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: (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: (fuzzy)
I've come to practically dread this time of year. What was giddy excitement of my childhood days has turned into a hydra-headed monster. More 'bad' than 'good' in the grand scheme of things. Work issues of layoffs, retirements and end-of-year general panic. I am left doing the work of two or three people. I detest going to any sort of store due to concentrated idiocy and stupidity that infests just about every retail store. I dont partake in lots of holiday shopping, but there are still going to be times where I need to go to the store for various sundry needs. After all, life goes on as it always does. Go to just about any store these days and all manner of hell will undoubtedly greet you. I dont think I have to elaborate, I am sure everyone has their own stories.

My truck has decided to take this opportunity to start falling apart all of a sudden. The rear driveshaft is ready to chuck itself onto the pavement, as is the front, the steering has gone intermittently nuts and the battery is dying. No time to do the work either. Yet another project that will take up an afternoon or more of work while I am off over the holidays.

I know I am preaching to the choir as far as most people I know, since they are having their own similar issues, or worse. I feel your pain.

I guess I am old-fashioned at heart. While Christmas itself in the 'traditional' sense is meaningless to me, the gathering of friends and families, the various customs and traditions and all the great food are what matters to me. I also like to relax and take a break, so to speak, before springtime rolls around and so much more starts to happen. I know I suffer a bit from that 'seasonal affective disorder' that most do, but I do things to help alleviate it. Still, it seems that any sort of setbacks that inevitably occur either pack a greater punch, or manage to join forces somehow. It all makes me want to just hibernate.

Despite all of this, this weekend will bring some really cool shit. Stay tuned...

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greatbear: (Default)
Phil

December 2016

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