Sunday, August 28, 2011

Aftermath

Moyamensing Avenue has everything from twigs to moderate-sized branches down. (And one BIG branch that I'm glad didn't land on someone.) It's still windy -- watch out for your screen doors when you open them! They might just keep going! ;-) Other than that, we seem to have come through the adventure in one piece.

Our house, tree, & neighborhood came through OK. Our region has many downed trees and flooding, though. Now for damage assessment & cleanup.
WIND! Our tree's branches are going a mile a minute in the teeming rain. Tornado watch extended to 5 AM.
Salem County, NJ has declared a travel ban. Only emergency personnel are permitted to be on the roads.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I'm listening to the Philadelphia Fire Department Radio's internet stream at http://ping.fm/GbTx8.
SEPTA and PATCO have suspended service. NOAA reports indications of a tornado at King of Prussia. Stay safe, all!
Philly-area friends, a tornado was confirmed in Vineland, NJ. Keep a TV or radio on so you know if there's trouble in your immediate area.

Raindrops Are Falling On My Head

Mark and I just got home from JFM and JR's. The rain isn't quite heavy yet, but it's steady and the wind is picking up. One block we drove through had green, leafy broken twigs all over the street. If that's what their street looks like now, I hate to think of what it'll look like when the REAL wind hits overnight.

We took our wind chimes indoors, so they won't become a projectile at any point during the night. We expect sustained winds of 50 MPH with gusts of 65-70. There have been easily a dozen flood warnings today on the NOAA weather radio. Now we're getting tornado warnings issued for all over south NJ, including Atlantic City, and for several PA and NJ counties south of Philly. DISLIKE.

I called my parents. They're doing OK. They have a sump pump in the basement now, so there's less concern of having a flooded cellar. Other than that, everything's relatively quiet. And rain-soaked.

Even Lawrence Welk got into the spirit. One of tonight's songs was Good Night Irene. The show was originally recorded in 1969; it's on WHYY.
Philly's getting the first of the rain. It doesn't look like much now, but I know better. It'll get interesting before the night is out.
Just for kicks, here's my Ustream broadcast of Irene in Philadelphia. http://ping.fm/alC0j So far we just have rain.
The necklace cords I ordered, thinking they were satin b/c the brand name is Silkies, are actually colored rubber. Dang it. My mistake.

Friday, August 26, 2011

It's getting cloudier by the minute. I think we're done with the sun until Irene passes. SE Wilmington DE is evacuating. Yikes.

More on Irene

I was far from pleased to wake up to an alert on my cell phone declaring that a Hurricane WARNING, not Watch, has been issued for Philadelphia. Evidently there's a legit concern that Irene will be coming up the coast a lot farther west than most hurricanes do.

Then I saw the article that the AC casinos are closing. Uh-oh. They almost NEVER close the casinos. They'd keep those gambling floors open right through The Apocalypse if they could.

This storm is no joke. Book it.

Hurricane WARNING, not watch, issued for Philly. DE and NJ are evacuating coastal areas. AC casinos are closing. Here comes Hurricane Irene.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricane Irene is coming

Apparently, one natural disaster wasn't enough this week. Now we have Hurricane Irene on the way.

Brigantine is being evacuated. My aunt is going with my cousin and his wife to in-laws' home in Mays Landing. That's still in the storm track, as is Philadelphia, but at least it's farther from the ocean so they won't get hit as hard.

This freaking storm is supposed to make a royal mess of the eastern seaboard. Oh, fun.

Poor Mini. She hates taking walks in the rain. I'm going to have to get her a little life preserver to cross some of the larger puddles.

Mini and Sari

Edie and her hearing dog Sari are staying with JEJ and his mom this week. I brought Mini over to visit, since she generally likes other dogs.

But things got off to a boisterous start when Sari, who's barely past puppy stage at 3 years old, wanted to play and bounce around too vigorously for Mini's taste. Mini (6 lbs) soon had Sari (52 lbs) following her orders. It was interesting to watch Mini teach Sari some doggie manners, such as "don't stick your whole face in another dog's face repeatedly". "AR AR AR" went Mini, and Sari backed up. Then Sari tried to paw at Mini, curiosity written all over her face. I can understand if Sari was puzzled by the sight of a dog that's smaller than one of her toys. "AR AR AR" went Mini, and there was no more pawing.

