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Penn State College Football

October 1st, 2005  · stk

I don't follow sports. NFL, NBA, NHL or any other "N". I'm just not "N"-to it, if you know what I mean. However, College Football is a different animal. I attended Penn State (graduating with a Masters of Science in GeoPhysics in 1983), so I have an affiliation with the school and their football team.

Today's convincing win against the Nationally-ranked (#18) Minnesota Gophers (with a score of 44-14), moves the here-to-for unranked Nittany Lions into Top-25 territory. Go Lions! For the first time in a number of years, WE HAVE A TEAM!

"Listen live" to Penn State football: PSU Football -- click for streaming audio options.


Beaver stadium holds over 106,000 people. It's huge - the second largest college stadium in the nation. I've attended games there (not when it was THAT large, but still, it was pretty huge when I was going to school there). I remember a game in 1982, when #1 Nebraska came to play #2 Penn State (Penn State won in the final seconds, with a shoe-string catch in the end zone). What a thrill! The best game I've ever attended, for sure.

The tradition lives on today and still, Joe Paterno remains head coach. What a class act. What an upstanding guy. He must love what he does and he has contributed SO much to the school, the players and college football. I know his contract is good through the 2008 season, so we can still look forward to him leading the team for another 2 seasons, at least. Way to go, Joe.

Next week, Penn State faces #8 Ohio State. Let's hope that they keep their heads about them and commit no crimes (in this week's game, Penn State was penalized only 3 times, for 15 yards and neither fumbled the football, nor were intercepted - a stark contrast against the 5 cough-ups last week against Northwestern).

The clash between OSU and PSU is set for October 8th, 7:45 PM (EST) and you can listen to it here . For sure, it will be televised and if you're lucky enough to watch it - please DO. Color me jealous, because here in Edmonton, if it's not played on ice ... it ain't on T.V.

Nittany Lions!

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Updated: 5-Dec-2008
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Busy Lad - Handyman Dad

September 25th, 2005  · stk

If I haven't been writing much lately, it's because I've been up to my eyeballs in work. Not that that's a bad thing, but I must say ... I've got more than I can chew, right now.

How did this all start?

Last spring, we realized that if I were to work at something, we would be eligible for a Provincial child care subsidy. How? With Rachel in University and with me a stay-at-home Dad, our income is ZILCH. If I earned a buck, we'd make roughly $400 a month "extra" to help keep Alex socially adjusted, entertained and up to her eyeballs in more germs than you can shake a stick at. (I'm all for "free" money if/when you can get it, mostly because I've been putting INTO the system for years, it's nice to take a bit OUT.) ;)

In March, I started doing web design stuff (thanks to Whoo for getting me started) and although I enjoy it, there hasn't exactly been a herd of folks knocking down the door. When summertime came, our landlord, who is starting a landscaping business asked if I wouldn't mind helping out on a job or two. So, before we left for extended holidays and again, upon our return, I did a small bit of manual labor. It was fun to earn a bit of money and I thought, "I ought to strap on my tool belt and do more handyman work, like I used to do."

Well, one eave fascia job led to a faucet replacement job, then a range hood exhaust fan job, to a complete bathroom renovation job, to a porch painting job and two or three MORE jobs, all waiting in the wings. No advertising, just word of mouth. Not bad, but it's now got me working evenings and weekends, in addition to regular hours. The mad rush, perhaps, till the big winter chill.

One woman, who is selling her house next spring, REALLY wanted me to come by and begin painting their porch this weekend. (Before it gets too cold to paint). Wouldn't you know ... Sunday was supposed to be a beautiful day. Last night, I called around, trying to find a babysitter for Alex, but couldn't - everyone was busy. Rachel couldn't do it because she's got a 5-page paper due for one of her nursing classes and was counting on ME to look after Alex.

So I called the lady, a mother of two boys, one Alex's age and the other a couple of years older. I made a proposal, "I'd really like to help you out and start painting the porch. If you could look after Alex, then - yes - I can come by and get started tomorrow." She said yes.

So that's how I was able to finagle someone into paying me to baby-sit Alex! Pretty sly, eh? I feel a bit like Tom Sawyer!

What did Alex think of the arrangement? She loved it! She had WAY more fun playing with these two boys than she would have had playing at home. And what an odd coincidence. The youngest boy is almost EXACTLY the same age as Alex. And an odder coincidence, the older boy's name is ALEX too! (Alexander)

So for the better part of the morning, Alexandra was called "little Alex" and Alexander was called "big Alex". They watched a movie (Finding Nemo) in the basement, had a snack, went across the street to play in the park and ate lunch. They all had a great time, while "handyman Dad" scraped, puttied, caulked and painted ... turning a coin and getting free day-care, twice over!

That Dad, what a busy lad!

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Updated: 26-Feb-2006
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On the Mend

September 18th, 2005  · stk

After 8 days since she first threw up, I know that Alex is on the road to recovery. This morning, she ate some cheerios, an egg and a whole piece of toast. Then she wanted another egg, which I fixed and she ate. I gave her some raisins, which she ate. Then she had a whole kiwi. Then a bowl full of yogurt. Then half a banana. And during this time, she drank two cups of milk. Wow. I never thought watching the Oop "pig out" would be such a relief.

Our house has had a dark cloud over it all week. It started, last Saturday, when the Oop threw up in bed. (Those of you who know us, know that Alex threw up for the first time, a week earlier, after visiting Fort Edmonton Park, on Labor Day). That time, she slept it off and bounced back. That time, we thought it was a one-off (and it did appear that way).

This time, she didn't bounce back. She threw up again, a couple of mornings later, after a mouthful of breakfast. She had watery diarrhea and a fever. Our normally happy child became cranky and lethargic. She had difficulty sleeping and wasn't interested in eating anything. Not one bite of food for several days. She complained about being hungry, so we would try to feed her one of her favorites (yogurt) and anything bland (crackers and toast). She would push it away, saying, "no" or take a couple of bites, then stop, complaining, "Tummy hurt."

