greatbear: (tools)
I've been scarce around these parts. I've been preoccupied with a lot of different things lately. When I last left LJ-land, I had posted how I had finally brought my new front door home after weeks of waiting for it to be built and shipped. I was anxious to start the installation, but rather than putting on my tool belt and kicking butt, instead we took some time off for much needed rest and headed out to the Eastern Shore of MD and did some camping at Elk Neck State Park, along with some friends we had made this year in PTown. We got two adjoining campsites so we could be neighbors. While they had camped at the site before (and recommended it to us), we hadn't, and were very pleasantly surprised at the calm beauty of the area, despite there being a lot of families camping that weekend. The sites had lots of space between, and the area was wonderfully wooded with tall trees, with the whole shebang nestled along the Chesapeake Bay. Camping in this sort of setting takes me back to my early childhood, and I feel a warm comfort in that environment. Couple that with our friends and some of the most perfect weather and you have the recipe for pure relaxation. The pooches loved it, and they too had their own four-legged friends to socialize with, as our camping buds brought along their two Italian Greyhounds. We went for a little excursion to the adjoining little town of North East on Saturday, where we found delightful little artsy shops, antique stores and quirky eateries (I know, how gay) among the friendly locals and visitors. Jeff and I decided to put our newly discovered campgrounds on the short list of ideal getaway places. At about 80 miles from home, it's far enough to feel like we had traveled a good bit, yet not so far that too much of the event is taken up by driving. We will be be doing a bit more "vacationing locally" as a means of getting to know the more immediate areas and what they had to offer, with the added bonus of being a cheap means to have fun.

The week that followed I had gone out for the rest of the supplies needed to install the door, and I also ordered more of the pieces to build the home automation system. I began removing trim and other parts to take out the old door and frame, then with the help of our local friend, Wednesday when Jeff came home I tore out the old door and the three of us maneuvered the old one out and muscled the (much heavier) new assembly in. I temporarily affixed it in place to keep the weather out and the dogs in, we enjoyed some dinner later in the evening. The following days I positioned, shimmed and adjusted the door to close and seal properly, trimmed the door out on the exterior, sealed and caulked and installed the keyless lockset. That weekend we went to PA for our monthly visit to Jeff's parents. This week I began the electric work, installing a new inside lighting fixture in the style of the new door glass, and installing the devices for the automation and control. Part of this involved tearing apart a portion of a wall next to the door and reworking some of the electrical wiring inside. That wall hid something that had been bothering me for 25 years. When the electricians that initially wired the house before the drywallers closed everything up, they had forgotten a short run of cable between to electric boxes. This resulted in the forward part of the living room having no power to the outlets. To fix this, they had popped holes in the two adjoining boxes and fished a cable between them. I never knew how they had fixed the issue until several years later when I had taken out a light switch to install a dimmer and found a huge chunk of the plastic electric box missing and a cable spliced inside. While I had the wall open I replaced the boxes, the hacked-in wiring and added space for three controls. Two of them directly control the light outside the door and the inside light in the entryway. The third space in the box will have a "scene controller" that will operate several outside lights located all around the house from one location. Pressing a single button begins a programmed process that can, say, turn all the outside lights on at full brightness, useful if we have company or we are doing work outside at night. Other buttons can turn on and off various combinations of inside and outside lights before leaving the house or returning, or turning all the outside lights off and setting the one outside the front door to a very dim setting before going to bed. All of this is part of a Z-Wave remote control protocol that integrates with the home automation system. It's already programmed to turn on a few inside lights at a low setting early in the morning when Jeff is getting ready and leaves for work, whereupon it shuts them all off until the next weekday. Now the outside lights can come on as well, since he leaves when it's still dark. The system can control existing remotely operated lights and appliances here, along with the Nest thermostats, the home theater receivers, alarm system, and lots of future items I have planned. Best of all, I can control it all remotely via the internet either with a PC or smartphone from anywhere. I can make sure the door is locked, open it if a friend needs to be let in while we are away, turn lights on and off, you name it. The system can grow as I need it to. It's a very practical system, and all the devices and appliances can work manually as if there was no profound technology behind it all. It's also a fun way to seriously get my geek on.

In coming days I will close the wall back up, spackle and finish the drywall, then install the interior trim around the door. I also want to take out the 25+ year old vinyl floor and put in some nice ceramic or marble tile. After that is done, I will move onto the living room, finally creating the light shafts for the skylights I installed in the roof four years ago, then begin the somewhat major reworking of the living room and dining room areas. I want to split the living room into two separate areas rather than the oddly shaped, somewhat amorphous "great room" it is currently. New carpeting and flooring will go in at this point. Then onto the sunroom, where I can finally finish the relatively small amount of work left over from where I started on that room about ten years ago. All of this will be a good winter/indoor project as the seasons change.

