Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I nearly forgot. We picked up cookies today at Relli's in South Philly for our New Year's Eve get-together.

I made sure to ask about one particular kind of cookie that we've gotten from Relli's before when we've picked up assorted cookies. Everyone has gone crazy over them -- they're meringue-like and they have hazelnuts in them. They look a little odd-shaped, like they're just kind of dropped in little balls of dough onto the cookie sheet and they end up in whatever random form they bake into. But who the heck cares what they look like when they taste out-of-this-world?

When I described them to the man behind the counter, he knew exactly what I meant. They're called "Brutti e Buoni" -- "Ugly and Good". LOL. Now if that's not the perfect description of what these cookies are, nothing is. If you live near an Italian bakery that makes these cookies, make sure to order some. If not, I've googled them for you and found a bunch of recipes. You can thank me later. :)

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Oh, and by the way -- if you're planning to take part in the OLPC XO Give One, Get One, do hurry. The final day for Give One, Get One 2008 is December 31. That's tomorrow.

Don't miss out! Head over to http://amazon.com/xo today and make a difference!
God bless PennDOT. They could use it. We mailed in the renewal form for my driver's license in AUGUST. Did they send the Photo ID card to YOU? That's how they sent it to me.

But all this transpired only days before my knee surgery, so I had other things on my mind and forgot to look for the ID card to arrive in the mail. Shoot, I was on percocet for those first few weeks following the surgery. I could barely stay awake or *spell* "ID", never mind remember that I was waiting to receive anything in the mail.

Well, the inevitable happened. I was at the bank today and when I presented my license, they asked me if I had a more current form of ID. Um, did have a *what*?

I looked at the driver's license and realized, "Son of a blankety-blank, those pinheads at PennDOT never sent my freaking PhotoID! No wonder this needs to be renewed!"

:headdesk: :headdesk: :headdesk:

Thank God I almost never drive anymore. I'd have been on the wrong side of the law without even realizing it.

We printed the "lost/never received Photo ID" form from online, and I'll fill it out. Then we'll take it to a notary, and head up to the Driver's License Center to get the temp ID.

Gosh darn pain in the caboose PennDOT, though. I wouldn't have to jump through these extra hoops if they'd sent the freaking form. Thank goodness I at least have a current passport to serve as ID until the driver's license stuff is straightened out.
Today's installment of Stupid Criminal Tricks can be found on MSNBC's site:

Oops! Pay stub used as bank robbery note

Man initially gets away with $400 but leaves his name, address



updated 10:14 p.m. ET, Mon., Dec. 29, 2008

CHICAGO - The robber's threatening note made a Chicago bank job easy to solve: The FBI says the suspect wrote it on his pay stub. An FBI affidavit said the man walked into a Fifth Third Bank on Friday and handed a teller a note that read "Be Quick Be Quit (sic). Give your cash or I'll shoot."

The robber got about $400 but left half of his note. Investigators found the other half outside the bank's front doors. Authorities say that part of the man's October pay stub had his name and address.

The suspect was arrested at his Cary home. A judge ordered him held without bond Monday. If convicted of bank robbery, he faces 20 years in prison.



To borrow a phrase I saw someone else use recently, "I guess this guy won't miss any Mensa meetings while he's in jail".

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I posted a few weeks ago for anyone reading my blog to please send prayers for a critically ill young lady whom I'm acquainted with thanks to the Usenet newsgroups rec.pets.cats.anecdotes.

I'm posting again to renew the request for thoughts and prayers, for her and for all who love her. The ventilator has been removed, and her doctor has described her as being in multiple organ failure, with only the heart currently still working. But eventually, that will also fail. Her husband has cited her wishes and given the DNR order (do not resuscitate) in the event that her heart fails. He and her mother are staying at the hospital round-the-clock.

A dear friend of hers has taken over posting to her Caring Bridge diary, as of a few weeks ago, because she has been too ill to do so for a while now. I get an email every time the diary updates. I fear what I'll see every time I click the link, but I do anyway.

The diary doesn't only have medical updates -- it has information about the patient in their Real Life, the one that they were leading before illness reared its head. Do please click this link to see the good person who is likely to make Heaven a better place before long. The world will soon shrink a bit at the departure of a good human being.

But whether you click the link or not, trust me when I say that she and her family deserve every prayer and postitive thought that can possibly be sent their way right now. And accept my thanks in advance for sending them some of each.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

IMGP0002


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Originally uploaded by Gabey8
And, of course, once I decided to photograph Stanley, I figured that the next logical step would be to take a picture of Captain as well.

IMGP0001


IMGP0001
Originally uploaded by Gabey8
Stanley was reading over my shoulder as I reviewed the camera instruction booklet last night. So I decided to take a practice photo of him.
I just posted a very detailed update on the latest news articles concerning the Phantoms' future.

I haven't got the energy to expound at length on the subject on two separate blogs, and I know that not everyone who reads this blog reads my Phantoms blog as well. So, for those who are interested in exploring the topic further, please visit this link and read the post on my Phantoms blog.

And that's all I have to say about THAT, since it's Christmas Eve and I want to enjoy my holiday.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Cute Face Therapy

In the interest of Equal Face Time, I tracked down Captain and interrupted his nap to take another practice photo. Hence, I'm about to beautify the Internet for the second time this evening.

PamPURRed Kitty

Stanley is sitting on the back of the sofa, reading the camera instruction manual over my shoulder, so the obvious thing to do was take a practice photo of him.
Buon Natale a Me! (Merry Christmas to Me) :)

I saw a refurbished, starter Digital SLR camera on woot.com last week. (Starter = "it was a relatively inexpensive SLR when it was a new model, and that was a while ago".) As a refurb, it was in the price range of a high-end point and shoot camera.

I have been drooling over the prospect of having an SLR camera for years. I was even saving for one for a while, but then I opted to spend that on a game-worn hockey jersey. I've certainly never regretted the decision, but the "Gabey wants an SLR camera" fund never really got back off the ground.

It's just as well, as digital photography came on the scene a few years after that, and I greatly prefer that to constantly having to invest in buying film and having it processed.

To make a long story less long, I figured that if I waited long enough, affordable digital SLRs would hit the market. I hadn't quite figured on waiting TEN YEARS for that to happen, but hey. Good things come to those who wait. And wait, and wait. ;)

So I sprang for the refurb camera on woot, and then picked up a couple of lenses for it. (God bless online price-comparison and product-review sites.) Santa had FedEx deliver them yesterday (camera) and today (lenses). So now I'm Good to Go.

When I get really proficient with this equipment, I'll consider starting the "Gabey wants the pro-quality lenses" fund. But just one of those pro lenses costs more than I spent on the camera plus the two lenses combined, so THAT investment will have to wait a good long while. Mind you, a pro photographer can and should make that investment (along with a pro-level digital SLR, which costs at least ten times what my camera cost me). Someone who's just graduating from a point-and-shoot "prosumer" camera to an SLR, on the other hand, should be just fine with the sort of lenses I got.

So... don't be surprised at the sight of me getting acquainted with the New Toys in the immediate future. My favorite images might well make an appearance on this blog.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gee, I'm glad that I had the FedEx tracking system set to send me email updates. Because our freaking doorbell only works when it pleases, I never heard the delivery guy bring the package.

But by gosh, I saw the email when it arrived minutes later and said that my item was delivered.

What'd we do before the internet?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

If only I had a camera capable of doing the image justice... there are parts of our lawn, and of the grass area that borders the curb, where EVERY INDIVIDUAL BLADE OF GRASS has a separate ice coating.

It's fascinating to see.

So is the chain link fence next to our church, where every single millimeter of every chain link has ITS own ice coating. Again, I don't currently own camera equipment that would do justice to the image. If I did, the photos would be in my blog right now, and they'd be enthralling.

But since I haven't got the pictures, I'll make do with the proverbial "thousand words" (give or take a few hundred). It was amazing to see, and would've been even MORE eye-catching had the sun been out to illuminate the perfectly clear ice coating on every solid surface. I remember very well that on the day after the first ice storm I ever saw in my life, I was on my way to the emergency room (grrrrrr) and even though I was in excruciating pain from the knee injury, I *still* noticed how beautiful the trees were with the sun glistening through their coating of ice.

The sun's not glistening through anything around here today, but the sight of everything looking like it's coated in glass is still fascinating.

