January 2009

Today after lunch, Beth and I played a game of Bible Outburst. We bought that years ago, and it has been in the attic, unused. Before we moved here, it was in the basement of our old house, also unused. I couldn’t remember exactly how to play it, and I didn’t see any rules. But we were able to figure it out. Unfortunately, Beth did not seem to enjoy it very much, so I don’t know how often we’ll play that.

A few weeks ago (seems like months) we put a bird feeder out on the deck. The boys told me that the birds had found it, but I hadn’t seen any yet. I did see that they had been kicking the birdseed out onto the snow, so there was no reason to doubt them at all. Then this morning I got to see them. Three chickadees were going at it, and the seeds were 80% depleted. So after our Bible Outburst game, Beth and I went outside and refilled it for them. I did take a picture of them through the window, but it’s not really post-worthy, as the shot was taken though a screen. I might pop the screen out later for a better shot next time.

Afterwards, I took a nice nap, and then we ate some dinner. Tonight was another Racquet Club night, so Beth and I put our swim suits on beneath our clothes and headed over there. The boys wanted to go too, but they have gotten behind in their school work again, so we made them stay home and put their noses to their respective grindstones.

Beth edged her way around the pool, as I hovered nearby. She went all the way around, even to the 8 foot end. I don’t think she could touch bottom even on the shallow end, so to her, it was all the same anyhow. We splashed about for 30 minutes and then she had had enough. We got dressed and shot a few baskets in the gym. Then she started running laps. I went upstairs to the lounge and watched her run for another 30 minutes or so. I certainly didn’t have the energy to do that, but I’m not seven years old any more. But I guess it worked – she’s sawing logs now.

Last night Beth asked me if she could have her own blog. I thought about it and decided that as long as she was willing to follow a few ground rules, it would probably be OK. First, she is not to post where she lives except very generally – i.e., in New Hampshire. Second… well. There was no second. I set her up last night, and she posted this morning. And this afternoon. And this evening. If you like reading the thoughts of a seven year-old, you might want to give her a visit.

I took the picture we’re using on her banner as we were driving to school this morning. As the road emerged from the forest, we saw a frost-covered field with a drop-dead gorgeous sunrise lighting it up. We were running a little early, so I stopped the car and took a couple of pictures, including that one.


One of my all-time favorite TV shows is The Woodwright’s Shop on PBS. I used to set that and The New Yankee Workshop up to tape while I was at church, and then I would watch it in the evening after the kids went to bed. Can’t do that anymore though, because TWS doesn’t come on here. Instead I watch it on the web now.

Almost invariably, Roy inspired me to go down to my shop and try something, while Norm hardly ever did. Maybe that’s because I didn’t have $80,000 worth of woodworking machinery. On one of those occasions, Roy taught me how to make hand-cut dovetails. I made a small box out of cedar, and we’ve been using it to store newspapers (for recycling) ever since. For Camp In (next week!) Va needs a small box with a fancy velvet curtain for storing a scripture scroll. I thought about making another box, but that cedar one was almost perfect for the job, so I decided to reuse it. Last night I made a set of curtains for it (my own pattern – more complicated than it might sound). I was rather pleased with the result. Tonight I drilled a couple of holes through which I ran a 7/16″ dowel which now serves as a curtain rod. Tomorrow, I will make the winders upon which the parchment will be wound to make the scroll.

I also need to make a cloak for Va, and if there’s time, I’ll need to make another costume or two. That might not be necessary though, as we found out that one of our church members has a larger collection of Bible costumes than we thought. That’s a relief, as next week is coming up FAST.

My snowblower broke again. It did a fantastic job clearing the drive yesterday, but then it snowed another inch or so, and then the snow plows piled up a mound at the entrance to the driveway. Plus we didn’t get any mail today because I had not yet cleared the area in front of the mailbox. Funny how we still get a paper, but not the mail. I guess if you’re motivated by money, you find a way to deliver the goods, but if that’s not connected to your pay…

When I got home, I cranked it up again. First I cleared the entry to the driveway, and then I turned my attention to the mail/paper boxes. The snow there was heavy, having been churned by the plows a couple of times I guess, and the blower was having trouble. So I started taking small bites instead of large ones, but then… it just quit moving snow. Sometimes the master clutch has a habit of disengaging, and i have to reach around and re-engage it. But tonight, I couldn’t find the master clutch handle. It was dark, but I was sure that it had to have been in the engaged position, the disengaged position, or somewhere in between. But it was not. I cripped it back into the garage where I could see a little better, and sure enough… the clutch handle was gone. Its mount was broken off, in spite of it being made of eighth inch steel. I have not idea what could have stressed it so much to make it… off. But there you go. I went in and got my headlamp, and then moseyed back out to the mailbox. The handle was lying there in the snow, right where the beast quit performing well. So now I have a repair job ahead of me. The bracket that holds the clutch handle needs to be replaced with more steel I guess. I didn’t feel up to it tonight though, so I went and got the shovel and finished clearing a path for the mail carrier.