Those that know me well are quite aware of the wildcard in all of this, and that's my overall health and my back and nerve issues I am constantly dealing with. While I have been busting all manner of ass lately, it has been far slower than I am usually able to do such work. I can get maybe a half hour of good working time before I have to stop, sit down, and take the load off my lower back and recover. If I go for longer than that amount of time, or I have to do much in the way of twisting, or standing in one spot, the pain begins to appear then fogs my concentration. I get angry, the quality begins to suffer, and I will go totally aggro if things are not coming together as I want them to. Tools get tossed about, cursing begins, dogs hide under beds, and progress becomes more halting and drawn out. So far I've managed to keep up pace, but I have to force myself to quit while I'm ahead, as it were, before things start to crumble. So far, I've been lucky that I haven't had any major setbacks (yet) and I've learned to stop work despite the urge to keep going when things are going well. That last part is a doozy for me.

This is what the entryway looks like currently. If I manage to get all the other work done I described above without (much) incident, and some other, more pressing things get done, I want to take out the aluminum vertical siding that is currently there and replace it with some form of brick, slate or stone. but for now, I am happy, hell, giddy that I got this far. It's taking more time and much more effort than I am used to, but it's still me doing all the work and doing what I love to do. Now, if my increasingly old body can keep from falling apart at the same increasing pace, I will be a rather happy dude.
greatbear: (jeff and me)
Jeff and I returned today from a much needed break from the daily grind. Our shakedown cruise camping trip to delightfully mountainous Western Maryland and the always wonderful Deep Creek Lake was a success with only a few minor issues. Some forgotten supplies, inadequate propane supplies on board (and practically a circus of trying and failing on multiple counts to find a refill), and a few other little goofs did nothing to spoil our mini vacation. Rather than try to do a whole lot of stuff in the few days we had, we just enjoyed the quiet, had our meals under a canopy of trees and sky, slept in, and unplugged. We are better for it. It's been a couple years since we've been out that way, what with time constraints, health issues and such changing our plans. We go the weekend after Memorial Day, and treat it as an extension of Jeff's bday festivities. In spite of a rainy Friday along with a tornado warning (and the two of us inside a trailer surrounded by several more!) we had an awesome time. We are home safe, rested and ready for the week. Better still, at the end of this month we ramp up the fabulousness factor and head on up to Provincetown for two whole weeks. Those minor mess-ups will be all taken care of.

We still have a lot to do around the house as we catch up on stuff, I have upgrades to the truck to install, the Stratus to tear apart and straighten out, some work on other vehihicles in the stable as well. The veggie garden is starting to produce, and I have to finish installing critter countermeasures so we can have at least some of the bounty to ourselves. It's going to be a busy summer for us, but that is not a bad thing. Among the work we are going to take needed breaks, entertain and be entertained. We are worth it. ;)

I return from the four (ish) days after being off the grid and discover LJ abuzz with activity! Sadly, a lot of it is focused on various observations of "the death of LJ" as well as people stating their intents to stay or go. To those saying they are staying out, good on yas. It's youse guys n gals that keep me here, enriching my life in ways I'm pretty certain you had no idea. Those that are heading out, well, I sure hate seeing you leave. All I ask is that you stay in touch, somehow, cause I'm going to miss you.
greatbear: (Default)
In our continuing quest to exist among Mother Nature's temper tantrums, Jeff and I left Hillside around 3pm or so Saturday before the weather got nasty. We kept our eyes on various weather reports, keeping a minimal setup so we could hightail it out of there at a moment's notice. Instead, we had a leisurely drive back to Jeff's 'rents place to drop off the trailer and await Irene's soaking. We spent our last night camping in the driveway as the rain and wind pelted the trailer. We spent the morning hanging out there, having an early dinner the drove back home to MD. The weather kept clearing up as we drove south, once we hit the Maryland line we were greeted with beautiful weather, as I had hoped. Once we got near home it became apparent there was no power (traffic lights and stores dark, etc) despite no damage to speak of. I fired up the generator to halt the thawing happening in three freezers. Once we settled in, we surveyed practically no damage here aside from a pretty much shredded vegetable garden. We picked about a bushel of tomatoes which will become sauce, chili sauce and other goodies this week.

We are currently watching the news detailing how widespread the damage and power outages are, though here at Casa Mayhem life is normal. The monster generator chugging away out at the garage providing all the power we need, even enough to make a nice pizza for dinner in the electric oven. We are lucky damage wise, and our preparations have come in handy. Internet here thanks to my 3G hotspot, since the cable is out for the duration.

We have one more camping trip scheduled for next month. I wonder what kind of natural disaster awaits us till then.
greatbear: (forearms)
After riding out our little (well, not that little, actually) earthquake earlier in the week, which actually caused damage where Jeff works, we thought it would be nice to go out camping this weekend, our scheduled trip to Hillside. But wouldn't you know, after Ma Nature had her fit of the tremors, that she'd begin her heavy flow days thanks to her cousin Irene. We did what any sane person would do, which is check the weather reports for the area before deciding what to do. We saw that the area would be affected, not to mention much more so south of Hillside where home is, which is going to get hit that much harder. We did the smart thing.