But now that I'm home from Mass, I'm going to be appreciating Mother Nature from INSIDE THE HOUSE for the rest of the day. Or at least until the fascinating glass-like coating on everything has melted.

If you have to go out and walk or drive on this, folks, be extra careful. Take it from one who knows.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Darn insomnia... I have not slept AT ALL since I got up yesterday. Zero. None. Niente.

So of course, after running errands, I came home to find the ENTIRE BLOCK filled with cars from what's most likely a funeral luncheon. I live near a restaurant/caterer that has a miniscule parking lot, so when they have a large event, the overflow of cars parks along our street. (It's among the reasons why our street has a two-hour parking limit for cars that lack a resident's permit sticker in the window.) So I wound up parking on the far end of the block, in the median strip where parking is permitted, and walking back home in the teeming rain. I sure wish that restaurant/caterer had a large enough parking lot to handle their customer base.

I can't carp too vigorously about the funeral luncheon, though. I'd rather remind myself to be grateful that I'm not among the mourners. At this time of year in 1995, December 17 to be exact, our dear friend Joan passed away. So I can empathize with the people at the luncheon who've lost a loved one right before Christmas. I don't envy them. I've had 13 years to adjust to the loss, and this time of year is still accompanied by a certain amount of pain. I feel for the people who've had only a tiny fraction of that amount of time to acclimate to their bereavement.

Anyway, I'm going to attempt to take a nap now, and I've put a high-priority note on my cell phone to remind me where I parked the car. I'm half out-of-it at the moment, and I don't want to have an absent-minded "Where the bleep is my car?!" moment when it's time to head out to the Phantoms game later this evening.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I had another orthopedist appointment yesterday. All is continuing to progress as expected. The problems left from the meniscus injury have been recovered from. The arthritis issues are another story.

I finally remembered to ask about the pics that were taken during the surgery, which are in my chart. Yeowza. No wonder the darn knee hurts. Even my entirely untrained eye can pick out the places where there's cartilage that's frayed or worn away -- it's that obvious. I won't go into more detail than that, because I'd be heading into "involuntary cringing and being grossed out" territory.

No darn wonder I was so sore after the surgery, too -- that little camera had to go looking around in a whole bunch of places inside the knee, plus the doc did his best to smooth out areas that needed it. Evidently, there was no shortage of areas that could've used some attention. All that looking around and the subsequent repair work must have sent a whole lot of the surfaces in there into "inflamed and sore" mode for a while.

Dang. Well, you know my motto: DON'T FALL. Darn force of gravity. ;)

In other news, on Saturday, Mark and I went out with my parents to celebrate my mom's birthday. We went to a restaurant that we haven't been to in a while, The Pub in south NJ. Great food, great salad bar -- I highly recommend it. :)

While we were there, we were seated next to a HUGE table that was obviously set up for a very large group of people. I wondered what family or company was going to be having their annual holiday get-together there.

Turns out it was both, in a lot of ways. When they arrived and their leader gave the blessing, it was obvious that this was a large group of firefighters. God bless them.

On the way out, I felt compelled to stop by their table to thank them for their service and wish them all the best. I approached the person who said the blessing -- as he was at the head of the table, I figured he was the most senior member of the group. He thanked me for the well-wishes and said that they were the Camden City Fire Department. He also noticed, and got a kick out of, my baseball-bat cane. :) He held it up to show the rest of them, and said, "This has a dual purpose -- she speaks softly AND carries a big stick!" :D

Anyway, God bless those firefighters, and all other first responders, and may God keep them safe and sound. I can't say enough good things about them and what they do to help people in times of crisis.

Beyond that, there's not a whole lot going on these days. I have one more Christmas gift to purchase, and then I'll consider myself all done for the holiday season. Thank goodness for online shopping.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tree

The Wanamaker's Macy's Christmas Holiday Light Show has its Magic Tree back! JFM sent me the proof with a cell phone photo!

Now, JFM and I agree they need to repair the Dancing Waters fountains and restore those to the show, and they need to put John Facenda's voice back on the soundtrack while they're at it. Geesh, how hard could it be to digitize his voice saying "Macy's" instead of "Wanamaker's" at the very end of the narration? Or they could just record all the Wanamaker's Macy's employees giving the Christmas Holiday Greeting to the audience at the end of the show, and play that instead of the final sentence of Facenda's narration.

But hey, we have the tree back. I was afraid that in a cost-cutting measure, Macy's was just SAYING that it was on hiatus for repairs for the past few years, and in reality we'd never see it again. One step at a time, one step at a time. We'll get the COMPLETE Light Show back yet, or die trying. It's a Philadelphia tradition, and this is the first indication I've seen that the NY-based megacorp Gets It, where other localities' traditions are concerned.
I've had such an EARWORM today, it's incredible. I can't even tell when I last heard the song, "Never-Ending Love For You", but it was probably on either slacker.com or pandora.com where I'm prone to playing 60s and 70s music.

Anyway, God Bless the Internet once again. One google of " 'never ending love for you' lyrics", and what did I find? A site that not only has the lyrics to the song, but plays it for you.

What in heck did we do before the 'net?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm delighted to report that a school within a few miles of Philadelphia will be using and distributing OLPC's laptops to its students!

Chester Community Charter School in Pennsylvania is deploying 1,400 XO laptops to students, marking the largest deployment of laptops from One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) in the United States. The initial rollout will begin this week.


You can find the full article by clicking here.

Obviously, we can't invite 1400 kids plus parents to attend the Philly XO meetings at Cosi... it would be a record-breaking fire code violation to shoehorn that many people into that small of a space. But I wonder if the school would be open to exchanging ideas with Philly area users? I'd absolutely love to have a visit and see the XOs being used for exactly what they were designed to do: educating children.

Oh, and have I mentioned that there's still time to support OLPC via the Give One, Get One inititave? Check out Amazon.com/xo for details.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

It's baaaack. Freaking intestinal rebellion... as soon as the med wore off, the symptoms picked right back up where they left off.

Drat.
Aaaargh...

Digestive rebellion is the pits. The symptoms kicked in on Saturday, late afternoon. By Sunday AM, I took Imodium.

It wore off on Monday afternoon, at which time the trouble resumed. More Imodium ensued Monday evening.

It's wearing off again. The abdominal pain is coming back. I have a feeling that's not all that will be back when all is said and done.

:headdesk: :headdesk: :headdesk:

If the symptoms return, to the point where I feel as badly tonight as last night, the next step is a trip to the doctor for prescription-strength symptom abatement. The holidays are coming up; I can't afford to have this going on. I can't afford to make family members sick, either.
It's that time of year again. The Christmas tree is up, though its ornaments are not on it yet, and already the Stripe Committee is checking out the new addition to the decor. We always put the (artificial) tree up first, then spend a day or so tweaking the branches to give it balance and fill in the empty spots.

This is why we made a point of purchasing unbreakable ornaments for the tree: when the ornaments go on, the Resident Felines start thinking that it's a big green Cat Toy Display Rack. Though we try to keep the cats away from the tree, there'll still be the occasional ornament that we find on the floor, nowhere near the tree. Hmm. Must have been elves that put it there, since neither cat will own up to doing the deed. ;)

The tree will be trimmed soon, which is always the precursor to a few weeks of Meowmy and Paw's being on Ornament Watch Duty. Stay tuned. ;)

Monday, December 08, 2008

I was hoping that I'd get two nights in a row where I got a decent night's sleep without melatonin. I thought maybe a third consecutive day of more-activity-than-usual would tip the scales in my favor.

Of course not. Dang it. Finally gave in and medicated, and am waiting for the melatonin to kick in.

On the other hand, getting ONE night of decent sleep in a row was a start.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

We had seven people in attendance with 6 XOs at Cosi in 30th Street Station this afternoon. Of those XOs, three were already running the latest version of Sugar and three had Version 656. One of those got updated to 8.2 while we were at Cosi; the other two machines had some software installed which they weren't in a position to wipe out with an upgrade.

We were able to demo the XOs for one attendee who was interested in our meeting after seeing it discussed on the forum. He hasn't got an XO yet, but is interested in them and in OLPC. He got to try his hand at using both versions of Sugar and watch the upgrade.

The user who upgraded his XO actually owns two of them: one from the first G1G1, and one from this year. His older XO was running the earlier version of Sugar, but his newer machine had the current Sugar on it. Now both machines have the new Sugar.

