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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day


It only happens once every four years, and today it happened.  An extra day on the calendar, and since it is a Wednesday, I have to work.  Is it really fair to have that extra day as a work day ?  The Mayans didn’t care, and did not even add in the variation in the solar orbit, as they were more concerned with the seasons and when to plant and harvest crops.

There are some interesting things in regard to the Leap day, how it came to be.  This is the first year that I have really given it much thought.


No calendar used today is perfect. They are off by seconds, minutes, hours or days every year, when compared to the tropical year, as per the table below.
Name of calendar
When introduced
Average year
Approximate error introduced
AD 1582
365.2425 days
27 seconds (1 day every 3,236 years)
45 BC
365.25 days
11 minutes (1 day every 128 years)
365-day calendar
-
365 days
6 hours (1 day every 4 years)
Lunar calendar
ancient
12-13 moon-months
variable

Why do we need Leap Years?
Leap Years are needed to keep our calendar in alignment with the Earth's revolutions around the sun. It takes the Earth approximately 365.242199 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds (a tropical year) – to circle once around the Sun.

Women propose to their men
According to an old Irish legend, or possibly history, St Bridget struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every 4 years. This is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way to how Leap Day balances the calendar.
They should never have put Feb. 29 on the calendar. Imagine what you and I could do with one day in which we didn't have to bind ourselves to a numbered date, one day with no prescribed obligations, no appointments, no work, no boss, no meetings, no mail, no media programming. That day would be a get-out-of-jail-free card, a day with a blank slate, a day of unordered possibilities, a day wiped clean.
How would you spend such a day?

This day in history” On February 29, 1940, Gone with the Wind is honored with eight Oscars by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. An epic Southern romance set during the hard times of the Civil War, the movie swept the prestigious Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Cinematography, Art Direction, Film Editing, and Actress categories. However, the most momentous award that night undoubtedly went to Hattie McDaniel for her portrayal of "Mammy," a housemaid and former slave. McDaniel, who won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award, was the first African American actress or actor ever to be honored with an Oscar.”

By the time I write the blog, it is already 9pm, and my phone is ringing.  There is a problem at work.  As I said above, the day should be a freebie, a day off.  Instead, it is almost "gone with the wind".

Hello March !!

Photo of the day “Leap Day”


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

DNA


I head home from work and figure that roast beef without mashed potatoes is going to disappoint the gang.  Since Luke has practice and I want to go to the gym, I decide to stop at the Holbrook diner and buy mashed potatoes instead of stopping at the market to pick up potatoes.

Get the roast in the oven early, and then Sue txt me to tell me she went to the gym.  Dinner will be ready at 5:15 so I hope she gets home in time.   There seems to be no end in sight for this nice winter weather we are experiencing.  Not that I want to jinx it or anything.

At work, I ran into Phyllis, an operations manager, and I asked her how things are going.  She says good, but she is not sure how many more years she can deal with winters on Long Island.  Phyllis if given the choice will be by the pool or at the beach tanning if the temperature is 70 degrees or better.  If only Thomson Reuters had a job opening in Miami, or Atlanta.

This day in history “On this day in 1953, Cambridge University scientists James D. Watson and Frances H.C. Crick announce that they have determined the double-helix structure of DNA, the molecule containing human genes.
Though DNA--short for deoxyribonucleic acid--was discovered in 1869, its crucial role in determining genetic inheritance wasn't demonstrated until 1943. In the early 1950s, Watson and Crick were only two of many scientists working on figuring out the structure of DNA. California chemist Linus Pauling suggested an incorrect model at the beginning of 1953, prompting Watson and Crick to try and beat Pauling at his own game. On the morning of February 28, they determined that the structure of DNA was a double-helix polymer, or a spiral of two DNA strands, each containing a long chain of monomer nucleotides, wound around each other. According to their findings, DNA replicated itself by separating into individual strands, each of which became the template for a new double helix. In his best-selling book, The Double Helix (1968), Watson later claimed that Crick announced the discovery by walking into the nearby Eagle Pub and blurting out that "we had found the secret of life." The truth wasn’t that far off, as Watson and Crick had solved a fundamental mystery of science--how it was possible for genetic instructions to be held inside organisms and passed from generation to generation.”

This genetic material, the building blocks if you will may even get mentioned in ancient times.  The story of Noah, the great flood, and the renewal of life after the cleansing flood is a perfect example.  What if the ark contained the DNA of every know organism on the planet, and was used after the flood to repopulate the world.  It would have been kind of hard to fill the ark with two of everything.

I head to the gym for an hour and then swing around to pick up Luke for soccer practice.  While at practice I read a few magazines at the library.  Back home to watch the 2nd half of American Idol.  The talent is off the hook.

Photo of the day “DNA”


Monday, February 27, 2012

Mardi Gras

Winter break comes to an end today and Kyle, Luke, and Sue have to get up early to go to school and work.   It is tough getting up early, and if you think about the school districts buses and start times, they have it all mixed up.  High School catches the bus at 0630, Middle School at 0730, and Elementary at let’s say 0830.  So the teenagers who want and need their sleep are up earliest, followed by the tweens in the middle, and the youngest, who wake up early anyway are the ones who can sleep late.

So much for logic, so I am guessing in the old days, students in HS wanted to get out early do they can work at a job after school.  Most employers won’t hire kids till they are 16 or 17, and by that time, they don’t really want to work at McDonald's.  Still, there is always sports practice and after school activities to keep the students and parents hopping.

This day in History “On this day in 1827, a group of masked and costumed students dance through the streets of New Orleans, Louisiana, marking the beginning of the city's famous Mardi Gras celebrations.
The celebration of Carnival--or the weeks between Twelfth Night on January 6 and Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Christian period of Lent--spread from Rome across Europe and later to the Americas. Nowhere in the United States is Carnival celebrated as grandly as in New Orleans, famous for its over-the-top parades and parties for Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday), the last day of the Carnival season.”