And went camping anyway. X-D

So we are enjoying a nice relaxing night of perfect weather, but it appears that the rain is supposed to hit the area starting in the late afternoon, and become its worse on Sunday, our usual time of pulling up stakes and heading home. We'll watch the reports, and most likely head home tomorrow afternoon, dropping the trailer off at Jeff's parents. We'll head all the way home on Sunday, but without the trailer to worry about. Knowing me, I'll probably be acting like Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump, shaking my fist to the sky during the big storm scene, yelling, "YOU CALL THIS A STORM?!" =D

A good 80% of times, it rains at least some at Hillside each time we come here. Last time we were basically drenched, but managed to make good of the weekend anyway. This is just a typical weekend.
greatbear: (kmfdm icons)
I've not been posting much around these parts for fear that it would be filled with the typical downer screed of recent entries. Suffice it to say, I've been trying my best to make good out of a bad situation, and, frankly, it's finally started to wear me down. This past weekend was our last camping trip of the summer. Jeff was stuck working, so I managed to load up the stuff into the truck, fetched the trailer then headed on up to Hillside for the final time of the year. THis time it was a bit different, since we had guests already staying on the site earlier in the week and had been awaiting our arrival. I had a bunch of wonderful help in getting set up, once that was done, however, I was in so much pain I was miserable, and that fact was not lost among my fellow campers. Since I was not going to take any of my Rush Limbaugh feelgood pills before piloting nearly 50 feet and six tons of truck and trailer a couple hundred miles with a crazy dog in my lap for fear of falling asleep at the wheel (the damn stuff knocks me out), by the time I had arrived, set up and tried to unwind, I was a twitchy, pain-addled mess. Once I popped the pills and stretched out, I eventually felt a bit more comfortable and enjoyed my company. We all turned in early that night, and I was blessed with Hillside's eerie silence before the weekend people began to show up. The 'contin makes me have strange, often extremely entertaining dreams of a vivid nature that make Yellow Submarine seem like a budget planning meeting by comparison. The very cool (mid-40s!) nights made sleeping more like hibernating, only adding to the psychedelia.

Jeff came down the next day after having to work on his day off (sound familiar?), and he joined us in the evening before dinner. He was having his own pain issues as well, but we made the best of it. I was stuck hanging around the campsite again, though I did make one trek up the hill to the afternoon party on Saturday, but did not stay long. I'm sure I missed out on seeing some folk, I hope to see them again in the future when I'm not such an invalid. The weekend overall was positive for me, but I know I was being quite antisocial despite my efforts to the contrary. I just don't do well around friends or crowds when I am ailing. And since this condition has kept on progressing for the worst, I'm pretty much Groucho Grouchy McGroucherson (nee Crankypants).

I sense that Jeff is finally starting to tire of my condition as well, and even my ability to make use of my time is starting to fade. Slowing down like this puts me into a deeper funk, and I mostly wander off now just to minimize my effect on others. I'm still waiting for a time for my unavoidable surgery, which has become more involved than originally planned. The laminectomy that was to be performed on a single vertebra has been increased in scope to the L4, L5 and T1 segments, for a total of three. While I am being reassured that I will maintain most if not all of my mobility/abilities, something tells me that having not just one, but three consecutive sections of bone removed leaving the muscles unattached to anything but themselves leads me to believe that a lot of what I was able to do as a young punk is now firmly in the past. Time will tell, of course, and anything would be better than what I am currently experiencing. My bruised shins from stumbling and falling are outward evidence that life is not all peaches and Mayhem anymore. Jeff had tickets for the Penn State opener next weekend, He sent them away, hopefully to be used. I know he was looking forward to this game, but dragging me along to is was probably going to be an exercise in (more) futility for him. I feel awful for that, and I really wish I could crawl under a rock.

I will manage all of this in some way. Having my finances now firmly below the poverty level will add another layer of stress. At least it's not zero. Yet. Now all I have to do is try and get the medical end of it all in gear. Things move at a glacial pace for some reason. All I wish for is for this to be over and a return to normalcy in my life.
greatbear: (kmfdm icons)
It is "Illuminations" weekend at Hillside. It's a weekend that Jeff and I loved to attend, but rarely could simply because it's the most popular weekend by far, and by the time we get in for reservations, all the good sites (or in our case, the couple sites we can fit our trailer into) are snapped up. This year, however, luck was with us, and we managed to get our usual spot for this weekend. We were excited. Of course, as the time between making reservations (beginning in March) and this weekend, my health took a nosedive with the spinal stenosis diagnosis, but I've tried my best to make use of our time and not lose our deposits. Well, I think I overplayed my hand. Or my spine, in this case. We bagged last weekend's trip because I had a procedure done and I did not think I'd be ready. No improvement was made since, but we just had to come to see the spectacle here for the first time in over 5 years. I did my best at helping decorate the site and when evening fell and the lights came up, we started our trek. I collapsed not more than 15 sluggish minutes into it and had to come back to our campsite.

