greatbear: (aerial me)
That famous holiday, a favorite for the florists, chocolatiers, restaurants, candy makers, wineries, Hallmark and others, has come and gone. I hope everyone was able to make the best of it, and didn't fall into the "Singles Awareness Day" negativity. Valentine's Day can be whatever you make it. A coworker from years ago would get gag chocolates from another friend who worked at the company. It was a highlight of his day.

This week had been a downer for me, as it happened every year. My Mom's name was Valentine, and being that her birthday is four days prior, we used it as an extra day for something nice. Mom would say that my birthday fell on a holiday, so she was in her right to claim the next closest for hers, and none other would be more appropriate. Yeah, it was in the realm of silliness, but it was our little bit of fun. About two weeks apart, we had out own personalized days, mine thanks to that weather prognosticating critter from Pennsylvania, of course.

For whatever reason(s), the last week or so has been rougher than usual on me. Another winter in a row filled with constant pain and the side effects of narcotics play a part, so does the colder-than-usual weather, feelings of uselessness for greater than in the past, getting one more year older, I could go on. I've mostly salvaged the days for the better, and today seemed to be no different. Jeff had been asked to be a personal chef for some friends of mine. It seems he and his partner have decided to change up some things in their lives, and coupling that with buying some sort of business, he asked Jeff to take a shot at helping them entertain in a little bit more formal fashion. Tomorrow is the gig, a sort of test run for them as well as Jeff. We went to Wegman's today to pick up the fresh ingredients for the meal as well as our own weekly supplies. Well, wasn't the store a total mob scene, with the typical batches of self-absorbed Columbia patrons that normally tend to block aisles and snarl traffic with their carts and clustering, except at least three if not more the usual number of them. We didn't get into the store for more than two minutes before declaring it to be an absolute disaster, with Jeff's already busy mind planning the event and being more easily frustrated as a result, I put the single loaf of bread I managed to pick up on entering the store back on the rack and we both went back home. I went for a nap, and apparently Jeff did the same in order to cool off. After a while he went to our local supermarket instead, with me staying behind this time. I said we should just take care of this gig tomorrow and deal with our bit some other day. I conked out again while he made his run. Just as well we put off our grocery run, as our mostly empty fridge became filled with food for the party. Because of the setback, we ended up changing our dinner plans. We had picked up a really nice rack of lamb and other stuff to have for our VDay dinner. Because Jeff had to do prep for tomorrow, and I didn't want to overburden him with even more kitchen mayhem, I made us dinner for the night. My appetite has been shot for months now, and rather than attempting to enjoy an involved meal after a day of stress (and pain for me) we had a nice, relaxing meal of sandwiches and soup and chips and samples of tomorrow's big dinner. And you know what? For that moment, it was just as good as that lamb dinner would've been. If all goes well, we will have our postponed dinner in the early evening on Monday.

I ended up being more than a bit on the cranky side today, anyway. I know, what else is new. I slept worse than usual the night before, with the weather alert radio going off four times in the middle of the night, warning of high winds and extreme windchill from the nasty weather system currently beating up the northeast. During most of the day, the weather was very calm, and a late afternoon snow had begun once Jeff returned from the store. So much for all the noise that kept me up the previous night. Jeff couldn't get a couple items while out, the store was out. So I did the deed going to another grocer nearby. There was already a couple fluffy inches of snow everywhere, and during the short time I was out, perhaps 15 minutes or so, the snow had erased all the signs of me leaving the house. The footprints, the dry area where the truck had been, the tracks on the street were completely gone. I had recently bought a little cordless snowblower to keep the walkways and deck clean, and I've been jonesing to use it since. Knowing how my actions here at home can affect statewide weather patterns, buying this snowblower as well as getting the big monster blower all set for use at a moment's notice meant there was a good chance our area would remain snow-free. Sure enough, though it amounted to maybe three inches of accumulation before stopping, the long-promised wind had finally shown up as well, and unless there's going to be some drifting, my maiden voyage of the new toy snowblower might end up being a disappointment. I love how technology is blasting ahead in so many ways. For years, I used an electric snowblower to keep the decks clean. I used to shovel the snow from the deck, and I had engineered in a means to make this task a bit easier. The railings have a six inch space between them and the deck floor. All that is needed is to push the snow off the edge rather than heaving it over the top. I hadn't considered what would happen to the snow once pushed off the deck. Being a story in the air, and with bushes and shrubs below, the snow would crash onto the plants and break them. So, I had gotten a little electric blower to fling the snow well beyond the area of the plants, with the bonus of giving Mom something very easy to use as well. A couple years ago, though, I inadvertently ran over a stray bungee cord hidden in the snow, and it wrapped around the spinning axle and blade. The resulting friction melted the plastic housing and the bearing mount. In my attempts to cut the tangled rubber with a utility knife and slicing open three fingers quite badly, the damaged blower has been sitting in the basement since, waiting for me to fix it. Last year became the time that cordless, battery operated outdoor tools such as lawnmowers, edgers, trimmers and even chainsaws and snowblowers had finally matched the power of corded electric and even some gas engine powered equivalents. I decided replacing the old corded blower with this new cordless thing would be even easier for me to use than the old one. It's lighter, I don't have to bend over and pick up the icy cord, and it's even more maneuverable. I really, really detest not being able to do even a fraction of the tasks I would think nothing of. I've been spending a lot of money on effort-reducing things to help me along. And I am that fucking stubborn to want, nay, need to continue doing some stuff on my own. I mean, I already am burdening Jeff with a lot of things. And this is a man that suffered a heart attack not long ago. I have to pull as much of my own weight as I can, no matter any consequences. And I absolutely can't change that.

