Blogroll Update

Thanks to Empress4 (Melissa), a new feature here is the ScrapShare Blog Roll.
The order of the links changes when someone updates their blog.

So, in the spirit of checking things out, that is what I am doing now.

More later!


Fried TV!

And, no, that's not something you eat....

Our 40" TV (purchased in 1992 - quite a big one at the time) has been acting up. Back in December, we noticed that the bottom of the screen was a little squashed - you know, the channel numbers looked flattened. Then it looked as if the picture tube wasn't quite centered - a black strip across the bottom of the screen, and the top was a little chopped off.

Still, it was working and hey, for those wide screen movies, it was just fine. We did get some comments from our guests when we were watching the half time show during the Super Bowl - quote - "Why does is look like Mick Jagger's legs are really short and fat? Did he shrink or something??". Nope - just the TV.

Well, recently, more issues - sometimes, the remote would not work properly - it would not work at all (and the remote was working just fine - it controlled the radio without issue). Then the TV wouldn't turn off unless you unplugged it. Really, just a little annoyance.

So, we have been lightly researching new TV's - you know, just perusing the Best Buy and Circuit City ads. But only very lightly.

Yesterday afternoon, however, providence spoke. Storms were starting to roll through the area around 3:30. I was watching something on the Food Channel when KABOOM! and the TV went POP! It was like a Bomb went off in the neighborhood. The kids were playing outside at the neighbors and they all screamed and ran inside. And that was the end of the TV. No power light. Black screen. Funny electric sounds when plugged in. It's dead.

It turns out the house which backs up to ours was hit by lightning! That's why it sounded like a bomb went off - there was no sound delay. Fortunately, no one was at home. It hit one of the peaks of their house, but there was no fire. It also fried their two TVs. Both of our families spent this evening browsing the TV selections at Best Buy.... who knew there were so many choices out there??


Cleaning out the Fish Pond

We have a 2000 gallon fish pond in our back yard and today we cleaned it. This is something we do once a year (thank goodness), essentially flushing out the old water, getting most of the sludge out and getting the algae under control (we hope).

Last year was the first time we cleaned it and the results were pretty good. But we still had a lot of "crud" built up in it. The procedure is to disconnect the circulating pump and use it to empty out the pond. When the level is low enough, we collect the fish (easier said than done) and place them in a holding tank which has been filled with some pond water. We have two very large koi, and they were hard to catch, so we left them in (a mistake in the end).

Scrub the rocks. This year I used the grill scraper. Worked great!! So much better than a Scotch Brite pad. Rinse. Pump out the pond. Rinse again. Pump again. Remove sludge - I used an oil spatter guard - you know, those circular mesh things you put on top of your frying pan to prevent oil from spattering all over the stove and house. That was a yucky job. But when it is done, you can see the rocks at the bottom of the pond again.

Then fill with fresh water. Here is where things started to "go bad" for the two koi. Last year, we got them out and they stayed in the holding tank. The fresh water is from the tap, so there is chlorine, etc in it. Once the water reaches a certain level, we add some pH adjustment chemicals and turn on the recirc pump, which addes oxygen to the water. Last year, we waited until the fresh water had been circulating for quite some time before adding the koi back in. Well, our two koi which stayed in the pond during the cleaning didn't take well to the fresh water - I think there wasn't enough oxygen. So we now have two dead koi to have to deal with. Great.

On the upside, the pond looks great. The goldfish are doing OK (for now - Scott added them in while the fresh water was being added, which may have been too early - I hope they survive!). Note to self - make sure to get the fish out and don't add them back in until the new water has had time to adjust.


More Spring Break - Fort Myers

Still getting caught up on the Spring Break entries....

While Scott and I were in Key West, the kids stayed with LaoLao and LaoYeh. They had tons of fun swimming in the pool.

They used those noodles like water cannons by filling up the hollow area and blowing the water out, as Erica demonstrates....

Even Fluffy was able to spend some time sunning himself. He didn't want to go into the water, though....

This year, we took advantage of the basketball hoop located in the subdivision. Unfortunately, it is of fixed height, so the younger kids weren't able to make any baskets (heck, I think I only made a handful of them!).

But every now and then, one would go in......


Vasovagal Attack!

Sounds pretty serious, right? I had a Vasovagal attack this morning, as a result of my Immunizations (ie - SHOTS!).

I had to have 3 shots this morning - Tetanus, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. Why the shots? Well, I am scheduled to travel to China this summer to perform some training at a new plant our company is starting up in the JiangXi Provence. I am actually excited to go, as I have never been there, and well, since I am Chinese, some of my "roots" are there.

I was fine after the first two shots. The third shot was in another arm, and I thought I was OK, until I started seeing stars and everything went numb. I had to recline for about 5-10 minutes before I felt even remotely OK.

