Friday, January 23, 2009

Another Interview

Dawn of "From the Mind of Dawnie" has sent me some interview questions for today's entry. Lets get started.

1. You have a week to travel where ever you'd like (budget is not a consideration). Where do you go?

I'd love to go to Scotland. My Grandparents on my father's side immigrated from Scotland in the 1920s. My Grandfather from Glasgow and my Grandmother from Aberdeen. They met here in the States. We still have a large number of relatives over there that I'd love to meet. Daughters#1 and #2 and The Son In Law have all been. It's my turn.

2. What is your favorite thing to eat?

Boy this is a hard one as I love to eat. A good grilled steak maybe. A tasty BBQ with thick sweet sauce with just a hint of fire in it are two that come to mind.

3. You wake up in the night to find your house aflame. Aside from your family, what do you grab and take with you to safety?

Certainly our dog, Rosie. Although technically she is family. After that some of our important papers - birth certificates and the like. Anything beyond that is just gravy although it does give me pause that we should backup our photos to Flickr.

4. Cat person or dog person?

On the outside clearly I'm a dog person since we have one and have had two others that have crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. Secretly though I think I'm really a cat person. We had five cats when I was growing up, but they also made me sick as all get out. I'm very allergic to cats as it turns out.

5. You've been selected as the ruler of a small island nation. What is your first official act?

All people have equal rights. My second act would to be to give a tax break to breweries. LoL

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Post Inauguration Post

For someone whose sole day into the office is today, I have very little to write about. Granted I have been working from home, but still. Our city is still in the thralls of its inauguration bliss. All those people. All those smiles. All the cheering. The parade finishing in the dark. The ridiculousness that is Inaugural Balls and the endless chatter about what Michelle would wear. Do people really care that much? Those millions of people are making their way home although US Airways seems not to be helping that much with their massive screw up at National Airport. Their excuse? Too much luggage. Pretty weak.

I don't actually get into the city very much considering I live than 25 miles away and have a variety of options to get there - car, train and bus. Tomorrow, however I will be going downtown to see my Dermatologist for my annual exam. For those of us that are fair skinned and who use to let themselves routinely get sunburned, sometimes badly, on an annual basis growing up, such exams are a necessity. I have had a few suspicious looking spots surgically removed, but on the whole I've done pretty well. Daughter#1 had some removed right before the holidays so I know she's regretting those Sumner vacations at Cocoa Beach where she fried herself in the name of a good tan.

Next week I will be leaving the cold of the mid-Atlantic and heading to sunny California for a week. It's a business trip and most of my time will be spent cooped up in a conference room listening to endless Power Point presentations. Lets hope they have donuts.

Speaking of the cold, our temperatures have been averaging below normal for weeks now. Not only that, but we've received no snow. Zero. Zippy. Nada. Raleigh got 6 inches this week for heavens sake. Where is the justice? Our intrepid weatherman here showed a satellite picture recently and our area is surrounded by snow cover. North, West and South and we're in the middle - this big ugly brown spot. It will probably snow when I'm on the west coast and be melted by the time I return.

The soap opera that is The Son's condo continues. The "leak" complaint is back from his downstairs neighbor. I suppose the complaint is real enough, but the leak isn't on The Son's living level, rather it's somewhere between the floors. The way the Condo Association's by-laws are written, who is responsible for the leak is depending on where the leak is. Right now The Son is dealing with the neighbor and the Condo Association on the matter. His position and rightfully so I think, is until the downstairs neighbor opens up their ceiling to see where the leak is coming from, The Son is not responsible. He was suppose to talk to the Condo Association on how this has been handled in the past. If it's not one thing, it's another.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Trip to the Valley

On Saturday Ann and I packed up the car and our faux mini schnauzer, Rosie, and hit the road to visit Daughter#2 who lives in Harrisonburg nestled in the Shenandoah Valley. It's a beautiful drive heading west on I-66 and then south on I-81. The mountains are all around. The main reason for the trip was to transport Daughter's#2's bridesmaid dress for the upcoming marriage of her older sister, Daughter#1. We also returned a few odds and ends that she had left during her visit home for Christmas.

