mother-in-law the proper response to "Looking good Billy Ray" so that when I yell it from the boardwalk she will respond "Feeling Good Louis". She hasn't gotten it down quite yet but maybe that's because she is 80 and has no idea what I am talking about.  I'll keep at it.

You would think that after six straight years of coming to Ocean City the summers for a week or so that I would have packing down to a science but no, we started a list for Oldest son who came down 24 hours after us almost immediately after arriving.

Another week down the shore means another week of beach tags. If I'd have thought about it, I would have bought seasonal beach tags back in July since I knew then that we would be back down for another week but there I was buying badges with a big 12 on them 6 weeks after I bought badges with a big 6 on them.

The Chancellor has clear disdain for beach badges and makes sport of evading the teenagers assigned to check badges at the beach entrances. She uses the Jedi Mind Trick on the weak minded fools and has an ready number of reasons why she doesn't have a beach badge on the tip of her tongue. Her newest excuse from her repitore is to point to the beach front house and say "they came with the house but we don't want to lose them". The weak minded fools don't even realize this is final week for badges. Who would care if you lost them now?

I was thinking that I should buy the Kids T-shirts that say "Ocean City Land Patrol" and position them on the opposite side of the boardwalk from the beach badge checking teenagers. I'd have the kids ask people getting off the beach if they have a "Land Badge" and charge them 10 bucks a week for one if they didn't.

I think it would work.

The Chancellor's oldest sister is the complete opposite when it comes to the beach badges. She makes sure her beach badges is purchased on time and is prominently displayed. She prepares at the house before heading out. 

The weather seems to follow us to Ocean City as well. Today and the rest of the week should be in the 90's so we are looking forward to that.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Crappy Weekend

Really crappy weekend.

I woke up Saturday to dead home file server. Dead. Power button did nothing, dead dead dead. Nothing much on there, just every document we own, all the digital pictures, home web server etc etc. I have nightly backups of course (insert Foghorn leghorn here saying "Fortunately I keep ma feathers numbered for such an occasion"). Still it's a mess. It's the DHCP server, DNS Primary, NTP, etc etc for the family network.

What? You don't have a family fileserver? How do you live?

While I had data backups, I didn't back up all the Linux config files on the root partition and so I was making things up as I went along creating new DHCP config files, DNS etc etc. I think I finally have things stabilized but what a mess.

About 3 hours into the disaster recover The Chancellor asked "What do other people do?". She was talking about IT at home. Well they don't have a Linux file sever that's for sure. 

I spent most of the rest of the day replacing light switches in the newly painted areas of the house. I replaced 12 switches and 6 outlets including every three way switch in the house. I have a degree in electrical engineering and yet find the wiring for a 3 way switch perplexing. What is with that red wire? I installed them all right and then discovered I had installed one of the new light up 3 way switches in the wrong place. Of course when I replaced it I hooked something up wrong and found myself making a truth table for the switch positions and results. I narrowed it down to one of switches and took that apart tonight. It looked right so I took apart the other one and it looked right too.

I was perplexed. The commons were where the commons should be and the travelers were where the travelers should be.Red, White and Black were all in the right places.

Finally I figured that the stupid wire taps in the back must be disconnected and moved all those connections to the screw terminals on the sides and everything worked.This of course was after an hour of head scratching and watching Youtube videos about 3 way switching.

And why do they make those stupid taps in the back so hard to disconnect? There is that teeny tiny slot that a screw drive allegedly fits into except no screw driver I own ever fits in that narrow little slot and I end up splitting the switch apart. Every. Single. Time.

Saturday was spent relaxing watching TV. "2012" was on Starz and it had me hooked - for a while. I was Ok with the amateur pilot that twice took off in a two engine plane while runways disintegrated below him. I was Ok when this same knuckle head co piloted a Russian Anatov An-225 off yet another disintegrating runway. I was Ok when the Earth shifted under the Anatov and our heroes ended up miles from their destination instead of crash landing in the ocean thousands of miles away and out of fuel. I was Ok When Airforce one flew from Washington DC to China in 10 hours.

Where I drew the line was flying Giraffes. I literally flipped out at the TV when I saw large wild animals strapped to helicopters, moving to the escaping space ships in the frigid Chinese mountains.

Flying Elephants and Giraffes? Really? I changed the channel and never looked back. I couldn't take it.

It just went that way all weekend long all the way through Monday morning when I poured my morning juice. I took the juice out of the fridge, shook it and discovered the cap was loose. I decided to pour a cup and then clean up the mess on the floor.

When I stood up with the wet paper towels still in my hand after cleaning the floor, I discovered the plastic cup I had poured juice into had a hole on the side at the bottom and had leaked juice all over the counter.


