December 1, 2007

Home December 8, 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cali's First Emergency Room Visit

Susan wrote this morning to describe Cali's first wound serious enough for a visit to the hospital emergency room.

Cali with purple glue on her wound, and JimmyCali and Jimmy were giving each other horsey back rides and generally horsing around when we heard a sickening noise as Cali's head hit the edge of the seat of the wooden chair.  She got a very small (1/3 of an inch) but very deep (to the bone) gash in her forehead.  We took her to the emergency room and they decided that since it is a very clean horizontal wound that they could glue it back together with purple glue (made Cali very happy that it was purple).  She was very brave the whole time and likes the sparkly bandaid that they put on.  She said, "Thanks" to the doctor when he got done and they let her and Jimmy pick a prize out of the treasure chest.  The doctor said she would have a scar but that it won't be too bad.  


We had just finished saying that today wasn't such a good day -- the kids tried to watch a show on my computer when it locked up completely (apparently it decided to install new firmware and an operating system upgrade and Jimmy touched something while this was happening) so Cali went into the basement and came up holding the sharp pieces of a DVD (apparently she couldn't get it out of the box).  Next Jimmy came up saying that Cali had a video stuck in the video player.  I had to take the video player apart to get the video out.  The kids were frustrated that all of their attempts to watch a movie were failing.  Ironically they put on the movie CARS for us at the hospital.  


Cali phoned us this morning to give us the first hand account of her adventure. She says she has a boo boo, but she likes purple glue, and she likes Cars, and they have Cars at their house, and she has a kitty, lots of other things.


Good girl, Cali. You will have to come see us again before your prized purple glue is gone.


Bunches of birthdays

There are bunches of birthdays coming up this week. Some weeks I forget to note soemone's birthday, but this week it is hard to miss them.

Larry Creighton's birthday is on Wednesday, November 28. Larry Creighton is the son of Steve and Rose Marie (Wachdorf) Creighton, and Dolores' grand nephew.

Thursday is  Matthew Bennison's birthday . He is the Son of Doris Ann (Creighton) and Bradford Bennison. Doris Ann is the daughter of Rose Marie (Wachdorf) and Steve Creighton, and Rose is the daughter of Ed and Marge Wachdorf, which makes Matthew Dolores' great grand nephew.

Friday is our son-in-law Thomas Jackson's birthday. Tom is, of course, married to Pat (Hardison) Jackson. Pat Hardison Jackson has a ring to it. I should have named her Allison. Allison Hardison Jackson is suitably poetic for someone running for Poet Laureate.  Happy birthday, Tom.

Saturday is Briana Summer Fasullo's birthday. Briana is the daughter of Frank and Laurie (Van Beek) Fasullo, and grand daughter of my sister Ida (Hardison)  and her husband, Bill Van Beek, so my grand niece.

Leslie and Bob Pascal Anniversary


Bob, Leslie. Philip and Bronwyn PascalThe only anniversary this week is that of Leslie (used to be Leslie Claire Van Beek)  and Bob Pascal. Leslie is my namesake, daughter of my sister Ida (who has cruel streak in her) and her husband Bill Van Beek. Other than naming her daughter with both my given names, she is OK.


Leslie and Bob are both Patent Examiners with the US Patent office in Washington. The other day, I noticed that Google has got all of the seven miilion or so US Patents indexed, and they can now be searched by just entering anything you want in the Google search box, so I put my own name in. It immediately came up with all the patents I ever got, without missing one. When it ran out of mine, it went on to the ones which only matched my first name, Leslie, and started lsiting out all of the patents Leslie Pascal has been the examiner for. There are something like 600 of them. They have varied titles like, Method, apparatus and system for a re-configurable optical add-drop multiplexer.


If you want to read some patent literature, go to Google Patents, and put Leslie Pascal into the search box.


Your Tax Dollars at work

I just got around to yesterday's mail. In it was a nice letter from the Social Security Administration, announcing that they have raised the monthly Social Security payment I will be receiving on January 1, because of inflation.  Not to get my hopes up. they went on to say that the deduction for Medicare, which they take before writing the check to me, also went up.

My "payment" is going up 2.3%, but the deduction for Medicare and the income related deduction is going up by 48%. So the good news is that my monthly Social Security checks will go down by $37.00. Dolores has to take a small cut in pay, too. Now, mind you, I am not complaining about the loss of the $37.00 per month. What I do want to point out is that our government has a complex, and not always benevolent way of doing things.

The consumer price index (CPI-U) compiled by the Department of Labor, says that inflation was 3.5% over the past 12 months. This is pretty well accepted as the normal rate of inflation, but it is not a reasonable thing for the government to put up with year after year. This is the thing that assures us that gasoline prices will reach, not just $3.00 per gallon, but $10.00 per gallon. At 3.5% inflation, it will take 35 years, provide the law of supply and demand doesn't rear its ugly head in the mean time. So, you will be able to tell your grandchildren that you remember when gas was only $3.00 per gallon, just like I tell mine I remember when it was only 18 cents per gallon. Your dollar put into your IRA this year will be worth 33 cents.