We arrived just before lunchtime so we sat down to chat and enjoy a cup of tea before we set off to Clementine's for lunch. I had a portobello mushroom sandwich with goat cheese and marinated roma tomatoes. Here Daughter#2 munches on her black bean burger. She is still recovering from gum surgery so her lunch choices were somewhat limited. I also enjoyed a bottle of two of some fine Belhaven Scottish Ale.
After lunch, we walked across the street to drop into Harrisonburg's tourist information center to locate the address of a winery that is nearby. The nicest old woman asked if we needed help and then talked our ears off for a good 15 minutes or so. In a good way though. She was full of information and ideas as our elders often are if we take the time to listen. The winery we were looking for was Crosskeys Vineyards. It's fairly new from what I understand and close to Harrisonburg. It took us less than 15 minutes to get there from downtown. Here Daughter#2 and I stand out front of their main building. The wine tasting room is to the right in this picture. It was a gorgeous place, but did I mention it was freezing out?
Same view but a little closer shot of Ann and Daughter#2 before we headed inside.
We didn't take the tour because of the temperature outside. We noticed when we pulled up that the tour included a trip outside to see the grape vines and it was just too cold. We did do the wine tasting and sampled five of their wines. We all thought their Chardonnay was excellent as well as the Cabernet Franc. Enough so that we decided to get stay and enjoy a glass or two as seen below.

After the wine tasting, we returned to Daughter#2's home and the dogs, who were ready for dinner and a run in the fenced yard. As we were getting ready to drive home, The Son In Law got home from his band practice/recording session. We missed having him along, but there are other weekends plus we have a trip planned with them in the near future.

For anyone who might be interested in seeing more about the aftermath of the Air Florida crash that I discussed in my past post, particularly the rescue part, check out Daughter#2's comment on how to view additional footage. There are four links but I only linked to the first.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Freezing Slacker

It has been a few days since I've posted. After posting every day in December all of a sudden I can't think of anything to write about in January. Other than it's cold. Very cold. Not Chicago cold, but very cold for Virginia. This morning's temperature was 9 degrees with a wind chill of -3 degrees. This southern blood is too thin for that kind of northern nonsense.

How about that plane crash in New York City? That was an amazing job getting that plane down in one piece by the pilot. Kudos to him. The local press was reporting on the similarities to our own river crash by an Air Florida plane back in 1982 that went down into the Potomac. First, I can't believe it has been that long ago. Actually the two crashes weren't that similar other than both planes ended up going into a river. The NY crash was caused by bird strikes to the engines. The Air Florida crash was caused by ice on the wings and snow and slush in the engines. The plane didn't have the lift and power necessary to stay airborne. The Air Florida plane sank like a rock after hitting the 14th Street bridge and going through an ice covered river in heavy snow. The NY plane took off in clear weather and manage to set down and stay afloat on an ice free river. Almost everyone died on the Air Florida plane. Of the 83 passengers and crew on board, only 5 survived. I remember we had been let off early because of the snow storm. We were stuck in heavy traffic on I-395 as the news reports began coming in over our car radio. We watched the news coverage of it when we got home, the valiant rescue by the Park Police helicopter, Lenny Skutnik risking his own life to plunge into the icy waters to save a passenger too weak to hold onto the life ring lowered by the helicopter and the passenger, name unknown, who repeatedly helped other passengers by passing the life ring to them only to disappear under the icy water when it was his turn. Here a dramatization of the crash , but not the rescue, I found on YouTube. Funny how life can play out from one tragic event to another.

Edited to Add: Apparently there is video of the rescue. See Daughter#2's comment to this post about how to see additional footage from the same show.

I actually finished our taxes today after being mercilessly beaten down by Ann to get them done. Alas all the nagging was for naught as it turns out we owe this year. How did that happen. I should ask Turbo Tax for a refund. At least the money isn't due until April.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Delurking Day

Today is International Delurking Day, which basically means if you read this site, especially if you read through and RSS reader or some such, today is the day that you click through and leave a comment to say Hi or whatever. We all like to know who is visiting our site. So if you want to say more than Hi, please do. Like write a small bio or at least where are you from. I always get a kick out of that. Goggle Earth is my close friend. So today is your turn to contribute to this site. Have at it and write a comment.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

End of the Season

Today marked the official end of our holiday celebration as we took down our tree and put it out on the curb for the garbage men to pick up in the morning. I always find it so depressing taking the ornaments off the tree and putting it outside. Needless to say, I put it off as long as possible. We were really happy with our tree this year. It's probably one of the best we have ever had. Even in taking it out out today, the needles were still pliable and it still smell piney. I was really sad to see it go. I think we'll seriously consider getting this type of tree next year Goodbye tree.
Before dealing with the tree, I did attend my erg class and managed to finish with slightly over 10,500 meters. A good total for me. I also do the weekend breakfasts so after I got home from the gym and showered, I made waffles for Ann, The Son and myself. We also tried some turkey bacon today. It's a lot less fatty and I had heard, I think on the "Today" show, that it tastes pretty much the same as regular bacon. I thought it was ok ,but my other panel of experts gave it a thumbs down. I guess we are back to the real thing next time we shop. The rest of the day, except for dealing with the tree, was spent lounging in front of the TV watching football games and just maybe slipping into a nap or two in the process.

