Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Crazy (Short) Week of Chaos

How many things can go awry in just a couple of days? Well, we're learning. These last couple of days have been a challenge.
1) STORM DOOR - Our (late 2008 installed) storm door was slammed open this weekend by wind gusts, and the frame was bent, bracket broken. This happened because the door handle broke, so it had to be left unlocked to get into the house. We learned that the door handle isn't easy to remove. In fact, the manufacturer said it's better to replace the door. So, we are.
2) COMPUTER CRASH - Windows Vista is a nightmare. For 6-8 months our computer would update, then reject all the updates, taking over 1 hour a day to run for nothing. I've tried the "Vista repair" from the install disk, to no avail. Last night in the middle of working, the computer shut down and then kept looping from "installing updates" to rebooting, over and over for 45 minutes until I turned it off. 2 computer experts said we had to wipe everything out and re-install. Great. Luckily, I had saved all our photos on memory sticks beforehand, but lost all of my newsletters, contact info, etc. Oh, well. I reinstalled, and it's running fine (so far). It just took 2 hours to wipe everything out and re-install everything. SIGH.

(PHOTO: Smokey and Bandit in a cage in our kitchen, because they're not house-trained)
3) RESCUE DOGS - The Dachshund rescue that we work with transported 2 miniature dachshunds to us yesterday at 4pm. The couple that brought them up from Virginia were transporting a total of 7 dogs, including a bulldog, poodle and more. All their dogs went into our backyard to relieve themselves after their 7 hour ride (and they had another 2-3 hours to go from our place).
Anyway, we got the 2 mini dachshunds, and you would think 2 eight-pound dogs wouldn't be a challenge. Well, they were so scared, the pooed and peed in the kitchen. Anyone that knows Tom, knows that he's going to be the next spokesman for "Mr. Clean." He was "not happy." Me neither... as it was at that exact time that I was working upstairs and the computer crashed beyond repair. When it rains, it pours.
The dogs are really sweet, (one female we're calling "Smokey" and one male we're calling "Bandit" - after the movie) but scared to death of people. They came from a breeder and were in bad shape. I bathed them (the water in the sink was brown), clipped their 2" nails (it was painful for them to walk!), and cleaned their filthy little ears out. They were a mess, and very patient. They're not housebroken, but I'm working on it. Thanks to our friends Susan and Cary, for lending us a dog cage!
I took them out this morning one at a time (in the sleet) and gave them treats when they did their business outside. They're certainly trainable, but time and patience is needed. The female (Smokey) is the alpha dog, as the male (Bandit) does what she does. They were also scared to eat, too, which is evidenced by their visible ribs. We had to coax them to eat. Tom held Bandit this morning, and he looked like he had never been held in his little life. It was heartbreaking. He also has a 2 inch tear in one of his ears, obviously from a fight. Poor little guy. He loves his blanket and cage, though. Tomorrow, we transport them to Melissa at the rescue, north of Baltimore for placement in foster homes.

4) BATHROOM RENOVATION UPDATE - We still have only one functioning bathroom (week 6)... but progress is being made. Yesterday, some floor tile was cut and laid down. It's not finished yet. We still don't have a working toilet or even a sink in there yet. It's weeks away.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Renovation Update / Storm Door not Storm Proof!


The 1st floor bathroom renovations have picked up again, and a lot of progress has been made this week (Week #6). All of the plumbing is now in for the new shower, and the electric lights are all wired! Today, the drywall was installed, and the floor tiles are being laid down. Yay! Here's picture of the drywall outside the shower).
STORM DOOR, NOT STORM PROOF - We have a really nice looking storm door from Pella, but 2 weeks ago, the lock/handle broke, as it just wouldn't draw the "tongue" back into the lock when the handle was turned. So, the door wouldn't open. We finally got it open, and had to lock the "tongue" in the "open position" leaving the door unable to seal shut. The part is difficult to get, and our contractor ordered it 2 weeks ago, but the place he ordered it from just told him today that they lost the order. The factory is in North Dakota. Wonderful.
Last night, we had a Wind Advisory in Effect. That meant gusty winds (behind a cold front that passed yesterday morning) up to 50 mph! Did they ever gust. Despite trying to get the storm door closed, the wind whipped it open, ripped screws out of the frame, bent the frame and warped the door. So much for a new door (we had it installed early 2009). Our contractor is trying to figure how to save the doorframe, and find a new lockset for the door without having to request one from snowbound North Dakota... "Always Something!"

Dental Chew "Dinosaur" Best Dog Toy Ever!

Originally submitted at jbpet.com

Nylabone Dental Chew Dinosaurs are available in tough Durable (tan) and softer Flexible (blue). The raised bumps help to remove plaque and reduce tartar build-up, and massage gums while your dog chews.

  • Around 6” long.
  • ...


    Best Ever toy for powerful chewers!

    By Rob/Tom/Dolly/Franklin from Bowie, Maryland on 12/29/2009

     

    5out of 5

    Pros: Versatile, Fun, Tough, Good Value

    Best Uses: Younger Pets, Larger Pets, Smaller Pets, Travel

    Of all the chews, bones, etc. on the market, our dogs LOVE the dinosaurs the best. It massages their gums and keeps the plaque off of their teeth. We give them as gifts to dog owners and everyone's dogs love them! Best product for dogs ever!!

    (legalese)

    Monday, December 28, 2009

    CBS NEWS VIDEO:Missing Dog Returned for the Holidays

    Missing Dog Returned for the Holidays December 25, 2009 11:05pm
    A New Jersey family is calling it a Christmas miracle. A tiny dachshund missing for more than a week during the northeast's historic snowstorm made it home for the holiday. Natasha Brown reports. FULL STORY:http://cbs3.com/video/?id=93899@kyw.dayport.com

    Sunday, December 27, 2009

    Fun on 2 Sunny, Mild Days After Christmas!