The machine we upgraded from a USB stick gave us a pleasant surprise and an unpleasant surprise. The pleasant surprise was that when we upgraded it from a USB stick, at the end of the upgrade, it had all the activities on it. That was unexpected! I downloaded the 8.2 upgrade from the OLPC wiki onto a clean USB stick, and I thought we would have to install the G1G1 Activity Pack separately from installing the upgrade. Apparently not, so that was nice.

The unpleasant surprise was the hardware issue that cropped up with the XO that was upgraded. Fortunately, the saga did have a happy ending. Right before the upgrade, we noticed that the XO's radio and wifi indicators were not lit. Somehow, the XO's radio decided to go on hiatus. We figured that the upgrade would rectify that, but surprise -- it didn't. Er, how what? Enter our attendee who uses his XO at work and in the field on a regular basis. He was able to go into Linux and enter various arcania to try and determine the source of the issue. Long story less long: multiple reboots didn't work, but taking the battery out and letting the machine sit for a while seemed to do the trick. Eventually. As mysteriously as the Radio Gremlins appeared, they went away and the wifi just started working again. Apparently, the old adage is true: any sufficiently advanced technology really IS indistinguishable from magic. Grin

We did have one young'un on hand, which is good, since the XOs' creators did stipulate, "One Laptop Per CHILD", not "One Laptop Per ADULT". Wink He and his mom had his XO in tow. His was one of the machines that has a lot of software installed that they justifiably were concerned about losing in the event of an upgrade. But he had a good time creating activities like Write and Record, and inviting us to them. Everybody was typing at once in the Write activity, demonstrating (and experiencing) the XO's collaboration features.

I also brought an Ubuntu SD from XO Explosion. This was the first time I actually used it so we could all get a look at how it works for the first time, at the same time. The grownups pretty much all give Ubuntu a big "thumb's up" for turning the Little Green Machine into a tool for grownup productivity, as it has Firefox and Open Office installed. Everyone also likes the fact that once my developer key was copied onto the Ubuntu card, all I have to do is boot with the Ubuntu card in the SD slot and bingo -- instant Ubuntu. Then I can reboot without the card in the slot, and voila -- I have Sugar. The ability to switch between both systems completely at will is a huge boon.

One of our attendees who has been to some DC meetings had some XO info cards to hand out, because sure enough, people saw all the Little Green Machines and wanted to know more about them. We touted the XO to at least three people during the course of the meeting.

So there you have it. Kids. Upgrades. Ubuntu. Info cards. Telling people about OLPC and XOs. That was our day in a nutshell.

Let's do it again next month!

Upgrading an XO
Milestone...

For the first time in about four weeks, I didn't need the melatonin supplement to fall asleep. I fell asleep on my own (at about 2 AM, which is a little late for most people but for me, that's actually pretty good). AND what's more, I STAYED asleep until about 8:30 AM.

Wow. A whole night's sleep, and it found its way here all on its own, without the melatonin escort. I honestly can't remember the last time I could say THAT. There is a Santa. ;)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Update: medical ins. co. rep said to hold off paying the bill, which we are disputing since they ARE supposed to cover everything beyond the copay. Needless to say, we are disputing the giant bill we got in the mail.

Incompetence. How the bleep hard can it be to get the paperwork right? Ins. co. will probably blame the therapy provider's office staff, and the office staff will probably say the ins. co. fouled it up.

Either way, of COURSE we got a Bill from Hell on a Friday and have to stew over it for a weekend before hearing anything back. Same as when I was single and injured my knee 14 years ago -- different insurance plan and company, same problem. I'd get five separate, incorrectly billed physical therapy bills on a Friday, and have to be annoyed all weekend before calling on the following Monday morning to get the issue fixed.

The US health care system is still a mess. Incompetence and non-caring is part of the problem. The rest of the problem is that even WORKING PEOPLE can get socked by a bill that still remains standing after it's been disputed (or that can't be disputed). I can't imagine how an indigent family would scrape together funds to pay a bill like we just got in the mail.
I got a bad feeling when today's mail included what appeared to be a bill from the physical therapy provider.

Holy cow, was it ever a bill, for a good portion of every freaking PT session I attended, beyond the copay I brought in at every visit. WTH? Mark is in search of what the actual coverage is for physical therapy treatments, even as I type.

Anyone who thinks that the US health insurance system isnt fouled up needs to think again. We pay good money for the best health insurance that a major corporation offers its management employees, and STILL we're getting nailed with a giant bill. And this is after treatment for an injury, not after some elective surgery or procedure.

What the heck do people with inferior, or no, medical coverage do after an injury? I know that an ER has to treat a person regardless of whether they have medical insurance, but what about the followup care? You can't go to the ER for that.

This is just messed up, period.
This afternoon, I met Joe and Elaine at Starbuck's. I knew they were running behind schedule, so I brought my XO with me so I could surf with it. The "Give One, Get One" initiative is still going on, so I thought it would be a good idea to get the word out in a concrete fashion.

Out of the time I spent there prior to my friends' arrival and after their departure, I swear I spent as much time answering people's questions as I did actually using the computer. People in South Philly have no hesitation about querying a complete stranger about something that attracts their interest, and the little green-and-white device with its two green antennae certainly did that.

I gave the link for ordering an XO to three people -- that would be amazon.com/xo -- and I hope they take part in G1G1.

Speaking of the XO, I'm trying to coordinate an Upgrade Party for this month's Philly Users Group meeting. We meet at 30th Street Station and take advantage of the free wi-fi that a few vendors have available. Since a new version of the User Interface was recently released, I'm trying to get as many local people as possible to attend the December meeting to do a mass upgrade. (I've upgraded already and I think it's great.)

One other motivation for my efforts to get a big turnout for the December meeting is this: it will be the only monthly meeting we have during this year's G1G1. If my one little machine interested Starbucks patrons, how much more interesting will it be if we have a whole flock of XOs all in use at once?

So here's hoping that we get a good turnout, plus boost G1G1 into the bargain!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Snack: Carnation Instant Breakfast Drink + ice cubes+ "icy treat" machine = chocolate slush. I used half the bottle of Carnation on this, and I saved the other half for my pre-bedtime meds, since NSAIDS should never be taken on an empty stomach.
When you're sending up prayers and good thoughts, please remember the young lady whose blog link is below:

http://ping.fm/wQcDT

There's a young lady whom I'm acquainted because of some cats newsgroups on Usenet (yes, Usenet and newsgroups are still going strong).

She's a very nice young woman, and she's fighting a battle for her life against cancer and liver disease. Every time I get an email from the Caring Bridge site, that her blog has been updated, I get a lump in my throat while clicking on the link because I fear the worst.

One of her oldest friends has taken over the duties of providing updates, as she's too sick/medically sedated to do so at this time.

Please do spare some prayers and good thoughts for this woman and her loved ones if you get a chance.
My foray to my parents' house, with my laptop on hand to help them get retiree-benefits information that's online, was a partial success.

I was all set to dial in via AOL when I noticed that my computer was trying to connect to a wifi router... somewhere. Gosh knows where it was, but when I looked at the list, there were a whole bunch of networks visible. At least three of them completely lacked a password or any form of encryption.

Just for kicks, I let the laptop connect to see what would happen. Sure enough, there I sat with an internet connection, in my parents' living room, and I wasn't even tying up their phone line with a dialup connection. Bonus. I'm not entirely sure that such things are allowed, but hey, I won't tell anybody if you won't.

I was a bit skittish about trying to get into the benefits website on this unencrypted connection, even though the site itself is secure, but it turns out that wasn't an issue. Why? Because my parents haven't got a temporary user password to log in with, and the only way to get that is to generate a command to have them SNAIL MAIL it to the user.

So I issued the "mail me a temporary password" command, and then wondered if I could get a PW over the phone if I were speaking to a human being. Therefore, I called the benefits phone number and got a representative.

Unlike the un-knowledgeable rep that my parents talked to on the phone on Tuesday, the one that triggered their request for me to use my computer to look online and print out benefits info for them, THIS rep was knowledgeable, articulate, and genuinely interested in customer service. God bless her, and I wish more people in jobs like hers had her demeanor and her knowledge of the information that they're supposed to be able to provide to customers.

She verified that a password was going to be mailed to my parents' address. She also was able to answer a lot of the questions that my parents were unable to get info about from the rep they'd spoken to the day before.