Saturday Ann, The Son and I traveled up to Fairfax for a lunch of BBQ at Red, Hot and Blue. I do love me some BBQ. I got the pulled pork and rib combo. I was delightfully stuffed when we finished. After lunch we drove across the street (almost literally) to the Patriot Center on the campus of George Mason University. GMU was playing the Monarchs of Old Dominion University from down in the tidewater region of Virginia. As before its good couple hours of fun with GMU winning in the end. We hope to attend a few more games during the course of the season.

Friday was our compressed work schedule day off and payday. Yea! I did the grocery shopping and worked on the books for my rowing club. Nothing too exciting, but it's always nice having a day off.

Hope you had a fun weekend.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The End

Today marks the last post for Holidailies. This is the second year I have participated in this event. At times the words flowed freely and other times it was a struggle to come up with something to write about. Luckily it comes at a time of year where a lot is going on what with the shopping, the preparation, the decorating, the eating and most importantly, the family. The Holidays don't mean nearly as much unless you have someone to share them with. I have reached the stage of my life where my children are now grown (I wonder though sometimes) and live their own lives apart from their mother and I. The days of them waking up at the ass crack of dawn to race downstairs to see what wonders Santa has left is behind us now. I like to think that the magic of Christmas as we exchange gifts these days though is still in their hearts. I know it still exists for me and I'm glad I get to share some of my thoughts with those of you that have dropped by over the proceeding month.

My little blog receives more visits during December due to Holidailes then the rest of the year combined. I like to think I have a little niche talking about the sport of masters rowing interspersed with tidbits of my family and my life. Thank you to those who have dropped by for a read. I hope you found it an enjoyable experience enough that you chose to come back during the rest of the year. Thanks also to the Holidailes Reader Panel who selected my "A Rockwell Christmas" as a Best of Holidailes. Writing it brought back a flood of memories of my childhood Christmases. I like to think that my children fondly remember our traditions and have special memories of their Christmases. They are starting to make their own traditions and memories as they start families of their own. At some point the pitter patter of little feet will return to our house as the grandchildren race downstairs to see what lies under the Christmas tree much as their parents did before them. I know I'll enjoy the ensuing chaos and seeing that special joy on their faces when they open that special present. Afterward we'll all gather around the table for our Christmas feast and experience the joy that comes with being with those that you love.

So from northern Virginia or NOVA as it is referred to hereabouts, here's hoping that your Holidays were all that you hoped them to be and the New Year is as special for you as what you wished for as the clock struck midnight marking the start of the New Year.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back to the Grind

Like many people, today marked the return to my normal routine. Normal for me on a Monday is to get up at 3:30 in order to catch my vanpool at 4:45 to make the 80 mile trip into southern Maryland in order to be at my desk by 6:30. I'd be lying if I said that getting up at 3:30 wasn't hard after sleeping in for the past two weeks. Not that 3:30 is ever all that easy. As I was getting ready I discovered I had forgotten to pick up my shirts from the cleaners. Ooops. I was able to salvage another shirt for today that I don't normally wear anymore. Once on the van, I slept like someone dead to the world all the way in. I was still half asleep as I tried to go through an automatic door that wasn't working. Someone had to mention to try the other door. My day was off to a great start. The best I can say about my first day back was that it was slow. No meetings, my Contractors didn't call and my bosses left me alone. I think everyone was trying to slowly get back into things and plowing through all their unread e-mails. I caught up on some administrative things and did other small tasks before jumping onto the bigger tasks tomorrow. The shock of returning to work was softened somewhat by one of my co-workers preparing a large spice cake with cream cheese frosting. My that was good. There was plenty for me to have a second piece. That made for a nice sugar coma on the way home as I again slept like the dead. I wasn't in the mood to pick up my shirts, but that was unavoidable. I did that while Ann prepared dinner. Tomorrow is another day. It doesn't get any easier.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Year and It's Back to the Gym

You could certainly tell it was the beginning of a new year in my Sunday erg class at the gym. All the people who made New Year resolutions to hit the gym more often and lose that weight or get in better shape help fill the class. Of the 20 or so ergs there were only a few were not in use. We had many more first time rowers than we usually have on any given date. I can't imagine being a first time rower in that class as it's pretty demanding. However the woman rowing next to me kept right up although her form needs a little refinement. New rowers are a good source of rowers for my club so we really try and encourage them along. If they like to erg, they'll definitely like doing it out on the water. Unless they can't swim, of course. I managed to get in 10,000 meters during the class, which is more than enough for me in one sitting.

