Saint Louis

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We’re Under Contract!

Filed in PersonalTags: Family, Marriage, Missouri, Photos, Saint Louis

An update on our offer for the house in Saint Ann: the owner came back this afternoon with a counter, and we have accepted their counter! We are now officially be under contract.

A little bit more about the house: it was built in 1920. The sale history indicates that it was foreclosed about a year ago, and then re-purchased by the current owner, who re-modeled and flipped it.

We'll find out for sure after the inspection, but the house looks to be in great shape.

The front porch is adorable and inviting. We can really see ourselves sitting on the front porch a lot - perhaps even put in a hanging porch swing.

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The front door opens into a very nicely sized family room.

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The house has a room listed as the "dining room" but it is the walkway from the living room to the kitchen, and also opens to the stairs to the basement/side entrance. We think it would be too high-traffic for a dining room, but would work perfectly as a sitting room or library (we have several bookcases, and a ton of books). My parents have too kindly offered to give us two white love seat-sofas that they would like to replace, and we think that they will fit perfectly in this space.

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The kitchen is large, clean, and open, and has all new appliances - matching Frigidaire refrigerator, dishwasher, and gas stove.

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We will eventually want to change the cabinets and the counters, but that might be part of a bigger project later on. I could envision opening up the wall into the breakfast room, and adding more cabinets, and a counter/bar.

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We think we will use part of the large breakfast room (21x8) partly for the dining room.

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The basement has a workshop/storage area, and a large (17x20) finished area that we've not yet decided what to do with. It has a tile floor and plaster walls, and might make a good recreation or play room.

If we had one complaint, it would be the size of the bedrooms. The main-floor master is only 13x9, and the two upstairs bedrooms are only 9x9. That said, the rest of the house has so much room, that we can use the bedrooms as just bedrooms.

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The breakfast room opens onto a small porch, with steps down to a nice, slab patio.

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In addition to all the room in the house, the property has a very nice, fenced backyard with plenty of trees, and even a small shed.

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We're incredibly excited to be making this step! If all goes according to plan, we will close Feb. 15th - which will give us two weeks to get moved out of the apartment and get it cleaned. Keep us in your prayers!

Almost Homeowners?

Filed in PersonalTags: Family, Marriage, Missouri, Photos, Saint Louis

We might be; today we put in an offer on a house in Saint Ann:

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Photo taken from listing

We should hear back tomorrow on our initial offer. Wish us luck! (More accurately, pray that our offer is accepted, or that we can come to a mutual agreement.)

Winter Storm – Water Main Break

Filed in PersonalTags: Missouri, Saint Louis

How's everyone dealing with the little winter storm that is coming through the midwest? We're expected to see a total of 6-8 inches of snow.

Oh, and we have no water.

We apparently had a water main break here at the apartment complex. I called the emergency maintenance number about an hour and a half ago to report a sharp decrease in water pressure. I was told that I would get a call back from maintenance, but never did. So, I just called back, and was told about the water main break, and that it would take maintenance 8-10 hours to fix.

Good thing we keep plenty of water in the apartment. Of course, I really don't appreciate not getting a call-back on the issue, considering the winter storm we're undergoing.

UPDATE: Our water has been restored.

A Little Insight Into My Job

Filed in PersonalTags: Missouri, Saint Louis, Technology

I am often asked what my job - validation - entails, which is somewhat difficult for anyone not familiar with FDA-regulated industry.

Well, perhaps this AutomationWorld magazine article will help enlighten just a little bit, at least with respect to one aspect of my job. The article interviews and profiles yours truly, with regard to my (and my company's) use of wireless technologies for environmental monitoring and testing:

KV Pharmaceutical is turning to wireless mesh networking technology as a way to save money, while reliably meeting regulatory requirements for temperature and humidity monitoring.

As a manufacturer of generic and branded drugs using proprietary drug delivery systems such as time-release and site-release processes, St. Louis-based KV Pharmaceutical Co. is subject to plenty of federal regulation.

“Being in a regulated industry, we’re required to do environmental monitoring for temperature, relative humidity and that kind of thing. We’re required to monitor those things and record them, so that we can present those data to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) if requested,” notes Chip Bennett, validation specialist at the company.

Read the rest, if you're interested. Enjoy!

Our Weekend Outing: Grant’s Farm

Filed in PersonalTags: Family, Fatherhood, Marriage, Missouri, Photos, Saint Louis

Grant’s Farm Family Photo

Family picture taken at Grant's Farm
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

Since the weather this past weekend was so absolutely amazing, we decided to get out to enjoy it as much as possible.

Saturday afternoon, we checked out another of Hazelwood's many parks; this one was Howdershell Park, about five minutes away. We then decided to go see Grant's Farm, but by the time we got there, it was just past closing time.

So Sunday afternoon, we decided to try again; this time getting there around 1:30, giving us plenty of time to look around.

The Grant's Farm experience begins with a tram ride through the Deer Park. Of the myriad wildlife living in the Deer Park, we had the unusual pleasure of seeing the critically endangered, Chinese-origin Pere David Deer swimming in the creek over which the covered bridge traverses:

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Pere David Deer swimming in the creek
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

The tram drops off at the new Excursions building, entering into the main park. Since Lily is still too young to appreciate the more kid-friendly things such as feeding the goat kids, we decided just to wander around and see the various animals on display, such as the elephants and bald eagles:

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Bald Eagle at Grant's Farm
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

We made a stop in the Bauernhof to get something to drink, and to heat up Lily's bottle, and decided to see the upcoming Elephant Education Show. Unfortunately, Lily decided that she was getting hot and tired, and that she had just about had enough for the day (and was probably bothered by the more noisy crowds by the Elephant Amphitheater), so we decided to head toward the parking lot and the Label Stable, home of the famous Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales.

