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: (forearms)
Being a professional crastinator of epic proportions at times, I waited until the last minute to file my taxes, given that I have had to pay sizable amounts in the past since being off work and pulling funds from locked-away accounts. Because of some changes, plus the expensive surgeries and other medical bills from last year, I instead found I am getting a sizable refund. I would've so turned that shit in back in January had I known. That's a w00t.

I finished up more network cabling and installed the super-duper wi-fi access point tonight after climbing about in the attic, lifting the floor up there to run the remaining cabling (the AP needs two Cat6 runs just for it's own bandwidth) and it is now in place with the potential for gigabit-plus speeds wirelessly. That's a w00t.

Jeff and I had a nice steak dinner tonight. So far, my tummy troubles of late have eased enough for me to enjoy a meal with some substantial red meat for a change. That's a w00t.

The weather looks to be on track to be nice enough to finally get some work done outside. I got yard work to continue with, plus the usual springtime maintenance of the vehicle fleet and outdoor equipment, and a heavily laden trip to the landfill/recycling center that was put off since before last September. That's a w00t.

The aforementioned tax refund will be put toward the new front door and entryway renovation/upgrade, plus a business class color laser printer/copier/scanner/fax, as well as costs for the upcoming wedding. I hope my back and general health hold out. I guess that's a w00t too.
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: (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.

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: (picard kick)
Today Jeff and I did some things that were way past due in order to get with the season. Firewood is brought up to the house, the snowblower is ready, vehicles are good to go, freezer and fridge fulla goodies, generators ready if needed. The weather radio sent up a couple of SAME alerts for impending winter weather doom. Other than the unfortunate fact that Jeff might end up driving in it Monday, we are all set. Since we live next to a primary road that must be cleared for emergency vehicles, the worst we usually see is the quarter mile from the driveways to the main drag, the to major roads which already have been pretreated. I probably won't go anywhere.

Here's an engaging little ditty in honor of the imminent Weatherpocalypse:

greatbear: (forearms)
Yesterday, Mayhem Acres dodged a couple tornadoes. Ended up with lots of wind and buckets of rain, no damage. I have to clear a downspout on the house and two on the garage, they were waterfalls during the deluge. Time to head up on the roof with the pressure washer. Mother Nature is rather overbearing lately, but I still love her.

Jeff's pop is settling into the new place. The additional pictures were well received, and the lot covers the top of a big bedroom dresser. Suddenly the new room in the new house with the new furniture looked and felt more like home. Mission accomplished.

I tasked myself with buying and installing the myriad lighting devices needed for the new place. Except for some high-efficacy halogen bulbs, everything was either LED or CFL. The electric bill should reflect (heh) this. I was also (painfully) reminded how much my back dislikes me doing overhead work on ladders, unfortunate, since I have a lot of unfinished business here with the same need for climbing ladders.

I need to make a trip to the local junkyards again for project parts, but I am not relishing the thought of trudging through the inevitable sea of oily mud puddles left over from the storm. Maybe tomorrow. I also want to haul a whole lotta stuff to the landfill/recycling center. Out with the old, in with the new.

How has your week been? And what's up for the weekend?

Surfacing

Oct. 30th, 2012 09:55 pm
greatbear: (Default)
Now that Mother Nature has moved her sandy vagina past Mayhem HQ, I cracked the hatches and did some damage assessment. Other than a torn canvas canopy that is part of the pergola on the deck and lots of leaves on just about every surface, there is no damage to report. The cable internet was out for a day, the cell phone hotspot provided backup until this evening. Other than a few glitches, the power remained. The farm opposite the back yard was a source of interesting fireworks when the power lines began galloping in the wind, releasing the uppermost cable from the insulator allowing it to drop on the lower neutral cable, lighting up the night. This took out the service leg that supplies the farm as well as a couple neighboring houses. For once the roar of generators is not coming from my place.

Jeff and I had our emergency contingencies in place, the vehicles fully fueled, lots of fuel for the generator, plenty of food, etc., all the usual. All Sandy had to do was bring it. Though we weren't hit hard, it was a serious storm that did lots of surrounding damage. Ma Nature is angry, and this is yet another example of her wrath.

Life here has taken another turn to uncertainty. A week ago today I lost my job of just over 30 years. I'll talk more of that in a possible later post, but suffice to say I see this as a mixed blessing.

Jeff's new job is a nice new challenge for him so far, he seems to enjoy it and the staff have been decent. Now, I think I've said this each time he's arrived at a new gig, and, well, you know how that has gone. I'll keep my fingers crossed that this will be a good one. Jeff enjoys his work in healthcare, the government services gig was full of way too many spoiled entitlement babies.