After erg class, Ann made us tuna sandwiches for lunch and she, The Son and I settled in to watch the football play-offs. We watched the Baltimore Ravens beat up on Miami and once the game was in hand we decided to watch a Netflix movie - "Burn After Reading". I have to say, given the cast, it was a bit disappointing. It had a few good chuckles, but definitely could have been better. After the movie was over, we switched back to football and watched Philly play Minnesota. I think I'm about footballed out for a while anyway.

It will come as quite a shock to have to go back to work tomorrow. Getting up at 3:30 sounds like torture. I haven't had to go in on a Monday since October. Back to the old routine. Retirement sounds better everyday.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Lazy Saturday

It was a lazy day today. We had no real plans and nothing pressing to do. Some of our neighbors were out taking down their Christmas decorations, but we decided to wait a little longer. We're in no real hurry to mark the end of the holiday season. Comcast was suppose to come out today to install a new line into the house, but they never showed and didn't call. I hope they don't come on Monday.

While waiting on Comcast, I decided I was in the mood for a movie and surfed the free movie selection on the On Demand channel. I ended up choosing "Talladega Night". I hadn't seen it before and I was in the mood for something light. It's your typical Will Farrell movie, which was fine. After the movie, Ann snookered me into helping her clean up the office, which sorely needed it.

After the movie I cooked a brunch for Ann, The Son and myself. Just bacon, eggs and toast. After the brunch we settled in for an afternoon and evening of watching basketball and football that finally ended about 11:30 tonight. Now time for bed.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Saga Continues and Speed Racer

Today was my return to work day. Granted a work from home day, but work day nonetheless. In order to do that successfully, I need Internet access. Guess what I didn't have for most of the day? I signed on at 6:30 (yes my work day does start that early) and I had Internet access for a while. Then like clockwork, come 9:00 AM, down it went. It was spotty the rest of the day. We were already scheduled for a service call from Comcast to replace our Gateway (combination cable modem and wireless router) so we didn't call for help. However, Comcast did call us - twice. We went over our problems and they promised action. Our service technician showed up around 2:00 and began the diagnostic work. A second technician joined him shortly thereafter. The box on the street, recently repaired, was still functioning properly. However, their opinion was that the line from the cable box on the street to the back of the house was bad as the signal drop off was too great for anything else. They ran a temporary line from the box to the back of the house. It will take about two weeks to get it buried as Miss Utility has to be notified and the other utility lines marked. After the temporary line was hooked up, they decided the line from the back of the house to the cable modem also needed to be replaced. That's suppose to happen tomorrow. The Gateway? The one the technician from last week call an antique? Not replaced. In fact today's tech called it a pretty good piece of equipment. So who knows. Tomorrow is another day I have to set aside for the cable guy.

The Son also continues to drive us a bit nuts. Friday night is our pizza night. We decided tonight to eat at home rather that at the pizza place. Right after we called in the order, The Son calls and tells us he's been pulled over for speeding on his way home from work. The State Trooper claims he was going 85 mph in a 55 mph zone and tells The Son he could spend the next 24 hours in jail for going that fast and operating his car in a reckless manner. Needless to say The Son is in a panic at this point. He hangs up as the Trooper returns to The Son's car after running his license and tags. I figure at best he gets a ticket for speeding and reckless driving, which usually means a court appearance here in Virginia. So The Son calls back a few minutes later and tells me I have to come pick him up at jail. When I ask him where, The Son laughs and says just kidding. He got off with just a warning. Amazing. I still feel like strangling him.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

When It Rains It Pours

Hope everyone had a safe and fun New Years celebration. Ann and I actually managed to make it to midnight and celebrate with a kiss and a bottle of white sparkling wine. Those are wild times for us.

On the heels of hanging around the house most of the week while our Internet problems were straightened out by Comcast (for the most part - connectivity still seems to be an on and off again proposition), The Son informed us last night, around 10:00 PM that he had no heat and that he had not had heat in his condo most of the week. I mean why wait until then to tell us? Bah. He chose to stay at his condo for the night, but we did take him a ceramic space heater so he had some heat. So today, a holiday, we arranged for a service call. At twice the usual service call price. Turned out his thermostat, which looked about as old as the condo, was bad and needed to be replaced. Oh my god the price of that was unbelievable. I'm glad I didn't have to pay for it. Yikes.

The Son, on a roll, also had lost his cell phone. We went and replaced that for him. Someone needs to grow up a bit. I'm waiting payment for the new phone. He also didn't order new contacts and is now out. It's like we're still raising a middle school kid. After all the running around, we finally got home around 3:30. Sigh. And tomorrow is a work day even if it is from home. So much for Christmas vacation.