Monday, December 31, 2007

A Little Computer Literacy is a Dangerous Thing!

This falls in to the "never ceases to amaze me" category.

How many red flags do you see?

From the Gloucester Times on Dec. 31, 2007:

Online car sale is a scam - Jessica Bensen

A Gloucester woman reported falling victim to a scam while trying to sell her car online.

The woman told police that a man in Nigeria had offered to buy the car, and sent her five money orders, which she deposited in her bank account. Then the man requested that she send her own money order to the shipping company to have the car sent to Nigeria.

It was only after she had sent out a Western Union money order that her bank called to let her know that the money orders she had received from the man were fake.

The woman told police that the name she had been given was Richard Williams, of Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria.

She reported the incident to police at 12:24 p..m yesterday, in the hopes that others would not fall victim to the same scam, according to the police report.

Where has this woman been for the last umpteen years? Once again it goes to show that even a bit of common sense has bitten the dust.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Long Winter Moon

Somewhere, somehow, along the way I found out that the full December moon is called a long winter moon. Anyway, it was a super bonus that the full moon was Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve day was crisp and clear. Not too cold. Amanda had to work from late morning until late afternoon. I dropped her off and headed for my shipping place. Yep, two sets of keys to send out and then I was free for the holiday! I wasted the rest of the day with some wandering around town. As I walked past our town Christmas tree I took a photo of the sign that had been added that day. Rockport just must be a special town as after Santa has spent a long, long night flying around the world delivering all those presents in an amazing feat that defies time, he makes an extra stop in Rockport before heading home to the North Pole for a hot shower, hot chocolate (possibly with added chocolate liqueur), and his favorite recliner. Christmas morning, at precisely 10:30, Santa arrives at our tree and personally hands out bags of candies and fruit to the children of Rockport. I'm not sure, but I think that this has been a tradition for more than half a century.

(Rockport also presents an annual Christmas Pageant which is a live nativity. The Christmas Story complete with Mary, Joseph, wise men, shepherds, sheep, donkey, torch bearers, and more as a procession from Dock Square, stopping at 'the Inn' aka Rockport Art Assoc., and being refused there on to the 'barn' erected on the front lawn of the Congregational Church. Following The Story everyone participates singing "Silent Night". And...on Christmas morning, everyone over 79 years of age, or anyone who has had a tragedy during the year receives a large basket filled with fruits and candies delivered to their home.)

For the first time in several years Amanda actually got out of work early on Christmas Eve. This year 'the three girls' went to Christmas Eve service together. I must say that our choir was outstanding. If you closed your eyes so to just listen, they sounded as if there were at least triple the voices. It was the best part of the service. We didn't stay for goodies at the church, instead going home to eat a late dinner and then putting our gifts under the tree. By the time we finished it was well on to bed time.

Christmas morning was quiet with just the three of us taking turns opening our gifts. We missed my Dad being there. He was always so much fun shaking the boxes and trying to guess what was inside before opening them. At 11 a.m. it was time to start preparing Christmas dinner. This year, as in the last five years, A and his girlfriend G, and 'the other' S joined us for dinner. It always seems that so much preparation goes in to the meal and it disappears so quickly! This year I cooked a ham, mashed potatoes, carrots, whole green beans, carrots & turnips, and dinner rolls, along with cranberry sauce and apple sauce. Dessert was a choice of pumpkin pie or chocolate cake.

After our guests left we started the massive clean-up of the dishes and pans. Three dishwasher loads later we sat down to a quiet late dinner of leftovers. They always taste better. No rush, no fuss, and totally relaxed in front of a mindless TV show!
And then the day after rolls around. All goes back to normal. More work. Next the New Year.

Rockport has it's own New Year's celebration. Would you expect anything different? I'll be a volunteer at the 6 performances hosted at our church. You can check out what will happen in Rockport for New Year's by visiting the official web site here.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Welcoming Winter

I'm posting this a day early due to an unexpectedly heavy work load on Saturday.

I had intended to begin my Christmas holiday today. That is if you don't include finishing up two sets of keys to be return shipped on Monday. Well, I ended up with a few out of town tunings for Saturday. I think I'll turn off my answering machine. Well, maybe not.