Since I'm in the social media space here, I can talk about things I can change. I'll be cleaning up my LJ presence, streamlining it some, perhaps freshening things a bit. I paid for it, so I might as well use it. This will remain my primary point of presence on the net. I already ditched a lot o other things, and those remaining, like Facebook, will most likely only have links to here rather than any substantial posts over there. I have gone on a lot about how I don't like FB and how it handles information. Sadly, most, if not all of the people I knew from LJ have migrated over there, and seem to have lessened their once detailed posting for lighter fare. The remaining few that have continued their long-form posting style have ended up being boxed in by the format of other social media, and more often than not, I never see these posts because Facebook decides to let me see what they think is important, and not what I want to see. A good many if not all of my posts are not seen by anyone there at all, once again due to how the site works and not including my stuff in what others might want to read. Of course, I can pay the fucker(berg) to put my posts in the streams of friends. Nah, never going to do that. If people really care, they'll come looking.

Tonight the wind is howling outside, gusts so far at least 30mph. And it is only 8 degrees F as I write this. However, we are reaping some of the benefits of my earlier work last year. The drafty front door is gone, the cold air that used to come in through the recessed lighting in the kitchen is gone too. These were the most major air infiltration points upstairs, and there is a big difference in comfort levels as well as energy usage. As I write I am also babysitting the upstairs woodstove, keeping it filled with wood and making it undeniably cozy. When the wind blasts outside like it does, it blows across the chimney and creates a vacuum. This "turbocharges" the draft through the stove and makes the fire burn very hot. The stove has a catalytic converter, similar to the ones in cars. This captures and burns unburned smoke and gasses from the wood fire, and adds to the heat. The studio here is a balmy 80 degrees. Snickles, who never misses a chance to sleep under the covers with us, is instead parked in front of the stove hearth. A warm dog in winter is a content dog, that's for sure. Since having these damn spine troubles, my legs absolutely can't take the cold anymore. I park a little space heater under the desk to keep them warm, also so I can keep the rest of the house cooler. I don't need it now. This was also planned way back when I was designing and building the house. A woodstove was intended as a form of backup heat and as an occasional thing to use, like a fireplace. It didn't take long to find out the stove is much more enjoyable in the winter than previously thought. And on a night like this, it's one of the few things that make me feel secure and happy in a time where I feel less of these things.

Anyhow, I've rambled on enough for one night. I hope everyone has some way of escaping the cold if it's currently causing grief. And I hope you had a good Valentine's Day. Even if the highlight was only sandwiches.

ETA: I almost forgot to include this lovely little ad for the holiday. It's from a Spanish department store chain called El Corte Ingles (colloquially: The Tailor's Cut) As such, it's in Spanish, but you don't need to speak the language to tell what's going on. Click the "CC" button on the bottom right of the frame to turn on English subtitles) If you click the YouTube button on the bottom right of the frame, it will take you to YouTube itself, where you can also see it closed captioned. Do what I initially did. Watch it in Spanish, and see if you got the gist of the story. My Spanish is rustier than the Titanic, and I got pretty close. Love knows no language barriers anyway. The guys are adorable, with an awkward, dorky charm that's nearly squee-worthy.

greatbear: (jeff and me)
Well, just as I had promised by not seeing my shadow on my birthday, winter has been a PMSing bitch along its last six weeks of existence. Jeff got called Sunday afternoon to head down to the hotel near the hospital in preparation for the winter nastiness, and plans on being there until Tuesday afternoon along with other essential personnel keeping the patients fed and cared for. Yeah, I'm bummed some, but it did come off of a four-day weekend with lots of accomplishments and fun. We saw BOOK OF MORMON at the Hippodrome (Latin for "Horse Arena") theater in Baltimore Saturday evening, our sides are still practically sore from laughter. I had a friend come over yesterday to help me run network cabling in La Casa Mayhem, and I've been generally busy if not held back by pain trying to get on with daily life, at least my version of it. All this goodness became soaked in rain and sleet before turning into snow overnight, whereupon I woke (late) to yet another picturesque winter scene. I plan on tackling this latest mess tomorrow morning. In the meantime, By-Tor, the Snow Dog and I will have what is likely our last days of snowy fun and frolic. They love it, becoming a white cloud of snarling, yapping energy chasing about in the yard.