    (PHOTO: Franklin the Dachshund and Dolly the Weimaraner enjoying the backyard in the sunshine and mild temperatures today)
    This weekend we've been blessed with temperatures near 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) after last weekend's blizzard and 19 inches (48 cm) of snow, so sidewalks are clear, streets are clear and only snow piles remain unmelted.
    SATURDAY - We met our friends Steve and Jane at Panera Bread (our favorite breakfast place) and our friend/roommate Darold joined us yesterday for a fun 2 hour breakfast! We walked the dogs, then went to Tom's parents and he installed the new shades we bought them for Christmas, followed by dinner at Outback Steakhouse (thanks to a gift card we received). We ended the evening watching the MOVIE JULIE AND JULIA - which was really cute and entertaining. We recommend it!

    (PHOTO - Dolly sniffs the tulip bulbs to ensure they're of good quality so we can plant them. She's a good inspector!)


    SUNDAY - The sun is shining today (Sunday), so after a breakfast at home Tom and I walked our dogs (Dolly and Franklin) on a 3 mile walk and returned a DVD we rented. After opening some great Christmas presents from my brother Doug and his family in Mass., a lunch of leftover turkey and soup and quick read of the newspaper, Tom and I cleaned up the backyard - I went "dog poo hunting" and Tom started planting daffodils and tulips. I helped Tom plant to make it go faster. We were done with planting (of about 200 bulbs) by 2pm ET, and the dogs came inside with me to write this blog. We've been outside about 4 hours today, which was a nice change over the last week.

    (PHOTO - Tom and Rob planting those bulbs in the backyard!)
    BACK TO WORK - After a week off, Tom and I both return to work tomorrow. We can only imagine how many emails are waiting for us...

    Great CNN Video Interview With Dolly Parton!

    A handsome news anchor from CNN International does a great interview with Dolly Parton, now that she's released her "Live in London" CD.

    Saturday, December 26, 2009

    Pets Should be Recognized as Companions

    Since the Scheele family lost a beloved member in dog "Shadow," the Scheeles' attorney, David Putter, argued that a family dog is worth more than a piece of property, saying dogs "love you back."
    Under the current law, losing a dog is "treated the same way as the loss of an end table," Putter said after last week's hearing in Vermont. "That's not what the relationship between humans and dogs is anymore. They're a member of the family and when they're lost you can't just go out to the local store and buy a new one. That doesn't fix it." The Scheele's are trying to get the law to recognize pets as companions, not just heartless, lifeless "property." FULL STORY: http://www.hometownannapolis.com/news/for/2009/12/24-37/Are-dogs-more-than-property.html

    I'm glad to see that our friends the Scheele's are standing up to urge legislation to recognize pets as companions. Even Congress has drafted legislation to do just that.
    Pets ARE family to people. Our dogs are OUR companions. They're NOT "replaceable." Anyone who thinks they are, are heartless asses. Period. And there are a number of people out there that DO believe that dogs are just "emotionless and replaceable property." How SAD for them. How ignorant. How stupid they are.
    Pets are especially considered family by people who can't have children adopt and love pets with all their heart.
    I'm appalled to read such heartless comments from some readers of the Annapolis Capitol newspaper who left heartless comments on line. If that's the way they love your human children, I feel for them. One man's comments particularly disgusted me. To call a living, breathing thing "a material possession" is heartless.
    It's infuriating to know that any loser like the gentleman on trial (who shot and killed the Scheele's dog) can have a gun and shoot at whatever he pleases. Granted, the dog shouldn't have been on his property, but civilized people don't shoot at living things! Go outside and shoo the dog away, or try and bring it inside to bring it back to its rightful owner. That's what's wrong with society - people like the killer and others that consider living things as "replaceable property." What happened to love and compassion?
    Hateful, ignorant people have no regard for life of any kind. If these people view animals that way, they likely view their own human children as "property" as they were viewed in the middle ages. I suppose to them, even human children can be replaced.
    At least some of our politicians have introduced legislation to recognize pets as companions. HAPPY was introduced in Congress on July 31, 2009, as H.R. 3501, by Michigan Representative Thaddeus McCotter. Read the full article: http://bit.ly/6jwRhw

    Recycle Your Christmas Cards- to help a Charity

    Send all your old Christmas Cards to St. Jude's ranch for recycling!
    They are accepting used, all-occasion cards from:
    November 15, 2009 - February 28, 2010
    You can mail your donations to:
    St. Jude's Ranch for Children
    Recycled Card Program
    100 St. Jude's Street - Boulder City, NV 89005
    877-977-SJRC (7572)
    (Thanks to our friend Katie who sent us this!)

    Friday, December 25, 2009

    Christmas Photos - Part 3 / Video of our Wacky Uno Game


    This is the BEST Family Photo from today!
    L to R (Back: Darold, Mom Ruth, Dad Bob)
    L to R (Front: Dolly the Weimaraner, Rob, Franklin the Dachshund, Tom)


    Dolly decided to give Mom a hug in this practice family Christmas photo!






    Franklin acting like a mad dog with one of his Christmas presents!

    DESSERT AND WACKY GAMES - We ended the night with some dessert (Apple pie, mom's homemade oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies, brownies, coffee and tea). We also played some games. We started with Scattergories (which Rob won) and then ended with a really fun MARATHON game of Uno! The first round of Uno went quickly. The 2nd game took 1 1/2 hours and Darold finally won! Here's a video from the middle of that goofy, fun game!
    video

    Christmas Photos - Part 2

    I'm always cold in the wintertime, and always telling Tom that my side of the bed is freezing... so he bought me a mattress warmer for Christmas! Of course, his side will be turned off because he's "The Human Torch." That's what I call him, because he's always hot.




    When I opened the Mattress pad heater, Dolly came over and gave me a lick and a snoot.





























    Tom's Mom Ruth and Bob share a laugh over something!







    We had fun opening the presents, and Franklin the Dachshund brought one of his new toys to Grandma, and had her play Tug O War with him. One of his favorite games!

