Let us Celebrate the Year of the OxThe Year of the Ox is ushered in tonight
. It is a portentous year; a year for hard work and perseverance. According to an article in the Manila Bulletin
"...this year is seen... as a time that has room for some modest reaping despite the flood of dismal forecasts of a global economic meltdown.
" Author Brenda Piquero Tuazon write further:
Joy Lim, a recognized Feng Shui consultant, said 2009 is a "resilient year" for the country’s economy. He sees an inward wave of substantial market prospects which should push productivity and add to the country’s stability.
She said that the No. 9 flying star, which in Chinese legend is claimed to be the carrier of a lucky multiplier element, has flown into the Year of the Ox, which bodes well for industries related to metal such as computers, mining, chemicals, car manufacturing, and repairs.
In the New Year, she said, obstacles and even failures must be embraced, because it is in facing them that business and livelihood barriers can be overcome.
Hard work and endurance in taking advantage of business prospects and opportunities will play a major role in one’s becoming a winner "in any endeavour one sets his heart in."
The Chinese New Year is all about symbols of prosperity, good fortune, and good health. Hence the scramble for lucky charms, golden Buddhas, and tiny golden bells to ring in the good luck of the new year.
According to Chinese legend, it is good to display the mark of the character "fu" on doors and walls for an extra bit of luck.
Also in the year of the Ox, anything in jade is certain to attract the good fortunes in the coming year, while keeping water flowing is said to bring in great wealth.
Now let us join in celebration.
Labels: chinese new year, holidays
The White House weblog
. The White House's new website will serve as a place for the President and his administration to connect with the rest of the nation and the world. WhiteHouse.gov
and the rest of the Administration's online programs will put citizens first. Initial new media efforts will center around three priorities: Communcation, Transparency and Participation
The White House would also like to hear from you -- what sort of things would you find valuable from WhiteHouse.gov? If you have an idea, check out the White House website and focus on the future.
New Jersey says that Civil Unions are "separate and unequal"
from marriage. The New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission unanimously concluded that the alternative status is simply not as good. Rather, the report asserts, because the civil union alternative "invites and encourages unequal treatment of same-sex couples and their children
," the legislature and governor should change the law to permit same-sex couples to marry. Moreover, the Commission implored the state to act "expeditiously because any delay in marriage equality will harm all the people of New Jersey
There are two ways in which same-sex couples still will not be equal, even if a state authorizes full marriage rights.
1ST: because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), same-sex unions are not recognized under federal law, meaning that couples must file separate federal tax returns, and that entering into a civil union with a non-citizen does not affect the latter's immigration status, nor provide any other federally-conferred benefit.
2ND: most states have passed statutes or constitutional amendments prohibiting the recognition by the state of same-sex marriage, even if validly celebrated elsewhere
Hubble telescope images of a planetary nebulae
. Only some 10,000 light years from earth, viewable from the Southern hemisphere, in the constellation Pyxis. This spectacular structure contains the outer layers of a sun-like star that were sent off into interstellar space during the star's final stages of life. These glowing gaseous shrouds were shed by the star after it ran out of fuel to sustain the nuclear reactions in its core. Our own sun will undergo a similar process, but not for another 5 billion years or so.
not so random acts
Smiling Buddhas and FriendsPortents of SpringOur Happy MealYankee Doodle DandyEnd of the parade
My friend Pat and I went driving about yesterday talking about everything from hiding brie in the fridge's beer bin to the rights of Pagans
in prisons and the military.
We did our civic duty by almost shopping at Circuit City. Seems to me that Management of Circuit City
must be working on the premise that "he who dies with the most toys, wins
" since few people were buying due to the non-sale level prices on things. We both agreed we could get better prices at Wal-Mart
, Kaplan's Computers
, maybe even Ocean State Job Lot
, but at least we went and looked.
We went to A Dong Supermarket
in West Hartford [here's how to get there
] and supported the Asian food business. I bought several items I'd not previously heard of, along with powdered lemongrass [for cooking] and Gunpowder Tea [which I already knew about]. Just walking the aisles was a visual treat.
We ate at a small pasta and pizza place in Newington, where we were served much more food than we could eat in one sitting. This resulted in the competing scents of star anise seeds and Italian steak sauce hitting our noses once in the confines of the truck cab. Far worse things could happen, eh?
We committed a couple of random acts of kindness, including shoveling out cars for the infirm without their prior knowledge. Afterward, we commented to one another of the marked propensity of the mews media to pander to fear at the cost of letting the world know of all the good, often selfless acts done by people on behalf of one another [and yes, I realize that just by mentioning that we dug out the parked cars, the act ceased to be a selfless one
But, really, when violent, scary, disgusting actions
taken by others are no longer notable because they seem everyday for hearing of them so frequently, then they are no longer news. The positive actions, in my opinion need to be more frequently headlines, and not in a condescending or pandering manner.