Now, for those who made it past the seasonal visuals, I must let it be known that Jeff and I have been very busy with some very important preparations that will culminate in an implosion of extreme fabulousness and celebration at the end of June, and I invite all who are reading this to please make yourself part of the festivities with us. Jeff and I are getting married on June 28! I know that I know many if not most of you reading only via the interwebs, but I sill consider you as family, and would love for you to attend. If you desire to be a part of the nuptials, along with with an incredible catered food extravaganza all being held here at Mayhem Acres in Maryland, drop me a PM with your address and the names of anyone else you'd like to accompany you and I will send you an invitation with additional details and RSVP card. It's gonna be a good time, guaranteed.

Yes, I've been a bit cagey with hints and details in the past, but that's my nature. I want this to be a fun event, open to all. I also have to overcome a bit of personal fears as well, and I think that has been progressing well. No fears about being wed to Jeff, mind you, that's a given and not subject to pause. No, my problem is associating it to the greater world of friends and family. As a pretty serious introvert I have some issues, but I want to cast them to the wind while having the most important day in my life, which I swore for nearly half a century that I would never get to experience for myself. So please, be a part of it. It's a huge reason to celebrate!
greatbear: (jeff and me)
Sometimes life throws you some lemons.

We didn't make any plans for Valentine's Day. We rarely do, and in those rare occasions where we do, it usually is a quiet night at home. Not worth trying to find a restaurant with the crowds and bustle, etc.. For this year, it was just as well we didn't plan anything, after all, there was the nasty storm that lasted for two days, dumping over a foot of snow on us and forcing Jeff to take up residence at a hotel for two nights close to work because he is essential personnel. I waited until today to tackle literally tons of wet snow, made worse by the rainy, sleety intermission yesterday afternoon between two furious acts of crystalline white horror. The dogs as well as myself suffering a bit of cabin fever as well as missing the major component that makes our little unconventional (yet still totally valid) family a complete, happy unit.

It then appeared things weren't so bad after all.

The weather today was bright and sunny, and, especially considering the snow situation, downright warm. So warm in fact, were it not for the blowback from the snowblower, I could've quite comfortably cleared all the snow in my t-shirt and jeans. I let the dogs out, who had lots of fun running, chasing and carousing in the snow. I dispatched all of the snow from the driveways and the walks, along with some paths from the house, garage and woodshed, saving the three foot high snowbank left by the plowing of the street for last, a means to keep the dogs corralled. As I was just finishing up, I ran over a branch that was hidden in the snow that jammed the augers and broke a shear pin. I was essentially stuck, with about eight feet or so of snow to get through till my freedom, but instead I had to jostle and wrestle the 350 pound machine manually through the snow. I made it, putting the machine in the garage and assessing the damage. I couldn't remember where I put the spare pins (these are made to break in cases just like this, it save the transmission in the machine from damage, instead breaking a sacrificial, two dollar pin). I head back into the house to take off my wet clothes and finally get something to eat, and the phone rang. It was Jeff, coming home early from work. Perfect timing, I got the driveways and walks cleared for his safe arrival. I greet him at his truck in my underwear (he practically dared me) where he surprised me with a beautiful flower arrangement. Picture a man wearing a t-shirt and tighty-whities standing amongst a foot or more or rapidly melting snow trying best not to cry and failing. That was me.

We talked about what to do this evening. I needed to go and get parts for the snowblower (there's potential for even more snow). He needed to take his clothes to the cleaner in order to have them ready Saturday. There are restaurants not far from the Home Depot. It's not even four o'clock yet. Bingo! Honey, I'm taking you out for Valentine's Day dinner. And off we went.

My mother used to always say to me through the years, "Things have a way of working out." Well, today was a perfect example of just that. An interesting convergence of seemingly unrelated events major and minor. Circumstances that aligned just right to make for a very pleasant, surprising outcome. I got my parts, we had a nice dinner, and got back with plenty of time to avoid the traffic, crowds and whatnot and still enjoyed our quiet night at home.

Life tossed a few nice, ripe lemons our way. But it made for some rather sweet lemonade after all. Or perhaps lemon snowcones, as the case may be.
greatbear: (walken)
Well, the snow has been falling since about 8pm, the wood stove is packed for the night, the house is toasty warm, generators on standby if needed, plenty of food is in in the house, two dogs are with me in bed with one snoring under the covers. The house is nearly silent, the only sound other than breathing pups is the tiny fan in the laptop. It is practically the pure essence of comfy cozy warm fuzzies. But what is wrong with this idyllic scene? There is no Jeff. Sadly, he took off right as the storm arrived to stay in a hotel close to the hospital where he works in order to be there in the morning. He's considered essential personnel, so he gets no snow days. While I am not exactly thrilled by this situation as I'd rather have him home and part of this cozy mayhem, he is safe where he is, does not have to drive to get to work, and has everything he needs close by. He will likely stay until Friday and return after work if all goes well.

