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Sunday, January 25, 2009

A New Day (And Year) Has Come

Memorial Day
Okay, so these were taken the day before Memorial day, but the sun and wind were cooperating!
So in not breaking what's become tradition, it's been a few weeks since my last rambling. Which makes this post the first of its kind in the new year. Nearly at the end of January, that is.

Several random and not-so-random things have happened in the new year. Beth and I finally watched the Ken Burns' series The War, which I'd captured and preserved on DVD when it was broadcast on PBS since I knew we'd never be able to watch the entire series when it was on TV.

For a fifteen-hour documentary, it's remarkably well done and definitely worth the time commitment. I'm just glad I could watch it in a seven-day sequence (we did one episode per night for the duration), rather than the way PBS did it over several weeks. Keeps things more fresh. The footage, while obviously repeated at times during the fifteen hours, was quite vivid and the stories were quite intriguing. The one story that sticks in my mind is the story of a fellow from Connecticut. He tells a story of capturing a German soldier. That's not terribly unusual, but this German soldier knew geographic features of his hometown that most people in the US (or even his home state) wouldn't have known. Very creepy.

And who could forget the very notable and historic moments last week Tuesday (20 January), when the 44th President of the United States took the oath of office.

I watched what I could of the action while at work. That is, until the stream started breaking up. It meant that I caught the oath of office and the first few minutes of the speech, but I missed most of the rest. Ah well, the Internet's not perfect.

But there's YouTube to fix that issue. I didn't finally watch the rest of the speech until this weekend, but I made sure that I checked it out. I would hope that regardless of political affiliation, one could look at this change in administration as a Good Thing. A breath of fresh air after the previous eight years of what I will (for lack of more eloquent terms) refer to as a dictatorial style. I don't often write about political things (it's just not my nature), but what bothered me most about the previous administration was the blatant attitude of 'I'm going to do whatever I want...' regardless of the situation at hand. I don't think things could be much worse...

And speaking of the inauguration doings. I was reading some of the text of Obama's speech on a random webpage, when I noticed an ad that states the following:
Would you feel safe with Obama as President? [yes/no]

I think the ad's a little behind the curve...

In more local news, this weekend I finally fixed the bathtub/shower diverter valve/spout. Most of the water now goes up to the shower head rather than right out the spout. Matt is happy for multiple reasons. One being that it's not wasting water, the other being that the damn diverter spout isn't sitting on my desk anymore. :) Especially since I've had the part for six months or better.

I also started working half-time on the UMM website redesign project after the first of the year. It's a temporary gig during the design and implementation process, but cool to be working with a team on a neat project with some significant visibility. So that's been keeping me plenty busy.

Other than that, we survived the bitter cold of a few weeks ago, although it's been pretty cold the last few days again. It's always fun when the high temperature for the day is in the teens below zero (F). Makes all sorts of things do strange things. Bitter cold is just that. Bitter.

But we've also had a fair amount of snow this winter. We've got about eighteen inches sitting over most of the yard this winter. More where it's drifted in (it's all of waist deep in several spots). Somehow, that makes the bitter cold more palatable. At least it does for me.

It's also nice to be able to visibly see that the insulation work I did this fall is working quite well. We've not had near the melting on the roof that we've had in previous years, which means less ice and other crazy things that are horribly rough on rooftops. It also means that at least for a little while longer, the heat is staying inside...where it belongs. :)

But that's been an interesting thing as well. Our last fuel oil delivery was at $1.88/gallon. That's nearly half what I paid (per gallon) for fuel oil last winter. It's been crazy. I'm mixed about it, really. Don't get me wrong -- I like the fact it's not costing me as much as it might otherwise, but I know it's but a temporary thing and the price will eventually climb again. But seeing as how I didn't pay anything less than $2.60 a gallon in all of last season (and I've not paid more than $2.50/gallon this season), I'll take it for what it's worth.

