Reality Check

A pause here.

Instead of the funny, sarcastic and opinionated musings you are accustomed to, I need to not play lightly on the news that 20 children and six of their care givers and teachers were murdered this week.

Two weeks before Christmas. Not that there is any time on the calendar that is accommodating to such horror.

A few short points.

1. Until Mental Health gets the attention it needs in society and specifically in the political arena, there will be more acts of frustration, desperation and retaliation. Rightly, or wrongly.

2. The media needs to smarten the HELL UP. I cannot imagine the thought process it takes for a “journalist” to ask a coroner, “What were the children wearing?” Jesus. Really?

3. Legislation steeped in history, created in a time that required citizens to bear arms to defend themselves against predators on four legs, and occasionally two, needs to be revisited and examined to reflect today’s needs. YOUR RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS IS USURPED BY MY RIGHT TO LIVE.

4. Less about the shooter. More about the victims. This is not the fast track to fame!!

While Canada is not innocent of murders involving guns – we cannot compare to the track record set by the U.S.

I look forward to what President Obama has in mind when he says change is coming regarding gun laws. If it is as well handled as his message to the families and the community of Newtown this evening, then Americans can start looking forward to more peaceful times.

Peace on Earth. Good Will to All Humankind.

(We’ll get back to the funny in a couple of days.)

Roughing It

I know, I know. It’s been so long, it’s like we broke up.

A lot of life hit all at once and instead of throwing out a half-baked blog, I thought I would “take in” everything that was going on; process it, and then share.

To keep it manageable, I will offer the happenings in chronological order, so you can appreciate the “AWESOME” that has been going on.

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When we bought this house, we knew there were things we would have to replace and update. We started right away with the decor and then set our sights on windows and insulation. The furnace was 30 years old, but seemed to work well. We knew at some point we would have to look at updating it as well.

Last year was our second year with oil-fired hot water and we didn’t have a single problem. This fall, The Big Guy arranged to have system ¬†serviced, and the company we purchased oil from (the same company the previous owners used) was contacted for the service. He called before we needed the system turned on. They said they would come as soon as they could, but since a service isn’t as important as a “No Heat” call, they had to handle those customers first.

Completely understandable.

Two weeks later, it’s getting chilly and we’ve had a dusting of snow, and still no service. We contacted another company who not only agreed to be out within two days, but offered an incentive to switch with discount oil rates (you had me at ‘I’ll be there in two days.’). On the designated date the reps were in the basement creating the appropriate amount of noise required to service this beast.

Then. It stopped.

Then – I heard “Oooooh”.

Then. I went downstairs.

The two men were standing in the furnace room with their hands on their hips gazing into the furnace. Being the joker I am, I said, “Hey there, how’s it going?”

“Well. Not so good.”

“As long as you don’t tell me the furnace is done! Ha!”

** crickets **

Apparently we were heating a house with little more than a fire pit in the basement. I wish I was exaggerating right now. I had to sign off that the furnace was condemned and that I would not try to start it. (Death wish??)

After sharing this development with The Big Guy, I promptly started calling the natural gas provider, as we decided this was the time to convert to a more reliable and consistently priced fuel.

<PAUSE>

Allow me to take the opportunity to marvel at the power a monopoly has. We will not be hooked up to natural gas until January 31 2013. No urgency. No way to fast track. No interest in accommodating a new customers. WE ARE NATURAL GAS – SECOND ONLY TO GOD – UNLESS YOU ARE A NO HEAT CALL AND THEN YOU’D LIKE US TO BE GOD!!!!! MMWAAAAHAAA!!

<PLAY>

I also called three local heating companies to see how soon we could get quotes on a new system. I KNEW we would hear back quickly, since my initial experience with our original oil provider was that a No Heat call was a priority, right?!

WRONG!

Out of the three companies contacted, only one got back to us right away. When the owner understood that we were without heat and noted that the temperature was due to fall as the week progressed, he was at our house within 7 hours. We had a quote within 24 hours.

I don’t want to say anything overly negative about the other two companies we contacted, but suffice it to say this column is still in full effect and that when it comes to supporting our Neighbors, our Neighbors would have us freeze!

We waited three days to give the other companies a chance to come through. We were a No Heat call and I couldn’t find too many companies that could give a hoot! The temperature got lower. We sent the boys to my parents for a couple of days, because falling asleep in a freezing house (10 degrees one morning!!!) isn’t pleasant. My parents offered that we stay there too, but we were as stubborn as an old couple in Florida – we were not leaving even if the hurricane is a comin’. (Truthfully, we needed the internet service.) We fired up the fireplace, but due to the multi level layout of the house, it took days to get the heat up to the main level, never mind the bedrooms. The odor, however, is still evident two weeks later!

My father-in-law walked into the house to check on us and promptly walked out. He drove 20 minutes back to his home to bring back two large space heaters. Let’s hear it for family!!!

In short, we went with the first company, which was the right move both in price and in service. The furnace was installed with the required amount of dust, noise and intrusion that is necessary for a major renovation. The entire process was completed at 8 p.m. the night before we were to fly out. Nothing like drama!!

Fly out?

Yup! STAY TUNED! Unless of course the Mayans were right – in which case, this is the ultimate cliff hanger!!!!