Tomorrow, after the snow finally settles down, I will attack the walkways and driveways with the snowblower, which I gassed up and got ready earlier today. I will then send By-Tor and the Snow Dog out into the fluffy stuff, where they will undoubtedly have a blast like they did in the last snowfall. I'm hoping Jeff doesn't have a lot going on the next couple days and he can come home Friday and have a relaxing weekend.
greatbear: (forearms)
As everyone seems to know, a lot of snow fell here recently, and I waited until the next day (Wednesday) to hobble out of the house to the garage, fire up the snowblower and have at it. It wasn't a huge snow, only about 6-7 inches. Anyhow, since my back is in absolutely no shape to even touch a snow shovel, mostly hanging from the handles of the big, self-propelled snowblower is fairly easy, and I have to say, sending a rooster tail of snow high into the air that blots out the sun in my general vicinity is kinda fun. It does, however, fly back at me quite a bit, and after about an hour I pretty much look like the abominable snowman by the time I'm done. I park the thing in the garage, trudge back into the house where I strip myself of my snow-covered outerwear, boots and whatnot and otherwise dry off. While I got most of the snow off of me, I didn't realize there was close to two inches on top of the geeky Mad Bomber hat I use to keep my big flappy ears warm. I set this in the kitchen sink to thaw out, and shook the copious icicles out of my beard. I relax a bit, sore and hurting from the exertion (which I still am as of this writing). I play with the various four-leggers in the house, including the stray cat that makes herself all-too-comfy here. A little while later, I head to the kitchen for a snack, and I notice a furrball on the kitchen counter. The damn cat is always jumping up, looking for anything she can to eat. I yell like I usually do to shoo her off. It was then I realized I was yelling at the hat I put in the sink earlier.

I had a good laugh at my own expense.

Bonus irony points: It was at this time the doorbell rang, it was UPS delivering one of my purchases. A new, black Milwaukee electrically heated jacket. That would've been nice to have on while doing the snow. Well, I know how my irony goes. I was wearing my old red version while slingin' snow. Take that, old irony monster.

Daddy bear

Dec. 9th, 2013 09:23 pm
greatbear: (old graybeard)
A bunch of pictures have been taken lately, everything from "before" pics of Jeff as he begins gym workouts with a trainer, to weather photos, holiday decorations and whatnot. I had Jeff snap a photo of me as I was able to stand up almost straight. This is what the cashier from Saturday thinks is the father of a 51 year old man:

Not too far off, I guess. lol

We had a frozen land of icy mayhem here today, freezing rain coated everything in a glassy sheath. Luckily it wasn''t like some years where the ice builds up more and more and it starts taking down branches, whole trees and power lines. This time was rather benign, Jeff had no issues getting to work using main roads and highways. He usually takes a back way that shaves of several miles as well as a few dollars in tolls both ways. He came home that way without issues. Tomorrow might prove a hassle again, as the weather radio warning sounded for bad icing and snow conditions throughout the day. Yippie. The snow blower is ready. Not sure how ready I am for it though.

Some more photos:

This is the snow from the Sunday prior, you can see the big Blue Atlas cedar bent over the walkway from the weight of the ice, along with some of the shrubbery burdened with the frozen delight in the picture before, this is "normal."

Let's see what Ma Nature has in store tomorrow.
greatbear: (Default)
Some big changes coming here at La Casa Mayhem starting this coming week. Jeff has a new new job, at a new place, with his old boss (which he likes a lot) at a spanking new huge facility with state-of-the-art everything and the chance to build his staff from scratch in his own way. It's a chef's woodie-inducing dream, though it will be a bit hectic and sometimes frustrating at the start, I'm sure. There's more money in it for him and no manager-on-duty nonsense every several weeks, plus no weekends. So, a major w00t for him. I just hope the stress of getting the place up to speed does not impact his cardiac recovery.

Did some tuning up of my f-list, removing mostly people who obviously disapproved of my friending them in the first place, and a couple others. Nature abhors a vacuum, Mayhem abhors douchery.

Angry Birds for Android was a nice addicting distraction while it lasted. I'm through all the levels and want more. Any suggestions? The Scruff app is, well, interesting.

The weather bureaus are making noises towards there being another SNOMG Event early next week. I hope I don't have to be moving snow in the middle of the night again. I just got the deck cleared off yesterday, the front walk is still unusable due to low and fallen branches. Using the small electric snowblower to clear the deck, it picked up a small bungee cord hidden in the snow and it got wrapped around the shaft. It was too tangled to unthread, so I got a retractable knife to cut it out in pieces. Despite my being careful, I slipped and cut my one finger down to the bone. I left a trail of blood in my path from the snow thrower to the bathroom, where I performed first aid. The cut was so clean that continuous pressure for a half hour plus a tightly applied bandage not only stopped the bleeding, but the cut is imperceptible and looks almost healed up. It does not even hurt. Go me, I guess I can still heal kinda fast despite my old age. Now, for that spinal cord thing...

The house is playing host to one of the other stray cats. Kodi made sure the poor thing spent most of the day huddled beneath a covered end table. Once Kodi hit the hay with Jeff, this one (alternately named Tigger or Tommy) popped out and enjoyed some petting time and exploring. While in the bathroom where the litter box is also kept, T/T wandered in, found his way through the anti-Kodi barricade to the litter box, and had a go. It's as if he's been doing it all this time. Either Pinky is coaching him (Pinky is the reason why we have a half dozen "visitors" these days) or cats have some sort of sixth sense when it comes to taking a shit.