This is why I am here inside the camper with a fucking laptop instead of being out and around, much less even simply sitting outside watching the people. I am so fucking fed up with this, I'm pretty sure the last chance at shots coming up will do absolutely nothing and the surgery (a laminectomy) that follows will leave me a worthless lump until the 6-8 week projected recovery period passes, and even then there is no guarantee that I will be near normal in terms of mobility. Tonight the nosedive was literal, and the pain, spasms and collapsing will only be getting worse. After we return home tomorrow and the week progresses with doc appointments and such, I will try to apply for another temporary handicapped parking pass, something I was too stubborn to do this time but have no choice now. I can barely get around anymore, and I don't hold too much hope for it to return to the effortless past as far as abilities go. Yeah, I'm rambling, but honestly, I've had enough. I'm staying away from friends and socializing for the foreseeable future, I don't need more humiliation than I experienced tonight.
greatbear: (Default)
I'm taking a break from reorganizing the garage and cataloging some of my "stuff" (more on that later). I had started thinking about our little excursion that week and how much it meant to us as far as sending time together, not thinking about work or medical procedures or any sort of pressing matters of the day. It does do a body and mind quite a bit of good. We went during "Bear Week", of course, but the only true reason for that was to simply pad the time with hopes of running into some of our friends while there, and to take in the eye candy. The latter was at higher levels due to IBR Lazy Bear in Cali being non-existent this year, raising the sightings of unfamiliar faces, cover bears and "a-listers" as they packed the streets, shops, eateries and parties. As for us, we managed to take in one "tea" at the Boatslip, and Tuesday night's Blowoff. The Blowoff was our first, despite them originating basically down the road from us in DC. It was a lot more fun that either of us expected, Jeff got a chance to shake his bootay on the dance floor. Of course, I could not even try, having a difficult enough time just getting around. Still, it was a ton of fun for me. We attempted to go to the tea dances again the rest of the week, but found them way too packed and turned right around and left. I can't handle that kinda stuff anymore, and we didn't attempt any more.

We had way too much excellent food, Kodi was a total rock star with everyone he met, and despite having to make my way around with a walking stick, I made good use of my time by taking it easy. I hope next year these medical problems won't be an issue.

I have three cameras worth of a few hundred pictures to go through, but found this one in my first go-round. If one picture best describes our little vacation in P-Town, this would be it. Happy, smiling, having a good time, and a truckload of seafood. Kodi helped Jeff with his ice cream, mine was melting faster than I could eat it. I seem to be storing some of it in my beard.


And, yeah, that's my ever-present walking stick in the pic. It sure beats that old medical cane by a mile. I managed to wear the rubber tip of it off, and tried to make do with stuff from the local hardware store to fix it.

We will do this again.

Edit: Thanks to [ profile] putzmeisterbear for correcting me. *blush*

Camp daddy

Aug. 3rd, 2009 12:19 am
greatbear: (Default)
I will probably elaborate further about our weekend, but for now I will say that we have [ profile] champdaddy sleeping quietly after a somewhat rain-soaked weekend of camping at Hillside. As much as I wish I had control over the weather, sadly I don't. The Champ assures us he had an awesome time. Tomorrow morning Jeff will scoot him to the airport for the rest of his trip home. He's a wonderful man who would make a trip to even the drugstore a much more engaging experience.

For now, though, it's off to bed for me.
greatbear: (headsmash)
I used to enjoy this time of year. As a kid, school would be out, the weather would be warm,I'd be outside all the time to the point where my hair would practically bleach white. This feeling continued into my adult years, being outside, helping Mom with her gardening, working on cars until the wee hours of the morning, building stuff, lots of activity. In the past few years, what once was like pure freedom has become more like some sort of wet blanket. Momentum I had about a month or so ago has completely ground to a halt, supplies I have accumulated for needed work around the house is just sitting, and many recent projects are stuck partially completed. A lot of this is due to this being the time of year I'd spent involved with Mom's decline in health and eventual death, but it also seems to be a lot more at play as well. Work absolutely sucks, with some downright nasty backstabbing and political shenanigans coming into play as we face being relocated to an off-site facility which will serve to make my job (and many others') a lot more difficult while allowing management and their bootlickers to build a fiefdom of ego beyond what they have already accomplished. I don't know how much more of this I can take before I snap. And that will not be pretty.

Of course, that which I look forward to, our little vacations, is a big help. However, as has become tradition it seems, as we close in on our holiday, turmoil at Jeff's workplace rears it's ugly head and threatens to put a damper on our fun if not cancel it entirely. Bless his warm, fuzzy heart, Jeff has been working extremely hard to get folks to fill in for an employee in a critical position that was just let go. So far it's been a success, but it would not take much to come apart. There is absolutely no extra coverage, and if someone can't make it in, Jeff will have to fill in. That means no trip to PTown, or cutting it short. At least at his current employer they've been a bit more accommodating than some previous ones, where Jeff had been stuck taking over for others and having no day off for a month or more, along with 10-14 hour days to boot. Still, this casts a cloud over the limited time we get to spend together having some much-needed "us" time. All I can do now is ask all of you in LJ land who reads my scribblings to keep your fingers crossed.