Sunday, August 15, 2010


IMG_5442:Eagles Preseason - JerseysInvited to the Eagle's Preseason opener this year, I had a problem. I just couldn't put on my faithful #5 jersey now that McNabb had been traded to the Redskins and I only owned the one jersey. I guess I could have squeezed into the Chancellor's large child's sized #10 Jackson, but that seemed silly.

What to do?

The casual collared shirt I wore to work was sort of green and so I opted for the "I just came from work" look. First, it was true, sort of and second it's preseason so who really cares.

At the game I could help but notice the drop off in McNabb jerseys. I guess that is obvious when an over shadowing personality like that leaves the team that his jersey decreases in popularity. But the fact that no one wants to wear his jersey any more but it was kind of sad to see.

A few years ago I noticed that in the sea of jerseys in the stands a #20 Dawkins was most popular , McNabb second and #36 Westbrook being third were roughly the top 3. None of those three men are with the team any more but it was funny to see that Dawkins and Westbrook had not suffered the same drop off the precipice that #5 had. People still wear their #20 and #36 jerseys and are respected for it. Wear a McNabb and you are likely to be hounded about it.

You might be hounded by your friends but wear a Redskins McNabb and it's a different story. We had one seated in the front of the section next us and he instilled rage in the crowd everytime he got up. Chants of the all too familiar a--hole, a--hole, a--hole followed him everywere he went.

Ironically the guy looked a lot like Mike Vick.

I'm not making this up.

I also saw people that were creative about what to with their old McNabb jerseys. In addition to the taped up one at the top, I saw one that was inside out.

When I chose a jersey, I did so with longevity in mind because no one wants to be that guy in the Takeo Spikes ridiculous Swedish flag colored throwback jersey or the owner of a "I was a turnstile: Sean Considine #37". I thought I'd pick a guy that's going to be there a long time like #5. They'd never trade him, right? The thing would wear out before I had to park it in the back of the closet. Wrong.

So I'm trying to determine my next jersey move and may have come up with a solution: The throwback jersey. It's brilliant since they are never going to cut #12 Cunningham or #99 Jerome Brown.

My other option is hold onto my #5 until it becomes a throwback.

Pictures here.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Friday the 13th

Thanks to Mr C I got to see Kevin Kolb and the youth movement Eagles, well sort of. I did get to see Kolb play but not as long as I had intended. Allow me to explain, it's a good news, bad news, good news, bad news good news again story.

Mr C invited me to the Eagles game Friday via email and after checking with the Chancellor, gladly accepted. Thanks to the McNabb trade, I no longer have a viable Eagles Jersey but that's a different story. Plans were made and we met at his house along with another friend at 6. Aunt Tina thought briefly about taking the last ticket but in the end decided that she had other plans so there was an extra ticket. I'm blaming her for what happened next.

We left for the 7:30 game at around 6:30.

Ten minutes into our ride, Oldest Son texted me and asked if there was an extra ticket. We talked and told him yes there is but we already left so if you can make it to the stadium, you can go. He said he would go and meet us there while I had a sense of "this is going to end badly". I thought that if wanted to go, then that's a win-win. He gets to go and the ticket isn't wasted.

Ironically, Mr C had called him at our home earlier in the day looking for me. I didn't know Oldest Son was home and Mr C didn't think he would be interested in the game so neither invited him. In retrospect that was a mistake. 

By 7 we were tailgating a bit and waiting for Oldest Son.

For the 2 of you out there that have never seen preseason NFL "action" it may be good to discuss what happens there. Typically the starters, the guys that are going to be the opening day, team play for about a quarter and then they are replaced by the backups and then finally those backups are replaced by the scrubs struggling to make the team. If you want to see how your team is going to be this year, get there early.

I had. Well, I was close. I was right there outside the Stadium.

Curious for an update I called him and found out he was looking for a car. This may seem odd but he didn't want to take the van and Youngest Son had taken the Aluminum Falcon to work at the local water park. So in order to take the AF, he had to find it so he and the Chancellor were scouring the parking lot looking for it. This seemed odd since it wasn't exactly Disneyworld's parking lot.

Mr C and Friend head into the Linc while I wait at the corner of Darien and Pattison. 

How hard could it be to find a car in a small parking lot? Actually it's pretty hard if you are looking the wrong parking lot. That's right. I seemed to know but they didn't that Youngest Son parks in the adjacent Hotel for ease of entry and exit. When I told him this on the second call, I heard "Oh there it is". Time Check? 7:07.

Now I know this is going to end badly.

Next call is at 7:29. I ask for a location and am surprised to hear he is at Front and Packer Ave. I start thinking that hings are looking up and we are back to good news. He'll just park and we'll be on our way. How hard could that be?

I hear a cheer from the stadium and figure something good must have happened. At 7:39 I call him again and find out how hard parking can be. He tried to park and then found out he only had 18 dollars and change he found under the seat. The tried begging to be let in for $18.75 with no success.