Once Sari got the idea of respecting Mini's personal space, they got on fine.

Incidentally, Edie said that during the earthquake on Tuesday, Sari was trying to "alert" Edie to what was going on. She nudged Edie and then lay down on the floor. (A hearing dog is supposed to alert its owner by nudging at them and then leading them to the source of the sound, touching it to show that's where the sound was coming from.) Edie wasn't sure what the dog was trying to alert her to, until she turned on the TV and saw the news reports about the earthquake.
I introduced Mini to my friend's hearing dog, Sari, last night. Sari tried to figure out what Mini IS, as she's got toys bigger than Mini.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I created some settings for wire-wrapped jewelry. I'm awaiting some wire and tools in the mail, but I can still work with supplies I've got.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earthquake coverage in the news

From Philly.com: Phila. area rocked by Va. quake

We don't seem to have incurred a lot of actual damage, though there's at least one broken window on the Blue Cross building. Yikes. Heck, I'm just glad that we didn't have a bunch of reports of windows detaching themselves when the tall buildings flexed and swayed. There's always so much foot traffic in Center City, if THAT had happened there'd surely have been casualties. Considering that buildings in this area are not necessarily constructed to withstand earthquakes, we got off pretty easy in this region.

Shake, Rattle, and Roll!

Well, THAT was interesting. And I mean that in the sense of the Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times".

I was resting on the loveseat when the shaking started. Having experienced an earth tremor before, the one that was epicentered in Plattsburgh, NY in about 2002, I recognized the sensation immediately as another quake. It wasn't too strong at first, so I wasn't troubled.

Then it got stronger. The crystals on the lamp and the chandelier started to clink together. The china closet started rattling. As the noise level grew, I got less placid.

The shaking turned itself up a few more notches. Louder clinking and rattling. The whole chandelier was now moving. OK, this wasn't funny anymore. Row houses in PA are not designed to be earthquake-resistant, not by any stretch of a vivid imagination. I went and stood in the front doorway. Fortunately, that's when the shaking wound down and eventually became undetectable. (Though the chandelier kept swinging for a bit afterward.)

Captain and Stanley, who'd been parked in the front window, hid. But before long, Stanley came out of hiding and started following me around the house. Everywhere I went, Stanley was about four inches behind me. Mini wasn't too pleased about the quake while it was happening, but she forgot all about it the moment it ended. There's something to be said in favor of "living in the 'now'", let me tell you.

All in all, I could've done without that jolt of adrenaline. I hope the house doesn't decide to do the Mummer's Strut again for a long time. How do people in earthquake-prone areas put up with this? Sheesh.

In other news, today, Mark returned to a regular work schedule. The striking workers agreed to return to work, sans contract, and work while the negotiations for the new contract continue.
EARTH TREMOR. The whole house just shook for a good 30 seconds. The chandelier is still swinging. Where'd THAT come from?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Every time I set up a computer, I'm reminded that every freaking program wants to install its own browser toolbar. ARGH! Toolbar overload!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What Microsoft nitwit decided to create an error dump file in a format that nobody can farging OPEN? that's no freaking help!
thank God for the NETBOOK1 it's the way I can keep working while I restore the laptop. Multitasking. Gotta love it.
I had to reformat the hard drive. [Insert long multilingual list of expletives here.] Restoring now. There go my plans for the day. %#€*@$&!

Do Want.

I'm loving this. I wish I had infinite cash to throw around.

Harry Potter/Hermione's Voice Activated Wand Flashlight
FANABLA. A corrupted file is preventing my laptop from booting. I might end up restoring. The repair tools aren't helping. Uggggggh.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Strike: Day 7

We've settled into the new routine whereby Mark leaves unmercifully early for work, but comes home at the normal time. He and the rest of the non-union management employees will be working ten-hour days for the duration of the strike.

