Friday, February 26, 2010

Snow Shoveling and Drivers Tests.

The winter that won't end was just capped off with the snow storm that won't end.

Snowstorm number four met meteorologist's expectations as far as snow totals for our area and it lasted longer than originally anticipated.  The low pressure that formed off the coast was stiff armed by a high pressure area north of Maine. In fact it stiff armed it so bad that it headed inland instead of heading out to sea.

Thanks Maine.

I am tired of shoveling. Really tired. I bought a new shovel this year and I hate it. It is the '65 Bonneville of snow shovels. It's wide than a mile and heavier than a defensive tackle and gets 6 MPG.

You don't really chose the Bonneville - you get stuck with it because you couldn't get your boots on fast enough or couldn't find your gloves and all the good shovels got chosen first.

I often find myself starting to shovel with my old faithful blue poly scoop when I find myself eyeballing that wide plow on the front of the Bonneville. I get tempted into thinking how much snow I can push around with all that Detroit Muscle.

And then I remember how it scrapes along the ground and most of your effort goes into the friction of metal against concrete.

And you wouldn't dare pick up 24 widetrack inches of slush with that thing without tweaking your back but that baby is American Made.

Hate it.

In other news, Youngest son got his license this week after mastering that hardest of man skills - parallel parking. Some African cultures test manhood by asking a young man to bring down a lion or a wild boar and in Avatar that 17 foot purple kid had to jump on the back of the flying pterodactyl. Here in New Jersey we demand than a boy park a 13 and 1/2 foot Honda Civic in a 25 foot space between orange cones after signaling to become a man. When you can brush the curb without hitting it Kunta Kinte, then you are a man.

We had a year to master this skill and so we started on the Sunday before the big test.

No Pressure.

The first lesson with me did not go well. I had a difficult time translating a skill I practically do in my sleep into words. I kept blurting out things like "you are too steep" and "cut the wheel now" like he was a carrier pilot on final approach. I might as well have said "turn into the blemus" or "your line is all wrong"  - we were not communicating.

After an hour and half of that we gave it a break, ran some errands and did much better when he came back to it later that afternoon. I figured a few more practices on Monday or Tuesday and he might actually be ready for the test on Wednesday at 8 am.

He didn't get any practice in on Monday due weather and so we decided that he would practice in front of the house with the Chancellor on the Tuesday before the test.

Now the Chancellor is very good at a number of tasks like commanding the slaves building the pyramids or being POTUS. Apparently teaching the Sons to parallel parking isn't one of these type skills.

So wasn't I proud when I came home Tuesday to a shouting match out in the street and the car practically in a snow bank, perpendicular to the street. We decided to cool it and let him practice one last time in the  the next day before the test.

In the morning, I took a new approach. I gave him the keys and I ate breakfast while watching with the web cam on the laptop. I love the Internet. He did fine.


At the road test he was assigned the toughest looking drill instructor/tester I've ever seen. The first words out of his mouth were "if you mess anything up - you fail". I am not making this up. He was one bitter driving tester. He checked all the paper work and did a quick safety check of the aluminum falcon and asked me to get out and wait over with the other nervous parents.

After a short wait, Youngest son drove slowly off and as he was leaving, Sgt. Carter there in the front seat jammed on the emergency brake causing the rear tires of the AF to lock up. This scared the crap out both myself and Youngest son. I was a little miffed that this guy jammed the brake on like that but considering the condition of the AF and the situation, I let it go.

He passed. I was happy.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Do tigers sleep with their eyes open?

8 AM Sunday Morning. Sinatra is on the iPod and I am drinking coffee.

The Chancellor is at her Mothers after seeing old High School Friends last night and I have the morning to myself.

I Spent the last few days in Broomall visiting the folks and seeing my siblings and some old friends. It's strange seeing old friends like that after all those years. I spent a lot of time with these people until I got married and then poof! We never see each other anymore.

We've decided that we should all get together for dinner in March. I'm not sure this is going to end well because a common theme to the chats over the past two nights was "we should be dead". Maybe it's good I didn't see them.

Earlier last night the siblings and I were talking about what a joke the whole Tiger Woods thing is. Sex Addition. Are you kidding me? This a clearly a rich persons disease just like exhaustion is. You never hear "Miguel the gardener has checked himself into the hospital for exhaustion". Likewise you never hear that a guy in your son's scout troop is in rehab for sex addition. It's only people with too much money.

If you are man you are sex addicted. 

And what exactly is the treatment  for sex addition? Cutting back to three different women per day? Then slowly two and finally you get to graduate and "ring the bell" when you down to a single affair? Do you sit in a group and talk about it? (Listen, you won't believe who's here). Even in group, the Perkins waitress has to be an embarrassing episode.

I have a simple cure for Tiger. A week with the Chancellor.

Good luck sleeping with one eye open, Tiger. 

There would be a totally different news conference in week, more along the lines of "I have been cured". 

