I Must Be Adopted

I am truly hopeful that I am adopted, and thus not as messed up as the rest of my family.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Operation Dirt Drop

was not successful.

As a result of my weekend landscaping endeavors, I have ended up with a large pile of dirt in my side yard -- I am truly amazed at how quickly these types of piles grow. What to do with such a pile?

In the past, I have transported such piles to other home construction sites in my neighborhood. There was an unwritten rule with the builders... take or leave as much landscaping dirt/sod/rock as you want, just not while the builders are there. Even though they would post no dumping signs, and technically dumping dirt there would be illegal, nobody cared. The neighbors would partake in this ritual too.

There are no more construction sites in my neighborhood, and while I'm sure other neighborhoods have similar unwritten norms, perhaps if an outsider (me) were to pull up and start off-loading dirt, someone would take offense, and officer Todd W would show up.

My solution -- a clandestine dirt drop. It's not like I sleep at night. So I loaded up the back of Sean's beater truck with most of the dirt -- I didn't put it all in because hunger and mother nature caught up to me before I could finish.

Running some errands this evening with the wife, I spied the perfect place. So this evening at around 23:00, I headed out. I planned to use the universal "pick-up truck payload relocation" technique to rid myself of said dirt -- also known as Newton's first law of motion.

Say it with me... Everyone knows the 3 laws.

Law 1 -- If no external force acts on a particle, then it is possible to select a set of reference frames, called inertial reference frames, observed from which the particle moves without any change in velocity.

Layman's version -- An object in motion will stay in motion, unless acted upon by and external force. An object at rest will stay at rest, unless acted upon by an external force. Inertia for short.

It's simple. To move something in the truck bed to the cabin end, get some speed, and then stop suddenly. To move something in the bed to the tailgate end, either quickly take off, or while in reverse, get some speed and stop suddenly.

At this time, I would like to point out that the wife passed on accompanying me on Operation Dirt Drop, saying that someone needed to stay behind to bail me out, when the police arrested me. And when I explained the genius of my plan (inertia) to drop the dirt, her response was "And you think Sean's truck will be able to either stop or start quickly enough to accomplish this?" "I hope so."

23:00 - head out
23:13 - arrive at specified location, and extinguish all lights (there are inhabited houses all around.)
23:15 - drop tailgate, and make first attempt. While stationary, attempt quick acceleration (object at rest technique).
23:15.15 - nothing happened. No movement of payload.
23:15.17 - curse.
23:16 - attempt number 2. Again, stationary; quick (as truck allows) acceleration.
23:16.15 nothing happens.
23:16.17 - curse.
23:18 - attempt "object in motion will stay in motion" technique. Get some speed up, while in reverse and attempt to stop quickly. Didn't stop so quickly. Ran up on dirt pile. (Don't worry Sean, pile isn't big... more like small gradual hill.)
23:18.20 - curse again.

I try a couple of more times in each direction, but nothing happens. You'd think the story ends here, but this is when it gets good.

Admitting defeat this time around, I'm going to head home, but I need to put the tailgate up, because with my luck, while driving the payload will now decide to obey the laws of Newtonian physics.

I haven't mentioned yet that the times above are made up. In actuality, the area I was in was surprisingly busy with cars at this time, especially for a Monday night. There was a lot of waiting for cars to pass by before I made attempts.

When I lowered the tailgate originally, some of the dirt and rocks tumbled down onto the tailgate. While trying to force the tailgate closed, the bottom right corner of the tailgate comes off the truck. The other corner, and both fold down hinges are still connected, but the corner is definitely off. CRAP!

Fooling around with the tailgate some more, only manages to free the other lower corner. It's now 23:40ish at night, cars are driving past every couple of minutes, and I'm partially holding a truck tailgate in my hands. Have I mentioned, I need to be home by 00:22 to bid on a bicycle part on eBay for my father-in-law... a must have part?

