January 2010


Today was delivery day for our citrus fruit. I had ordered only 34 cases though, far less than the minimum of 100 to have it delivered to the place of my choosing. Instead, I asked that it be delivered to Portland, ME, which is the next closest place. It was to be there at 5:00pm.

Jonathan, Beth, and I borrowed my friend Ken’s truck, and we got there a bit before 5:00. The truck was already there. But no one from Portland was. We waited. A friend from Portsmouth (not Portland) showed up a few minutes later. Still no one from Portland though. We waited some more. Beth needed to use a bathroom (it was a three hour drive to get there). Eventually (after some phone calls) someone showed up. The coordinator from Portland had failed to coordinate. No one from there would be coming. So we drove north another 20 minutes to their second drop site in Freeport where they DID have a cadre of volunteers. We ended up getting our order loaded onto Ken’s truck and we left at 6:30. A full hour later than I had intended. But what can I do?

We drove back to Concord, and Jonathan and I unloaded Ken’s truck. I had called Ken and left a message for him saying we would be there at 9:30 (he had my car, and I figured we could swap again after unloading). But Ken wasn’t there. I called his wife, but she wasn’t at the house. I told her I was just going to drive over there so there was no need for Ken to come out – we had already unloaded the truck. Just as I was about to pull out of the church parking lot, Ken called me. His mother is sick (she’s in her 90’s). He suggested that I just drive his truck to my house and we’d swap tomorrow before the Pathfinder meeting.

The Pathfinder meeting will not be a “meeting” meeting though – we’re just going to work on Pinewood Derby cars. My friend Warran will be coming out to help, and I’m hoping he’ll come back to the club to serve as a staff member (he was a staff member for the past 5 years or so, but opted out for a variety of reasons). I could sure use his help again though, so I’m hoping this will become permanent.

Also – I had the sermon at church this morning. I think it went pretty well.

I’m pretty tired now, having driven for six hours and unloading a truck twice. So that’s it for tonight!

It has been cold and windy all day. The furnace at the office was unable to keep up with the leaky window, so it was quite chilly in there. I turned on a space heater, and that helped quite a bit. I have a pinwheel I made a couple of years ago just to see if the leaks around the window were enough to set it in motion. They are.

I’ve had weather alerts popping up in my browser all day, and they always say the same thing – its cold and windy! Right now the wind is howling outside and the thermometer reads 7°F. Out of curiosity, I checked the conditions on Mount Washington, the former wind-speed record holder. It’s -22°F there, and the wind is 61MPH. And it’s foggy. Although I would very much like to go up to the summit one of these days, I’m glad I’m not there now!

We had a bit of snow today, but I don’t think it’s supposed to amount to much. We’re supposed to get some wind tonight though, with 40 MPH gusts. Maybe NH needs that so we can reclaim the wind speed record. In 1934, the Mount Washington Observatory recorded a gust of 231 MPH. That record was just “officially” certified as smashed this week. The officials have verified that some data recorded by an oil company in Australia caught a three-second gust that was 253 MPH. Ouch! It took 14 years for them to figure that out though.

I guess it’s bad when you have to brag that your state has the worst weather in the world, but there are plenty of people here bemoaning the loss of the record. Oh well.

Jonathan’s class was cancelled today. His teacher had a back ache and almost didn’t come in on Tuesday. I had dropped him off on my way to the office, and he came right back. Va came to Concord a little before noon, and we took her car to have the oil changed. We ate at Pizza Hut while Jiffy Lube took care of that. Jonathan rode home with her afterwards.

When I got home I worked on my knitting a little more. I have resolved the problem I was having with ribbing, and I have also mastered the use of two circular needles. It’s not that bad once you get them untangled. My first sock is now about an inch and a half long. Six and a half more to go, and then I can begin knitting the heel. Or something. Then I get to do another one.

Today while I was at work I got a call from Va. She was at AC Moore, a craft store. I had mentioned that I needed to buy some circular needles so I could knit some socks or maybe a sock hat, and she remembered that. She wanted to know what size I wanted. “Six,” I told her, “and I need two pairs.” So she bought me two number six circular knitting needles.

For those of you who do not know, and I would have numbered myself among you one month ago, a circular knitting needle is a needle with two points with a flexible center between those two points. They are used for knitting “in the round”, meaning, that’s how tubes are knitted. Seamless tubes can be used for making sweaters, socks, mittens, etc.

