Archive for October, 2006|Monthly archive page

A Rant About Daylight Savings Time

Another Daylight Savings Time (DST) has come and gone, and I can’t help but sit back and question whole concept. Most people know the idea of DST is to conserve electricity by adjusting our clock so that we have more hours of sunlight during our waking hours, but do you know why such an adjustment to our clock is necessary? If we need to adjust our clock to give us more hours of sunlight, then how did our ancestors live and work in the hours that we do without the convenience of electric lightening? The answer is pretty simple: they didn’t. Before electricity, people’s lives pretty much revolved around when the sun was in the sky. With the advent of electric lightening, society began to wake up and go to bed later. Generations before electric lighting would pretty much go to bed soon after the sun went down. While DST was created to conserve electricity, the reality is it simply offsets the change that took place in society as a result of electric lighting.

When I read about this recently, I found it fascinating. I couldn’t help but wonder why we don’t just pick a year to shift our clocks forward an hour and leave it that way. Recently a change was made so that DST now begins the second Sunday in March and ends the first Sunday in November. This means 34 weeks of daylight savings time as opposed to 30. The goal is, obviously, to have more afternoon sunlight. I guess that someone has decided that afternoon sunlight isn’t as important in the winter, since we end DST forcing people to drive home from work at 5PM in the dark. We should just accept the fact that society’s hours of operation have shifted, and therefore our clock should shift as well. I really can’t see the benefit we gain from switching our clocks back to normal time for 24 weeks in the winter. Since most people are at home during the evening, any potential energy savings are lost because it is dark when people get home from work. It appears we’ve just come to accept DST as it is and never question the logic.

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Baseball and Amish Cheerleaders

I apologize to those about to read this. I was just feeling in a bit of a crazy mood. Hope it cracks other people up as much as it did me.

Man, the weather is nasty outside. It is something like 50 degrees, but it has been raining ALL DAY. So the ground is saturated and everything just looks wet, cold, and …well…nasty. To make matters worse, Jennifer has been fighting a cold all week. It seemed to hit the low point last night when she started sounding like she was going to hack up a lung. Yum. Best part is, we have an outdoor wedding to attend tomorrow. The good news is it appears that the weather should get better by tomorrow afternoon, and I’ve never known a weatherman to be wrong (cough).

So I heard that the World Series has been on this week. I wouldn’t know, since I don’t watch baseball. Now, I know some people will see this as slander, but I really don’t get it. I’ve seen a few games that I have liked, but in general, I feel like I am sitting around waiting for something exciting to happen. I must not be the only person that isn’t interested in baseball, because ratings of the World Series are down again. Seems like that’s been the same story every few years now.

Sticking with the subject of the World Series, my father-in-law and I have discussed that calling it “The World Series” seems a little grandiose. First, it is just the US and Canada, and last time I checked, there were a few more countries in the world. Calling it the “The American Series” would be a bit more accurate. I guess you rabid baseball fans are probably foaming at the mouth now, but its not like I said all baseball players are doping, pill poppers who think muscles are better than brains. Whoops, now I’ve done it.

By the way, my father-in-law is a fan of baseball and watches the World Series every year, lest you think his opinions are anything like mine. Somehow, we are able to set these differences aside. He’s nowhere near as big a fan as my brother-in-law Bryan. He and his wife actually keep stats on the games they watch for fun. Sounds like more fun than an Amish game of tackle football. Now THAT is a pro sport that would get some ratings….until people realize Amish are pacifist.

Amish line up and two players look in each other in the eyes
Jebediah: Brother Yoder, I believe thou shouldst fall over now lest I have to give thy a hurting.
Yoder: I fear thou willst not touch me, brother Jebediah, for I am burly as an Ox and swift as a deer.
Jebediah: Which reminds me, didst thou receive the bounty of venison I sent over to ye wife?
Ball is snapped
Yoder: I did brother. Tis fine mea…TUMPH…(ball hits Yoder in back of the head).

Doubt there would be many guys going to those games for the cheerleaders.