Anyway, here's the photograph that is meant to be posted on the first full day of the winter season. A winter wonderland view of the Merrimack River taken from the lawn of the Moseley Estate, now known as Maudesley State Park, in Newburyport, MA.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Getting Irritated

with Blogger.

Are you listening, all you OpenID initiating gurus?

I have left a rather explicit comment on the Blogger-in-Draft blog. Well, they asked for opinions of the new OpenID comment system that has been instituted. I am hoping that they will get things worked out or allow those of us that wish to to be able to keep the old comment system. In the meantime, I will continue to experiment with possible 'workarounds' for friends over at WordPress as no one seems to have any answers.

Oh, for those of you wondering what the ____I'm talking about...
The new comment system initiates a verification process that, in simple terms, verifies that the blogger leaving the comment is really and truly who they say they are online. No spoofing accounts.

Now I can get it to work, albeit a pain, from my LiveJournal account to any Blogger account, and Blogger to Blogger is fine, but WordPress to Blogger just isn't working and it is suppose to.

From what I have read on Blogger, there has been enough screaming that something will change soon.

I hope.

On another matter, I will be removing 'Who Me?' from my blog list as her blog is now private.

Checked 'Blogger Buzz' this morning and found this statement:
Two fixes just went live, before we sign off for a brief holiday break:

* Unregistered commenters can once again provide an auto-linked URL [Help Group Thread]
* Images in the Header page element will no longer be cropped vertically

We apologize for having broken these features for you. Your blogs and Help Group posts showed us the true extent to which you used and cared about these features, so please let us know if they're still being problematic.

Thanks for your patience!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Snowed - Part Two - A Photo Essay

I have survived the Sunday Nor'easter and all the keytop work and I have the pictures to prove it.
I awoke Sunday morning to this lovely view from my bedroom window.
Here's a stunning view out the front window of my mother's house.
And finally, four boxes of finished keys ready to return ship.

And how did you spend your weekend?

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Thursday's sky was gray and hinted at things that would become far worse than the dismal day's beginning. My Mom had plans to head to the mall with a friend. Amanda and I had a couple quick errands in town. First, I headed to Dr. W's office to repair the soundboard in the last reed organ rebuild. The blasting heat of the waiting room had dried the board creating three major cracks. I made temporary repairs. Hopefully enough to get through the winter, and in the spring I'll reassess the damage and make permanent repairs. When I returned home A and I did the errands and then she got ready for work. My Mom phoned to say that they were heading home as it was starting to snow. They were hoping to beat it home, but within five minutes of her call it was snowing here, too. The weatherman had predicted up to eight inches, starting early afternoon and tapering off by eight that night. It had started two hours early. I was dreading driving Amanda to work. Not so much the trip in the daylight hours as the return trip at 7 p.m. during the worst of the storm. As my Mom reminded me, "You've done it before, it won't be too bad."

Around the same time as the snow was starting to fall, I checked the front porch for any UPS deliveries. I was expecting at least one set of keys that day. I opened the door and laughed aloud. Stacked immediately at the foot of the steps were three large boxes. All full of keys. All from Florida. Climate shocked I'm sure! I hauled the boxes downstairs. Then I checked to see if the mail person had delivered. Oh yes, another box of keys, these from New Hampshire. I carried that box downstairs. Four sets of keys for new tops... all arriving at once... all with a guaranteed three to four day turnaround time. Yikes.

I no sooner got everything organized in the workshop before it was time to take Amanda to work. We made the trip in the mini-van with it's front wheel drive. It's much better on snowy roads. It was slow going. A steady slow pace up Great Hill and shift down into second gear for heading down the big hill, with the curve at the bottom, to Nugent Stretch. We bypassed the normal turn down the steep incline near Stop & Shop in favor of a longer somewhat flatter route. Having successfully and safely delivered A to work, I found myself wishing that I had told her to call in 'sick'. I really didn't want to make the trip back in the dark. Well, at least I had a lot of work to keep my mind occupied for the rest of the afternoon. I tried not to look outside, knowing that conditions just had to be getting worse. The news people kept repeating, "DON'T go out if you don't have to. Stay indoors and off the roads." Oh marvelous. I tried to concentrate on the key work.

