Archive for March, 2014

I got a notice in the mail from my electric company.

Apparently, my family uses “too much” electricity, at least compared to my neighbors.  I’m not sure why this concerns the electric company, since I do pay them for it.


Seriously, can you imagine McDonald’s accusing you of eating too many burgers?  Papa John’s declining to bring you a pizza because you order more than your neighbors.  Barnes & Noble refusing to sell you a book because you bought too many?

And just who are these energy efficient neighbors?  I mean, I don’t consider myself to be a waster of electricity, although my computer is on right now.  My house doesn’t look like a runway at night, visible from 12,000 feet.  Do these people live in caves?  Do they never recharge their phones?  No TV?  Granted, we have a pool, which probably accounts for the peak in the summer months, but across the board, we use 71% MORE ELECTRICITY than our neighbors.

I’m shocked.  Maybe I shouldn’t have done that wiring job by myself!


Do you see a problem here?


So I clicked on the Who are my neighbors? link on the web page shown above.  I expected to see mug shots of these “green” people with their solar panels and candles.  Instead, I got this informative report:


I really don’t think there are 100 homes within 0.8 miles of my house.  And how do they know how many occupants reside in these bastions of energy efficiency?  Does the NSA provide them with data?

And then I noticed where they offer a “full list of energy saving products and services for purchase.”

Now I’m not so shocked.  McDonald’s doesn’t want me to stop eating burgers, they want to sell me a diet plan!

Yeah, I’m not sold on that either.

Maybe I’ll just run an extension cord from my neighbor’s house over to mine.

That should do the trick!

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For the third year in a row, I braved the March weather and public humiliation to run in the St. Patrick’s Day race in Newry, PA.

Newry.  Population 270.

Dots on map may appear larger than they actually are.

Cities on map may appear larger than they actually are.

It’s a small town and a small race (116 runners this year.)  I’m fine with that.  I don’t like races where you feel like a Christmas shopper on black Friday trying to get one of the limited number of whatever gifts happen to be the hottest item that year (usually the one they are making the fewest of but advertising the most.)


Worth running for!

I also like this race because they have Mrs. Grove’s pastries.  This year, they had a pumpkin gob.  I personally liked the lemon gob last year better, but it beats a banana or a turkey wrap any day!  And Mrs. Grove makes the best cinnamon rolls in Altoona, especially if you get the peanut butter icing!  There were none of those at the finish line.  😦

I need to find a race that has Krispy Kremes at the finish line.  I’m sure that would take a minute off my time if I was running for one of those heavenly wonders.

As it was, I ran the race in 23:19, a new personal record for me, and good enough to place 19th overall, and first in my age group.  My age group never seems to match up with my stated age of 39–apparently my birth certificate looks older than I do.

Anyway, I’m running the race.  I have a separate play list of faster songs to run by that I use for short races.  The weather was better this year than last–no rain/mist or slippery roads–but still rather cold at 41 degrees, not counting a bit of wind.  As I’m coming down the last mile, there are two male runners in front of me.  One passed me not so long ago, and I am no longer listening to the music.  Rather, I am trying to calculate the ages of these two runners.

Hmmm.  I’m pretty sure the other looks a little older, but it is awful close.  The other one could be a little younger.  Maybe a little older.  Probably right around my age.

With the finish line looming–I think my GPS watch just signaled three miles of the 3.11 mile run, so time is indeed running out.  Actually, distance is running out, and time is the variable here.  I don’t think I really heard it.  I sensed it.  Like a disturbance in the Force.

If I keep my pace, and either or both of these runners are in my age range, then I’m doomed to second or third and maybe worse.  (I have two silver medals from the previous two years.)

So I picture that lemon gob in my mind and pretend that there might be some green beer to wash it down (there wasn’t, but my brain at this point isn’t getting as much oxygen as my lungs labor to keep my feet moving.)  I kick things into a higher gear and pass both of them right at the final turn.  One block to go!

At this point I can see the finish line.  It’s like I’m running in slow motion, but I think it’s just the lack of brain oxygen and the fact that I don’t run all that fast to begin with.

I don’t hear anything because of my labored breathing and my heart pounding in my ears, but I run on.  I am flying now, all knees and elbows like an albatross on cocaine with his tail on fire.

Okay, I’ll wait till you process that image in your mind.