When we were at Leadership Training last weekend, Melissa showed me how to use two pairs of circular needles to knit things that are too small to fit on the loop of one pair. I thought it was pretty cool, but I had a hard time grokking it. So tonight I figured I’d give it a shot. But I made the mistake of attempting two new things at the same time. The first is using a pair of circular needles (or even one for that matter). The second is that I tried to knit a ribbed pattern. It did not go well. At all. I think both aspects are giving me fits.

When I “join the circle”, I tighten the yarn up as much as I can, nearly to the point of connecting the yarn up to a come-along and cinching it up. But once I have knitted a couple of stitches beyond the join, I look back and see an inch or more of loose yarn between the two. Methinks it is probably drawing the extra yarn from the far side of the join. It would take upwards of two tons of force to draw it from the near side.

The other problem is that I’m just making a mess when I try to rib. I’m not sure whether I’m supposed to pull the working yarn to the front or to the back, and if it moves from front to back (or back to front), if it goes over the top of the needles or underneath. So I end up with a mess on my hands.

So I back off and got the straight needles out. I decided I would try knitting some ribs in the flat to eliminate that complication. It was still a mess. Clearly, I am going to require some hands-on instruction here.

When you’ve got it down, knitting is a great task for thinking about other stuff. But tonight all I could think about was that I was clearly doing it wrong. But as long as I keep at it, it will eventually become the mindless task I want it to be.

Yesterday Jonathan’s cell phone arrived. We got him a pre-paid phone for $20 that’ll be good for three months. The crazy thing is that it will be cheaper to buy a new phone than it will be to add more minutes to this one. But for $5.00 per month, I guess we’ll try to save the environment.

He called me on it when he got out of class. It was a pretty nice day weather-wise, so he thought he might walk from the campus to my office instead of taking the trolley. OK! Exercise is good. I hadn’t heard anything from him 40 minutes later, so I called him. He was fine, it’s just that the walk was a little longer than he had anticipated. Google tells me that if he had walked the shortest path between those two points, it would have been 2.3 miles. But he didn’t know the shortest path, and thus took some other route. I guess it must have been at least 2.5 miles.

I figured he might like a little company on his hike, so I set out myself and met him along the way. We went to a burrito place in Concord and had… burritos?

Then we went to my office. I got back to work, and he set up camp in a vacant office. He seems to really like school and it is nice to see him really buckling down. I’m pretty sure he’s going to slam-dunk his first semester.

Today Va called me. She couldn’t access the library card catalog server I had set up a while back. I had her try some things over the phone, but it was quickly evident that this was going to require some hands-on attention.

When I got home, I plugged a monitor into it, and pressed a couple of keys on its keyboard to get the screen to light up. But it was to no effect. The keyboard had been disconnected and plugged into Jonathan’s old (and powered-off) computer. Sometimes they won’t boot without a keyboard. So I plugged it into the library server (with the power on). It still wouldn’t respond. I eventually cycled power. When it came up, I made some changes so that when there is a power failure, it will turn itself back on again.

Then it wouldn’t boot. Uh oh! I removed the cover and blew gobs of dust out of it. Then tried again. Eventually it did boot, and as soon as I could log into it, I backed up the card catalog database and copied it to my laptop. Now if it continues to be dodgy, at least I have all the data Va has painstakingly entered into it over the past several weeks. She would not be happy if she had to do that all over again, and I would not blamer her.

I guess I need to set something up to make backups on a routine basis. Also, I might want to look into using some other computer for this purpose. This one is scaring me!

The seminars this morning were pretty interesting. I had been worried that I’d have trouble staying awake during them, but that turned out to be no problem.

At the end of the sessions, I filled out a Myers-Briggs personality test, and found (as I expected), that I fit the typical engineer’s profile: INTJ. I guess I’m in good company, as the following people are considered INTJ’s as well: Sir Isaac Newton, Stephen Hawking, Niels Bohr, and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The seminars wrapped up at noon. We had lunch, and then the boys and I set out for home. We stopped in Gorham, NH so I could let Jonathan drive (he can legally drive only in NH). I stayed awake for most of the drive, but did doze a bit after we left the White Mountains. I tried to take a few pictures from the car, but a moving, salt encrusted vehicle does not provide optimal conditions for photography. This one wasn’t too bad:

White Mountains

White Mountains

Oh, and before I forget – on the way to Maine this morning, as I was coming through the Whites, I saw a huge moose standing on the shoulder of the road. I think that if it had let me, and if I had dared, I could have walked up to it, and not been able to reach the hump of his shoulders. It was one massive moose!