I manage to prop the tailgate up with my leg on one side and man-handle the fold down hinge off. I then slide over to the other side and finagle that hinge off as well.

It would appear, I'm going to have to shovel the dirt off the truck just like I shoveled it on...

I throw the tailgate in the bed of the truck (up near the cabin, in case the dirt decides to fall out while driving), and head home with my tail(gate) between my legs.

P.S. Yes, a tailgate to a 1980's full size pick-up is somewhat heavy.

P.P.S. Yes, we won the must have part.

I'm going to bed!

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In honor of my hardwork this weekend with my landscaping projects.


1 Post, 2 Stories

Several others have pulled this off, so I decided I'll give it a try.

Did some landscape work around the house this weekend and took today off to finish some of it up. That being said, I needed a vehicle to transport some trees and some bushes. So I call up Sean and ask to borrow his beater truck.

Being the friend Sean is, he says no problem. However, since his truck's vehicle inspection expired in October of 2005, and knowing my recent run in with my vehicle inspection he makes the statement that he is not responsible for an fine or citation that should be incurred, if I'm stopped by officer Todd W (or anybody else for that matter).


So, I'm driving up Route 74 towards Dover square, while on my way to a nursery north of Dover. Dover square is under construction, and I'm patiently waiting 6 cars back from the sign turner (the person who's only job in the world is turn the sign from STOP to SLOW to STOP to SLOW... all day long).

Picture it, I'm south of the square, heading north. I'm far enough back from the square that I can't see it clearing, but again, I'm only 6 cars back from the sign turner. Sitting there, I watch 4 or 5 groups of cars drive by me -- we haven't moved yet.

Being a normal 4 way intersection, I'm thinking this means that the other 3 directions have been allowed to move... Why not us.

Story 1 - At this point a police car from NYCRPD comes driving by us in the opposite direction... He's driving slowly and looking at the line of cars in front of me... I can only think that he's checking out our inspection stickers. At this point, my thinking "Oh CRAP!", but I'm trying to watch him out of the corner of my eye, yet seem to be nonchalant about the whole situation.

He drives by me, and I can see no visible sign of recognition of anything. So I watch him in the side view... As soon as he passes me, I see brake lights. CRAP! Then he continues on. Every couple of cars I see brake lights, and at any point in time, I'm just waiting for him to somehow turn around and come back up to me. I can't see how this is possible, but until he disappears, I just don't feel comfortable. Finally he disappears down the hill and around the corner. Gone. WHEW!

Story 2 - By the time the police car disappears, another group or 2 have started to pass by me. The line of cars that extend behind me is at least .5 miles if not longer. Some people are turning around and finding other ways to get to where they want to go, but I want to head directly north... I'm not headed in any other direction. Eventually I wind up being 2nd in line to the sign turner. I'm close enough to have a "conversation" with the sign turner... Goes a little something like this.

"When are we going to get a chance to go?"

"When I turn my sign. Have I turned my sign, yet?" -- I wasn't the first to have a conversation with her.

"I've seen 6 or 7 groups of cars go by. They're coming from somewhere. Why don't you turn your sign so we can go. It's not even our lane that's under construction."

"There are other lanes of traffic, and a signal to deal with. You'll get your turn."

"I don't think you understand. 6 or 7 groups of cars means that the other lanes have each gotten to go, probably more than once, while I've been sitting here, patiently waiting for you to turn your sign."

"You'll go when I turn my sign."

"Why don't use that walkie/talkie thing and ask when we can go. I realize there's a reason you turn a sign for a living, but come on... "

30 seconds later, she turns her sign. While driving by, we exchange pleasantries and wish each other a great day.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

I AM smarter than a fifth grader!!!

Granted, I forgot that the show was on, and only watched the final 5 questions (counting the $1 million dollar), AND based upon the final category, I would have dropped out with $500,000 like the real contestant. BUT, I did know all the answers, including Alexander Hamilton being the first Secretary of the Treasury.