By six o'clock I was getting anxious to get the drive over with. Maybe, if I got there at about six-thirty, Amanda's manager might let her leave a half hour early. Certainly there wouldn't be many people out shopping. Rumor had it that even the three shopping malls had closed. Commuter traffic was at a standstill with typical 15 minute drives taking 3 hours or more. Folks were getting stranded on the highways. Windshield wipers were either icing up or totally quitting functioning. Cars were running out of gas. One newscaster reported that her 45 minute drive in normal conditions had taken her 5 hours and 45 minutes in the storm. After a slick and treacherous drive, with Gloucester's traffic lights out from an earlier collision, I arrived at Stop & Shop just before 6:30. There were only three other cars in the lot. As I pulled in to a parking space (I think, hard to tell with all the snow) all sorts of traction system warning lights lit up the dashboard. I turned off the van and the warnings went out...and then lit up again! Huh? How can that happen and why? This made me even more panicked about the drive home.

The walk to the doors was almost as scary as the drive to the store. The lot was only partially plowed and I had to trudge through deep mounds to get to the sidewalk. Under all the snow was hiding a slick sheet of ice. Inside the store was dead of activity. Cashiers and front-end clerks were wandering around with nothing to do. I found A's manager and asked the question, "Considering the nasty driving conditions and lack of customers in the store, would it be possible for A to leave a half hour early?" You'd of thought I'd asked her for the moon. The amount of umming and ahhing and whining that came from this woman's mouth astounded me. I gave up and sat on a bench at the front of the store and waited. Finally, fifteen minutes later, she decided that yes, Amanda could leave.

A deep breath to brace myself for the tension filled drive home and A and I left the building. Amanda immediately slipped on the hidden ice and fell. I had forgotten to warn her. Thankfully she didn't hurt herself badly, but later felt a bit bruised and sore. We got the van cleared off of the incredible amount of snow and ice that had accumulated in only a half hour and jumped in. I started the van and turned the wipers on. They didn't budge. Nothing. I got out and banged them free of a few stubborn ice crystals. Back in to try again. Nothing. I was getting angry. I shut of the engine and told Amanda that I thought we would probably have to call a taxi and come back for the van in the morning. More aggravation. In one last attempt I started the engine and tried the wipers.

They worked! I guess the threat of spending a night alone in the cold, dark parking lot scared them!

Now, just to drive home.............

We arrived at 7:30. Typically a less than ten minute drive in thirty minutes. Drive, first gear, second, third, drive....we had repeated the routine many times up and down hills and around corners and we made it. Average speed about 10 mph. No warning lights from the dashboard. Home felt good.

Friday and Saturday were spent in a frantic combination of shoveling and key work. Every part of me aches. Well nearly. Shoulders, arms, wrists, fingers, back, knees, ankles. I've spent a total of 12 hours each day either moving snow, clearing cars, or standing at a workbench. As of Saturday night, two sets of keys are completed. I'll be finishing the other two sets today. Monday I'll make my shipper happy when I arrive with four large boxes. Then it'll be off to two tunings. Two on Tuesday, too. And another Wednesday morning.

Today's forecast is for a Nor'easter. Up to another four inches of snow, sleet, maybe turning to rain then back to sleet again. High winds. Amanda is scheduled to work from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. I woke up to an odd blue-gray cast to my room. I looked over at the clock. It was 6:30 a.m. I looked towards the windows. Couldn't see a thing. They were completely glazed over with fine snow. Upon a quick check through the somewhat clear kitchen windows, I see that the plow came sometime during the night. But most of the front road is covered back in with the blowing and drifting snow. It's difficult to tell that it was once plowed. The back road where my driveway turns from has not been plowed yet. It's almost a foot deep in drifts. I'm doubting that Amanda will have transportation to work today!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Just Bizarre

Of course the holiday season is a busy time for a piano technician. Seems a lot of people that own pianos that haven't been serviced in decades, decide that they just have to be tuned before Christmas. If I'm out of the house for more than a half hour, I'm sure that my answering machine will be blinking when I return.