Bill: Did you see the bonnet on that one?
Tom: Yeah man, and check out the apron on her.
Bill: Sweeeeeeet…

Grace and the Goldfish

Well, I haven’t had much time to blog lately, but I thought I’d tell a quick story.  After Grace’s bath tonight, I put her in her booster seat for a snack like we always do.  At first, she wanted grapes.  I gave her four of them.  She sat there and played with them for a while, so I picked one up, bit it in half and made yummy noises.  She immediately reached for the grape I had bitten in half.  When I gave it to her she put it in her mouth and smiled really big.  She then lifted up another grape to my mouth.  I bit that one in half and handed it to her.  She stuffed that one in her mouth as well.  Now, these were not small grapes.  Her little cheeks are popping out at this point because she had both grapes in her mouth.  She preceded to hand me another grape and I explained to her she had to swallow what she had.  She didn’t seem to like that, but I took the rest of the grapes away and she didn’t have much of a choice.

After getting down the two grapes, she started pointing at the counter.  I couldn’t figure out what she was saying.  She has a few things she can say really well now.  “Duck” is one of them.  It is funny because it starts out with a “Duh” and the end sounds like she is trying to cough up phlegm.  By the way, thanks Google for telling me the correct spelling of phlegm.  I entered “flem” and it made the suggestion.  Amazing.

On with my story…

I eventually figured out that she was pointing to the thing that we usually put her Goldfish crackers in.  I filled it with some crackers and handed it to her.  After she ate a few crackers, I decided to take the container away.  She burst into tears.  I mean genuinely upset with tears.  Heart broken.  I don’t usually fall for this, but maybe because she has a cold or because I am not feeling great myself, I gave in tonight and gave the container back.  She proceeded to pour out the Goldfish onto her tray.  She then put them back into the container by the handfuls, dumped the container out again, and filled it again.  I think she did it 20 times or so.  I watched her about 10 of those trying to figure out what was going through her precious little mind.  It was adorable to watch because she was concentrating so hard on what she was doing.

Anyway, after that her and I sat down and watched an episode of Jojo’s circus before I put her to bed.  It was a fun evening.

Weekend and More

Wow. It has been a while since I had some time to post on my blog. Last week was busy. I won’t go into the details, mostly because it would probably bore you to tears. I have discovered that busy does not always equal interesting. I actually started typing a blog entry at the end of last week to summarize what had happened, but it was boring for me to type it. Now, no one else may find my blog interesting, but I know I am in trouble when I am boring myself. All I will say is that Jennifer had a baby appointment last week and everything was fine. The rest of this post will probably sound scatter brained, because I am just going to cover a few topics real quick.

Sunday afternoon I took the time to wash my car. You know your car is dirty when there is green goo under your spoiler. I don’t neglect my car. I get the oil changed like I should and do the other routine things, but washing it is just one of those things that gets pushed to the back burner. It usually gets pretty dirty before I wash it, but this is probably the worst it has ever been. I really didn’t realize how dirty it was until it was clean. It is (supposed to be) white, so after the wash, I felt like it was going to blind me when I looked at it.

Boy, has it been getting cold at night around here. Over the weekend it dipped into the upper 20’s overnight. Saturday morning our thermometer said it was 26 degrees outside. Bur. The weather this time of year drives me nuts. Indoors it gets to around 80 during the day but then drops down really low at night. Last year this time I think we must have been paranoid about keeping the temperature right from Grace, because I remember us running the heat at night an AC during the day. So far, this fall we are getting away with just keeping the windows opened during the day.

Anyway, that’s about all I have to say for the moment.

Ain’t no shrimp like a Blue Ridge shrimp

I feel inspired to write a song. The mountins of our state (Virginia) are not known for producting great seafood, but that may be about to change. A place called Blue Ridge Aquaculture is being built right here in Martinsville in partnership with Virginia Tech. The goal? To raise better tasting, healthier shrimp.

Click here for the full article

Vacation Memories – Part 3

Wow, I have really slacked on getting around to writing this. This will be the last installment and it is pretty long. I almost broke it in two, but decided I would rather finish this up here so I don’t have to sit down and write another post about the vacation. It is getting harder and harder to remember details, but sitting down and doing this has really helped me commit things that happened to memory.

I believe we’re up to Friday. We spent the first part of Friday at Ripley’s Aquarium. We were pretty sure that Grace would love the aquarium because she really likes fish and aquariums in general. We weren’t disappointed. When we first walked in the door, there was a large, round aquarium and Grace was immediately mesmerized by it. After leaving the big aquarium at the entrance, we quickly walked through an exhibit about Mars. Yes, you read that correctly. The aquarium had an exhibit about Mars. It was pretty interesting, but out of place. We moved through it quickly to get to the part we had paid for.