Speaking about keeping things hopping, New Orleans will be hosting one of the biggest parties.  I have never been to Mardi Gras, but recall a co-worker names Marty, saying how he will celebrate Marty Gras instead.  Sue’s brother Don, met his wife Cherie in New Orleans some years back during the celebration and have been together ever since.  Cherie had a big scare recently, and had to have a few stents put in.  We wish her a speedy recovery.

Spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, and then decided to take a quick trip to the gym for a workout.  Went to Unique fitness only 2 miles away and will make a decision if I want to join there and leave Planet fitness which is much further away.

It is funny how Cablevision sent an email today detailing that we make have service disruptions soon.  “Important information about your TV service


Between 2/29 and 3/8, you may notice a very brief interruption in TV service due to Sun Outages. These interruptions last only a few minutes and are caused by the sun's interference with satellites that deliver TV service. The service will be restored automatically and there is nothing you will need to do. For a complete schedule of anticipated times and channels affected, click here.

As detailed in the blog earlier this year, be on the lookout for Sun Spots or Solar Flares.  They are coming, and may disrupt more than you TV service.


Photo of the day “Mardi Gras”



Sunday, February 26, 2012

Snow Blower

This Sunday morning, Sue gets up with Kyle at like 6am to get ready to go the field for a soccer match.  Are we having fun or what?  I stay in bed, even though it is tough for me to sleep with the shower and hair dryer.  It gets quiet and I fall back to sleep, only to be woken up by a blackberry message from an engineer on my team.  He is in St Louis, so it is even earlier for him.

I spend the next hour or so helping to sort out a problem an work, and then make a cup of coffee.  I txt Sue for the score of the soccer match, and she says it ended with a loss 2-1.  This means the team will not be playing a final 4th game this weekend.  That’s how it goes sometimes.  Sue picks up bagels, cream cheese and lox for breakfast on her way home.  We down for breakfast and to watch the end of a soccer match on TV.

The parts for my snow blower arrived, and with no more soccer matches today, I call Anthony to see if he can swing by to finish the repair.  There is no immediate threat of snow, but I have had this snow blower sitting in disrepair since last year.  I am in luck, he happens to be in the area already and will swing by later.
I head off to Home Deposit , I mean Home Depot to get some laminate flooring glue, and some finishing moldings, and transitions for the doorways.  I also return the new jig saw that I never opened as all cuts were either made with the borrowed table saw or by hand.  I get home, and Sue and Luke are heading out to church.

This day in History “Herbert Henry Dow is born”   A pioneer in the American chemical industry and founded the Dow Chemical Company (1896). Dow developed and patented an entirely new electrolytic method for extracting bromine from the prehistoric brine trapped underground at Midland, Mich. and in 1890 organized the Midland Chemical Company. The Dow process was remarkable in that it did not result in a salt by-product, that it operated on comparatively little fuel and it was the first commercially successful use of the direct-current generator in the American chemical industry. He next developed the electrolysis of sodium chloride in order to yield sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) and chlorine for bleaching powder. In 1916, Dow extracted magnesium, a very lightweight metal from brine, and quickly saw its importance as a structural metal. His first patent was issued in 1889. By 1933 he had over 90 patents. His diverse inventions included electric light carbons, steam and internal combustion engines, automatic furnace controls, and water seals, though most of his inventions were chemical in nature.

I am quite sure that the laminate flooring glue that was purchased today had some Dow chemical in it.  The snow blower no doubt with its plastic housing, and rubberized auger paddles has also benefited from Dow.  I am pretty sure that nearly every product we purchase has a piece of DOW patents in it.

Oh yeah, Anthony fixed my snow blower so I am ready for winter.  Will it snow again this year ?

Photo of the day “Snow Blower”


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Peaches

Up early on a Saturday morning.  Check out a new gym by the house called Unique Fitness.  We take Kyle to soccer match and the wind is out of control.  Back home in the afternoon, and Luke and I go to Costco.   They have some really big canned items.

This day in history "American drive-in movie theaters experienced their golden era during the 1950s, but some Floridians were watching movies under the stars in their cars even before then: The city of Miami gets its first drive-in on this day in 1938. The Miami drive-in charged admission of 35 cents per person, which was more than the average ticket price at an indoor theater, and soon had to trim the price to 25 cents per person."

After dinner, we go to Luke soccer game.  His team squeaks out a win in the last 5 minutes of the game.  We watch a Netflix movie, no drive in for us.

Photo of the day "Peaches"


6 Lb. Can of Peaches

Friday, February 24, 2012

An Apple a Day


Yesterday was another unseasonably warm day on Long Island, and records were set.  Things changed a little overnight and we had a gusty and rainy day today.   It was one of those mornings that you just don’t feel like getting out of bed, and knowing that Sue and the boys could sleep in, made it even worse.  I reset the alarm for 7am and decided to work from home.

Took a break at around 10am and finished building the TV Stand, or should I say credenza.  Credenza it is, and with the help of Kyle after lunch, we moved the old TV stand out of the family room, and moved the new credenza in.

Sue, Kyle, and Luke had dentist appointments right after lunch so I continued working until they got back home.  At that point, I was itching to get the new TV, cable box, DVD player, etc. hooked up.  The credenza looks like it was made for the corner we have it in, and everything fits in nice.  Actually have more room now and a couple of drawers to hide movies, remotes and whatever else gets in the way.

There is a break in the weather as Kyle gets picked up by Mike to head to the soccer field for an outdoor tournament.  Players are supposed to be at the filed 1 hour ahead of the game, and this time, Sue and I can catch up, and get to the field shortly before game time.  I sure hope the weather holds out, the forecast is for high winds, rain, and a temperature drop.  All the ingredients necessary for a miserable outdoor experience, especially for the players who can’t seek shelter.  There is nothing worse than losing body heat when wet.