I continue to battle injury issues with my spine. Once I know where I stand job-wise, I will head under the knife to have the herniated disc taken care of.

I hope anyone affected by this storm, including friends and family, are doing well. I'm playing catch-up on news, LJ and such.
greatbear: (Default)
Yesterday's weather was unseasonably warm, a t-shirt 'n' jeans day in the middle of winter? Sign me up. Today is supposed to get even warmer. As some of you might recall, I walked outside the house on my birthday Feb. 2, looked down, and lo and behold, there was no shadow. So, as promised, the six remaining weeks (give or take) of winter is to be mild. Remember, when it comes to groundhog weather prognostication, the "six more weeks of winter" is a given, shadow or no. It's whether the weather will be nasty, cold and snowy (shadow seen) or mild, sunny and warmer (no shadow seen). I keep my promises. However, the weather conditions only apply to the greater Eastern Seaboard/Northeast US. I can't promise much beyond that. YMMV. Or YWMV, as the case may be.

Jeff came home early from work, and we scooped up Kodi and took a nice long (and, for me, almost stumble-free) walk in the neighborhood. It does are ursine and canine bodies good. A little while ago, I picked up a new camera, a Canon SX230 HS. I took it along as its first test outside, and I am pretty pleased. I got this little compact super-zoom to have something versatile yet pocket-sized. I wanted something I could sneak into shows, or just carry with me and grab shots not possible with my other pocket camera, a Pentax W30. A 14X zoom, 12.1MP, and full 1080p HD video in such a small package is amazing, and it was less than 250 bux at Costco. I took a few snaps while we were out, and I created a set on Flickr to toss some of the random shots I am taking with it. Below is one I call "Tree Hugger."

tree hugger


More shots of the walk and more can be found here.

I notice it has been over a year since I did anything with my Flickr account. Maybe that will change.

Touchdown

Sep. 10th, 2011 05:05 pm
greatbear: (Default)
Despite having yet more torrential rain last night that caused more detours, we made it up to Penn State! Tailgating was done and the weather cleared up nicely for the game. Only bad thing is PSU is down 3-17 to Alabama. Boo!

Posted via LjBeetle
greatbear: (forearms)
Mother Nature's "heavy flow days" continue to be a thorn in our side. While we remain high and somewhat dry, the garden languishes in a sea of weeds and tomatoes rotting on the vines. We will mount an attack to dig around and harvest the surviving veggies, then once it (eventually) dries up, till the spent stuff under and possibly throw a little bit of fall crops in.

Nature in its infinite wisdom in the form of a black snake has once again run afoul of the Basement of Serpent Doom. For the third time now, I notice a nasty smell hinting about. True to form, yet another snake managed to wriggle its way under the front porch and into the floor joists under the entryway. That area of the basement is unfinished (thankfully) and the joists have fiberglass insulation between them. This insulation is held in place with a plastic mesh netting. Said hapless snake tired to slide through one of the holes in the mesh and became ensnared. You can figure out the rest. I now once again have the displeasure of cutting out sections of fiberglass, insulation and rotten snake. I've found the spot in which the snake gets in under the concrete (I missed the chance of hauling it back out by the tail), so I will seal that up. What I can't locate, because of how the front porch is built, is the entry point into the basement. I now have an inspection camera, which is a tiny camera on the end of a flexible, well, snake that can get into dark tiny areas and return video of the trip. I will use this to suss out the breach of security and seal the area.

I think this also explains Kodi's outbursts of barking a while back. Out of the blue, Kodi would run into the living room barking like a fool. Perhaps the snake was bumping around under the floor and neither Jeff nor I heard, but Kodi might have. No outbursts for a while since.

This is not the only time that snakes have met their demise around here at the hand of the same plastic netting. The aforementioned mesh is the same stuff sold in garden shops that Mom and I used to keep birds and critters out of the berries we had been growing. I've had to cut away the netting to free snakes that became messily ensnared and tangled in the stuff. The snake's scaly skin glides wonderfully in a forward direction, but like a barbed fish hook, gets stuck trying to back out. The poor creatures were lucky when one of us were there checking out things in the garden and could free them. Not so when we had been away for a couple days. I found that the thrashing snakes became quite docile when they discovered they were being freed. The dead ones were deposited in the trash along with the mesh. Jeff and I are currently using the same stuff in the garden to keep wabbits out of the raised bed boxes. Luckily there have been no serpent encounters.

