Wednesday, December 31, 2008
A good thing too since between the wind (gusts up to 48 mph) and the cold (30s), it was definitely a day to stay inside and surf the net. It was also a very lazy day. I watched some TV and devoured a Cinnamon bun along with my morning Coke in the morning before jumping on the erg for a 30 minute row. Not a great amount of meters, but I got through it and can build on it. I hope to add another row tomorrow to welcome in the new year. Ann and I did watch Nicholas Cage in National Treasure - Book of Secrets. It was highly entertaining and fit our mood for the day.
We have no real plans to welcome in the New Year. We are way past the time where a night of boozing it up sounds like a good idea. We do have a bottle of bubbly chilly in the refrigerator though. So to all of you, I hope you have have a wonderful 2009 as we usher out 2008.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
While we waited the phone rang and much to our surprise it was a Comcast representative calling from Philadelphia. He mentioned that he had read my blog post and wanted to make sure everything was taken care of to our satisfaction. That sound you heard this morning was my jaw dropping. First off, my blog has no real regular readership other than the two daughters. People that happen upon my blog usually come via searches for white bean chili recipes or searching for the Eagles Nest restaurant, which by the way has changed ownership and is now called something else or people searching on erg topics. Anyway we told him of the problems we were still having and he promised to call the local office and make sure things got done on time and correctly. So score one for Comcast. Although you have to wonder who is taking the time to scour the Internet for Comcast postings. Around Noon we got a call from the local office saying that they too had read the blog entry (I think maybe the Philly people made them read it, but whatever), that they had one of their top technicians on the call and he would be out when promised and the would also give me a $35 courtesy refund. Ok. Score another point for Comcast.
As it got to be 2:30, I was wondering if indeed the technician would show up on time. He did indeed. He introduced himself (Jaime), shook hands all around and petted our dog. We showed him to the computer and he confirmed that there was no Internet and also made the comment that out Comcast provided Gateway (Netgear) was an antique and he would replace it. I wonder if he would also replace the Linksys USB wireless antennas we have on our other computers as they are even older than the Gateway. After he checked our computer, he went outside to check the signal. He was gone only a short while before reporting back. It was indeed a bad signal. According to Jaime, the signal strength reaching the Gateway INSIDE the house should be at least 50. The signal coming out of the cable box on the street coming to the house was only at 46. By the time the signal routed through the house to the Gateway, he estimated that the signal strength was practically nil and hence our lack of Internet connectivity. He placed a work order for someone to come fix the cable box out on the street to get the signal up to snuff. He thought they would either be out later today or no later than tomorrow. He left his number and advised us to call him if the problem was not corrected by tomorrow afternoon. So the problem has been identified and, hopefully, will be resolved quickly. The last time we had signal problems it took about a month before the cable box on the street was actually fixed despite at least two separate work orders for the repair being put in by the Internet techs (the second request obviously corrected the problem, but he knew there was an outstanding work order when he came to the house). So I'll give Comcast high marks for the follow-up, the refund and the promise of a new Gateway (Jaime didn't install it since there would have been no way to test it to see that it was working properly). Now we'll see how they do with the follow through. (To be continued).
Monday, December 29, 2008
After that debacle, I decided to watch one of my Netflix movies. I chose the documentary "Who Killed The Electric Car?" Considering GM is now hat in hand it just makes you sick what they did to kill it off, their own car, going so far as to recall all the electric cars (they would only lease them - not sell them) they had built and marketed and crushing them all. It also calls into serious question the whole hydrogen car crap the Bush administration signed us up for. January 20th can't come fast enough.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
A Felt F75 Road Bike complete with bike shoes.
