I’ve been slowly moving my office toys into my new office. Here is part of the current configuration:

That's me paddling sweep

Gumby & Daffy’s flotilla

About the only advantage of working in a cube is that it makes mounting toys to the wall a lot easier.

There’s a real river just outside the office (though I can’t see it from my cube). I went outside at lunch today and took this shot.

Jefferson Mill on the Merrimack

Jefferson Mill on the Merrimack

Maybe someday I’ll bring a kayak and see if I can attain this rapid. But I think I’ll wait until it’s warmer for the first run.

Well, I’m back. Not only to this blog, but to New Hampshire. But let’s start with this photo I took back in October while camping under a full moon with the Pathfinders on my friend Ken’s farm.

A full moon lights Ken's farm

A full moon lights Ken’s farm

That was a 15 second exposure.

Anyhow, I had been working down in Virginia since May, commuting (by car) back home every weekend. I’d leave there Friday around noon and get home around 10:00pm. Then I’d get back in the car and drive back down on Sunday, leaving between 2:00pm and 4:00pm, and arriving between 11:30pm and 1:30am.

It was brutal. Those 20 extra hours of driving every week pretty much took all the spare time and energy I had, so blogging had to take a back seat while I was confined to the driver’s seat. We thought we might have to move down there, but the housing market here (flat) and the housing market there (insane) dictated otherwise. Also, I am still very much in love with New Hampshire.

I had intended to stick it out for a full year, but an opportunity came my way. A friend of mine from where I worked until last November was interviewing at a company in Manchester, NH, and while they were talking to him, he kept thinking, “they are describing Jim, not me.” And he told them so. So they called me and set up an interview. I happened to be on vacation that week while my parents and two sisters were visiting (they came to see the foliage). They had to head back on a Thursday morning, so the interview was set up for Thursday afternoon. The company liked me enough to make an offer, and the rest is history. I’ve been there for a week now, and I must say that I really like it so far (even apart from the much better commute). I’m back to doing digital signal processing work, which is really what I like to do best. I find it challenging, fascinating, and fulfilling. The company is small (which I prefer) and dedicated to work-life balance (which I value).

I do have to say though that I enjoyed the actual work I was doing in Virginia. I gave them my all while I was there and am proud of the work I left behind. I got to reconnect with a lot of old friends (we had lived there for 18 years), and I made several new friends too. Hopefully I can do a better job of keeping in touch with them.

But it’s good to be back.

Well things are going to be a lot different for me starting yesterday. I was released from employment. It was a good ride – 13 years and 3 months. It was my job that brought me to New Hampshire, and for that I am thankful.

I bear no ill will to them. They were a good company to work for, and there were a lot of good people there, all the way to the top. I will miss them.

This sort of thing, though necessary, is still very painful. I am glad that I have put my trust in a Higher Power, and I will continue to lean on Him. Certainly a little harder now though!

My mind has been drawn to this text from Jeremiah.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. – Jeremiah 29:11

I know in my heart that the Lord has something better in store for me. I just don’t know what it is yet. I do wish the rest of my being would catch up with that thought sooner rather than later.

I don’t know who did this – but it wasn’t me!

Men's room at my office

Men’s room at my office

A while back, the sink at our office started leaking. Unfortunately, the landlord has not been terribly responsive to repair requests, so nothing happened. Someone wrote a note on a yellow sticky that said “Turn handle slighty to the left to stop dripping” and hung it above the sink, but that only lasted about two days before it got wet.

And since our landlord had done nothing by then, we got a better sign – laminated in plastic to protect the sign on a more long-term basis.



Months passed, and still nothing happened. I began to worry that our plastic-laminated sign might not be long-term enough, so I sprung into action and enlisted the services of a professional.



Hopefully, the faucet will be fixed before we need to switch to a marble sign.

When I got to the office today I could not help but notice that they had begun to frame up the roof for the tower they are adding to the Concord Food Co-op right outside my office window. I figured the ideal thing to do would be to put my camera on a tripod and take images throughout the day, and then mix them into a time-lapse video.

But… I have not fully addressed the stripped out tripod mount on my camera. I had drilled it out, packed it full of “Quick Steel” (an epoxy-based product), allowed that to cure, and then drilled it out. Then I tried tapping it, but… I didn’t stop turning the tap when it hit the bottom of the hole. So I stripped out the new threads before they were even finished.

