Wednesday, December 31, 2014
I just ran down to a local store to pick up a couple of power strips. I'm bringing up some new network gear and I ran out of outlets (despite having three power strips already!). The store opens at 6 am, but there was only one employee there. I found my power strips and went to check out, but couldn't find that one person. The cash register was open, the doors were wide open ... and the one employee was in the storeroom in the back of the store. I had to go drag him out so I could pay for my power strips :) What a place we live in now, where the store employees are completely unconcerned about leaving the till (which contained a considerable amount of cash) open and the goods unguarded!
Of course, it was 6 am, and -4°F out. It would have to be a really ambitious crook to go after that store right now!
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
I love Utah!
Debbie and I somehow managed to get very little done all day long. I frittered away a couple hours trying to get our Mac Mini server up, only to discover that the problem was the monitor. I don't think I've ever had a flat-screen monitor go bad before! This seems to have happened in the move, which would make this the very first casualty of the move to this point. I ordered a replacement for a whole $110 from Amazon. It's astonishing to me just how inexpensive certain computer components have gotten, monitors amongst them...
We had a very nice visit with Tim and Jeannie D., our neighbors to the north. Just an hour or so of pleasant conversation and companionship, but it put smiles on our faces for the whole day. On the way out of their house I slipped and fell right on my butt; they had some ice on their front stoop. No harm done to me, but I rolled into their gutter downspout and squashed it nearly flat. Dang.
Monday, December 29, 2014
Our temporary shared office is coming together – bits and pieces of the network are running, tables are arranged, and cabling is well underway. This arrangement is temporary for two reasons: first, my new office in the barn hasn't yet been built :), and second, the temporary shared office will become just Debbie's office, and the custom cabinetry for it hasn't yet been designed, much less built. It will probably be several months before we get both of these things done, so this temporary setup will be around for a while...
We also hung a couple dozen pictures in our living room, kitchen, bedroom, and entrance way. Having the art on the walls was a bit startling to me – I've been living in this house with bare painted walls now for eight months, and to see stuff on the walls really jumps out at me. It also makes the house look much, much more like our home, as all of this art is very familiar to us (it was also hanging in our Jamul home). I'm really glad that we took the care that we did in packing, as so far every single piece of art (including lots of fragile knickknacks) has arrived safely...
We got a bit of snow last night, adding to the bit that was already on the ground. We've got about 2" that fell since I plowed the driveway, so as soon as it's light I'm going to go out and plow again...
Saturday, December 27, 2014
I did, finally, finish installing that closet door. Debbie now has an absolutely absurd amount of closet space. Of course, it's not actually enough space, despite being large enough to have its own zip code :)
Then it was on to the next big indoors project: setting up our temporary office. I assembled a little equipment “bread rak” that fits on top of a table, and now I'm in the middle of getting the networking gear all working. Hopefully I'll have it going today...
The dogs had a ball in the snow, except that toward evening when it was a bit warmer, they started to have trouble with ice accumulating between their toes. I actually had to carry poor Mo'i in from one walk, as the ice was making it painful for him to walk. I've ordered a set of dog boots for him, as this will be a recurring need.
We made a drive into town this morning, and the roads were quite slippery. However, people were driving slowly, and appropriately so. They've obviously seen this action before :) Later I drove to the post office to pick up our mail (we don't have rural delivery here). The post office is on a side street up a gentle hill, and it's street was very slick. I watched a car turn about 45° as it came down toward me. The driver was totally calm and unflapped; she just turned into the skid and recovered when she got traction again. If that had happened in California, the driver would have completely freaked out :)
Friday, December 26, 2014
It's a shame that such normal behavior here is noteworthy.
But it is...
I installed some shelving in a closet for her, and then started to install a bi-fold door on that same closet. Progress came to a complete halt, though, when I discovered that I needed a 7/16" drill bit, but didn't have one. For some reason the set that I purchased has a 3/8" and 1/2" bits, but nothing in between. The size is important in this case, as metal parts have to fit snugly into the hole. So we paused that project until today, when I'll go get a new bit from Lowe's (I'm assuming they're open). I also need to make another important purchase: a snow shovel!
