Monthly Archives: April 2010

Children, cover your ears!

I have posted on this subject before, but after watching my favorite Monday night sitcoms on CBS last night, it is worth another entry. The former “Tiffany network” should really be ashamed of what they broadcast during the early evening hours when children are watching.

I love the comedy lineup — How I Met Your Mother, Rules of Engagement, Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory. However, I’m an adult. I am very glad I don’t have young children with control of the remote on Monday evening. It used to be you could rely on the major networks to be at least sensitive to young ears and a little respectable during the early evening hours. The adult stuff was saved for later, when the kids were in bed. That is the case no more.

A good example is “Rules of Engagement,” which I dearly love. If I am not home for some reason, I’ll definitely record it. I laugh out loud at some of the jokes. But I no longer have small children who might ask questions about scenes like this.

Engaged young couple Adam and Jennifer are discussing a birthday present Adam just gave Jennifer. She jokingly accuses him of getting the present just so he can get some sex. Adam readily agrees and begins to walk to the bedroom.

When Jennifer doesn’t follow, he turns around and asks her, “You did mean right now, didn’t you?”

Jennifer looks down at her short dress and replies, “Oh what the heck. I AM wearing a skirt.”

I can just imagine the questions an elementary school aged girl might ask her mother about that one.

The following show, “Two and a Half Men,” is nothing but an on-going sex joke, but last night it stooped to a new low for any family viewing.  Charlie and his girlfriend, Chelsea, pretty much spent the entire episode naked in bed.

Chelsea and Charlie out of bed

The plot centered on Charlie being unhappy about not being able to give Chelsea an orgasm. It wasn’t just an aside reference. It was the main plot of the program. Much of the episode’s dialogue centered around Charlie’s efforts to sexually satisfy his girlfriend.

“Mommy, what’s an orgasm? Can I get one for my birthday?”

I wonder how many adults CBS thinks are available to watch their programs at 8:30 and 9:00 pm(Eastern) without children around also. Could it be another reason the major networks’ ratings continue to decline?

We used to joke that TV was so backward and censured during the days when Ozzie and Harriet slept in separate twin beds. Maybe that wasn’t so bad.

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Getting ready for summer

We had sort of a lazy weekend, or at least we didn’t get anything major accomplished. I think I made up for it on Monday.

We had expected three home-repair type people to come to the house on Friday when Mrs. Poolman was off, but none could make it. Two of them postponed to Monday, and another to Thursday. So I took a vacation day on Monday to wait them out.

The first group was the tree crew who took out several trees that were shading our swimming pool, and seriously trimmed up several others. Later in the day, the TV repair guy showed up and finished the warranty-paid repair on our projection TV. All was good on both counts.

I took advantage of the day at home and some lingering guilt over being such a lazy slug most of the weekend, to do a fairly intensive house cleaning of the main living areas. This included dusting everything I could find, including door-frames, pictures, etc. and  vacuuming.

Once the tree guys left late in the afternoon, I cleaned the pool, which desperately needed it. We get an incredible amount of “biomass” from our trees in the spring. (Probably not as much the the next year or so, I guess.)

We have company coming this weekend, so I really wanted to start getting the pool warming with its new-found sunlight as soon as possible. For the past several years, we have used a solar blanket on and off.  It works, but it is a pain the butt to get on and off the pool. Essentially, it is just a large sheet of blue bubble-wrap, that magnifies the sunlight during the day and insulates the pool against cooling at night. Our solar blanket has sat, rolled-up in a tarp all winter, so the first step was to spread it out in the driveway and hose it off. Then I rolled it back up and attempted to put it on the pool surface.

Halfway through the wrestling match.

This is really a two-man job. I should have waited for Mrs. Poolman to get home, but I can be stupid stubborn sometimes. Eventually, I did get it spread and the bubbles brushed out.

If we have some good sun this week, we’ll see how warm we can get the water.

