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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Holy Productivity, Batman!

Well, I can honestly say that I've not had as productive a Saturday as this in a long time. I certainly can't remember the last time I was this productive (in that I actually accomplished the tasks I set out on Friday's list) on a Saturday. It usually seems as though I end up taking a nap or something and that shoots a good portion of the day away.

Not so, today.

For starters, I slept in until 9. Then I made my pilgrimage to the transfer station with the garbage. I was back by 10:30, at which time I washed out the cans, let them to dry, and then proceeded to prep the upstairs window trim for paint (re-caulk in some spots, etc.). I then watched Beth give both dogs a bath. I took some video footage of that procedure (hoping that I'd catch the dogs yowling in such a way that it appears they're being beaten), but they were both really good with the bath. Anyway, once that was done, I sat down and read the paper, grabbed a light lunch, and broke out the pickup to do some painting (I use the pickup box as a stable platform on which to set the ladder when I'm painting or scraping, when I have to move around a lot more than something like caulking).

The painting process goes pretty fast; I think I was done with that in about an hour and a half. The upstairs windows once again look good (at least the trim does). I cleaned that stuff up, put everything away, and then decided to tackle the next project. I grabbed the shovel and hoe and went to town widening out the septic tank cover holes. That only took a few minutes (because the ground is soft and I only had to widen an existing hole by about 3" all around). Got them cleaned out (to the tops of the covers, anyway), and went in for a midday snack.

Then I went back outside again, this time with sawzall in hand, and cut the section of riser pipe I had to the correct lengths for the two covers. Put all of that stuff away, and it was time to feed the dogs. After I completed that, I put the (now quite dry) garbage cans back in their correct places and brought out the lawnmower. I quick put the mowing deck on, tried it out quick, and put that away (so we can mow the lawn anytime now).

Then it was time to come back inside for a bit, so I did. It was then time to clean up the basement again...just to freshen things up. The water infiltration is once again slowing down, so that's a Good Thing. I dug out the mop, cleaned up a bit, then went to town with the shop vac. Got that all done, then decided to set up another mechanism to hopefully help more with the moisture level in the basement. I dug out the old dehumidifier and set it in a different, more remote part of the basement. Then I set up the box fan to help circulate some air. It didn't take long for my mopping job and whatnot to dry up, and I'll let two dehumidifiers run for a while (until the water quits coming in altogether). I don't really have to worry about them, because I've got hoses set up for both so they drain automatically.

Anyway, once I got done with that I started in on some other stuff upstairs (just cleaning and picking up) and noticed that the neighbors (not the ones right next door) were over next door, so I went to chat for a while. Well, a while turned into over an hour and Beth brought Kirstin over as well. When it was all said and done, it was 7pm and Beth got her garden tilled up out of the deal. Good Times.

So we got back into the house, I made some supper (spaghetti), and then took a shower. I'm now listening to Kirstin grunt and be small over in the Mobile Prison while Beth's taking a bath. After she's done with that, we're going to watch some TV and eventually go to bed after the news.

Anyway, that's basically today in a nutshell. Good thing, too, because I probably will take a nap tomorrow and not have as much opportunity to get things done. Although tomorrow's project list is somewhat simpler. I would like to move the dogs, fill in a few of their holes (on the East side of the house, which is where they currently are), then set the riser pipe in place and backfill those holes (I won't do that until the dogs have been moved, though, because Koshka could fall into one of the holes. Seeing as how she'd fall about ten feet (and then into sewage), that would be a Bad Thing and therefore avoided at all costs. Another random project I'd like to accomplish is getting the upstairs windows (specifically the storm windows) cleaned up a bit. I'd like to replace the storm windows this summer, but in the meantime they really do need some attention.

All of that said, it was a gorgeous day today. It was somewhere in the low 80's today (my memory thermometer said it reached 92, but it gets some late afternoon direct sun, so that's not always accurate). I definitely got some sun myself, as my arms in particular are a little red. Not sunburn red, but will tan quickly red. Of course, that's what I get for being outside pretty much all day.