This day in history “Steven Paul Jobs was an American inventor and entrepreneur who, in 1976, co-founded Apple Inc. with Steve Wozniak to manufacture personal computers. During his life he was issued or applied for 338 patents as either inventor or co-inventor of not only applications in computers, portable electronic devices and user interfaces, but also a number of others in a range of technologies. From the outset, he was active in all aspects of the Apple company, designing, developing and marketing. After the initial success of the Apple II series of personal computers, the Macintosh superseded it with a mouse-driven graphical interface. Jobs kept Apple at the forefront of innovative, functional, user-friendly designs with new products including the iPad tablet and iPhone. Jobs was also involved with computer graphics movies through his purchase (1986) of the company that became Pixar”

Apple is perhaps the best run and most successful company in the world.  Everyone on the planet wants one of their devices, and some have all three (iPod, iPad, iPhone).  When I was growing up in the information technology business, we all agreed at the early stages that Apple was an innovator, not a copier or re-user of technology like Microsoft.   Little did we know that if we invested a couple of thousand dollars in Apple stock as opposed to buying our first Pentium desktop, we would probably be retiring by now.

Kyle was not so lucky in terms of weather, as it started raining.  Sue and got to the field at 6pm and the game was already underway.  When I walked out thru the mud with umbrella in hand to ask the other parents if I missed anything, they told me the score was 2-1 in our favor.  Seems the teams and referees decided to start 15 minutes early due to the inclement weather.  Anyway, we get to see a couple of more goals, and the MC United team (Kyle’s team wins 4-1).

While at the field I receive a call from my boss’s boss, in regard to an editorial outage.  I make some phone calls while still at the field to have my engineers check things out.  When I get home, we continue troubleshooting and having our recovery and management meetings until all is resolved.   Last call ended at 1030.

I asked my boss earlier today if I, and a couple of engineers on my team can get an iPhone to replace our blackberry’s.  The answer unfortunately was no.  Finance area won’t allow it.  I am too poor to buy and pay for my own iPhone, so blackberry it is.  Still iWant.....

Photo of the day “An Apple a Day”


Thursday, February 23, 2012

TV Stand


Time fly’s when you are having fun.   After work today, I dropped Kyle off at soccer practice and then headed home.  His friend Mike is going to have his dad pick them up from practice later.  I make a couple of frozen tacos and taquitos for dinner and then proceeded to do some more work around the house.  I am really neglecting my workouts and exercise routine.

The TV stand has to get built, and the flat packed 150lb box with copious amounts of hardware is awaiting and almost daring me to try and solve the puzzle.  I intend to at least make a dent tonight so forget about watching TV.

After sorting thru all the boards, and trim, and wrap my head around the letters and numbers of the parts, I dive in.  No cursing, no pain, no frustration….I have built these Sauder furniture kits before, and they seem to be getting, dare I say, easier.

This day in history “US FLAG RAISED AT IWO JIMA” During the bloody Battle for Iwo Jima, U.S. Marines from the 3rd Platoon, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Regiment of the 5th Division take the crest of Mount Suribachi, the island's highest peak and most strategic position, and raise the U.S. flag. Marine photographer Louis Lowery was with them and recorded the event. American soldiers fighting for control of Suribachi's slopes cheered the raising of the flag, and several hours later more Marines headed up to the crest with a larger flag. Joe Rosenthal, a photographer with the Associated Press, met them along the way and recorded the raising of the second flag along with a Marine still photographer and a motion-picture cameraman.”

After reading this, it makes me feel patriotic.  I keep saying I prefer to buy American made goods and services.  Today, I am proud to say that my Sauder TV Stand is manufactured at Sauder Woodworking Company in Archbold, Ohio.

Most of the TV Stand is complete.  Just have to assemble the drawers and place the shelves.  Made In America.

Photo of the day “TV Stand”


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Basement Floor Day 3


Back to work after a long weekend and a host of problems to get to the bottom of.  I was fortunate today to be able to get thru emails, work through incidents, and get everything under control by 430.  We decided to grab some fried calamari and a slice of pizza this Ash Wednesday instead of spaghetti and white clam sauce.

Luke wanted to go shop for a new pair of soccer cleats as practice has moved outside again and his ‘outdoor’ cleats don’t fit anymore.  We go to Sports Authority, and as usual their $10 0off coupon is useless as their selection of soccer cleats is horrible.  Gotta go to Mo’s, Modell’s.  Once at Modell’s, it looks like the same, a very limited choice and not too many youth sizes.   Luke doesn’t like them first go around, but then decides to try on a flashy pair of Adidas.  Typically it is Nike Mercurial or nothing….

He likes the flashy blue and red (or orange) cleat and it fits.  We make haste, and ring out without any extras.  Imagine getting out of the store with a pair of cleats for a steal….$34.99.   I looked at some running shoes, but like a lot of things, the new ones with the zig zag soles are just not me.  Besides, I don’t really need new running shoes yet.

This day in history “
In one of the most dramatic upsets in Olympic history, the underdog U.S. hockey team, made up of college players, defeats the four-time defending gold-medal winning Soviet team at the XIII Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York. The Soviet squad, previously regarded as the finest in the world, fell to the youthful American team 4-3 before a frenzied crowd of 10,000 spectators. Two days later, the Americans defeated Finland 4-2 to clinch the hockey gold.
The Soviet team had captured the previous four Olympic hockey golds, going back to 1964, and had not lost an Olympic hockey game since 1968. Three days before the Lake Placid Games began, the Soviets routed the U.S. team 10-3 in an exhibition game at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Americans looked scrappy, but few blamed them for it--their average age, after all, was only 22, and their team captain, Mike Eruzione, was recruited from the obscurity of the Toledo Blades of the International League.


Few had high hopes for the seventh-seeded U.S. team entering the Olympic tournament, but the team soon silenced its detractors, making it through the opening round of play undefeated, with four victories and one tie, thus advancing to the four-team medal round. The Soviets, however, were seeded No. 1 and as expected went undefeated, with five victories in the first round.