But, back to inflation. The CPI says 3.5% is our current (October 2006 vs. October 2007) inflation rate. However it is made up of components, including:


              Food and Beverages    4.4%

              Transportation            5.8

              Medical care               4.8

              Energy                      14.8


Housing costs went down, maybe because so many people were unable to make their mortgage payments.

From Section 8 of the US Constitution:

Click Image to Enlarge"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties....To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;......"

The same congress that wants to put itself between you and your family doctor, tell you how much water it takes to flush your toilet properly, and subsidize farmers to grow corn so you can be required to burn ethanol in your automobile, is not in the least interested in the mandate of the Constitution that they control the value of money. They haven't done so in years. Perhaps they are happy with the inflation rate, as the Federal government is way in debt, and debtors are the only people who benefit from inflation.

They aren't supposed to control prices, but they are supposed to regulate the value of money, presumably by controlling the amount of it available to buy things. Dan Black informs me that the Feds do benefit by adding money to the money supply, in that they just print it, and don't have to earn it or take it away from anyone as taxes. And, of course, it helps make the national debt less onerous. Think of inflation as another tax.

Monday, November 26, 2997

ProView 22 monitor Arrives

Not much of interest happening today. Janet had an appointment with a Gynecologist this afternoon, and I had one with the oral surgeon to have my were right for a change.

My new computer monitor, purchased from a fellow in Palo Alto, CA via E-bay, came this afternoon. The time en route has been a week and three days, partly due, I am sure, to the Thanksgiving holiday. However, the package made good time from Palo Alto via Cerritos, CA to Hodgkin's, IL. I have no idea why Hodgkin's, and from there to Park Ridge. It was received in Park Ridge at 12:33 AM on November 22. That is about a 30 minute drive from here. Since Wednesday morning, it has been either sitting or inching slowly toward our house. It arrived at about 3:00 this afternoon, Just a little before I was scheduled to leave for the oral surgeon's place.

The new monitor is, as expected, a dead ringer for the two I already had, except that this one was supposed to have a speaker in it, which the other two did not. Or so I thought. The speaker input jack is a little hard to find, but it is there. And, having found it, I looked, and there is a similarly concealed jack on each of the other two. Right now I am not sure how to wire them up so as to give good stereo sound, as there seems to be only one output jack on the Mac. For now, only one speaker is speaking to me.

The binaural audio is not an urgent need.

So much for the good news

The letter from the FAA came today, confirming what they told me 10 days ago. That is, they aren't going to give me a medical certificate no matter what. The exact wording was, " have a history of thoracic aneurism. This finding is incompatible with aviation safety."

I am sorry to say it, but you all were at risk during the 10 years (minus time off for fiddling around with my medical certificate) I was flying with said aneurism.

So far, the AOPA hasn't answered my E-mail asking them for advice on how to help put the FAA Aeromedical Certification people out of business.

Tuesday November 27, 2007

Stress test results

I am thankful that my medical problems are mostly in the eye of the FAA, and not in my own personal, physical body.

This morning, I got a call from my cardiologist saying my Cardiolite stress test, taken a week ago, indicated that everything was just fine, and I should continue doing whatever it is I am doing. The pictures formed on the computer screen by the gamma ray emissions from the technetium 99* looked good to me as they were forming. I am glad the cardiologist didn't find any flaw I missed.

I am in a bit of a quandary, as this is the first time in nearly ten years that I do not have to report the results to the FAA, so I don't even know if I need to get a copy of the diagnostic report for submission to them, and one for my essentially depleted file of medical records.

* From .... Technetium (pronounced /tɛkˈniːʃɪəm/) is the lightest chemical element with no stable isotope. It has atomic number 43 and is given the symbol Tc. The chemical properties of this silvery grey, crystalline transition metal are intermediate between rhenium and manganese. Its short-lived gamma-emitting nuclear isomer 99mTc (technetium-99m) is used in nuclear medicine for a wide variety of diagnostic tests.

From drug is administered by intravenous injection for diagnostic use after reconstitution with sterile, non-pyrogenic, oxidant-free Sodium Pertechnetate Tc99m Injection. The pH of the reconstituted product is 5.5 (5.06.0).....The precise structure of the technetium complex is Tc99m[MIBI]6+ where MIBI is 2-methoxy isobutyl isonitrile.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Excess of Nines forgotten

When I was a sophomore at Tilden High School in Chicago, I had a drafting teacher who taught all kinds of things he thought would be useful to  a future engineer. Some of these I never encountered elsewhere.