So that's pretty much what I know for now. And seeing as it's getting on to 10PM, it's time for me to call it quits for tonight.

So until next time...
We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.


America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

- President Barack Obama, excerpts from his inaugural address January 20, 2009


Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

She really does like to figure out how things work and how to help out...
So Christmas of 2008 has come and gone, and all is well. It was another good Christmas festivus, although things tend to get so busy and crazy in the days and weeks leading up to the holiday.

But at any rate, we all survived, all is well, and here's to the end of another year and the beginning of the next!

So to all of you, I wish a Happy New Year!

Until next time...

Friday, December 12, 2008

And Along Comes Christmas!

I know I was being an annoyance to him, but I was just returning the favor.
So I've been really horrible. The last post was the day before halloween?!?!

Where did the month of November (and nearly half of December) go? These are important questions. I want my month back!

In all honesty, I have barely been able to keep up with my 'at home' email and newsletters. Truth be told, I actually deleted a bunch of them unread after I decided an attempt at catching up would be an act of futility on a grand scale...

I've managed to stay busy as of late. Even managed to win the photo frame for November's Picture of the Day thing at KMRS/KKOK, which was cool. Anyone can submit a picture of the day; only the talented really win the monthly award. Or just randomly lucky...

As I sit here and write a few words before I go to bed on the Friday before an apparent blizzard (Sunday) is to strike, I try thinking of the things that have kept me busy over the last month. And I fail to do that, much like I fail to think of things I would like for Christmas. Both of these things cause much angst. I think I should become a hermit. :)

On another topic, I admire the unique nature of Facebook. When I first 'joined' as it were somewhere in the last nine months or so, I figured I'd be a bit old for that crowd. Much to my (pleasant) surprise, this is quite not the case. And it's been a really good thing to randomly catch up with people...many of whom I've not seen or heard from in several years. And it's one hell of a time-waster; another reason I've not likely felt the need to ramble on here (although I think it's more a contributing factor as opposed to true reason).

I noticed tonight that I've uploaded image number 7,400 to Flickr. Seventy-four hundred. That's a crazy big number. And it only grows. The 13,000th image with the XTi was taken the other day (since March 13, 2008). Not too shabby, least if you ask me.

But at any rate, I'm heading for bed now. So until next time...hopefully not after Christmas!
"A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems."
- Paul Erdos (1913-1996)


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Carvings
So here are the two pumpkins we got from Amy (thanks!), in the dark. Kirstin's is on the left (she's quite an artist), and mine is on the right.

In all actuality, I carved them both, and the team of Beth and Kirstin cleaned up the seeds and innards).
So it's been a few weeks again since my last post; I'm really bad at this lately. I guess life has a way of getting in the way of things sometimes. :)

At any rate, I decided to stay home tonight and 'take the night off' so to speak by using the time to carve pumpkins. I'd procured a few of them from Amy a few weeks ago, but they'd not yet been carved (as we've just been so busy as of late).

So tonight was the night, and the accompanying picture is the result. I did most of the carving, while Beth and Kirstin sorted out the seeds from the rest of the business. Using some simple (and free) patterns procured from the Internet along with my pumpkin-knife skills, the results are stunning.

Actually, they are a lot better than I thought they'd turn out. And I'm happy with them.

So there it is! A post!

I've taken a lot of pictures in the last few weeks. As of tonight, the official count on the XTi is 12,223. Since March 13, 2008. Over the weekend, Beth and I made a side trip down to the Gold Mine bridge (a one lane truss bridge erected in the first decade of the 20th century (1904 or 1909 comes to mind, but I can't recall which is correct). That was cool -- I'd been meaning to get some pictures of it for a while...and since it's considered a fracture critical bridge, I figured I'd better do it sooner than later (since it might not be around much longer (although I'm not sure there's a replacement plan in place since they're comfortable with the height and weight limits in place for the structure)).