If I die, I hope there are lemon gobs and Krispy Kremes in Heaven.  And green beer.  Any colored beer.  At this point, I’m not that picky.  I just want to live long enough to cross that finish line.

Which I do.

It turned out that both the guys behind me, beaten by 5 and 9 seconds respectively, are both older than I am and in the next age group.  I didn’t need to pass them after all!  Interestingly, I would have also won the 39 age group as well.

I got my gold medal, a nice T-shirt and a door prize.  What am I going to do with a door?


Alas, I didn’t win a door.  I won 4 tickets to an Altoona Curve baseball game!

All in all, a great day!

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Happy Pi Day!

This Friday–March 14, is pi (pi) day.

Get it?  3-14.  3,141592 . . . . (the value of pi?)

The ultimate Pi Day was March 14 of 1592!  We gonna party like it’s 1592!

Maybe it’s a math geek thing.  Whoa!  Let’s not go putting labels on people here.

I was always intrigued by math in school, and math, be it algebra, trigonometry, geometry or calculus, was always one of my favorite subjects.

(pocket protector falls off and hits the floor.)

Okay.  I’m a math geek.

I was fascinated by numbers and how they related to the world around us.

The circumference of a circle is always 2 pir.  Why is that?  What is so special about  pi?  And is it not weird that the area of that circle is also related to this same, strange pi number, given that the area is equal to pi times the radius squared?  Every circle.  Everywhere.  Without exception.

It’s an irrational number.  It cannot be expressed as a fraction.  It is an endless series of non-repeating digits (the last report I saw was that it had been approximated to 12 trillion decimal places!)  According to Wikipedia (so it must be true!), “Attempts to memorize the value of π with increasing precision have led to records of over 67,000 digits.”  I have trouble remembering my Social Security number and my credit card number.  67,000 digits???  I would be terribly impressed if that wasn’t just so scarily inhuman.

piis also a transcendental number which means that it cannot be expressed as any combination of rational numbers, square roots or nth roots.  It also means that it is impossible to “square the circle.”  You cannot construct, using a straight edge and compass alone, a square whose area is equal to the area of a given circle.  Does that not just blow your mind???

piis also related to another irrational number (perhaps they are kissing cousins?) known as phi.  It is represented by another Greek letter: φ.  Obviously, they are both Greek.  Pi and Phi.  Sitting in a tree.  K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

φ is when the ratio of two numbers is equal to the ratio of the sum of those two numbers to the larger number, as described in this equation:  \frac{a+b}{a} = \frac{a}{b} \ \stackrel{\text{def}}{=}\ \varphi, and is referred to as the Golden Ratio.  \varphi = \frac{1+\sqrt{5}}{2} = 1.6180339887\ldots., another irrational number.

piis also related to the Fibonacci Series, which starts out 1,1,2,3,5 and continues with each succeeding number equal to the sum of the previous two numbers.  pi = 4*arctan(1/F(2n+2)) + 4*SUM{i=1...n}[arctan(1/F(2i+1))] where the Fibonacci Series is described by this: arctan(1/F(2i)) = arctan(1/F(2i+1)) + arctan(1/F(2i+2)).

I don’t know about you, but all this math is making me hungry.

I think I’ll go eat pie.

Happy pi Day!

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We’re Still Aging!

There is a scene in the movie Journey to the Center of the Earth, where the characters are falling through a lava tube into, well, the center of the earth.  The four characters are screaming as the ground they were standing on shatters and they free fall for miles supposedly, not knowing how and when it will end.  At one point, they all stop screaming and they look at each other.  And then, Brendan Fraser yells, “We’re still falling!”


We’re still aging!

And it’s no less scary.  And we never know when and how it will end!

The Daily Prompt Weekly Writing Challenge this week is entitled GOLDEN YEARS.

No matter how you shake it, it happens to all of us: we grow older. As our age changes, so does our perspective. This week, we’re asking you to take a look at those little numbers that often mean so much.

Two years ago to the day, I wrote a blog entry called I am the Cryptkeeper, an amusing story of the times I have been mistaken for someone’s grandfather.  My own 5 year old son.  My neighbor’s teenage daughter.  Unfortunately, this has happened more than once, and once is way more than enough.

They say age is just a number.  So is pi.  So is 2,456,923.  But no one will live that long.  It might be a number, but for the vast majority of us, it is one that will remain in two digits left of the decimal point.