On Friday afternoon, February 22, the American amateurs and the Soviet dream team met before a sold-out crowd at Lake Placid. The Soviets broke through first, with their new young star, Valery Krotov, deflecting a slap shot beyond American goalie Jim Craig's reach in the first period. Midway through the period, Buzz Schneider, the only American who had previously been an Olympian, answered the Soviet goal with a high shot over the shoulder of Vladislav .”

It seems more and more that sports teams become dream teams.  Beating the odds and pushing aside the belief that they are not good enough.  On any given Sunday, or with my guys, sometimes Saturday and Sunday, we get to watch them beat better teams, and lose to others we think are not as good. 

I get an hour or so in the basement to finish the last few rows of flooring before Luke tells me that Survivor is on.  He goes to pause the show, and like the last few times we try to pause a show, the cable box (DVR) glitches and restarts.  It is weird how this keeps happening, and frustrating as you end up missing the first 5 minutes of the show.

I have started to trim the moldings that used to snap back into their tracks and are now off since the floor goes under the molding as opposed to up against it like the carpet before we got flooded.  So, a brief day 3 update on the basement…97% done.  Will take another picture next week or when the room starts to get decorated and furnished.

Photo of the day “Basement Floor Day 3”



Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Basement Floor day 2


My extra day off was really a work day in a sense as I spent most of the day working on the basement.  While Sue, Kyle, and Luke slept in, I started working in the drop ceiling as it is a quiet piece of work.  Once the gang was up and about, I continued laying the flooring.  This is a noisy proposition with table saw, and hammer to coax (force) the tongue and groove to meet.

I stopped mid day to make a sandwich and a noticed that my back, neck, and knees were already taking a beating from doing work that I don’t normally do.  I have to give tradesman, and laborer’s a lot of credit for doing this kind of work day and day out.

Kyle, Luke and Sue were busy cleaning up the main part of the house.  Kyle and Luke painting various parts of the stairs, banister, and wall and things are really shaping up.  The day went by and before I knew it was dinner time.  Took a break and made some paella, and soon after eating, I went back to the basement.

This day in history “John Mercer English chemist and industrialist who invented the mercerisation process for treating cotton which is still in use today and was a pioneer in colour photography. From age 16, and throughout his life, he investigated and developed chemical textile dyes. Late in his life, in 1844, he found that when cotton is treated with caustic chemicals, it became thicker and shorter - thereby stronger and shrink-resistant. Further, the cotton was more easily dyed, needed 30% less dye, more absorbant, and could be given an attractive silk-like lustre. He called his process mercerisation and patented it in 1850. Mercerisation was applied to many other materials, such as parchment and woolen fabric, and remains an important part of the cotton finishing process today.”

I thought I had enough time to get the floor done, but too many cuts, and by 730pm tonight I just had to give my knees and back a break.  Watching some TV with the family, and will finish tomorrow after work.  Took some advil, and hope that I am not in too much pain tomorrow.

Special thanks to all my reader and followers.  I just noticed that the blog has had over 2000 Views since inception.  Comments and suggestions always welcome.

Photo of the day “Basement Floor day 2”


Monday, February 20, 2012

Basement Floor Day 1


On this day off, I woke up and made my way to Quest Labs for my 6 month blood test.  I get there at 0920 and there is barely an seats in the waiting room.  I did make an appointment for 930, so I was hoping most of the room was filled up with walk-ins.  My neighbor, Nancy sees me and says hello, so at least I have to someone to chat with.  We have known each other for years as Sue has been teaching religious instruction forever and their daughter is in the class.  Gavin has been friend with her son Shane since I can remember.

How lucky can you get, I get called to have my blood drawn and am out of there before 10am.  I head home to meet the guy who is going to try and fix my snow blower.  As I sit down to eat breakfast the doorbell rings.    Anthony takes a look, manages to get my auger off of the machine and lets me know the three additional parts I will need.  Sears parts direct has the parts I need for $17, so when they come in, Anthony will come back.  It may sow one of these days.

As promised we go out for a late Sushi lunch in Oakdale, and once back home, the procrastination in regard to starting the basement floor comes to an end.  Luke is painting the basement doors as I start to layout the underlayment.  Before dinner we start laying the first couple of laminate planks.  There is some frustration getting them to lock and not leave any seams.  It looks and sounds easier than it actually is.  Kyle is helping, and after some trial and error, we found our groove (pun intended).

After dinner we continue to make some cuts, lock tongue and groove, tap the boards in place with the special tapping block and manage to get about 1/5 of the way thru. Time for some rest and relaxation as my cold is bothering me. 

This day in history “From Cape Canaveral, Florida, John Hershel Glenn Jr. is successfully launched into space aboard the Friendship 7 spacecraft on the first orbital flight by an American astronaut.
Glenn, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, was among the seven men chosen by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1959 to become America's first astronauts. A decorated pilot, he flew nearly 150 combat missions during World War II and the Korean War. In 1957, he made the first nonstop supersonic flight across the United States, flying from Los Angeles to New York in three hours and 23 minutes.”

Back on earth, we plan on doing some more flooring tomorrow.  I sure hope we can make better progress now that we have found a system.  Having a couple of 4inch round columns is not going to be easy to get around. 

Photo of the day “Basement Floor Day 1”



Sunday, February 19, 2012

Astronomy


Another day, another scrimmage, this time at Centereach Park with a 930 start.  This is right up the road from Planet Fitness and enough time for a workout before the scrimmage starts.  Kyle is playing well, and he scores two goals today.
 
We make some more progress with the basement and should be clear tomorrow to start putting down the underlayment.  We have some ceiling tiles to replace and when I went to Home Depot today, the box of drop ceiling tiles ran up at $120….I said it did not seem right and have to leave them at the register.  Got home and checked the price on the internet and the ones I brought up to the register must have been the super primo ones, as there is another box for $38.