And I'll likely post more stuff as I get time. Along with pictures, of course... :)

And I'm also planning on sharing some of my Kill-A-Watt results as I compile things in the next few weeks!

So until next time...
"Problems worthy of attack prove their worth by fighting back."
- Paul Erdos (1913-1996)


Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Few Weeks!

The UMM Biomass Gasification Facility
A few images I took of the south end of the new building on October 3, 2008, the date of its official dedication.
So okay, it's been a few weeks since my last post; my apologies for that.

Things have once again been busy, and when I've had a few moments to write or whatnot, I've usually been so tired (and not in the rambling mood) to partake of the activity. It's certainly not for a lack of something about which to write.

At any rate, I've managed in the last few weeks to do several things. One weekend I assisted in canning something like 27 pints of tomatoes and pressing sixteen gallons worth of apple juice/cider. It took on the order of 8-10 bushels of apples to do so. Quite a task, but it really only took about five hours to complete.

So we have a lot of juice. :)

I've also managed to get all of the stopping points (short of gas fill-ups, which I didn't record) on the Google map for our epic journey. I haven't yet decided how I intend to mash all of these things together, but it's ready for that point. Also, I've made my way through about half of the days' worth (by number, it's more like a third) of geotagging photos on flickr (from the epic journey). That is generally much more time-intensive than the Google map, since each photo can have its own place. So I work on that in smaller bits as time allows.

Friday was the official dedication of the UMM Biomass Gasification Facility (shown in the picture). It was a quaint little ceremony with a few hundred people gathered to check it out. And we were actually gasifying corn stover as well (even better). So Friday was a very long day, but an eventful and important day. It's good to be a part of some big projects that really make a difference. :)

In other news, I had to replace the 70W HPS lamp in our yard light again. 24,000+ hours my ass, I might add.

A few weeks ago now, I'd noticed that the yard light was more sensitive to voltage fluctuations than normal (it was going out and re-striking more frequently), but I wrote it off as a power anomaly and not early signs of end-of-life behavior. Well, about a week ago now, it started repeatedly striking, warming up, and going out. Definitely end-of-life behavior for a lamp of that nature.

So I went and bought a replacement for $22 and installed it. Voila, it works nicely and has yet to go out in the night (to be re-struck again). I suspect the old lamp only lasted about half of its advertised life, but I also suspect that this was at least partially due to the beating it took (the lamp itself) when the diffuser/shade was blown off (wind ripped the aluminum around the screws holding the diffuser on to the fixture) and then hung perilously on the lamp. The lamp was quite scratched up and also had a rattle when I removed it.

So we'll hope that this sort of thing doesn't happen again (I suspect that the diffuser/shade shouldn't come off again, since I fixed the root problem or vulnerability that caused it to happen in the first place).

And speaking of power fluctuations...

I was sitting quietly at home on Friday night when the phone rang. it was an unfamiliar number/name combination, and being it's political season, I took the call (because I really love to mess with the survey folks when it comes to question wording). It turns out that it was a commissioned survey from my power company, Agralite Electric Cooperative.

I was thrilled to get this call, and I believe I told the representative that on several accounts.

Based upon the questions she asked, I gathered that they (Agralite) are surveying their members' feelings on rate increases and energy conservation measures (both as a consumer and as incentives provided by the cooperative). I was so happy to be able to take part in the survey, because I was finally able to provide input on a subject I've been pretty passionate about (energy conservation and my power company) over the last few months.

I fear, however, that my answers may be statistically different than the remainder of the populous, however, which may make my answers (when compiled) less striking. But that's not the point, really. I got to speak my mind. And I did.

My biggest gripe with their policies is not the rate increases and whatnot; I can accept stuff like that. It really comes down to how they treat conservation and usage. They encourage the load management programs when it's prudent to them (when loads are high and result in power cost adjustments from their wholesale supplier), but they fear renewable initiatives which may reduce volatility in the market (and price) in the future.

