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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)


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)


End Of An Era

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


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' 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 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


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)


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


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