    VIDEO OF FRANKLIN'S TUG OF WAR AND OPENING PRESENTS!
    video

    Christmas Photos - Part 1

    We spent Christmas at our house today, and had a wonderful day. Tom and I (Rob) were joined by our dogs Dolly and Franklin, our friend Darold (who is also our roommate), and Tom's parents. We had turkey for dinner with lots of trimmings, but decided to open the presents before. Here's the first round of pictures and videos!

    Here's a picture of Dolly and Franklin waiting in the kitchen for the turkey to finish cooking!
















    Here's Darold smiling after opening a present.








    Rob got a "Hazardous Before Coffee" ornament, that Dolly thought was great.









    Dolly and Franklin get very excited when paper is rustled or bags are opened. Here they are waiting for their first present.




    Tom loved this present, obviously!


    VIDEO OF THE DOGS OPENING THEIR PRESENTS - video

    A Christmas Spirit Visit

    (PHOTO: Tom's Grandma Grace)
    Merry Christmas!
    I love the ability to communicate with those who have passed, and today we received a special Christmas visit and blessing.
    Tom and I were having breakfast this morning in our kitchen at 7:30 a.m. (after feeding Dolly and Franklin), listening to a CD of John Tesh playing christmas music on the piano and looking outside in the backyard at overcast skies.
    Tom's grandma Grace made an appearance. I got the tell-tale headache in the back of my head and Grandma told me "Tom looks very handsome." She said she was so happy for us, and were happy we got married this year. She made me feel so much love that I sat at the table and my eyes welled up with tears. She wanted to let us know she was checking in on Christmas and wish us a Merry Christmas.
    I have a feeling that's only the first of several Christmas spirits that will check in today.

    Thursday, December 24, 2009

    Want to see where Santa is right now?


    Want to see where Santa is right now? Use NORAD's Santa Tracking site: http://www.noradsanta.org/
    At 8:05 p.m. ET, Santa was in Tarrafal in the Cape Verde Islands, west of Africa. You can see him on video Live!

    Merry Christmas,,, what a Loud Christmas Eve!


    It's Christmas eve at 7:53 pm ET, and it has been a busy, crazy day (even though we're on vacation). We had breakfast at Panera Bread this morning at 7am, then went to Lowes, Kohls and Walmart all before 9:30am. We returned home to find our contractor and 3 other guys helping him - working on our 1st floor bathroom renovations. One was framing, one was chipping old tile, and the contractor and another guy were cleaning out our air ducts (we asked for it). Dust flew everywhere, sawdust and tile dust covered the kitchen, hallway and living room. The dogs were really uncomfortable... so we took them upstairs after I took them on a long walk (in the cold sunshine).
    The hammering and banging continued until 3 p.m.!! I was at my wits end. The house was covered with dust, and tomorrow we're hosting Christmas. We managed to clean it afterward, and get our traditional Chinese food dinner afterward with our friend (and roommate) Darold.
    Tomorrow is Christmas, so the contractor and his employees won't be working, but they'll ALL be here first thing Saturday morning, so it's going to be chaos again this weekend. We're looking forward to a quiet Christmas when no creatures are stirring, except maybe an occasional squirrel outside that our dogs Dolly and Franklin bark at tomorrow! May you have a quiet, joyful Christmas!

    Here's your Christmas weekend forecast for MANY CITIES!!

    December 24, 2009
    Hi all - Most of you know I'm a meteorologist- so here's my christmas gift to you:A Christmas weekend forecast for MANY CITIES!!
    FORECAST CITIES: Boston, MA; Portland, Maine/Portsmouth, NH; Birmingham, AL; Macon and Atlanta, GA; Nashville, TN; Baltimore/Washington, DC; Eastern Virginia/Virginia Beach, VA; New York City;; Dallas, TX

    Merry Christmas!!
    Rob

    TRAVELERS NOTE: Major snow / rain system affecting central US today from Michigan and Minnesota through Iowa, Illinois, the Ohio Valley, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee Valley, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma – ALL PUSHING EAST>>>> Be prepared for Travel Delays!!

    WEATHER SUMMARY FOR THE MID-ATLANTIC: high pressure will remain across the mid atlantic today. A storm System will affect the region late christmas eve night through Saturday with a wintry mix initially followed by rain. An upper Level low will influence the region sunday and monday...then cold High pressure builds in for mid week.From the Mid-Atlantic up to NYC. Because of the solid snow pack, we've got cold air trapped at the surface, and we're expecting below freezing overnight temperatures from NYC to Baltimore/Washington. That means that any rain falling (especially before Daybreak) may freeze on pavement… causing black ice. The precipitation will be light, and will likely start in the Balt/Wash area by 4 am Christmas morning- so travel is recommended TODAY. It will move from SW to NE.

    BALTIMORE/WASHINGTON/SO. CENTRAL PA -
    TRAVELERS NOTE: Freezing Drizzle beginning Christmas morning before sunrise, changing to ALL rain by noon. MORNING TRAVEL will be slippery… PM travel will just be Rainy… watch for FLOODING from melting snow after sunset Christmas night.
    **AIR TRAVEL
    Today: Sunny, with a high near 36.
    Tonight:. Increasing clouds,
    Christmas Day: Freezing rain before 9am, then mixing with and changing to rain
    After Noon. High 39. Rain all afternoon and overnight. Low 39
    Saturday: Rain, mainly before 1pm. High near 48. Low 30 (freezing of ice at night)
    Sunday: Partly sunny, with a high near 39. Low 26
    LIVE RADAR: http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=LWX&product=NCR&overlay=11101111&loop=yes

    EASTERN VIRGINIA (Wallops Island and Virginia Beach- Add 3 degrees for VA Beach Temps)
    RAIN WILL DEVELOP LATER FRIDAY MORNING OR EARLY FRIDAY AFTERNOON.
    MINOR FLOODING OF SMALL CREEKS...STREAMS...AS WELL AS LOW LYING
    AND POOR DRAINAGE AREAS WILL BE POSSIBLE FROM FRIDAY AFTERNOON
    THROUGH SATURDAY.