So even though I wasn't able to get info ONLINE, we were still able to get my parents' questions answered. Plus, they're going to get a password for logging in. When they do that, I'll be able to log in from home, on my ENCRYPTED connection or better yet on the WIRED connection on the desktop upstairs, and print the information they're looking for.

We ordered hoagies for lunch, so while we were waiting for those, I tracked down Youtube videos of Odetta (see the one I linked to in my previous post), Frank Sinatra, and Johnny Mathis. :) In other words, it was a productive day even if some things didn't quite go as planned.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

RIP Odetta, who sang one of my favorite songs from my childhood: There's a Hole in the Bucket. Hear it here: http://ping.fm/lIwvc

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Tomorrow, I'm bringing my laptop to my parents' house so they can look up some information online. They received some literature regarding their health plan, and it directed them to the corporate website to get the full information package. Well, they haven't got a computer, so that's not an option for them.

They tried to call the company's information line and speak to a human being about the health care plan, but the service rep was unaware of the meaning of "donut hole" and what it means to the health care coverage of the company's retirees. That's SUCH a basic term, that once she proved not to know what it meant, my dad was justifiably leery about believing her knowledge of anything else she had to say.

Therefore, I'll be heading over there with my laptop, and my ability to access AOL via dialup, in order to ensure that my parents can go online and review the information package that way.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Well, we TRIED to look into that new gym that's right near the place where I had physical therapy. Turns out that they're SO new, they aren't open yet. Mark and I got there, but the most we could do was look through the big plate glass windows at the tools and materials that they're using to remodel the site from being a clothing store to being a gym.

I'll look the site up online, as they're part of a national chain, and see if I can register that way. They're definitely taking registrations, but it's not obvious from the literature they delivered in area mailboxes that these are actually PREregistrations at the moment.

Their prices are pretty reasonable, though, so it's definitely worth looking into. If I sign up at the rates they're advertising, I will spend less in one year of membership than I spent on copays for physical therapy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gotta feel sorry for Stanley, Captain, and Mark. We had a little incident after dinner where Stanley followed close on Mark's heels as Mark was walking in the vicinity of the sink, getting ready to make some Crystal Light.

Mark had no idea that Stanley was even there, and when he took a step backward, he tread on Stanley's poor wee paw.

Predictably, the response was "MRRRREAAHH!!!"

Mark nearly went through the ceiling. Stanley retreated to the dining room, hackles raised and tail fluffed up like a Halloween cat. Captain heard the commotion and came running in from the living room to see what happened. He saw Stanley and his bottle-brush tail, and sniffed his brother all over, fluffing HIS tail up in response. Captain didn't even know what was wrong, but if Stanley's fur was all standing on end, then it must be scary. So then we had TWO Stripey Critters wandering around the dining room with raised fur and supersized tails.

Poor kitties. Poor Mark.

Fortunately, when I checked Stanley's paws, I found no evidence of injury. Now the Stripey Boys are curled up next to me on the sofa. Mark's logged in upstairs. So peace has returned to the household.

(Now that the crisis has well and truly passed... um, is it OK if I laugh now?)
Today, for the first time, I tried to use Word 2007, which Mark installed on our main computer a few months ago. I rarely print from a word processor anymore, and when I do, I've usually edited and stored the file online with docs.google.com on my own laptop first. Then, all I have to do is go upstairs, log onto Google Documents, and print the file THAT way.

But I received some .doc files in my email which I figured would be easy to print via Word.

HA! Little did I know! I think the previous version of Word that we had on the computer was Word 2000. Whatever the heck it was, I was familiar with it. Word 2007, on the other hand, is COMPLETELY revamped. Good grief! I can't freakin' find anything I want to do!



To heck with this aggravation. I'm installing AbiWord on the upstairs computer. It's free, it's small, it runs quickly, and since it's the word processor on my laptop, I know exactly where everything is.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What's cuter than a Shiba Inu puppy? How about SIX of them on a live webcam?

Puppy Cam is just too adorable to be legal. Enjoy it while you can, because they won't stay wee forever.

Click HERE to watch infinite cuteness in action. :)
Wow. I don't know what kind of gastrointestinal bug I got hit with, or how I caught it, but WHAT a rough day Wednesday was!

Note to self: pick up some kind of sports beverage or electrolyte-enriched water tomorrow. My electrolyte levels are probably all out-of-whack after, umm... let's just call it a day of intestinal rebellion, and leave it at that.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I figured out where exactly this new gym is opening in my neighborhood. It's in the shopping center across the street from where I had physical therapy. so it will be stupendously easy to get to. It's even a walkable distance, really, if the weather is decent.

Now all I have to do is pay them a visit to see what they have. I know what the therapist recommended that I should look for in a gym, to maintain the muscle tone I built up via the therapy exercises. If they have that, and if the price is right, I'm joining.

This label, for a pen kids can spin, appropriately named "Spinz", says "Spin pens like the pros".

Um, what? Pros? People get paid to spin pens? And if they do, clearly I haven't been creative enough in seeking my next field of endeavor, because I had no idea that I could convert my pen-spinning prowess into a paying gig.

Live and learn.

Monday, November 17, 2008



Here is a thank-you message for the people who donated to the OLPC Foundation last year.

If you are looking for a philanthropic cause to get behind, hit http://laptop.org and find out more about the OLPC Foundation. Don't delay too long, because the Give One, Get One program will only last until the end of the year.
Have no fear. That odd glowing orb in the sky today is NOT a UFO. It's called "The Sun", and it's been entirely too many days since anyone's had a decent sighting of it. I was starting to think it was as mythical as the Loch Ness Monster and Sasquatch.
How excellent is this? Look at how the OLPC XO is doing on its first day of availability via Amazon.com:

Amazon.com Sales Rank: #1 in Computers & PC Hardware (See Bestsellers in Computers & PC Hardware)

Popular in these categories: (What's this?)

#1 in Computers & PC Hardware > Laptop Computers
#1 in Toys & Games > Electronics for Kids


Head over to http://amazon.com/xo if you want to learn more and/or support a GREAT cause!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

G1G1

OLPC's Give One, Get One for 2008 starts on November 17! I CAN'T WAIT! I want to use my XO at every public wifi spot I know of, to drum up support.

Head over to http://amazon.com/xo for information. It's a great little device.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

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We're on the way to Hershey to see the Phantoms! Presuming that the tornado watch that's posted in both Hershey and Philly doesn't come to fruition, that is.

Phantoms STH Bus Trip

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Mark & I are in one of three buses for the Phantoms STH trip to Hershey.

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Hahaha! We bring you the latest edition of "Stupid Criminal Tricks"! Seems that Mr. Burglar tried to steal the laptop of a first-year law student, who was horrified at the prospect of losing an entire year's worth of course work. Mr. Student proceeded to beat the living daylights out of Mr. Burglar.

I love it when the good guys win!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

HA HA HA HA, gotta love this cat video! Watching it will be a well-spent 84 seconds, so click play and enjoy. :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"Ground control to Major Tom..."

Is there anyone other than me who has a moment of cognitive dissonance while watching a car ad that's got a cover of the above-mentioned song playing in the background?

Yeah, sure, they cut out right after reaching the lyrics stating, "You've really made the grade." But anyone who actually KNOWS the song is aware that the song ends up with the astronaut's loss of communication with Earth and getting lost in space as a result.

I think of how the story pans out *every time* I hear the song, and that includes the car ads. Yeah, that's just what the carmaker wants me to associate their product with: a catastrophic technical glitch resulting in a deceased astronaut. Brilliant move, especially in a depressed economy that has people resisting large-ticket purchases like cars in the first place.

I posted a few weeks ago about songs whose lyrics send all the wrong messages if they're being played at weddings. Maybe it's time to establish a similar category of Inappropriate Music in Advertising.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rarely do I find the need to express political views in this blog. However, I can't in good conscience let this go by without comment. This comes from Rush Limbaugh:

Noting that a Rasmussen poll showed that 69 percent of GOP voters love Palin, Limbaugh sneered, "So all of you wizards of smart on our side, all of you intellectualoids who think that Palin was a drag, the party loves Sarah Palin. The vast majority of conservative Republicans love Sarah Palin. Twenty percent of Republicans who say she hurt the ticket, you are probably the ones that need to go and walk and join across the aisle with the others that you find so much more palatable because they are able to communicate and they are writers and they are intellectual ... The party loves her."


