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Wednesday, September 6, 2006

September 6, 2006

This time...OVER a Month...

Well, things have been busy during the month of August it seems. But, now that the labor day weekend has passed, things should return to a more 'normal' schedule. This will be a welcome Good Thing.

A Ghost Town!

It's been some time...and I've been meaning to post this for some time, but I always kept forgetting to do so. The 'local' favorite television station here (at least for me) is WCCO in Minneapolis. Starting either late last year or early this year, they started this 'Finding Minnesota' weekly segment where [visitors] would submit ideas for places to go scope out.

Well, unbeknownst to me, Beth filled out the form one time for a little cemetery which is near my folks' place. One night, we were watching the 10pm news and I noticed the teaser for the segment that week looked a lot like a place I've been to before -- Vicksburg cemetery. Well, long story short -- they used her idea (and she got her ten seconds of fame). It was one of those random moments. Anyway, they have the text and video of the story online in their archives.

Website Work!

I've been kept pretty busy in my off-hours of work it seems, particularly in the last three weeks or so with some web work. There are two sites I'm working on right at the moment. One is the Free Source Energies website which has been on the plate for most of the summer. This is a new site which, as of the end of August, went live with content (but is currently undergoing a second revision to add visual content (pictures and etc.)). The other is a site which is currently undergoing renovation of look, in particular since it's been almost three years since the last makeover. That hasn't gone live yet, (again, working on some imagery, even though the content is now more or less updated) but should be within the next two weeks (certainly by the end of September).

I am considering doing a bit of renovation around here at MZ Online, but I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to do. I've been very much into the PHP/MySQL thing lately (it's very nice to work with), and I'm considering renovating the main MZ Online site to be a little more dynamic (although I still very much like the look of it...so redesign work probably isn't in the works right now) and load faster. TWiki works fantastic for content and I very much like it, but it's not really working the way I'd like it to (in regards to speed) for the main MZ Online site. I will remain using TWiki for this (Matt's Home on the Web) site and the Python repository (because of the content management aspects)...so I'm not giving up on it (and I still heavily rely on TWiki for my intranet at home and at work)...but it's time for something different I think. We'll see -- this is not a very high priority at this time -- perhaps this winter...

Home Improvement

Well, it was pretty much true to the 'your part will arrive in 10-15 business days' that they told me, but my pressure-balancing valve finally showed up (on around the 15th day) via USPS. I was particularly 'tickled' by the fact that the address label specified first-class and 'time sensitive material' -- whatever that means. smile

Anyway, the valve went in without any issue and the shower has been working great since! This is a Good Thing.

I (just yesterday) also finally fixed the kitchen casement windows. You see, when we bought the house, the one casement window operator (crank) wasn't working very well and it shortly thereafter quit working. I had meant to get a replacement for nearly two years, when last week the other operator (it's a dual window) broke. As I really like having the kitchen window open, this needed to be resolved, so I called Andersen windows after looking up the parts I needed online. I spoke with a fantastic customer service rep and in short order placed an order for two operators for my kitchen casement window which is just over 23 years old. Again, I got the runaround of '10 to 15 days' for delivery, but much to my pleasure the parts arrived yesterday via FedEx. Considering that it's a Minnesota company, I shouldn't be surprised, but it definitely made my afternoon.

So, I replaced the operators and thoroughly cleaned the windows yesterday -- they work fantastic now...and I am Very Happy.

I also recently ordered some cordless cellular blinds (which I got on sale for 25% off) and installed them upstairs where they'll do the most benefit (those are the worst windows, so their insulating value will help). That was an afternoon project, but they work so much better than the old corded vinyl mini-blinds that they replaced.

Flickr! What?

