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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Happy Wednesday!


I Just Woke Up!
And now I'm happy, happy, happy!
So it's Wednesday, and the Christmas cards went out in the mail (at least for those which are to be sent via the mail) today. Hooray! I picked up the pictures I'd sent off (electronically) to the drug store for processing on Tuesday, and I have to say that I'm pretty pleased with the results. They're not perfect, but they are about what I expected. So that's cool. And I will likely put some images from the little photo shoot up on Friday...since many (that I know who occasionally print images I put out there) will have received their cards by that time. :)

Short of that, it's been pretty quiet, though busy. It seems like there are several things to get done here this week, but it's been oddly calm. So I guess that's a Good Thing, since there's not a lot to mention that's gone badly. Tis the spirit of the season, I suppose.

I had something I wanted to ramble about earlier today, but I can't find my note about it, so I guess it'll have to wait. So I think I'm going to go read the paper and head for bed.

Until next time...
"Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact."
- George Eliot (1819-1880)

--MZ

Monday, December 17, 2007

Oooh! Monday!


Happily Playing
She was just happy and content to be playing on the kitchen floor.
So this [title] was my attempt at bringing some life to my Monday night writing. Pretty sure I failed at it. :)

Today was pretty normal in many respects, at least until I came home. It was 'photo shoot' (for real) night, and we temporarily turned the living room into a photo studio for about an hour. All in the magic quest to get the 'perfect picture' of Kirstin at Christmas. It's what will be used for the picture to get sent out with the cards, etc.

I think we came pretty close to perfect. At least perfect given the equipment we had on hand. I have to admit, in looking at the picture now that the order has been electronically submitted (God Bless The Internet!), we really didn't do half bad. I was admittedly a bit nervous after some of the 'test shot' results from some stuff I'd tried a few days ago. The color balance was off, and I wasn't sure I'd be able to correct it...but after some tinkering (and a temporary light bulb change), it seems to have been resolved. I'm very happy with the end result.

So that took up an hour or better; by the time the order was submitted for prints (which I understand will likely be ready for pickup sometime tomorrow -- although it may be Wednesday before I have a chance to pick them up), about two hours had passed. Not bad.

I spent the rest of the evening with Beth preparing another gift for printing and also in getting the Christmas letter ready to go. So these are all ready to be printed; then we can get them out the door (presumably in Wednesday's mail). So another good project to have completed!

And that's about all that's new today. It's been a pretty busy day, really. At least it feels like that when one's evening has been filled with many interesting activities.

I just wish I could post the neat Christmas pictures up on Flickr...but alas, that will have to wait until a day or two after the letter go out...just to be fair (so some of the people that normally may download/print pictures from the site don't do that before they get a good print).

So, with all that said, I'm heading for bed. Until next time...
"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."
- Sherlock Holmes (by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1859-1930)

--MZ

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Another Busy Weekend


New Guitar String?
She was playing with a soon-to-be-defunct (as soon as I get enough time to finish installing the structured media enclosure in the basement) telephone line that runs to our bedroom upstairs.
So it's been a good and busy weekend, just like I expected. Several things have happened in the last days, so I'll just touch upon them here tonight.

For starters, I've been playing around with the new Flickr Uploadr. They officially released the 3.0 version of Uploadr last week, and I've been playing with it pretty much since its official release. There are several reports of strange behavior, but I've yet to discover anything major (short of a strange bug-like problem with the login and granting of permissions which has to happen the first time it's used) wrong with it.

To be quite honest, there are things I prefer about the old version; however, there are some significant things in the new version that truly trump the old one. For instance, I can do all my uploading in one batch now. This is mostly since I don't have to add all the pictures in a batch to a single group anymore. The UI allows me to do some very nice things (namely specify which pictures go to which set(s), rather than the entire batch to a single set). Overall, I'm quite pleased with it, although it's taking a little getting used to in regards to actually doing the titles and descriptions in this version. I have gotten so accustomed to the web form where that operation was performed that it's a little strange to be doing it right within the Uploadr now.

I might have to peruse and download an update to the Uploadr sometime this week, but I'm pretty happy with the additions. Go Flickr!

I spent most of Saturday doing two different things. For starters, I finally took some of the captured video from the last few months and burned it to DVD. Not as a backup, but as a 'finished' DVD. So I managed to clean out somewhere on the order of 8GB of video, so I should have enough room for doing some small capture projects this week without issue.

While the DVD material was being encoded and burned, I spent some significant time down in the basement doing 'phase two' of the voice, video, data wiring. I started out by finishing the voice distribution termination for the wire pulled to the basement. This now means that all the jacks I installed both upstairs and downstairs over the last year or so are functioning (for voice service). That's a nice project to have completed. I then bundled, routed, and cut to length all of the data and video cables running to the box. They're not yet terminated at the box, but the cable is all nicely routed to it.

As a random note, tonight's picture is an example of why I needed to get that voice termination done -- so this length of POTS wire could be removed (which it now has).

I need to do some more clean-up type stuff (I have to get a few more cable 'hangers' (they're just PVC conduit straps), but the basement looks much neater now that there's not bunches of unterminated cable hanging from the ceiling. It's like the project is actually getting somewhere now! :)

Once I do some more work down there, I intend to take some pictures of the finished work. That likely won't be for some time, though.

Saturday evening I sat down and watched the Celtic Woman Christmas special that I'd captured from PBS. It was quite good, as I expected. Lots of very unique harmonies and basically all the stuff I've become accustomed to hearing from the Celtic Woman group. They're quite talented, and after hearing stuff like that I return to strange dreams of becoming a professional vocalist. :) It's pretty awesome to hear stuff done like that and dream to be anywhere close to that good. :)

Today (Sunday) was quite busy as well. After church and our return home, I took a nap. Beth brought Kirstin up to nap with me, so [Kirstin] and I were both napping for a time. We went back in to town again this afternoon to do the annual Christmas caroling expedition, which was once again a good time. It was especially nice since there was a larger group of guys. And afterwards there was to be a potluck. Can't go wrong with a potluck!

By the time we got home (just after 8PM), Kirstin was well alseep. So tired that she didn't wake up when removed from the carseat, didn't wake up when taken out of her snowsuit, and didn't wake up when she was put in her sleep sack and put to bed. It's tough being a baby, you know. :)

And so that's basically how the weekend has gone. I'm trying to get a few things done tonight so that we can hopefully get the Christmas letter and all that good stuff out the door by, say, Wednesday. That'd be nice. Since most of our postal activity will be within the region, everything we send out should be delivered within two days...

Anyway, all that said, I'm about to head for bed...so until next time...
"Black holes are where God divided by zero."
- Steven Wright

--MZ

Friday, December 14, 2007

Hungry Little Girl


I Eat Cookie Monster!
Cookies by proxy? Cookie Monster eats cookies; Kirstin eats Cookie Monster?
And it shows -- she gained somewhere on the order of three-and-a-half pounds in the last month. Crazy. :) She is officially nine months old today, which doesn't hardly seem possible.

So she had a doctor's appointment, which went really pretty good. No shots at this one, so that was nice. The only 'unfortunate' thing as it were is that Kirstin had to get her finger pricked so that a few simple blood tests could be done. Namely for lead, since we essentially get a free $40 gift card for just having the test done (through the insurance company).

She was a trooper through that stuff, though. Didn't even phase her, really. She was more annoyed at the fact she couldn't move around for a few minutes. At any rate, she's most definitely growing. About 28 1/4" in length, a head circumference in the 95th percentile (that's right -- she's got the brains), and weighs in at 19 pounds, 2 ounces, which puts her in the 50-55th percentile (in other words, average).

So that's cool. She's getting bigger. Beth and I were both quite surprised at the weight gain. I know she felt heavier, but just figured it was me being lazy or something. Quite the opposite, really. So all that eating she does very well...it's paying off. :)

Anyway, I've had a long week and I'm awfully tired, so I'm heading for bed. Many projects lie ahead tomorrow, and in a perfect world I'll sleep in for a little while before they begin. :)

So until next time...
"I've had a wonderful time, but this wasn't it."
- Groucho Marx (1895-1977)

--MZ

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Busy Times


It's Just The Floor
Yet she was so excited to look at it from a different angle... :)
There's always that one week each month when it seems to be tremendously busy. That, for me, happens to be this week. Granted, it should calm down a bit now that Wednesday has passed, but it doesn't make for a lot of time to do random projects or just sit.