While Santa delivered it, it was up to Daughter#2 to make the arrangements and her poor husband was dealt the hand of putting it together. To both and Santa (Ann) I can only say "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you". I had been coveting this bike for about two years now and I can't wait to give it a spin. I have to admit though I am a bit intimidated about the clip in shoes. I've never ridden with them before and I'm sure there are a few falls in my future until getting my feet in and out of the pedals becomes automatic. Daughter#2 is dropping by tomorrow and we're hoping to get in a short ride. I'm looking forward to it.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
We did enjoy some turkey leftovers after Saturday evening Mass, but after having a full table over the last few days, it seemed rather strange and all too quiet with just the two of us. It's true what they say about family making a Christmas. I hope yours was as good as ours.
Friday, December 26, 2008
After their arrival and Daughter#2 arriving back home, we ventured out to have lunch at Daks Grill here in Woodbridge. I have no idea what we did for dinner. We did dig out some old home videos to show The Son-In-Law and The Fiance. A few good laughs were had by all. Christmas morning we discovered our camera was missing (it was later found in Ann's purse) so we'll have to wait for Christmas present pictures are downloaded from Daughter#1's camera. After we opened presents we had a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs , bacon, some fake bacon for Daughter#2, toast and OJ. After breakfast everyone went off to clean up and prep for dinner. Daughter#2 fired up the crock pot to make some hot cider with mulling spices.
By 4:00 the turkey was ready to be carved.
After dinner and desert of apple pie a la mode and pumpkin pie with Cool Whip, most of us retired to the family room with groans a plenty. The two daughters gave a preview of the bridesmaid dress for the up coming wedding of Daughter#1 and The Fiance.
Before heading home, we walked along the waterfront. At this point it was getting a bit chilly so we didn't linger long.
After we arrived home the daughters and the Husband/fiance went their separate ways to meet old friends while The Son treated his parents to some Thai food for dinner. Then it was time to come home and crash, except for this entry. Merry Day After Christmas.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
"Perhaps Christmas doesn't come from a store. Perhaps Christmas means a little bit more." - How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess. '
From "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. The meaning of Christmas as told by Scrooge's nephew Fred:
There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,' returned the nephew. 'Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that- as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!'
And from Dr Suess and the Whos, the lyric from the song "Welcome, Christmas":
Fah who rah-moose
Dah who dah-moose
Christmas day is in our grasp
So long as we have hands to clasp
Fah who for-aze!
Dah who dor-aze!
Come this way!
Fah who for-aze!
Dah who dor-aze!
Fah who rah-moose
Dah who dah-moose
Christmas day is in our grasp
So long as we have hands to clasp
Fah who for-aze!
Dah who dor-aze!
Bring your cheer
Fah who for-aze!
Dah who dor-aze!
Welcome all Who's
Far and near
Welcome Christmas, fah who rah-moose
Welcome Christmas, dah who dah-moose
Christmas day will always be
Just so long as we have we
Fah who for-aze
Dah who dor-aze
Bring your light
Fah who rah-moose!
Dah who dah-moose!
While we stand
Heart to heart
And hand in hand
Fah who for-aze
Dah who dor-aze
So to one and all a Very Merry Christmas and God Bless Us every one.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
1. Love Actually (2003) - Not Ranked - A bit strange it wasn't on the list. Currently my favorite
Christmas movie. A collection of different love stories woven together. My favorite, the writer
and the Portuguese maid.
2. One Magic Christmas (1985)(Ranked #61) - It got lost in the theatres going up against "Santa
Claus" starring Dudley Moore. It has a very "It's a Wonderful Life" touch to it. The family
watches this every Christmas Eve before turning in for the night.
3. A Christmas Carol (1984)(Ranked #11) - George C. Scott plays a great Scrooge and the music
is fantastic. A must see for me every year. I bought a copy for Daughter#1
4. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)(Ranked #2) - This movie kicks off our Christmas season.
Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwen are great in the title roles.
5. A Christmas Story (1983)(Ranked #12) - This movie hits really close to home of what it was
like when I was growing up I never stuck my tongue to a flagpole though. Darren McGavin as
the Dad is priceless.