The health care professional (don't know if she is a doctor or nurse - I was at the local county health department) diagnosed what happened to me - the Vasovagal attack. So I look it up on the Web and it turns out that I had a fainting spell:

A simple faint, also called a vasovagal attack or neurally-mediated syncope, is the most common type of fainting. It is most common in children and young adults. A vasovagal attack happens because blood pressure drops, reducing circulation to the brain and causing loss of consciousness. Typically an attack occurs while standing and is frequently preceded by a sensation of warmth, nausea, lightheadedness and visual "grayout." If the syncope is prolonged, it can trigger a seizure.

OK - That is what happened to me. Here are the causes for the simple fainting spell -
You may suffer from a simple faint due to anxiety, fear, pain, intense emotional stress, hunger or use of alcohol or drugs. Most people who suffer from simple fainting have no underlying heart or neurological (nerve or brain) problem

I guess those shots were pretty stressfull. Anxiety. Stress.

I have to go back in a month for a followup Hepatitis shot. I hope I don't have another Vasovagal attack then!


Spring Break - Key West

OK, I finally got some of the pictures uploaded so that I can post them here. Our Key West adventure started on March 20, early in the morning - we had to be at the dock by 8:00, and knowing that the Fort Myers' commuter traffic was anything but fast, we left Estero at 7:00. We did arrrive early, but that was OK - we were able to view a very nice sunrise along the water and we were the first ones on the ferry. We took the Key West Express - their Big Cat Catamaran:
We boarded the ferry and had our choice of seats inside. Another couple, Scott and Marilyn from Detroit joined us at our table. The ferry detparted from the San Marco Island bridge at 9:00.

Here is a picture as we left Fort Myers, on our way to Key West:

We arrived in Key West around 1pm. We chose to walk everywhere - we must have walked 4-5 miles that day. We stayed in a nice Bed and Breakfast, the Avalon B&B, located near the Southern most point, about 1.5 miles from the North side of the island where the ferry docked. We explored Mallory Square first and perused a couple of museums and shops before heading down Duvall Street to our B&B. We walked Duval street at least 3 times that day - thank goodness I had my running shoes on! Duval street is the "main strip", with the famous Sloppy Joes and other bars, clubs and shops.

After an early dinner at the Crab Shack (yum!), we headed back to Mallory square for the Sunset celebration, where numerous street vendor and performers entertained the crowds as the sun set into the sea. At sunset, a person pronounces the time and that the sun has set - cheering abounds and much of the crowd disperses.

The next day, we visited the Light house museum and the very popular Ernest Hemmingway house. The history around the Hemmingway house was very interesting. Scott even decided to pick up some Hemmingway literature to re-read (The Man and the Sea).

At the Left, the Hemmingway house, on the Right, we stand under the banyon tree next to the Island Lighthouse.

Our trip to Key West would not have been complete without comsuming the famous KeyLime Pie. Scott thought The Blond Giraffe was a hilarious name, but they made very good Key Lime Pie, and had a large bakery on the island and several stores.

And here is MY favorite store in Key West - namely because of the moniker. Scott and I both bought Shirley Can't Surf T-shirts. The owner of the store did admit that they have many Shirley's come into the store and he had never met one who could surf......

Our adventure ends as we depart Key West for Fort Myers. We met up again with Scott and Marilyn from Detroit and they were nice enough to save us seats with them with a beautiful view of the sunset:


Wind should not sound like a freight train

But last night, it did. When the wind sounds like a freight train. then a tornado is nearby. Needless to say, it was quite scary.....

It was around 6:45, and Erica and I were upstairs practicing violin. A small band of rain mixed with hail fell and then the sirens went off. I think this was the first time I have heard the sirens. When we lived in Indiana, the sirens would go off whenever there was a severe thunderstorm watch. Those sirens went off quite frequently. I think the sirens are used differently here - they are used to warn people of a tornado watch and mean - "go and seek storm shelter".

Because I had been conditioned to "ignore" the storm sirens, I really didn't think much of last night's wailing. Plus, the wind was still at that time and it didn't look "funny" outside. About 5 minutes later, the winds picked up. Still, not a big deal. But then I heard the wailing of a freight train. After I quickly glance outside (and there were no big trucks driving around the neighborhood), I decided that it was time to head down to the basement. I grabbed Erica and said "We need to go to the basement - now". As we headed down the stairs, amidst her inquiries of "Mommy, what's wrong? Why do we need to go to the basement?", the power went out.

Scott and Brian were watching an episode of the "Muppet Show" on DVD and were completely oblivious to the whole situation outside, but we all made it down in the dark.

The wailing wind subsided, and we all went to bed early. Our power was restored around 2am Monday morning.

And big surprise - school was cancelled today. I drove the kids to their after school daycare, and I quickly realized that I would have to stay home with them today. The east side of town was still without power, and several blocks of the major roads were closed off due to several big power poles being downed by the storm.

Fortunately, our house did not sustain any (apparent) damage. One of the houses down the block had half of the shingles on their roof torn away, exposing the Roof-wrap plastic. Several housees in the area are missing shingles. So I guess we should be very grateful.

More storms are due this Thursday.....hopefully, they won't impose their wrath on us here.

Adding the link to the local newspaper article on the storm.



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