The first REAL exhibit contained fish from the Amazon. Grace did not like the piranhas. Now, for those who have never seen a piranha in person, they are actually quite boring to look at.  They sit eerily still. That is sort of the weird thing. Instead of swimming, they seem to just float around. Still, I don’t think that the near lifeless fish were what Grace did not like. I think it was the creepy, horror movie music that was playing in the exhibit.

Next to the piranha aquarium was another tank with some more fish from the Amazon. There was a sign that explained how one of the fish in the tank was able to jump six feet out of the water and into the air. Jennifer pointed out that there was only about 3 to 4 feet between the surface of the water and the top of the tank, which did not have a cover. We decided it was time to move on.

We moved on to the next exhibit that had tons of reef fish. Grace loved watching the brightly colored fish       . After the reef exhibit we came to one of those long tunnels that you walk or ride through while sharks, string rays and other fish swim over your head. Grace pointed and giggled as we made our way through it. We have also been to the Ripley’s aquarium in Gatlinburg, and I couldn’t help but think there were more sharks swimming around at that one. I never thought I would find myself wishing there were more sharks swimming around me.

In the center of the aquarium was a large touch tank that was surrounded by various things for kids to play with and on. There was a tunnel to crawl through, some large valves that were part of an exhibit about how the aquarium water is maintained, and another area that was setup to look like a pirate ship or something. We started by letting Grace run through the tunnel. She loved it, especially when some other kids started crawling through the tunnel with her. I just knew she was going to run through as fast as she could and smack her head on something, but she was pretty careful about it. She also spent some time playing with the valves at the water exhibit and tried to turn the wheel on the pirate ship.

After all that fun, Grace wasn’t about to hold mommy’s or daddy’s hand anymore. She had tasted freedom and it was too good. It was at this point that angel Grace turned into…um…not so angel Grace. It was sort of funny though. If you grabbed her hand, she would just go limp and lay on the ground. There was no temper tantrum or screaming. She would just lie there. It was an instantaneous response. If you let go of her hand, she would almost immediately get up. If you grabbed her hand again, limp Gracie returned. It was sort of entertaining as she was so methodical about it. It was past her nap time and it had been a big morning, so after a few minutes we decided it was time for us to leave. I picked Grace up and we all headed for the car.

On the way home we stopped by a seafood market to pick up some seafood for us to cook and eat that evening. Grace had fallen asleep on the way to the market, so Jennifer stayed in the car while I went in to get the seafood. While I was standing in the market waiting to be served, Jennifer walked in holding an alert Gracie. “She woke up and said, ‘Where’s Dada?’” Jennifer told me. We bought some fresh scallops and grouper for our dinner and left.

We got back to Ocean Lakes and we decided to make a trip to the pool, knowing full well that Grace probably wouldn’t like it. We first tried going to the large, outdoor kiddie pool they had. It was pretty neat. It had one of those mushrooms that had water running out the top and over the sides. It also had another thing that towered out of the pool with arms extending outward at the top. There were buckets at the end of each arm that filled with water and dumped when they were full. It looked like something you’d find in a water park, but Grace wasn’t impressed. She wouldn’t even let us put her feet in the pool. We decided to retreat to the heated, indoor pool to see if we would have more luck there. We had a little more luck as she was fine sitting on the edge and kicking in the water, but she wouldn’t let either one of us take her out into the pool. She also didn’t like it the first time she saw me go under the water, but eventually it didn’t bother her.

Since Grace didn’t get a very long nap, we decided to get her ready for bed and put her down fairly early so we could make our fresh seafood. Jennifer prepared the meal while I fed Gracie and put her to bed. The meal wound up being fantastic, and we really enjoyed the peace and quiet.

The next day was Saturday, and was our last day to do stuff. We started it by making another trip to the beach. This time, Jennifer said she wanted to leave Grace’s sandals on and see if it made a difference, and did it ever. Jennifer held Gracie’s had as we walked onto the beach. She walked all the way to the beach on her own, which was way more than she did on the first trip. I then sat her down in the sand and she even played with her toys for a little while sitting in the sand. Being the little ball of energy she is, that didn’t last too long. She wanted to run, and run she did. In fact, she ran all over the beach. Jennifer and I sat there and watched her, and one of us would run in grab her if she started to wander too far off. She loved the sea shells, and she would pick them up, look at them, hold them in the air, and then put them in her mouth. It was a much better experience at the beach then the first trip.

