November 2009

When I first started geocaching in October, it seemed like all I could do was post about looking for one near my office and not finding it. Well, I found it before the Thanksgiving break, and I must say that it was very well hidden. It was a multi-cache, meaning it had the coordinates for a second cache that was hidden elsewhere. When I first found stage one, I had spent so much time looking for it that I completely forgot that it was a multi, and did not take the coordinates of the second stage. But today I fixed that. I returned to stage one, opened it up, found and entered the coordinates for stage two into the Tomtom, and pretty much went straight to it. So having found stage two, I was able to log this one online. Woo hoo!

Oh – I guess this means I have posted twice in one day twice this month now.

Today after work my mission was to get permission for the Pathfinders to sell fruit at Sam’s Club as well as at two Walmarts (Concord and Tilton). I went to Sam’s first and spoke to the same person who was so helpful to us in November. She gladly put our name on her calendar and seemed happy that we had done well last week,

Then I went to the Concord. I was expecting that it would work out about the same, because the form I filled out at Sam’s also had the name “Walmart” on it. From that I concluded that it was a uniform policy that applied to all their stores, if not across the country, then at least across the region. But that conclusion was incorrect. Walmart handed me a different form which wanted to know all kinds of details about who we were, what we wanted to do, what we would do with the money we raised, how we benefit the community, etc. I filled all of that in and gave them the form. They said they’d be in touch. Hrmmm. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but not completely discouraging either.

Then I headed to Tilton. I didn’t know if it would be a Sam’s experience, one like the Concord Walmart, or something different. It was something different. They told me I had to submit a request in writing on our organization’s letterhead. “OK! Thanks!” I said, but on the inside I was rolling my eyes. We don’t even have letterhead. But we can make some. And I guess we will.

Anyhow. Subject change.

This morning I got a call from a lady in Concord who wanted to donate some food. She told me she had missed the pickup time and wanted to know if it was too late. I told her that we could still accept food donations, got her address, and drove over there to pick it up during my lunch break. She didn’t live in the area where we distributed bags, but that’s OK with me. We had another person do that last year, only they seemed really put out that we didn’t hit their neighborhood. I’m glad and thankful that people respond to these requests though.

This marks my last post in November. The goal was to post every day this month, and with this post, I have done that (plus one – I posted twice in one day a little while back). So I guess I’m an official NoBloPoMo something or another now. That means I get to show one of these: Yay me!

Today I slept a little later than normal, but Va called up from the kitchen announcing that breakfast was ready. She makes pancakes (from scratch) every Sunday morning, and even though I would love to stay in bed, this is a breakfast not to be missed!

I took Penny out for a bit of exercise after breakfast, and then it was time to take Beth to a birthday party at the Laconia Ice Arena. She very much enjoyed the skating, and I very much enjoyed not skating. We left there a little before 2:00pm and stopped at the old Northfield/Tilton train depot. There’s a “virtual” geocache there, meaning that there is no physical cache, but rather, you have to take a picture of yourself there and include it when you log your visit. Here’s our picture:

Beth and I at the Northfield/Tilton Depot

Beth and I at the Northfield/Tilton Depot

As you can see from the photo, there are several restored antique cabooses there. Actually, this photo only scratches the surface. There are probably two dozen cabooses, engines, and cars at this depot. Every now and again, they will run the trains, but not in winter. In winter the rails are set aside as a snowmobile trail.

We got home, and I thought it might be a good idea to try and do something about our deck. It is stained (painted) white. The can said it was stain, but it sure looked like paint to me. Anyhow, it really needs to be repainted, but that’s not the sort of thing that can be done in November in NH. It was also covered with algae, and I could do something about that. I got out an old broom, a mop bucket, and some detergent and went to work, scrubbing the deck with the broom. The broom was not as effective as I had hoped it would be, so I eventually switched to a scrub brush. The deck is 8×12, so it didn’t take that long to clean it, and it looks 500% better now. But it still needs a new paint job.

I also hung up the tarp I used for raking leaves last week. It will never dry out lying on the ground. A bit of rope and two trees knocked that out. Now I need to wait for it to dry off and then I can fold it up and put it away.

I had a bit of supper then, and then headed up to the attic. I installed another four rolls of R13 insulation. It’s going to take me a while to finish it at this pace, but I’m not in a tremendous hurry anyhow. I do have the area above the stairs pretty well covered now, and that is always the first place where the snow melts off the roof. I don’t think it will do that anymore there, but I also don’t think the attic is any more weatherized than it was before I started. Maybe I’m wrong on that count, I dunno. If I keep it up, it will eventually be weatherized, and I should have no more problems with ice dams. At least, that’s the hope.