I started another interior project yesterday as well: setting up a shared temporary office for Debbie and I in one of our upstairs rooms. We're going to have cabinetry made for Debbie to have her own office in this room, but it will probably be several months before we can have that finished. It will also be (at least) several months before my new office on the second floor of the barn is finished. So we're setting up “shop” on some folding tables. The first step was to move our Internet connection to that room, and I got that all working yesterday.
The first job this morning is plowing snow. We've got about 7 or 8 inches of fluffy snow on the ground, and it has stopped falling. I want to get that off the driveway before anyone drives on it, and compacts it into ice. This will be my first actual use of the tractor and snowplow; a good test. Then I'll be off to Lowe's, and back here to finish the closet door and get the office set up...
Thursday, December 25, 2014
Debbie and I have a tradition of watching some old classic Christmas movies during the holidays, and last night we wanted to do that again. We have the movies on DVD. We have a laptop computer (my MacBook Pro). We have a USB DVD drive that works on the laptop. All we had to do was to find all this stuff, rig up a Rube Goldberg-esque set of cables, and then we could watch the movie while we're snuggled up in bed.
The main challenge turned out to be finding the DVD. Our DVD collection was distributed over five moving boxes. Three of the boxes we found quickly, searched through them, and ... didn't find the DVD we wanted (“It’s a Wonderful Life”). So we started searching through the box piles. In the last box pile we searched through, we found the two missing DVD moving boxes. In the last box we searched, in the last few DVDs, we found it.
And we watched the movie as planned, and as is our tradition. I love that movie...
Losing Lea a few days ago dampened our spirits here, but we have a great deal to be merry about this year. We're all together again, after 8 months of me living in an under-construction house 850 miles away from the rest of my family. Our new home is beautiful, and getting better every day as we unpack and continue making improvements. Our animals are settled in and acting like this is their new home, too. Mo'i, our 16 year old male field spaniel, is doing much better after some minor surgery earlier this week, to remove an infected tooth and a couple of small oral growths. He also had bladder infection, which antibiotics knocked down almost instantly. We're surrounded by friendly neighbors who have gone out of their way to make us feel welcome here in our new home community.
So there are lots of smiles and good cheer here, though punctuated by moments of sadness. When I walked the dogs this morning, I took Mo'i out by himself, instead of with Lea, his usual walkie companion. He snuffled away happily in the snow (he's discovered voles) while I stood in the swirling, falling snow and shed a few tears for our old girl.
Right now, as I type these words, I'm sitting in our kitchen's dining area. Around me are three happy and content dogs, all sacked out on their little doggie beds. Behind them is a window looking to the north, over a scene that could be on a Currier & Ives print: snowy fields, big fluffy flakes gently wafting down, and the sky lightening as daybreak approaches. I took the photo above right out of that window.
Merry Christmas, everybody!
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
I was able to get my tractor started, with the help of Debbie's hair dryer. The ignition switch had gotten some water in it, and it froze solid – I could insert the key, but not turn it. Sixty seconds of hair dryer on high did the trick! Once started, the tractor made short work of covering the remaining uncovered bits of water line, which means that we were ready to turn on the water to the barn. I even got to hook up the snowplow to my tractor, and to try it out a bit on the inch or so of snow we have on the ground. It worked great!
Then a great big truck drove up, and the insulation team went to work. They filled the voids between the first floor ceiling and the two roof sections above it with fluffy fiberglass insulation. That completed the insulation work on the first floor (we've a bit more to do on my second floor office), which means the barn was ready to turn on the heat.
Just as the insulation guys were finishing, the plumber (Nate M.) showed up to finish the work on the barn's heater. We turned on the water supply from the house, and he started bringing up the water systems in the barn. In short order he had the toilet, bathroom sink, and water heater all working. Next up was the heating system, which has three zones with size heating loops apiece. Each of those loops had to be bled free of air, so eighteen times he forced water through a loop until the air was gone, then moved on to the next one. After that, he set up (through an on-screen setup program) the boiler. By the time he left in the afternoon, we had 72°F water running through the heating loops, and it should gradually increase until the temperature in each zone hits 60°F – probably by Christmas Day. The thermal inertia of the concrete slab means that we can change temperature only very slowly – a few degrees per day.