Anyhow. We got home a little before 4:00. I took a nap, but had to force myself to get up so I wouldn’t sleep through bedtime. If I had, I’d have woken up again at 3:00am or something, and I really need to try to get back on a sane sleeping schedule.

So far everything has gone as per the plan. I did ask one of the people here if she would pick the boys up from the lodging this morning, and she said she would if I got her directions to the place. Hmmm – the only directions I had were on the GPS, and I didn’t want to hand that over because I didn’t think I could get back here today without it. So I dropped it.

I got up at 4:15am and was on the road by 4:30. I arrived to pick up the boys at 7:30, and they told me that Elaine was coming. She is a reliable enough person that she took it upon herself to find directions. I could have slept an extra hour.

Oh well!

The baptism went off as planned yesterday too, and Va and I enjoyed the company party. BUt now the training sessions are about to start again, so… later!

We’re here in Woodstock, ME this morning, having arrived on time last night. The talk last night was pretty good and covered Discipline. I learned that I have been doing it right (yay!)

Just finished breakfast, but I’m thinking it might be time for “second breakfast” now. Mmmm.

Today marked the beginning of a new routine, mostly for Jonathan, but really, it affects the whole family. Jonathan had to get up at the same time as Beth, Va, and I. (Actually, I always stay in bed for about another 10 minutes.) He rode in to Concord with us, and we dropped Beth off at school.

Then I dropped him off at NHTI. As I was about to drive off, he flagged me down. He had forgotten his student ID, which is a free pass to use Concord’s bus/trolley system. I fished out some cash and gave it to him, then I went on to work.

His first class didn’t start for another hour (at 9:00), and it ended a bit before 11:00, just after the trolley left the campus. So he had to wait until 11:30-ish to catch the next one downtown. From there he walked to my office, and we went to eat at Subway (the restaurant, not a mass transit system). Then back to my office. We found an empty one where he could camp out and do his math homework. He also spent some time figuring out his schedule and entering it into his laptop. Meanwhile, I worked.

We rode home together at 4:30. Tomorrow he’ll ride home with Va. Of course, this leaves David at home alone with just Penny for company, but I imagine he’ll manage OK.

This weekend has some incredibly complex logistics. Jonathan, David, and I are going to Woodstock, ME for Pathfinder Leadership Training. We will meet two other PF staff members from our club there, Melissa and Jessica. It’s a three hour drive from my house, so after I get off work, I’ll swing by the house, pick up the boys, and off we go. Hopefully, we’ll get there by 7:30 when it starts. We’ll spend the night at the home of some church members from up there whom we haven’t ever met.

In the morning, we’ll go back to Leadership Training. After the morning session, I will drive to Concord again so I can be there to see four of my Pathfinders get baptized. Melissa will ride with me because she has something she needs to do Saturday night. After the baptism I’ll go home and spend the last bit of the Sabbath there with Va and Beth. Then we take Beth to the neighbor’s house where she will have a sleep-over, and Va and I will go to my company’s holiday party.

Meanwhile in Maine, Jessica and the boys will attend the afternoon and evening sessions of the training, and then Jessica will transport Jonathan and David to the home of our hosts where they will spend the night. Luckily, Jonathan is 18 now, so I’ll have an adult there to manage the minor. Then Jessica drives back to NH because she has to work Sunday morning.

I can’t stay at the party too long, because I’ll have to get up at like… 4:00am. groan. That way I can be back in Maine to get the boys at 7:30. We’ll go back to Leadership and have breakfast and attend the morning sessions. Melissa will come back as well, but on her own. She’d have to get up at 3:00 if we were to drive up together. Then after lunch, we’ll all come back home again, probably exhausted. Here’s a graphical summary:

Graphical representation of the weekend travels

Left to right (at top), Melissa, Jessica, Me, Jonathan, David, Va, Beth

I think that’s about 14 hours of driving for me this weekend. So I am unlikely to post here until Sunday, and even then, I might not, as I could be pretty tired!

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