Kyle has to paint a couple of doors and help me carry all our laminate to the basement.  I was able to borrow a table saw and will do a quick measure tomorrow to determine if the first row and last row will have be able to remain full width boards or if partial width boards are a better idea.

This day in history “On February 19, 1473, Nicolaus Copernicus is born in Torun, a city in north-central Poland on the Vistula River. The father of modern astronomy, he was the first modern European scientist to propose that Earth and other planets revolve around the sun.
Copernicus was born into a family of well-to-do merchants, and after his father's death, his uncle--soon to be a bishop--took the boy under his wing. He was given the best education of the day and bred for a career in canon (church) law. At the University of Krakow, he studied liberal arts, including astronomy and astrology, and then, like many Poles of his social class, was sent to Italy to study medicine and law”.

We have been watching the night sky this winter when we get a chance.  Clear crisp nights have revealed a variety of constellations.  I want to go out with Luke the next time we have a meteor shower.  Did you know that the building blocks of life can stay dormant on objects in space, and then reactivate when they reach a suitable place, like earth.  In other words, meteorites may have been molecular tool kits, providing the essential building blocks for life on Earth.

I am coming down with a cold, which I sure hope will pass quick.  We have too much work planned for the next couple of days to be feeling crappy.  We are getting ready to watch Amazing race and the cable box glitches and won’t reload.  Sue tries a few times and gets the cable box to load.  60 Minutes is running late, so we didn’t miss anything.  I wonder, did the Mayans discover popped corn ?  I know they were watching the sky.  

Photo of the day “Astronomy”


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mark Twain


The weekend starts with a large dose of soccer at the new turf fields in Brentwood.   Soccer training and scrimmages never take a winter recess like they did years ago.  Kyle has to be at the field at 0930, and as things turn out, he scrimmages two Brentwood teams, and we don’t get out of the parking lot until just after 1pm.
  
Being at the field that long, I actually got two runs in this morning.  One run being about 2 miles around the perimeter of the fields, actually 2 laps around.  Another was an additional mile run of sorts that has a funny name.  Fartlek, which means "speed play" in Swedish,[1] is a form of interval training which puts stress on the whole aerobic energy system due to the continuous nature of the exercise. The difference between this type of training and continuous training is that the intensity or speed of the exercise varies, meaning that both aerobic and anaerobic systems can be put under stress. It differs from traditional interval training in that it is unstructured; intensity and/or speed can be varied whenever the athlete wishes.

Drop off his friend Mike and then make two lunch stops (Kyle taco bell, and Luke Wendy’s).  The usual excuse, there’s nothing to eat in the house.  Whatever happened to eating leftovers, peanut butter and jelly or a tuna sandwich?

I don’t even make it home before my junior cheeseburger is finished, and once the chill is out of my body, I heat up a slice of pizza.  Work begins on the basement later than expected, but Luke lends a hand.  Kyle and Sue fell asleep on the couch watching…..wait for it……SOCCER.

I tried to shape the meatloaf into a VW Beetle, but it really isn’t going to work out.  Sue and Luke are once again on the hunt for shoes (Luke is hard to shop for), so another trip to the mall.  I continue in the basement throwing away a couple of hefty bags of crap, an old computer monitor, burned out dehumidifier and fan.  An hour later, my doorbell rings, and some guy asks if the stuff out by my garbage cans is being thrown out.  I say yes, and as it tunes out one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  I guess there is some scrap places that will pay for the metal, glass, and plastic and all too happy to see that it will get recycled, fixed, re-used as opposed to ending up in the landfill.

This day in history “On this day in 1885, Mark Twain publishes his famous--and famously controversial--novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Twain (the pen name of Samuel Clemens) first introduced Huck Finn as the best friend of Tom Sawyer, hero of his tremendously successful novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876). Though Twain saw Huck's story as a kind of sequel to his earlier book, the new novel was far more serious, focusing on the institution of slavery and other aspects of life in the antebellum South.”

We encourage our children to read for fun or interest as opposed to just the required reading in school.  I remember reading for the fun of it, and still do, albeit mostly magazines, and on the internet.  If anyone is reading this and has a table saw I can borrow, let me know.  I am debating trying to cut the laminate boards with a circular saw.  The instructions say it can be done that way, and for creating lengths of boards it will probably be fine, but there are quite a few boards that will require the groove side cut off the entire length of the 48 inch boards.  A circular saw will be really tough to keep that straight and true for the entire length.

Photo of the day “Mark Twain”


Friday, February 17, 2012

Herbie the Love Bug


Thank goodness it’s Friday, and a long weekend.  Noticed the other day when looking at the work calendar, that Monday is Presidents day, and that gives me a 3 day weekend.  Put in a day off Tuesday and extended it so as to have some extra time to work on the basement.

Met Swami and had lunch at Kirin Palace with Sanjay, Khary, and Ruben.  It is funny how Ruben is cutting back on his sugar intake but not watching how much Naan he stuffs in his gut.  We tried to tell him that sugar is sugar, and that bread, well that has the same effect as sugar in your body, so back off the Naan.  The service was not as good as recent visits, and it turns out they are under new management.  The food was pretty good as usual, no real surprises, just basic if not spicy enough Indian Buffet food.

Got the guys on the team all ready for the weekend changes and fixes, so hopefully after tomorrow afternoon we are smooth sailing with no calls.  There I go, jinxed it again.  One of my new guys, Frank is working from home the past few days with a busted knee which looks like a torn meniscus (at least his MRI matches the ones on the internet showing the same).  Who needs another visit to the orthopedist just for him to tell Frank he has a torn meniscus.  Being that neither of us are doctors, maybe we are looking at the wrong thing, and just maybe it doesn’t need surgical repair.  Finger crossed Frank.