I luckily have three days off this weekend, and that time will be spent, hopefully, getting things done around the house and yard so we can get all set for our trip in a week. Friday I have an appointment to take the truck to the dealership for a recall notice and minor warranty work. Unfortunately, I will be stuck in a waiting room reading new vehicle brochures when I could instead be doing more productive stuff. Let's hope it's not a long wait.
greatbear: (Default)
Another Hillside camping weekend has come and gone. Somehow all the effort that goes into these weekends - the packing, driving, setting up/tearing down, cooking, etc - almost makes us wonder if they are all worth it for the relatively short time. But, meeting up and spending quality time with old friends as well as making some new ones offsets the efforts. This outing had [ profile] churchbear and his beau "The Pork" plus Jeff's good buddy Dean staying on site 22 with us, along with Kodi the WonderPooch. Across the road from us once again was [ profile] rockybear02 and his beau along with a mutual friend staying in their newly acquired luxury pop-up trailer. Aside from some rather intense rain on Friday afternoon, it was pretty decent weather overall. [ profile] climatebearnj and [ profile] churchbear both had their chances to feel up my arms. Meals were total awesomeness as the two Jeffs, Dean and "The Pork" were almost playing "Battle of the Food Network Stars". I bought three radios from Hillside's little 'treasure store' (basically a permanent yard sale) for five bucks and took a few minutes tonight to clean the pots and switches to make them work like new once again. We delivered the trailer to it's summer home in Jeff's parents' driveway but not before Kodi tossed his cookies half inside and half outside my truck along with half all over Jeff. That's three halves simply because it was that much. We drove home in light traffic with no incidents at all for the whole weekend. I give it all a B+.

I look forward to these weekends as a chance to unplug from the world's events. I did bring my hugeass laptop along, but I mostly did a lot of updating of the system and installed programs since I had not touched the thing since last August. On the radio we had heard about the deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. Along with the loss of Ed McMahon, that was three big names from my younger years that are now gone. This prompted a lot of discussion among us as well as with our friends the entire weekend. Thus, the weekend was weighed down with talk of death at a time when I had hoped to not have it on my mind, being that tomorrow, the 29th, marks the the third anniversary of losing Mom to cancer. I had warned my supervisor at work that there'd be a chance I would not show up on Monday if my frame of mind was in shambles. I'm still not sure how tomorrow will turn out in that respect.

Once home and back online, Jeff found out that loudmouthed infomercial pitchman Billy Mays died too. It's ironic, in that "But wait! There's more!" respect. Unreal.

That mostly sums up what has gone on with me during my LJ absence. A lot of really good trying to stave off the specter of really bad with the memory of the absolute worst standing by. My brain is an awflly small batteground for such things.
greatbear: (forearms)
Jeff and I are safely home after our first camping trip of the year. It's also become the way Jeff and I celebrate his birthday. He's 47 now! Doing this one relatively close to home is a way to start off easy, make sure we have everything in order and iron out any sort of problems that might crop up. The latter did make a showing and really could have been serious.
Pics and text of what happened, plus a rant... )

Though it rained on and off on Friday, Saturday was absolutely perfect, and exactly what I had ordered for Jeff's big day. Though our 'mystery guest (sounds like 'camp caddy') could not make it, Jeff and I along with a remarkably well-behaved Kodi had a most enjoyable day.


This is our spot, same as last year. There were more people camping this time than the previous two years. Surprising, but makes sense, since camping is still one of the cheapest and most fun getaways that can be had. We love camping, and do so several times a year. We are on tap for P-Town again this year, plus three trips to Hillside. We can't wait.

A Flickr photo Set of the Deep Creek trip can be found here.
greatbear: (old graybeard)
It's off to camping we will go! Sadly, our hawt 'mystery guest' is unavailable. We've been looking forward to our first getaway weekend, I hope the weather does right by us.

Wish us luck!
greatbear: (forearms)
It's coming down to the wire as Jeff and I work at getting things ready for our first camping trip of the season at Deep Creek Lake in western MD. We're still hoping for a mystery guest to join us, but have not heard anything back yet. I hope this post serves as a bit of cage rattling.

I installed the new water pump, fixed up all the fans, added RFI filtering to two of them that, when running, completely wipe out radio reception and the television. No more. The new water pump is in as well, with some mods to the mounting to make it quieter when it runs. The replacement is not quite up to the capacity of the original, but will do. I plan to add an accumulator/pressure tank in order to even out the water flow and minimize the pump cycling. I should be able to squeeze a one or two gallon tank in the compartment the pump hides in.