Our sojourn ended where it began, at the sanctuary that is Pat's place, a small but strangely spacious cottage situated atop a huge boulder; a feat of engineering that most town zoning boards would probably disapprove of these days. ...oh, and I can't forget, Pat finally washed her car so that the black color it long had is now a dusky gray ...or is it a new car altogether?
Labels: foods, groceries, photos
awakened at 0300 hours...
...and still awake at 0430
after fire dept trucks came and left, having responded to an alarm going off at a neighbor's house.
<<<--the house in question, during the summer months
Turns out the pipes burst in two bathrooms upstairs bringing cascades of water down two stores into the cellar.
The sub-zero temps of the past few days probably did it.
Actually, it was the sound and blinking lights of snow plows that awakened me around 030 hours. They were acting odd, or so I thought. Turns out they were stopped at the house - it's the big one that overlooks the river - a roaming about it peering into windows with flashlights. Half the road crew guys are also on the volunteer fire dept and they got called to find out what was the matter. Not knowing this, I got up and dressed and went out to find out myself why the three road crew trucks out front and was about to go outside when the first fire truck arrived.
As things would have it, I have a key to the house. It opens a lock in door to the kitchen.
The lock that is really
the kitchen as it looked in the 1940s-->>>
difficult to disengage, but it worked. Once the door was opened it took only seconds to determine that the problem was burst pipes; you know, a familiar trickling dripping sound and streamlets of water coming from the ceiling.
As is reasonable to expect I wasn't allowed to enter until after the fire guys did a through search of the house to see if there was any fire happening. Once that was done, they were okay with me coming in.
So I call up the owner, who lives in NYC with his 100 year old mother, to give him the news.
The owner uses his cell phone to talk with the alarm company, but can't remember the pass code to shut off the alarm. It's been years
since he had it installed and he's reduced to guessing. Without the pass code, the alarm people refuse to give anybody the instructions to shut off the noise maker.
After the firemen turn off the water heater, the well water pump and shut off water to the house they leave with the alarm still going.
I re-lock the house, and head back home. I'm awake now, so I shovel off the sidewalk and outside stairs and begin to clean off the vehicles.
The house owner calls back. The alarm company tells him the alarm is still ringing; he explains the circumstances and they say since he cannot remember the code [mind you they are calling NOW well after things have been resolved they are calling about the alarm going off] they refuse to tell him how to shut down the alarm, but they do say they would be willing to instruct the fire guys how to disengage the alarm so it stops ringing. Later, when someone is at the house, they can send a representative to the house to reset the alarm system.
The owner asks me to go back and talk with the alarm company to get the thing shut off. I'm wide awake so why the hell not?
When I get back, I call hm back on my cell phone, then call the alarm people. They start waffling about even telling me how to disengage the system since I am not a fire company guy.
I point out that this is a rural area with a volunteer fire company who have already left and they have other work to do anyway at this hour [I tell them these are road crew guys out plowing and unlikely to come back just to reset a noisy alarm when they know there is no problem at the moment].
I'm walking through the house with two phones on my ears, the alarm dispatcher talking to me in one ear about how there is nothing they will tell me since I'm not an actual fireman, the owner of the house giving me directions on how to get to the alarm box and open it.
When I explain to the dispatcher that he should call the owner on his cell phone, he starts "...the cell phone is not the number of record of the owner so I could just be trying to...
" I interrupt, unwilling to hear the rest, figuring out where he's going with this. Meanwhile, I find the box and open it. I disconnect the outgoing phone line but don't know what to do next.
I tell the dispatcher what I have already
done, that I have the owner on the other phone, that I am standing in a pool of water, so he might as well tell me what to do before I electrocute myself on their equipment. A sigh, then he says that I have to unplug the transformer [you know, one of those little 7.5 volt things] before I disconnect ONLY negative wire ["it's the black wire
" he says] which ought to shut off the alarm. I do this. It shuts off.
Oh yeah, and just as I complete disengaging the alarm, the owner remembers the pass code. Lotta good that did.
By the way, all the while I was skulking about the cellar, and so the alarm company dispatcher could hear me, I was describing the water damage in the basement to the owner.
Once the alarm stops ringing, the dispatcher tells me that the owner will have to call the company to get the system back and running.
After that, I do a reconnaissance of the house describing to him what things do and don't look like. Lots of wet foors, but some parts of the kitchen are dry, with stacks of books and magazines, even a jar full of matchbooks all dry. Turns out the heat was set at around 55 F which was clearly insufficient for keeping thin sink pipes situated on
A frozen toilet. Not at all like those I found in the house filled with with frozen water in the bowls, fortunately-->>>
outer walls, from freezing and - later- bursting open. Most of the damage is contained to two rooms, plus the broken plumbing, but I do notice that two toilets have frozen water in their basins. Never saw that in a heated house before. At the owner's request, I reset the heat to 70 degrees.
The owner's getting ready now - it's 0515 hours as I write this sentence - to come and see the place.
I love bureaucracies like the alarm company runs. They really help people hired to make critical decisions to, instead, fail to be responsible for their inactions. Lucky it was only water damage and it has been contained.
Labels: freeze, old houses, plumbing