I can remember when I thought thirty was old.  Yes.  I can still remember that far back.  Can’t remember what I had for breakfast today, but is that really an important piece of information in the whole scheme of things?

Thirty?  Old?  WTF!  I can’t even blame it on the alcohol since I was too young to legally drink when I thought thirty was old.

I have unfortunately reached that point in my life when I tell people I’m 39, but they politely don’t believe me anymore.  Unless they are blind or senile.

I’m old.  There.  I said it.  Are you happy?

Shouldn’t old and age be four letter words?

As I have often said, getting old is better than the alternative.  The only alternative to getting old is to die young.  How do I feel about getting older now?  It’s like a Catch-22!

Age is just a state of mind.  Unfortunately, as we age, our minds get old right along with us.  Senility is a state of mind too.

GettingOldAs an eye surgeon, I have cared for many people in their golden years.  I am unhappy to report my findings.

There is nothing golden about the golden years.  They should be called the rust years.

The only thing golden about the golden years is the color of your urine.  And you might need Flomax.  Or Depends.

Getting old ain’t for sissies.

You can’t do the things you used to do, you can’t see as well as you used to, you can’t hear as well as you used to, and if you are lucky, you still remember how things used to be!

I could go on, but I forget the rest.

We spend the first 21 years of our life trying to get to 21.  We then spend the rest of our lives trying to get back there.  Is drinking legally really worth getting old?

Wine improves with age.

Does whine improve as well?

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First Class Fail

The past week, my daughter, now a sophomore in college, had the occasion to mail a check.

I know you are wondering why, but I promised not to tell.

I lied.

(She got a traffic citation.)

See, I didn’t tell anyone she got a ticket.

But that is not the amusing part of this story.  Nor is the fact that although she was pulled over for speeding, the above mentioned citation was for an obstructed view–she had a parking pass hanging from her rear view mirror.  The nice police officer (nice as in he felt like granting her a favor, and not nice as in a French policeman in Nice, France where my daughter was not exceeding the speed limit by A LOT) wrote her up for a lesser charge.  Now this is not the first time my daughter has been pulled over.  But it is the first time she was cited for anything.

But that is not the amusing part of this story.

See, she mailed in her fine.  Which was fine.  Except for the fact that the envelope came back to us:


Apparently, two cents doesn’t even buy enough ink to say ‘returned for postage.’


Looks good enough to mail a fine!

Two cents?

Now . . . this is the funny part.

I inform my daughter that it was returned for insufficient postage (but I didn’t use big words like insufficient.)

With complete innocence, she protests “I put a stamp on it!”

I agreed.  “Yes.  A two-cent stamp.”

She was befuddled.  “Well, how many stamps do you need?”

OMG.  I cannot believe what I’m hearing.

Even if you lived under a rock and didn’t realize the price of stamps went up to 49 cents in January of this year, you would still know that it costs more than two cents to mail a letter.  Or a fine.

You have to go back to June of 1932 to mail a letter for two cents!  I’m old enough to be her father, and I’ve never been able to mail a letter for two cents!  But I can remember when we had to lick those suckers to put them on the envelopes!  And our envelopes were made of papyrus, not this fancy paper crap!  And we had to deliver them ourselves.  Up hill.  Both ways.  See how I digressed there?

Apparently my daughter has been raised in an era where people do not mail letters anymore.  They text.  They email.  They chat.  They Instagram.  And while they think they are doing this for free (because the cost of the internet provider or their cell phone package is paid by someone else), the concept of paying to send something is foreign to them.

Our future is in good hands . . . as long as they don’t have to mail it!

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I wanted to let you know, in case you were lying awake at night wondering if I was still running on the icy trail near my house, that I am indeed still running on ice.  I could have my own TV show . . . ICE TRUCKERS RUNNERS.

Despite falling and seriously injuring my ego, I have continued to brave the winter elements.

This looks like a good place to run!

This looks like a good place to run!

Yea, though I run through the valley of the shadow of ice, I will fear no falls.  Thy tread and thy YAK TRAX they comfort me.

When I blogged about my accident, I mused that I would not be able to tolerate stopping and putting on YAK TRAX just to run the short distance between my development and our local high school.  Well, I lied.  I tried.  It’s not so bad.   It actually works very well.  And carrying the YAK TRAX (which are technically DueNorth ice cleats but I like the sound of YAK TRAX so much better) is no worse than carrying a water bottle on a hot humid day.