I used one of his subjects this afternoon while trying to balance my checkbook, which shouldn't be too difficult when all the accounts are done on the computer. But, I still have to make manual entries, and have them add up the same as the bank's computer. I came out with an error of $19.89 in my balance. Because I knew the "Excess of nines" technique from 60 years ago, I was able to recognize this as probably indicative of a transposition error (because the excess of nines or $19.89 is zero, it strongly suggests a transposition error in entering a number,  and gives a clue to how to find the error.

The system can be used to make a quick check of any kind of arithmetic. Addition, subtraction, multiplication of division. Here is how it works.

The excess of nines for a number is determined by adding the digits in the  number together.  For example,  take the number 265391. You get the excess of nines for this number  by starting to add the digits 2 and 6 =  8. 8 + 5 (the next digit) gives 13, which is 4 in excess of 9. So, subtract the 9 to get the "excess", which is 4. Add the next digit to 4. 4 + 3 = 7 . Add 7 to the next digit, 9, which gives 16. This is 7 in excess of 9, so forget the 9 and add 7 to the last digit, 7 + 1 = 8. the excess of nines for the number is 8. In the step where you got 16 as the result, you could have, as an alternative to subtracting 9 to get 7, you could simply add the 1 and 6 together to get the same 7. This always works.

Now, when you have two numbers to add together, you can take the excess of nines of each one, add them together and you get the excess of nines of the answer. Provided, of course, you added them correctly. For example, lets add 600531 to the 265391 we used before. The addition goes like this:


Addition example


Excess of Nines

First number



Second number





14 --> 5


Taking the excess of nines is almost as slow as just adding the numbers a second time. But when it comes to multiplication, it is much quicker. The excess of nines check works the same way.


Mutiplication example


Excess of  nines

First number



Second number





48 --> 12 --> 3


The product of 8 x 6 = 48 , 4 + 8 = 12, 1+2 =3, so the answer, if there is no multiplication mistake, should have 3 as the excess of nines. I Checked, and it does.


Now, this is not proof positive that you have the right answer, but it is fairly unlikely that you will make two errors which will cancel out.


It works for division as well as multiplication, so long as there is no remainder. That is, if the divisor goes into the dividend "evenly" so you come out with no remainder. If there is a remainder, you have to take the excess of nines for it and add it in.


Where it works nicely is when you have to add up lots of numbers, like for my checkbook balance. Because the difference between the total the bank got, and what I got was $19.89, a total which has an excess of nines of 0, It strongly suggests that I  (or the bank) made a transposition error in an entry. Got all the digits right, but put them in the wrong order. Naturally, the odds are on me being the culprit. So, I looked for entries in my Quicken program which I made manually,


I found it. I had entered $67.54, where I should have entered $47.65. Each has an excess of nines of 4, and the difference between them is 0 or 9. , same as my difference in totals.


I dare someone to ask me why this system works.

Thursday, November 29,

Lisa Sexton breaks foot

Lisa Sexton sent an E-mai this morning with the bad news that she broke a bone in her foot.

Lisa SextonI can't believe I'm about to turn 50 in two weeks and I've just broken my first bone. Hope this isn't a sign of things to come in my old age. I was leaving work on Monday and stepped down a curb to the parking lot. I stepped down wrong, rolled my ankle and snapped one of the long bones on my left foot. The pain was really bad. Another woman saw me and helped me into my car. Thank God it was the left foot so I could still drive. When Michael got home we went to Urgent Care who took x-rays and said it was a fracture. They made an appontment with the Orthapedic Doctor for the next morning. He said it was a break. Either way, the healing process is the same. It will take 6 weeks before I can walk normally again. I'm on pain killers and crutches with a special velcro shoe for now. I'm just glad I got most of my Christmas shopping done early and only have one or two things to buy (online now). I'm off work until Friday. Hopefully I'll be able to at least put some weight on my toes to steady myself in case someone bumps me on these crutches. I don't know what's worse, the foot pain or the pain in my upper body from the crutches. I guess I need to start drinking more milk.


Hope the crutches and the Velcro shoe don't slow you down too much during the holidays, Lisa.


Janet Becoming a Day person


Janet may have to give up her nocturnal ways if her responsibilities as a home owner continue the way they have been recently. This morning, she had to be at the Crown Road house at 8:00 AM to meet the electrician who is going do some rewiring and upgrading of the electrical installation at her house. In the early afternoon, the exterminator. She had to get finished by 3:00 PM to keep a date with Sharon.


After showing Sharon the house, they went out for Rosatti's take-out Pizza, which they brought back to the Crown Road house. After taking Sharon home, Janet has some more furniture to assemble. Friday morning it is the plumber, then furniture delivery and the locksmith, and Saturday Mr. Fixit.


Instead of a place to retreat to, she seems to have found a way to assure that she has no spare time any more.