GOP voters were in the minority on this past Election Day. How does Limbaugh not see that 69% of a minority is an even SMALLER minority? If he's basing his argument that Palin is good for the party on that statistic, he's part of the party's problem, not its solution.

Also, he's inviting people who disagree to leave the party and go to "the others that you find so much more palatable because they are able to communicate and they are writers and they are intellectual".

Um, what?

First of all, since when have the qualities of being "able to communicate", being a "writer", and being "intellectual" become attributes worthy of disparagement? What planet does HE live on? Moreover, does anyone else see this as an implication that if you don't like Palin, but you do like communicators, writers, and intellectuals, then by extrapolation of Limbaugh's logic, Palin fits none of those descriptions? He shouldn't be dispatching the people who dislike Palin to join the other party, he should be INVITING those communicators, writers, and intellectuals from "across the aisle" to join HIS party.

He's got his logic all bass-ackwards here. And if he continues to be one of the most prominent spokespersons for his party, he's going to continue driving away the moderates, and alienating communicators, writers, and intellectuals who might actually have a chance at leading the party AWAY from the ruinous policies that brought it down in 2008.

I got the above quote, as well as a lot of other food for thought, from this Salon article. I think it makes a worthwhile read no matter which side of the fence you're on.

OK, that's it for politics for now. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I graduated from Physical Therapy today. In lieu of a diploma, I got a list of exercises to do daily at home, and a couple of therapy bands to use for resistance exercises.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Thursday is the final day of my Physical Therapy prescription, and coincidentally I have an appointment that day.

The therapist will be giving me pointers on what exercises to do at home, as well as what to look for in a gym should I decide to join one. A stationary bike and a treadmill are two necessities. Leg and hip exercise machines, like the ones I'm using now at PT, are needed as well.

There are a few places in the immediate neighborhood that I think I'd be able to check out. Interestingly, he recommended mom-and-pop type gyms over Big Name Chain Establishments, if I have to choose between the two, because a lot of the times the Big Names cost more just because they ARE a Big name. So that's a bit of food for thought.

One thing's for sure, though: I have to do SOMEthing. If regular daily activity was enough to get my strength up and keep it up, I wouldn't have been sent to physical therapy in the first place. And if losing muscle tone means I will go back to feeling like I did pre-therapy, well, that's not even remotely acceptable. Forget THAT. So I'll be looking into some nearby gyms, and choosing one to go to, in the forseeable future.

In other news: I have voted. If you're also in the US and age 18 or above, then I hope you have voted, as well. I look on voting not just as a right or a privilege, but as an OBLIGATION. People have given up their lives to obtain and maintain the right to vote, in this and other countries. The least we can do is honor their sacrifices by heading out to the polling place and pulling some levers/pushing some buttons/filling out a ballot/whatever the voting process is in each of our districts.

Besides, if someone doesn't vote, then I don't want to hear them gripe if they don't like the job that the winning candidate is doing. Speak your mind in a voting booth first, IMO. Whoever can't be bothered to do that shouldn't trouble themselves to grouse about the election results.

May the best candidates win. That way, we'll ALL win.
GO OUT AND VOTE today. Do your civic duty. There is no, and I mean NO, reason to skip voting for anyone who's in good enough health to walk, drive, limp, or anything else to the voting booth.

People throughout history have died fighting for the right to vote. Those of us who need not fear for our lives at the polling place have no excuse for staying away.

Vote today. Period.

Monday, November 03, 2008

I had an orthopedist's appointment on Monday morning. He didn't extend my PT prescription, so I suspect I'll be discharged from physical therapy after the next couple of sessions.

His advice included, "increase activity to tolerance", which in plain English means do as much as the knee can stand. If it starts to swell up and ache, then I'll know I've overdone it. See: walking to and from the Linc on Friday, lol. See also: leaving the house without the cane and using SEPTA to get from S. Philly to 30th Street and back, then going to the Phantoms game. The former involved a bit more walking-without-a-rest-break than the knee was ready for; the latter involved too many large sets of stairs to navigate cane-free.

I'm learning, though. I'm getting more used to the reconfigured knee and how it responds to different things. And I know that it's improved as the PT and activity has improved the muscle tone, so the end of the PT sessions will have to mean the beginning of my joining a gym. NO WAY do I want to regress to the way I felt before.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Opus

Dear Mr. Breathed,

Not everyone has internet access. Therefore, not everyone will have access to the final panel of Opus.

P.S. I'm :( at losing the rotund penguin for a *3RD* time (Bloom County, Outland, and now Opus).

:( :( :(

Friday, October 31, 2008

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Home again, home again, jiggety jig. My knee is killing me, but for a Championship celebration, I'd walk that round trip every day of the week and twice on Sundays. (7ut I'd carry ibuprofen with me next time. Leaving the meds home was a judgement error on my part.)

Great day today. Now let the Flyers and Phantoms be next to get rings this season. :)

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LOL at Chase Utley's speech! "World $#%@ing Champions!!!" Bwahaha, I don't think they have a seven-second delay, either. LOLOL!

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Another clever sign: someone wrote CHAMPS across the top of a posterboard, as well as upside-down across the bottom. In the middle, they wrote a huge 08, so if you hold the sign one way, it reads "CHAMPS 08", and if you reverse it, it says "CHAMPS 80". Nice!

.

I'm surprised that so many people left the Linc when the team was done here. I have every intention of watching the simulcast from CBP on Eaglevision. I'm not moving from this seat till the festivities are concluded over there. :)

Charlie Manuel addresses the crowd

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Charlie! Charlie! Charlie! Charlie! The chant was absolutely deafening! :)

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Charlie Manuel addresses the crowd


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LOL at this sign: "Mets Fans Are Working Right Now" Hahaha! LMHO!

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Someone made a sign "Hamels/Lidge" in the style of a campaign poster. LOL, I'd cheerfully vote THAT ticket into office!

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The procession is not far now. Another great sign: "Tug: Is This Heaven?" with a Phillies logo and a pic of the World Series trophy. :)

I just got a combo binocular/digicam yesterday, but the only batteries we had in the house were kinda old. So I won't rely too heavily on it. However, if it gets pics before the batteries go kaput, they're gonna ROCK. So cross your fingers. ;)

I thought I'd fresher battries @ the CVS at Broad and Hartranft, but that was before I saw the line to get IN the store was half a block long. Then I thought, "Nah, nevermind."

The flatbeds are headed here even as I type, but the progress seems slow. I think they're carefully picking their way through the immense throngs in the parking lot.

Filling up fast

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People are filling this place up fast. Dan Baker (CBP announcer) addressed the crowd to tell us what the proceedings would be here.

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The Wave


Even if it IS counterclockwise :D

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Linc2

I'm ravenous and someone behind me is eating a steak sandwich that smells great. LOL. Note to self: eat lunch after the festivities.

The procession is passing Broad and Oregon and it's just before 2 PM.

The crowd's getting pumped up now. A few sections are trying to start the wave. It keeps fading, though, because they keep trying to go counterclockwise. That's the wrong way, LOL.

Ha, I just photographed the helicopter that's showing the Linc on TV.

More Linc

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The podium where players will address the crowd is at the edge of the green tarp.

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The Linc

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Waiting for the Phillies :)

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Linc

I walked to the Linc, which distance I would guess is somewhere between 1.5 and 2 miles. My knee was sore by the time I arrived, but it was well worth it.

By the time I reached 18th and Hartranft, about 4 blocks from Broad Street, I could clearly hear the crowd. When I got to Broad Street, I was amazed by the size of the crowd. There was not a square inch of empty sidewalk. Given that this was where the floats will turn to go into tbe CBP parking lot, I should've realized the intersection would be mobbed.

It's 1:22 as I type, and the procession has reached Broad and Reed. So they're officially in South Philly, but have a good 20 blocks at least to reach the Sports Complex.

Today's weather is *phenomenally* gorgeous. We couldn't have ordered a more perfect day from a menu. :) It's almost as if the weather is making up for the weekend monsoons. ;)

My fellow Flyers fan has absolutely stupendous Eagles seats. They're Section 130, row 6. That, as I discovered upon entering the Linc, is right behind the goalpost. Wow. :)

Let's see if I can post somme photos.

yay

The Linc is filling up rapidly. I got two tix from a fellow fan who couldn't use them. Mark couldn't get out of work, my dad couldn't come, so I walked down and gave the spare to someone who needed a seat. She hasn't come in yet, though.