That evening went to a Seafood buffet we had a coupon for and had been planning to go to all week. I wasn’t all that impressed with the quality of food, but the selection was fine. Jennifer feasted on Crab Legs while I tried a little bit of everything that looked good to me. The saddest part was the desert buffet. They didn’t have ice cream and most of the stuff they did have didn’t taste all the great. The most interesting part about the restaurant was they had a “live” mermaid. This was essentially a girl in a bathing suit with some sort of fish tail thing strapped around her legs. I took Grace to see the mermaid. I was pretty sure the girl in the pool was the same girl that was on the register where we had paid, so I found that amusing. Guess cashier duty was over. Anyway, when she saw Gracie, the cashier turned mermaid splashed her tail up out of the water and made a wave, which apparently tickled Grace because she laughed about it. Then the mermaid made Grace a necklace and gave it to her.

After we left the restaurant, we headed back to Broadway at the Beach for a final visit to check out the stores on the side didn’t get to on Wednesday. Nothing impressive to talk about there, none of the stores were that memorable. They had a store that sold tee shirts and memorabilia from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. It was mostly stuff from the 80’s, and it was mostly tee shirts. Several of the stores we visited sit along a lake that is in the middle of Broadway at the Beach. There were machines along the docks so you could feed the fish that were in the lake. I am pretty sure they were carp. Jennifer had apparently never done this before and was enthralled with feeding the fish. That’s right, I said Jennifer. She every quarter I had (all two of them) to get handfuls of fish food to sling in the water. Grace found it fun to watch, but she became much more interested in the ducks and the fireball was shooting in the air across the lake. A putt-putt place across the lake had a volcano that seemed to go off every 5 minutes. When it went off, would Grace point and shriek with glee. She must have found it very impressive. Meanwhile, Jennifer fed the fish and ducks, paying no attention to the fire in the sky. Later, as we continued to walk along the lake, the volcano went off and I heard Jennifer say, “What was that?” I couldn’t believe she hadn’t noticed it before or how excited it making our daughter. She said, “I heard you saying something about fire, but I had no idea what you were talking about.” Now, when I hear people talk about fire shooting out of something, I generally take notice, but that’s probably just the pyromaniac in my. Anyway, I picked on her about how mesmerized she had been by those fish.

That night both Jennifer and struggled with stomach issues. We believe that we got food poisoning from the seafood restaurant. So, the last night of our vacation involved many trips to the bathroom. Jennifer still had a touch of nausea in the morning and wound up puking up her breakfast. I was fine by the morning. Jennifer was better by lunch time on Sunday.

Anyway, that concludes a review of our vacation. Hope everyone has enjoyed it. We enjoyed the trip. Check out the pictures we have uploaded to our Flickr account to see pictures of the trip.

Blog Ideas and Documentation

I cannot believe it is already Friday. I have been meaning to post stuff all week and haven’t got around to it. I seem to remember coming up with an idea for a post that would have been halarious, but can’t seem to remember what it was now. You ever been there? You think to yourself, “Oh! I’m gonna blog about that when I get home.” Then, when you get home, you either forget about what it was or don’t have time to do it. I’ve been having that problem a lot lately.

This was a fairly boring week at work. I’ve been writing documentation for a project I just finished. Documenting is never fun. For the most part, you write a bunch of statements that are, at best, childish sounding, and at worst, downright insulting. Stuff like, “To create a new item click the new item button,” or “Press delete to delete the item.” Occationally you might get to type stuff that doesn’t sound like an eleborate guide to the obvious, but rarely. Part of the problem is I am the programmer and I know how it works, so it is somewhat insulting for someone to suggest that I programmed something someone won’t know how to use. Also, I know the reality. Where I work I usually don’t have to handle support calls, but when I do, inevitably I ask the question, “Did you read the manual?” I believe the typical reply is, “What manual?” Not exactly what I would call a motivator, but there you have it. I get to sit around typing obvious statements into a Word document that no one will ever read.

Actually, it must have been a boring week all around because that documentation bit is the only thing I can think to talk about. How sad. I would tell you about what I am doing this weekend but it is a secret. That makes it sound special, but it really isn’t. I have this business idea for a web site that I have been meaning to get started on, and I have made it a priority to get some work done on it this Saturday. I don’t know if the idea will be as good as it seems to me at the moment. I’m sure the biggest pain will be getting the word out about the site once it is ready.

Hope everyone has a good weekend.

