Passing gas and digital TV

I recently heard a radio commercial on my way to work that startled me.  I couldn’t tell if it was a joke or not at first. It was about passing gas, of all things.  It was a family at dinnertime and the dad says “After a meal like that, I have GOT to pass gas!” The kids scream “No! Daddy’s gas could kill us all!” Then the father goes on to explain that the kids are right, etc., etc.  At the end of the commercial they refer you to and it’s an ad from the American Legacy Foundation.  Check their website, there’s even a couple television commercials there.  They all are really vague about their exact meaning until the very end of the commercial, but they’re actually referring to the gas passed by second-hand smoke, not the bodily function of passing gas.  Geez, if I had to step outside every time I had to pass gas, I might as well LIVE out there!

Another new site worth visiting is  It provides all of the information you need about the upcoming switch to Digital TV in the US, which is taking place on 2/17/09.  Everyone will be required to either have a digital TV by that time, or have cable or satellite TV.  People who still have older TVs and use over-the-air signals to watch TV will have to purchase a Digital TV converter box in order to still watch TV.  Fortunately the site also provides the details on how you can apply for a coupon from the NTIA for $40 toward the purchase of a converter box (limit 2 per household).  Digital TV is defintely a reality, so it’s time to switch or you’ll be watching snow… And we’ve certainly seen enough SNOW lately!!

I added these two links to by links list, or you can click on them in the article to visit the sites.

Blizzard of 2008

The paper says that we officially got 8-14 inches of snow yesterday, depending on what part of town you were in.  Further North, in and around Milwaukee they got even more—as much as 20 inches.  It’s been an interesting couple days, to say the least.  Here’s my story:

I left work at 3:30pm.  Well, actually it was much later, because I couldn’t leave the parking lot—I was stuck in my parking space.  When I got to my car in the parking lot of Vista Medical Center East, it was covered in several inches of heavy, wet snow.  One thing that was a bit amusing to see was our car antenna.  We have a “Homer Simpson in a  Donut” antenna topper on our car (so Sandy can find the car in a parking lot) and that thing had accumulated several pounds of ice and snow, shaped itself into a huge ball, bending the antenna 180 degrees so it rested back onto the car!  I looked pretty funny, and I wished I had a camera with me to capture the image.  No such luck, so I proceeded to start up the car and clean the snow off of it.  After clearing all of the snow from the car (it was still snowing like crazy, making it hard to keep up) I got in and tried to pull out of my space.  I rocked it a few inches forward and back, and kept doing that for awhile, but it wasn’t budging much.  Someone eventually walked up to my car with a shovel and just started shoveling me out.  He told me when it was clear, I thanked him, and then he directed me out of the space.  I got stuck again trying to go forward through the parking lot, but I was able to move fine in reverse, so I backed all the way out of my parking space and out of the lot and onto Sheridan Road in reverse all the way.  Fortunately traffic was extremely slow-moving on Sheridan Road, so I was able to pull all the way onto the street without stopping.  Stopping anywhere within the parking lot probably would have resulted in me getting immediately stuck again.

Once I hit Sheridan Road it wasn’t so bad.  The roads were someone plowed for the most part, and the tire treads from other cars made the going easier in a few areas that didn’t seem to be plowed at all.  It took a lot of time to travel the 12 miles home traveling at 15 mph or less the entire way.  I spoke to Sandy on the phone during the trip and she told me that a few cars had already gotten stuck on our street.  I decided it wasn’t worth the risk.  I didn’t want to end up stranded in the middle of the road and have to leave my car in an unsafe place, so I decided to park in a nearby parking garage and walk the few blocks home.  The remaining ride to the parking garage was uneventful, luckily.  I made it safely, locked up the car, bundled up, and proceeded to walk home on foot.

I got about a block away, walking on the sidewalk, and realized it was just too difficult to trudge through this all the way home.  The snow was at least a foot high, and sometimes past my knees as I walked, and very hard to get through.  Looking at the street, however, I realized it was much clearer there.  So I switched to walking in the street for the rest of the walk home.  The street, however, had its own drawbacks—it was solid ice in some places, and there was also traffic to watch out for.  Sheridan Road turned out to be the worst part of it (aside from the first block I walked in the deep stuff).  Sheridan Road looked like solid ice, and it was very slippery.  I slipped a few times, but didn’t hurt myself.  I was pretty nervous about all the traffic zipping by me though.

Eventually I got home, but I had to pause a few times along the way to catch my breath and rest a bit.  By the time I got a few houses from home my back was really killing me.  Once inside the house I rested in a chair, and my legs and feet felt pretty numb, and my feet were soaked.  I warmed up after awhile and felt fine again, so no harm done I guess.  After Kevin went to bed, Sandy and I went out to start shoveling.  It was still snowing a little, but we knew it was stopping soon after I checked the radar map.  After shoveling for some time we ran out of places to put the snow.  The piles we had built up were so high that it was very difficult to throw the snow high enough to get it to stay there any more.

After managing to get everything cleared I was about to come back in the house when I saw a flash in the sky and heard a loud boom and a bzzzzz bzzzzzzp followed by everything in the neighborhood going dark for a couple seconds and then coming back on.  It looked and sounded like a transformer blew somewhere close by, but I couldn’t tell exactly where.  Sandy checked the flashlights and made sure  some candles were ready in case we needed them.  The power stayed on the rest of the night though, so we lucked out.

In the morning I got up early, and as expected, the plow had come through in the night and plowed 2 to 3 feet of snow back into our driveway.  There was also about another inch on snow on our sidewalk.  So I shoveled the walk and the driveway again and moved the plow’s aftermath.  We had an open section of shoveled lawn that our neighbor was nice enough to clear for us after the previous snow storm, which was for our garbage and recyclables, so I ended up having to use this spot to move the driveway snow to.  So right now we don’t have a good spot for our garbage to sit for pickup, but at least our sidewalk and driveway are clear.

We went and got our car back from the parking garage today too, so everything worked out ok.  I even took the camera with me and snapped some photos when I took Kevin to school this morning, so I’ve created a “Blizzard of 2008” folder and posted those pictures in it.  Click here to take a look at them.

Snow Sculpting 2008

The photos are now online from our visit to the 2008 National Snow Sculpting Competition in Lake Geneva.  We were there today and it seemed much more crowded than previous years… probably because the weather was decent instead of the below-zero blizzard conditions I remember from last year.  We had to park a few blocks away, but even that was ok–Kevin and I got a chance to walk and talk together and enjoy the brisk outdoors a bit.

My favorite one–and it’s gotta be in the top 3 if not the top prize winner–was “Sharks Lair.”  Great detail all around and very well done.  We even got photos of the team that did that one, posing with their finished sculpture.  On the downside, one I thought was in pretty bad taste was called “Till the fat lady swings.”  It was just that–a fat lady swinging on a swing.  I didn’t care for it much, although, I must admit, much of the detailed surroundings in the sculpture were nicely rendered.

Click on the thumbnail image to view the photos.  I’ll update the captions with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners as soon as the results are released.