So until next time...

--MZ

Friday, April 27, 2007

What A Beautiful Friday!


Kirstin, George & Felix - The Comparison
17 lbs of George on the left, Kirstin at just over
10 lbs, and about 12 lbs of Felix on the right.
We grow 'em big.
You know, I had one of those amazing days today. It was really quite unique. I got a few things taken care of at work (nothing earth-shattering, but I actually feel caught up, or at least more so than I used to. So that's always a nice way to end the week.

I will add, though, that the principle of double-standards really tends to piss me off. I was privy today to witness just such an event. I won't go into great detail (because it's really not worth it), but it's interesting to see when two people of similar attitudes meet how vastly different their perceptions of each other become. One is always better than the other...when in actuality they're the same.

But I digress. I came home from work this afternoon and hung around with Beth and Kirstin for a while. That's when I took this picture. We had to coordinate the cats, but we managed to get it to work long enough for a few good pictures. Felix, oddly enough, wasn't the problem. George is the difficult one to pose with Kirstin. But it's obvious that, while Kirstin's grown quite a bit, she's got a lot of catching up to do to beat George.

After I did this sort of stuff for a while, I went outside to do some things. Namely collect and load up the garbage so I can make my quarterly pilgrimage to the landfill tomorrow morning. The last time I was there was on December 16, 2006. So I've got the pickup loaded so it's just get in and go tomorrow morning. Which is nice, because loading is the worst part of the process. So I'll get that done in the morning and be good to go for a few more months.

I also re-dug out what dirt I'd re-deposited into the holes over the septic tank covers this evening. It didn't really take that long (there wasn't much to dig back out, and it's fairly soft), so once we move the dogs back to their normal pasture (on the West side of the house), I can finish digging the holes a bit wider, clean them out, remove the covers, cut and install the riser pipe , replace covers, then backfill. That's one of this weekend's projects to get done.

I also intend to touch-up paint (and repaint) window trim. It's going to be warm for the next few days with a minimal chance for rain, so it's about the most ideal time to do some touch-up painting. Especially the painting that requires a ladder.

Anyway, I had more profound things on about which I intended to ramble, but the yawns are overtaking me now, so that signals time for bed. And with that said, I sign off.

Until next time...

--MZ

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Moon Through The Tree


Moon Through The Tree
When I was closing up the house for the night, it
was hard to miss the big moon high in the sky.
I decided to grab the camera, mess with some
settings (like exposure and shutter speeds), and
see if I could get a reasonable-quality night
photo. I don't think I did too bad, actually.
So it's been yet another very busy day. But pretty productive, I would have to say. The work day was relatively productive, but that helps because the phone was pretty quiet. I can multitask very well, except when it comes to the phone. But I got several things accomplished and working the way they should be, and that's always a nice feeling (better than when I'd left the office on Wednesday evening).

Seeing as how I had been pretty productive and didn't want to start anything big before I left (and also seeing as how it was nearly 70 degrees outside, sunny, and just generally AWESOME), I came home about 30-45 minutes early. I had to stop by Willie's on the way home to pick up a few items for spaghetti salad, but that wasn't a big deal at all.

I got home and shortly after changing clothes went outside to enjoy some of the beautiful day. I didn't really do anything spectacularly amazing, though. I took down the plastic from the upstairs windows (which meant that I had to get out the extension ladder), which took not nearly as long as it did to put up. :) I wanted to do that now that it's warm outside again, and also wanted to get that down so the window trim could air out a bit before getting a fresh coat of paint to touch-up where any of it came off with the adhesive from the tape.

So that's done, and I decided that I was going to also remove the old plastic from the basement windows. I'd never touched it since we bought the house, and one of my summer projects is to fix up the basement windows...so this was a bit of a necessary task. That didn't take that long to accomplish, but while I was at it, I did something I've wanted to do for a long time -- look inside the cistern!