I need to ask him if they're still providing bagels for the people who are working extra hours. He brought a few of those home last week, and doggone, they were good!

I'm looking forward to seeing Edie come and visit later this week. She'll be staying with JJ and his mom for about a week. I'm sure she'll have her hearing dog with her. It'll be nice to see pretty Sari, too. What a great dog!

I have officially watched all of the first 7 Harry Potter movies online, as of Saturday. So I'm ready to see #8. I'm hoping to see that happen this week.

I have a major case of HWS (Hockey Withdrawal Syndrome). Training camp's not until next month. Ugh. I hate the offseason.

Monday, August 15, 2011

See Gabey hear thunder. See Gabey remember her friend's 'puter recently got fried by lightning. See Gabey unplug her laptop.

Edit to add: See Gabey's laptop battery go POOF after five minutes. Evidently it needs to be replaced. GRRRR. >_<

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Harry Potter #7: I *totally* need that infinite-internal-depth magic handbag of Hermione's. DO WANT. ;-)

Strike: Day 5

Mark found out yesterday that his work schedule, for the duration of the strike, will now encompass five 10-hour days per week. He'll still be showing up sometime before the crack of dawn, but at least he'll be getting home at a reasonable hour.

They'd better settle this strike before the hockey season starts. They have 'till October to get their collective act together.

Harry Potter: the prequel?

I've been doing a lot of thinking about the Harry Potter series lately, as I've been following him online through the course of the first seven films. One of my friends recently posted on her blog about her disappointment that after the eighth film, currently in theaters, there will never, ever be any more HP.

I have my doubts about that. I can't help but ponder the idea that there is, couched in the HP series itself, plenty of material that could lead to a lengthy prequel. Tom Riddle's childhood and his transmutation into Lord Voldemort. Backstories of various characters like Dumbledore, Hagrid, and Snape, not to mention Harry's own parents, are ripe for writing. There's a long list of good and bad characters who took a stand during Voldemort's first rise to power whose history could be explored in greater depth, as well.

So let's just say that I won't be the least bit surprised if additional, prequel stories come out. J. K. Rowling, who probably enjoys things like having a steady income, would be giving her fan base something that they genuinely want: a continued connection to well-loved characters.

From where I sit, it just makes sense, both from a creative and business standpoint, to venture into prequel territory.
Six HP movies watched, one more to go. Then I'll be ready to see the HP grand finale in the theaters.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Strike: Day 4

Mark's department has managed their workload efficiently enough that today and tomorrow, they'll only need to work 10-hour days. Next week, they are tentatively slated to return to having 8-hour workdays. This is subject to change at any time, just as the "not working Saturdays" directive could be revoked at any time.

I suspect that as long as other departments are withstanding the work stoppage as well, the extra hours won't be needed. But if any other departments start to fall behind, the people who aren't needed for extra hours will be recruited to help bring everyone back up to speed.

Figured out how to post my Twitter feed to the blog

You may already have noticed that my most recent post to Twitter is displayed at the top left of the blog. But I've figured out how to use ping.fm to post ALL my Twitter posts to the body of the blog itself.

That ought to prevent days-long gaps between posts from happening here from now on, which is something that I've been trying to resolve for a while. So don't be surprised at the brief little blurbs that will show up without a title from time to time. The little drive-by postings are the ones that come from Twitter.

In other news, I'm waiting on the call from JEJ's mom to determine if I'm going to be able to work today. They had some errands to run, including one to a wheelchair-repair place to correct an issue with the brakes being too loose. I told her to check and see how JEJ feels when they get home from all the errand-running. After all, yesterday his headache didn't kick in full force until after he'd had some activity during the day. I don't trust that @(#*$&@#($ headache to stay away today, not unless he gets home from today's errands and still feels OK.

I wish I could stamp out chronic pain. I can attest, by the number of people who are always waiting in the headache pain center when we're there, that he's far from the only one who deals with this hellish symptom. There's even some artwork on the walls that was created by headache patients, depicting what their pain is like. I can empathize with some of those pictures, thanks to the migraines I've dealt with at times (though they're rare now, thank God). I feel terrible for him and everyone else who's living with this issue on a regular basis.