I understand, really. They're a power company. Money is made by selling power. Cheap power. Load management helps them spread out load and keep those pricey cost adjustments to a minimum, but those really only take place in the summertime. Load management [specifically, getting more people to participate] is less a concern of them when it doesn't always directly affect the wholesale cost of power. Similarly, renewable initiatives are not cheap. Margin is lower, therefore it's bad.

But what really gets my goat on this whole topic is that they charge a $2.50/month per sub-meter fee. This allows me to be on a load management program. So while I still save some money by participating (and it's the right thing to do anyway), I have to pay to participate in a program that helps everyone. No wonder they don't have more people involved...

So that's enough of that rant. :) On Saturday, I insulated the floor/ceiling spaces in the attics (crawlspaces behind the second floor kneewalls). I'd done a little work on the roof line insulation of those spaces a few years back, and two years ago I insulated the kneewalls themselves. This year it was time to complete the triangle by insulating the floor as well.

Work wise it wasn't terribly difficult. Worst part of it all was taking all of the stuff out of those spaces so I could pull up the floorboards and then lay down insulation. That said, it took about six hours for me to insulate just under 230 square feet of space (including time to clear and replace the stored material).

The worst part about the project was that I spent those six hours bent over and knee-walking across ceiling joists. Kneepads don't help much in that situation; I ended up with two bruised knees and a blister on my right knee. And I'm pretty sore today. But it's a good project to have completed, and when it's all said and done, the insulation will have only cost about $100. That's what happens when you buy it on sale and also get a rebate. :)

And so that's how I spent my weekend. And a portion of the weeks prior. Last week I borrowed a Kill-A-Watt from the campus sustainability coordinator (thanks, Troy!). I haven't yet used it at home, but I intend to do some surveying of power consumption for some of our stuff here at the house. Just to see what sort of usage there really is. The office is one location for monitoring, and the living room is another. But that will be a topic for another day.

So until next time...
"Try to learn something about everything and everything about something."
- Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895)


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Another Week Passes

Felix was hanging out on the toy box just before Beth and I went to bed.
As another week draws to a close, I'm reminded of the many things that I never seem to get accomplished on my never-ending list of things to do. Now if that's not an overly negative way to start a post, I don't know what is.

It's not that I'm bothered by it, really. It would just be nice to make some progress on some of those loose ends that are out there. Instead, I feel like hibernating (but it's been cold and rainy the last few days which likely has something to do with that). At any rate, I have made some progress in one of the random projects that I've been intending to complete before the memory gets too foggy.

I've been adding bits to the epic journey map; the object is to pinpoint specific places we visited and (potentially) the route we used to get there. We'll see about the latter, but the former is certainly easy enough to do. To date, I'm up to just about our arrival at Nashville. I've not yet geotagged any pictures from the journey, but that's much easier to do (for me) than the plotting thing.

That's really all that's incredibly new around here. Last week was particularly busy, so by the time Friday evening rolled around it was time to sit down and watch a movie. That happened to be Songwriter.

Seeing as how we were just in Nashville and all. It was a good time, and I love some of the songs/bits in the movie. Good times for sure.

And wrapping up the weekend brought a viewing of Chicago, which was the alternate title to watch on Friday night. Here again, love the movie, love the music. Good times for sure. :)

So I now wait for the 10PM news to come on, which was of course preempted by a football game or something else similarly silly. We're now 30 minutes after ten; we'll see what happens.

I'm thinking of simply heading to bed and hoping to catch the weather before I fall asleep. And hopefully I get some more stuff done this week that moves me to write about the adventure. :)

Until then...
"Dancing is silent poetry."
- Simonides (556-468bc)
I never was good at poetry...


Sunday, September 7, 2008

An Epic Journey

So I've been horrible at this as of late, but I have a really good reason. Honestly.