Jeff had been eagerly awaiting the day that Penn State would be playing Alabama (along with over a hundred thousand other fans) and managed to snag tix for the game. Mother Nature also is making this tough on us at the last minute, as flooding along the Susquehanna River and other waterways have caused the closing of numerous roads and bridges along our usual route. So, rather than heading up to his parent's place the night before, we will take a more westerly route tomorrow and try hopefully to avoid the closures and such. Maybe the waters will have receded a bit by then as well. We missed too many shows/games/concerts/events in the past few years due to many reasons (mostly medical, it seems), and it has to stop somewhere. I told Jeff I'll get him to this game if it kills me. :) Wish us luck (and maybe a solid route to travel).

I'm tearing up the studio as I revamp the studio PC and install a gorgeous new 30" Dell display. It's more a nest than a studio, with so much accumulated cruft crammed into nooks and crannies everywhere. Time to clean house. The PC I used as a backup can finally be put back in the garage. What was supposed to be temporary ended up being more than four years! The backup PC with its integrated graphics does not like the new monster display. The new one can handle six of them at once. Ah, to have that much desk space (and money!). lol

Jeff just got home and informed me that the closures and such have been lifted, so we are going to try our usual routes up. Good news for a change!
greatbear: (Default)
Yay! Power was finally restored a little before noon Thursday. I can finally give the generator a rest. The thing performed admirably, not skipping a beat unless I let it run out of fuel. I would gas it up while running, a no-no as far as safety goes, but I would have to foolishly dump fuel all over the thing to even begin flirting with disaster. The Mayhem Electric Company kept Jeff and I living large 'n' in charge. Odd (and comforting, in my case) seeing our house lit up among a sea of mostly pitch-dark houses and McMansions. As it stands, I didn't even have to touch any of the last batch of fuel we bought, so it will be put in storage as it always has been, maintained and circulated through the various power equipment here with plenty on hand for the occasional emergency.

This little exercise has taught me a bit about how to better handle an extended outage as well as given me some ideas for energy management in the future if/when I decide to install a solar assist/backup system. I have a smaller generator, but it burned out years ago, the big one works well for running the entire household at once, but tends to be inefficient and overkill during minimal use periods. Since I plan to get a decent little portable to take camping with us, I want to segregate "critical" circuits like those for the fridge and freezers and some lighting that can be used with a small, load-adjusting generator as well as a solar backup system. Since refrigerators/freezers do not run continuously, and lights get switched off at bedtime, a generator that adjusts its engine speed according to load will be able to run these critical items for an extended period of time, quietly and far more efficiently than my brute force method. A gallon of fuel can last the entire night. A farm across the road from me put in a huge array of solar panels this summer, quite easily enough to offset much of the electricity used by their dairy and turkey operations during a sunny day. One day I will visit and ask them about their incredible setup. I need to take pictures. Jeff and I will be picking up a "solar powered turkey" for T-Day.

Anyway, I can now sleep in relative peace. In more ways than one.
greatbear: (fucking painting trees)
Thanks to Irene, the hurricane that so many poo-poo for not being intense enough, I am still without electricity. Well, at least that which I am not creating myself. This is by far the longest I have been without power since I built this place 23 years ago. Ice storms, hurricanes, etc, the longest I can remember being three days. When I contacted the electric company they could not give me a definite answer other than Friday before 11:30am. Despite there being minimum damage in my own yard, further down the road there is a large tree pulling the old, shabby lines down. Also, the main trouble spot of the area where the road (and the utility lines on short poles) wend their way through a little valley lined with old, tall trees. Almost every major storm drops at least one tree, either in the road, into the wires, or harmlessly into one another. That area is a mess at the moment, with at least five large trees supported over the road by the electric wires.

I hope this time the power company doesn't just take away the troublesome timber leaving the rest to take a future tumble. Some serious work needs to be done, and it has been neglected in this immediate area for years. Recently the power company did go on a trimming spree, clearing troublesome trees from the utility lines and poles. Some areas, like here, only got a lick and a promise at best. I hope they get their act together soon.

The generator has been totally awesome. While fired up, life here at the house is absolutely normal. This house is all electric. The stove/oven, the installed heat and hot water are all electric. I also have a private well, so having water at all the fixtures depends entirely on having electric power. The generator can power the house and garage, running everything except for the central air conditioner and the huge air compressor in the garage. This is all according to plans I laid out many years ago. I have connections available to attach the generator and in less than ten minutes, life is good while everything around me is dark. There is a downside, however, and it's a biggie. Said big generator has a 16 gallon gas tank. In typical use, it burns about a gallon of fuel each hour, a little less when loads are minimal. I've been pouring about 20 gallons into the thing each day. It's starting to hit our wallets hard, and I was getting rather peeved this afternoon. I told Jeff I was tired of hearing the thing and pouring fuel into it, so I shut it down saying I'd rather let all the food rot in the freezers. It did not help that a garage project turned out for the worse after being a breeze just prior. I fired the beast back up so we could make dinner, and started watching TV. The news was all about so many unfortunate souls with things going a lot worse than we have here at Chateau Mayhem. Perspective reestablished, after dinner we went once again to the gas station, with thirty gallons worth of empty jerry cans and counted our blessings.