Edit: I just got the call. No dice on that whole "feeling OK" thing. :-( We'll try again tomorrow. Bleep chronic massive headaches, no matter what the cause.
I <3 the Pandora app. I never knew until just now that Air Supply covered "Without You".

Continuing Education

Lately, I just can't shake the idea that I'd like to go back to school and pick up a few more programming languages.

I was a programmer/analyst for over 15 years. But most of the languages I've used in the process are in very limited use (or perhaps I should say "in limited demand") these days. Go on the job sites and look for programming openings, and you're likely to see a requirement for at least one programming language that I've never used.

So I can't stop wondering if there's a way to reconcile my experience and knowledge with the current nature of the IT field, and the only answer I can see is to learn some of the newer programming languages that are out there now.

I'm printing out info on the computer courses that are available at the community college where I studied ASL interpreting. They seem to have courses in some of the computer languages I'm looking to learn. Once I get a good look at the courses they're offering, I'll have a word with someone from their admissions office, and see if they're willing to have a former computer professional, who's already got a degree, come in and pick and choose which courses I take.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I've been doing some long-overdue updating of my blog template. All the sidebar links now connect to live sites. :-)

Five Down, Two to Go

I've now watched the first five Harry Potter movies on Vudu, walmart.com's video on demand streaming service. I've actually seen the sixth and seventh movies in the theater already, but I'm going to watch them online anyway. There are some details in those last two that are sure to become clearer to me, with the fresh memories of the entire previous catalog of films to draw on.

I seriously need one of those wands. And a flying broom. I might only employ a broom for mundane tasks like sweeping when absolutely necessary, but rest assured, I'd be rather more enthused about using one in lieu of SEPTA or driving the car.

I'd also like to hit up the Hogwart's infirmary to see if they've got anything to stop my incision from itching. The surgeon told me in June that it could itch for up to a year. Ugh. It's a lot better than it was, but I don't need to spend the next few months wondering when the next "aaaargh, it won't stop itching" bout will take place.

My work schedule got a little jumbled this week. I was supposed to head over to JEJ's today to help with email and other things, but he's got a massive headache. So it's rescheduled for tomorrow, instead. I feel so sorry for him. These stupid chronic headaches have got to go. He was even at the headache pain center only 24 hours ago; even so, the headaches are back already. The painkilling shots that are supposed to last days, if not weeks, only last for a few hours with him before the pain comes back. And he has to wait three weeks until the next appointment? Blargh. I hope today's not an example of what the next three weeks will be like. That would really be rotten.

Strike: Day 3

Mark's company got their court injunction overnight last night, to prevent strikers from blocking the doors. The original injunction was overturned by the union, as the union wanted to have separate injunctions for each location. The replacement injunction was available as of about midnight last night, but of course there were no picketers at that hour to read it to. They did, however, get to tell the picketers the new rules when they arrived on Tuesday morning.

God bless Mark for being able to function at the hour he's leaving the house. I'd be an absolute zombie. Heck, I remember when I had to catch the subway before 6 AM for that Fort Washington temp job. I was just awake enough to drive to the Park & Ride lot, totter to the subway station, and wield the TransPass. I loved that job, but wow, that schedule was PAINFUL.

Using that Park & Ride did have a few side benefits, though. First of all, it only cost $1/day. You can't beat that with a stick. Then, I was able to park right next to the Spectrum exit when it was a Phantoms game night. It was nice to be able to walk out the door and be *right at* my car, especially on nights when it was bitter cold.

But I digress. We got some good news about Mark's altered work schedule. He might not have to work a six-day week; however, that could change at any moment. For now, I think the prospect of an actual two-day weekend will be pretty appealing for him after working these 12-hour days. Downtime is good.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Strike: Day 2

Yesterday, Mark arrived 30 minutes prior to the already-crack-of-dawn time he was supposed to report to work for the duration of the strike. Good thing he showed up early. Had he arrived at the time he was supposed to get there, he might have been among the people who couldn't get into the building because of the picketers blocking the entrance. He said some people had to go home, including some people who work in OTHER companies in the same building, because they couldn't get in.