To paraphrase Sheriff Brody in Jaws, we're gonna need a bigger litter box.
greatbear: (Default)
*removes cat from keyboard*

As has been the case for months now, my sleeping patterns have gotten totally screwed up. If I try to get to bed at a reasonable time, I lay awake for hours, often not getting any shut-eye until sometime after Jeff leaves for work (he's an early bird, getting up before 4am). Well, the snowpocalypse for the new decade dumped about 8-10 inches of clingy snow in everything. There are branches down, and the shrubs are a mess. Jeff was stuck having to go to work as usual, and he found me wide awake playing Angry Birds in bed. Understandably in a huff, he tells me he's stuck going to work and after taking a walk outside in the glacial hell, he finds the main road clear, but abut a 2-3 foot wall of icy snow blocking the driveway. He says he does not know what he's going to do, he can't shovel snow (nor would I even begin to let him), so I ask him if he wants me to clear the driveway with the snowblower so he could get out. "Oh, would you?" he says with puppydog eyes. I don my work clothes and my big clompy Uniroyal rubber steeltoes and trudge out to the garage and fetch the snowblower. Not only do I manage to clear his way out, I decide to do the nearly 300 feet worth of driveways both to the house and the garage, plus shake the trees and shrubs that were overburdened with the snow. This was one of those storms that deposited snow on everything. Even the car radio antennae were at least 2 inches in diameter. Strange, it felt like the middle of the day, I was so perfectly awake.

And I got it all done before 5am. Woot.

An elated Jeff fixes me a huge pot of oatmeal as part of a healthy breakfast, does some domestic tasks and such while waiting for me to finish. Once I started to put away the snowblower, he meets me a the garage, all ready to go. He makes reasonable time heading to work, the local roads were a mess according to him, but the highways were fine. He called me once he safely arrived at work.

I have finished my breakfast, and I will take a nice hot shower to warm up and get rid of any remaining beard icicles, and probably hit the sack for a while. I will reschedule my doc appointment if it's not already canceled.
greatbear: (glasses)
In my earlier post I lamented on not having the frame of mind to make creative posts (or posts in general) here on LJ. My reasoning was not entirely forthright, because there have been times I wanted to make a post, but external factors thwart my attempts. One in particular, actually.

keyboard kat

This is Pinky. Beneath Pinky is my keyboard. She insists on laying in my keyboard drawer practically every night, or practically any time I am in front of this particular computer. I push my keyboard as far back on the surface as I can lest she provide her own input, and she settles in for the evening. I'm allowed the use of my mouse, but alphanumeric input is verboten. Actually, since the keyboard itself (as well as the mouse) is Bluetooth wireless, I can remove them both and let Pinky have the full 16 by 24 inch surface to stretch out on. The table itself is a dire mess, so ol' Pink can't lounge on the upper deck yet. You can also see a bit of my now-scrawny legs lost in my jeans. I hope to change that soon.

I also lost one of my USB hubs a while back and with it, my flash card reader connection. I remedied this tonight and can now go through some photos that have piled up on the SD/CF cards.

We are currently experiencing a notable SNOMG Event as I type this. The power has been on and off, lightning flashes in the distance, and a sticky/wet snow is clinging to everything it touches. I expect more busted up trees and shrubs from this one similar to what happened last winter during the numerous snowpocalypseses. I hope Jeff does not have to go to work (he is considered essential personnel who have to trek in even during facility closure, which is lunacy IMO), and I hope my doctor's appointment gets axed. Jeff had a wild ride home today, it's not gonna be nice tomorrow morning. My two snowblowers, By-Tor and Snow Dog, are squared for battle.

There's something quite assuring about a nice, warm house, a fire going in the woodstove and everyone home safe and sound while Ma Nature breaks bad on us right outside the door. If the power goes, no big deal, the warmth and safety continues unabated, and the generator is ready if the power gets knocked out for the count.

On a final note, youse guys make it pretty darn difficult for me to go skulking off into that dark, cold night. I acknowledge and cherish the friendships I have beyond my cat-covered keyboard, and like any friendship, it takes a certain amount of effort on my part to keep it thriving. Yeah, I could close up shop here, but the one who would ultimately suffer the most is me. I ain't gonna let that happen, trust me. Thanks to all of you who have kept my head in this space.
greatbear: (walken)
So, I can't sleep, as usual. Peering outside (not peeking, doing so seems to result in a flurry of BASIC commands =D) I see it snowing it's ass off. Not good. The area was not supposed to see this until later in the day. I warn Jeff to be prepared on his way to work. He calls me upon arriving there and said all the roads are a mess despite the~2 inches or so on the roads. I think the storm caught the road crews sleeping. Anyhoo, I look outside now and the snow has become a freezing rain. Just as predicted by the weather folk, except early. It's supposed to become snow again later today. The result of all this is a slushy lasagna of difficult-to-remove mess everywhere, and two guys not able to deal with it very effectively. If the snowblower can handle it, I'm set. I checked it out last night, it started on the first yank.