I even knew the answer to the 3rd grade english question that my wife, who majored in English, didn't know.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Customer Care


Cingular CSRs

I don't mean to sound superior or arrogant, but the last couple of interactions I've had with CSRs have all left me with an understanding of why they have a job as a CSR, and not as a rocket scientist.

For example:

About 3 weeks ago, I switched the personal cell phone from a regular cell phone account -- we were paying $35/mo. and got X many minutes, etc... To a pre-paid account. You see, the wife carries the cell phone, and MIGHT, on a heavy month, use 30~40 minute of talk time. That's it. Neither of us see the point in talking umpteen million minutes on a cell phone while driving or walking around a store, and forcing the rest of society listen to half of our conversation (don't get me started on the whole NEXTEL walkie/talkie feature where I'm forced to listen to both sides... I REALLY don't get that walkie/talkie feature...)

At any rate, watching $35 a month fly out the window was painful. I looked into it, and Cingular has several pre-paid plans that would save us boat loads of money each year, so I switched to one of them.

Then, the other day, the wife told me that she no longer has signal on the phone... We don't live in an area where signal is sparse. We never have issues getting signal from Cingular (NEXTEL is another issue. Work makes me carry a NEXCRAP phone). So, I play with it for a day, and still no signal anywhere.

Last night I call Cingular. 3 transfers later, I am talking with a rep that can actually access my account. Not surprisingly pre-paid accounts are treated as 2nd class citizens, but OK.

Rep asks what she can do to help me. I inform her that:

"I recently swithed from a regular monthly account to a pre-paid account. The phone worked for a couple weeks after that, but now the phone gets no signal anywhere. I'm standing in my kitchen now, and used to get full signal, now I have nothing."

Her response:

"Are you on your phone now? I won't be able to help you if you are."

Did she really ask me that? Does anybody see the problem here? How can I be on my phone, when my phone has no signal?

I hope she's not in line for a promotion to any job that requires her to think without the aid of scripts that CSRs read from.

P.S. after several go rounds of short bursts of typing on her end, and me turning the phone off and on, I now have full signal.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Chili Cook-Off Joke

Warning, reading of this joke has been known to cause laughter, crying, and urination in those with weak bladders. Hopefully you'll find it as funny as some others.

Recently, I was honored to be selected as an outstanding celebrity in my new community, to be a judge at the annual chili cook-off because no one else wanted to do it. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge's table asking directions to the beer wagon when the call came in. I was assured by the other two judges that the chili would not be that spicy, and besides, they told me that I could have free beer during the tasting, to help cleanse the palate, so I accepted this as being one of those burdens you must endure when you move to a new town. Here is the score cards from the event:

Chili # 1: Mike's Maniac Mobster Monster Chili
Judge one: A little too heavy on tomato. Amusing kick.
Judge two: Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.
Frank: Holy smokes, what is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway with it. Took me two beers to put the flames out. Hope that's the worst one. These people are crazy.

Chili # 2: Arthur's Afterburner Chili
Judge one: Smoky (barbecue?) with a hint of pork. Slight Jalapeno tang.
Judge two: Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.
Frank: Keep this out of reach of children! I'm not sure what I am supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. Shoved my way to the front of the beer line. The barmaid looks like a professional wrestler after a bad night. She was so irritated over my gagging sounds that the snake tattoo under her eye started to twitch. She has arms like Popeye and a face like Winston Churchill. I will NOT pick a fight with her.

Chili # 3: Fred's Famous Burn Down the Barn Chili
Judge one: Excellent firehouse chili! Great kick. Needs more beans.
Judge two: A beanless chili, a bit salty, good use of red peppers.
Frank: This has got to be a joke. Call the EPA, I've located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been sneezing Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now and got out of my way so I could make it to the beer wagon. Barmaid pounded me on the back; now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. She said her friends call her "Sally." Probably behind her back they call her "Forklift."