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Clydesdales and foals at Grant's Farm Label Stable.
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

By the time we wandered through the stable and corrals and back to the parking lot and the car, Lily had fallen asleep. We carefully put her back into the car and made our way home, having very much enjoyed our first family outing to Grant's Farm!

Peanut Butter Recall

Filed in MiscellaneousTags: Food/Wine, Health/Nutrition, Missouri, Saint Louis

When I woke up this morning, Stephanie alerted me to reports of a Peanut Butter recall - one that particularly impacted Missouri/Saint Louis. The recall was issued due to a suspected link between the peanut butter and a widespread salmonella outbreak, and includes Peter Pan and GreatValu peanut butter packaged by ConAgra, with lot numbers starting with "2111" stamped on the product lid - such as this one, that I just bought:

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The jar of peanut butter that we just bought was included in the recall of ConAgra-packaged Peter Pan and GreatValu peanut butter with lot numbers starting with "2111".
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

I returned it today, but of course, that didn't do anything to help the jar I just threw away that also had a lot number starting with "2111" - which means I fed a whole jar of possibly salmonella-contaminated peanut butter to Steph...

Ice Storm Fun

Filed in PersonalTags: Missouri, Photos, Saint Louis

Saint Louis was hit with another minor winter storm over the weekend. Almost 100,000 people lost power this time around, though we only saw our lights flicker a few times. However, we didn't escape unscathed. I woke up Saturday morning to a slight bulge and minor crack surrounded by water damage in the living room ceiling. I had hoped that we wouldn't get any more precipitation, and the damage would hold until Monday morning. Unfortunately, Sunday night's rains had other ideas:

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Ceiling leak caused by roof leak, due to January 2007 freezing rain/ice storm. (Entire Set)
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

Our New Home

Filed in PersonalTags: Family, Missouri, Saint Louis

I am extremely happy and relieved to announce that we now have our own home! Due to everything going on, we decided to put off buying a house a while longer so that we could concentrate on preparing for the baby in the spring. So, I found a 2BD/2BA apartment less than 10 miles from the office, at Hazelwood Forest. Not only will my commute to work go from about 45 minutes down to about 10, but trips to Indy and Cincy will be much easier as well, since we can just cross the I-270 Chain of Rocks bridge, rather than deal with downtown traffic and the Poplar Street Bridge.

Here is a layout of what should be a very decently-sized home for us, our two cats, and our soon-to-arrive baby:

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2 bedroom, 2 bath, 970 sq. ft.
Image by Hazelwood Forest Apartments

We moved into our new home Saturday, November 18th. Our extreme gratitude goes out to my parents, who not only brought us a washer, dryer, kitchen table and chairs, and lots of decoration; but also spent two days helping us get moved. Trekking all of our (mostly, my) stuff up to the third floor certainly wasn't easy; but it would have been impossible without my dad's help.

Now, we're trying to get everything unpacked, in place, and organized - a job that will likely go on for several weeks. Most importantly, though, I have the living room and kitchen mostly done, and have the DSL connection set up. After more than three years of broadcast-only television, I decided to get a basic cable package, so Stephanie would have more options. (I must admit, I'm already hooked on Top Chef.)

Busy Weekend

Filed in PersonalTags: College, Friends, Indiana, Missouri, Photos, RHIT, Saint Louis, Terre Haute

Steph and I had a busy weekend. We left Friday evening for Rose-Hulman's Homecoming weekend. As in previous years, accomodations were a tent on the grounds of the fraternity house. Activities included the Pep Rally and Bonfire Friday night, followed by the annual Alpha Chi Sigma alumni dinner at Applebee's, and then another bonfire at the Pike house. Saturday, we visited the Chemical Engineering department open house, then joined the Rose Chorus to sing the national anthem before the football game, complete with F-16 flyover from the local air national guard unit. The game included copious amounts of roasted pig. Later that evening was the annual Pi Kappa Alpha actives-vs-alumni softball game at the IM fields, which spawned a pickup game of actives-vs-alumni football - and, of course, more food: grilled burgers and brats. Afterward, we had more bonfire action at the house. Sunday morning we had the annual Pike alumni association meeting on campus. After lunch, Steph and I headed back toward Saint Louis.

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Homecoming 2006 Photo Set
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

Of course, on the way home, Steph and I took a detour to Hidden Lake Winery in Aviston, IL, for a wedding. Two friends from college were getting married on a gorgeous Fall afternoon.

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Colleen's Wedding Photo Set
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

Gas Prices Drop Below $2.00

Filed in PoliticsTags: Democrats, Economy, Elections, Missouri, Republicans, Saint Louis

Democrats' worst post-Labor-Day nightmare, Part I:

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Gas Prices in the St. Louis area fall below $2.00. Here is the gas station nearest my house.
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

Great timing, Claire [emphasis added]:

“Considering that Jim Talent thinks giving tax breaks to oil companies raking in record profits is the best way to lower gas prices, it’s difficult to see how keeping him in the Senate will result in cheaper prices at the pump,” DSCC spokesman Phil Singer said. “Claire McCaskill thinks it makes more sense to eliminate those tax breaks so that we can invest in alternative energy sources like ethanol. That’s the kind of change that’s needed to deal with the record gas prices.”