We were on an epic journey through the mid-south. For roughly twelve days, we were away from home and made our way through twelve states (if you include Minnesota, parts of which I'd not seen or been through before) in that time.

In order of travels: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota.

A very much good time was had, and I managed to document the journey (both on paper in a way and via pictures). I haven't yet had much time to compile the paper stuff (which will be what I use this forum for), but I have gone through the 1,507 photos that were taken during the time and 872 were posted to Flickr. It was quite the undertaking...and it's not done just yet.

I have a lot more work to do on Flickr in regards to the pictures (namely, I'd like to geotag a bunch of them), which should be cool.

At any rate, the work has just begun. I intend to document the daily progress and happenings of the journey here, likely by back-dating posts to the correct date. That should be cool. Combined with a Google Map and the geotagging thing on Flickr, it should be fairly well documented...for the flocks of people that wish to follow in our footsteps.

Donner, party of ten...?

So that's the state of the world. I'm still alive. I promise. And things are going well. I've been able to play with some cool video equipment in the last week or two, and that's been a lot of fun. I look forward to making things available to the public for their consumption as time passes and the facility comes on-line. Should be a good time.

As a random note, this also happens to be post number 500 to the old blog (if you include all of my old news posts I migrated over). So that's pretty cool if you ask me. :)

Until next time...

"The only difference between me and a madman is that I'm not mad."
- Salvador Dali (1904-1989)


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Forgotten, But Not Gone

Forgotten, But Not Gone
This old well pump is about the only visible remnant of the house that once used to sit adjacent to it.
Okay, so this title really reflects my state of mind when it comes to writing here as of late. My apologies to the flocks of visitors. :) Really.

I'm serious this time. :)

I really do look forward to the end of the summer season; I think it will actually mean that I wind down a bit regarding all the random things with which I find myself involved. Part of the problem is that due to various reasons, I put off a lot of stuff (or did just enough to get by) that I've been trying to get caught up with over the summer (keep my desk clean for starters). I look forward to spending some more time at will be a welcome thing.

The other morning (Monday) as I was getting ready to go to work, I happened to look outside (which I do often anyway). Across the road and way out in the wildlife area, I saw a fawn/yearling. Doing its frolic bit. It was one of those things that solidified in my mind that it was going to be a good day. And it was. :)

This week is the last of our Biomass interns' time with us. It's a bit of a bittersweet thing, really. I was asked by one of our interns what I'd do when they're gone. I quickly and wittingly responded, 'drink heavily.'

I lie, but it was funny to see the reaction.

I will miss the interns. They've been a good group to have around, and they're always up to something, even if it's no good. Thanks to them, I now understand that there's an 'Urban Dictionary' and I've learned many hip and cool things from them. That makes me sound quite old and crotchety, I guess. Ah well. I am who I am (although I'd hope that crotchety doesn't come into play in that regard).

We made the annual trek to Farmfest last week, which was fun. I got to 'work' at the University of Minnesota tent, which was actually quite fun. I like to have an audience. :) It's good to interact with people, and events like that are always fun that way.

In the world of Blogs, there are two new blogs I should probably mention. One I've been following for a little while -- it's the pregnancy blog of my old Vato. They're having twins, which is incredibly cool (and I'm glad it's not me), and so it's fun to catch up with how that's going...especially since I'm so horribly bad about finding time to call him anymore... :(

The second is a new creation by Beth, currently an unnamed blog. I told her she should name it 'The Cat's Gonna Die' or something equally macabre-sounding, but we'll see what happens. She's just started it and hasn't (yet) gotten to the incredibly rambly stage. It should be interesting to follow as time goes along. At least I can keep track electronically of what's happening at my house when I'm not there. :)

Anyway, with all that said, I'm going to head for bed. It's been a long last few days, so the bed is really calling my name. It's gonna be great!

So until next time...
"If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you'd best teach it to dance."
- George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Do We Have To?