Normally, I like snow and winter in general. Recently, though, with my injuries and such, plus Jeff's health issues, I'm starting to give Old Man Winter the stink eye more often than not. At least I don't have to go anywhere today, having run my errands two days prior. Jeff has not only to drive back from work, but attend his cardiac rehab session if it's not (most likely) canceled. I have my doc appointment tomorrow morning, I hope everything is dealt with as far as road clearing 'n' such.

In other news, it's looking like nearly everything in the driveway is needing new batteries. The new truck is showing signs of battery weakness, this is common in the diesel models from what I've gathered, and the fact that it takes two batteries is a smack in the wallet. The Mini Cooper ate it's third battery again, this makes not one, but two Optima deep cycle batteries that decided to take a crap. I hope it can be warranteed. No more Optimas for me. The Stratus was dead the other day after not driving it for about a week, I am not sure if it's Optima battery is toast or there is a parasitic draw killing it. The Strat batt took a charge and came out happy. The one in the Mini is a goner. I took the original battery out of the Stratus after 8+ years simply because a battery that old is living on borrowed time. Little did I know it would outlive about a half dozen batteries in the three years since I swapped it out. I just installed a new battery in Jeff's ride several weeks ago. It never ends. Vehicle maintenance, house repairs and now a huge medical bill, and me no worky and no pay. My poor savings accounts hate me.

Why no posts of a more personal nature in a long while? It's not that I don't have a lot going on, relatively speaking. I just seem to have lost the desire to talk about stuff online. Perhaps I'll be more in the sharing mood in the future, if I don't abandon personal posting altogether. I'm just not feeling it any longer. It's "social media overload" for me, or maybe more of a pushback. I have no idea who reads these things ♠ (the cat managed to walk across my keyboard just now and made that spade sign, I decided to share it) beyond those on my f-list, and some days I feel like some crazy dude mumbling loudly on a subway platform. I'm finding myself reverting to my old, quiet self in the past several years. Rest assured I value my friendships and like to chitchat, but I'm a wallflower by nature, and a wilting one at that.
greatbear: (walken)
It seems there's some sort of bigass snow event headed our way in the not-too-distant future.


Despite all that has been happening here with our collective health, I still managed to collect and split a nice batch of firewood a couple days ago to load into the racks and wheelbarrows by the house and get the snowblowers ready. The big generator (Yes!) is ready in case of any power issues, and there's a nice warm fire in the woodstove along with plenty of food in the house. If we do have to get someplace for whatever reason, there's two capable 4WDs.

The Boy Scouts have nothing on me. Besides, all they do is prepare you for Mormonism these days.

Our little, unassuming holiday has been quite relaxing and nice. The other half of the turkey breast we had for T-Day, roasted white and sweet potatoes, carrots and green beans along with crescent rolls made up our dinner, and Jeff has his beloved Dallas Cowboys fired up on teevee for his evening entertainment. I'll head down to the basement workshop (of Mayhem, of course) and wire in the 5kW electric heater I had ordered a couple weeks ago. This is one problem I've been dealing with since my surgery that has upset me - I just can't warm up anymore. Used to be I could work outside in subfreezing weather all day as if it were nothing. Nowadays I complain about being cold, even when sitting in front of the woodstove or one of the space heaters. I hope this passes.

Hope y'all had a great day.
greatbear: (walken)
Today was partially spent digging out of over 2 feet of Mother Nature's dandruff. This just might be a record setting snowfall for the area. It was not easy getting started, as Jeff and I shoveled and trudged our way around to get to the firewood and all the way to the garage, where I keep By-Tor the Snowblower. Kodi, despite is small Poweranian stature, loved the snow, despite how deep it is. It was fun dropping him into the deep stuff, with a muted "foop" he would vanish, then start jumping up trying to plow his way through. He would follow us in our footsteps as good as he could, enjoying every minute of it all. We were all dug out after a couple hours work. There was one casualty so far due to the snow, one of my 40ft blue spruces toppled to the ground from the lopsided weight. I expect a lot of broken branches and ruined shrubs as well. but the stuff is too deep. We tried our best to dig out or unburden some of the trees and shrubs, but this snowfall is going to be too much for some of the trees to handle.

Snow for me is almost always beautiful, interesting and fun. Here's my one lamp post doing it's best Marge Simpson imitation:


A few more are behind the cut... )
The whole set can be seen on Flickr.

Not all of the day was spent frolicking in the white stuff. I fitted a new heatsink to a (yet another) new PC build and did some overclocking action, plus took a nap. The latter was needed since an electrical surge scrambled the alarm clock/radio, blasting us with the local classical music station and leaving us unable to shut it off. Turning down the volume fixed it for the time being, the next little power failure reset it to working normally. At least we kept the power through the whole event.

Tomorrow will be a little bit more digging out and cleaning of vehicles, and, hopefully, the street will be cleared as well. I also got a bit of work I want to do in the attic for the support of plumbing vent pipes in preparation of the new roof this spring. It's always something, being a homeowner.
greatbear: (seasons greetings)
So, the Great Snow Of Doom of 2010 rages on as I type this. This continues the highly unusual trend of measurable accumulation for each "snow event" around these parts, since my little patch of Maryland more often than not gets little flurries, false alarms, sleet or winter rains instead. This winter, if a single snowflake fell from the sky, it has been accompanied by a craptillion family relatives in a blanket party of varying depths. Currently there appears to be about a foot of sky cocaine on the ground, piling up since about 2pm this afternoon. Various weather websites say anything from a few more inches to a doubling of what's currently here is expected.