I tuned for the Rockport Art Association early this afternoon. While in town, after I finished the tuning, I strolled over to Tuck's Candy to see Bob and Eunice. Bob was there but Eunice wasn't. Then I took a walk out Bearskin Neck. I returned home at about 2:30 p.m. It was nice to have a bit of down time, but after relaxing for an hour or so I decided to get some housework done. Out came the vacuum and I made a quick job of vacuuming the entire house. All 700 square feet of it! Afterwards, I played around online for a bit and then made myself an early dinner and watched the news. Amanda needed to be picked up from work at 7:30 and as I was heading for the door to go get her I noticed the caller ID flashing.

Huh, how had I missed a call?

Oh yeah, the vacuuming.

I decided to listen to the message before leaving.

It was one of the oddest business calls I've ever received.

It started with some incoherent mumbling and then the lady gave her name. I couldn't understand exactly what she said. Something like Toochoo? I couldn't figure out the first name even after a repeat playing. Then she said she lived in Rhode Island, in a town that is nearly 2.5 hours drive from here (one way). She has a player piano that she wants me to fix. Could I please stop by? She is very anxious to have it playing again. Especially with Christmas so close. Would I please come down and fix it for her.

All the time her speech seemed disjointed and mildly garbled yet it was possible to concentrate closely and make sense of the sounds. Then she left her phone number, emphasizing to dial 711 (or is it 771? oh well I've written it down somewhere) first so as to use the service for people with impaired hearing.

Now I understand!

But why is she calling me? I'm far too far away. There are two player piano technicians near her in Rhode Island and there are a total of five others closer to her than me! I checked my business email when I got online tonight hoping that she had sent an email as well as phoning. I'm quite sure she found my info through a player piano site. Seems since she would have the email address it would be the easiest way to communicate. No such luck.

So, armed with the names and phone numbers of the two techs near her, I'll be calling her sometime tomorrow. I'll let her know that I just don't travel that far!

'Tis the season.

Note: New sidebar link to the webcams at Clearwater Beach.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Hark the Herald

I have succumbed to the pressure. Mary posted in the comments that she wanted to see our treetop angel. So...thanks to a zoom lens...'Angels We Have Heard On High' at eight feet!
And while loading this photo I came across another of the Bearskin Neck shop that includes the adjacent store. They look nice together. So neighborly to coordinate their decorating!

Seasonal Views

Here are a few photos. I ventured in to the freezing temps just to take some pictures for all of you. Yes, yes, you're welcome. This is the town Christmas tree. It is one of the nicer ones we've had over the past couple years. I noticed that the DPW didn't have to fill in any bare spots with extra branches. Last year the branches that they used weren't the same type of fir as the tree and it looked a bit odd.
This next picture is the front of a shop on Bearskin Neck. It's one of the nicest decorating jobs out there.
And, as promised, here are some of our Christmas tree fully decorated. We decorate with all shiny ornaments. The icy moon man is mine (and my favorite).

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

On the first day....

The wait is over. You will find the answer below in a large bulletin board that I created many years ago at my daughter's elementary school.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Holiday Season

Over the next few weeks, I hope to get some holiday photos taken. Rockport has some unique traditions like Santa arriving on a lobster boat (too cold for me to go to that)! The Christmas events started last Saturday with the above mentioned arrival, Christmas carols sung in Dock Square and the lighting of the Christmas tree (also in the square).

We've been finishing up our decorations at home, too. Dickiebo griped that he had no idea what I look is about all you'll see of me! I hate having my picture taken and my Mom isn't great with the digital camera. In this picture I'm up the ladder to put the angel atop our 7.5 foot tree. We got smarter this year by putting the tree-topper on before all the breakable ornaments. Photos of the finished tree to follow in a future post.

Decades ago, when I taught art at Gloucester High School, the holidays brought a slow down in student interest in doing much real classwork. Usually, about this time, I would offer a surprise quiz.
The rules: Question was to be answered immediately. No reference material. No talking. Eyes may not wander to adjacent student's paper.
The reward for correct answer: An 'A' averaged into the final grade.
The punishment for incorrect answer: No penalty.

THE QUESTION: In order, what are the twelve gifts from "The Twelve Days of Christmas"?

I got a kick out of watching the heads bobbing as they sang each to themselves.

Can you answer it? No cheating. I'm watching you.