Oh well. I can drill it out and try again. But that wouldn’t help today. Instead, I got out my tiny little tripod and jammed it in. It was tight. I applied some torque to screw it in, and it cut its own threads. “Quick Steel” says it cures “hard as steel” but that’s not even close to true. Anyhow… I was able to get the camera mounted somewhat securely on my tripod, and as you can see from the embedded video above, I was also able to take several pictures.

Too bad I didn’t have a more stable base to set the tripod on. The image moves around more than I would like. To get semi-decent shots, I had to shoot through the top part of the window (rather than through the idiotic Jalousie slats that block up to 80% of the wind). Don’t get me started on why someone thought it would be a good idea to install those in New England.

Anyhow, to get the camera above the slats, I had to set it on top of a tissue box, and that is on top of a cardboard citrus crate (where would I have gotten one of those?)

In spite of all of that, it might be post-worthy.

It’s kind of bizarre that I titled a post “The British Are Coming” earlier this week. That was before I knew I’d be in Lexington, MA a few days later.

That day was today, when I went there on a work-related mission. I was hoping to have a little daylight while I was there to hunt down a multi-cache covering the route of Paul Revere’s famous ride. But it was not to be. I didn’t get out of there until after dark.

That makes photography kinda difficult too. This was all I could manage.

Massachusetts Avenue

Massachusetts Avenue

I still haven’t drilled and tapped out the tripod mounting hole in my camera – which I stripped a loooong time ago, and then packed with epoxy putty, thinking “as soon as this sets, I will drill it and tap it.” I think it has maybe set by now.

Lacking the ability to take a tripod-stabilized shot, I balanced my camera on a garbage can. That while I balanced a box of electronics on my knee with my laptop bag slug over my left shoulder and my camera bag slung over my right.

I didn’t have time to research Paul Revere’s route. I guess I could just make up some new facts about it (that’s not unprecedented 😉 In that spirit, I’m just going to assert without proof that he rode down this stretch of Massachusetts Avenue. Feel free to update Wikipedia with this information.

This week I went to Castle in the Clouds with my employer and several customers. I enjoyed it very much, and managed to get this sunset shot. I’m not very good at landscape photos, so from me, this is as good as those get.

Sunset at Castle in the Clouds

Sunset at Castle in the Clouds

I have another big weekend planned… actually, the next three weekends. Tomorrow the Pathfinders will fan out across a neighborhood in Concord and execute phase one of our annual food drive. We distribute bags with notes in them explaining the purpose of the bags. Then on Sunday (after our regular Pathfinder meeting) we will go back out again and collect the bags (and presumably the food people have donated). The food is given to people who ask our church for help.

To that end, I have made up some maps dividing the target neighborhood into seven sections. Actually, I found the maps I made last year and printed them out. We will only have five teams this year, but that’s OK. I also bought another thousand T-shirt sacks at Sam’s Club (that is, those plastic grocery bags that say “Thank you!” on them. Va made 100 copies of our plea, and I made another 200 after work. The copier at church will not make more than 100 at a time or it overheats and jams. Thus, the two phases.

Tomorrow the Pathfinders will staple the sheets to the bags and then distribute them.

On the following weekend we will go camping (just our club rather than the whole conference), and the weekend after that will be our Induction ceremony during the church service. That’s a lot of stuff to plan, but luckily… I like to plan things.

Drying six tents

Drying six tents

I set these tents up in my yard Monday so that I could store them dry (otherwise they will mold). They were nearly dry Wednesday, but I didn’t manage to take them down before it rained. It rained all day Thursday, and a little bit this morning. It’s supposed to rain basically every day until Thursday, so I thought I should do something else.

This evening I moved four of them into the garage and one into the basement. The sixth one will not be used by us next weekend (one of my Pathfinders left it in our trailer last spring, so it was accidentally used last weekend). I sent a couple of the kids to the trailer to fetch the “four person” tent, and they found his instead. I didn’t notice until they had pitched it in the rain, and since it was already wet by then, I figured it would be best to just use it and then dry it out with the others. I will leave it in my yard and let it dry after this week of forecast rain passes.

Today I bought a domain name for myself, along with setting up a new personal email address: jomegat at jomegat dot com.

Some changes were made at work that will soon make it somewhat inconvenient for me to check my email unless I’m in the office. To avoid this inconvenience, I laid out $17 for a domain name and an email hosting service. I am now in the process of changing my subscriptions to point to the new email address. That’s pretty inconvenient too, but I find it more palatable than the alternative.