6. Prancer (1989)(Ranked #31) - This movie has slowly moved up my list of favorite Christmas
movies. You can't help but love Jessica Rigg and her belief in Santa and wanting to get Prancer
back to Santa.
7. A Christmas Carol (1938)(Ranked #6) - I love this Dickens tale as you can tell since I have two
versions in my top 10. Reginald Owen as Scrooge and Gene Lockhart as Bob Cratchit are
wonderful in this black and white version.
8. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1963)(TV)(Ranked #9) - Technically not a movie, but a
favorite Christmas must see. Watching the Grinch be transformed always gets to me. Dr
Suess was genius.
9. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1964)(TV)(Ranked #14) - Again a TV show and not a movie, but
I look forward to this every year and hearing Linus's speech on the true meaning of
10. Polar Express (2004)(Not Ranked) - The elves are a little creepy and the whole animation
was a weird, but I loved the bit about being able to hear the bell if you still believed in
11. It's a Wonderful Life (1946) (Ranked #1) - A perennial favorite. It's a bit long, but I love the
parts where Clarence shows how life would be without George Bailey in it. We all touch so
12. Scrooged (1988)(Ranked #22) - Bill Murray rocks as the Scrooge type character. Funny
take on the old classic.
13. Home Alone (1990)(Ranked #23) - Another one that took me a while to warm up mainly due
to Macaulay Culkin. The relationship he strikes up with the older neighbor and how they
help each other makes it a hit for me and the comedy is pretty good too.
14. The Homecoming - A Christmas Story (1971)(Rank#79) - Made for TV movie that
introduced us to the Waltons. I loved that show. I don't have a daughter named after the two
younger girls for nothing.
15. Miracle on 34th Street (Ranked #56) - Remake of the classic. Richard Attenborough, Mara
Wilson and Elizabeth Perkins are great, but too many blatant product placements and the
whole ending was a good deal weaker, in my opinion, than the original.
Feel free to weigh in with your favorites. And to all a good night.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Today Ann and I shopped for our Christmas feast. We ended up going to two different grocery stores to track down all that we needed. Dinners are always a bit more of a challenge when Daughter#2 is in attendance since she is a vegetarian and also lactose intolerant. We try to be sensitive to her needs and make sure she has something here she can eat. That includes Christmas dinner where we have purchased a tofu turkey with all the trimmings for her. I'm interested in seeing how it turns out and how it tastes. I hope it turns out well for her sake.
Tomorrow is my last day to commute down to the base for this year. I have a feeling it will be either crazy busy with a push to get things pushed out the door or very laid back with many people already off or at least in holiday mode. I'm hoping for the latter.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Today wasn't much different than most of my Sundays have been recently. Get up whenever (as opposed to 6:15 during rowing season) and gather up the dirty clothes and start the laundry. I can't stand laundry taking all day to complete. I try to start it early and set timers so I know when to move clothes from the washer to the dryer and when to get them out of the dryer to fold. The earlier it's done the better in my book. After the laundry is going, I relax, check my e-mails,and surf the web while enjoying my morning soda and a bagel or breakfast bar . My morning soda used to be Pepsi. I was a confirmed Pepsi drinker, but that has changed over the past year. The reason being Pepsi no longer makes a size bottle that I like. They used to sell Pepsi's in 16 oz bottles. They did away with those. Then they went to 20 oz bottles. 20 oz was okay with me. You can still get this size as individual bottles at convenience stores, etc, but not in grocery stores in six-packs. Now they only sell on 12 oz, 24 oz or 2 liter bottles. 12 oz is too small, 24 oz is just too much. Too much sugar and too much caffeine. The 2 liter bottles require you to use a glass. I prefer drinking from my soda from a bottle and not a glass. I can get Coke in 16 oz bottles and so I made the switch.
At 10:45 I headed out to Gold's for my erg class. With college kids home for the holidays, there was almost a full class. I managed to get in 11,000 meters during the class. Like yesterday though, it was a struggle and I thought I might puke over the last few meters. I'll try again tomorrow morning for another 5,000 meters.