Yes, it's official. I have finally seen the inside of the cistern, the magic quarter of my basement which is wholly unused space. It's not nearly as bad as I thought it would be (see, the aforementioned window plastic on the basement windows was not opaque enough for me to see through). I fully removed the storm window and stuck my head inside. It's quite dank in there (I'm not sure how much dried sludge has collected on the floor since I didn't drop a ladder in there and actually go inside), but about what I expected. So that was kinda exciting. I still really can't do anything with that space (until I get some sort of door cut in the wall to the rest of the basement), but I could potentially at least get in there and clean it out now.

So anyway, back to the spaghetti salad. I had to pick that stuff up so I could make it for a funeral on Saturday, since we were asked to supply a salad. Not that big a deal, really. I'll drop it off tomorrow morning in one of the refrigerators at church and they'll have it with plenty of time to spare for Saturday afternoon. It'll keep without trouble. So I made that this evening (after I got cleaned up from my aforementioned outdoor activities)...while making supper and my first batch of banana bread of the evening.

Yeah, that's right -- I made two batches of banana bread tonight. It just seemed like the thing to do. And it uses the bread machine. Might as well, seeing as how I've had it out for a while now. So actually as I write this post, I'm waiting for the second loaf to cool enough to put in a Ziploc bag for storage (and ultimately transport to work tomorrow). I made one for here at home, and one to bring to work. So I guess I've just been little Susie Homemaker tonight. Go figure.

Now, finally my last bit of business here tonight. The picture. When I was closing up the house, I thought I needed to take a picture. This is one of the pictures I took when messing with the camera for low light conditions. I actually think it turned out quite nice. I might have to do this sort of thing more often. Now that I use the digital camera every day, I usually keep it fairly close by and easy to reach.

Anyway, it's now getting to be kinda late, so I think I'm heading for bed here shortly. So, until next time...

--MZ

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pouty Lower Lip


Pouty Lower Lip
I managed to catch this close-up shot with her
coming out of her pouty lower lip thing.
Priceless. :)
So I really don't have a lot to say tonight, but that's mostly because it's getting late and I've been doing a lot of work throughout the day.

As promised, though, I'm doing this as a photo blog entry, mostly because I like pictures and this one seemed fitting. I happened to end the day at work on a rather bum note. It turns out that something I was working on (which works quite well, I might add) isn't ultimately going to work out (without some modification) the way it was intended. The worst part about this is that the code for said part is third-party code which we've paid and licensed to use.

So, as if having something that isn't quite what one intended it to be is one thing, but not being able to change any of that is quite another. So I put out a few emails to their support folk to see if we can get the situation resolved. I'm sure that in some way, shape, or form we can...but the fact that my last 20 minutes (of a ten-hour day) ended up that way kinda stains the entire day. Fortunately, however, several other items were wrapped up nicely throughout.

So that's my own pouty lip service. :)

In other news, the car's back to getting over 30 miles per gallon again. That's partially due to the fact it's warm outside again, but also because of other issues. For several months (namely throughout the cold months), it was tough to get much better than about 26mpg, but tonight I verified that after our last weekend trip, we were getting nearly 31. Not bad, considering that we actually had the air conditioner running during part of the trip and we also sat idle a lot more than normal (during stops to feed and change).

So that's good news. Especially since I noticed the gas price in town jumped up (from 2.699) to 2.739 this morning. Not a huge jump, but still an increase. Ah well.

Anyway, until next time...

--MZ

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Fairly Uneventful Day

There are times when the day just doesn't seem like it's going to end. I ran into that several times today. I think today it was from information overload and the need to do a bit of catching up. Regardless, it made for a work day that seemingly dragged on. By the time I got home I was really just shot. Not physically, but psychologically. Yeah, something like that.