It looks like we'll be able to work in the barn all winter, just as we'd planned. Yay!
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
After the vet (Dr. Andrea Russell) examined her, it was clear that poor Lea was in the process of dying, and there weren't going to be any more good moments for her. Her oral tumor had increased in size significantly since just Friday, she had colitis (or something similar), her heart rate was very high, and she had a fever. We asked Dr. Russell for forthright advice, and we got it – very much appreciated by us, as these decisions are always hard. We decided that it was time to say goodbye to our girl.
The euthanasia process went smoothly. We held her as she closed her eyes for the final time.
We've known this day wasn't too far away for the past year, but that still doesn't make it any easier. Debbie and I are tearful, and I've got a lump in my throat that just won't go away. It's awful losing someone you love, whether two-legged or four-legged...
Rush Limbaugh, Condi Rice, Mark Steyn, Antonin Scalia, Michelle Malkin, Charles Krauthammer, Mia Love, Scott Walker, Clarence Thomas, and Thomas SowellThey are the most admired conservative people, according to this survey of conservative web sites. While I don't fit the “conservative” label very well, I have much common ground with all of them, in various degrees I admire them all. So I'm a bit surprised at the survey results, as generally the establishment conservatives (Jeb Bush, Boehner, McConnell) are not on my most-admired list. Is it possible that my views are more mainstream than I thought?
Nah, can't be :)
Taking the dogs out into the cold and snow was fun. The two older dogs (Mo'i and Lea) perked up and eagerly smelled everything in reach. There must be something about this weather that enhances their sense of smell, because they're behaving much like they do when it's damp (which definitely enhances their sense of smell). It made me smile to see those two enjoying this new home so much. We weren't sure they'd make it here, but I'm awfully glad they did. The two “boys” – Miki and Race – basically lost their minds in the snow. I had them on-leash, and it was all I could do to stay upright as they yanked me in several directions at once. Miki was busy chasing down voles, sniffing down their snow-covered trails. Several times he plowed up a furrow of snow as he ran with his nose skimming the ground. Once he decided to roll around on his back; why, I have no idea. Race acted like he'd completely lost what few marbles he had in the first place – running around randomly, jumping for joy, and teasing Miki. He clearly loves the snow and cold!
Once it's light out, and has warmed up at least a bit, I'm going to go fire up the tractor and cover the exposed bits of water pipe (the ends and junctions, basically). I'll be bundling up good for that job :)
Debbie and I did a bunch of work inside the house yesterday. Probably the most important thing: I replaced the front door hardware. The old hardware was badly worn, and it took almost superhuman force to open the door from the outside. That's really bad if it's cold and you want in! The new hardware works ever so much better. Then we assembled a closet organizer for Debbie's walk-in closet. This is the second product we've purchased that's made by Seville Classics (the first was a roll-around tool closet), and we're impressed once again. The thing is reasonably priced, but but beautifully made and as solid as a rock. It's not obvious from the photos, but the general design is similar to a “bread rack” adjustable shelving system – inherently simple and strong. With the addition of this unit, Debbie's closet has the storage capacity of a clothing super-store. In other works, about half what she “needs”. She'll be happier when my small corner has been deeded over to her, a happy (for her!) even that will occur when our dresser arrives...
Monday, December 22, 2014
Sunday, December 21, 2014
1. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.
3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.
4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.
5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
6. Was learning cursive really necessary?
7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
8. The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.
9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind-of tired.
10. Bad decisions make good stories.
11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.
12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blu-ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.
13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.
14. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
16. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Light than Kay.
17. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.
18. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?
19. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent some jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!
20. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.
21. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time. Uh Huh!
22. Life just gets better as you get older doesn't it? I was in a Starbucks recently when my stomach started rumbling and I realized that I desperately needed to fart. The place was packed but the music was really loud so to get relief and reduce embarrassment I timed my farts to the beat of the music. After a couple of songs I started to feel much better. I finished my coffee and noticed that everyone was staring at me. I suddenly remembered that I was listening to my IPod.
This is what happens when old people start using technology!