In other news… I got a hair cut today. I’ve been trying to get to the barber since the first of the year, but I’ve been so busy at work that I just haven’t been able to break away. It feels a lot better now.

I also got a text message from my Dad. No within 100 miles of them has electricity due to the ice storm they had yesterday. He bought a generator just before the storm hit, and he now has enough gas to run it for three days. I’m guessing he’ll be able to find more gas if the juice doesn’t come back before then.

A few minutes ago, I asked Penny (our dog), “Where’s Dad?” She ran to Jonathan, then threw on the brakes as if to say, “That’s not Dad! YOU are!” Then she ran back to me. Then David tried it too, but did not achieve the same effect. Rather… she peed on the floor.

Serves us right!

The weathermen were saying yesterday that it should start snowing today at around 3:00 or 4:00am. Well, I wasn’t awake by then, so I don’t know if they were right or not. But it was snowing when I got up.

Mrs Brace made the decision last night to close the school today, and since the forecast was calling for 12-24″ of snow, I did not leap right out of bed when the alarm went off. Instead, I slept until 8:30. Then I took a nice, long, hot, leisurely shower, and then put on my grubbies. When I went downstairs, I saw that it was indeed snowing, but we only had half an inch or so. Doh! So I went to the office. I worked until about 1:00, when I judged that the snow was about as deep as I could let it get before it would prevent me from getting home. Va had called and asked me to pick up a gallon of milk, so I did that first, then hopped in the car and headed northward. Driving was… treacherous. There were still plenty of idiots on the Interstate willing to drive 65MPH, but most people were tooling along at about 40 (which was what the State Troopers recommended). I was passed by a logging truck with a full load of logs. He threw so much snow onto my windshield that I could literally not see out the windshield for about five seconds.

When I got to my exit, I had a decision to make. Left or right? Left is generally better plowed, but I could tell that neither route was going to rate very high in that category. Left also has one very steep hill for me to climb, and then another one that is very long. Right has one steep hill to descend, and then a much smaller one on an unpaved section to climb. I opted for right.

I did quite a bit of sliding down the steep hill, but I stayed over the pavement (with a thick layer snow between the tires and the asphalt) the whole time. But the hill on the unpaved section was almost my undoing. I got up as much speed as I dared and made my attack. About three quarters of the way up, I started spinning the wheels. The car slowed to a crawl, but I kept chugging along. Finally, I felt that I was gaining speed instead of losing it, and then I topped the hill. After that, there were no problems. I got home and parked in the garage.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon trying to get some more work done, but our VPN connection no worky, so there was not a whole lot I could do. Other than troubleshoot the VPN connection. Oh well!

Most of my family in Kentucky are suffering through an ice storm. I assume they have all pretty much lost power now because the “we still have power” reports stopped a while ago. Or maybe they just lost their Internet connections.

When the snow stops I will crank up the snowblower. I went to get the mail about an hour ago, and slogged through about a foot of snow, so the weathermen hit the minimum now. Here’s a picture I took when I was getting the mail. If you look closely, you can see Penny waiting for me to cross over the invisible fence again.

Penny waits in the snow

Penny waits in the snow

Hmmm… it looks like it has stopped here in the last five minutes. But… dinner’s almost ready? So I don’t hafta snowblow just yet?

I cranked up the sewing machine again tonight. I’ve lost count of how many costumes I’ve made for the Adventurer Camp In, but I saved this one for last. (Well… I’ll prolly make a few more). I wanted to have practiced on the rest before I started in on Va’s.

Tonight I made her a tunic. I still need to put in the hems, but other than that, it’s quite finished. I start on her robe next, but I’m thinking about modifying the pattern for that. It’ll be an open robe rather than one that completely covers the front.

Once that one’s done, I’ll see about making some “leather” armor for David’s soldier outfit. So I guess I’m not really almost done after all, but I DO see the light at the end of the tunnel.

We’re supposed to get something like 16 inches of snow tomorrow. School has already been cancelled, and I might just blow off work tomorrow. I’d rather get snow than have what my relatives in Kentucky and Indiana are getting – ice. And lots of it.

I have decided to pull the plug on the gutter heaters I installed last month. They doubled our electric bill. Another way of saying that is that I found a way to cut my electric bill in half. I think what I really need to do is get up in the attic and insulate the roof. The ceiling is already insulated, but we have a walk-up attic, and we lose a lot of heat through the door to the stairway. Insulation might well eliminate the need for the gutter heaters. It’s also a much more green approach to combating ice dams.