    Today: Sunny, with a high near 42. Low 30
    Christmas Day: Breezy with Rain, mainly after 3pm through the overnight High 53 (NO freezing drizzle problems) Low 49.
    Saturday: Breezy, Rain before 10am. Clearing in Afternoon. High near 56. Low 32.
    Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 42. Low 27
    LIVE RADAR: http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=DOX&product=NCR&overlay=11101111&loop=yes

    NEW YORK CITY REGION -
    THERE IS THE POTENTIAL FOR SIGNIFICANT RAINFALL LATE SATURDAY
    THROUGH SATURDAY NIGHT AS A COMPLEX STORM SYSTEM MOVES THROUGH THE
    REGION FROM THE WEST. THIS RAIN ON TOP OF A THICK SNOW PACK COULD
    CREATE THE POTENTIAL FOR FLOODING.

    Today: Mostly sunny, with a high near 36. Low 30
    Christmas Day: patchy freezing drizzle before and several hours after dawn, becoming rain by 10am – rain all day a high near 39. Low 37 with breezy conditions over night, too.
    Saturday: Rain and breezy all day and night. High near 47. Low 36
    Sunday: Partly sunny, with a high near 45. Low 30
    RADAR: http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=DIX&product=NCR&overlay=11101111&loop=yes

    BOSTON, MA
    Today: Partly sunny, with a high near 38. Lo 29
    Christmas Day: Mostly sunny, with a high near 37. Low 34
    Saturday: Scattered rain and snow showers before 8am, becoming rain (lasting all day and night) – could be heavy at times at night. High 40. **WATCH FOR FLOODING AT NIGHT FROM MELTING SNOW AND HEAVY RAIN** Low 39
    Sunday: Mostly cloudy, AM rain, High 44, then cloudy. Low 32
    LIVE RADAR: http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=BOX&product=NCR&overlay=11101111&loop=yes

    SOUTHEASTERN MAINE/COASTAL NEW HAMPSHIRE
    Today: Mostly sunny, breezy, with a high near 38. Low 26
    Christmas Day: Mostly sunny, with a high near 36. Low 35.
    Saturday: Cloudy, scattered snow and sleet before 1pm, then wintry Mix becoming Rain. High 37 Low 35.
    Sunday: Rain likely. Mixing with some snow at night before ending. a high near 41. Low 30
    RADAR: http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=GYX&product=NCR&overlay=11111111&loop=yes

    BIRMINGHAM/ GOODWATER, AL - . ...STRONG GUSTY WINDS TODAY AND TONIGHT.
    SUSTAINED WINDS
    BETWEEN 10 AND 20 MPH WITH HIGHER GUSTS BEGINNING THIS MORNING.
    SUSTAINED WINDS WILL INCREASE TO 20 TO 25 MPH THIS AFTERNOON WITH
    GUSTS OF 35 TO 40 MPH LASTING THROUGH MIDNIGHT TONIGHT.



    Today: Cloudy, windy (gusts to 40- mph!) with showers and thunderstorms (into early Friday morning). High 55. Low 44.
    Christmas Day: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 46. Low 28 NICE!!!
    Saturday/ Sunday : Mostly sunny, with a high near 49. Low 28
    LIVE RADAR: http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=MXX&product=NCR&overlay=11101111&loop=yes

    MACON, ATLANTA AND CENTRAL GEORGIA -
    ...WIND ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 1 PM THIS AFTERNOON TO
    7 AM EST FRIDAY FOR MUCH OF NORTH AND CENTRAL GEORGIA. USTAINED WIND SPEEDS OF AT LEAST 20 MPH...OR GUSTS TO 35 MPH OR STRONGER ARE EXPECTED. WINDS THIS STRONG CAN MAKE DRIVING DIFFICULT...ESPECIALLY FOR HIGH PROFILE VEHICLES.
    Today: Mostly cloudy, afternoon and evening rain w/ poss. t-storms and gusty PM winds with a high near 59. Low 51
    Christmas Day: Cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, West wind gusting to 25 mph. with a high near 57. Low 30
    Saturday/Sunday : Sunny, with a high near 54. Low 30
    LIVE RADAR: http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=JGX&product=NCR&overlay=11101111&loop=yes


    NASHVILLE, TN
    ...WIND ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 9 AM CST TODAY TO MIDNIGHT CST
    TONIGHT... SUSTAINED WINDS FROM 15 TO 30 MPH...WITH WIND GUSTS OF AROUND 40 MPH POSSIBLE.
    Today: Windy with gusts to 40 mph! Clouds, showers, with thunderstorms (all day and overnight) High 56. Low 37
    Christmas Day Maybe an isolated AM shower. Mostly cloudy, breezy, with a high near 43. Low 29
    Saturday: Mostly cloudy, breezy, with a high near 38 Low 26
    Sunday: Partly sunny, with a high near 37. Low 23
    LIVE RADAR: http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=OHX&product=NCR&overlay=11111111&loop=yes


    DALLAS, TEXAS - Winter Weather Advisory

    A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW AND BLOWING SNOW REMAINS IN
    EFFECT FROM 9 AM THIS MORNING TO 6 PM CST THIS AFTERNOON.
    TEMPERATURES WILL CONTINUE TO FALL DURING THE DAY WITH
    AREAS OF RAIN TRANSITIONING TO AREAS OF SNOW FROM WEST TO EAST
    DURING THE DAY. SNOW MAY BE MODERATE TO HEAVY AT TIMES...AND
    ACCUMULATIONS WILL AVERAGE AROUND 1 INCH ACROSS THE ADVISORY
    AREA...WITH LOCALIZED AMOUNTS UP TO 2 INCHES. IN ADDITION...STRONG
    NORTHWEST WINDS OF 25 TO 35 MPH WILL CAUSE BLOWING SNOW WHICH WILL
    REDUCE VISIBILITIES TO LESS THAN A HALF MILE AT TIMES IN THE
    ADVISORY AREA.
    Today: Rain before noon, then snow likely as temps fall to around 33 by 5pm. Windy, with gusts as high as 45 mph (even through the night). Snow tapering off tonight, Low 24
    Christmas Day: Sunny, with a high near 45. Low 27
    Saturday/Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 48 Low 29