So I've really not done much at all at home, short of eat there and sleep. Ahh yes, sleep. Precious, precious sleep. :)

Anyway, I've been keeping fairly occupied during the work day hours, so that's been nice. Starting to ramp up once again for various projects, which keeps the mind from wandering too much, really. And it's been nice as of late to have more than one project going on...so I can switch gears here and there to keep things fresh.

I left work a little early this afternoon and made it home while it was still light out. Novel idea, that daylight. :) So I was actually able to feed the dogs myself and give them just a little bit of attention. There was a very biting wind, though, so I didn't really dote on them a whole lot. My face froze...or at least so it felt. I've heard of exfoliating procedures, but I don't think that's what anyone had in mind!

One of this weekend's projects is to get some video captured. That's a must-do thing, so I will likely be working on other projects while the capture process takes place, but since there really isn't that much to capture, it should be doable without too much trouble. Or time.

So, not much said about any particular item, I think I'm going to head for bed. At least soon. So until next time...
"It's kind of fun to do the impossible."
- Walt Disney (1901-1966)

--MZ

Monday, December 10, 2007

Number One!


This Is MY Box!
I'm not sure exactly which one was claiming the actual right to the box (they both were), but I love this picture. Unfortunately, there's a blur to it, but it's still very cute if you ask me. :)
This is my number one photo (in several respects) on Flickr to date. How cool is that? :)

I removed the section of the old POTS wire that Kirstin would play with on Sunday afternoon. I just cut out the section; there's a lot more that still needs to be taken out (all along the stairs, the hallway, our bedroom, etc.). But, she can no longer get into that cord, and we still have phone service available upstairs, so two birds with that stone!

The week so far has been pretty normal. I managed to sit down and clean up my desk here at home tonight. The stacks were getting to be too tall, and the situation had to be resolved. There are still stacks, but they're organized and just need to be filed at this point in time. So that's nice. Not sure when the filing thing will happen, but at least the first major hurdle has been passed.

And short of that, I don't have much more about which to ramble, so I think I'm going to call it a night and bid thee adieu. So until next time...
"We didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time."
- Vince Lombardi

--MZ

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Happy Saturday!


Does This Look Like Happy To You?
I had just set her down on the floor, and she became very unhappy. Could she possibly look any more sad? :)
By the time most anyone reads this, it will be Sunday (or later), but that's alright. The principle still stands. Happy Saturday!

It's been cold outside the last few days, and all indications are that this will continue to be the case for the next week or so. And that's fine by me; it is December, after all. That, and we've got the snow cover.

I didn't write anything last night because, well, because I decided to go to bed. I didn't get to bed until nearly 1AM on Thursday night, so by the time Friday's bedtime rolled around, I was a bit on the tired order. So I took another night off. :)

Today's projects were varied and fruitful. I spent time at home -- just Kirstin and myself -- for a while today. That was nice in ways (I was able to read the paper while Kirstin had her morning nap) and fun as well. She's quite the little character, really.

Anyway, this afternoon I decided that I was going to have to at least attempt to get something done, so I brought Kirstin up to her room, set her in the crib, and I then proceeded to install plastic shrinkwrap on her bedroom window. I really should've done this some time ago, but I didn't have/take time to do it. So she played a little bit and mostly watched me work and dance (the radio was on). Shortly after I got her bedroom window completed she had her lunch and then Beth was back home.

So I finished the other two window sets upstairs and also shrinkwrapped the bathroom window. Basically all the windows that have those shitty aluminum storm windows that just don't fit quite right. Note to self: I really need to replace those some time. I've been telling myself that for the last three years. In an ideal world, it would probably just be easier (and cheaper) in several regards to replace all the upstairs windows (since they're the ones that are in the worst shape) and be done with it. But that's a topic for another day...

I also raised the dog water bowl this afternoon. After our official (at least at the airport) 8" snow last week, their bowl was pretty much buried. That in and of itself isn't that big a deal, but then the dogs have to more or less lay down (especially after a few storms) in order to drink liquid water.

I basically just put a few concrete blocks on the ground (after I chipped out the bowl which had frozen to the ground), which makes the base stick up about 6" from the current top of the snowcover. Should be good for some time. They were happy pups, but that really had nothing to do with their water bowl. Mostly since I was out there with them for a while.

Then I finally came inside and mounted the structured wiring enclosure! I've only had it for three years. Go me! I hear it was national procrastination week -- guess I'll celebrate tomorrow. :)

The real problem (or catalyst, as it were) is that Kirstin likes to grab on to the old POTS wire that runs from the office, through the hallway (past the bathroom), into the living/dining room, up the stairs, and into our bedroom. This gives us phone service upstairs.

I've had the low voltage stuff terminated upstairs for some time, but the basement end has never been completed. So seeing as how we need to get that cord out of the way, now was the time to get this done. I've only got two telephone extensions currently wired -- the living room extension and one of the extensions in our bedroom -- but that's all that's absolutely necessary at this time. They both work, so that's a Good Thing. It means the old cord can be removed and everyone's happy again. :)

So I've managed to get a few projects done. It's been a pretty busy day, so I'm going to call it a night. Well, after I go watch the 10PM news and be a part of the Flickr community again. :)

So until next time...
"The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist fears this is true."
- James Branch Cabell

--MZ

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I Read A Book!


Don't Shoot!
Just like she reacts for the 'How Big Is Kirstin?" thing, so she also reacts to the "Don't Shoot!" thing. That's right -- I taught her that. :)
An actual book. Cover to cover! Go figure! Go me!

Every day I read a lot. I mean a lot. It's predominantly in electronic form, short of my twice-weekly newspaper reading. But as far as bound books go, it's not that often I actually sit down with a book proper (short of reference materials)...let alone read one cover to cover.

Well anyway, I finished Canoeing With The Cree tonight, and it was definitely worth my time. It really only took a few hours to read, but I spread it out over several days' time. It's an interesting and very unique story; something that (for very obvious reasons) probably won't ever happen again...so that's cool.

We didn't get any snow today, and that's okay. I like snow, but what we've got is good enough for now...until it starts to get dirty looking (which will happen soon). Then it can snow again and freshen things up. :)

The co-op had fuel oil delivery day today, though. Ten days short of two months since the last fill, and we went through approximately 75 gallons in that time. Not too bad, really.

I'm always curious about what the sticker price will be for fuel. It's usually around 25-50 cents cheaper than the advertised diesel fuel (for road use) price on the sign (namely due to the absence of tax). Since the current price of road diesel fuel is still at $3.499, I was curious as to what I would pay this time. $3.18/gallon. Which is a big jump from the fill in October, when it was $2.57/gallon.

At least we only go through about 70 gallons in the coldest month of the year (usually January or February). The rest of the heating season is somewhere between 30 and 60 gallons in a month. It could always be worse, though. I know people who go through at least two full barrels (over 550 gallons) in a season. That would get to be on the average order of 100 gallons per month.

I took some really cute pictures of Kirstin tonight. It was fun; she was having a generally good time, and that makes for a fun picture session. And short of that, I don't really have much new to report. I'm looking forward to the weekend, when I can hopefully tackle a few random projects (video capture, Christmas picture session, etc.). So since it's now getting quite late, I'm going to call it a night and go catch my beauty sleep. Or my beauty, in sleep. Or just reclaim my space in bed. :)

Until next time...
"All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusion is called a philosopher."
- Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)

--MZ

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Have You Been Drinking, Sir?


Laughing At Mom
Beth was tickling her and she gives the funniest looks.
So I'm on my way home this evening, and it's pretty dark by this time. I can see several miles in front of me that someone's pulled over on the side of the road. Lights are flashing.

Not all that normal for the stretch of road I drive, but not terribly uncommon either. As I approach, I notice that this is a large vehicle mostly on the shoulder (but there's not much shoulder at this location). A little closer, and I notice that a sheriff's deputy has a beer truck pulled over!

'How cool is that?' I think to myself. The second thought: 'Oh, to have the camera!' I mean seriously -- here's a beer truck. And a sheriff's deputy. I can just picture the conversation:
"License and registration, please."

"Have you been drinking tonight, sir?"

"Umm, no I have not, officer."

"I can smell alcohol..."