Do We Have To?
Sylvie was looking around, almost as if asking if she had to leave...
Eesh, that's almost been my own mental note of writing as of late. It's now been three-and-a-half weeks since the last rambling, and that's really not saying much.

Life has been busy as of late. It seems always as though I've been suffering a serious case of what I like to call the 'Chinese Disease:' Draggin' Ass. At any rate, I'll see what I can do about being a bit more punctual with the posts around here. It would serve us all well. :)

One of the recent 'hot topics' I was intending to ramble or rant about was related to my electric company, which happens to be Agralite Electric Cooperative in Benson, Minnesota. My big rant with them as of late has been related to what I would call 'biased propaganda' as they were presenting through their monthly newsletter.

Now, it's really my only hope that most people simply ignore the newsletter (and treat it like junk mail, which is how I think a lot of people actually handle print material like a monthly newsletter anyway). I, on the other hand, actually read stuff like that, although I have to admit that I skim through most of the random 'filler' material, selecting whether or not an article is worthy of my time based upon its title.

Over the last several months, the 'big argument' that seems to pop up at least once in the first three pages (often times twice) was 'information' relating to forthcoming renewable energy mandates and, more specifically, what those mandates will mean for everyone's electric bills. While I can appreciate the thoughtfulness of the cooperative's management in regard to the pocketbooks of their members, I really have a poor time accepting their arguments for why renewable energy mandates are a Bad Thing.

Without going into great detail, for starters they claim that amongst other things, the technology required to implement such mandates doesn't exist. Fair enough. But, for the uninformed, they conveniently 'forget' to mention that many of these mandates are on the order of twenty years out. Plenty of time for technology being developed right now to make its way into place, at least if you ask me.

Secondly, they use the flawed argument of 'clean coal' technology. I'm not abashedly bringing down the whip on coal; it's likely to serve a purpose as a baseload fuel for some time to come. However, it is not the long-term answer when there are cleaner, more environmentally-friendly methods of generating power. Clean coal is not going to fit the bill when a sizable portion of one's electrical generation is required to fit the renewable banner. The use of clean coal, in my mind, will need to be used as old baseload generation facilities reach their end of life or are upgraded.

Lastly, they use the argument that renewable energy is not as reliable as good old coal and fossil fuel. And as it currently stands, this is the case. The wind doesn't always blow, crops don't always grow, and so forth. However, they're clearly mis-representing the point on this one. These proposed and existing mandates will require that a percentage of supply come from the renewable group. Not all of it.

As I'm kinda sick of getting any further into detail about the arguments, it is depressing to see what is supposed to be a member-oriented company (cooperative) take such drastic and obvious steps to buck these things from the start. And what really pisses me off is when they bring the argument of 'your rates will go up as a result of us having to implement this stuff...'

Umm, they conveniently forgot to mention that in February they raised our electrical rate by approximately 1 cent per kWh. Oh yeah -- why was that again? have too much overhead and can't afford to keep operating the cooperative the way it's been run lately without jacking up the rates on everyone. How conveniently they forgot to make the argument of 'we're sticking up for your pocketbook' on that one.

Amongst other things, this is one of the reasons I really don't care for my electric company right at the moment. All the more reason to try to get off the grid. Somehow. After all, I do pay $34.50 each month (outside of taxes and whatnot) just to have the privilege of Agralite's service. That's before a cent of electricity is purchased.

Oh, and did I mention that it actually costs me $2.50 (of the aforementioned $34.50) each month to participate in load management programs? I have to pay to be on load control which, in turn, is supposed to assist the cooperative in managing their electrical load.

So why do I participate? Because it's the right thing to do...and it still does save money. But it seems awfully backward a marketing scheme to make a voluntary, for-the-good-of-the-cooperative, program have a monthly fee... Oh wait. I know! They make money by selling electricity -- why would it be in their interest to sell less? Aside from the fact that it's a member cooperative and should have the members' best interests in mind...