Chili # 4: Bubba's Black Magic
Judge one: Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.
Judge two: Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili.
Frank: I felt something scraping across my tongue but was unable to taste it. Sally was standing behind me with fresh refills so I wouldn't have to dash over to see her. When she winked at me her snake sort of coiled and uncoiled ... it's kind of cute.

Chili # 5: Linda's Legal Lip Remover
Judge one: Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground adding considerable kick. Very impressive.
Judge two: Chili using shredded beef; could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.
Frank: My ears are ringing and I can no longer focus my eyes. I belched and four people in front of me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed hurt when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue by pouring beer directly on it from a pitcher. Sort of irritates me that one of the other judges asked me to stop screaming.

Chili # 6: Vera's Very Vegetarian Variety
Judge one: Thin yet bold. Good balance of spice and peppers.
Judge two: The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic. Superb.
Frank: My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous flames. No one wants to stand behind me except Sally. I asked if she wants to go dancing later.

Chili # 7: Susan's Screaming Sensation Chili
Judge one: A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.
Judge two: Ho Hum, tastes as if the chef threw in canned chili peppers at the last moment.
Frank: You could put a hand grenade in my mouth and pull the pin and I wouldn't feel it. I've lost the sight in one eye and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My clothes are covered with chili which slid unnoticed out of my mouth at some point. Good, at the autopsy they'll know what killed me. Go Sally, save yourself before it's too late. Tell our children I'm sorry I was not there to conceive them. I've decided to stop breathing, it's too painful and I'm not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air I'll just let it in through the hole in my stomach. Call the X-Files people and tell them I've found a super nova on my tongue.

Chili #8: Helen's Mount Saint Chili
Judge One: This final entry is good, balanced chili, neither mild nor hot.
Judge Two: A perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili, safe for all, not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge #3 fell and pulled the chili pot onto of himself.
Frank: Mommy?


Friday, April 13, 2007

I am as smart as a 5th grader... so far

OK, I find myself with extra time on my hands in the last couple of weeks... I used to do system admin type things to the legacy BlazeNet/Suscom servers well into the night and starting early in the morning pretty much every day, but I was never shown appreciation or gratitude for any of my work, so F that...

So now at night (until I can get used to this extra time) I feel lost... What to do... what to do... I know, I'll just veg from time to time and watch this TV thing sitting in my living room.

For the most part, every show I've checked into is CRAP!

I do, however, find myself drawn to the Am I Smarter than a 5th Grader show. I have watched 1.5 episodes of the show so far, and have missed 2 questions... each of which, my partner (the kid on the show) got right; so I would have been saved.

The 2 questions I missed:

1 -- How many federal holidays are in the month of November? 3 was my answer (correct answer was 2). My thought process here was "The wife gets off for 4 days in November and she is a government employee. Two of these days are for Thanksgiving, so I'll go with 3 holidays."

The only federal holidays in November are Veterans Day and Thanksgiving. The other day the wife gets off for is election day. Since federal elections only occur in even numbered years, election day is not a federal holiday... my bad. Here in PA, there is an election for something every year, so she gets off every year.

2 -- What is the capital of Massachusetts? The wife and I both thought the capital was Springfield. We were wrong. And I feel so ashamed of myself. UGH!!!

The math and astronomy questions are a breeze... some of the other categories, I've had to guess a couple of times, but I've been correct so far.

I sometimes marvel at some of the answers given by some of the contestants... I'm assuming being up there and on national TV, they are more nervous than I am sitting at home, but some people are just idiots...

Last night the question was "In which state was the battle of Gettysburg fought?" While thinking through her answers, the contestant at one point thought it might be Nebraska... I believe she settled on Virginia -- her partner saved her. Nebraska?!?!?! I can almost live with Virginia (I wouldn't have thought her THAT big and idiot), but to even mention Nebraska... come on!