    LIVE RADAR: http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=FWS&product=NCR&overlay=11111111&loop=yes

    Air Tran Comes Through With Customer Service

    You may have read several days back on this blog that Tom and I had to cancel our Air Tran flights to Boston last Friday, for our Saturday flight out of BWI due to the impending blizzard. At that time, the Air Tran rep said we'd be charged $150 for a cancellation fee. I told her that I was sure the flights would be grounded and the airport closed due to the impending blizzard. She said "call back tomorrow and see what happens." That would've been fine if it didn't take 35 minutes on a good weather day- because it would've taken 4+ hours on hold during a blizzard to get the full credit. I informed her I was a meteorologist, and she didn't care. I guess it's all who you talk to. As it turned out, the flight was canceled the next day, and the airport closed for hours.
    After checking Air Tran's website to confirm the flight was canceled and airport closed - I wrote to Air Tran customer service explaining that I was trying to cancel the tickets in advance of the chaos that ensued on Saturday (the day of the Blizzard), and provided proof from their website the flight was canceled.
    This Customer Service Rep. refunded the penalty, and credited the full amounts for the flights to our frequent flier number.
    I urged Air Tran to reconsider their cancellation policies ONLY in the case of natural disasters, based on severe weather watches such as blizzards and hurricanes... extending the cancellation times to the full day before (for a full credit). It's kind of foolish to wait for a hurricane or blizzard to hit and expect people to get through on the phone (when phone lines will be busy with friends and relatives trying to ensure their loved ones are safe during severe weather). Anyway, Air Tran gets an "A" for customer service in this situation.

    Wednesday, December 23, 2009

    What's Our Vacation Like? / Tom's Eye Surgery / Christmas Prep


    Tom and I are on vacation this week, and well, it's not much of a vacation!
    BATHROOM RENOVATIONS - We still have contractors working on the first floor bathroom, so with our friend Darold (who will be living here for the next month or so until he gets settled and finds a place near DC) we have one bathroom (upstairs). Tom is continually needed by the contractor and his workers to ensure they're complying with the design that Tom drafted. We've heard lots of banging, sawing, etc. We've also gone to Home Depot and Lowes several times for various supplies.

    MORE EYE SURGERY FOR TOM - It was a year ago that Tom had his first cataract surgery. His 2nd one was in March. He's since had lasik surgery again in both eyes to correct problems. He still sees concentric rings from lights at night, and had a "string-like" something behind one of his retinas. Today, the doc laser-surgeried that out, so finally his vision is unobstructed. The halos, seeing the edge of the lens, and challenging night driving are all still a problem. He goes back in March.
    THE DAILY GRIND- Every morning, Darold gets up at 5am and of course the dogs finally hear him around 5:30am when he comes downstairs (guestroom is upstairs). He gets breakfast, we let the dogs out in the backyard, then I feed them, brush their teeth, give 'em treats. Then make our breakfast. We've been running errands, cleaning the house, walking the dogs, taking the Dogs to the Vet for the Canine Flu Shot, and I've been going to the chiropractor. I've also been cooking all the dinners, so that's keeping me busy.
    CHRISTMAS PLANS / PREP - We're having Christmas at our house this year, and Tom's folks are coming over, and of course, Darold will be with us, so it will be a nice small group. We also paid Doggy Day care a visit to thank them for taking care of our kids and gave them some Christmas cheer. We did get up at 5 a.m. and go grocery shopping on Tuesday, and Christmas shopping -which we finished by 9:30 a.m. before the rush. We ordered another pre-cooked turkey for Christmas from the local supermarket (as it was great during Thanksgiving!)
    LOTS OF BAD DRIVING- On the roads, people are not following the rules of the road. People driving through 4 way stop signs, traveling on the shoulder of the road, blocking intersections, speeding in snow and ice, swerving while on a cell phone, etc. Frenzied driving resulted in 3 accidents we encountered just today! On Rte 3 Crofton, MD., 2 SUV's slammed into each other and a box truck closing a middle highway lane. In Annapolis, on Route 50 east, 3 or 4 cars slammed into each other closing down 3 lanes out of 4 at 3 p.m. Firetrucks and police were on site, but the backup was about 5 miles. On Route 50 west at around 3:10 p.m. near Davidsonville, MD , 2 cars slammed into each other and were in the median closing down the left (fast) lane. Our advice: SHOP ON THE INTERNET, STAY OFF THE ROADS, and DRIVE DEFENSIVELY!

    Tuesday, December 22, 2009

    Our Christmas with Governor O'Malley and his Wife Katie


    Earlier this month, we went to the Christmas Open House at the Maryland Governor's Mansion. Governor O'Malley and his wife have been doing this since he got into office (unlike the trollish GOP Governor before him who didn't). We stood in line to get inside and take a self-guided walking tour through a couple of beautifully decorated rooms, which you'll see in these pictures. We were totally surprised with Governor Martin O'Malley and his wife Katie were standing in the hallway, taking photos with anyone that wanted them! Tom and I love the Governor, and we both think he's really handsome. So, I let Tom stand next to the governor and Martin put his hand around Tom (something Tom won't forget!). Here's the photo the Governor's Mansion posted on their website.

    Here's the Governor's Mansion from the outside.

    This is the entry stairway as you come into the mansion's front door. It's really beautifully decorated and well-lit. The Governor and his wife were standing next to a Christmas tree to the left of the stairway for photos.


    In one of the rooms, the Arbutus, Maryland, volunteer fire department set up a beautiful and large model train Christmas display. In another room, were a pianist and a choir, singing Christmas carols.