A surpise encounter

Mrs. Poolman and I watched The Blind Side last night on DVD, when we had a bit of a surprise.

Mrs. P says I drive her crazy with my obsessive behavior over identifying actors. I guess I’m guilty. I’ll see an actor or actress I recognize but cannot place, and I need to figure out what they played in the past. Fortunately www.imdb.com comes in very handy.

So we were watching last night, and during the scene when Sandra Bullock is in the DMV, I paused the DVD and said, “Hey, that actress! Who is it?”

Mrs. P said she thought she looked familiar but she couldn’t place it.  I told her I think she used to work for me.

Google to the rescue and there she was. Stacey Turner was the actress. I knew her as Stacey Williams, which was her married name at the time. I had hired her as a reporter when I ran the news department of the CBS affiliate TV station here in Savannah in the 1990s. We haven’t had any contact since I left that station nearly ten years ago.

That was a nice little surprise. I hope she does well and we’ll see more of her.

Turtle rescue

While I was on my home the other day, I called Mrs. Poolman, as I usually do to see if she needed anything picked up at the store on my way home.  It was her off day. When she answered the phone, she said.

“You need to hurry home. There is a giant turtle in the street in front of our house.”

Writer Princess was over for a visit and took this photo with her cell phone.

Our reptilian visitor

My first thought that it might be an alligator snapping turtle. We had one in our pool a few years ago and that was quite an experience getting rid of him. They are big and they are mean.

When I asked her to describe him, she was only able to come up with attributes like, “big” and “has a shell.” As Mrs. P said, “He’s a turtle. What do you expect out of me?”

When I got home, I found this guy had apparently crawled up over the curb and was up against my house, behind the bushes. It turns out he is a “common snapping turtle.” He didn’t look very good. He was very lethargic. (Then again, how energetic are turtles? I don’t know.) And his eyes were very rheumy looking. He didn’t try to bite me. He stayed out of his shell and tried to climb out of the cardboard box in which I put him.

We put a plastic crate over the top of the box to keep him in and drove him down the street a few blocks to a small patch of woods with a small stream. (Mrs. P drove, because when I asked her to sit in the back seat and keep Mr. Turtle from escaping from the box, she looked at me like I was a creature from outer space.)

We released him in the woods. He didn’t look very good, but we did our part to protect nature. The rest is up to him. Good luck, Mr. Turtle.

A mostly good customer service experience

We have had an interesting, and, perhaps surprisingly, mostly pleasant encounter with customer service over the past week or so. That doesn’t seem to happen very often so it’s worth a mention.

In the fall of 2006, we purchased a 55” Sony DLP projection HD TV. The truth to be told, I felt very guilty about it at the time, but that wore off after watching a few football games in HD. When we bought it, we also purchased an extended warranty, something we almost never do. However, the sales guy pointed our that there is one part in the tv, the projection lamp, that burns out after between three and four years. The cost of the warranty would be about the same as the cost of the projection lamp, plus you get the additional protection for four years.

As expected, about two weeks ago, at three and a half years of age, we started getting a warning message that the projection lamp needed to be replaced. Mrs. Poolman called the store where we bought it, “BB,” and after a few handoffs got to the person who could solve the problem. Even though we couldn’t find our warranty papers, we were in the computer system and the woman told Mrs. P they would ship the lamp the same day and it would arrive later in the week. The rest of the conversation went something like this.

Mrs. P: “You are shipping it to the store. Right?”

Customer Service: “No, we are shipping it to your house.”

Mrs. P: “Well, what are we supposed to do with it?”

Customer Service (in a voice like she was talking to a moron): “Well, you install it, you stupid twit.”

Mrs. P: “Oh. Is that something we can do.”

Customer Service: “Yes. I can’t believe you are smart enough to have actually dialed a phone.”