They have the parade coverage on the Jumbotron. The crowds in Center City are indescribably huge. If you have seen pics of the Flyers parades, this is comparable to that.

Wow. :)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Here's another 1,000-word essay. :)

Wide awake at 3 AM, and for once I don't mind. If a picture's worth 1000 words, then here's my thousand-word commentary on the Philies' winning.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

South Philly has gone STARK RAVING INSANE with joy! There are at least 5,000, possibly as many as 10,000 people flooding the intersection of Broad and Shunk. There's a helicopter showing TV images and it's an amazing sight. I mean it's honest-to-goodness wall-to-wall people, not a square inch of sidewalk or street is visible in the crowd.

And you know what? If I lived close to Broad Street, I'd be right the heck out there with them all.

Horns are beeping all over the place. If it was loud out there when we went into the World Series, that doesn't even begin to compare to the decibel level emanating from outside our house tonight. I am LOVING THIS like I can't begin to tell you.

Congratulations, Phillies! 2008 World Series Champions!

PHILLIES!!! We're the WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS!!!
Progress in the Physical Therapy department:

I was able to carry a load of laundry up from the basement without excessive pain. I think that's the first time since BEFORE I re-injured the knee in July that I can say that.

Actually, I'm not even sure when the last time was that carrying laundry up or down the stairs wasn't an ordeal. So getting that done today and having no negative aftereffects is a nice little milestone. :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

As far as I can tell, it hasn't stopped raining since last night. Some people in the city are reporting snow, but I haven't caught sight of that on any of my glances outside.

Blah. Stupid weather. H3ll is trying to freeze over because the Phillies are this-close to winning a championship. That's the problem here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Drat this wretched weather! The Phillies game is suspended. The earliest it can resume is 8 PM tomorrow, weather permitting. Phooey.

Stay hot, Phillies -- we want a championship!

Red October

Today at physical therapy, I was rockin' the old-school maroon and dusty blue throwback Phillies colors. I haven't got an actual old-style Phillies shirt, but I do have a shirt that matches the maroon, and shorts that match the blue, of the unis the Phillies wore in 1980.

The reason for this is that I only have one current-Phillies-red shirt left that's not in the hamper, and I wanted to wear it during tonight's game. To keep it clean until then, I decided to go with the old-school Phillies colors.

GO PHILLIES, and here's to seeing Philadelphia fans celebrating in profusion tonight, as well as for the forseeable future. :) We're sure to see plenty of old- and new-school Phillies gear, if things go the way we'd like them to.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

OMG!

OMG! The Phillies are ONE WIN AWAY from a World Series! One. Win. Away. It's been so long since we were this close, it's almost surreal.

How I hope I'm dancing for joy all over this blog at this time tomorrow night!

WOO HOO! :) :) :) :)

Whee!

I am LOVING how the Phillies game is going right now! Come on boys, dominate these last three innings like you did the first six! We want to celebrate! :)
Thank GOD! The freaking umpire's mis-call did NOT cost us the game. The Phillies just won 5-4, at 1:48 AM. And just think, the score was tied going into the bottom of the 9th. I hate to think of how late this game would've ended, had we gone into extra innings.

Sheesh, I'm tired. Good night! Morning! Whatever! ;)
Dipstick umpire... I swear, they need to get these umps EYE EXAMS before they let them work a world series.

That guy was OUT OUT OUT.
The Phantoms won, and the Flyers won.

Now I'm up at MIDNIGHT(!!!) watching the Phillies/Rays game. Thanks to the monsoon we called our weather today, the game didn't start until 10 PM, Philly time. IN Philly. I've never seen anything like it.

Ooh, and Chase Utley just hit a home run! As my friend Josey says, "I'd like to Chase Utley". :D Woo hoo, Phillies take a 3-1 lead in the 6th!

Man. I have to interpret tomorrow morning. But I can't go to sleep because I'm too into the game. Eeee. Caffiene's going to be my friend tomorrow, I can tell. ;)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ouch

Well, the Phillies and Rays are now tied at one game apiece. Phillies fans are cursing the name of the home plate ump, who fouled up a couple of times, significantly, in favor of Tampa. Oh, well, on to Game 3 and it's time to MURDALIZE THE RAYS.

In other news, I had physical therapy on consecutive days for the first time. My Monday appointment got moved to Wednesday due to a migraine, and I had therapy on Thursday as well. Whew. That's not something I'd like to repeat unless it's absolutely necessary. I need the time to recuperate between sessions, if it's at all possible. My knee is cursing me up and down right now.

But the good news is this: the therapist heard the noises the knee makes today. He was stretching the leg, which is the final part of the therapy session before the 15 minutes of being iced down, and the knee put on a freakin' concert. (It doesn't normally do that during a stretching session.) So now he has a good idea of what's going on in there.

Oh, some good news on the therapy front: I've actually improved to the point where they've *removed* an exercise that I no longer need. My range of motion is good, thank heavens, so a particular exercise I was doing is no longer necessary. It's just the muscle loss that needs to be remedied now. One out of two is a good start.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

CNET has an article today: 14 things to do if you're laid off from a tech job.

My response to the title was, "Where was this advice in 2001, when I could have used it?"

Then I clicked on the article. Clearly, it's not aimed precisely at my current or former demographic. Its advice included, "Get a girlfriend or boyfriend." Sorry, I think my HUSBAND would have had some justifiable objections if I'd followed that particular advice when I was downsized, or for that matter at any point since that time. LOL. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

:(

RIP to K-9 Andy, the Plymouth Township police dog killed in the line of duty. I wish a speedy recovery to his handler, Officer Louis Layfield, who was shot in the chest, but fortunately was wearing a ballistic vest. He was treated at a hospital and released.

I'm glad that the three suspects that they were tracking were arrested. If they are the guilty parties, I hope that they get the book thrown at them.
The Flyers and Phillies both play tonight. The Flyers game started a few minutes ago, and the Phillies game will start at 8 PM.

I am SO tired and, as usual after physical therapy, I am this-close to falling asleep. If I were to lie down right now, I'd be out cold within minutes.

But I am going to MAKE myself stay awake. First of all, I want to see the games. Second, I'm hoping that I'll be able to sleep at the same hours as normal human beings, something I'm still having trouble with even with the sleep meds, if I don't take a nap at this early hour.

GO FLYERS and GO PHILLIES!

In other news, today at physical therapy, I heard one of the patients that I've seen on a regular basis referred to as "Father ___". Turns out that he's the pastor and friend of my friend Betty. Dang. Small world. :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

:)

Today was a really nice day. The vast majority of it was, anyway. Joe M, John R and I took a casino bus from Philly to Atlantic City. None of us could be considered a gambler, but the weather's been nice and we hadn't taken a day trip to AC in a long, long time.

Even though this morning we had light rain in Philly, the weather was mostly cloudy with no rain in AC. The temperature was great -- nice and cool, and I wish we could have this temperature range all year.

We had a nice lunch at the buffet in the casino where our bus took us, and we took a pretty long walk on the boardwalk. All in all, as I said, a very pleasant day.

However, the agita we went through in trying to get home was enough to convince us to take the NJ Transit train to AC from here on out. Depending on whom you ask, the 5:15PM bus that returned to Philly either never showed up, or was 45 minutes late. All I know is that we were in line, along with a whole lot of other people, prior to 5:00 PM in order to get a seat on a bus that we expected to pull into the berth very soon. Ha -- no such luck. Two Philadelphia-bound buses arrived at once at about 5:40, and pulled into adjacent berths. We got into the one that pulled into the berth we were expecting the 5:15 bus to pull into. Therefore, we thought that we were ON the bus that was supposed to arrive at that time.

Long story less long: after the casino stop, the bus we were on made one other stop at the AC Bus Station before departing for Philadelphia. Hence, we didn't actually get onto the road for Philly until 6:00, 45 minutes after we'd expected to be en route for home.

When we arrived, Joe said something to the bus driver, because there had been neither an explanation nor an apology for the lengthy delay. The driver said he was on time, so I asked, "Isn't this the 5:15 bus?" He denied that it was.