After erg class, Ann and I met up with The Son for some pizza (sausage, mushrooms and onions). After pizza we hit up Giant for tonight's dinner of lamb chops. After returning home we settled in to watch the Redskins hold on to beat the Eagles. Things are never easy with the Redskins. They are still mathematically in the playoff picture, but they need a lot of help.
The rest of the evening was dinner and watching some TV. More to pass time than anything else. Tomorrow is a day off for us. I work on Tuesday and then I'm off until after the New year. Daughters#1 and 2 arrive on Wednesday. I can't wait.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
After the movie, I headed upstairs to erg. Working out on the erg for me is a funny thing. Sometimes I feel into it. Sometimes I don't. Today I didn't feel it. I struggled through 5,000 meters. About the best I can say for it was that I finished it. Maybe tomorrow I'll be more into it. After a shower, I settled in to watch the first of the college bowl games, which featured Navy vs Wake Forest. I really like both teams so it was hard to know who to route for. In the end, our and my family's association with the Navy won out over Jim Grobe's (the Wake Forest's coach)
Ohio University ties. It was a good game with the score going back and forth before Wake finally pulled away at the end.
Next up - lunch. Ann and I grabbed a sub from Jerry's Subs and Pizzas before I tackled the outside lights. It was a two fold job. One, remove the net with the melted connection and two, find the burned out light on another net that was keeping a section of that net from lighting. Removing the melted net was quick and painless and I moved some other nets around to cover that space. Good, one down and one to go. I brought the second net in to find the burned out light. After plugging in the net, it only took me a few minutes to find the problem. A bulb had broken off leaving just the remnants in the base. Frankly it was a lucky find right off the bat, otherwise I was looking at checking some 50 lights. As I tried to get the broken bulb out I got a shock as the wires to the bulb were still there and exposed. Note to self - unplug the lights before you work on them. I replaced the broken bulb and the net lit right up. However, I did notice another bulb that was burned out. As I was going about trying to extract that bulb, it broke off and cut the heck out of my thumb. It wasn't a bad cut, but did it bleed and bleed and bleed. I continued to try and replace the bulb, but I was dripping blood onto the kitchen floor, which didn't sit well with Ann. She took over the task while I worked on stopping the bleeding. Once I got a band-aid on it, that seem to do the trick. I took the now repaired net outside and out it on the bushes and it's now burning brightly in the night.
After attending church services, Ann and I dug into bowls of white bean chili with The Son driving up to join us. We retired to the family room to watch some more football and the three of us promptly all nodded off to sleep. No one can say we aren't a lively group. Now I'm off to finish that nap.
Friday, December 19, 2008
To kick off our weekend, Ann, The Son and I attended a college basketball game between Radford:
Radford is the alma mater of The Son. Their sports teams don't get up this way very often so it was a rare opportunity to go see them play. Radford is about a four hour drive and is located in southwest Virginia, not far from VA Tech. It's a shame they don't travel more up this way seeing how a large portion of their student body and their athletes come from the northern Virginia area. On the other hand, GMU is a short drive from where we live and we've been there a number of times for various sporting events. GMU is slowly making the conversion from a strictly commuter school to having a large on campus student body. Ann and I always mention, when we talk about retirement, about retiring to a college town. About how we love college sports and the energy you feel in a small college town. We talk a good game, but we certainly don't take as much advantage of GMU's proximity as we should. Anyway, we traveled out to the Patriot Center, GMU's basketball area. Our seats were decent. The Patriot Center is big enough to give you the feel of big college basketball without having to sit in nosebleed seating. Lets see, according to GMU's web site, it seats 10,000. I'd say it was 60% full with a fair number of Radford students there. Probably home for the holidays. The Son was coming directly from work and left late and didn't arrive until half time after missing the turn to make it onto the GMU campus. I hate to say it, but he has the worse sense of direction. He has lived in this area all of his life, but he has no idea where things are or how to get there. Despite his late appearance, The game was good. Somewhat exciting. Radford kept it close until GMU hit 8 of 10 3 pointers in the second half and Radford had trouble making foul shots. But overall a good night's entertainment. My only complaint was the food or rather the cost of it. A hot dog, bag of chips and a soda was $12. Next time I'll eat before I go.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
On a similar note, on a competition I was involved in earlier this year, the award of which was protested by one of the losing companies, a decision was just issued on Monday - we won and the protest denied. Yes! Chalk one up for the good guys.