You get the point... :)

As I get past the incident, I notice that the beer truck is not running. Its flashers are on, but no headlights. And another vehicle from the beer distributor is parked nearby, which leads me to put two and two together -- the beer truck wasn't pulled over; it simply broke down.

I guess I can dream. :)

When we went back into town this evening, we saw the beer truck and distributor's vehicle parked at the co-op, with one of the workers there just putting the tow/push truck back into the shop. Confirmed: beer truck broke down.

On our return home, we got to see one of those really cool wintertime things -- water vapor crystals. It almost turns into a fog/snow look. What basically happens is that at a certain air temperature (I register that the low temp for the day was actually -10.1 at 8:15 tonight, about the same time we were experiencing this phenomenon), the water vapor in the air actually crystallizes and falls/floats through the air. It creates a prism-type effect which looks almost like a fog.

It also has the very neat effect of reflecting light (from streetlights and other sources) directly upward into the sky. So it looks like a bunch of spotlights facing upward. And that's cool. Literally.

It's actually warming up as the evening progresses. Currently registers at -0.4. It's like a heat wave!

And so that's basically how my day has been today. A normal work day, but then some interesting evening events that don't usually happen in life...so I write. :)

I've got the Celtic Woman Christmas thing set to be captured at 1AM, so I'm looking forward to watching that later. Should be good stuff.

And with that said, combined with the fact I'm now yawning compulsively, I'm calling it a night!

Until next time...
"You can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it."
- Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936)

--MZ

Monday, December 3, 2007

Cold, Cold Monday


Coming To Get Me
She saw the camera (and me) and decided that I was to be crawled to.
Sometime around 3AM this morning the low here at home reached -9.4F. That's pretty cold. :) Makes me glad the [thick] flannel sheets were put on the bed. Bed was toasty! And it was good!

I forgot to mention last night that I put two new videos of Kirstin up on YouTube. She was being pretty cute and crawly, so some quick shots were taken. Good stuff!





I finally upgraded my installation of Winamp at the office today. As a result, I started using a new skin just out of curiosity and in a very specific way have come to really like it. Combined with global hotkeys, I can do many actions without bringing it to the foreground and I can see the basic title information pop up in the foreground as each new piece begins. Awesome!

So I've been playing around with it at home here a bit as well; I think I may have finally switched from my old trustworthy skin. We'll see.

I saw bits of the Christmas version of Celtic Woman on PBS last night. It was intriguing, so I intend to either watch and/or capture it to watch later when it comes back on again (which isn't until Wednesday). I don't always care for all of their stuff, but they always have some cool bits wrapped in the entire package which makes it worth watching.

I also have some other video to capture, mostly for archival purposes. Pretty much all of this stuff is on VHS, so I need to clear out some disk space and go to town. Beth might have to learn how to capture video. :) Or babysit the process, actually. But I have to move some existing stuff to [data] DVD first.

Anyway, just as a random statistic for the day. I've taken more or less exactly 6GB of pictures so far in 2007. Crazy! This compares to 289MB in 2006, 228MB in 2005, 90MB in 2004, 144MB in 2003, and 140MB in 2002 (when I first got the camera). This isn't all-inclusive; there are about 420MB worth of images from the various One-Act productions...but it's pretty obvious what my compulsive picture-taking has done...in sheer volume alone.

Since December 22, 2006, the camera has been used to take 6,747 pictures!

So now that I've bored you with strange and somewhat useless statistical data, I'm going to call it a night and sign off.

Until next time...
"An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered."
- Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936)

--MZ

Sunday, December 2, 2007

It Snowed!


Please?
I absolutely love how Beth managed to get them both to look up at her while getting a cute picture like this. They're so much fun.
So it wasn't exactly the big storm they were predicting, but we did manage to get about six inches of the stuff on Saturday. Enough to justify getting the driveway blown out.

So we didn't end up going anywhere on Saturday, which in some ways was expected. It was kind of nice. We set up the Christmas stuff and did some things around the house like that. I spent a lot of time on Flickr...and I took more pictures of course. Currently have over 3,250 pictures online with a total (root) photostream visit count of over 5,000. I was able to do some catching up there this weekend, which was good.

We didn't make it to church today because of the snow event. The plow didn't go by on the road until somewhere around 9:30. I went outside to do some cleaning up (shoveling around the doors and in front of the garage, etc.) after the plow went the first time (it takes two passes). But it was pretty obvious that the driveway would need to be blown out this time. We had a few 12-18" drifts across the driveway, and that doesn't learn much for leaving the yard.

So sometime around 10:30 Josh came over on his route and blew out the driveway. I was in the shower at the time, but he knows what we like to have done with that so it wasn't a big deal. It's nice to have that 'service' available. What I find interesting is that he almost always does our driveway before he does his own -- that's awfully nice of him.

We took Kirstin out in the snow for a bit today. She didn't know what to think about it all at first, but then she got pretty cold (her face, namely) and didn't want to have any more to do with the outside. We did get her on the kicksled, though, and that was neat for a few minutes. There's even a picture of it! :)

So that was more or less the weekend in a nutshell. Not terribly exciting, but nice to really be somewhat relaxed. For once. :) And seeing as how it's now about -5.5 outside and nearly midnight, I'm heading for bed. Must get my 'beauty sleep' seeing as how I'm getting my hair cut in the morning!

So until next time...
"Be nice to people on your way up because you meet them on your way down."
- Jimmy Durante

--MZ

Thursday, November 29, 2007

There's A Storm A-Brewing!


Nice Tail
I like how this picture turned out, even though Felix's tail is in the frame (since he so nicely walked through).
So it looks like this weekend will be the first real snowstorm of the season. I can't wait, really! I'm looking forward to it, right down to stocking up on some things.

We ended up going to Alexandria this afternoon, mostly on a diaper and baby gate mission. It shan't be long before Kirstin is mobile enough to justify keeping her out of places where Bad Things can happen. So some initial measures (purchase of baby gates) have now been taken. That, and we ended up coming home with 324 diapers. Long story short -- coupon expiry. Tomorrow.

So it was a pretty busy day but a relatively relaxing and interesting day. We went to the mall while we were there and picked up some stuff so we can do a really cute Kirstin Christmas picture. Should be awesome! At least that's the plan.

So we're on storm watch now -- if nothing else it'll give me an excuse to get a few random things done around the house (especially if it snows hard enough for Internet service to go out). But we've no snow on the ground just yet; it's just been cold for now.

And seeing as how it's now nearly midnight, I'm signing off. Until next time...
"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
- Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

--MZ

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Oops!


Cute Capture
She was talking to me and making this crazy funny face; I just happened to take a picture at the right moment to accurately capture it.
So I missed a night. It wasn't really all that intentional, but I was just too tired to sit and write last night. My apologies.

I managed to go through and be a little interactive with the Flickr community last night, and that can be a little (or a lot) daunting, especially when trying to at least go through some of the groups to which I added photos and be interactive with other 'artists' as it were. Share and share alike, right?

I really like the whole Flickr thing; it's really an amazing place. All sorts of things, for every possible interest. And the fact that it can be used for free (granted, with several restrictions) is really pretty cool, too. I mean, I signed up with a Flickr account about a year ago but didn't actually upload a picture until late February. And within mere days of that first upload, I had upgraded to Pro. Mostly because I exceeded the 200 image threshold, but also due to the soon-to-be-arriving baby and the removal of restrictions.

It's been an excellent move and has worked out in many favorable ways since that time. For one, it's trivial to share pictures (of all sorts) with everyone I/we know. And that's worth it right there. And people with free accounts (namely family and friends) don't have to do anything (aside from sign up which is free) to make comments and the like. So that's just plain cool to me.

Anyway, it's now nearly midnight (but since I finally started reading Canoeing With The Cree tonight and spent an hour on that, I'm a little late to bed. So I'm signing off for now...and until next time...
"A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969), Inaugural Address, January 20, 1953

--MZ

Monday, November 26, 2007

Brrr!


Winding Along In The Distance
This is one of my favorite shots of the day. I like how the few remaining colored leaves frame the exposed water in this picture.

Sacred Heart Creek, Renville County, Minnesota
So it got really pretty cold this evening. We went from a high of about 42 here this afternoon (around 2:30, according to my thermometer) to a current temperature of 6.3. And we got some snow! Yeah!

I managed to upload the rest of the pictures that I took (this time the 'scenery' ones) the other day. I only uploaded 53 for the day, but I'm done with that portion for now. At least now I can take some time to send pictures to groups and do some of the other cool Flickrite stuff. So that'll be cool.