So either our bus driver was trying to save face, or perhaps the bus that pulled into the adjacent berth within moments of the bus we took home was the excessively-late 5:15 bus. Or maybe the 5:15 just plain never freaking showed up.

Whatever the problem was, the solution is going to be that we'll take the NJ Transit train from Philly to AC from now on. No fuss, no muss, no standing in bus garages, for the better part of an hour, while being suffocated by diesel exhaust and smoke from nicotine-addicted passengers waiting in line.

OTHER than the trip home, however, I'd love to have a whole bunch more days like this one. :) It was nice to be with friends and get out walking around in nice weather.

(My knee feels the after-effects now, but oh well. The exercise was good for me and it was worth it.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad!

I just called my parents' house to wish my dad a happy 70th birthday. Mom answered. I asked to speak to the Birthday Boy. :) Turns out he can't come to the phone because he's out in the yard painting a door. I said, "You put him to work on his birthday? What the heck is this?" But it was Dad's idea to do chores on his birthday.

So Go, Dad, Go! He'll call me back later when there's no risk of getting paint all over the phone. :)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rx

I just checked to see if I'd forgotten to take my ibuprofen this morning with breakfast. Unfortunately, I didn't forget; the little Sunday compartment for my weekly prescription-med dose manager is empty.

That's disappointing, because it means I took my ibuprofen three hours ago, and have to wait another three hours before I can take it again. Yet, my knee hurts as though I haven't taken anything at all.

There may, however, be a bright side to this. The weather turned abruptly colder last night. It's entirely possible that this is weather-induced soreness, and not a failure of the ibuprofen.

If that's the case, then the bright side is that my knee has actually improved enough that I can discern weather-induced pain again, as opposed to just being this sore all the time for no obvious reason. (Well, besides minor details like surgery and arthritis. Don't cloud the issue with facts.)

I just have to keep reminding myself that when I dislocated the kneecap in 1994, I spent the first few months *wishing* that I only felt the level of discomfort that I'm in right now. As frustrating as this is to go through, the prior injury was a lot more frustrating for a far longer timespan. So I know that things could be far worse.

Wow

Wow. I can't believe the number of hits that my Phantoms blog is getting. (Click here or click "The Final Countdown" link on the sidebar.)

It figures. I finally find a niche, a topic to write about that's In Demand, so to speak... and it's only got one hockey season left to live. GRRR.

Depending on where the Phantoms land after this season ends and the Spectrum is shuttered (GRRR), I'll probably start another blog and put a link to it on here, and on the Final Countdown blog as well. The Final Countdown is about the Phantoms' final season in the Spectrum prior to the building's closing, and I'm going to restrict its content to that.

However, future years' blogs will possibly contain more game reports from my having watched games online, rather than attending all 40 home games in person (plus playoffs, if any). If the team moves too far from Philadelphia, getting to the games on a regular basis could be cost- and time-prohibitive. We'll have to see what pans out after this season, as there STILL has been no announcement made regarding what the team's going to do from 2009 onward.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Interesting

Here's an interesting article on CNET that demonstrates how surfing the Internet helps stimulate the brains of middle-aged and older computer-savvy users. Looks like we can add one more weapon to the arsenal of fighting off senility in our later years. Activities like playing cards and doing word/number puzzles have been recommended for years. My guess is that things that make us actively USE our brain in order to participate, be it puzzles or web searches, help keep all those brain connections hopping and maybe even help develop new ones to handle the extra traffic. So if, God forbid, the connections start deteriorating over time, the additional connections we build up through using the brain actively will help offset at least some of the age-related loss.

So keep on surfing, Dear Readers! :) It's good for your brain!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Still more horns beeping. I suspect some people are leaving the Broad and Pattison area now, because all of a sudden there's been a big uptick in the volume out there. :)
Wow, THAT beeping horn that just passed by was a tractor-trailer! :) Impressive!

Wait until the photos of the various intersections of Broad Street hit the papers tomorrow. On TV, they showed Broad and Pattison, and Broad and Snyder, and both of them are JAMMED with wall-to-wall Phillies fans. Heck, they showed an intersection in Mayfair (NE Philly, if my memory serves) and THAT was completely mobbed with Phillies fans. They're nowhere near the Sports Complex, but they're out there celebrating and going bananas, so it's not just a phenomenon that's caused by proximity to the team's home field.

OMG, Chickie's and Pete's is going insane. They're showing that on TV now and everyone is going cuckoo. I love it. :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Beeeep!

Ha! There go the first beeping horns! The celebration is starting! :) :) :)

YES!

OUTSTANDING! The Phillies just eliminated LA and we're going to the World Series!

It shouldn't be long now until we start hearing the horns beeping. :)

Congratulations, Phightin' Phils! Kick some American League butt! In fact, kick four wins' worth of American League butt and we'll celebrate with a parade!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hooray -- my camera batteries arrived from Amazon.com. I'm glad I was able to get hold of batteries for my six-year-old digital camera, as the original and spare that I've been using all this time are getting increasingly bad at holding a charge for any length of time.

I just bought myself a LOT more time with this camera, which I genuinely like and which I won't upgrade from until I can find something that has all the features of a prosumer camera. That's a class that's partway between a pro camera and a consumer camera, and it's a class I really don't think exists anymore. Camera manufacturers don't appear to offer equipment that's in that middle ground these days, and consumer-level offerings don't offer some features that I've come to rely on, so I'll stick with the camera I've got for now. And to my great relief, I don't have to worry about my either of my camera batteries suddenly quitting on me anymore. So this was a productive day.

I've been getting a lot of pain and discomfort emanating from behind the kneecap lately. The orthopedist called it "chondromalacia patella" -- deterioration of the cartilage that's behind the kneecap. I have a few other things that I would like to call it, but this is a family-friendly blog so I'll keep those opinions to myself. ;) To quote the doctor, it's basically arthritis in the knee. Phooey.

Now that they've added some new exercises to the physical therapy regimen, I'm using some of the same equipment that I used to use when I belonged to a neighborhood gym (which has long since moved away from the neighborhood -- I'm not even sure where they are now). The difference is, the weights I used to be able to use make the weights I have to use now look like nothing. Sheesh, there was a time when I could have exercised in my sleep with the weights I'm using now. :( But at that time, I wasn't in the immediate aftermath of surgery and I didn't have several years' worth of wear-and-tear from arthritis going on in the knee. It'd be nice to find that I can get back to the level of strength I once had, without dying of pain from the freakin' knee acting up.

But as a more immediately achievable goal, I'll settle for "I'd like to have the appropriate amount of strength and muscle mass in my leg", neither of which is quite the case yet. As of last week, there was still some remaining swelling in the knee and muscle-tissue loss, so I have some work left to do before I'm back in one (relatively) intact piece. I'm doing my best. But doggone, I'm sick of being sore all the darn time. I might end up asking the doc to switch my prescription to naprocen (from ibuprofen) after all. I'll give it a few more weeks, until I see the orthopedist again.

I repeat for the umpteenth time, "DON'T FALL." The aftermath is a great big serving of PHOOEY.

[inside joke]

Dear Josey,

"Oh, yes, I'm the Great Returner",
Now I've got that song on the brain!
You should only see
What you've done to me
I sing it again and again!

Sincerely,

Gabey
[/inside joke]

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Yesterday, Ann Marie's daughter Catherine got married. Catherine and her brother John are in their 20s now. This is just another huge reminder of how quickly time passes, because we've known Ann Marie and her kids since her kids WERE kids and their ages were barely into double digits.

So when I saw Catherine walking up the aisle yesterday, being escorted by her brother, all I could think was, "Katie and John-John! OMG, they've grown up!" :)

God bless Catherine and her new husband Sean. I know she's a wonderful young lady, and I think she's chosen an extremely nice young man. I wish them all the best now and always.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Whee, Utley and Burrell with back-to-back home runs! The Phillies just went from being behind 2-0 to being ahead 3-2! :)

Not only is it exhilarating to cheer like this, the noise level also helps the cats acclimate to the hockey season, which will soon be a fixture on our TV. :D

Brace

The good news is, I know just where I'll be able to have the knee-brace prescription filled. It's a matter of blocks away from where I get physical therapy.

The not-so-hot news is, by the time I got done at physical therapy this afternoon, said durable-medical-goods provider was closed for the day. Drat.