As it turns out, the projector lamp came with a set of directions, and installing it is about as easy as changing an ink cartridge in a printer. How difficult would it have been for the CS rep to have simply said, “Yes, actually it’s real simple. There are directions in the package. You shouldn’t have any problem, but if you do here is a number to call.”

That did raise an interesting question. If you didn’t know that, how would you know? Repairing HD TVs is not usually something we do every day.  I got to thinking about it.

An old style TV – Never ever open it up unless you know what you are doing.

New projector HDTV – The key part is user accessible and easy to replace.

A standard desk top computer – Sure, open it up and change out memory, drives, etc. No problem.

Laptop computer – Probably not a good idea.

And so on.

Meanwhile, when we turned on the TV, we saw that there was a problem with the picture. There were bars of color at the top and bottom of the screen. Another call to customer service produced a repair guy visiting our home, still under warranty.

Fortunately, the guy took one look at the TV and said, “Yep, I know exactly what that is. You need a new optic block (whatever that is). I’ll order one and come back to install it when it gets in next week. And oh yes, it’s still under warranty. By the way, when I get done with that you are going to practically have a new TV. It’s going to look great.”

The guy comes back to complete the repair on Friday.

So the process isn’t complete, but so far, except for the somewhat condescending customer service rep, this has worked out well. We certainly got our money out of that extended warranty.

I almost feel a little guilty.

I think I’ll get over it. Football season is just a few months away.

A day on the water

I had a quick turn around and was out the door early Thursday morning for a one-day research cruise on our ocean-going research vessel. I had not been out on a cruise in about a year, so it was time to get some fresh pictures for my files. This particular cruise was for a group of students from a local university.

Safety briefing -- including the survival "gumby suit"

For many of the kids, this was their first experience. For a few, it was their first time on a boat.

"Abandon ship drill." Fortunately we did not have to go through with it.

We went off shore for about 90 minutes and then came in the Savannah River and worked our way all the way to downtown Savannah. The offshore part was a bit of an eye opener for some. We didn’t expect rough seas, but we got it. We were bouncing around like a cork in a hurricane.  I took a motion sickness pill, but was still just a little green. I was pretty happy when we made our way north to the Savannah ship channel and things calmed down quite a bit. I think one poor kid thought he was going do die, and was afraid he wouldn’t. A handful of the kids just went below and curled up in a bunk for a couple of hours. Can’t say I blame them.

Deploying a conductivity-temperature-depth, water collection array

Recovering a plankton net

It was a long day. We got a back well after dark. But aside from fighting the “Gee I just want to go to sleep” after-effects of the motion sickness pill, it was a very good day.

Just before we pulled back to the dock

Another good class with “my kids”

It’s been a busy week. Let’s see if I can catch up.

We had another really fantastic CCD class on Wednesday.

Advancing from last week’s lesson on the Sacrament of Reconciliation, our class this week was on rules, evolving into a discussion of the Ten Commandments.

Not surprisingly, the students were quite familiar with the concept of rules and were able to cite numerous examples of rules they need to follow in school and in their family.

We discussed briefly the story behind the commandments and read a passage from Exodus that outlined them. We discussed them in generalities and pointed out how the first three pertain to giving offense to God, while the last seven address offenses and behavior pertaining to our fellow man.

We also distributed a chart indicating how the various Christian and Jewish religions count the commandments. The same material is arranged slightly differently. For example, most Protestant faiths spread the God-related commandments into four while Catholics summarize them into three. We explained how this can be confusing when they may hear public discussion of a Protestant’s FIFTH commandment “Honor thy father and mother” when that is a Catholic’s FOURTH.

Once we got to #5, “Thou shall not kill,” it opened the door to a wide ranging discussion of all the permutations of that rule. The discussion included war, comparative evils, accidents, acts of the mentally ill or young children, capital punishment and abortion. Although just 10 or 11 years old, this is a pretty quick group. The discussion was lively and engaged. Lots of fun. We ran out of time long before we ran out of material.  I guess that’s a good thing.