Today was a pretty average Monday, really. Not a whole lot new in the world, and it was the first real work day after a long holiday weekend. So that makes for an interesting day...but not necessarily in the most productive or 'needs to be talked about' sort of way. It was normal, but just a little slower than most Mondays. :)

I need to do some organization stuff around my desk in the next week or so. It's starting to get cluttered, and I need to go through and do some filing (my 'roughly quarterly' thing). The file cabinet is starting to get very difficult to close (and open) properly...so that's a good indicator that things need to be gone through. That will probably be next weekend's project.

And since I don't really have much more to say tonight, I'm going to leave it at that and head for bed where I can form my overnight cocoon and enjoy some 'beauty sleep.'

So until next time...
"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."
- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

--MZ

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Brief Hiatus!


So Terribly Cute
Kirstin was being too photogenic for her own good sometimes!
So I just looked back and noticed my last post was on Tuesday (11/20). I didn't think it'd been that long, but it's not terribly surprising. Due to the holiday and whatnot, we were kept pretty busy (in a Good Way).

Wednesday we went to the Thanksgiving service at church, then took off from there to head out to my folks' place. After making up a homemade pizza at 11PM, we went to bed kinda late. No post that night. :)

Thursday obviously was Thanksgiving, and we spent the better part of the day (after about noon) at my grandparents place just down the road from Ma & Dad's. It was a really nice time. The crowd was pretty thin, so things stayed relatively quiet and wasn't too busy. Don't get me wrong -- the entire crew is fun to be around, but it gets almost chaotic at times. This was a nice change.

Friday was my day of adventure. In the morning, Beth and I left Kirstin with Ma while we went up to the old house to get a few boxes. While we were on that trip, we went and found the old abandoned house to the east of where my folks used to live. And then we walked down to the creek and I took a bunch of pictures. We returned, ate lunch, and I then went out on my own (on foot) to an abandoned place way back in the woods to the east of where my folks now currently live.

That was an awesome time. I got a load of pictures (most of them pretty good) and probably walked/hiked close to four miles. So that ate up most of Friday, and later that night Mark and Abby came out and we had some good times.

We came back home on Saturday in the midday, and shortly after we returned Minda came out to stay with us for a night. It was awesome to have Minda around again. She's amazing. :) And fun. So that pretty much ate up Saturday and the better portion of today.

Which brings us to right now (late Sunday night). I uploaded the abandoned stuff pictures, all of Kirstin's pictures, and miscellany tonight , but I'm leaving the scenery stuff until tomorrow evening. I just don't have time anymore tonight to do the 'post processing' stuff on those uploaded images (titles, tags, descriptions). That, and I already uploaded exactly 100 pictures today and 27 yesterday, so anyone that comes to see the photostream tomorrow morning (a return to business days) will have some time involved... :)

And speaking of statistics on photos -- I reached the 3,000 photo mark on Flickr last night. Awesome! Some brief stats as of 11/25/07:

  • 3,105 pictures total

  • 1,603 Kirstin pictures

  • 279 George pictures

  • 402 Cat pictures (including aforementioned George count)

  • 127 Dog pictures

  • 370 Theatre pictures

So that's pretty cool. That's not an all-inclusive list, but the largest categories based upon my tag usage. Yes, I'm a dork. But a dork with a load of photos on Flickr! :) Go me!

Anyway, it's now getting to be close to midnight, so I'm calling it a night. Until next time (and I promise it'll be sooner this time)...
"There's a limit to how many times you can read how great you are and what an inspiration you are, but I'm not there yet."
- Randy Pausch (1960-)

--MZ

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Nothing Like A Good Fire!


Observant
George was in a very observant pose here. I think it's a really good picture of him.
I had the opportunity this afternoon/evening to sit in on a really big brush fire out at the golf course. This was attempt #2 at setting the entire thing ablaze (the last attempt was in June, I believe)...and with a nearly 20mph wind from the north-northwest, there was no doubt it'd be quite the fire!

Indeed it was. And for as cold as it got, being pretty close to a big fire like that (the brush pile was about fifty feet wide, 100 feet long, and about 7-10 feet high). So that was cool. Wait, hot. Well, you get the point.

It was a pretty small group out there for the event. A local photographer came by to take some fire pictures, which was cool. He ended up taking something like 700-800 pictures (he didn't know exactly, but knew he had taken 600 before he started to get silhouettes of his dog). He got quite a few pretty cool pictures, including one of myself which I hope to get from him at some point in time. That'd be cool.

Anyway, short of that, I've spent most of my evening (once I got home, warmed up, and ate) hanging around and catching up a bit on Flickr. I got some more cool pictures -- one in particular of Felix again -- and by the time you've added it to groups and done some looking around and commenting, it can really eat up some time. But it's fun, relatively harmless, and is oddly relaxing (at least for me).

It also makes me long for a DSLR. :) Anyone looking to shell out about $600 for christmas on me? Didn't think so, but high on my wish list is a Digital Rebel XTI. :) The 10.1 megapixel model. Preferably silver (I think). I've got a vendor in mind for anyone serious. :)

Okay, so I'll stop rambling about that. I actually really like my current digital camera (and there's certainly nothing wrong with it). It'd just be nice to have the ability to determine what receives the focus (rather than letting the camera decide). It's why I end up taking about five times as many pictures as are 'good' sometimes.

So, seeing as how it's now pretty much midnight, I'm heading for bed. Until next time...
"It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."
- Carl Sagan (1934-1996)

--MZ

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday, Monday!


Dad's Home
Beth was taking pictures of Kirstin when I got home. She was so excited to see me!
I don't exactly know why, but I am completely devoid of rambling thoughts tonight. So this is likely to be quite a short entry.

I came home from work a little early (so I could still have light by which to work) and installed the old air conditioner box. It's a pretty snug fit (a Good Thing), and should help keep cold air out of the house. It's not by any means perfect, but at least it's a white box sticking out the side of the house and no longer the big ugly faded maroon-ish color that the actual unit is colored. So that's nice.

I suppose next year (or maybe this year yet, seeing as how I've still got over a half sheet of plywood) I will build a box to cover up the central air conditioner unit. That doesn't need to be insulated, though. Just something to help keep debris and snow out of it during the off season.

It was mighty foggy this morning -- something I'd not seen or driven through in some time. I don't really care for fog but it's better than ice, although not better than ice and fog together. Fortunately after a few hours of morning sun it'd burned off.

Short of those things, it's been a pretty normal Monday. So I'm going to head for bed and calmly work my way into Tuesday. :)

Until next time...
"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."
- Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

--MZ

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Here Endeth The Weekend


King Of The Couch
Felix actually stood to have his picture taken. And it was a good one!
So I did manage to get the old air conditioner box painted. At least good enough now for the winter. So if all goes well, I'll get it installed tomorrow afternoon and that project will be knocked off the list.

We ended up over at Phil & Gail's house (although Gail was gone) for lunch today after church, which was nice...and somewhat unexpected. Had a nice bit of conversation and ended up spending a few hours there. Upon return home, I fed the dogs, took some pictures of the dogs, took in the recyclables (since the trailer was in town this weekend), finished painting, and even watched a little TV.

It was a pretty good day, and we had homemade pizza for supper. Even better.

I'm just glad the oven still works. I forgot to mention a few days ago, but upon an attempt to legitimately self-clean the oven the other night (Friday night to be exact), during the process the broiler element burned up. So we can no longer broil. At least until it gets fixed. We don't often broil anything (unless we use it to brown cheese or similar sort of behavior), so that's not the end of the world but it's still annoying.

And go figure. :)

Anyway, it's getting late and I spent more time hanging around on Flickr tonight than I'd originally intended. But that happens sometimes, so I'm heading for bed before it's too late. :)

Until next time...
"Many a man's reputation would not know his character if they met on the street."
- Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915)

--MZ

Saturday, November 17, 2007

It's A Saturday!


Flirty Girl
She was flirting with me when I first set her down on the floor for picture time.
You know, Saturdays tend to be boom or bust for me. I either get some stuff done, or I get nothing done. There's never really any middle ground like 'I sorta got a few things started, but lost ambition...'

That's probably a Good Thing, but I did manage to get a few things done today. For starters, I finally got the box for the old air conditioner built. And insulated. And mostly painted.