Anyway, I took some time to just hang around tonight. Really didn't get anything special accomplished (aside from the fact that instead of wait until after I put Kirstin to bed to upload pictures, I did it before 9pm tonight). Although, I did do some web updates that'd been requested some time ago, which only took about an hour. It took longer to do some CSS research on the particular effect I was wanting to do than it did to actually do it.

Ah well, I'm pretty sure I'm going to spend a long day at work tomorrow, and just stay in town until choir practice at 7pm. It'll work out well, I think, because I can then turn off the phone for a while (come late afternoon) and just hit things hardcore without distraction or interruption. That's the only really bad thing about working in a very small office setting (especially when one person is out as is the case right now) -- everyone's a jack of all trades.

I don't actually mind much of the support work I end up doing. I try my best to only handle the second-level stuff, though. The things that are more technical or detailed in nature (that generally I'm the only one moderately capable of solving said problem). And once in a while the 'easy questions' are really quite welcome (especially after dealing with some of the questions I get). But I also find it really frustrating at times when I'm really flying with some code or other work project and get 'interrupted' by the phone or some other communication (email). I always prioritize incoming requests (especially the electronic ones, to which it's easier to sometimes 'ignore' for an hour or two), but the phone can really be hit or miss sometimes.

I don't like to do that to people, but there are many times when those exact people don't necessarily know or understand that if I take an hour or two out of my prime time to handle their problem, that's an hour or two longer it's going to take for the next update to come out. A few calls isn't so bad, but multiply the effect and it could quickly grow into days. So there's a fine balance to maintain, and I think that by and large we accomplish that quite well. At least I hope so (I haven't heard any complaints through the grapevine about my performance in support).

Anyway, now that I've rambled on about that, I think I'm going to call it a night. Kirstin will officially be at the six week mark come 6AM (just under seven hours from now), so tomorrow is the start of a new photoset on Flickr! I will probably see about doing another photo blog entry tomorrow. I like the additional bits of colors and variation to text that the photo blog entries bring to my long, textual ramblings. Alright, I'm really going to stop typing now. I promise.

Until next time...

--MZ

Monday, April 23, 2007

Pretty Blue Eyes


Pretty Blue Eyes
This is probably the best picture of her current
eye color I've ever gotten -- but I took it in
early morning light in the living room at around
8:45AM. She's got the neatest eye color, and it
really shows up in certain light.
There's really nothing like a good morning picture. I need to get the composite frame out, print a few pictures (like this, amongst others), and put it up at work. Cute pictures like this make the day go faster than it might normally. :)

She can be such a little peanut. And a growing peanut at that -- she's over the 10lb mark now (she was 10lbs, 2ozs last Tuesday, nearly a week ago). If you compare this picture to those on her first day out of the womb, it's amazing to see the difference. Really makes me glad I've done the daily photo thing.

--MZ

It's Rarely A Normal Monday

Well, I should just get used to it -- Mondays never really go the way one would anticipate. First off, I quite frankly wasn't in the mood to do the work thing today when I got there. I just wasn't. But, I found myself of a slightly different opinion an hour after I got there (about the time we sat down for morning coffee). I always dread Mondays (especially if I've been gone for a weekend) due to the additional workload that can arise unexpectedly (because I generally don't check my email when I'm not at home over a weekend).

Fortunately, there really weren't any fires to put out or even anything remotely resembling a fire, past or present. That's always nice. But, as usual, I didn't really get to do some of what I had anticipated doing. I did, however, get something completed that needed to be done at some point in time, so that's a Good Thing. Also managed to fix a bug or two and get a fix out the door for that stuff. All-in-all, it was a quite productive Monday.

In looking around now, I would guess that we received about an inch of rainfall over the weekend. I wished I'd have put out the rain gauge before we left, but alas...not the end of the world. There is a reasonably good amount of water coming up through the floor in the basement now (although it's not as bad as last year, when things were really wet at the outset of spring and it was puddling in the basement -- which it's not doing this year). Dealing with it again, though, only solidifies my need to get that sump basin dug. That is definitely going to be a summer project.