    We walked through one of the dining rooms, too, where the Governor had spiced hot apple cider and lots of Christmas cookies to eat. At the end of the brief tour, we were given pewter Christmas ornaments with the Maryland crab on them. They're now on our tree. We'll go to his house any time! What a great (and hunky) host.

    Monday, December 21, 2009

    Merry Christmas! :)


    Get One At - Friendster Comments

    Pew Report Indicates People's Supernatural Beliefs


    A recent and extensive new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life (November 2009) detailed statistics on religion in America and explored the shifts taking place in the U.S. religious landscape. It also revealed the percentages of people who had supernatural encounters or beliefs.
    The Pew Forum survey was based on interviews with more than 35,000 Americans age 18 and older. Here are some interesting highlights:
    * 29% interviewed said they have been in touch with the dead
    * 18% interviewed said they had ghostly experiences
    * 15% interviewed consulted a psychic
    THE REPORT STATES: The proportion of Americans who say they have interacted with a ghost has doubled over the past 13 years (9% in 1996 compared with 18% today). The number saying they have felt in touch with someone who has died has also grown considerably, from 18% in 1996 to 29% today. There has been no change, however, over the past 20 years in the proportion of Americans who have consulted a fortuneteller or psychic, with a steady minority of roughly one-in-seven continuing to say they have done so.
    Evangelical Protestants are the group least likely to say they have felt in touch with a dead person (20%). Members of other religious traditions are much more familiar with this type of phenomenon, with 37% of black Protestants, 35% of white Catholics, 31% of the unaffiliated and 29% of white mainline Protestants saying they have felt in touch with someone who has died. Differences between evangelicals and other religious traditions are smaller on the questions of ghostly experiences and consultations with fortunetellers.

    Related Mysticism answers:
    * 26% said they believe in spiritual energy in trees, nature, etc.
    * 25% believe in astrology
    * 24% believe in reincarnation
    * 23% believe in Yoga as a spiritual practice
    * 16% believe in casting of curses (i.e. "the Evil Eye")
    FOR THE ENTIRE REPORT GO TO: http://pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=490#4

    Watched 2 Great Movies on Snowbound Sunday


    Yesterday after walking the dogs in the snowy streets, we decided to have a movie day, so we watched two good movies on DVD.
    1)ANGELS AND DEMONS This was a good adaptation of Dan Brown's novel by the same name. Its the sequel to The Da Vinci Code. It revolves around the quest of fictional Harvard University symbologist Robert Langdon to uncover the mysteries of a secret society called the Illuminati and to unravel a plot to annihilate Vatican City using destructive antimatter. The book uses the idea of a historical conflict between science and religion, particularly that between the Illuminati and the Roman Catholic Church. RENT IT!

    2) THE SOUND OF MUSIC - This 1965 classic was one that I bought recently after only seeing it once, 15 years ago. Tom has seen it so much that he knew all the words to the songs. It was really enjoyable! (although we both think they could've ended the film after the marriage). Great scenery, songs and fun. Julie Andrews is amazing. I didn't know until today, that the boy the played Friedrich, one of the kids, is Nicholas Hammond, who grew up to be "Spiderman" in the 1970s TV series! Cool!

    Sunday, December 20, 2009

    A FRUSTRATING EXPERIENCE WITH METRO - AGAIN


    (Tom writing): Perhaps one day, The Washington, D.C. METRO will get it.
    Here's yet another example of the wonderful customer service experience that one can expect from our local transit authority: A friend of our is staying with us while he transitions to living here. Tomorrow will be his first day at work and he will need to ride the Metro. I had an extra SmarTrip card, from a painful learning experience I received from leaving my customary card at home one morning. I gave the card to our friend and thought we would take him to the New Carrollton station this afternoon to show him how to use the farecard machines.
    We arrived at 3:30 PM only to find the gates closed, but not chained and locked. Apparently the system had shut down early due to the weather. Through the gates, we witnessed three individuals (Metro employees) standing inside the station manager's booth. I yelled through the gate to see if one of them would let us in to use the farecard machines which were located just inside the closed gates. The three of the men in the booth just pointed at us and laughed.
    Another man came out of an adjoining room and crossed the station to the booth to join the other men. I yelled to him to see if he would let us in. He went to the booth and poked his head around and said, "No." I asked what harm it would be to let us use the machines. Another man got out of the booth and yelled, "We're closed. Step away from the gate." The now four men retreated inside the booth and continued to laugh at us as we departed.
    If general manager Catoe were really serious about cleaning up the image of Metro, he would do well to start with dealing with the poor customer service. And, he could start with firing these four individuals. Absolutely abhorrant behavior and terrible way to treat customers. But then again, Metro never learns, which is why it's in the mess it's in today: poor hiring decisions.
    FOR OTHER PEOPLE'S EXPERIENCES WITH THE METRO CHECK THIS BLOG: http://hotcupofpork.wordpress.com/2008/09/04/orange-line-train-next-stop-misery-doors-open-left-side/

    Saturday, December 19, 2009

    Year Without a Santa Claus / More Blizzard Photos



    SEVEN PLUS MORE INCHES OF SNOW IN 5 HOURS - It's 4:15pm ET now, and I've just gone back outside for a 2nd time to shovel. There was another 7-8" of snow in the areas I had already shoveled at 11:30am ET. I can't wait for this to end. I had to re-shovel the area in the back where the dogs go, too... I don't know how folks in Minnesota and Wisconsin do it! Maybe they all have snowmobiles. Here are photos of our air conditioner unit in the back of the house that shows the approximate 15 inches of snow we received so far, and Dolly running back to the house after a quick run out through the high snow!

