Lots of Snow, No Power

It’s funny how excited I still get about snow.  This winter has been a dream come true.  I have always loved going out into the snow.  When I was a kid in the late 70’s and we had a couple of big storms (okay, big then, but not 2010 standards,) I’d have to shovel the driveway and some of the grass so our schnauzer named Schnappes could go out to play and do his business.

I would often shovel our elderly neighbor’s driveway first because of the “payment” I would receive.  Fresh-baked, homemade gingerbread men.  Wow were they good.  They were usually done by the time I finished shoveling our driveway.  One time, my dad came home early and noticed I had done the neighbor’s driveway first and asked why.  I told him because he couldn’t bake.

This last week has been great.  Two huge storms with plenty of snow.  Jake, Jane, and I started shoveling Saturday around noon (I had shoveled once on Friday night while Eliz was picking up Jake from school after he attended the school play Little Shop of Horrors.)  The three of us shoveled for about an hour and then Jane had to go inside to get ready for a Bar Mitzvah which she was attending at 5:00pm.  Jake and I continued shoveling so Eliz could get out and get Jane to her friends house to carpool to the service (thankfully the party was postponed until noon the next day.)  Jake and I cleared enough snow so Eliz and Jane could get out and had the whole driveway clean by the time Eliz was ready to pull in after returning from dropping Jane off and looking for a new shovel.

With yesterday’s storm, Jane and I went out to shovel.  I did most of the shoveling while Jane did some, but concentrated on building a snowman.  We were outside for a little more than an hour and had cleared a good portion of the area of the driveway by the garage doors and a path to the street.  I intended to go back out, but our power had gone out.  After resting for 10 minutes or so, Eliz said we should play a game.  The choices were Life, Monopoly, and Risk.  I am not a fan of Life and we thought Risk would’ve been too hard without power and little outside light due to the dark gray clouds and heavy snow coming down.  Monopoly it was!

We had fun playing for over an hour.  We stopped for a tea and hot chocolate break and as we started to play again, the power came back on.  We took a few minutes to power up the computers in the office and check for any sales on ForYourSalon.com (we had some!)  We resumed playing around 4:00ish.  After another hour, Jake was broke.  He went and watched Ghostbusters that was playing on cable.  Eliz, Jane, and I played on.  Jane was just about broke, but then she landed on Free Parking, where we start off with $500 and then add all the fines and taxes to the pot.  She scored nearly $3000!  She was down to one monopoly, but now had cash.

At around 6:00pm, the power went out again.  We continued to play with flashlights and a candle providing us light.  Eliz took too many rides on the railroads (all owned by me) and was living it up in hotels on Boardwalk, Park Place, Oriental Avenue, and Pennsylvania Avenue (also owned by me,) so she went broke.  With Jane only having one monopoly, she wasn’t bringing in enough cash.  I believe a stop at my hotel on Boardwalk finished her off.  It was the longest I’ve ever played.  It was probably three to four hours long, not including breaks.  It was awesome.  Had the power not gone out, we probably wouldn’t have played (and even if we did, we definitely wouldn’t have played that long.)

Today we all went outside around 10:45am to clear the driveway.  The area we shoveled yesterday had about eight or nine inches on it and was much easier to shovel today since it was lighter.  The rest of the driveway, included the path to the street which was covered over and as high as the non-shoveled areas, wasn’t as easy.  Snow had drifted in some areas and yesterday’s snow was still heavy and much icier.  It was so tiring mainly because of piles of snow along the driveway that we had to throw the shovel-full of snow over were so tall.

While we shoveled, we joked around with one another and talked at times.  We finished off the driveway and the area in front of the mailbox (in time to get one check and a blizzard of bills today.)  We went inside to rest for a few minutes and decide on lunch.  We ended up at Five Guys in Lawrence Park.  Even the ride there was nice in the heated car.  The restaurant had the heat cranked and it felt great there too.

The power had come back on just before we left for lunch at 2:00pm (I had to open the garage door manually, but by the time Eliz backed out and I came in to close the door manually the power was on,) so when we returned, it was back to work.  It was nice to see we had a few more sales to acknowledge since the power had gone out.

All in all, it was a fantastic 24 hours.  Without the power, we spent more time together as a family.  We worked together to clear the driveway (even though Eliz shouldn’t have shoveled since she is still getting therapy for her arm.)  It felt good to be with the kids without them wanting to bolt for their computers or a video game and me not taking another call or updating the website.  I guess we probably wanted to do that, but we couldn’t.  No matter, I still enjoyed the time together.  I can’t wait for the next snow.

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I Just Want to Be Like Everyone Else!