Pick up a meatloaf from Mama Lombardi market and head home.  Before I get in the door, my cell is making its txt noise with Luke telling me he and mom are out hunting for shoes (that means sneakers).  Kyle is at his girlfriend Gia’s house, and Luke wants to know what’s for dinner.  I tell him meatloaf, and he asks if we can get something else.  Long story short, Sue is picking up a Sicilian pizza from, you guessed it, Mama Lombardis.  I have to go to the gym to work off the past weeks’ worth of not so healthy eating, snacking, etc.   All for the best, as Kyle is the one that really likes meatloaf anyway…and damn, there is no gravy in the house.

This day in history “On this day in 1972, the 15,007,034th Volkswagen Beetle comes off the assembly line, breaking a world car production record held for more than four decades by the Ford Motor Company's iconic Model T, which was in production from 1908 and 1927.
The history of the VW Beetle dates back to 1930s Germany. In 1933, Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany and announced he wanted to build new roads and affordable cars for the German people. At that time, Austrian-born engineer Ferdinand Porsche (1875-1951) was already working on creating a small car for the masses. Hitler and Porsche later met and the engineer was charged with designing the inexpensive, mass-produced Volkswagen, or "people's car." Hitler's plan was that people could buy the cars by making regular payments into a savings stamp program. In 1938, work began on the Volkswagen factory, located in present-day Wolfsburg, Germany; however, full-scale vehicle production didn't begin until after World War II.”

The people’s car has staged a comeback in recent years, and you see the “bug” on the road and in commercials.  Not the sleekest looking car, but I hear it is safe, reliable, good basic transportation.  I bet it is fuel efficient too.   In honor of this, I will shape my meatloaf to look more like the bettle than it does in its present more oblong form.  If it comes out looking like a VW Beetle, I will take a picture of it.  Don’t hold your breathe.

I think Kyle made cookies in the kitchen before he went to his girlfriend’s house because there is a mess.  He went to swap Valentines gifts, and I am sure cookies were part of  it.  I think he has the love bug. 
I get home from the gym and we start watching a movie.  The movie keeps skipping and glitching.  I check the DVD and it is scratched.  Netflix is usually pretty good, but this time there will be no Mr. Popper’s Penguins to watch. 

Photo of the day “Herbie the Love Bug”


Thursday, February 16, 2012

King Tut


Spoke to Gavin for a few minutes this morning as he called to tell me that Enter Shikari are coming to the USA, and he is going to try and get tickets for a show.  I like the band, and am jealous that I wont get to see them.  They will be playing mid week in Poughkeepsie, and he has off on Thursday, so he is hoping that some friends up at school are going.  

The rest of my day at work was not quite as exciting as planning to see your favorite band.  Time goes by quickly though and before you know it, I make a hurried exit so I can keep an appointment. 

Got home early from work, and then continued to work from home for a couple of hours.  Had a doctors appointment after lunch and it just made more sense to head home instead of back to the office.  Kyle and I went to Furn-A-Kit to pick up the new TV stand.  OMG, that box is heavy and once in the house, it became obvious to me that I would have to build it in the living room, and then move it to the den.

Kyle and Sue went to volunteer at the soup kitchen, and while they were out, I did some cleaning up in the basement.   I can see the floor now, and after putting a couple of new fluorescent tubes in the ceiling fixtures, I can see things a lot better.  I need some help now to go thru the last few boxes of stuff and the scattered video games, etc. so we can either try to sell, donate, or toss some stuff.

Bored with the basement, I set my sites on that TV stand, and decided to open the box so I can find the assembly directions.   Like most kits, it’s going to be fun sorting thru the pieces and the bag of hardware that goes along with it.  Ordered some Gyros for dinner because I didn’t think ahead and take something out of the freezer or stop on the way home from work.

This day in history “On this day in 1923, in Thebes, Egypt, English archaeologist Howard Carter enters the sealed burial chamber of the ancient Egyptian ruler King Tutankhamen.
Because the ancient Egyptians saw their pharaohs as gods, they carefully preserved their bodies after death, burying them in elaborate tombs containing rich treasures to accompany the rulers into the afterlife. In the 19th century, archeologists from all over the world flocked to Egypt, where they uncovered a number of these tombs. Many had long ago been broken into by robbers and stripped of their riches.
When Carter arrived in Egypt in 1891, he became convinced there was at least one undiscovered tomb--that of the little known Tutankhamen, or King Tut, who lived around 1400 B.C. and died when he was still a teenager. Backed by a rich Brit, Lord Carnarvon, Carter searched for five years without success. In early 1922, Lord Carnarvon wanted to call off the search, but Carter convinced him to hold on one more year.
In November 1922, the wait paid off, when Carter's team found steps hidden in the debris near the entrance of another tomb. The steps led to an ancient sealed doorway bearing the name Tutankhamen. When Carter and Lord Carnarvon entered the tomb's interior chambers on November 26, they were thrilled to find it virtually intact, with its treasures untouched after more than 3,000 years. The men began exploring the four rooms of the tomb, and on February 16, 1923, under the watchful eyes of a number of important officials, Carter opened the door to the last chamber.”

From time to time, the Tut exhibit comes to the NYC Museum of Natural History.  The treasures that are on display are amazing works of art, and almost alien in nature.  The glyphs, and artifacts are from another world if you ask me.  Even the pyramids themselves don’t seem like they could have been from our ancient world.

I was watching some History channel with Luke, a mud cat fishing show and noticed that Ancient Aliens last show is coming up…they are moving to H2.  Anyone who has seen Ancient Aliens is bound to be somewhat skeptical of our historical account of Ancient societies.  The Aztec, Inca, and Mayan civilizations, like the ancient Egyptians seemed to have advanced knowledge for their time.

Photo of the day "King Tut"


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Erector Set


I hope everyone had a nice Valentine’s Day, and got to indulge in some chocolate, or are planning to.  I am not a big chocolate or dessert person, but those dark chocolates from the shop in Sayville are just really good.  I snuck one today while making dinner.