The time I spend to stop and put the things on and then take them off again is well worth not having to be bruised and picking myself up off the ice.

I am still really looking forward to spring, though.

As is this person . . .

Thank goodness it was the perfect texture for running!

And I’m glad there was no video of me!

That I know of.

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I Hate Trash Night

The Daily Post asks,

We all have jobs, tasks, and chores that we dislike doing. Tell us all about the least favorite job/task/chore that you get stuck doing routinely. What is it about this duty that you can’t stand?

My family knows the answer to this question without even thinking.

Dad hates trash night.

My favorite night?  The night after, because it is the farthest night from the next trash night.

I’m not sure how I ended up being the trash man sanitation engineer in our household.  Perhaps it is because I don’t cook, clean or do laundry.  It is a tradition that started before my children were old enough to help take out the trash, and now is so embedded in our family’s culture that even though my teenage boys could easily do this task, they don’t.

This is my task.  My cross to bear.


I still hate it.

There are two trash cans in the kitchen, one in the basement, one in each of three bathrooms, and one in each of four bedrooms, and one in my office.  I have to tour the entire estate every week to collect the trash BEFORE taking it out to the end of our driveway.  I have teenagers.  Their doors must automatically lock.  I feel like the character from plague-infested Europe in Mel Brook’s History of the World, “bring out your dead!”  BRING OUT YOUR TRASH.  Everyone knows it is trash night.  The ‘dad hates trash night’ jokes usually start the night before or in the morning.  It’s like the camel walking through the office on Wednesday asking what day it is.  What night is it?  It’s TRASH NIGHT already!  I know.  I hate it.  HAVE YOUR TRASH READY!  Is that too much to ask?

It’s particularly onerous this time of year (winter) when the driveway could be icy, it could be snowing, it’s usually blowing, and it’s often downright freezing cold.  Try to tie a trash bag with gloves on.  It ain’t easy.  Many times we have so much trash (we are a very trashy family, apparently) that I have to make multiple trips over the frozen tundra.  Sometimes, if we have boxes to discard, they blow across the street before I get back with heavier trash to hold them down.

Snowing and Blowing? MUST BE TRASH NIGHT!

Snowing and Blowing?

I loathe trash night.

It wouldn’t be so bad if we had some general rules in our house.  But apparently, discarding trash is a lawless, free-for-all activity.

1.  If you are throwing something out, make sure it is in the trash can.  If you insist on leaving trash on the floor in the general vicinity of the can, then YOU CAN TAKE OUT THE TRASH.  Is that unreasonable?

2.  Don’t throw out open bottles or containers with liquid in them.  I know you don’t have a sink in your room, but do not throw liquids into the can, even if there is a bag in the can (and there should ALWAYS be a bag in the can!)  Our small trash cans in the bedrooms have plastic bags from Wal-Mart, Dicks, Martin’s etc. to make collecting the trash easier and less messy.  Unfortunately, these bags are not always devoid of holes.  If you feel the need to throw half a can of soft drink away (and you should have finished that anyway–there are thirsty kids in the Sahara somewhere that would kill for that soda!) pour it down the sink in the bathroom first.  Unless YOU want to take the trash out!

3.  Our main trash can in the garage has a liner in it.  Respect the liner.  If it has slipped off the edge of the can, don’t hurtle your uneaten food and gross slop in on top of the fallen bag.  IT GOES IN THE BAG.  Otherwise, perhaps you would like to take the trash out.  It’s quite annoying not to be able to get the bag out of the can, and then have to wash the inside of the can because someone failed to use the liner.

4.  If the weather is warm (and probably this is true for anytime, but especially if the weather is warm,) PUT THE LID ON THE CAN.  I can’t count the number of summers I have had to deal with MAGGOTS because someone who doesn’t have to take the trash out left the lid off the can or slightly ajar.  It has a lid.  Use it.  Otherwise, perhaps you’d like to play with the maggots while emptying the trash?

5.  If what you are throwing out is already smelly, or will likely become rotten before trash night, then please seal it in a plastic bag.  We have them in the house.  Ziplock.  Tie it off.  I don’t care.  They are there.  Use them.  Unless, of course, YOU really want the job of taking out the trash.

I hate trash night.

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