Jacob is going to camp in Canada this summer, so we need passports. Eliz and I pick Jacob up from school, then Jane from her school. We have lunch. It took longer than it should have at 2:00pm. We rush to the courthouse to get submit the pictures, forms, and, of course, the money. We get there two or three minutes before they close. Lady explains that she’s already closed everything out, so we’d have to come back. Not a huge problem, but we’d rather have taken care of it today. Eliz asks if the kids needed to come with us. Yes they do, the lady tells us. She then decides that since we are all there, she’d do what she needed to and submit them.

All is going well. Eliz has organized everything perfectly. Each person’s form is with their pictures, along with a check for the fee (no cash, no credit cards, and can’t do one big check for all the passports,) and the $25 cash (no other form of payment is accepted) for the processing fee. My paperwork doesn’t require the $25 fee since I’ve renewed my passport within the last 15 years (though it was expired now.) The clerk started by photocopying our (me and Eliz) photo ID. Eliz gave her drivers license, while I used my non-drivers license issued by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I, of course, can’t have a driver’s license because I am legally blind and would most likely hurt someone if I ever got behind the wheel.

Once the photocopying is completed, the clerk gives us Jane’s form to sign, since we’re her parents. We sign, Jane’s is done. Next, we sign Jacob’s. He’s done. Then Eliz’s is completed (she’s a big girl, so I didn’t need to sign hers…) Now, on to me. As the clerk is finishing up my paperwork, another clerk comes over and looks at the photocopy of my ID. She then says, after another clerk has taken our checks and cash to the safe, that ID isn’t acceptable on its own. You need FIVE ADDITIONAL forms of ID. Pardon me? Why? It was explained to me that without a drivers license, a state issue ID requires an additional five forms of ID. So, because I cannot see to obtain a drivers license, I MUST present an additional five forms.

Eliz then asks what the other forms of ID we could present, hoping that I may have them in my wallet. Social security card! Holy cow, I actually have my card in my wallet! As I am digging out my social security card, I pull out my medical insurance ID card. That works too! Maybe this won’t be so difficult after all… Credit cards come out of my wallet next. Sorry, no accepted. My BJsWholesale Club PHOTO ID comes out next. Nope, not good enough. Business cards? No way. What about an expired passport? Yes! Oh, but not the one you are submitting with the paperwork to get the new passport. UGH! What else then? Marriage License, pay stub from work (hey, I own the place, I don’t actually receive any money for working, ) tax returns, and, get this, a newspaper article about you (I have not yet snopes that, but she can’t be serious.)

For the first time in my life I felt I was treated unfairly because of my visual impairment. I have a hard enough time dealing with not seeing, I don’t need someone else throwing fuel on that fire. I just want to be like everybody else. I guess that’ll have to wait until stem cells or bionic eyes. Or maybe never…

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Voting & Anthem Institute (formerly Chubb Institute)

Today was primary day in Pennsylvania (uh, yeah, the polls have closed already… You missed it.) Eliz and I went to vote this morning on our way to work at our business, Salon Supplies + Interiors. We pulled into the parking lot at the municipal building and laughed when we noticed that we were the only car in the lot. This is, of course, a far cry from last November. When we walked in, we were told we were numbers nine and ten. I was a bit shocked. The polls had been open for an hour and fifteen minutes. They then confirmed our party affiliation; both of us are Republicans. Here’s where I get uneasy. Since I can’t see the names on the machine, someone, usually Eliz, has to go in with me. I always get a little angry as this is yet one more thing I can’t do on my own.

I have been told that these new machines have an audio device so that the visually impaired can vote on their own. I have also been told by a poll worker where I vote and another polling official from another county that it takes quite awhile to vote using the devise. If I used that device today, it would have been an inconvenience to me. Last November, I’m not sure I would have made it home alive as the queue was 15 to 20 minutes long without anyone using the audio device. I am not a fan of these fairly new (five or six years) machines.

Tonight, I had an Advisory Board meeting at Anthem Institute (the school formerly known as Chubb Institute.) Chris Stahley asked me to join after I completed the Graphic Design & Multimedia program there in 2004. Chris left Chubb a few years ago, but I still get invited back… I enjoy going and seeing the new things that are being considered for the program. For example, we didn’t get any video production, but as part of the board’s input back in 2005, it was added. I’d love to have done some video work…

As I was sitting there listening to Ken Rementer go over the current curriculum and textbooks, I realized that I will never be able to learn more than the programs I already know. And, as each new version of the programs that I know is released, the more difficult it will be to work with them. I don’t know why that just sunk in tonight. I’ve had great difficulty using Illustrator, Photoshop, Flash, et al. for well over a year. I really miss creating logos, doing web design, and making flash movies. Very frustrating indeed. I’ve got to find a hobby that doesn’t require seeing…

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