    WATCHED "THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS" on DVD- This is our FAVORITE Christmas special because it has the Cold Miser and Heat Miser in it! The Summary: Even Santa can suffer a case of the holiday blues. In this 1974 stop-motion holiday family favorite, a sparkly eyed Mrs. Claus (voiced by Shirley Booth) sings and tells about the year her hubby felt too weary and too unappreciated to prepare for his annual Christmas rounds. Mickey Rooney stars as the voice of Santa who travels incognito to Southtown in search of his reindeer, Vixen, and two well-meaning elves. Mrs. Santa sent them to find proof of Christmas spirit--but they've discovered only ambivalence about Santa's year off. Luckily, when Santa arrives and befriends a boy named Ignatius, spirits begin to lift rapidly. Adult fans of this cousin to the 1970 television special Santa Claus Is Coming to Town will remember it as the Heat and Snow Miser movie. Their vaudevillian theme songs, complete with trombone and piano riffs, are hard to forget!

    A Brief Blizzard Movie

    Here's a short video I put together showing the blizzard happening outside here in Bowie, Maryland at 12:25 p.m. ET on DECEMBER 19 (I said the 20th in the video) featuring our Weimaraner, Dolly. I take you from the front of the house to the backyard. video

    Pictures During the Blizzard




    We're staying inside today as the blizzard hits outside. Here's a couple of pictures of what's happening. Snow outside of the front of the house and on the cars in the driveway. We backed the vehicles in (so they'd be easier to get out in a couple of days) and they already have about 5-6" of snow on them already.
    Meanwhile inside, we finished wrapping presents, finished the laundry, I made homemade spaghetti sauce that's cooking in the crockpot, filing away comic books, etc. Darold is enjoying reading, while Franklin the Dachshund is enjoying the comfort of Darold's lap. Meanwhile, Dolly claimed the other chair! :)


    Jake, a son of our neighbors Tracy and Gary, came over and is trying to make money for Christmas, so he asked to shovel our walk and driveway. PERFECT! I didn't want to go out there anyway (but I shoveled the backyard for the dogs, and the back walkway, and part of the driveway.
    Meanwhile, Jake shoveled the walk and the end of the driveway, then he came in while I put his hat and gloves in the dryer and gave him some cookies while they dried. He's a fun kid- he talked about how he wants some video Ipod for Christmas (whatever that is) and saw the hampster spy cartoon. He loves our dogs, Dolly and Franklin and was happy to give them treats.

    Where were Tom and Darold? Watching the movie "Missing Persons" (featuring British sleuth "Hettie Wainthrop") inside in the warm house! They were the smart ones!

    BLIZZARD WARNING - Good Movie/Great Gift/Indoor Stuff

    GREAT GIFT - Tom wrote: Rob & I received an extra special gift yesterday. Our friend, Cynthia, who was quite the shutterbug at our reception back in September gave us a Shutterfly book with some awesome pictures of the event. She dropped it off last night before the snow. She created it using the photos she took and added captions. What a thoughtful and priceless gift. (It choked Rob up). Thanks Cynthia!

    FUN MOVIE! - We watched "UP" last night as the snow started. It was really funny. There's some funny geriatric jokes in there. :) Disney-Pixar's "Up" is an animated comedy adventure about a 78-year-old man who ties balloons to his house and flies away, with an 8-year-old stowaway.
    DOG GAMES- Dolly loves to play fetch inside with little stuffed toy rings- so we did that this morning after the kids ran outside in the snow! It helped to put 'em in tee-shirts,so they didn't come in soaking wet.
    BLIZZARD WARNING - Is still up for us from 6am today through 6pm tonight. The snow is blowing and falling pretty hard outside at 9:35am ET

    Friday, December 18, 2009

    This Weekend: RECORD BREAKING DECEMBER SNOWFALL FOR BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON AREA

    (IMAGE: National Weather Service Radar from Dec. 18, 2009 at 10:49 p.m. ET)

    We've been inside for the night after a nice dinner at IHOP. Snow started east of Washington, DC around 9:30 p.m. ET. By 10:30 p.m. it has already coated the ground and cars. It's going to get much worse over the next 36 hours. Glad we canceled our Boston trip. We would never make it out the front door. I'm hoping we don't lose power, as with 1-2 FEET of snow, we could be in the dark for days.
    From the National Weather Service: 1003 PM EST FRI DEC 18 2009
    ...RECORD BREAKING DECEMBER SNOWFALL FOR BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREAS BRINGING HAZARDOUS WINTER WEATHER TO THE REGION OVERNIGHT AND SATURDAY...
    TOTAL STORM SNOWFALL TOTALS OF 1 TO 2 FEET ARE FORECAST TO OCCUR IN THE BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREAS BY DAWN SUNDAY...WHICH SHOULD ECLIPSE THE DECEMBER RECORDS FOR BOTH CITIES. THE RECORD DECEMBER SNOWFALL FOR WASHINGTON IS 12.0 INCHES ON 18-19 DECEMBER 1932...AND FOR BALTIMORE TO RECORD IS 14.1 INCHES ON 12-13 DECEMBER 1960. SHOULD ACCUMULATIONS EXCEED 14 INCHES...THIS STORM WILL MAKE THE LIST OF THE ALL-TIME TOP 10 SNOWSTORMS ON RECORD FOR BOTH CITIES. TRAVEL IS NOT RECOMMENDED ON SATURDAY...AS CONDITIONS WILL DETERIORATE RAPIDLY AFTER DAYBREAK.
    What's Happening Now: LOW PRESSURE ACROSS THE SOUTHEASTERN UNITED STATES WILL EMERGE INTO THE ATLANTIC OFF THE CAROLINA COAST TONIGHT. ACCUMULATING SNOW WILL SPREAD ACROSS THE AREA TONIGHT WITH HEAVY SNOW EXPECTED.
    LIVE RADAR: http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=LWX&product=NCR&overlay=11101111&loop=yes
    Overnight: Snow. The snow could be heavy at times. Low around 27. Northeast wind between 9 and 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Total nighttime snow accumulation of 5 to 9 inches possible.
    Saturday: Snow. The snow could be heavy at times. High near 30. Blustery, with a north wind between 18 and 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 8 to 12 inches possible.
    Saturday Night: Snow, mainly before 4am. The snow could be heavy at times. Low around 27. North wind between 14 and 17 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches possible.