Saturday, December 20, 2014
Shor-Line model that has two cages, one atop the other, mounted on wheels. It's an expensive system, but it was recommended to us by a veterinarian we trust, and it's the sort of thing you can depend on buying just once. It's designed for the kind of use a vet's office would give it; our use will be much lighter.
The unit arrived yesterday in a 7-foot high stack of 9 cardboard boxes on a pallet. Two of the boxes were large enough to be one of the cages; the others were all like giant pizza boxes. This morning we resolved to unpack and install this thing. There were more challenges than we expected :)
First challenge: how do we get this thing into the cattery? The most obvious route would require traversing three 30" doors, and the assemblies in the large boxes were just over 30" wide. I thought we were in trouble at that point, as the cages are mostly welded construction. After inspecting them more closely, though, I realized I could take a couple inches off one dimension by removing things like the door hinges and latches, and a brace. I removed all them, and we made it through the doors with about 1/4" to spare. Whew!
Once we had all the parts in the cattery, we faced our second challenge: no instructions of any kind. There were a bunch of mysterious looking parts, especially some flat stainless steel brackets shaped like an L or a T. After puzzling over it for 15 minutes or so, I figured out what all the parts were for. I failed miserably, though, at figuring out how to put it together. It turns out that at two separate junctures the order of assembly matters – and my first attempt was wrong on both of them. That meant I partially put it together, took it apart, partially put it together, took it apart, and finally put it together correctly.
The final challenge involved five stainless steel panels. Each of these had been bent from laser-cut stainless steel sheet. The plastic “shield” that protects the metal next to the cuts from laser and molten/gaseous steel problems was bonded to the steel with an adhesive that you could pull free. The trouble was that pulling all that plastic off was quite hard work. We spent more time removing those #$(@#)_#@$ sheets of plastic than we did on everything else put together!
Finally, though, we got the thing all assembled, rolled it over to its home in the cattery, and put its first resident in place. Kama is being isolated until he learns to behave nicely to the other cats.
Overall we're quite happy with the unit. It's very nicely made, sturdy as the proverbial tank, and the ergonomics for both human and feline are great. We sure would like to have had assembly instructions (especially to get the order of assembly correct!). And that damned plastic film really needs to be removed by the manufacturer. If I ever receive anything using that stuff again, I think I'll refuse shipment...
First, the (expected) inspector showed up around 9:30 am, made happy noises about the now leak-free gas line, and then proceeded to tell me a couple things that sounded like they'd derail the entire use-the-barn-in-the-winter notion. He said he couldn't sign off on our line until we had (a) submitted a diagram, and (b) installed a tracer wire along the gas pipe. Nobody had ever mentioned to us that we'd need a tracer wire. The pipe has been covered with 2' of dirt for nearly its entire length (275'), so putting that tracer wire in would take a lot of work – and there's no way we'd have it installed before the ground froze. Yikes! I managed to talk him into letting me submit an informal diagram, and (most importantly) to let me wait until spring to put that wire in. That was a close call!
So then we called the gas company to come hook up the barn, and the plumber was already here connecting things inside the barn. The gas company showed up at 1 pm and went to work. They had to change out the meter on our house, and raise the pressure into the meter from 0.5 psi to 2 psi. They did all that work, then got ready to leave – when I noticed that the output of the meter was just dangling in the air, not connected to the house. “Aren’t you forgetting something?”, said I. “Oh, no,” said they, “connecting the output is your problem. Better call a plumber!” This is late in the afternoon on the Friday before Christmas – good luck with that! I can't believe nobody ever mentioned this little requirement before!
Luckily for me, the plumber working on my barn agreed to install the required stuff on my meter. He had to run into town to buy parts, then come back out to do the work. He also had to call in another truck to help him out. After an hour or so of work, they got our house hooked back up to the gas line, so we had heat, hot water, stove, etc. Minor little things like that. Yikes!
On Monday the final plumbing inside the barn should be done, and at that point I can turn on the barn's heat. Woo hoo! However, there's still a bit of sheathing and insulating that needs to get done before that would be ... economically attractive.