Tonight I was sitting on the floor in the family room giving Penny a bit of attention. She seemed to be obsessed with my right sleeve. I didn’t think that to be too unusual, because she’s obsessive about many things (sticks, balls, TV, etc). In short order, she extracted a dryer sheet that had been stuffed under my cuff pretty much the whole day without my noticing it. Thanks Penny! You are useful after all!

I enjoyed my day today. Enjoyment started by me not getting out of bed until nearly 9:00am. That’s a leisurely wake-up time for me. I got dressed, checked the Internets, and then drove to Lowes to buy a face mask and price insulation. Insulation is quite a bit more expensive than I had remembered. Before going, I did some quick math to figure out how much more I’d need. The answer was… a lot. Luckily, it looks like an insulation purchase is a tax credit this year, so I’ll get all that back. But I didn’t buy any yet. I need to decide if I want to continue with tripled-up rolls of R13, single rolls of R38, or maybe go with blown-in. An equal length of R38 costs five times more than R13, so even after tripling the R13, it still only costs 60% of what R38 would. I haven’t done the math on the blown-in stuff yet, but it looked roughly equivalent to R13. I guess a lot of people wouldn’t even bother with R13 vs R38 since there’s a tax credit involved, but it would bug me to know that I could have done it for so much less, even if “the government” is paying for it. Newsflash – the taxpayer is the government, and I’m a taxpayer. Anyhow – no decision yet.

When I got home I donned a face mask and hung another four rolls of insulation. By then it was time for lunch, so Va, Beth, and I went into Concord. After we ate, we went to the church and changed the Cradle Roll room over to the Christmas program. Then we came home again.

Tonight I have to get ready to teach my Sabbath School class, plus I have to polish up a sermon (I have the pulpit during the worship service).

It would be safe to say that I am not hungry at the moment. We went to our neighbor’s house for Thanksgiving and had a pretty good time. Poor Penny stayed home alone, but she had plenty of exercise earlier in the day. I had taken her out for a bit and kicked the ball around, and then a little later I finished raking the yard. All the while I raked, she would bring me the soccer ball, and I’d kick it into the woods for her. Then she’d tear off after it and bring it back again.

Then Daniel (our neighbor and David’s friend) came over, and he and David took Penny down to the pond for a bit. While they were off doing that, Beth had gotten out the Easy Bake Oven. I helped her with that, and we made a miniature yellow cake which we shared. As soon as we polished that off, we put on our coats and walked up my trail through the woods and over to the neighbor’s house.

They love Va’s chocolate pie. Daniel decided to have dinner at his Dad’s house (our neighbor) rather than at his Mom’s house because he was told Va would be bringing pie. Mmmm. After dinner we played some games, and then we came home again. Penny was beside herself with joy.

Today was excruciatingly slow for me today at work. Beth was off from school, so I was able to go in early. I wanted to get there an hour early and leave an hour late to make up for leaving early Monday and Tuesday. As hard as it was to get up early, it was even harder to stay there past my normal quitting time. I was about the only one in the building. I was the last one out of the garage.

Just before it was time for me to FINALLY leave, Va called me. She wanted me to stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things. Normally, this is not a problem. But today is Thanksgiving Eve. There is a high-falutin’ grocery store outside my office window and across the street, and I had noted that the parking lot was packed all day. People couldn’t even get into the lot and were backing back out onto Main Street. And yet… Va wanted me to go to a grocery store.

There’s a much more blue-collar grocery store across the other street, so I went there. But I knew better than to drive there. The parking lot was a madhouse, so I walked. It was pretty bad, but not as bad as I had expected. Maybe bracing myself helped a little.

Stoopid Joke Time: This morning when my former supervisor (who is Canadian) got in, I poked my head into his office and wished him a Happy Columbus Day. He got it. If you did too, congrats (it helps to be Canadian). If you want an explanation, press “more”.

This is post 486 on this blog, and if you’re a geek, that’s a number with a bit of meaning, since it’s shorthand for one of Intel’s microprocessors – the predecessor of the Pentium. It was more formally known as the 80486. And of course, this leads into a story that plumbs the depths of dorkdom.

About 15 years ago I got in my car to go to work and happened to notice my odometer. A quick estimate told me that when I got there, it would read 80487. That was almost cool. And then I realized that if I took a shortcut over a dirt road during part of my commute, it would shave off about a mile, and I would achieve geek odometer Nirvana. So that’s what I did. This is only noteworthy because of what happened next.

It just so happened that we were having a bit of an ice storm that day. That was unusual, because I lived in Virginia at the time, and we didn’t get ice storms every other week. Actually, we kinda did that year, but that’s beside the point. I gingerly turned onto the dirt road, and it was exceedingly slick. I was tooling along at about 2MPH when I met an oncoming vehicle. I gently nudged the steering wheel. The nose edged around and then kept edging until the car was perpendicular to my intended direction of travel. The oncoming pickup missed me by a hair, and the front end of my car slid into a ditch.