I have two coats of paint done on three of the four box sides (there's no bottom, as that will be insulated separately, and then there's the side which is the house)...so tomorrow's project is to paint the remaining side and give the top an extra coat or two of paint for brevity. Ideally I can get it installed before it gets dark on Monday evening (when it's supposed to be just a little warmer than other days this upcoming week) and that project can be complete.

After I was done with the table saw and had moved some things around in the basement, I cleaned up (specifically swept) down there. It looks almost like a wholly different basement, really. Of course, not having three sheets of pink extruded styrofoam in the middle of the basement kinda helps open it up a bit. Two of those sheets (and the remnants I didn't use for the old A/C box) are in the cistern now against a wall.

I also finally took the time just about an hour ago to drain and flush the water heater. I didn't do it last fall, and it's one of those projects I like to do annually if possible. Not that it really needs it, but it does help to flush out any accumulated scale or other foreign material that may have made its way past the filter and softener. The water heater was pretty empty (of its 105 gallon capacity, approximately 30 gallons was truly hot by the time I got to draining it tonight), which is what I was shooting for.

I noticed when I was outside today feeding the dogs that the power company had indeed shut off the water heater, which they don't always do on the weekends, so I decided to take advantage of the fact it hadn't been heating water most of the day. Gotta love load management stuff. :)

It takes longer to drain the water heater than to fill it, by about 2 to 1. It takes about 20 minutes to drain completely. I usually end up spending five to ten minutes flushing (with brief 'shots' of about a gallon of water each time), and it takes about nine minutes to fill. Not too bad, but it does take some time.

So that was basically my day. Of course, I took a pseudo nap in the midday and spent quality time in the morning just hanging around the house...so I would have to say it's been a pretty productive day.

With all that said, until next time...
"There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life."
- Frank Zappa

--MZ

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It Gets Dark


Help, I'm Falling!
I think this picture turned out pretty cute. Almost like she was losing her grip and falling backwards...
And it does so quite early now. It's the one thing about the wintertime I really don't care much for. It usually means feeding the dogs in the dark and spending copious amounts of time indoors. Where it's light.

Ah well. This too shall pass, just like it does every other year.

Not a whole lot new going on today. I didn't sleep real well last night (probably due to the coffee I intook at 8:30PM), so I'm on the really tired order tonight, which is a Good Thing. I did manage to get a little play time in with Kirstin this evening, so that's cool. She's a lot of fun to make giggle.

Unfortunately, I'm completely devoid of topics tonight, so I'm going to cut this short and head for bed. Well, after I skim a few emails and watch the latest video DeBlog from Jason DeRusha, which I see just arrived in my inbox.

So until next time...
"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."
- Antoine de Saint Exupery

--MZ

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Who, What, Where?


Looking On Up
I really like this picture that Beth took of Kirstin this evening. She excels at being cute. I actually think this pose makes her look an awful lot like Ma's (Grandma 'Ma') baby picture.
Where did the day go? If you have any idea, please let me know. It just seemed like today flew by...and I'm not sure where it went.

The thing is that it wasn't really any day out of the ordinary, short of being a Wednesday and thusly the middle of the week. Even still, it just seems crazy that it's already 11PM. Of course, I am yawning a lot, so I know it's the end of the day and not some sort of cruel trick.

In somewhat random news, today marked the day my Flickr account root page reached 4,500 views. Crazy. There have been 4,500 views of the 'home' page there. Somewhat hard to fathom in ways. That's not unique visitors, though...so it's less humbling a statistic than that. And anyone who didn't view that page (but viewed individual pictures via a link or the like) aren't included in that number.

Kirstin's now on some antibiotics for her little ear infection. It's not really too severe, but enough to justify some medication. So hopefully that will start making her feel better and not bouncing her head side to side all the time.

Overall she's been pretty good (at least around me). We still enjoy playtime pretty much as per the usual, so that's good. She's not constantly screaming or anything. And she's cute as ever. So that's nice. :)

She's also growing some hair now. I've really started noticing more hair on her head in the last two weeks. So she's starting to grow out of the mostly bald baby category, which should be fun.

Anyway, I'm going to leave this a bit on the short order tonight. Tomorrow's another day, and hopefully there will be something to slow it down just enough to recall something of interest or importance about which I can ramble.

With that in mind, I sign off. Until next time...
"Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome."
- Isaac Asimov

--MZ

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mischief?


Mischief?
If you look to the far left of the frame, you'll notice George... Put two and two together... :)
No, I've not been into any real mischief of my own; probably because the time required for mischief hasn't really been available. So sorry to be disappointing right off the bat tonight.

Things have been pretty busy the last few days. I've tried to spend some time outside getting things wrapped up and whatnot, and have been fairly successful in so doing. Tonight I had a meeting, so I wasn't able to go outside. But that's alright, because I'm pretty sure that most of the things I really needed to get done (that require spending much time outside) have now been taken care of.

Short of that, there's not much new going on in my world. Just keeping busy with the regular stuff. I'm hoping to get a few other projects taken care of this weekend (to be outlined later), so perhaps one of these days (or years, rather) the basement stuff will get on its way to being done. Or at least organized better. But in the meantime, I just need to get the sheet of plywood and three sheets of styrofoam out of the way -- that'll do wonders for making the space more appealing. Or at least not cluttered. :)

Since I'm pretty much lacking words tonight that I wish to share with the world, I'm going to call it a night and bid thee adieu. So until next time...
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe."
- Carl Sagan (1934-1996)

--MZ

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It Can All Fit...


Cute Smile
She wasn't all that smiley tonight, but it was awfully cute to catch the few she had. :)
...if you just plan it out a bit.

Tis the lesson I found out this evening while I winterized and organized stuff in the shed. I managed to somehow fit everything in...and have room left to spare. Considering that I added the grill to the shed's already crowded contents, I was amazed.

It didn't really take all that long to do, but I'm glad it's over. All of the hoses are coiled up (and drained of most water), everything with a gas engine has been winterized as much as necessary (namely fuel treatment and a final run), and the shed was swept out. It looks pretty good in there right now.

There are still some outdoor projects that need to be completed yet, but the major bits are now done and things are put away for the year. It's a good feeling to have a project like that complete.

Short of that, it was a pretty normal Sunday. Church, nap, random projects at home, quiet evening...

I did notice tonight when I fed the dogs that they both seem to be much happier now that they're back on the west side of the house. I noticed it particularly in Kurva, whose attitude was much happier when I fed her. She was more excited than she had been over on the east side, so that's a Good Thing. The only real downside to having them to the west is that there's no light over there.

We'll see how it goes this winter; maybe I'll have to add some sort of floodlight system to their areas so we can at least see what's going on. But that's by no means a necessity. The old flashlight method can still work just fine. :)

The next project on the list is to do some electrical work in the basement. Well, at least start planning for that. It's not like a lot is going to change, really...but it needs to be organized differently in coordination with the additional light and outlets that will need to be in the cistern at some point in time.

But in the meantime, it is back to the mill tomorrow. It was awfully nice to be at home for an entire weekend without other commitments, though. It's been a while since that last happened for me.

So until next time...
"It is much more comfortable to be mad and know it, than to be sane and have one's doubts."
- G. B. Burgin

--MZ

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Out Of Exile!


What Do These Do?
She was analyzing her fingers this morning. Carefully looking at them as though she didn't understand what they do.
So as of this evening the dogs are no longer in their temporary exile on the east side of the house. This will likely be a permanent change.

Friday afternoon I rented a trencher and made the trench for the electrical conduit to run between the house and the west side dog yard. The entire purpose of this is so that the dogs can have a heated water bowl during the cold months and still stay on the west side of the house. Previous years they've had to stay on the east side of the house (where there was power for their heated dish).

So I did the trenching quick (only took about 20 minutes to unload, change, trench and load), which was good since it's a rental by the hour. :) I returned the unit and came home to finish the hand digging (next to and up to the house where the electrical line is buried and where the trencher could not reach, also in the yard where the telephone cable is buried). That sucked, but not nearly like digging the entire 40 feet by hand. That would have been worse.

I placed and buried all of the conduit between the disconnect for the air conditioner and the open end in the dog yard. The disconnect for the air conditioner is just being used (for this project) as an enclosure/junction box for another wire. Seeing as how it gets pretty good and dark by 5:30PM, I didn't get much else done yesterday evening.