This is a view from my front door, taken a few minutes ago. It's shot using what available light there is.


Yes, it's both pretty, and pretty ominous. The power has flickered a few times already, leading a chorus of clicking relays and little beeps around the house as a half-dozen UPSs dutifully come to life and one of the printers resets. While power failures during bad weather are rare here, those which do happen are quite often in it for the duration. This will cause a bit of minor bummage, but at least we will stay toasty warm from the heat of two woodstoves and there is the 15,000 watt generator in the garage that will run everything if the outage lasts more than a day. The view from the back of the house is less interesting, as the scene simply fades to white after a couple hundred feet. No sign of the neighbors, no lights, nothing. Just a whispering roar of a slight wind and the combined decibels of countless billions of little ice crystals crashing to the ground, all joining the White Party orgy.

Enjoy it while it lasts.

P.S.: Many thanks to everyone who sent emails and left comments here and on Facebook with all those birthday wishes. You guys (and gals) are pure win, and it helped make my 48th year on this rock a lot easier to take. Y'all are the best.
greatbear: (ciggie bear)
It appears that the "minor snow event" of about 1 to 3 inches has decided to get comfortable and hang around for a while. There's at least six or seven inches out there now, and it's still coming down. So, instead of a little bit of time spent with a snow shovel tomorrow, out comes By-Tor the Snow Blower for some snow-flinging fun.

Oh, joy. The trend where each occurrence of of snow precipitation is a measurable (read: shovelable or snowblowerable) continues. Usually we get lots of flurries and dusting with an occasional notable accumulation. Not this winter. Oh, well, at least it's not in the middle of the week where I am stuck going to work amidst the mess. In the meantime, I am getting socked with cabin fever. It's not all bad, the house is toasty warm via the woodstove, and I got lots of time to put towards little chores as well as geeky pursuits. I am just so over winter right now. Bring on the Spring.
greatbear: (face)
Mother Nature stopped by yesterday, leaving us with about 24 inches of snow as an early Xmas present. Today Jeff and I dug out. Jeff was worried about an all-day task. I said not to worry. About two hours, and it was all cleared.


Power tools save time, and one's back.
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.
greatbear: (a-list)
A new usericon in response to the latest brouhaha making the rounds.

Also, it's snowing it's ass off here. Either I did not watch the weather reports lately, or this came up totally unexpected. I had to bail on some car work I was doing, Jeff and I attempted to get to the couple stores we had planned on, but after watching people wipe out in the traffic circles, crashes on I-95 everywhere and people shooting around like idiots while cellphoning, we turned around and went back home, stopping at the grocery store on the way. The Bloom store, normally fairly barren, was packed, though it did not seem to be the usual milk/bread/terlet paper panic items in people's carts. Judging by the road conditions, this snow took even the highway department by surprise.

At least the snow waited till Jeff and I completed all of our moving chores.

Saturday we headed up to PA to clean up the apartment, I filled in the holes in the drywall where pictures, curtain rods, and whatnot were mounted, I replaced a section of veneer that the dog had chewed off the kitchen cabinets and touched up paint here and there. The place looks at least as good as when Jeff moved in, so he best get his deposit back. Kodi got his hair done while we worked and is looking good now. We came back and did more moving and shuffling of furniture and whatnot, and now the place is looking a bit less than a warehouse and more like a home. We should have a pretty serious yard sale this spring, and I got a a huge amount of obsolete, broken and worthless electronic crap, computers and other cruft to toss. The house and garage get new roofs this spring, and I hope to put the mega-addition (with lift!) onto the garage as well as a separate building for the tractors/tillers/yard and garden stuff. Time to get busy, get organized, and get out for vacations too.

There's a lot of living to get on with.
greatbear: (fuzzy)
Make no mistake about it. I LOVE snow. Always have. Of course, that love came about as a kid, where days off of school and romping around in the white stuff made for fun during my formative years. Later in my adult workaday life, snow can sometimes be a headache, and I got busted up pretty bad in a car accident on my way to work in the stuff. But when I have a rare chance to enjoy a serious snowfall (none of that couple inches shit) and not have to deal with travel, work or other hassles, I relax and just drink it all in. I dont have to worry about being snowed in, I can easily dig myself out and I have the big old 4wd Dodge Cummins to blast around in, there is lots of food and stuff in the house.

This time, the snow started nicely on Saturday afternoon, wrapping it's calming blanket over the area. People stopped driving around, the night fell in a purple-grey fog. During the night that somewhat eerie yellowish brightness can be seen through the windows. Houses in the distance are obscured by the fog, and the lights are barely visible. The quiet atmosphere lets me actually hear the snow hitting the ground in a soft crystalline hiss. There is a certain snugness and warmth in the house when it snows, as the stuff acts as an insulator. I revel in the anechoic silence around me and sleep like, well, a bear in hibernation.

