Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sump Pump Blues

Last evening Linda noticed a hum that was too loud and didn't quit. We traced it to the basement where the sump pump was running but not pumping anything useful. I unplugged it. Took it out and looked for a clogged filter. But the water was still not leaving the hole. It had rained for the past two days, but yesterday it snowed and stayed colder. Maybe the basement wouldn't flood before we got help.

Today I called the plumber. The receptionist said that, well, they couldn't get over until tomorrow, maybe not until Monday. Have you tried whacking it with a broomstick?

Well, I had unplugged it and reset it, but no, I haven't tried the broom trick.

So, this afternoon, after I got some fuel wood and a backup pump, I took the current pump out and knocked it on the cellar floor and plugged it back in. Whoopee, it pumps.

No more flood worries. Now to worry about getting the whole house deferred maintenance dealt with. I ran into Eric, Kim D's boyfriend, at Home Depot. That reminded me that we had talked about him doing some of the house repairs.

This is the kind of journal reporting I enjoyed doing when I wrote notes to Ted Rodd to send with the monthly Honda payments. Now that he is gone, I miss this, too.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Garlic. We Knew All Along

The New York Times reports that garlic is indeed good for you.
Hydrogen sulfide seems to be the clue.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Clifton Park for Thanksgiving

Carl & Les came in from San Francisco to spend a couple of days with us in Vermont before we all drove down to Clifton Park for Thanksgiving and Corinne's first birthday.

Ken & Donna flew in early because they had to get back for events at Donna's work.

Carolyn & Terry and Micolle were up and Eli, Natalie and Saul also showed up. Saul got a ride from a buddy at work who dropped him off at a ramp in a sleazy part of town. Terry and Ken waited in their parked car with the dome light on -- hoping that the police would check them out for a drug deal, and be surprized at how straight they were.

Saul's friend Dana passed away after suffering with a brain tumor. Aunt Toddy died on Thursday night after 12 years wanting to follow her husband George Rosenstein.

I found out that Andrea's mom, Sheila, tells dirty standup. She regaled us and embarrassed her children.

Everybody took pictures. I put some here:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Family History & Genealogy

Jay had remembered a speech that Norm might have ghostwritten for Ferdinand Marcos to deliver at the UN General Assembly. We asked Natalie's mother Sylvia, who works at the UN, to see if the archive had anything like that. She found a speech from Wednesday, 21 September 2966. The style is too flowery and slick to be Norm. Perhaps he was asked to review it or do some fact checking. He worked for Daniel Yankelovich in the San Francisco area while he lived in Tiburon and other places in California.

Eli wondered just how many jobs and interests his grandfather Norman had. I remembered law, engineering, consulting, a contract bridge advice column, sports car racing and pursuit of the land speed record in the under-1500 cc category in 1960.

So I decided to start a Wiki with information about the many occupations of Norman B Jacobowitz:

Judy Rosenstein added her memories of how her dad, George Rosenstein, met Norm in law school and how that led to his meeting Toddy, Norm's sister.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Eli, The Early Sessions

We found some cassette tapes of Eli, David, Linda, and Saul that we had made to send to Norm and Laura in California. The sound wasn't that great, and when I rewound tape one, I broke it.

Still, the interaction was great. Eli was singing and spelling (things he still does). So I decided to try to copy the tape to computer file and send it to him.

This involved fixing the tape. (Splicers are no longer for sale at Radio Shack.)
I needed to get some software to convert the tape to a file. Eli suggested Audacity for the Mac.
It took a while to find it, download the software, install it, and configure it to create a project. Saving the file to MP3 involves a LAME driver. I am not adept at Mac software, so after I downloaded the recommended driver install package, I couldn't figure out how to tell Audacity to use it. The file that I thought was the driver was greyed-out.

I could export to a WAV file, which was huge. I uploaded the WAV files to my zoo account at UVM. It took an hour and a half per tape, but I could work with PC software which is more familiar to me. I got dBpoweramp Music Converter to convert to MP3.

Then I sent the file to Eli for his birthday today. Listen - the first bit is just quiet:

Happy Birthday, Eli.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Charlie Birger, Illinois Mobster

Bryan Lawrence called for tech support. His organization serves Franklin-and "Bloody" Williamson County, Illinois. I had read Ted Rodd's copy of Bloody Williamson, the story of mine strikebreakers and their murders in Herrin near Marion.

Bryan told me about Charlie Birger, a liquor mobster during prohibition and the last man to be hanged in Illinois. His tale led me to "... born Shachna Itzik Birger in Russia between 1880 and 1883." He was my grandmother's age.

The gang wars involved what may have been the first aerial bombing in the US.
"... Shelton Gang unsuccessfully bombed Shady Rest from the air..." The gangs combined to battle the Ku Klux Klan, who opposed liquor on grounds that it involved foreigners like Birger.

Shady Rest was Birger's rendezvous point for transshipment of bootleg from the south to Chicago and St. Louis. Click the pic for more photos.