I let the beast roar through the night last night. Since my neighbors are hundreds of feet away, noise is not a problem outside the yard. Tonight, now that all the freezers are deeply chilled I will shut off the thing and restart it tomorrow morning for a while, saving more fuel. I can quietly work on my car project with no power, and run some errands before needing to fire the thing back up for the afternoon and evening. I hope the electric company gets their act together over here soon though.

One little bonus is that the cable internet has returned, so I no longer have to use my cell phone's hotspot feature. The hotspot has been handy as all get out this summer during our travels, as well as being a nice backup. My phone can take a break now as well.
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: (Default)
Despite the last couple days of mid-90s heat, I wanted to cut the grass, finishing up what I started the other day. Well, the tractor was balking at that because of a bad electrical connection. Me being me, well, I decided to rewire the better part of the thing. I replaced a couple switches, and updated the electrical system to use modern blade type fuses in a centralized block rather than a bunch of random fuse holders and glass fuses. This was not to be finished before I had to move my project inside the garage amid the rumble of thunder and EAS warnings on the radio. So, my hot weather project is done, and the old beast works better than new. And the grass is soaked and will have to wait.

Bob Mould showed up on the Scruff grid, I guess there's a Blowoff in town for DC Pride. While these bear-heavy dance events had their genesis many years ago almost right in my back yard, it was not until last summer in P-Town that Jeff and I finally went to one. We had a blast, despite my inability to stand without extreme pain. I guess watching Jeff having so much needed fun was enough for me. We plan on doing it again this year. And just maybe I will enjoy it more as well.

Speaking of Jeff, the poor man is being overworked like never before, and it's due to some rather sad circumstances. His general manager is out until further notice because his mother has leukemia, and does not have much time left. She is leaving the hospital and coming home, hospice care has been set up, and the waiting begins. These are the folks who had us over in April for the Passover Seder. His boss' mom is a wonderful person, quick witted and quite progressive for her years. Kinda like my mom was. Unfortunately, things have taken a rather quick turn for the worse. I just hope she won't endure severe pain.

My health has been stalled a bit on the upswing, I get a nagging cough at night when I am trying to sleep, the remnants of the sore throat I had a bit over a week ago. Just once I would like to fall into bed at night and get a good night's rest without some part of my body wanting to keep me awake in some fashion. It's hell getting old, but I guess it could be worse.

Finally, in a rather excellent nod to Les Paul's 96th birthday, the folks at Google have one of their awesome "Doodles" on their homepage for the occasion. Not only cool in that you can "play" this one, but you can actually record and save your "jams" as well. Go check it out.

Blargh

Jun. 2nd, 2011 02:29 am
greatbear: (headsmash)
So it finally happened. My credit card, or, more precisely, the number, got jacked. I got several calls from the issuing bank on Memorial day Monday telling me that the card has been deactivated because of activity not matching my usual patterns and coming from overseas. Great. Of course, I am not on the hook for these fraudulent charges, and they are sending a new card out. My only concern is I have some recurring bill-pay charges that drop monthly, and I now have to call all relevant parties and give the new info, not to mention clear the old card from various online outfits. People suck.

In other news, I've been hit with a nasty sore throat. My visit to the doc today netted me some antibiotics to help clear it out, it has been ruining my past few days. The weather here has been scorching, and I've been managing, but having a mild temperature makes it that much worse.

Yesterday Jeff took his truck for emissions testing. On his way home I was talking to him on his cell phone as he stops at the post office, he tells me that he smells antifreeze around his truck. I tell him to bring the truck down to the garage, where it proceeds to puke coolant from one of the water pump gaskets. Again. This is a new water pump, but I've had problems with the gaskets basically coming apart and the coolant furiously leaking. I'm going to toss this new pump, chalking the problems up to poorly machined mounting surfaces and/or a casting that moves too much with temp changes and get something different. I've never had such issues with a simple Chevy water pump before. The original went well over 100k, this one has been in and out of the truck twice to repair the gaskets.

Jeff has been having staff problems again at work, and he's gotta weed out more bad apples. This means, of course, more work for him, but he says he can manage. It should not be so damn difficult.

My illness du jour has slowed me down on things I wanted to take care of this month, couple that with the sudden dog days-like heat wave and my energy levels are practically zero. I hope this weekend is more seasonal. More record-breaking heat for the area. But, hey, there is no climate change, right?
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.

BRING IT ON.

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.

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Phil

December 2016

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