But, the rainfall and warm temperatures have really greened up things around the place. Trees are budding now, and I looked at the bushes out in front of the house a bit this afternoon to discover that they're budding out as well. I was a little concerned about that because there are seven bushes in the front of the house, and I cut each one back significantly as they were getting a bit unwieldy. When one makes major cuts like that, one must also wonder if it was too much. So far, so good.

I finally uploaded the last few days' worth of pictures to Flickr. I only uploaded something like 27 pictures, which wasn't bad (considering I took about 100). For each picture that makes it to Flickr, though, there are probably three to five that don't. Depends upon several factors, but I've come to take at least two pictures of everything. Just for that backup. One thing I prefer, though, is to actually keep up with daily photo uploads to Flickr, because it's much easier to manage the descriptions and whatnot. I didn't have much choice in this case (because I didn't have my camera dock or the time to mess with uploads over the weekend), but I can appreciate keeping on top of it.

In other news, my FireWire cable showed up today. Hooray! So I hooked the camcorder up to my good computer via FireWire...and it's a significant improvement over the USB connection. I have been doing some testing with it tonight, and have discovered that I seem to prefer using a third-party application to capture video from the device (with the FireWire cable) as opposed to using the capture driver/program that came with the camera. I can usually (so far) get fewer dropped video frames during a transfer while using the third-party program. Unless there's hard drive activity on that device (my pictures and video are stored on a separate physical drive (80GB) under two different partitions (one for pictures and music, the other for video) than the system drives), I generally get a less than a half percent frame drop rate, which ain't bad. Something like 40 dropped frames over the course of about 8,000. I was getting significantly more drops than that using the native software that came with the camera (more like a 5% drop rate).

There are several factors at play, though. So time will tell what performs the best. To its credit, I was capturing video to a different drive (non-dedicated to video) with the native software, so that's a potential cause for problems right there. Additionally, I was doing more multitasking at the time. So I will need to play around with it more, but I really like the fact that capturing DV like that over the FireWire cable is fantastically higher quality than the USB option or using the analog component cable and my capture card. So I'm very impressed at this point in time.

Anyway, it's getting to be nearly midnight now, and I want to photo blog the 81st post here, which will happen shortly after I hit the publish button for this post. That said, I bid thee farewell...until next time...

--MZ

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Busy, Busy Weekend

So we got back home around 9pm tonight, after a very long weekend. It was Kirstin's first trip to see Grandpa & Grandma Lorenz, and they live about four and a half hours from us. She did very well in the car both ways (for that long a trip), but that length of travel tends to mess with her schedule, so I'm sure it'll be a longer night than normal tonight.

Anyway, I got to use the camcorder a bit this weekend; more than I'd used it thus far, so that's cool. I'll have to transfer some video sometime and see about doing something with it. I managed to also get several still pictures, which I'm about to go through and presumably upload to Flickr tonight (although if it gets to be too many, I'll do it tomorrow evening).

I'm really getting to be on the tired order, so I'm keeping this fairly short tonight. The more I think about it, the more I'm thinking of uploading pictures tomorrow sometime. But anyway, it stormed a lot this weekend. Our drive home was continuous rain until we were about 25 miles from home, when it finally stopped raining. We also got some bigger storms here at home last night (I can tell). Quite a bit of rain fell, so I've got more water coming in through the basement floor. Hopefully it'll dry up again over the next week or so; that'd be a Good Thing.

But we arrived home tonight to discover that all of the livestock (cats and dogs) were in good shape, although needing some more attention, which is always a pleasant discovery. I'm just glad that I took the recycling in on Friday afternoon and didn't wait until we got home (what a big mess that'd have been, out in the rain and wet).

Ah well, as I can't seem to come up with more coherent thoughts, I'm signing off. Until next time...

--MZ

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