The Pool of Pain

It has occurred to me that very evil people who wish to make parents miserable and control insects manufacture inflatable pools. Back at the beginning of the summer, we saw this nice large paddling pool and we bought it for Grace. It was only about $20 and was fairly large. It even had a wading pool, slide, and various inflatable toys. We put it on our deck, and Grace used it a few times this summer. For the last few weeks it has simply been sitting on our deck, gathering more and more grime and slime. I kept telling myself I’d get around to moving it, “next weekend”.

Well, “next weekend” finally arrived on Saturday when I figured the mosquitoes had pretty much had all the time they needed time to nest and breed on our deck. The pool and water were gross. Granted, it had nothing on DeWitte’s pool, but it was still a nasty site. Thanks to shows like House, I was pretty paranoid about cleaning the thing out. Seems like they always suspect mold other such things when they are diagnosing the nastiest of diseases. Since what I know about medicine is almost entirely limited to ER, House, and the “if you take this drug it will melt your brain” specials that appear on 20/20 from time to time, I had to assume what was living in my pool was nothing short of the mold that would equal certain doom.

The first order of business was to get the toxic water out. Remember how I said the pool was pretty big? Well, it seemed good at the time, but getting the water out was a pain. I didn’t realize how much water was in the pool until I picked up the one corner and started walking to the opposite corner to push the water out. I didn’t get very far before the weight of the water prevented me from moving forward any further. I stopped and thought for a moment. The best idea I could come up with must have looked ridiculous to an observer, but it was the best way I could think to get the water out to a point I could flip the pool. The plan went something like this: I would pick up my corner and run towards the opposite corner with all the force I could muster. This created a wave that pushed massive amounts of water out of the pool and over the edge of my deck. It must have looked like some schizophrenic wrestling match with the pool. I should have started screaming, “Take this you foul plastic pool of death!” just in case some neighbors were watching.

After using my brilliant water removal method a dozen or so times, I had forced enough water out to flip the pool over. The remainder of the toxic sludge then went all over our deck. I decided it would be best if I cleaned the biohazard up. I considered calling the HAZMAT team, but figured they would not be as concerned as I was and ramble off some bureaucratic nonsense. Anyway, I performed my own clean up using our water hose. I then used the water hose to clear the slime out of the bottom of the pool that had formed due to the months of neglect. I spent the rest of the day cleaning and scrubbing the gunk off the pool.

Sunday afternoon I took the time to deflate the pool, which I assumed would be the easy part. Initially, I sat down in the grass and opened the first air hole (of about 5). I started hugging the pool to get the air out of it. I’m sure the neighbors who watched me get the water out Saturday assumed that the pool and the “special” person were now making up after their fight the day before.

While you are sitting in your yard, you start to notice lots of things. For me, it was the number of bugs that were crawling around. I had never really taken time to observe this before, but it seemed like they were everywhere. This didn’t bother me until the hairy tarantula walked by and winked at me. I’m sure it wasn’t a tarantula, but its size and appearance made me feel less comfortable about sitting on the ground. I decided that if I kept my eyes on the guy, I would be OK. I really wasn’t in the mood to find out if this spider bit and if it was poisonous. Then it occurred to me that if there was one spider, that there could be more and I really didn’t feel like having one of these guys crawl up my pants leg, shirt, butt crack, or…it was then I realized that in my paranoia I had completely lost site of my little eight legged friend. I immediately sprang to my feet and brushed my clothing to make sure it hadn’t snuck in. I then proceeded to hug and squeeze the air out of the pool and continued to observe the many bugs that called my yard home.

To get the air out of the slide, I put the it on the ground and pushed down on the top to push the air out. It was at the point a bee that appeared to have been mutated by cosmic radiation flew by within inches of my face. Its massive wings cooled my face as it flew by. I stood up straight again and saw it was just a large bumblebee as it flew into the distance. I could have swore I heard the thing laughing at me as if flew away.

I finally got sick of letting the air out of the slide, folded the pool up and threw it in our shed. It was then I remembered that Jennifer had a box for me to put in the shed sitting in our bedroom. At the beginning of the summer when we bought the shed, I was pretty sure it would remain fairly empty for months (and years) to come. I was an idealistic, naive fool. After a mere 3 or 4 months, the left side has boxes stacked about halfway up the building and the right side has an exercise machine and the garden tools I rarely use. The middle has 2 bikes we have never ridden and our lawn mower. It is not full, but it is getting cramped. I had to pull out the lawn mower, bikes, and our Christmas tree to get the single box of clothes in the shed and in places. Sheesh, time to start sending messages to that FreeCycle thing.