It was very distressing and, of course, Alex began to lose weight. She was 27 pounds (unclothed) when we started. When we took her to the University Health Clinic on Monday, she weighed 11.5 Kg (25 pounds) - fully clothed - and by Thursday, she had lost another pound and a half.

Because she's a lean toddler, it really began to show and we became concerned. When I changed a rare poopy diaper on Thursday, I was shocked. Our little girl was wasting away, right in front of our eyes. Her muscle tone was gone, she looked gaunt and her legs and arms were shrunken.

She didn't play. She cried a lot. She laid around a lot and just wanted to be held. She slept in the morning, in the afternoon and fitfully, during the night. She awoke in the night, several times, crying. She would say "poopy", or "hungry", but wouldn't be poopy (she hadn't eaten anything, so nothing came out) and though she was hungry, it was too painful to eat more than a bite or two of food.

Fortunately for us, she continued to drink fluids throughout this gastrointestinal episode. She drank watered-down apple juice, mostly, though we did try some Gatorade, because we were concerned about her electrolyte levels. (She didn't much like the Gatorade). We laid off of milk, for a while, as it's difficult to digest. We kept to simple, bland foods, but she never took more than a bite or two.

It was a stressful to watch, as parents. We could only console and wonder, "When is she going to kick this thing?". The week went by and again, we visited the doctor (on Thursday). The doctor figured that she was pretty well hydrated and that she should recover soon and he was right. The next day, Friday, she began to turn the corner. The diarrhea stopped. The fever abated. She began to show more interest in food, even asking for an egg at breakfast.

But it wasn't till today, that I took a deep sigh of relief, watching her pound down an abnormally large amount of food for breakfast. Now, she's contentedly playing with her toys, by herself, in the living room. These are nice sounds that we haven't heard for a week.

Of course, now there's going to be a mess, as she starts to explore and push boundaries again. It's been easy to watch her all week, because she spent so much of her time resting. Now it will be back to the high-energy toddler and (of course) we will be thankful.

Watching your child refuse food and waste away is very difficult and stressful. You're helpless to do anything and that only adds to the misery.

To think that this was just a bout of stomach flu. God, what would it be like if it were something serious?

With a newly found, though woefully watered-down, sense of understanding, our hearts go out to parents who's babies have serious health problems. We've had a glimpse of the heartache, stress and helplessness that you must feel.

UPDATE (10 AM) - We've just gotten back from a visit with Paul, our neighbor (who had a quadruple bypass operation a couple of weeks ago), where Alex ate a cookie and drank some chocolate milk. When we got home, she said she was "hungee", so she's eaten ANOTHER egg, drank another cup of milk and I'm just fixing her ANOTHER piece of toast. Wow.

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GoodCo - OshKosh B'Gosh

September 14th, 2005  · stk

When it comes to infant and toddler clothing, we consider OshKosh & Baby Gap "top shelf". We were disappointed, however, when we received two OshKosh bib overalls as gifts for Alex and the snaps, on both sets, kept coming open. The material was rugged, but the snaps were wimpy. The bibs were tossed into the closet, nearly new, because of the snap failures.

Alex outgrew the two OshKosh outfits, but we were still pertubed, "Gran and Grandpa paid premium dollar for these two outfits and Alex has hardly worn them."

Rachel finally called OshKosh, explaining the story of the wimpy snaps and our disappointment.

To her surprise, the representative she spoke with said, "Yes, we've been having problems with some batches of snaps during manufacturing. Please send the articles back to us and we'll reimburse you the cost."

The really nice thing - they offered to reimburse us for the cost of postage. How nice!

Today, we received a reimbursement check in the mail, along with a letter:

Thank you for sending your daughter's overalls to us. We're sorry you've had a problem, but we appreciate you taking the time to let us know. Enclosed, please find a check reimbursing you for the overalls, along with the postage to send your package to us. We hope that you'll be able to find another OshKosh item that your child will enjoy.

It is important to OshKosh B'Gosh to maintain our reputation for quality products and superior customer service and while problems do sometimes occur, we have not intention of risking the loss of consumer confidence. Please be assured that youre concerns have been shared with our merchandising and product developement departemnts.

Based on our positive customer service experience, we look forward to Alex trying another outfit from OshKosh B'Gosh clothing. We know that if we're not happy with it, that OshKosh will stand behind their products. That's a nice, good, old-fashioned approach that we like.

Kudos OshKosh! We thank you and recommend your products.

Note: OshKosh (in business since 1896) was acquired by Carter's in July, 2005. We hope that Carter's maintains the outstanding level of customer service in their new OshKosh "division".

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Updated: 26-Feb-2006
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The "GoodCo-BadCo" Category

September 14th, 2005  · stk

What's it for?

We're consumers. We need things for life, so we purchase them. Food, clothing, and shelter are tops on the list, but we need other things too. So, we interact with companies that sell these products. Most of the time, the transaction goes smoothly. It meets our expectations and we go along with our lives.

Every once in a while, we encounter an outstanding positive experience. One that brightens our day and reinforces our faith in humanity. Of course, not all transactions go like they should and there are some negative experiences as well. These might really frustrate us or anger us, because they just don't seem "right".

This category is a way for us to pat some companies on the back and say, "Hey ... this company is a great company. Here is our experience. We recommend that you consider their products or services."

Likewise, the category also gives us a way to expose the bad companies and say, "Hey ... this company is horrible. Look what they did to us. Can you believe it? Don't EVER buy from this outfit."

Good Companies - Bad Companies

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Updated: 19-Apr-2007
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