Had Paella for dinner and then took Kyle to soccer practice in Deer Park.  I decided to go for a jog at the field and hope that my knee doesn’t bother me tomorrow.  A nice cool night, and 3 easy miles completed, and then it was back to the car to wait for Kyle’s practice to end. 

Come home to write the blog and find that Survivor was not recorded on the DVR.  Luke filled me in, and since it is the first week, really nothing too important missed.  American Idol is on the DVR, so I can catch up on that tomorrow.

This day in history “Albert Carlton Gilbert was an American inventor who patented the Erector set after he founded the A.C. Gilbert Co. New Haven, Connecticut (1908) to manufacture boxed magic sets. In 1913, he introduced Erector Sets. Similar construction toys then existed, such as Hornby's Meccano set made in England. Meccano sets included pulleys, gears, and several 1/2" wide strips of varying length with holes evenly spaced on them. Gilbert needed something unique for his Erector sets, so he created the square girder, made using several 1" wide strips with triangles cut in them. These had their edges bent over so 4 strips could be screwed together to form a very sturdy square girder. Over the next 40 years, some 30 million Erector Sets were sold”


What a cool invention.  I recall putting together projects with it, and when they came out with pulleys and motors, the projects really got to be fun to build.  Modern almost equivalent was a toy made out of plastic that my kids used to put together and take apart to make things.  I can’t recall the name of them, but they did not inspire me, and instead of connecting steel pieces with nuts and bolts as with the erector set, everything snapped together.




Photo of the day “Erector Set”


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentines Day


Valentine’s day did not sneak up on me this year.  I was prepared to make a good impression and not end up in the dog house, even if it is a Tuesday.  Luckily, Kyle’s coach cancelled soccer practice this eve., and Luke’s practice at 745pm meant we would still go out for dinner.  Sue made the reservations as she knows me by now, I would have just said that we can go out another day.

Cupid struck 25 years ago, and it was on Valentine’s day in 1987 that I proposed to Suzanne Marie Walsh.  If was actually a Friday night, and the evening was well planned and romantic.  I know, some of you are saying things under your breathe, or calling me names.  Anyway, the night started with a Broadway play, “Me and My Girl”, followed by a nice dinner at the View, a rooftop revolving restaurant at the top floor of the Marriot Marquis.  Very fancy if I should say so myself.

Since it was Friday the 13th, I had to make sure we passed midnight before popping the question.  With ring in hand, I became one of those hopeless romantics, and since Sue said “YES”, we were engaged to be married.  We thought we could wait a year or so to get married, however, as spring came around, we decided to get married in August of that year.

It starts with the engagement ring, moves on to the wedding ring, and ends with the suffer ring.  A joke I couldn't resist telling, and a more fitting outcome than that poor Saint Valentine.  Just joking Sue, I will always love you.  By the way, our wedding song was “Always and Forever”

This day in history “On February 14 around the year 278 A.D., Valentine, a holy priest in Rome in the days of Emperor Claudius II, was executed.

Under the rule of Claudius the Cruel, Rome was involved in many unpopular and bloody campaigns. The emperor had to maintain a strong army, but was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. Claudius believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families.
To get rid of the problem, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.
When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Valentine was arrested and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. The sentence was carried out on February 14, on or about the year 270.
Legend also has it that while in jail, St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer's daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it "From Your Valentine."
For his great service, Valentine was named a saint after his death

So we have a nice dinner at Viva la Vida, with a couple of margaritas, and the best tableside guacamole.  A nice mixture of fresh avocado, onions, garlic, tomatoes, cilantro, salt, pepper, and fresh lime, prepared mortar and pestle style.    After dinner, we hang out for a few minutes and then I am summoned by Luke to go to soccer practice.   Oh, I almost forgot, Sue got dark chocolate and a small piece of jewelry.  Me, I got tickets for a Pink Floyd cover band.  Joy !!

Time for us to start planning something for our 25th Wedding Anniversary, like a couple of nights in Gurneys Inn out East...  If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Photo of the day”Valentines Day"


Monday, February 13, 2012

Skrillex

I had a hard time getting moving this morning, and by 10 o’clock I started to get a headache.  Who can I blame for this headache and general feeling of malaise?  Let’s see, Luke has had a cold since just before the weekend, and Sue picked up a prescription for antibiotics for a sinus infection.  Maybe I am just tired from staying up late to watch the Grammy awards.

We missed the first half of the Grammys and based on some of the comments on Facebook, it may have been a wash, with some good and some not so good performances.  I heard Bruno Mars was very good, and I can tell you that Katy Perry was not as good as I expected.  Adele, was as good or even better than I expected, and WTF was Nicki Minaj thinking or doing ?  Foo Fighters and Deadmau5 brought me back from the dead, and Sir Paul McCartney along with guitar legends rocked the ending.

So what I missed was the announcement of the awards from the pre-telecast celebration.  My new favorite artist this year did not win best new artist.  Skrillex, actually Sonny John Moore is not quite mainstream, and he dares to be different in a very cool way.  3 Grammy Awards...not too shabby for a weird 24 year old.  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skrillex

The award for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical went to Skrillex for his remix of "Cinema," and on the carpet, he wanted to thank the song's original artists. "As far as accepting on behalf of the first one, the remix with Benny Benassi and Gary Go, I always thought it was a beautiful song," he said. "It was an honor to remix it. Benny Benassi is a legend, and Gary Go is so talented and has a beautiful voice."

Skrillex's two other awards from the pre-telecast ceremony came from Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites. (The album won Best Dance/Electronica Album and the title track won Best Dance Recording.) For Skrillex, the awards were just another indication of how far he's come in such a short time. "It was awesome too because that was my first real coming out and release, my official release," he said. "A year and a half ago, I was homeless. I'm not saying it's about money or anything like that. It's just crazy how quick things happen. They're happening right now. I fly to Europe tomorrow morning. It's just like bam-bam-bam."