Now I'm not anti-union, but I AM against breaking the law. I couldn't care less if they want to protest 24/7 until the new contract is signed, as long as they're not breaking the law in the process. And I don't think our constitutional right to peaceable assembly includes disrupting other people and other companies from their ability to do business.

So if a court order hasn't already been signed, to set limits on what exactly constitutes lawful picketing behavior, then I hope it gets there soon. I really don't see how messing everyone else's day up is going to win friends or influence people in favor of the strikers. I mean, they WILL have to work with these (non-union) managers, and work in the same building with these other companies, once the strike is over. I see no sense in causing needless hostility.

Having said that, I have no doubt that Mark will be able to get into the building with no trouble, as long as he continues to arrive at the same time he did on Monday morning. I don't think the picketers are so motivated to protest that they'd want to show up THAT early, when there's pretty much no one around to see them carrying signs. Good thing he's a morning person. That makes one of us. ;-)

Monday, August 08, 2011

When Google+ starts providing a link for us to send out, to invite our friends to join, I'll post it here.

Indistinguishable From Magic

In preparation for attending the eighth and final Harry Potter movie, I've been digitally renting, and watching online, the first seven movies in the series from walmart.com's Vudu service. As I've only read some of the books, and (until embarking on this project) had seen only some of the movies, I thought that it would give me the clearest possible understanding of the final, wrapping-up movie if I made certain to see all the things that led up to it.

So here I am, clicking on little icons to pay for and watch movies on a laptop screen. And, in the moments when my video stream was interrupted by a glitch, tapping on my iPod screen to view the news items for which a popup bulletin had appeared, while waiting for the stream to resume.

While doing all this -- watching the movie I want, instantly, while checking on the news articles that are coming to ME (rather than my having to seek them out) -- I confess that I almost felt like my own actions were worthy of inclusion in the Harry Potter universe.

It's like the old saying goes: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

So far it's four movies down, three to go.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Strike

Mark, as a manager, is not a union member. Therefore, he and his colleagues will be putting in 12-hour days and six-day work weeks for the duration of the strike.

The last time they had a strike was 2000; Mark wasn't in management then, so he was a part of the strike. That one only lasted a few days. We'll see what happens this time around.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Update: Yay!

Update: the vendor emailed a little while ago to say they're shipping out replacement cables. So now it's up to the USPS to avoid beating up my parcel this time around.

Everybody, go get your charging cables from the vendor "item44less" on Amazon. They shipped two more cables to me even though the problem originated with the Post Office, not with them. I'm going to post huge positive feedback for them on this order. :-)

Doggone it

Fanabla. The USPS damaged a package of mine. It arrived yesterday in a plastic bag and stamped with the following message: "Rewrapped by the Phila. BMC. Please accept our apology for damaging your mail. Phila BMC", and the ZIP code of the Bulk Mail Center.

I wouldn't even be posting about this, except for the fact that two of the three charging cables that should've been in the envelope are missing. So I called the Post Office to seek reimbursement.

It turns out that because the package was not insured, they are not only not liable to reimburse my loss, but "not authorized" to pay me any damages. The best I could get out of them was a case number, a promise to search their recovery center and see if my cables made their way there, and the promise of a callback. Whoop-de-do. I'm sure that the two stray Apple cables went home in the pocket of the first person who saw them and recognized them as something they could use. If any other result takes place, if they have strict enough control that they actually did prevent the cables from being stolen, I will happily eat my words. But I doubt that'll happen.

So I emailed the vendor, who sells their items via Amazon.com, to tell them that my package arrived damaged and only one cable actually arrived. Maybe they'll replace the cables out of sheer goodwill. Again, I have my doubts.

I'm not going to have a nervous breakdown either way, as this vendor charges an incredibly low price and I'm only out $5, but still, it's the principle of the matter. I can prove what I ordered, and as far as I'm concerned, I shouldn't HAVE to insure my freaking package to be reimbursed by the USPS when they were the ones that dropped the ball. Especially when I don't think I even *had* the option of insuring the package in this case.