Besides, Erik and Jill were over for supper, so as much as I might have normally grabbed my work floodlight to keep going, I quit shortly after dark. And Erik came by shortly after I finished, so it all worked out well. We had a good time last night and ended up playing cards for a while, which is something I've not done for some time. Gotta be a few months at least.

Anyway, after it warmed up a bit today, I went back outside to get this project done. I dug a post hole good enough for what I needed, broke out the chainsaw to cut the post to the desired length, set it, poured in some concrete mix, and went back to work.

Long story short, I installed the box on the pole, pulled wire, installed outlets and box covers (I put two electric boxes on this run -- one on the outside of the house, the other on the pole in the yard), and tested it out. Of course with success. :) Which is a Good Thing.

So I moved the dogs back to their normal areas. They seemed happy to be back in their normal territory. And I'm happy to have them back in their normal territory as well. I don't care as much if they dig up the yard on that side of the house...and that's what they like to do.

So I have a few holes to fill in on the east side of the house again, but that'll be alright. Tomorrow's project, maybe. I'm going to try to get everything winterized and put away tomorrow, which means a major clean-out of the shed. Not necessarily looking forward to that, but it shouldn't be too bad. Worst part is just figuring out where everything should go to maximize the utilization of space.

That's more or less how my last two days have gone. Been pretty productive in a way -- it's really good to have that dog yard project done. Now if I can just get the basement cleaned up a bit. Eesh.

Ah well, it could be worse. We'll see how it goes. Until next time...
"Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action."
- Auric Goldfinger, in "Goldfinger" by Ian L. Fleming (1908-1964)

--MZ

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Phrase I Really Hate!


Strong -- Like Bull!
This was the picture of my 'bench pressing prowess' that Phil took.
But before I get that far, I've decided to write several posts tonight (each on their own topic) rather than combine a bunch of thoughts in hopes of somehow weaving some resemblance of continuity and purpose in a single post.

I guess I'm making up for lost posts during the last month or so. Or being lazy. It's likely really the latter, but I prefer to think the former.

Anyway, I really hate the phrase "GROW (fill in whatever you want to get better but not physiologically make larger)" Really, REALLY hate it.

I want to reach out and do physical harm to people that use this sort of nonsense. Specifically, today I heard the phrase "to GROW jobs" which makes my skin crawl.

Unless we're talking about The Matrix, nobody's in the business of growing a workforce. And in that movie, they weren't growing jobs, they were growing people. Totally different thing. That...and it's NOT REAL.

If someone could let me know how one can "grow" a job, I'd really like to hear about it. I wasn't aware there was a physical seed one could plant that created some sort of job plant, unless you're talking about migrant workers or manual agricultural labor, in which case planting something could logically construe 'growing' jobs.

But this does not apply to the economy in general. So if Someone In Charge(tm) reads this, please stop using the phrase.

Thank you.

Alright, seeing as how this is now the third post of the night and it's midnight time, I'm heading for bed. For real.

Until next time...
"To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance"
- Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

--MZ

End Of An Era


Cast
The cast picture of the 2007 RCW One-Act
I've been meaning to write about this for some time, but I've just not really had the time or actual drive to sit and do it. But the end of an era in my life has come.

I am no longer at the helm of the RCW One-Act Play.

It's not like I got fired or quit myself; more of an amicable understanding between two parties. For one thing, I was at the top step of the pay scale for that position (and had been for at least two years) so the economics of it (especially with $3/gallon gasoline) were making less and less sense. They also are wanting to steer theatre in the district in a different direction than it has been for as many years as I've been involved with it (which is upward of 12 years now). Which is an understandable and sometimes necessary position in which to be.

It's really quite a bittersweet thing for me. On one hand, I really, really loved being a part of the program and doing what I could for educational theatre. On the other hand, it required a lot of work and time to accomplish. So it was time to move on.

The big question remaining is whether or not they will find a replacement for the position. At this time, I've been informed (by one of my students) that someone is being encouraged (by the students, which is a Good Thing) to take over. One of my concerns in leaving the position was that they be able to find someone to take it over and not use it as an excuse for completely dropping the program, which I voiced to the administration.

I'm certainly not calling myself irreplaceable but for One-Act in particular, it can be difficult to find someone willing to take on the challenge. Which is, in a way, how I wound up with the position in the first place.

I am sad about the situation, but it's getting better as time goes along. It is ultimately for the better, and that's the real point. I was truly privileged to have been able to coach and mold some tremendously talented teenagers during my tenure. I would like to believe that I made a difference in their lives; I know that they made a difference in mine. And to each of them I've worked with in the last six years, my heartfelt thanks and appreciation goes out. It is they and not I that made for some incredible productions during that time.

So here's to them all. Chip a tooth!
"Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater."
- Gail Godwin

--MZ

Oven Antics

Okay, so a few weeks ago we made scalloped potatoes for an event. That was all fine and good, except we made a bit too much, and they boiled over in the oven. Well, not for long, but long enough for an amount of liquid butter to basically pool in the bottom of the oven.

So we dealt with the smell of burning butter in an oven during that event. Airing out the house helped with the smell, and a day later it was all gone.

But the oven was forgotten. We don't use the oven very often.

So we baked some squash tonight. Which was excellent (for store-bought squash). It was about the time we put the squash in the oven that we re-discovered that the mess in the oven hadn't been cleaned.

Burned butter smell. Again.

Biggest difference this time is that it's below freezing outside now. Last time it was in the 50's...so while it was cool when the house was opened up, it wasn't freakin' cold.

So we lit a bunch of candles, temporarily un-batterified the kitchen smoke alarm, and opened the kitchen window and back door (to at least let a little air exchange). It's getting better, but it still stinks throughout the house.

So I had the great idea that we'd just run the self-cleaning cycle after we were done with the sqash. After all, the oven was already warmed to 350...so it makes sense.

What I didn't realize at the time was that there was still a good amount of butter in the bottom of the oven that should've been wiped out before we ran the clean cycle. Since the light doesn't automatically come on when one opens the oven door (and due to the oven's position in the kitchen), it wasn't overly obvious at the time.

So we sat down to eat while the oven cleaned. And I kept an eye on the thing. Smoke was really starting to come out of the vent as one would expect, but my curiosity was piqued when I saw a big puff of smoke (accompanied by a 'whoosh' sound) come from the underside of the oven door (where the door's seal has a joint).

When I went to check it out, I turned on the oven light. At the same time, fire erupted inside the oven. The butter was at its flash point. Presumably this is what caused the 'whoosh' previously mentioned. Anyway, at this point in time I decided to cancel the cleaning cycle. I didn't need to burn down the house. Granted, it's in a 'controlled' environment, but still...

Once the oven cooled down enough to allow the lock mechanism to release, I opened the oven door. Sure enough, most of the butter in question had been burned up. So the short cleaning cycle (maybe a half hour) seems to have taken care of the problem. It has to be wiped out (and maybe a 2 hour clean cycle run again, we'll see), but this should be the end of the spillage burning problem.

Now if we can just get that nasty smell out of the house...

So that's my fire story for the time being. Good thing I just replaced all the smoke and CO detector batteries! We know for sure that the kitchen unit works!
"Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens."
- Jimi Hendrix

--MZ

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Devoid Of Outdoor Heat


An Abandoned House
Built in the Minnesota River Valley, literally just a few feet (if that) from the solid rock bed. This was taken looking to the northwest (it's the southeast corner of the house).
It's gotten colder outside since the last time I wrote (last night). The current temperature at 10:45PM is 19.2 degrees. It's good and cold outside.

The dogs seem to enjoy it, though. And that's a good thing. But since their water was frozen over this morning and this evening, it's time to once again break out the heated dog water dish. Which means I need to get some electricity over out in the dog yard on the west side of the house. Soon.

But it's supposed to warm up after tomorrow, so hopefully I have a few days without the temperatures so low so as to keep that top inch or so of ground from being frozen. That would be nice. Then at least I could quickly trench in the conduit so I can get this project on its way to completion and the dogs back to their normal place.

In other random bits of news, I came home today and Kirstin wasn't exactly in the best of moods. Well, long story short, I managed to get her laughing. Quite a bit. So I took some video of her compulsive laughter and put it online for people to see. Of course, a pseudo mass email was sent out to announce the addition. There's just something that no picture can capture like a video of such nature. It's pretty cute. One downside (and I could play with it a bit) is that due to compressions, the video quality is degraded quite a bit from the original. But it's the laughter that's fun to hear. She's sitting in the swing during the entire video, so that's not much to see anyway.