Man. The tangelos I got from our fruit supplier are as good as I remembered them. In my opinion, these are the best thing we offer all year. The only drawback is that you just about have to eat them in a bathtub. I cannot peel one with getting both hands soaked in juice. So I usually eat them as I hang my face over the kitchen sink. This may be my favorite fruit.

I brought almost all my co-workers fruit to the office today. After I dropped the girls off at school I loaded their orders into my car. It’s great having an indoor parking garage – I just leave the fruit in the car. When my co-workers are ready to leave, I walk down to the garage with them and we move it from my car to theirs. No more lugging cases of fruit up two flights of stairs.

I did forget that two guys ordered fruit after the deadline. I keep track of post-deadline orders separately, and last night when we were divvying up the orders, I completely forgot about theirs. I will bring them in tomorrow.

This evening I noticed that someone had been editing the answers to the Model Railroad honor. The edits were constructive (as opposed to vandalism), so I left a note on the contributor’s on-wiki talk page. He got back within an hour or so with an email address. So I struck up a correspondence. He’s a pastor in Minnesota with an undergrad degree in Computer Science. I thought the domain name for his email address looked familiar, but I couldn’t put a finger on it for a bit. When I visited his church’s website, I knew – our church based our website on theirs.
Compare Anoka SDA Church with Concord Adventist Church and you’ll see what I mean.

I got up before dawn this morning. I sure didn’t want to, but I kinda had to anyhow. I got dressed and woke Beth. She got dressed and I made her some breakfast. I let Penny outside so she could transact her usual morning business. In short order, Beth and I were ready to roll, so I crated Penny, and we headed off to get Ken’s truck. It was seven below zero.

Ken had the truck waiting for us, so we climbed in and headed to Keene. I always get confused on how long it takes to drive to Keene. I guess it’s 90 minutes from my house, and 60 from Ken’s, but I have it in my head that it takes two hours from Ken’s place. So we got there at about 9:00am, while the citrus truck wasn’t due until 10:00. And it was still really cold outside, so I didn’t want to wait in the truck.

Instead, we went to a little diner across the highway from the school in Keene where we pick up our order. Beth had some chocolate milk (we were out at home), but didn’t want any breakfast (she had already eaten). But by then I was ready for some food, so I had the buffet, which was pretty good. After that I bought some gas for Ken’s truck. He had left his credit card on the seat and had given me instructions to fill the tank. And I did fill the tank, but only put half of that on his card. We’ll see if he says anything.

As I was filling the tank, I noticed the citrus truck pulling up to the road where the school is located. So we high-tailed it over there as soon as the tank was full.

Their fruit coordinator was there, but none of her crew had arrived yet. I helped her set up the rollers (like a conveyor belt, but with dozens of two-inch wheels instead of a belt). And just as we were ready to start, a couple of guys from her crew arrived. So we started unloading. We had both orders (our and theirs) unloaded in about twenty minutes.

Now I was a bit worried that my fruit was going to freeze, so we loaded as much of it into the cab of Ken’s truck as we could. Which was all but 12 boxes. I covered those with a tarp and hoped for the best. Then I hit the road.

When we got back to Concord, the church that rents our church building on Sundays was still there. They appeared to be having a business meeting. I pulled the truck around to the side of the building and began shuffling crates of citrus into my Sabbath School room (it has an outside door). So I don’t think I disturbed them at all. Then Beth and I got back in the truck and returned it to Ken. Beth was so well behaved, both yesterday and today, that I decided we could get her a new coloring book. We swung by Walmart and got her a couple. Before we went in though, I had Beth promise that we would try to go in, buy the coloring books, and get back to the car in only five minutes. We made it in six.

Then we hustled back home, arriving at 1:30, and released the hound. Man… I was sure tired then. We made up a sumptuous meal consisting of… EZ Mac. I spent the rest of the afternoon exercising the dog and sitting around (more sitting than exercising though).

Va and the boys got home at around 4:00, but Jonathan and I had to leave again at 4:30. We loaded the school’s new server into the car, plus the new fans I bought for it as well as a few tools. The plan was to get that up and running while people came in and picked up their fruit.

But the battery in my drill was dead. I think I need a new battery, because I had fully charged it on Thursday, and had not used it yet. Bummer. Also, we didn’t have any patch cables to hook the new server into the network. We did swap out the fans though, and we talked about the network topology. I really need a second switch to do this right. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for a cheap/free one.

Not having much networking we could do, we instead put names on all the fruit to make it easier for people to get their orders.

At about 10 minutes to 8, the phone rang – one of our fruit customers wanted to know if we were still there. I assured him we were, and we’d wait for him to show up. While we were waiting, we loaded my fruit into the car, and then I decided to leave Jonathan there to mind the store while I went to Taco Bell to get us some dinner. While I was gone the last customer showed up. Yay!

We ate our dinner and then came on home. And I am about ready to collapse.