I was somehow able to back it outta there though. Don’t ask me how. It hardly seems possible in retrospect. Then giving up on geek odometer Nirvana, I eased back out towards the main (paved) road. That’s when another car turned onto the dirt road. I watched in slow motion through my rear-view mirror as that car’s passenger-side wheels slid into the ditch. There was plenty of traffic on the main road, so I had plenty of time to sit there and watch. The car carried two people, a man and a woman. The woman was driving. The man got out, went around to the back of the car and pushed. The passenger-side wheels stayed in the ditch. The car moved unhelpfully forward. I realized that it would be pretty easy to get it out of the ditch if the guy would just push the front of the car to the left instead of pushing the car forward, but he persisted. Sigh.

I shut off my engine and got out to help. I took two steps and found out exactly what was making the road so slick. The ice on the road was covered with about a quarter inch of water. On step two my foot slid right out from under me and I did a dramatic face-plant on the road. Yup. In a quarter inch of water. I was pretty soaked. “You OK?” he yelled. “Yeah” I replied, picking myself up out of the frigid puddle. Then I went over and gave the front of his car a nice shove and it popped right out of the ditch.

What to do next? I sat in the car and considered my options. If I went home, I imagined it unfolding like this:
Va: “What happened?!”
Me: “Car slid into a ditch and I slipped and fell into some water covering the road.”
Va: “Were you hurt?”
Me: “No.”
Va: “Was the car damaged?”
Me: “No, it’s fine.”
Va” “Where did this happen?”
Me: “On that dirt road that connects Rt 50 to 606.”
Va: “A dirt road? What were you doing on a dirt road during an ice storm?”
Me: “mumble mumble, eight-zero- four-eight-six, mumble mumble.”

I didn’t have the heart to imagine that unfolding any further. Instead I cranked the heat and the A/C on full blast and went on to work. The heat dries out the clothes and the A/C dries out the air. By the time I got to work, I was plenty dry enough, thank you. I vowed to never tell anyone what had happened. And then I immediately told everyone I knew what I dork I was anyhow. A story that good HAS to be told!

In other news…
We sold the last of our fruit tonight. Whew! We only had five boxes left when we started, and those were gone in two hours. Now I’m thinking we should do this again next month, only expand to two more stores. I think I could safely order and extra 36 crates if we did that. However, that will be pretty close to Christmas, and it might be difficult to get Pathfinders out then. On the other hand, it gives the parents time for some last-minute shopping if they drop them off with us. I’ll have to poll them and see

Tonight we set up our fruit stand at the exit to Sam’s Club. It was tough going at first. NOBODY wanted oranges. But soon enough people did start to buy it. I shouldn’t have been surprised that everyone who did buy fruit opted for the quarter cases. That was the only size that ended up selling. Period. Luckily, that’s also the most profitable size for us to sell to, but we have to sell a lot of it. We brought 12 cases with us. We sold about half that in 24 transactions.

The kids had a system going after a while. One would stand near the door, make eye contact, and say “Would you like to buy some oranges?” More often than not, they would say no, and that’s when two more kids would say “Happy Thanksgiving!” That almost always brought a smile (but not always).

I was hoping we’d have sold it all in the first night, but that didn’t happen. Looks like we’ll do it again tomorrow.

Today Va took the kids in to have their portraits made. That left me at home with Penny. I decided that we should see if we could find a geocache I had looked for with Beth a week ago. Only this time I read the description before setting out. I found it with no problem and logged it.

Then we came home and I began raking the yard. I hadn’t been raking long when Va and the kids got home. I finished raking the front and then moved to the back. I rake by laying a tarp over the yard (in an unraked section), and then I rake a three-foot swath onto the tarp. Then I move the tarp back another three feet. I only take 3′ bites because that way I don’t have to rake the same leaves twice. When the tarp is full, I haul it into the woods and dump it out. I managed to get half the back yard raked and then it was time for lunch.

We went to Olive Garden. We took both cars because the boys and I were going to stay in Concord for a Pathfinder meeting, and Va and Beth would go on home. We got to the meeting early so I could work on the computer lab at the school.

Katrina (the teacher) had told me about a couple of websites that needed a plug-in. After some digging, I found that they needed Shockwave. From what I can tell, there is no Shockwave for Linux, so that’s not going to work. 😦 Oh well. I also messed about with the new static IP I had ordered and turned on some port forwarding so I could log into the terminal server from the outside. I tested that when I got home, and it works, yay! Now I can perform remote maintenance.

People trickled in during the Pathfinder meeting and picked up their fruit. I didn’t check to see how many people still haven’t picked theirs up, but I don’t think it’s very many. Most of them are people I work with, I guess, and I will pick theirs up in the morning and bring them into the office.

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