This day in history “On this day in 1633, Italian philosopher, astronomer and mathematician Galileo Galilei arrives in Rome to face charges of heresy for advocating Copernican theory, which holds that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Galileo officially faced the Roman Inquisition in April of that same year and agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence.”

Today, Galileo is recognized for making important contributions to the study of motion and astronomy. His work influenced later scientists such as the English mathematician and physicist Sir Isaac Newton, who developed the law of universal gravitation. In 1992, the Vatican formally acknowledged its mistake in condemning Galileo.”

The earth revolves around the sun…unthinkable.

Mayan calendar, dating system of the ancient Mayan civilization and the basis for all other calendars used by Mesoamerican civilizations. The calendar was based on a ritual cycle of 260 named days and a year of 365 days. Taken together, they form a longer cycle of 18,980 days, or 52 years of 365 days, called a “Calendar Round.”

 Is it unthinkable that they knew something in ancient times that rings true today.

Photo of the day “Skrillex”


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Galapagos


A late start on the blog today as we got home at 930 from soccer and started watching the Grammy awards.    So, the usual workout at planet fitness, followed by taking Luke to the Mall so he can try on some Jordan's.  I still don’t understand why kids need $95 dollar basketball shoes when they aren’t even playing basketball. 

Spoke to Gavin this afternoon, and aside from him getting to spend a week at his girl friends house in Rochester for his winter break, there is not much new.  Actually, he got to spend some time at their cabin, shoot some guns, eat venison and see how the rural lifestyle in upstate NY differs from the suburban setting on Long Island where he grew up.  Back at Hartwick and ready to hit the books, we hope to see him during the Easter weekend.

Speaking of the Grammys, a band called Skrillex which Gavin turned us on to, has been nominated for a couple of awards, one for best new artist, and another for electronica.  An acquired taste for sure, but with this Grammy nomination, I have a feeling that he may just have to go more mainstream.

Luke scored 4 goals in his soccer match, Kyle did not…. 

This day in history “Charles Robert Darwin was an English naturalist who presented facts to support his theory of the mode of evolution whereby favourable variations would survive which he called "Natural Selection" or "Survival of the Fittest," and has become known as Darwinism.”

Survival of the fittest in some cases does not mean the strongest…it might mean the smartest and most adaptable.  I believe the human race with all its diversity is destined to survive.   I would love to visit the Galapagos Islands to see the weird and quirky creatures that have adapted to their environments unlike any other place on earth.

Now that I have settled in, it’s time to watch some Grammys, and eat some snacks.

Photo of the day “Galapagos”


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bright Idea


Woke up and looked out the window, excited to see snow, but equally excited to see that it was not sticking to the street.  After breakfast I catch the local news and see that the snow should be tapering off early today.  February, warm one day, and cold the next, leaves the ground too warm for the snow to accumulate.  Luckily very little snow this winter so far, and I am hoping to get my snow blower repaired Tuesday.

Soccer scrimmage cancelled, so I head to the basement to do a load of laundry (towels) and start the chore of cleaning up and sorting thru stuff so we can fit it all into the small room on the side.  I do towels since there is little chance I can mess that kind of laundry up.   Besides, it’s easy to fold too. 

Grab the mail this afternoon and think about my mailbox invention that is still yet to be prototyped, or even installed on my own mailbox post.  I think tomorrow is the day to go to Home Depot and see if I can get some parts, tools, ceiling tiles, and laminate flooring.  I have been reading and it suggests like real wood, letting the product sit in the room it is to be installed in so that it can acclimate.  With winter recess fast approaching, I want to be ready to put Kyle to work with me.

This day in history “American inventor who held a world record 1,093 patents (including those held jointly) and created the world's first industrial research laboratory. He showed an early curiosity for explanations of how everything worked and was especially interested in chemistry. He began selling newspapers on the railroad at age 12, and learned how to operate a telegraph. In 1868, his first invention was an electric vote-recording machine.

In 1869, he made improvements on the stock-ticker. In 1876 he moved his laboratory to Menlo Park, N.J., where he invented his phonograph (1877) and the first prototype of a commercially practical incandescent electric light bulb (1879). Other inventions included storage batteries, a dictaphone, and a mimeograph.
By the late 1880s he made motion pictures, and by 1912 was experimenting with talking pictures.  He developed electric power from central generating stations. He became known internationally as “the wizard of Menlo Park.” In 1962 his second laboratory and home in West Orange, New Jersey, was designated a U.S. National Historic Site.”

Over 1000 patents might make him the most prolific inventor of all time.  We all probably learned about Thomas Edison in school, and pretty soon his most famous invention, the incandescent light bulb may be just that, history.  With CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lighting), and LED (Light Emitting Diode) gaining popularity and energy savings, the lowly incandescent is nearing extinction.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, signed by President George Bush, banned importing or manufacturing the 100-watt incandescent bulb as of Jan. 1, and require that all light bulbs be 25 percent more efficient by 2014.  Although Congress is still haggling over enforcement details, 2012 will bring the end of production and sales of the 100-watt incandescent bulb.  Additional energy-efficiency standards are coming over the next few years as well. In 2013, the familiar 75-watt incandescent will be history. And in 2014, Americans will wave good-bye to their beloved - albeit energy-inefficient - 60- and 40-watt incandescent bulbs.

God bless America.  So, we will soon be forced to use CFL that have mercury in them, or the pricier LED bulbs.  How many people know or will dispose of them properly (right now you are supposed to place in a seal-able plastic bag).  Eventually, all those faulty or dead CFL’s will end up in a landfill or who knows where.  Did you know that almost all of these bulbs are made in China…

Actually, there are NO companies currently in AMERICA that 100% manufacture or produce CFL bulbs.  There is one that assembles them, and as close to made in America as it is going to get (a lot of the parts for their CFL are imported) unless someone gets the bright idea to manufacture and produce here.

If you can find me a compact fluorescent bulb that says “Made in America”, let me know.

Photo of the day “Bright Idea”