So now I’m even more J-omega-T than I was before. I am jomegat-er, so to speak. 😉

There were several free options from which to choose as well, but I prefer to spend $17 to do it this way. I could have switched over to my gmail account, but I really am not comfortable with Google mining my email so they know what ads to serve me. I could have switched over to my Yahoo account, but I trust them even less. I also didn’t want a free email service that would attach ads to all my outgoing messages, or display them when I read my own mail.

I do not like web-based email clients either, as I have never found one I like better than good old Thunderbird. I could also have activated one of the email addresses my home ISP offers, but I didn’t want to be tied to them with yet another cord. If I ever want to switch ISP’s, I don’t want keeping my email address to be a consideration. (But of course, Va’s account is already tied to them, so it is already a consideration).

So now things will pretty much work for me the way they have for the past decade plus, except that I won’t get work emails during the evenings, weekends, vacations, and holidays, and I’m out a couple of bucks per month. Also, I have an email address that should follow me around for the rest of my life.

I will still receive email at my old address, but I will only check it during business hours. So if I’m in your address book, you might want to update it.
And if I’m not, I don’t mind if you add it.

Twenty-five years ago I was working my first job after college at ITT Telecom in Raleigh, NC. I was in the test department, and we were testing a massive telephone switch (Signalling System 7, or SS7). It was crunch time, so management decided that we needed to test at all our facilities. They fanned our department out up and down the East Coast to make use of all our SS7 labs. I ended up going to Cape Canaveral with one of my co-workers. We were working back-to-back, 12 hour shifts. He had the 8:00am – 8:00pm shift, and I had the opposite.

As it happened, they had a shuttle launch scheduled on one of those days. I had witnessed three other launches previously, and I can tell you that they are indeed something to experience.

The first launch I saw was when my brothers and I went down to Daytona Beach for some R&R. My older brother was station at Robins AFB in southern Georgia, and my younger brother and I were still in college (but it was summer break). We stopped in to see a shuttle launch. I guess we were some eight miles from the launch pad, across the bay. When they lit it up, we could easily see it as it slowly lifted from the ground and then disappeared into the clouds. Then we saw ripples coming across the bay towards us. When the ripples reached us, so did the sound. It was pretty loud! I estimate that it took about 40 seconds for the sound to reach us, and at roughly five seconds per mile.

I had seen two other launches after that during my time at the Cape courtesy of ITT, but I was ready to watch another. I had just come off one of those dreadful 12-hour shifts, and the launch was scheduled for something like 9:00am (if memory serves). I stayed up, but they delayed the launch. Then they delayed it again. I gave up at 10:00am, drove to the hotel, and went to bed.

I woke up around 3:00pm, loaded up my toothbrush, and flipped on the TV “to see how the launch went.” My first thought was “Cool, I don’t have to wait for the story.” So there I was standing in a hotel room brushing my teeth less than 10 miles from Cape Canaveral when I learned that the Challenger had exploded. I slept right through it.

As was my habit, I went to a nearby IHOP. That was the only place I knew of where I could get breakfast in the middle of the afternoon. The mood there was pretty black. I expect it was all over the country, but I wasn’t all over the country that day – I was at the Cape. I thought a lot about it too, and concluded that these people had more of a right to be glum than any other community – this disaster threatened to cost them their livelihood. Their economy was built around NASA. I never felt more like an outsider than I did on that day. I was grieving too, but I was not able to share their grief.

I later learned that the Cape Canaveral community did not have exclusive rights to gloom. The place I work now – Concord, NH – also had special dibs on that right, for Christa McAuliffe was one of their own. The astronaut-teacher taught at Concord High School. I wasn’t part of this community in 1986, so once again, I find myself grieving alone in the midst of a grieving people.

Rewinding to 1986 again for an ironic twist, ITT shut down my division less than a month after the Challenger Accident, but NASA went on. I was again sleeping in the hotel at the Cape when my cohort from Raleigh woke me with a phone call – all our friends in NC had just gotten pink slips, and we were likely getting them too. No one at the Cape knew if the two of us had jobs or not, but it was pretty safe to assume we did not. We got a call from the boss later on confirming the bad news. They did fly us home again (which I actually worried about), and we did get a generous severance package (which I was not expecting). I hung around Raleigh thinking I’d get another job there, but that was a pretty stupid thought – ITT had just dumped 500 engineers on the job market there, and most of them had way more experience than I did. I moved back to Kentucky, and Va and I got married before I found another job (the napkins had already been ordered, with the date printed on them!) We spent the first month of our marriage there before relocating to Falls Church, VA where I had accepted a new engineering job at E-Systems (later bought by Raytheon).

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