Sunday morning greeted me with 12-17 inches of snow. I grabbed my only working camera and fired off some shots of my winter wonderland. Little did I know there was a huge smudge on the lens that I somehow imported from NYC, so the shots have an appropriate haze to them.

The Blue Atlas cedar in the front yard wears it's coat well.

More Snow Escapades here... )

Blargh @ LJ

Dec. 5th, 2005 10:06 pm
greatbear: (forearms)
Still having flaky comment notification email issues, as are apparently quite a few on my list. From the LJ status page, "Comment notifications, payment receipts, and other outgoing email from LiveJournal may be delayed or missing.". More can be found in the eyeball-shattering yellow status box on the LJ support page. Also it looks like some will need to reset their passwords:

"In order to make sure your data and journals are extra safe, we're tightening up our password security. This means that many of you will be prompted in the coming weeks to change your password. We know this is a pain in the neck, but improving our password guidelines will make the entire site safer. Please see the password FAQ for our full guidelines."

Been trying to clean up the rat's nest I call my studio. It's been collecting boxes and junk and parts for the new PCs being built here. I need a couple nice new desk chairs, as well as some sort of narrow, tall high-density shelving for the increasing numbers of CDs, DVDs and such. I've already reached critical mass as to what a 12x12 foot room can comfortably hold and not look like a warehouse. Since the studio is situated in the den off the living room, I'd like to keep it looking better than it has been. Since I'm indoors a lot more these days (and getting awfully pale) I get to see how badly I trashed the place when I was busy elsewhere or just coming in here to unwind. Speaking of cleanup, this keyboard is just about ready to be declared a Superfund site. I've been using it since '88 and it looks like it. However, no one has come up with a keyboard quite like this old Northgate. It's taken some poundings over the years and is still going.

It's snowing again, and this time we were promised some real accumulation. It should make tomorrow's commute an absolute ass-stinking hell. Few things in life are as frustrating as Maryland traffic in the snow. It's also when I tell work "I'll get there when I get there", since I was nearly killed going in to work in the snow and to this day the time I was off for recovery gets repeatedly counted against me. Never mind that I was ready and willing to come back in about a month but my employer would not let me back with the restrictions I had at the time. Ah, well, I can be a prick about it too. Current forecast: 6 inches by morning. Wonderful.
greatbear: (forearms)
Well, it's snowing rather briskly outside now, and I say let it go right ahead. After taking Mom to the Xmas luncheon held at her former employer (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, where she is a retiree), the afternoon/evening was spent modding Mini Coopers in the cold. It is here that I am thankful for my Russian genes, as I am able to work outside in the cold with little difficulty while others stand around shivering. I prepared for the snow this weekend, stocking the house up with firewood, getting things ready, and, sadly, staying home here in MD and away from my honey in PA. Up there is supposed to get hit even harder. Jeff used the time free from my pawing all over him to get homework and studying done plus get ready for his finals. So, let it snow (x 3).

The phones are finally fixed here at Casa Greatbear! One thing I have learned over the years is to get in good with those actually doing the work even if I fly off the handle with those that I have to schedule said work through. Case in point, the technician working on the phone line was an outgoing, rather cute little blonde woman. She was busting her tiny little butt trying to make sense out of the ancient, tattered lines up and down the roads here as well as problems that were all the way at the C.O.. She came by a couple times giving me updates while I did what I could to help. We even talked shop. In the end, she gave us her direct number to call the next time we might encounter the same problem in the rain and cannot wait to have an appointment scheduled several days after the problem occurs. Both of us know the only way to fix the problem is immediately, that save both me and the techs time and effort. Another problem licked (hopefully, and if not, it's better prepared to be fixed if needed).

In more frustrating news, I am probably going to abandon my profile and presence at Much like, the owners are restricting the features given to us cheapskates who use the free features. Specifically, they are limiting the number of people one can have on their pal list. In the broken Engrish found on the site:

NEW CONTACT LIST RULE: To keep good servers speed and to avoid abuse, since december 10th 2005, the maximum number of people allowed in contact list will be:

If your contact list is upper this maximum limit, thank you to clean it.

While I dont think I have 50 people on my list, or if I do, it's not much over (I didnt bother to count), I am tired of seeing everything monetized to death, especially by increasing limitations more and more. This ruined years ago. It's different if the site is of extraordinary value to begin with (LJ). The guys at bigmuscle/bigmusclebears/normalgay (ugh, I so dislike that name) seem to have no problems giving the non-paying members quite a nice feature set, plus everyone has chat access (though the chat there is inane at best). Sad part is, Bear411 is where most of my friends went after the collapse of the bear's den chat. I'll be still around on Yahoo (greatbearmd), AIM (greatbear1md), Google Talk (greatbear), and ICQ (380056) though.

EDIT: I counted 97 on my pal list, far more than I expected to see. Granted, many of those I no longer interact with and could be removed, but, hey, it's the principle of things, ya know?


greatbear: (Default)

December 2016



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