Tonight was the first night of Pathfinder Honors Week. One of my younger Pathfinders asked to teach Origami, and I thought this was the perfect opportunity. She did a great job. I think there were 11 people there including myself.

Progress on the school continues. They are doing the wiring tonight. Normally I would have been right there with them, but I was busy running Honors Week. Another crew was spreading mulch on the playground (it has to be six inches deep). They were still at it when I left.

Today I got to the school at 9:00am to help on getting it ready to open in eight days. I worked on some of the playground equipment with Ken.

A while back we bought a climbing dome – sort of a half buckeyball I guess. When it was originally assembled, some of the bolts were stripped and/or the threads ruined so that they could not be fully tightened. Also, the health inspector insisted that we anchor all twenty of its legs to the ground with concrete. It took 14 bags.

Another crew was working on the inside of the school gluing baseboard to the wall and other such things. I helped in there a bit too, making miter cuts to some trim around the windows. One of the guys suggested that we could not proceed because we didn’t have a compound miter saw on hand. Pshaw! I had a handsaw, and I am far more accurate with it than I am with a power tool. So I did the cuts, and they came out very well thank you. Also, thank Roy Underhill of the Woodwright’s Shop, as I learned the technique by watching him do it on PBS.

At about 5:00pm, Va, Beth, and I broke away and got some supper at Applebees. Then we headed back to the school for the annual birthday party (the school is three years old now).

I had left my camera at home, so I was unable to get any photos (though Va did have hers, and if I had been sufficiently motivated, I could have used it).

Now I’m home, utterly exhausted. I need a bath (too tired to stand in a shower), and then maybe to bed.

We got back from our trip to KY last night around 7:30 pm. I didn’t get much of a look at our neighbor’s fire damage, and it was not terribly obvious from the road as we pulled in. I think it was a backyard event.

And now that we’re back, things really kick into high gear.
Progress was made on the school remodelling project, but much remains to be done. I went there tonight and did a little, and will return again tomorrow evening as well. School starts in 11 days, so this is becoming ever-more urgent.

As part of the school expansion, the kindergarten class will meet in Va’s kindergarten Sabbath School room (there will be two kindergartens – the Monday-Friday version, and the Saturday version). In order to help them share the same space, but still have independent programs, I have offered to build a contraption so that the two kindergartens can both have bulletin boards in the same place (but not at the same time). There will be a panel behind which one of them will get lowered as the other is raised. It should be pretty easy to change from one to the other, as they will weigh about the same. Right now the design is in my head, but I need to translate that into wood.

I also have to change Va’s felt board so that it will be easy to move from one room to another. I built it in a hurry six years ago, and it’s a little on the flimsy side. I need to build a new, sturdy base and put it on casters. That design is also in my head (though not in as much detail yet), and like the bulletin board contraption, needs to be translated to wood.

I still need to set up the computer lab for the school, which means relocating the terminal server and running network cables to the workstations. They also want a workstation in the kindergarten room.

And did I mention that Pathfinder Honors Week is next week? Yup. As the director, I’ll have to be there each night for that too, though I am only teaching on one of them.

It is a little overwhelming.

As far as I know, we still do not have the building permit for the school remodelling project, so that’s still on hold. Jonathan and I did stop by there after work today though to pick up some tools. I had been thinking we might clean up enough in there to make the room usable tomorrow, but that would have been a two hour task. Instead, Jonathan proposed that we move one of the cubby-hole cabinets in front of the door to close the area off to kids. I thought that was a brilliant plan, so we executed it, and were on our way.

It started raining this afternoon, so when I got home, I didn’t go outside. Maybe I will tomorrow, rain or shine. We’ll see.

Our remodelling project at the school is on hold now. We do need a building permit, so until we get one, we’ll just cool our heels. I expect that won’t happen until Friday or so.

When I got home from work today, I had a package (this time, one that I was expecting) in the mail. I had ordered a ten-pack of solar powered flashlights. Yes, you read that right. Solar. Powered. Flashlights. That used to be a joke, but with the addition of a rechargeable battery, it starts to make sense.

Unfortunately, they sent me the one-pack instead of the ten-pack, even though I paid for the ten-pack ($18.67 at Meritline). I sent them an email to hopefully clear this up. They are certainly worth $1.87 each, but I did not want to pay $18.67 for just one.

I plan to use a couple in a hacking project I have in mind. I want to build a heliostat (that is, a sun tracker) so that my solar phone charger can always point at the sun. I’ll use one of the solar panels from the flashlight to drive a motor which will rotate my big charger until the little panel finds itself in the shade and stops the motor.

I also noticed today that the Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) is in bloom now.

Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata)

Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata)

Today I went to my first VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster) meeting. It was about a 15 minute walk from my office, so I went ahead and walked.

They were throwing around acronyms like a defence contractor (I would know, having spent 13 years employed by one), most of which I had no clue as to their meaning.

The meeting started at 11:00am, and they served pizza at noon thirty. I had no idea how long one of these couldbe expected to go, and for whatever reason, I had it in my head that a long lunch would be sufficient to attend the entire thing. But they hadn’t even gotten half way through the agenda by 1:30, so I bailed.