And I finally managed to put up the abandoned house pictures that I took on September 22. So that's another more major thing off my list. Hooray! So slowly but surely I'm getting caught up with various projects that I've been meaning to complete. Now if I could get the dog water thing taken care of this weekend along with the old air conditioner box, that'd be great! We'll see.

Aside from that, I can't think of anything really profound to add. I have some stuff I've captured off the TV to burn to DVD for later viewing and wanted to let one of those transcode and burn overnight, but by the time I got Kirstin's video done and the various pictures uploaded, I decided that was enough computer work for the evening. :)

So with that said, I'm going to call it a night and sign off in my usual way.

Until next time...
"A clever man commits no minor blunders."
- Goethe (1749-1832)

--MZ

Monday, November 5, 2007

Short, But Sweet


Sitting So Nicely
I love this picture -- she was sitting so nicely and having a good time playing.
I'm going to head for bed pretty soon, but I needed to write a post to at least inform anyone who happens to be checking up on me that I am indeed still alive and kicking. :)

Well, sorta.

It has been a pretty tremendous six days since my last post. Amongst other things, Halloween happened. That pretty much shot a post for Wednesday, because I was pretty tired by the time we got home. Thursday evening we made a pilgrimage to Alexandria for various items, and then Friday through last night (Sunday) we were at my folks' place. I always intend to try writing entries from there (it's certainly possible), but it always seems like we get into doing something else and before you know it, it's midnight or later. Not good writing time for me.

So by the time we got home last night, I wasn't in any sort of mood to write. I didn't even attempt to upload any pictures. It was a 'get home, unload, go to bed' sort of thing.

So today was a return to the mill. It has actually been a pretty productive Monday overall. I managed to get several things knocked off my never-ending list, which makes me feel good. I put a new water panel in the humidifier and got it all up and running, so we should be good to go in that department for the heating season. The whole-house humidifier won't likely be kicking on anytime soon, but it's ready to go now and will kick on as necessary. This is especially the case once things start to really cool down, which they did this morning.

Man was it cold. Eesh. And we had some snow as well. Of course, not enough to stick to the ground, but enough to basically brighten up the day. As crazy as that sounds, I always get excited to see snow falling. So we're now officially in the snow season. At least according to me.

I also took the time tonight to clean off my desk here at home. It's by no means perfect, but it's certainly a lot more open and uncluttered than it was before. So I don't always feel overwhelmed to sit at the computer.

And of course, I uploaded four days worth of pictures tonight. I don't really like doing that many in one shot (it was only about 45 in total) because it can be a bit of overload for the many loyal Flickr viewers that I have, but if I don't get them uploaded shortly after they're taken (rather than spreading them out over a few days' time), I find it much more difficult to ensure they actually do get uploaded. Case in point -- my abandoned house pictures that I took on September 22. They're still not online. Although I do hope to fix that this week sometime.

Anyway, this has gone well past the normal ramble factor, so I'm going to call it a night and wrap it up. This week in some ways looks to be less busy (at least in the evenings) than the past few weeks, so I intend (for real this time) to actually sit and compose a few things of more substance. Considering that it now is [nearly] dark when I get home; my attention will likely remain quite focused -- at least in the house.

So we'll see how it goes. Until next time...
"How far apart were the vehicles at the time of the collision?"
- Random Lawyer at trial

--MZ

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

One Productive Day!


A Cute Girl
My favorite thing about Koshka is still her one blue eye.
So I managed to work out a pretty productive day in several aspects today. For starters, I got caught up on the various emails, newsletters, etc., that I had received over the last week and something at the office. I also did some electronic organizational stuff that is periodically necessary in order to maintain clarity. That was a Good Thing. It means I can once again focus on tasks at hand without those little things in the back of my head.

Since the day turned out to be really fantastic (temperature-wise), I left a little early today so I could get a few outdoor projects completed without having to freeze (or without having to worry about freezing). Namely, I had a painting project (side door trim on the garage) that I needed to get done before it gets too cold. So that's taken care of as well. It will be fine for the winter at least. I can give it yet another coat when I do more major outdoor painting in the spring and summer months. That was a good project to get out of the way.

I also managed to rotate the tires on my pickup. Not exactly rocket science, but something that periodically needs to be done...

While I was outside, I took some pictures of the dogs, started up the generator and let it run for a few minutes with a light load (just to keep it in working order), and gave the dogs some much-needed attention. Perhaps next week I'll get the conduit trenched into their normal dog yard so we can move them back there for the winter (and be able to plug in the heated water bowl). That'd be nice.

While inside tonight, Beth and I finished the work on Kirstin's Halloween costume. It should be cute enough (for homemade) -- at least it promises to be cute. Quite by random planet alignment, Beth found my ceramic 'devil' horns in an old costume -- a set I'd been looking for since we've been living in this house. So I'm quite glad to have those back in the 'known location' category again.

I also made banana bread tonight and did a little catching up with my Flickr account and specifically group activity. I posted some pictures into group pools and did some commenting. So it feels good to be getting back to 'normal' again.

Kirstin was a bit of a diva today and tonight. I'm sure it's mostly due to the teething thing, but she didn't stay awake much past suppertime. She was asleep very shortly after her bath -- didn't completely finish her bottle or stay awake long enough for story time. So she obviously was tired and had a big day behind her.

Anyway, seeing as how I've got a few things to do yet before I hit the sack for the night, I'm going to leave it at that and bid thee adieu. Until next time...
"A witty saying proves nothing."
- Voltaire (1694-1778)

--MZ

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Return To Normalcy?


Prepared For Takeoff
Beth took this picture of me just prior to launch. I can cross this off my list of things to try. I was dizzy and had a massive headache for the rest of the day. It gives me a headache just thinking about the ride...
Well, perhaps not quite yet, but it's getting closer to normal. It's been a very busy past few days, hence my somewhat normal lack of posting as of late...

Wednesday through Friday was the 'final push' to get the remaining corn harvested. And it was a Good Thing. We finished up around 9PM on Friday night; quite a culmination given that the last few days were pretty long. So I was able to sleep in on Saturday morning and 'recover' in a sense.

Saturday afternoon we went over to Phil & Gail's house for their annual leaf raking event. I rolled down the hill sideways (see picture), just because. We won't get into that right now. I definitely will cross that off my list of things to do again. Permanently. :) So the effects of that pretty much made my other efforts to do anything on Saturday null and void.

Sunday was a pretty busy day. The morning and midday were pretty usual, with church and then a midday nap. We had a second (technically third) service on Sunday afternoon with a supper to follow, so it was on the order of 7:30 when we got home Sunday night. That makes for a fairly long day.

And today was day #1 back at the office. Sort of a foreign place, really, since I've been out of the office more than I've been in the office during the last two weeks in particular. But it's a nice return to 'normalcy' in a sense. It's kinda refreshing to return to bits of code that are unfinished and projects that are unfinished with almost a new sense of purpose and drive. It was like a working vacation, really.

So short of going through the massive number of emails (mostly spam in nature) today, I didn't get a whole lot done at the office, but I should be able to comfortably get back into the code tomorrow.

So that's about all for now. Hopefully with this change (or return) I will be able and willing to post something daily here and finally get around to writing the longer ranting or rambling stuff again.

But for now, it's simple and short. So until next time...
"Sleep is an excellent way of listening to an opera."
- James Stephens (1882-1950)

--MZ

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

One Tired Baby


One Tired Baby
She was so tired when we got home tonight. As is very obvious by this picture.
As I'm a bit on the tired order tonight (as per the usual), I'm going to run with the picture title as tonight's post title.

The big difference today versus the previous days of the week namely centers around the fact that we started later today than before (due to some moving of corn that needed to happen before we could harvest more). It was a nice change in a sense, because it allowed me to get caught up a bit with a few random things centering around my desk here at home. And I even got to read the paper in the morning as opposed to during the 10PM news, which is usually how I end up reading the Wednesday paper.

I also left a little early tonight to go off to choir rehearsal. That was a good time as always. But it does make for a long day, and as you can tell by the picture, Kirstin wasn't the only one tired when we got home tonight.