Monday, December 15, 2008
The glass of beer is from the first bottle from my batch of Scotch Ale that I brewed about 5 weeks ago. Seems to have turned out pretty well although, while clear in the bottle, its hazy after being poured. I assume its from sediment in the bottle. I thought this bottle also tasted a bit watery at first. It might just have been me though. The second bottle tasted fine. I'm going to save most of this batch for Christmas to share with the rest of the family.
The gifts continue to be delivered. A few a week. Now we need to get with the wrapping.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
When you buy a tree from them, they give you a pointsetta.
We ended up picking these two. Now if we can remember to water them, they might actually last until Christmas.
Another perk if you shop for a tree at the nursery on the weekend - they feed you! They had various cheeses and fruits, a tasty crab dip, spicy wings and meatballs in a bbq sauce. You can wash it down with coffee or hot cocoa.
They trimmed our tree for us, packed it up and tied it to the top of our minivan and we were ready to roll for home.
I had all kinds of offers to help decorate the tree. The Son shows how he helped out. Actually he left to go home and do laundry.
So I was pretty much on my own for getting the tree decorated. I put on some Christmas music to set the mood and I got to it starting with the lights. At first I thought this string was totally nonfunctioning as it would not light at all. That's until Ann walked over and threw the switch that controlled the outlet I was using. Ooops.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
This afternoon i attended a kick off meeting for a new Masters Regatta that we hope to start up this summer. Its been tentatively been named the Occ0quan Masters Sprints. Its to be held in July on the Occoquan and hosted by the Occoquan Boat Club. It should be interesting working on the inside to see how it all comes together.
After the meeting I went to an open house hosted by one of my teammates and her husband. It was nice. Good food and good company. Nice to see those I haven't seen since our season ended last month. As I was preparing to leave, I searched my pockets for my car keys. Nothing. I went outside to see if I had dropped them on the ground getting out of the car. I opened my cell phone and used the lighted display like a flashlight. Nothing. I looked on the driver's seat and there they were. Only trouble was the car was locked. I called Ann to come bring a spare set of keys to unlock it. She was none to happy about it even though the drive was only about two miles. A stream of obscenities emerged from her mouth. Geez, you would have thought I had woken her up at 2:00 in the morning and asked her to drive 30 miles to pick me up. If she had stuck with our original plan for her to accompany me to the Open House, I'm sure it wouldn't have happened. She is turning into quite the hermit.
Friday, December 12, 2008
The Son dropped by for dinner as he has all week. We usually go out for pizza on Friday nights, but we're trying to empty out the refrigerator in anticipation of filling it again with the makings for Christmas dinner. So leftovers it was. We're watched James Madison University play Montana in the I-AA semi-finals. A lot of kids from this area go to JMU. Alas, they ended up losing in a wild game. Maybe next year.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Today's prompt: Do you still live in the place where you grew up? How far away are you now and why?
I've lived in several places growing up. I was born in New Jersey and spent my first 13 years growing up there. At age 14, just as I was about to enter high school with all my friends, my family was uprooted to North Carolina when my Dad got a promotion. One year later and another promotion and we moved to Severna Park, Maryland, which sits between Baltimore and Annapolis. I attended Severna Park High, which was a very good place to get a public education. After graduating, I moved to Auburn, Alabama for college. I loved Auburn. After graduating college, I got a job in Charleston South Carolina before finally moving here to Virginia where I've been for the better part of 32 years now.