So I anxiously await the day when I can generate my own electricity and only have the 'formality' of a grid connection for those moments when the wind isn't blowing, or the sun isn't shining... Hell, just the $34.50 each month is over $400 a year going to nothing but the pride in saying I'm an Agralite member.

Sorry, my sarcasm button was stuck there...

Where I was really going to go with this rant is that as of the last newsletter (which came out last weekend), I only read one mention of the 'renewable mandates are of the devil' argument (which was actually back several pages in the 'filler'). The first several pages were laden with the word 'conservation.'

Now there's a novel idea, eh?

At least it's a start. Perhaps there's still hope for my faith in Agralite...

I find it somewhat strange that a lot of people seem to think that the idea of renewable energy automatically means a complete shift away from what I would call more 'traditional' energy sources (fossil fuel-based, such as coal, oil, etc.). The fact of the matter remains that we are likely to continue consuming fossil fuels for a long time -- there are certain obstacles to completely going 'cold turkey' -- but by innovating and getting more from less (fossil fuels) via the methods of conservation and a blend of more renewable fuels, we will likely stabilize a lot of currently unstable things.

So here endeth the lesson for the night. Until next time...
"The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don't have it."
- George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Happy Forthcoming Independence Day!

Watching The Crowd
Koshka was watching all of us walk around in the yard after giving her a little bit of attention.
As it's unlikely I'll get around to posting anything before Friday's holiday, I'll just say it now. :) Happy Independence Day!

I had great intentions tonight to write something complex and insightful, but then got caught up in another project and reading the local paper. So that kinda put a damper on my writing activity tonight.

I will, however, share a few random bits about the last few days. Amongst other things, I made my first ever presentable Flash 'presentation' today. It's part of a 'virtual tour' thing I'm working on, and I have to say that as I'm getting more familiar with the application, it's getting a bit easier to work with. Due to how it is going to function ultimately, I had a bit of a time getting the layer and timeline thing through my head (I'm used to application development, where things are layered, but not layered and linear. Or something like that.

At any rate, there's a lot of work to be done with it (and it will likely evolve over time), but it shows promise and should be pretty cool when 'complete.'

I had to 'fix' the washing machine tonight. I noticed the other day when Beth did a load of laundry that it seemed to always be 'running' and not making any progress. When I checked into it further, I noticed that it was 'stuck' in the rinse cycle, and always draining while filling. I figured it to be a fluke, forced the machine into spin, and the problem went away.

Until this evening. It wouldn't fill. Well, it would try to fill, but then would start emptying and never get to the point of triggering the pressure switch to shut off the water.

Long story short, after taking the control panel off and making sure everything looked right (and also referencing the control wiring diagram to see how I could bypass the pressure switch if necessary), I discovered the problem. The washer wasn't pumping out water; it was simply flowing out on its own accord.

It turns out that the drain hose wasn't up high enough after I'd moved the washer back last weekend after painting. Due to where I was working and how I was cleaning up things, I removed the old duct tape fastener that held the drain hose in the right position. I didn't put it back in the same exact position and, as it turned out, only had to raise it about two inches to make everything work just fine again.

So I fashioned a new (temporary) mechanism to hold the drain hose in the right position. I'd intended (once this painting business is done) to make a nice, clean-looking drain mechanism for everything in that area (water softener, washer, etc.), which is why I didn't re-create the old fastener when I moved the washer back to its position. C'est la vie, I guess. At least I know I don't need to buy a new washing machine.

And in other random bits, I read this little tidbit of information about an experiment done to see what happens when all of those spam messages and pop-ups are clicked on and responded to. It's not really all that surprising to me, but it's a good and fairly general read (for non-techie consumption) illustrating the sort of issues that really do pop up if one's not careful on the big bad Internet.

So I'll leave it at that. Until next time...
"Whenever I climb I am followed by a dog called 'Ego'."
- Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)


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