Trying to clean up the exterior has been a nightmare. We evidently live in a land of mutant flies which leave permanent 'specks' in the finish. Jeff managed to scrub through the paint in a couple areas and the specks (a polite term for fly shit, as well as crap from our swarms of box elder bugs) remain. We'll keep working at it and get the trailer looking spiffy. In the meantime, I only have to finish replacing the electric element in the water heater and flushing the heater tank out and the maintenance end of things will be done on the trailer. I have to get the truck ready with an oil and filter change, a fuel filter change (somewhat of a pain but made easier by removing the front right wheelwell liner), a good scrubbing and detailing inside and out and we should be good to go. I cant wait. We need this vacation badly.

More work has been done in the garage, and after we get back from vacation I hope to finish the door trim and front interior wall project that has been taking too long. The roofs get done soon, and I can finally work at getting the sunroom finished off, some intricate woodwork for trim and soffits, some too-cool lighting ideas to get built into said woodwork and much happiness will hopefully ensue. The next major project will be a refinishing of the deck.This will be a big undertaking since I will be removing each cedar board from the floor and running it through the planer to smooth out the wood and replacing the old galvanized nails with stainless screws. The railings will get a similar treatment, section by section. Everything gets a good coating of stain/finish. Despite the recent years of neglect, the deck is still amazingly solid for it's eighteen plus years. I did that one right the first time.

Jeff must work early tomorrow morning, but I will have Sunday and Monday off. This will be a short week for both of us and Friday we hit the road for our camping trip. Our next outing will be at Hillside, then P-Town, then two more Hillsides. I'm so looking forward to them all.
greatbear: (forearms)
I know I have not been posting a lot here. Been instead sequestering myself in the basement doing electrical and lighting work, fixing up some of my old machinery and generally being a hermit. It's what I do best. Since signing up for Facebook I have found instead of giving myself another outlet for my thoughts, it seems to have put me off on posting things anywhere, be it FB, LJ, various forums I linger on, etc. Perhaps this is just a phase, bit I will sequester myself mostly in LJ as if it were my basement. Complete with the sawdust and upgrades.

Some updates I guess are in order. Jeff and I have nailed down our Hillside camping dates, so as it has been for a while now, Bear weekends 2 and 3 and Wrestling/Car Show weekends are a go. We have our favorite site for all of them, which is really only one of a couple available that can accommodate our trailer setup plus any friends we manage to have on the site. So, that fills out our planned camping excursions for this year. Deep Creek Lake, MD at the end of May, Hillside for July and August, and P-Town for July for Bear Week. Anything else is going to be a surprise for us.

Cut down yet another tree over at Jeff's parent's place. While I am not fond at all to his dad's scorched-earth clearing of trees in the yard, I can see what he's up to. These are trees along the creek that divides their lot from the farm behind, and opening this up allows a rather awesome view of the farm and the buffalo being raised there (they are delicious, btw). It's getting tougher for him to deal with the yard and the leaves, so this also helps in that respect. Still, I dont like seeing healthy, viable trees taken down. It's my nature. There are some dead and dying stuff that will come down as well. Of course, the bonus here is that I get to bring home all sorts of good firewood gratis. The lower part of this tree filled my truck up, with the remaining wood needing two or three more trips to being home.

While bucking the tree into stove-length logs, one of the roughly 30-inch diameter logs slammed onto my foot, leaving me with a nasty bruise and a woeful limp. I am hoping nothing serious has happened, I am going by the assumption that a break would hurt a helluva lot more. I've busted toes before, so I know the pain.

While Jeff's dad and I were at the hardware store, his mom took a bad tumble and broke her arm. I feel awful about this, since it's affecting the last family I know. She took it in stride, and will be seeing a specialist tomorrow to determine a course of action. Hopefully it's not involving of surgery, screws, pins and brackets.

It's snowing it's ass off outside at the moment. On tap to receive 3-6 inches and possibly more, I am sort of skeeved at March coming in like a crazed lion after a relatively snow-free winter so far. Nothing I can do about it other than wake up tomorrow morning, haul the snow blowers out and deal. The aforementioned firewood, roughly 1000lbs, will give the truck that much more added traction.

The last of hopefully any more hard drives have been acquired and installed into some enclosures I have here, plus one more enclosure bought for the occasion. These will be near-line regular backups that get connected every week or so to back everything up and taken off line and put in safe keeping. A pair of 1.5TB drives, a second pair of 1TBs, plus a third TB drive set aside as a spare for the servers. If this does not make things all set and wonderful, I dont know what will.

I have a feeling my hermit-like behavior will be around for a while. So if there's a lack of online activity from me, that's why. It's not like I am terribly missed anyhow. I still manage to make my usual comments that are often misunderstood and taken as the opposite as the obscure humor I intend. You've been forewarned.


Aug. 24th, 2008 11:43 pm
greatbear: (forearms)
This weekend was our last camping trip to Hillside, wrapping up four trips there, a trip to Deep Creek Lake, and, of course, Provincetown. Seems like it was not long ago that Jeff and I were planning these trips and so looking forward to them. Now they are ones for the history books. Where does the time go?