Maybe I'll set up a clinic on the Cul-de-sac.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Out kicking your coverage

The big melt is on. Forty something outside today and again tomorrow followed by rain. Gracious of the weather to have slowly melted the reservoir of over two inches of water equivalent rather than a deluge of warm rain that would have surely caused flooding. 

There is still a nice snow bank right outside the sliding glass doors for chilling beverages though.

Oldest son was came back for a visit on Thursday night. I'm pretty sure it wasn't to see us since I haven't seen him Thursday after dinner. Thank God for twitter.

Of course there was drama around his trip home.

I attempted to prevent the drama by asking a simple question "do you need us to pick you up?". He was coming in by train and the closest station is 30 minutes away. His answer? No my friend is picking me up at 8 or 9.

Then came the tweet about shortening his travel by cutting off an extra train ride with a bus through Newark and I knew this was not going to end well. He had out kicked his coverage. He called it an audible and asked the twitter universe if it could pick him up.

Sadly, it could not or was busy and so he called his mother.

His mother, the Chancellor,  jumped right into action and got in the van and realized she did not have type written directions explicitly telling her how to get to said train station. 

This has been an ongoing issue. Despite a GPS, an iPhone and healthy sized Internet connection, the Chancellor requires written direction. Preferably in large font. With a quill pen.

The Chancellor's offspring do not understand this at all.  They keep saying "just use your iPhone" and "why do you have an iPhone?" or "why can;t you use mapquest". She says it shows that we love her when we write out directions.

And now this was my problem. I was scolded "Why didn't you put the trains station  into the GPS?"
The answer? I did and then the Chancellor somehow reset the GPS to default factory conditions thereby wiping out the train station and all other favorites. She has that effect on technical things. It's like she has some sort of Electrical field surrounding her that contorts electronic devices into unintended positions. "I've never seen it do that before" is a common expression she hears from  help desk personnel where "it' may be the PC at work, the Cat-Scan machine or the GPS.

I have since backed up the favorites.

So there I was at stop light working the Blackberry to get the address of the train station, text that to the Chancellor and then call and give explicit instructions on how to enter the address into the magical device that talks to satellites and tells you how to get places.

Of course now Oldest Son had to wait at the train station.

He made it home safely but by now it was nearly 8 PM and the evening had been disrupted beyond repair.

This happens on nearly every unexpected trip home from college. He didn't call me from the train station because he knew I would told him "tough, plan better" and in the end that is what he told the Chancellor.

"You should have just said no, you couldn't pick me up".

Next time, we will unless there is a better plan.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Snow Storm Aftermath

IMG_4480:The Days after Snowstorm #3
We are finally completely dug out after two incredible snowstorms. The back to back gigantic storms hit us on Friday into Saturday and Tuesday into Wednesday. Incredibly, 4 of the past seven days have had significant snow totals.

The Chancellor works in the health care industry which I prefer to refer to as "those that work in their pajamas" since "scrubs" are more like PJs then they are to actual work clothes. Ironically "those that work in their pajamas" are the only ones that actually have to get into work on snowy days. No working from home for them.

This of course meant that I had to clean cars at 0'dark thirty two of the four snowy days. I also drove her into work on Tuesday. So on Tuesday during a "blizzard" I drove more than I do on a regular day.

The amateur meteorologist in me isn't happy just having a weather station that records wind and temperature during the storm, I had to have snow measurements too. There is a rain gauge on the weather station but it is frozen over and fills with snow.

So I built something to measure snow. It wasn't much, just a measuring stick with reflective tape but since the first snow storm was at night I figured it had to be lit up, right? So I bought a $10 all weather spot light and lit if from above using a halogen lamp.

Bad move. Basically, the halogen lamp melted the snow all night and left a giant crater around the measuring stick for the first storm.

In the second storm I learned my lesson and used a CFL bulb. Cooler and yet bright. It was still difficult to see at night but flash photography seemed to be the answer. I simple took a flash picture every so often to record where the snow height was. It all worked great until the snow stuck to the measuring stick.

Pictures here. What can I say? I was bored.

I was quite perturbed when the snow rendered the weather station's wind speed device useless too. You can't even see it in the picture below but it is at the peak of the roof on the side closest to the camera. It's covered in snow.
IMG_4452:Snowstorm 3 the Blizzard

Of course this bothered me to no end. I was missing data. How could I be missing data? I resisted the urge to trudge through the waist high snow to fix it all morning long. If I had made my way out there, it would not have been the first time all week. I spent days looking around the house for the electric pencil sharpener only to remember it was out in the shed for some unknown reason. I spent the better part of a day sharpening pencils like Abe Lincoln would have: with a knife until I finally broke down and head out the shed.

I am happy to report the sharpener is safe in the house again.

I also stopped shaving for a few days. In fact in the last week I've probably shave 3 times. I'm thinking that is really how snowstorms should be measured, in beard length. The weather channel should have a map with "light beard growth", "moderate beard growth" and "heavy beard growth" regions. Maybe on Presidents Day snowstorms they could have it by Presidents or candidates "Al Gore length", Abe Lincoln. and Ulysses S Grant length etc.