If I had to name the place where I felt I really grew up, it would have to be Newfoundland, NJ. I lived there from age six and until we moved to NC at age 14. My fondest childhood memories are from there. The baseball team (Newfoundland Cardinals) where I played second base and catcher. There were summer days filled with bike riding, swimming, camping out in the Moody's backyard, endless hours of Kick the Can and Flashlight tag, pick up baseball games in the Buckwheat field behind the fire station and trips to High Crest Lake. I was in the high school marching band even though I was only in middle school at the time. The Newfoundland/Oak Ridge Fireman's Fair every Labor day week. There is a line from the movie "Stand By Me" where Richard Dryfus is typing at the end and he types something to the effect of and I'm paraphrasing "You never have friends like those you have when you are 12". For me that could never be truer. So to Bobby Dunn, Kevin Meistickle, all the Moody boys, Doug Wickford, and the rest of the Allison Ave gang, I miss you all.
According to Google Maps, Newfoundland is 277 miles from where I live now. Although it's a lifetime from that 3 bedroom, one bath rambler to the 4 bedroom 3 1/2 bath colonial I live in today. The big reason I moved away was first my dad moved the family so staying in Newfoundland was not really an option. Once I saw life outside Newfoundland, there was no going back. There is really nothing in Newfoundland that would call me back. All the people I knew there are long gone themselves. There is no real work to speak of. It's surrounded by Newark watershed property and numerous reservoirs. It's pretty country but very isolated. I'm sure that sounds strange to people who only know NJ by way of the NJ Turnpike or Newark itself. Actually now I'm located not far from where I went to high school. Severna Park is less than an hour away. I use to look forward to visiting when Daughter#2 would have a WAGS soccer game against the Severna Park team. I like it here. I love being so close to the Occoquan. I could have moved when my job did 11 years ago. But I chose to stay and commute the 80 miles. Its been worth it. This is home now.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
To begin I added some olive oil to a pan and sauteed an onion.
While that onion was cooking, I got the rest of the ingredients ready including the green chilies, some northern beans, cumin, flour and the turkey.
I added the green chilies, cumin and flour with the onion and cooked for about 4 minutes before adding the beans. I bought that mixture to a boil and let simmer for another ten minutes and then added the turkey. I let the mixture just simmer for about forty-five minutes before serving.
Serve in a bowl with some crusty sourdough bread and you have some happy satisfied campers. Yum!
Monday, December 8, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
A side benefit of ordering most of your Christmas presents on line is that it makes everyday seem almost like Christmas. First there is that lovely feeling of accomplishment as present after present falls into your shopping cart and it's only slightly painful when you enter that credit card number for the Xth time. Then over the course of the next several days you can track your presents as they travel from spots all over the country and all heading to your front door. Then everyday the brown UPS truck or white Fed Ex truck or even the trusty U.S. Postal Service is dropping things at your front door and ringing the doorbell. All of which sets the dog off in a barking frenzy until you answer the door and bring your treasures indoors. And tomorrow that doorbell will be ringing again as these Santa helpers deliver the goodies. It is almost like Christmas every day. Now all I need to do is wrap them. Hmmm...maybe tomorrow.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
More cleaning and sanitising. Here it's the bottles being sanitised and hung out to dry. I do about 54 bottles. Note the paper towels around the bottle tree. Bottling beer is a very messy business. The paper towels also kept sticking to my sneakers and I would drag them around like some dofus trailing toilet paper coming out of the bathroom.
Right prior to bottling the beer, I prepare the priming sugar. You boil the sugar in a pint of water. The sugar will carbonate the beer.
Here I am siphoning the beer from the fermentor into the bottling bucket. Turns out I used the wrong size tubing for the siphoning and I had to keep priming the siphon. I'm glad I combed my hair for the picture. I transferred about five gallons of ale into the bottling bucket.