Beth picked up a book that I'd been told to read -- Canoeing with the Cree, which is basically a story about traveling by canoe from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay. All the way. I am told by Beth (who read it in short order) that it is indeed a good read. So I'll have to see if I can sneak that in sometime before the book is due back to the library.

And that said, I'm going to call it a night and head for the bed. It is calling my name. One of these days, I'm going to write one of those monster posts that takes me two hours to compose... I've got some topics to discuss but haven't had an extra two hours lying around to do the composition part... :)

So until next time..
"The nice thing about being a celebrity is that if you bore people they think it's their fault."
- Henry Kissinger (1923-)

--MZ

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Busy, Busy, Busy


Eyes On George
Just before she went to bed, I caught this picture of her looking at George -- this time with George's head in the frame.
I guess that's a Good Thing most of the time, right? I'd tend to agree, actually.

I have spent a considerable amount of time out in the field in the last two days, which has been nice. Got to have an 'upgrade' tractor today, which was cool. Very roomy and nicer 'creature comforts' than the normal ride. Alas, it was only for a day, but it was still a good time.

I watched a very interesting documentary on PBS tonight that Beth actually wanted to watch. It was about kids in China electing their own class monitor, rather than this being an appointed position. It was incredibly interesting, noting that these kids really had no clue as to what an election was prior to this experiment. I'm going to capture it as it replays overnight. If nothing else, it's an incredibly interesting bit about a unique culture.

I'm not feeling very verbose tonight, so I'm probably going to leave it at that. So until next time...
"Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance."
- Will Durant

--MZ

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A New Week!


God, Is That You?
She was actually looking at Beth, but since we just got home from church, it seems fitting. :)
So here it is already -- Sunday night. Another week shortly commences...and that'll be cool.

It should be a pretty busy week coming up. I know the neighbors want to get as close to done with the harvest process as possible, so I will likely be busy with that, which is cool. It's been a lot of fun to hang out in the tractor the last few weeks. Very therapeutic, really. Even though the action itself is somewhat boring, there's always something to look at...and I just haven't spent much time in a tractor during the last ten years or so.

I didn't get to mowing the lawn or really doing anything outside today, which was okay. It ended up raining most of the morning, so I was 'lucky' enough to just make it to town with the recyclable stuff to drop off since the cart is in town this weekend. So short of that, I didn't get much done outside.

But I did get some time to take a nap this afternoon, so that was nice. And I'm still tired. Ah well. Once I get going tomorrow morning, things should be back to 'normal' so to speak, so that's cool. But anyway, since I really don't have much more to write about at the moment, I'm going to succumb to the sleep drive and call it a night. Until next time...
"I have often regretted my speech, never my silence."
- Xenocrates (396-314 B.C.)

--MZ

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Lawn Mowing


Happy To See Me
She was happy to be sitting on the couch and reading her book. And to see me, of course. :)
Okay, so I didn't actually mow the lawn myself (Beth did it), but it finally got done. At least most of it did. The grass was going on eight inches in length in areas of the yard; it was well beyond where it needs to be at this time of year. Especially since this will likely be the last mowing of the year...so long grass throughout the winter isn't necessarily a Good Thing, especially from the aspect of 'critter control.'

I had some early mornings on Thursday and Friday, along with spending some quality time in the tractor Friday and today, hence my more brief absence. One of these days I'm going to sit down and write a long-ish post about some random topic that comes into mind. That'll be cool. I just don't know when that's supposed to be just yet.

Beth's folks came down yesterday and left today. It was a brief interlude, but they came bearing homemade sauerkraut and canned carrots. Haven't really tried the carrots (those are mostly for Kirstin's sake), but the sauerkraut is fantastic. So that's a Good Thing.

In other random news, the hard drive swap and ensuing changes seem to be working well. I'm not sure why my computer randomly seemed to decide to not recognize the 80GB drive, but it's been functioning without issue ever since I removed and reinstalled it, having copied its entire contents in the meantime. The new 40GB system/program drive (imaged from the noisy 28.5GB drive that was its predecessor) has been working well. Gotta love PartitionMagic. Not only did it completely image the drive's partitions, but it did it well enough to not cause any sort of problem and allowed me to resize them as I saw fit (after the imaging fact). So that's cool.

So anyway, that's about all that's new here for now. So I'm heading for bed. Until next time...
"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough."
- Mario Andretti

--MZ

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Honestly, I Didn't Fall Off The Face Of The Planet


It's Cold Outside!
I absolutely love this picture! It's quite possibly the best picture I've ever taken (my opinion) of Kirstin in the last seven months. She's just too cute!
So it's been six days since my last blog entry -- my apologies for the masses of loyal readers. :)

This past week has been quite the bit of busy-ness, so by the time I've managed to sit down to do pictures (which also took a break here and there, although not for nearly as long), it was time to go to bed.

Friday night we ended up at Erik & Jill's house. This was after I was at the office, then spent some time in the tractor, and then met Erik for happy hour at the Eagles' club. We didn't get home until around 11PM, so I was awfully tired by the time we got Kirstin to bed and I did the daily pictures.

Saturday I intended to sleep in and get a few things done outside. While I did sleep in, I ended up out in the tractor for the majority of the day. It was a good time, but it didn't get the lawn mowed. :)

Sunday was normal in the morning, and we later ended up out at the Nelson Pumpkin Farm for a time. It was a good time (see the link for the pictures), but on the way back Jill hit her head, ended up in the hospital, and we took Henry for the night.

That's definitely the condensed version of that story, but it made for a busy evening. It worked out well, though, and Erik came out Monday afternoon to get Henry; Jill got out of the hospital, and life goes on. :)

And so far this week I've been keeping pretty busy with work in various forms. So that's a good thing.

Except...

Yesterday afternoon (Tuesday), I discovered that a hard drive failed in the server box. As the server basically houses the oldest equipment in the house, it was no real surprise to me. So I've had to shut that down for the time being, and all local traffic is on the same subnet as the modem itself (and not in the DMZ behind the server as it was before the shutdown). That at least keeps the network accessible to the Internet. Since the modem is a NAT device (and firewalled at the NOC) and each of the Windows boxen on the local network are firewalled, there should be no reasonable security problem due to the missing server.

It's basically just going to make it impossible to scan pictures for the time being. This shouldn't be an issue, though, since it's not very often I scan things.

This morning I encountered a more troublesome problem, though. My computer froze up and upon reboot was not able to recognize the 80GB hard drive (I refer to it as the "data" drive since it primarily contains just data and not system or program information). It wasn't being recognized by the CMOS/BIOS, which is a Bad Thing.

In haste, since I didn't have any time to mess with it at home, I removed the drive, grabbed a spool of DVD-R's, and brought the drive to the office with me. To my surprise, when plugged into my main workstation at the office, the drive was immediately recognized. Since I've got about 100GB of free disk space at the office, I made a 'backup' copy of the entire contents of the possibly failing drive. Just in case. Since I didn't encounter any problems in the transfer, I didn't burn any DVD's.

Upon return home, I re-installed the drive and it was immediately recognized by the machine. Strange. Things seem to be working without issue once again, and that's a Good Thing. I also have an off-site backup of the 'data' drive (another Good Thing).

While I had the box open and was working on drives, I decided to 'upgrade' my system/program drive (which was a very loud 28.5GB drive) to a new, unused 40GB drive (I got it on sale about a year ago and hadn't used it anywhere). So I broke out PartitionMagic (an excellent application, I might add), copied partitions over to the new drive -- literally disk images, and removed the old 28.5GB drive. My machine is now whisper quiet and seems to perform a little better than it used to.

So I now have a loud, but functioning 28.5GB drive that I will likely use in the server restoration project at some point in time. That said, though, the server may very well end up in the basement on a shelf where it can be as loud as it needs to be without disturbing the rest of the house. We'll see about that and when/if that happens, because I need to have the structured media center in place before I can even think about actually moving the stuff there.

So anyway, that pretty much brings us to now. And seeing as how it's now 11PM, I'm heading for bed. And hoping it won't be another few days before I post again. I'm sure it won't since it's pretty rainy right now (so I'll not be in the tractor as much for the next few days), but you never know...

So until next time...
"I do not consider it an insult, but rather a compliment to be called an agnostic. I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure -- that is all that agnosticism means."
- Clarence Darrow, Scopes trial, 1925.

--MZ

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