The weather could not have been better. Hillside is notorious for having freak storms, total rain-outs and snow in May. This is to be expected in a northern, mountainous region. This time, though, we enjoyed a perfect summer, full of friends, fun, frolic, food and dogs.

It was not a perfect trip for everyone, though. Jeff was stuck working on Friday, leaving it for me to me to fetch the trailer from his mom 'n' dad's place and haul it to the campgrounds solo, with Kodi never leaving my lap. Jeff calls me later in the day saying he will be much later due to problems with one of his staff. Two of our guests were completely unable to make it due to similar coworker problems, interrupting a tradition we've had going for a while. Chris, another friend staying with us had a damper tossed on his time by a troublesome tummy bug. But, we all made the best of things and had a good time despite the setbacks. We managed to find some old friends we havent seen in ages and took some time to catch up, picking up as if we had just seen each other yesterday.

Finally got to meet [ profile] _angry_alan, smiling and looking anything but angry, relaxing and kicking back with his buds.

My Achilles's tendon was bothering me too much to do a whole lot of walking around this time around. Still, I made it up to the bonfire on Saturday night where we hung out with more friends and LJers. The strangest part of that evening? A rather excited youngish man came up to me and said he had seen me before, at first not sure where. He then matched me to the lip-sync video I did as part of the meme started by [ profile] chrisglass a few years back, who he also mentioned by name. He knew the song I used as well ("Heartbeat" by The DeFranco Family). We chatted a while about all the videos that ended up being made and how much that meme made my day(s) at a time when I needed some cheer. I felt like an unwitting rock star, with my fan club of one. It made my night.

I woke up this morning to one of the most intense charleyhorses ever in my right calf, causing extreme pain for at least twenty minutes and a limp for the better part of the day. It still hurts, and I am afraid it might fire off again some time during the night.

We said our goodbyes, dragged the trailer home and relaxed, watching the closing ceremonies of the Olympics. We have one more camping trip in October at Knoebels, continuing a tradition we started last year. After that, the trailer gets mothballed until next year, hopefully to take with us to many new places. And old ones.
greatbear: (fuzzy)
I've finally started getting serious about disposing the many years of accumulated crap that's been clogging the basement. Two full truckloads of mostly old electronic gear and computers, an old dryer, TV sets, old cabinets, blown speakers, monitors and household nonsense got taken for a one-way ride. I had several televisions, all with minor trouble that I had hoped to make use of, either repaired and put to use, or used for parts. Before I hauled a lot of these things off, I stripped them of minor bits like speakers, line cords and hardware. One set, needing only a flyback transformer, had a similar chassis to another set (a Sony) that Mom had in her bedroom. Figuring that I would not really need anything from this set to support the one in use, I pulled the speaker out and recycled the rest. Saturday afternoon I dumped all the cruft at the Howard County landfill/recycling center. They have a very well run facility there, with areas for every imaginable recyclable item, and several dumpsters for those things that cannot be recycled or otherwise removed from the waste stream. It takes less than ten minutes to place things in their respective areas and scoot on out of there. And the basement is starting to open up again. That's a much awaited good thing.

That evening, the Sony set with the chassis similar to the discarded set decided to give up the ghost. Hell, that did not take even a day to happen. All those free parts? Gone. Oh well, now there is one more television that will most likely make the trip. A shame, really, because that set kept Mom company for about 24 years. I guess it's just another small part connecting me to the past that has vanished in recent years.

This coming weekend is our final camping trip to Hillside for the year. We usually try to make the last one a big group affair, inviting several friends to stay with us to make the last one the best. But, as has been increasingly the case, trying to get people to commit to the weekend is damn near impossible.I did find out that one buddy (you know who you are) and his partner are unable to make it due to him being stuck on call that weekend. The rest have yet to respond, and we have to make plans for food and space. It's frustrating. We've been hesitant to plan any sort of get-togethers of any kind because what begins as enthusiasm for throwing whatever bash at the start becomes disinterest, avoidance and last-minute cancellations at the approach of the event. We and up being stuck with a lot of expensive food and other wasted items. I would say this is a big problem in the gay community with the so-called legendary fear of commitment, but it happens to everyone at one point or another. Unless it's some sort of A-list who's who gathering of see-and-be-seens or the weekly bridge club that never misses out, it's never a sure thing. And, sadly, it's part of what is making me a bit more antisocial than I want to be as I get older.

It used to be a lot easier.

I hope to get a lot more outdoor work done during the first part of the week when I come home from work. I'm fed up with the place looking half abandoned from the outside. It's truly soul sapping at times.Jeff and I joke about bringing in a housecub to help out. These days it seems to be less of a joke, unless it's on us.

Any volunteers?
greatbear: (vacation)
Well, another vacation has come and gone. This one definitely ranks well in the upper percentile. The weather was perfect, the food to die for, and the friends, both old and new, sealed this one as one of our best. So much to catch up on, it will take a few posts. I'll never begin to catch up on past LJ entries, so I ain't bothering. If there is something of note I should know about, let me know.

