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.

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.

We are so “flocked!”

We have had a activity filled weekend. Right now I’m sitting here watching The Masters final round. It’s nice to see Fred Couples have a good tournament, even if his final round wasn’t that hot. As I’m writing this, Phil Mickelson is up by three with just a couple of holes left to play.

It all started Friday evening. Mrs. Poolman had set it up with some of our friends that I would do their taxes after work on Friday and then we’d all go out to eat some Mexican food for dinner. It wasn’t too bad. It took about two hours, including an emergency run back to their house to pick up a form they had not brought with them the first time.

When we got home from dinner, we discovered we had been “flocked.” There was a flock of cute little pink flamingos in our front yard. This is a fundraiser for the local leukemia society. The way it works is once someone “flocks” you, you pay the leukemia society a donation to flock someone else.  We were flocked by our good friends and neighbors, the W’s.

Mrs. Poolman thought they would look lovely around our pool, but I convinced her that wasn’t keeping with the spirit of the game, not to mention that they would have looked a little tacky.  We decided to split the flock and sent them on to two other friends.

Aside from that, it has been another yard work weekend. There are 38 more bags sitting out by the curb. If I spend one more good day next weekend, I should have the yard to the point where it will just need weekly maintenance.  I hope.

Making a point…maybe

It’s been busy the past few days.

We had a great CCD class last Wednesday, the kind that gives you a reason to come back again.

The primary topic of the class was the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick. We started by talking about the concept and process of forgiveness in general terms – in everyday life as well as in confession.

I pulled the names of two volunteers out of a hat and we set up a role-playing game. I gave Makayla and Lindsey their assignments. Makayla was angry at Lindsey for something she had done. They got together with a couple of classmates and came up with a story. According to Makayla, Lindsey stole her diary and sold it to a TV station which put all her personal information on the air. (We are nothing if not dramatic.)

We set up an “Oprah Winfrey Show” to resolve their differences. They really got into their roles and played it up great. The rest of the class was highly engaged, perhaps a little too much so.

Initially Lindsey denied everything, but eventually owned up to the deed, said she was sorry and asked for forgiveness. Makayla forgave her but asked for Lindsey to reveal some of her own personal information to make them even.

We used this little melodrama to demonstrate the four-step process of forgiveness.

1.) The offender admits to the act.

2.) The offender expresses sorrow and asks for forgiveness.

3.) The injured party forgives.

4.) The offender offers some reparation to atone for the injury they caused.

I was a little surprised how well my two actresses got into their roles. They were really great, from their ad libbed lines to their body language. They were very funny and it was a bunch of fun.

And maybe, just maybe, some of those 5th graders may actually absorb and remember some of it. I’m not taking bets, but I can always dream.

Easter Weekend

We had a furlough day on Friday, so this was a three day weekend. That was fortunate, because we never would have been able to cram it all into two days.

Mrs. Poolman worked on Friday, gave me a day at home alone, which was a nice break. I love my wife, and I love doing things with her, but sometimes having a day entirely to myself is a nice change of pace. I didn’t get as much accomplished as I intended, but that is the same song stuck on re-play. I started with a trip to the doctor’s to get an antibiotic for my three-week old cold-turned-bronchitis. Having taken steps to get rid of the bacteria in my chest, I then spent the better part of the afternoon trying to clear a virus off my home computer. I also fixed the garage door opener.

As non-mechanical as I am, I am, as always, proud of myself for fixing the garage door opener.  The problem was that the door kept “bouncing” back open and it usually took three or four tries to get the door to stay down. We had our handy guy install a new opener about a year ago. I have no idea whatever happened to the directions and trouble-shooting guide. So, knowing as little about automatic garage door openers as I do, I thought about the problem.

“Suppose the door ‘thinks’ the end of its track is actually an inch or two lower than it is, and so when it hits the floor, it actually ‘thinks’ it is hitting an obstacle,” I thoughts to myself.

Lo and behold, when I examined the door, I discovered an adjustment screw. I adjusted the screw back about an inch. Now the opener ‘thinks’ it is at the end of its track when it hits the floor. It stays down. Someone who actually knows how garage door openers work would probably say, “duh, dummy.” For me however, I have once again fought the mechanical dragon and prevailed. A moment of triumph!

I made Mrs. P a dinner of saute’d tilapia filets, sweet potato fries (frozen) and a salad for dinner, for which she was most appreciative.

On Saturday, despite still trying to cough up a lung, I attacked the incredible amount of biomass that has fallen in our yard. We have a fairly large corner lot, with a number of sweet gum and oak trees.

Just a few of the piles, before bagging

An unsuccessful attempt to add an extra layer of protection against a blister under my work glove.

With the amount of crap that falls from those trees in the spring, we really could go into the alternative energy business. Poolboy came over and helped a little. Mrs. P did some work in the back yard. However, it was mostly Poolman vs. The Leaves. I ran out of both steam and time before I ran out of leaves, but there are still 41 bags of leaves stacked by the curb and awaiting pick-up later this week.

A solid day's work

Earlier this year, a friend of mine who is joining the church asked me to be his sponsor. It didn’t require much on my part, bit it did require our attending the Easter Vigil mass Saturday night. It was a very nice liturgy, and a big event for David and his family. But it was also more than two hours long. No big deal.

On Sunday, Mrs. Poolman and I had been planning to drive to Jacksonville for a lunch with her two sisters, along with various other family members. Somewhat to our surprise, Poolboy, Writer Princess and SIL wanted to come along. All five of us crammed into my Accord and made the trip. We had beautiful weather; a very nice lunch; and lots of “visiting.”  We got back home around 9 pm. I took a half-dose of Nyquil and hit the bed.