Over the holiday weekend (when we stayed home -- finally -- see below), I was doing some looking around and really discovered how out-of-date my picture archive is here. Upon further inspection, I'm not sure exactly how much work I want to put into enhancing it any more (it's time-consuming work to do it the way I was), so I did a little research into other options to make this easier and still be available online. I eventually signed up for a free Flickr! account. I haven't worked on it yet, but perhaps I will do some tinkering this weekend to determine if it will suffice in handling my online pictures. If it does, it'll mean I can have a little power in how I present the pictures on the web in the future (and be easier to manage than my old way -- which I'll keep in place since the work has already been done and nothing really needs to change). We shall see...

Rain

Well, to make a long story short, we finally got some more significant rain over the weekend. In all, from Friday morning (9/1/06) through Sunday afternoon (9/3/06), we received here at home approximately 4.8" of rain...which was nice (but means the grass will really grow now for a while... smile

Weekend Busy-ness...

Well, it seemed that throughout August we were always doing something or another. First off, there was the Stevens County Fair in Morris. That's always a fun (and cheap -- since it's free to get in) event. I originally expected to go out there one or maybe two days, but ended up out there every day of the fair (except for the entry day when no exhibits are open). Amongst other stuff, I took in the lawnmower races and the demolition derby. Those were both a good time, even though the lawnmower races got cancelled at intermission due to a thunderstorm warning. Oddly enough, I attended the lawnmower races with the grounds superintendent of the local golf course -- much fun was had at that event. smile I can't wait until next year when they hope to be back. It's quite an event to take in.

So that was one weekend...

Another weekend in August we went with Beth's folks down to the Amana Colonies in Iowa. While it's a bit of a long drive there (on the order of 8 hours), we had a really good weekend and got to see some neat stuff. There was much good food to be had, and Beth's dad and I did our fair share of wine tasting (there are like six wineries in the colonies). It was a Good Time. We also stayed at a place where the restaurant and bar were in the basement...and there was one of those giant windows into the pool (below water level) behind the bartender (like you see in movies). That was kinda cool (but we were there during the PG hours when it was all kids in the pool -- I can imagine they've probably seen strange things in the bar...).

That was another weekend...

I believe we had one weekend free in August (although I can't recall which one right off hand). That was nice to get caught up on some other projects around the house...

Then there was Threshing Bee weekend in Donnelly. We'd never had a chance to go before, and were asked to judge the parade. So, we got in for free all weekend (always a plus)...and got to see a lot of stuff (antique tractor pull, which is really cool, horse pull, threshing, plowing, old machinery, etc.). It was a good time, but here again it ended up chewing up another summer weekend.

So that was pretty much August for festivities...

General Busy-ness

It seems that things at work have been pretty busy (although a bit relaxed). We're in the midst of a very large deal with a group in Canada, so we recently made a day trip to the Winnipeg area to do some demonstration presentations. Since that time we've been working on that, so it means busy time for Matt... smile

Road Work

Well, after much personal griping and hoping, the county finally did some significant work on our road. It's still gravel (which is okay), but in the worst spots they ended up raising the road several feet and just built it up in general. It's a much more pleasurable drive now, and isn't nearly as loose in the low spots. That, and they finally fixed the railroad crossing by the highway (which had gotten so bad it was almost adviseable to take a different route).

My own hypothesis is that this got done because the county commissioner for this district is up for reelection this fall...but that's purely speculative. It's funny how some projects get done in election years...

Last but certainly not Least...

I saved this part to (purposely) be the end of the post...because you deserve to read it only if you finished the rest of the post... smile

Beth and I are expecting the arrival of our first real 'Curtain Climber' in Mid-March of 2007. So, the months of July and August have been busy with doctor visits in addition to the other stuff. So relaxation time is kinda nice to come by when it's available. smile I won't linger on this portion of the post (because I'm sure I will later on at some time), but it's an exciting change and will be an interesting change for everyone involved (cats, too). So far things are on track and just fine, and we even have a picture of the 'guppie' from very early on.

So, I'll leave it at that. Until next time (presumably not a month, but you never know)...

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/29/07

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