Only issues I encountered was a schizoid navigation unit that sent us on some strange routes when it was somewhat functioning, otherwise it sat stupidly, constantly searching for position. Looks like a bit of technology destined for the junk box in the basement. I also know that I can run the fuel gauge completely to 'empty' for at least 30 miles with no ill effects. We had a prime spot at the campground, with great neighbors who could always be counted on for good conversation (aside from a strange pair of silent, isolationist Quebecois with ill-mannered dogs who spent most of their time either inside their RV or outside in it's screened-in 'porch' encased in black privacy curtains). I did not take as many pictures as I had done last year (I accidentally left my memory card pouch home and I needed more space), deciding to enjoy the moments instead. Still, I have several hundred photos to pick through and upload as time permits.

I've had folks prior to and during our trip stare and give winced looks when I tell them I pulled our trailer all that distance to and from P-Town given today's prices for diesel fuel. Last year, diesel fuel prices hovered around $2.95/gal, this year a solid two bucks was added to that amount. I budgeted enough for fuel knowing that this year, diesel will hit that magical 5 dollar-per-gallon figure the oil companies have been salivating over. My prediction was spot-on.

Total miles driven: 1296
Average cost of diesel fuel: Roughly $4.95/gal
Average MPG: 11.3
Total cost of fuel: Don't remind me. :)

Worth every damn penny.

I'll be posting more as I can. As planning and luck would have it, I have only four days of work this week before my next free Friday. What are we planning to do with it? You guessed it, more camping. This time at Hillside. I'm going to need another little vacation to recover from such a rough week. ;o)
greatbear: (forearms)
Long day at work that was actually pleasant and productive. I hope the next three days are like that. After coming home and having a bite, I started getting things fixed up and ready for the trip. Our 10x10 easy-up canopy we take camping suffered a broken strut when it was used for a function where Jeff works. Tonight I brazed up the broken metal piece, cleaned and painted it and reassembled the frame. Good as new. I packed the truck with some sundry items and gave it a mechanical once-over. It's good to go, though I'd really like to wash the thing before the trip. It's a mess inside and out. I have a pair of folding reclining chairs that need repair after a rather large individual from LJ that shall remain nameless bent part of the mechanism. That will happen tomorrow. Most everything else is ready to go.

Put a 500GB drive in an external enclosure and am currently backing up this laptop. The new server has settled down and is behaving nicely (click on wood), though I still have to find out why the DNS service wont load properly at startup, yet runs without issues after starting manually. The server itself has it's own automatic backup schedule, so it takes care of itself. I realized that in the past several months I have accumulated nearly 11TB worth of hard drives. Newegg loves me. I await the inevitable day that I can look back and call that ridiculous amount of storage 'quaint'.

N.B. All those drives are not part of one computer, instead some are library drives for the HTPC, a couple small ones and one big one for the new server, a couple external drives, and about half that will make up the uber file/media server. The same data in a bunch of locations. And I promised myself no more god boxes. Sheesh.

I am reading where the NHRA, the sanctioning body behind professional drag racing (with cars, not with heels and dresses) is considering shortening the track from it's historical 1/4 mile (1320 feet) to 1000 feet in wake of the death of one of it's more famous drivers, Scott Kalitta. I'm sorry, but that is total BS. Yes, the cars are hitting record speeds again and again, and it's getting tough to haul them down from 340+ mph in the remaining track length, even more so when the cars or their systems are damaged. Racing of all kinds has always evolved the safety aspects as speeds increased. Much of this safety tech works it's way into our everyday cars. Time has come to advance the safety technologies once again to keep pace. Making the track shorter reduces trap speeds and leaves more room for stopping. But changing the track length invalidates comparisons of past record achievement with what will happen in the future. And some things should remain sacred anyway.
greatbear: (blackness)
Jeff is up at the bonfire, socializing and enjoying himself. I'm back at the campsite with only Kodi as company. I thought I could make it, but my thoughts and memories got the best of me again.

Tomorrow marks two years since I lost my Mom to cancer. I still miss her greatly. This does not get any easier, but I guess I am learning to cope with the feelings of loss as the days roll on. Keeping to myself for a while helps I guess. I just want Jeff to enjoy himself to the fullest while we are here. For the most part, I am too. I just need my own space now and then.

That's the cool thing about Hillside. It can be whatever you make it. Tomorrow morning I might talk a walk to the Memorial Gardens they have here. It's a truly solemn place, dedicated to partners, friends and family of visitors that have been lost through the years. It's a cathedral in the woods itself. Anyone who experiences it gets choked up. Or more. I'm sure I will really be in the latter category.
greatbear: (forearms)
We have achieved camping. Friends have been spotted and chatted with, good food has been eaten, it's great to finally unwind.

And there are as many unsecured wifi connections as there are trees.

Wish y'all were here. Really.


greatbear: (Default)

December 2016



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