I’ll go to the next one if I can, but with a better clue as to how long I can expect it to go (i.e., forever).

After work I went to the church again to work on our renovation project. I taped and slapped some mud on a few joints, while Kevin and Brian framed up the new doorway in the hall. Jonathan dropped me off and then headed out for supper (I wasn’t hungry yet, having eaten my fill of VOAD pizza), and then on to class.

He’s finished with his statistics class now, and his grade is plenty high enough that he doesn’t have to take the final exam (hoorays!) He was pretty stoked about that. He needed a 79 on his last unit test, and knocked out a 95. He needs to sign up for the fall semester now.

In other news…
Va called me sometime during the day asking if I was expecting a package from Fair Point (our bankrupt telephone company). Nope! But there it was anyhow – a box full of Internet access. They have been putting real-estate type signs up all over the place declaring that they have broadband in our area, but since we’ve been happy with our current ISP (the local cable TV monopoly) we saw no need to switch.

But I guess Fair Point didn’t see it that way. Va called them and asked them why they sent that to us. They explained to her in no uncertain terms that we had ordered it three times in the past six months, which is absolutely false. They were insistent, and even got a tad belligerent with her. She threatened to cancel our land line, and they said something like “That’s your prerogative.” Maybe they didn’t know that it was not an empty threat.

I really see no reason for a land line any more. We’re going to get another cell phone and give it to David. I had been thinking we’d try to port our old number to his phone, but then he’d be all the time getting calls from the pharmacy, dentist, and relatives, and since their message would somehow get through, they’d have no reason to update their records. By abandoning the number, that won’t happen. David won’t get those calls, and the callers will have an impetus to actually update their records. Once we get a fourth cell phone, we’ll pull the plug on Fair Point.

It’s our prerogative.

I was pretty wiped out yesterday. Jonathan and I showed up at the church at 8:00am and started the school remodelling project. I had him get the Internet back up while I started moving furniture into the corner, or out of the room. By 11:30 no one else had shown up, and I was beginning to feel discouraged.

But it wasn’t long after that that four more guys did show up, and then things started to move a little faster. We emptied out a closet, unwired some walls, and then started taking them out. Here’s what it looked like today:

Closet Destruction

Closet Destruction


Hallway Absorbtion

Hallway Absorbtion


The first shot shows where the closet used to be. The second one shows where the hallway used to be.

Today Kevin Schofield was going to meet me there after work so we could do some drywall work, repairing the places where the walls we removed met the walls we left intact. I was planning to buy the drywall as soon as I got off work, but the forecast was calling for thundershowers. I decided it would be better to do it at lunchtime instead and maybe beat the rain. So Jonathan and I ate a quick bite and then bought some drywall, some joint compound, drywall tape, and a roll of R13 insulation.

The R13 was $37! I thought I was grabbing a 32′ roll, but it’s just shy of 8′, and it still cost quadruple what I was paying for the stuff I put in my attic. Yes, quadruple the cost for a quarter the insulation. Unbelievable. I’ll take it back tomorrow – we only wanted it for a sound barrier, but I’m not paying 16x for that. I’ll go to Lowes later and get some cheap R13.

After work we stopped at Taco Bell, and then Jonathan brought me to the church. Va would be there (as would many other members of the school board) later to interview a new teacher’s aide, and I’d catch a ride home with her.

Anyhow, Kevin showed up and we got to work. He tore out a few more studs where the new corners are and we re-built those. I patched some drywall here and there. I had been thinking that Kevin would be a great addition to the Pathfinder Club. He has two boys aged 10 and 14, and he mentioned that they might be interested in joining. So I told him I’d like for him to join too, and he agreed! Hoorays!

While we were working, the promised thunderstorm came. It poured. I noticed I had the Pathfinder trailer open, so I went out in that to close it. I got to stand right in the spot where a valley in the roof dumps its rain on the ground. I got…. wet.

We worked for a couple of hours and then he needed to get on home. Va and the board showed up to conduct the interview. After a while I decided to take a break. While the board talked about the candidate, the candidate was waiting in the fellowship hall, so I thought I’d talk to her a little bit. While we were talking, Paul, one of the school board members, was going in and out, and then he asked me if I had my camera with me – the sky was perfect.

So I dashed out and took about fifty shots. It’s hard to choose from among that many, especially when none of them are fantastic, and they all look pretty much the same. But this one seemed pretty OK:

Sunset After the Storm

Sunset After the Storm

I went back to work after that, and the meeting ended shortly afterwards. Va and I were heading home when Katrina (the teacher) called – she was taking the candidate to the Haggett Farm (my buddy Ken’s place, which is where my banner photo was taken) but the road leading there was closed. The storm dropped a tree across the road, and she didn’t know any other way to get there.

Well, I do know another way to get there, but didn’t think I could explain it to anyone over a cell phone. I kinda needed to see it myself. So we turned around and met them at Target, and led them by the alternate route. I did have the GPS with me too, so that helped.

When we got to Sharon’s (Ken’s sister) house (they both live in their own houses on the farm), we found that the power was out. Maybe it had something to do with the tree in the road. I asked Katrina if she could find her way to her house, and she didn’t think she could. So I plugged her address into the GPS and it led us there. Va and I got home at about 10:30.