    Massive Snow Storm Destroys Travel Plans / AirTran and Hotwire.com are Useless

    (PHOTO: Dolly flapping her ears saying "I don't want a foot or two of snow! Franklin the dachshund will have to make a tunnel to pee!")
    Because of the massive snowstorm upon us after midnight tonight here in Maryland, we've canceled the trip to Boston, and have to eat $250+ in airline and rental car penalties. I'm really, really, really ticked about it.
    I'm not only ticked that Air Tran is such a miserable airline charging fees when there's a winter storm warning (they're charging us $150), and Hotwire.com, where we booked the rental car absolutely, positively gives NO refunds. So, we lost over $100 there, too. That means nothing will get your money back: winter storm warning, blizzard warning, heavy snow warning, canceled flights, natural disaster, etc. I've learned an expensive lesson here. NO more Air Tran. NO more Hotwire.com.
    My nephews told my brother they're really disappointed we're not coming and I feel horrible. At least we mailed all their presents weeks ago, and they've got them to open. My mother also managed to get a flu, too- so we couldn't have seen much of her either. What a mess of a holiday.
    On the good side, our friend Darold drove up from Florida (he's moved here for a job) and arrived last night safely. We were able to move all his stuff in storage, return his moving truck and get him situated in our guest room. Now we'll spend the weekend in the house with Darold and not have to put the dogs in overnight boarding, either.
    We have a Winter Storm warning here starting at midnight tonight through 12 noon on SUNDAY. Snowfall totals are expected between 1 FOOT and 2 FEET. Yes, I said FEET OF SNOW. Last year, our entire winter snowfall was 7.1 inches. This is going to be a tough winter.

    The life!


    The dogs love lying on their upstairs bed whenever the sun falls on it. Ahhhh! This is the life!

    Thursday, December 17, 2009

    Our Friends' Legal Quest to Make Dogs Recognized as Companions

    Our friends Sarah and Denis are big dog lovers (like us). They lost a dog to a murderous man, while vacationing in Vermont years ago, and have never gotten over it- The law there (and many states) considers dogs a "piece of property" instead of family. That law needs to GO! Sarah and Denis are now in court this week fighting for the change. GO SARAH AND DENIS!!! Here's their website about their struggle:
    http://www.justiceforshadow.com/

    CAPTION: AP – In this undated photo released by the Scheele family, their pet dog, Shadow, is seen in Annapolis, Md.

    FROM TODAY'S ASSOCIATED PRESS: Vt. court eyes value of love of man's best friend
    MONTPELIER, Vt. – Vermont's highest court is being asked to decide what a dog's love is worth. The state Supreme Court on Thursday began hearing a case that started in July 2003, when Denis and Sarah Scheele, who were visiting relatives, let their mixed-breed dog wander into Lewis Dustin's yard and he fatally shot it.
    Now the Scheeles, of Annapolis, Md., are asking the court to carve out a new legal doctrine that a dog's owners can sue for emotional distress and loss of companionship, just like parents can when they lose children.
    "It's so important for people to really recognize the relationship between the families and their companion animals," said Sarah Scheele, 58, who attended Thursday's court hearing.
    FULL STORY: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091217/ap_on_re_us/us_dog_shooting

    A Strange "pain in the neck"

    Since I went to the dentist for a cleaning 2 weeks ago, and had to turn my head to the right most of the time, a nerve in the back right side of my neck has been tingling on and off. It mostly happens when I put my head down, or lean forward to look at the computer. I'm unsure what it is. My chiropractor has been working on it this last week, but it's still there. Any ideas?

    Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    A Day for a Triple Celebration

    We're celebrating 3 things today. Okay, so if you don't care about gay rights, don't read this. It's important to us, however, and so many trying to get equal rights. For example, even though we're legally married in CT, it's not recognized in Maryland- so we have no rights or equality in this state.
    1) DC City Council votes to legalize gay marriage!
    The Washington, D.C., City Council voted Tuesday to legalize gay marriage in the nation's capital, handing supporters a victory after a string of recent defeats in Maine, New York and New Jersey.
    FULL STORY: http://www.wtop.com/?nid=25&sid=1776269 Couples could marry by March, 2010. Of course, there are hateful bastards that are already trying to prevent the Mayor from signing it (or Congress from approving it), and planning to overturn it. We say to those hateful people "Get a life and fix your own straight marriages! The divorce rate is high!"
    2) TV evangelist Oral Roberts has died at age 91, a day after he fell at his California home and was hospitalized.Roberts founded Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., in 1963 and served as its president until 1993. He was one of the most hateful, wretched, gay-hating Evangelists. Yes, it may sound "mean" to celebrate someone's passing, but life is too short for hateful people to keep making misery.
    Now that he's passed, once he reaches the "other side" he'll realize how hateful he's been on Earth.
    3) Houston Gets a Gay Mayor! -WOW... HOUSTON?? We never would've thought...-

    Houston voters made history in December, electing the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city. Annise Parker, 53, takes the oath of office on Jan. 1 to lead the nation's fourth largest metropolis, with some 2.2 million residents. FULL STORY FROM TIME MAGAZINE: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1947648,00.html

    Monday, December 14, 2009

    Who Says Burger King isn't Romantic?


    December 10th marked 4 years ago to the day that Tom and I (Rob) met. It was at the food court at a nearby mall, and we both got lunch from Burger King in the food court. After that, it was Christmas shopping and singing Christmas songs together for hours. I knew that day that he was the one I'd spend the rest of my life with -and this year we got married! SO, on Dec. 10th, we had dinner at the local Burger King. Yeah, not a gourmet meal, but symbolic and still special. :)

    Gift/Memorial Suggestions

    Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
    What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
    We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
    DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
    Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

    Great Books by our friends

    Great Books by our friends
    Check out these great books (yeah, Rob's are in there, too)

    About us

    We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

    Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

    Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
    Wondering what home project to do next

    Podcast of Rob's 50 min. interview on Paranormal Filler Radio 7/13/14