Oh, well. We'll see what the vendor has to say. If they don't ship out two more cables, I might as well order two more and hope the Mail Gremlins find some other parcel to use for target practice.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Hallelujah!

I finally figured out how to get titles to display on these posts! Not bad for someone whose limited knowledge of HTML code is entirely self-taught. I had to manually add the code, since at the time Blogger created this blog template, they didn't have the option to show titles.

In other words, I put my insomnia to constructive use. Go, me.

Good night. Or should I say morning. Whatever.

Linguini on the Ceiling: Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler...*

Whatever you do, click this link and read the post. Seriously.

Linguini on the Ceiling: Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler...*: "Yahoo! recently asked its readers to submit their stories of being unemployed. For some reason, they were 'surprised' at the number of respo..."

Oh. My. Gosh. Let me just say, "My sentiments exactly!" I'm tired of being unemployed (well, is three part-time jobs "unemployed"? Yes, if I'm still making barely-part-time income when I add them all together), and being waited on by people who not only are incompetent and unmotivated, but don't CARE that they are.

Extra points for the correct use of "bachagaloop" (sp?) in a sentence. I don't know the proper spelling, which is the case for a lot of Italian dialect words, but I know the word and its application. Don't know what it means? Read the post. You'll have no trouble deciphering its meaning from the context.

All I can answer to this post is, "I couldn't have said it better myself."

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Welcome to Gremlin Central

Good grief. What a Gremlin-filled day.

The problem actually started last night, when a major thunderstorm rolled through. I had a bad feeling about that particular weather event, but when we got past it without any damage or incident, I figured that the only problem was just me worrying too much.

No such luck. At about 11 PM, JFM called me to say that he thought his computer had fried in the storm. And, unfortunately, his description of the situation bore out that diagnosis, because the machine was completely dead.

Today, he discovered that not only his computer, but also his landline phones were hosed, as well as his mom's landline phones. His mom lives on the next block, so I suspect that lightning hit a phone line somewhere and caused a lot of toasted phones in the immediate neighborhood.

The good news: he was able to procure a surplus computer this afternoon from a school that's upgrading its equipment this summer. Hooray. He asked for me to help set the new machine up, so I went over there this afternoon. At which point, I found that he'd just come back from picking up a surplus *keyboard* to replace his old one, which was also tostada.

I sat down, booted up the machine, and immediately discovered that I couldn't get on the internet. The Verizon tech had been to the house already and had pronounced the DSL modem to be "working properly", and indeed, the DSL and Power lights were both a steady green. But the computer was steadfastly refusing to recognize that it had a modem plugged into its ethernet port. Nor could the modem tell that it was attached to a computer; the Ethernet light on the modem should also have been illuminated in green, but it wasn't lit at all.

I tried a few basic things that might have gotten the computer to notice the modem, but nothing I did worked. At which point, it was time to bring in a few more techies. Multiple troubleshooting phone calls ensued to JFM's nephew and to his cousin. Their ideas didn't work, either. Next, we thought maybe the ethernet cable was damaged by the power surge. Conveniently, the Verizon tech was still in the neighborhood, and he had a spare ethernet cable in his truck. To our disappointment, the new cable didn't work any better than the original one did, so that wasn't the source of the problem.

Unfortunately, that's where I had to leave the situation. But I've had a few hours to process the issue, and now I'm wondering if the ethernet port on the modem is borked. Just because the modem is getting the DSL signal properly doesn't mean the entire modem is happy and healthy. So I just texted JFM to get hold of Verizon's tech support and have them walk him through the steps to get his machine online. If they determine that the modem is kaput, they can start the process of shipping out a replacement device.

After today, I'm considering reviving my old habit of unplugging my electronic equipment when there's a thunderstorm. Mark used to laugh about it, and I eventually fell away from doing it as time passed. But when I see the mess one unwanted power surge can make, I start thinking I was right all along to start unplugging those power cords.

ARGH. Gremlins are a royal pain in the caboose. And today they were running freakin' RAMPANT.