At least I was able to copy their phone number and business hours down from their sign. I'll call them tomorrow and find out if I have to make an appointment to come in.
I was pleased to see that Peru is placing a huge order with OLPC for 150,000 new laptops, to go with the 140,000 they already ordered and have begun deploying. Click here for OLPC info.

In other news, the next Give 1, Get 1 laptops, which will become available in November, will have the most current version of the Sugar user interface. Which reminds me, I really need to update MY laptop to a more current version of Sugar. I'll have to pencil that in for a day when I haven't already got something scheduled, though, because I want to have a block of uninterrupted time to monitor the goings-on with the update.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Rx

Lucky for me that the orthopedist gave me the prescription extending my physical therapy. Today's visit was the last one that would have been covered under the previous prescription.

Monday, October 06, 2008

News that I've feared for a while would come our way has now been announced. Our 2005 Calder-Cup-Winning-Goal scorer is being deployed to Iraq.

If there's a dictionary entry for "An Officer and a Gentleman", it should simply bear a photo of Ben Stafford as its definition. He's one of the most genuinely nice people I've ever been fortunate enough to meet. I'm proud of what he's doing, but at the same time I'm scared to death that the world will lose a fine human being far too soon.

Be well and safe, Ben, and come home safely and soon! Countless thoughts and prayers are headed your way from Philly! And Trenton, and Yale, and Thomas Jefferson University, and anywhere else where people know you and are aware that you're headed overseas.

Stafford ships out


By WAYNE FISH
phillyBurbs.com

NEW YORK — This marks the second time the Flyers have visited the United States Military Academy at West Point while America is at war, but Sunday the seriousness of our nation's situation was brought to light in a personal way.

In an eerie coincidence, this was the same day that Ben Stafford, a former Flyer prospect who played 244 games for the Phantoms and is now an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, was deployed for service in Iraq.

Stafford, a Yale University graduate, gave up hockey in 2005 just after the Phantoms won the Calder Cup. A number of Stafford's teammates from that championship club are now on the Flyers.

He entered medical school but shortly after decided to enter the armed forces, much the way the late NFL Arizona Cardinal player Pat Tillman did. Tillman gave his life for his country when he was killed in combat in Afghanistan.

It's a similar bold, courageous move by the 29-year-old Stafford, one which draws both admiration and concern from his friends in Philadelphia.

Coach John Stevens and several of the players were able to talk to Stafford by phone on Friday, although the conversation was limited because the Edina, Minn., native couldn't divulge his whereabouts due to security concerns.

“You don't want to see anybody going to Iraq because it's a pretty dangerous place, but when it's a friend of yours it's tough,” said Flyers goalie Antero Niittymaki, one of the stars of that '05 Phantoms championship club. “We talked about it a lot, but it's what he wants to do. It's his thing. He likes it.”

Stafford went into this venture with his eyes wide open, and his hockey-playing chums respect that.

“I am a little worried,” Niittymaki admitted. “You don't know what's going on over there or what's happening. But you have to deal with it and hope everything goes well.”

Riley Cote plays the role of tough guy in hockey, but he knows that in real life Stafford is as tough as they come.

“It's ironic that's what we were talking about [Sunday] at West Point [with a sports psychologist], comparing sports to war,” Cote said.

“They were telling us that being on a team and athletics prepares you for battle and that there are a lot of similarities — the discipline, the communication, the teamwork and all that.

“I know Stafford has that mentality. He does everything the best way possible. He was one of the most in-shape guys we've ever had in camp, and he's a fierce competitor. That's the mentality he has to have going where he's going. I have the ultimate respect for him as a person for doing that.”

Stevens always got an honest effort from Stafford while the two were on the Phantoms. The coach says Stafford has the right qualities for an officer.

“It puts things into perspective,” Stevens said. “Ben is a total low-maintenance guy who did everything right for our hockey team. When he gets his mind set on a mission or a goal, he jumps with both feet in.

“He had a real passion to join the Marine Corps, and he's doing what he wants to do. We support him and wish him all the best and we're thankful for what he's doing.”

While some people were caught off guard by Stafford's decision, Stevens was prepared.

“Everyone's initial reaction was a little surprised especially because he went into medical school and [it] had [been] a long process to get in there,” the coach explained.

“But I was one of his references to become an officer in the Marine Corps. After he explained his reasons for wanting to do it — he was a history major at Yale, he has strong beliefs in serving his country and he has such good team values — I knew he'd be great at whatever he does. You understand why he wants to do it and where he's coming from.”

Wayne Fish can be reached at wfish@phillyBurbs.com. Read Fish's blog at blogs.phillyBurbs.com/wayne-fish.

October 6, 2008 7:05 AM

Speaking of diagnoses...

The computer in my car needs to be replaced. Given the age of the car, I have no idea what kind of expense we're talking about. The mechanic will do some calling around and get back to us later.

Blargh. I have a feeling this isn't going to be pretty. :(

Knee Knews

I had my latest followup with the orthopedic surgeon today. I told him about the mishap in church yesterday morning, where when I went to bend my knee, instead of moving as it should, the kneecap "stuck" where it was, causing me to pull I-know-not-what soft tissue and leaving me in pain from then on.

Conclusions:

-- prescription for a type of knee brace that will help the kneecap track properly

-- prescription for continuation of physical therapy

-- increase ibuprofen from 3x/day to the max of 4x/day (don't tell him, but I was considering doing that on my own)

Also, I asked for some specifics about the arthritis in the knee and found that it's "moderate, leaning toward severe". Farg. I was hoping that it was a bit less worn-and-torn than that in there. Then again, given the symptoms that have developed over the years, I can't honestly express surprise at that diagnosis.

-- Followup appointment in 1 month

I'm off to put ice on it again. I medicated at 9 AM and I'm still waiting for something resembling pain relief to result.(Or, and this is a scary thought, maybe this IS the pain relief and without the ibuprofen I'd be feeling even worse.) Either way, I can't take another ibuprofen for three hours. Hence, ice is my friend.

I guess I can call it a blessing in disguise that I had the knee-related mishap the day BEFORE the orthopedist's visit, and not the day AFTER.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

My knee is FREAKIN' killing me. Thank goodness I have an appointment with the orthopedist tomorrow morning. I iced it all afternoon and evening, and I'll be reverting back to my "wear the Cryo Cuff overnight and swap out the warmed water for ice water any time I wake up" technique that I used when I first had the surgery.

We had a nice time at the St. Nick's Italian Festival. Mark and I met up with Joe M. and John R. there. While we were there, we also encountered other friends, including FD and her husband -- she looked good, though it's clear that she's lost a lot of weight after the health ordeals she's been through. Also, we sat with Bob F. and Jim M., whom I hadn't seen in eons.

All in all, it was a nice evening. Oh, and by the way, it's not a contradiction of terms for me to have written "best Italian food" for both the St. Nick's festival tonight *and* for the festival two weeks ago at Annunciation.

The two churches in question are about four or five blocks away from one another, and nearly all of the vendors that took part in tonight's festival also participated in the St. Pio festival two weeks ago. So the same people making that "Best Food" for Annunciation were out there tonight making food for St. Nick's. :)

Let's just put it this way: if you really like Italian food, you need to make a pilgrimage to the ZIP codes of 19148 and 19145. You just do. There are all kinds of little Mom-and-Pop Italian restaurants around here that serve food that's out of this freakin' world. Some of those places provided the food at the festivals I attended, as well as the one at Epiphany (the next parish south of St. Nick's) last week which I was unable to attend.

So there you have it, foodies -- mark your calendar for our festivals in South Philly next October, or else track down the various vendors at their regular restaurant sites and sample their wares there. Either way, if you're a fan of Italian food, you'll be glad you did.

Great, now I'm hungry. I wonder why? ;)

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Come on down to the Festival! Best food in the time Zone!

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LOL. Parking problems in South Philly? We don't got no stinking parking problems in South Philly! :D

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We had a little knee-related setback in church this morning. I went to bend the knee, and the kneecap, which is supposed to move up and down nicely in its own little groove, decided to stay in one place. OW! Son of a blankety-blank-blank no-good lousy rotten so-and-so!

Now it just hurts, period. Sitting, standing, moving, not moving, doesn't matter. Phooey. I may have gotten some of the soft tissue in there mad at me somehow. It's certainly nowhere near "OMG THE WORLD IS ENDING" pain levels, but it's there and I don't want it there.

Ice is going to be my friend for the rest of the day.