Today went pretty much as I outlined it in yesterday’s post. We arrive in Portland a little after 1:00pm. I was scheduled to teach at 2:30, but they had gotten behind by 30 minutes. That left me with two hours of free time. Beth and I changed clothes, and I hauled all my supplies into the room where my session was to be held. Then I took Penny for a walk. There is a long trail behind the Portland church running parallel to a new road in a new development. So Penny and I ambled down that way. It’s maybe a half mile long, and probably less than that. I was delighted to find several squirrel and mouse tracks, so I knew we’d have a shot at casting some.

Penny enjoyed the walk too, helpfully bringing me sticks to throw. I got back to the church, put Penny in her crate in the car, and then went inside. I sat in on a session led by Bill Wood, the Union Pathfinder Director (Union is the next level in the hierarchy up from the Conference). Beth sat next to me and listened as he presented his PowerPoint slides. Beth turned the pages in my handout (which was really just a copy of Bill’s slides). When that ended, it was time to work on Animal Tracking.

I had prepared for 19 students (it would have been 20, but I botched the first set of photocopies) and I had eight. I’m not complaining – I would rather have too many handouts than not enough. Four of the eight attendees were kids, and they didn’t seem terribly interested. That is, of course, a mystery to me since I find tracking so fascinating.

Of the four adults who were there, one had already earned the honor. I was afraid that almost all the attendees would have it already, so I had decided to focus on how to teach the honor rather than on the honor itself. I kinda did both, once I had an idea of what my audience was like.

First we went over some of the theory parts. I showed several of the photos I’ve taken over the past couple of years. Then we headed out to the trail and cast some of the tracks I had seen earlier. There’s no way they would set up before we left, and in fact, I’m not positive these will be successful. It was very cold outside, so the joint compound may have simply frozen before it could do any setting. I’m not sure how that will affect the casts. Maybe when they take them inside, they will simply reliquify. Hope not!

Then we went back in to warm up a bit and talked about telling dog and cat tracks apart, and telling squirrel and rabbit tracks apart. We also covered hopping vs walking birds, and plantigrade vs digitigrade walkers (that is, flatfoots vs toe-walkers).

Then we went back outside with some tempera paint so we could afflict poor Penny. Just as we did in the summer, I poured some tempera paint in a paper plate. I lifted Penny, and Peter (a friend of mine from the Limington Lantern’s Pathfinder Club) dipped her paws in the paint. Then I took her for a short walk. We repeated this and I took Penny for a short run. Then we measured the distance between the tracks. Check off that requirement!

We went in again, and that was pretty much the whole honor. I started gathering up my casts, and in short order, Beth and I were ready to bug out.

I asked David to go and collect our casts in the morning, and he said he would. But just to be on the safe side, I told Va that I had asked him to do that. She will help him remember.

One cool thing Va told me was that in one of the classes she went to, they presented my Wikibooks project as a highly recommended resource. That’s what it’s there for! Many of the people there already knew about it and sang its praises. Woot!

Beth and I headed out at around 5:30 I guess. We stopped at McDonald’s because they had an indoor playground. Beth was so well behaved that I decided I would endure the food and let her play a bit. But not for too long. We left around 6:00, and got home at 8:30.

I was supposed to swing by Ken’s house and pick up his pickup so I could fetch the fruit tomorrow. But it was so late and I had so many things crammed into my car, I decided to swing by in the morning instead. I didn’t really savor the idea of unloading my stuff twice when once would be enough. I called, but his phone was busy. I finally got through when we got home.

So tomorrow, Beth and I will get up bright an early (actually, it will not be bright yet). We’ll gnarf down some breakfast and hustle over to Ken’s to get his truck, then hustle over to Keene to get the fruit. I am really looking forward to my tangelos.

That’s about enough for tonight. Thank you both for reading!

This weekend promises to be packed. This afternoon Va and the boys headed up to Portland, Maine for Pathfinder Leadership Training. Every two or three years they offer the 10-hour basic training course, which is a requirement for Master Guide, and Va is working towards her Master Guide, so… she needs it.

But someone has to stay with Beth and Penny, and that would be me this time. She’s in bed now, and Penny is napping at my feet. I’ve just finished gathering up a bunch of stuff I need tomorrow afternoon for teaching the Animal Tracking honor at the Leadership Training session.

In the morning, Beth and I will get up, eat breakfast, and get ready for church. Then we’ll load Penny and all Penny’s stuff in the car and head out. We need to leave early, because I’ll need to hang a backdrop in the Cradle Roll Sabbath School room (Va changed over their program this week). I’ll also need to make about 20 photocopies of the hand-outs I’ll need for the Animal Tracking honor.

We’ll stay for Sabbath School (I’m teaching Juniors), but we’ll leave before the worship service starts and head up to Maine to join the rest of the family. I think we’ll get there with time to spare.

If all this goes as planned, tomorrow’s post should be pretty redundant!

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