Christmas date slipping.


Earlier this week, I started to write a paragraph on scheduling which said, in effect, that we might have a shot at scheduling Christmas at our house on, of all unlikely days, Christmas day. Fortunately, Janet cautioned me not to jump to conclusions, and it was good advice.


The problem is that, with seven children, most of whom now have children and in-laws, and some of whom have travel plans. So, about 30 E-mails and countless phone calls later, I think we are settling on December 26 as Christmas day at Chez Hardison.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Busy Day at Chez Jan

This morning was another high traffic day at Jan's house.

She had to b there at 9:00 AM to meet the plumber, who only promised to come between 9:00 AM and noon, the locksmith, who promised to come in the morning, and to receive another furniture delivery.

I went over when the plumber said he was about to arrive at 10:30 or so, because Jan felt that two adults were less likely to be intimidated or defrauded by a plumber than one. This one was quite reasonable in demeanor, and suggested that the plumbing need not be replaced wholesale as she feared it might have to be.

The locksmith got lost, apparently, as he called and asked for directions and then didn't show up while I was there. He finally found the house, and installed four new door locks, so Jan is now secure. She also had another furniture delivery.

UOP Consulting still on

I was beginning to wonder if my only gainful employment in the past 15 years had fallen through, as UOP had not contacted me with the proposed consulting contract.

However, I got a telephone call from Larry Stine saying that such is not the case, and then an E-mail from the project manager for the particular work they have in mind, including a "Vendor Information Questionnaire", which I filled out promptly and sent back.

I now consider myself the perfect employee, because I have only been asked to do one thing, and I did it. That is pretty close to 100% performance.

Saturday, December 1, 2007.

Official Christmas

I was premature in announcing that Christmas day at our house will be on December 26 this year, in that all the votes were not counted at the time. However inaccurate I was in announcing the date, the date was accurate.

Now, if we can get Congress to change the date of the National holiday (are they allowed to mess with an essentially religious date?) and the churches to alter their calendars, we will all be in agreement.

Eliminating time zones is my next project.

Andy and Mo's Reception

Bill and Kathy Hardison are hosting a reception for Andy and Monique Lussie Andy and Moniquethis evening at the Chord on Blues in St. Charles.

Andy and Mo were married in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where her parents live,  on November 17. I thought it was on November 10th, which coincided with my return in the 414 from Florida, where my Internet service was out of order. Without the Internet, I didn't know whether I was coming or going, and it is surprising that I remembered to come back to Barrington.

All this is by way of excuse for not mentioning the wedding in the newsletter when it was happening. Puerto Vallarta is a long way to travel, so Bill and Kathy are having the reception tonight in St. Charles, which is usually a little easier to get to than the west coast of Mexico. Tonight may be different, though, depending on how the weather turns out.

I am not making excuses for omitting photographs of the wedding. Andy has promised to send these, and hasn't yet.

Pat and Tom Cancel trip

Pat and Tom on their Caribbean cruiseThis evening is the reception for Andy and Mo Lussie, who were married in Puerto Vallarta three weeks ago. Their reception, in St. Charles, is going to pose a challenge for drivers who have to come very far, if the weather people are right. They are predicting the first heavy snow fall of the year, turning into rain or sleet as the evening wears on.

The storm, moving in from the west, is supposed to be a big one, and bring equally nasty weather to both the Chicago area and St. Louis, and pretty well everywhere in between.

Pat and Tom had a room reserved in St. Charles for this evening, but they won't be using it unless some sort of meteorological miracle happens.

Better safe than sorry.

Jim family

Jim called this morning. Eleanor is just about over her sickness.

Eleanor and Clara with cousin ZellaMaria was up late last night making 20 gingerbread houses to take to Clara's school for a Christmas Festival. Maria also put together various arts and crafts for decorations, so is catching some needed sleep this morning.

Clara is looking forward to the Christmas visit to Chicago, and seeing both sets of grandparents.

They are expecting a storm with 100 mph winds in Portland tomorrow. Sounds like a minor hurricane.

Mr. Fixit day

Latest in the constant stream of deliveries and workmen to the Crown Road house is Mr. Fixit. Jan is meeting this highly recommended handy man this morning, to get started on the small things that need to be repaired, like the facia, which has deteriorated because of gutters over flowing onto it, and the little piece of foundation that is breaking off at the corner of the garage.

She has a long list. She was able to schedule this for 10:30 AM, which is still very early in the morning for Janet.

While checking the outside of the house with Mr. Fixit, they discovered a gas leak and called Nicor. Nicor responded immediately. Their telephone answering machine prompts, "If you have a gas leak, say 'I have an Emergency'". Janet so responded, and they had a man out within the hour. She doesn't know if the leak was upstream of her meter, or if it was downstream and she will be charged for the gas that leaked out.