At this point it was time for and intervention. Luckily I have cash or I could have ended up begging for two dollars on the street. I told him to make his way towards me and figured he was coming down Pattison since he was last reported in that direction. I'm making my way down Pattison when he calls and says he is headed down Darien and I head over to Darien only to see him drive through the intersection on Pattison. He keeps going.

I call one more time to tell him to turn around at 7:42. He does, finds me and I get in. Now we still have to park and the only nearby lot is $25. Guess who has $25?

It takes 10 minutes to park, 5 minutes to walkup and get frisked and we are finally seated towards the end of the 1st quarter. I saw maybe half a dozen Kolb plays including Jackson's end around and the exciting SECOND Acker's kick.

At the end of the 1st Quarter I had to use the Men's room and headed up. While in the Men's room Merrill Reese announced a Vick to Cooper bomb that I caught on replay in concourse. It was that kind of night.

In the end, I was glad that my son came to the game and we enjoyed it. It was tough missing that first quarter but that's life on Friday the 13th.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

TS Oldest Son

Late Summer, early Sunday morning. The coffee is brewing after a wake the dead grinding session. It's wonder the rest of the family doesn't push for me to drink tea. The summer mornings are starting to have that September feel to them with a damp chill that evaporates quickly in the summer sun as the morning burns on.

TS Colin is wandering the Atlantic like a petulant teenager.  I love the words used by  NOAA to describe it: disorganized, meandering and "moving slowly". That's a teenager, right? The best is when NOAA announced "...COLIN MOVING LITTLE...HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT APPROACHING TO INVESTIGATE..." it was like a parent asking "What the hell is he doing up there? don't make me come up there".
On Thursday night TS "Oldest son" blew into town. I sent my hunter aircraft out via text to find out his plans. Yes he was in town, yes he was staying the night, yes... and then an expletive came out of his mouth along with "You shut the car off?, why did you do that?" then there was jostling and background noise.

The person he had gotten a ride from had car troubles of some kind and now he was asking if I could play the role of AAA because they had a dead battery at the local Wawa. Then he said "Ohh we can just push it and start it that way?" and the line went dead.

This happens a lot with oldest son. The template is:
1. We get a call explaining some dire emergency.
2. He is interrupted during the call with an ambiguous alternative solution.
3. He calls us back asking where are we and are we coming.

We were up to step 3.

I called him back after 20 minutes and sure enough he was sitting at the Wawa expecting a jump.

He was home on this Thursday to pick up his girlfriend from JFK airport at 5 AM Friday with her car. It's about 100 miles to JFK from Mount La-La and he was planning to run a few things to his apartment in Newark first so a 1:30 AM wake up was planned.

I awoke at 3:45 AM to expletives and the front storm door slamming shut. We ran down to see what was going on and found him throwing carpets (and the trip to Newark) out of the car while we watched in our underwear from the porch.

I'm sure there is a Bruce Springsteen song in there somewhere with slamming storm doors, carpets flying, parents in night clothes on porch and the cool before dawn. Somehow, I had awoken to be the Parent in some twisted version of Thunder Road.

We tried to get him settled because this was a recipe for disaster: angry and fast driving for 2 hours.

After a few minutes, he was OK and asking what gas stations were open now while I was thinking what a waste of time Boy Scouts was.

Finally he was off and we never heard from him through official sanctioned channels again until he showed back up Saturday with girlfriend to sit by the pool. Fortunately he told the "twitterverse" that he made it to JFK by 5:30 AM. I did the math in my head and that worked out to 60 MPH average. I recalled that the NJ Turnpike is patrolled by officers Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles at that time of day but still realized that it meant he was driving like a mad man.  Like I didn't have enough to worry about. 

I've also started using foursquare where I learned that he was at a diner later that Friday. I'm not a father, I'm the freaking FBI.

His brother started working as a lifeguard this week and last night made his first "save". A youngest had fallen between lily pads at the waterpark where he is working. He did everything right but as he is telling me the story, the I'm thinking the kid is a plant of some kind because I found out his friend rescued the same kid later that night.

Coffee is done.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

100 % employment rate

Youngest son has entered the workforce. Well if wearing flip-flops is considered part of the workforce. He is a lifeguard at a water park in local hotel.

What this means is that despite 9.5% unemployment, my little corner of the world is 100% employed at this point. I'm working, the Chancellor has hours, Oldest Son has his job at college and now Youngest son is a lifeguard.

It's not exactly like being a beach lifeguard as far as I can tell. Mr C's middle child worked there a while ago and reported that the deepest water is 4 feet deep. He said it's more likely you would say "Yo, Bro, Stand up" then have to give mouth to mouth.

An unintended consequence of youngest son getting a job is that cutting the grass falls back to me now. Seven years ago oldest son took over lawn duties and when he went off to college, his younger brother took over from him.

Now it's back on me.

He just started the job and sometime next week I should get a "Family Working" day where each of us puts in at least 8 hours somewhere. Oh what a glorious day that will be.