Also last night they had a question "What season falls completely in Daylight Saving Time?" This was asked of the same woman from above. The correct answer they wanted was Summer (she said Winter), but thanks to the new Daylight Saving Time law, Spring is now another correct answer.

Teacher, does that get me extra credit?


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Inspection Citation Update

As promised, the cost of the citation...


Apparently this cost is calculated using the time that elapsed between when the inspection expired, and the date the citation was issued. My fine would not have been reduced by calling the District Justice any earlier to get the amount.

Now addressing some of the comments on the previous post...

Thankfully I didn't get a 2nd citation last evening... the 2nd fine would have been $120 or so.
As far as when exactly the first citation was issued, I mistyped when I typed "driving back last week." The original citation was issued on 3/29/07 - almost 2 weeks ago now. I had thought it was the beginning of last week, but I was wrong.

Of course, I didn't tell officer Bob about the original citation. I figured the chances of him letting me go last night would have been GREATLY diminished if he knew I had already gotten a citation, and had let more than a week lapse between that citation and last night.

I forgot to mention the original officer (Officer Todd W) had given me a lecture about me not caring about the safety of me or my fellow motorists, because I had left my vehicle safety inspection lapse, and there could have been something mechanically wrong with my vehicle without me knowing.

I pointed out to the Officer Todd, that the only thing that originally failed were the tires, and they were replaced within days of failing. IF something else had gone wrong mechanically with my vehicle since then, having my car inspected back then would not have done any good in catching the problem now.

This was of course, after he handed my the citation. Why antagonize the officer before he gives you the citation?

P.S. My car passed inspection, only needing a bulb for the rear passenger tail light. Funny, Officer Bob didn't point my tail light out last night. I'm convinced garages find little things wrong from time to time...

Monday, April 09, 2007

Just my luck

Living in PA, we are required by law to get our automobiles inspected on an annual basis; and in my area we are also required to also get our emissions inspected.

My car inspection is due in September... meaning by September 30, I have to have had my car inspected. This past September, I got my car into the garage and the inspection done on time. However, my tires failed and the garage didn't have my size tires in stock.

No problem, figured I'd just pick the car up, take it somewhere else, get tires, and then get the car re-inspected.

Everything went according to plan, except the "re-inspection" part. In case you forgot, I got married in mid-October and left the country for almost 2 weeks. Bearing in mind, I probably got the inspection done at the last possible moment, this means that we are in October by the time I got the tires. Frankly, I never got around to getting it re-inspected, and just forgot about it.


Driving back from lunch last week, I got pulled over by the fuzz because the car was out of inspection. Great!

I'd tell you what the ticket cost me, but I don't know. Apparently, it's a sliding scale, and I won't know what the cost is, until I call the local District Justice. Also, I didn't get around to making an appointment for the inspection until today.

Driving over to the garage tonight, I was once again pulled over by the local fuzz, because... my car was out of inspection.

When the officer approached the car, I knew what the deal was. Before he could say anything, I told him I knew the car was out of inspection and that I was actually on my way to the garage to drop it off at that moment. Also, pointed out that my wife was right behind me (she had pulled over behind the officer) to give me a ride back.

His response (bear in mind it's around 6:00pm) was: "Do you have any proof of this?"

I wasn't aware that you get a confirmation mailed to you from the garage when you are taking your car in for inspection. What kind of proof did he expect?

Other than my offer to follow me the final 2 miles and watch me drop the keys into the after hours box, I had no proof to offer.

I would like to tell you that officer Bob (I'm making the name up) let me go with a warning.

I'll let you know what the ticket costs me once I find out.




Tuesday, April 03, 2007



Sunday, April 01, 2007

Google's New Free High-Speed Home Service

From the Google homepage, there is a link to try their new breakthrough broadband TiSP service. Going into the TiSP link, and clicking on the "How it works link" you wind up at the following page.


I would just like to point out, they posted the link on April 1.

P.S. Tim, I received your email, but I can't find it now. When you read this, send me another email. I can't find your address anywhere.