Yesterday we also took delivery of a couple of stainless steel kennels that we'd ordered a few months ago. These are the sorts of kennels you'd see in a vet's office. We're going to use them for cats or dogs that need to be isolated. The kennels weigh 225 pounds apiece. I was expecting them to come as a kit, with all the sides broken down. Instead, they appear to be mostly assembled. On the concrete apron outside our garage there's a pallet with boxes piled 7' high. Unpacking that, and moving it all down to the cattery, is this morning's job...
Friday, December 19, 2014
My mom, however, had some crafty ideas. At right is the little teasel folk “family” she made for us, sitting on our mantle. She also made another similar family for us to give to a certain somebody.
So far it's the only thing that looks like Christmas in our house. All our Christmas decorations are buried somewhere in the piles of boxes strewn throughout our house...
When I looked outside our house yesterday morning, I could see that the gas had not yet been connected to the barn. That was bad news, for sure, as the heat was supposed to have been connected this past Monday. I called my builder, and he told me there was a leak in the gas pipe. He was coming over to fix it later in the day. He and I worked on it in the late morning. The leak – a very slow leak – turned out to be in one of the “stab” fittings between the polyethylene pipe and a riser. Those fittings are not repairable, so he had to purchase a new one, saw off the old one, then install the new one. That did the trick, though – the leak is cured. The plumber, inspector, and gas company are supposed to be here today to hook it up.
While we were gone this week, more of the barn's interior was sheathed. It's now about 2/3s done. The four interior doors arrived today. The barn is getting close to being finished. Once the heat is all hooked up and plumbed (early next week, I hope), we can keep the inside above freezing and we'll be able to finish it off with ease, even if it's really cold out.
Today I have a 450 lb. “kit” arriving: two stainless steel cat isolation cages. The shipping company told me that it's got a total of nine boxes to deliver today, with the heaviest ones weighing 125 lbs. each. Seven of those boxes contain “hardware” – I'm envisioning several gross of bolts, nuts, and washers for me to assemble. Sigh...
We got up at 2 am, and Debbie went out to the living room, alone, to capture the cats. She went alone because four of our eight cats flee from me upon sight; if I had gone out we'd never find them. She caught one kitty and put it in a carrier – and instantly all the other kitties went into full panic mode. They hid in obscure places, all of them difficult to extract them from. They ran. They hissed. They even struck out at Debbie. Oh, my. It took her an hour and a half to corral the eight of them. We had figured on about fifteen minutes. Not a good start.
Right about then it started to pour, with heavy rains of the kind seldom seen in Jamul. It was 40°F and pouring ice cold rain. I had to pack the last of the pet gear in the back of my pickup (all in plastic boxes), then put a tarp over it all and tie it down. Naturally I had trouble getting it all to fit, and we kept finding last minute things to put in. I stuffed, adjusted, and stuffed some more. I pushed, shoved, and squeezed. I kicked and jumped up-and-down on some things. Finally I got it all in, and got the tarp all arranged. Then I had to tie the tarp down. The nylon braid rope soaked up the rain water like a sponge, and then became almost impossible to handle with my near-frozen fingers. Finally I got it all lashed down, and we got ourselves on the road – but not until 6:30 am, instead of the 3 am we'd been hoping for.
We expected to run into bad rush hour traffic in San Diego, and we did – heading west on the 52, going up and over the big hill before the Santos Road exit. But that didn't actually take all that long, just 20 minutes or so, and then we mostly broke free of the traffic. The next time we hit any slowdowns wasn't until we were on the I-215, heading through Riverside. That eastern edge of the Los Angeles area generally has pretty bad traffic at 8:30 to 9:00 am (when we were going through), but we didn't hit much at all. We were zooming up the big hill towards Victorville before 10:00 am, and after that we never hit any traffic the rest of the trip. Yay!
The dogs, as expected, were a complete non-problem. The three field spaniels were in the rear seat, asleep, for the entire drive. Within seconds of the wheels rotating, they were down and snoring. Race (our border collie) was in the front passenger seat. He did sleep a little bit, but most of the time he spent with his head on the center console, staring at me adoringly, just waiting for me to pay some attention. When I gave him a pat or a head-scratch, he basks in the attention, then gently licked my hand. For several hours my right hand was soaked :)
We expected the cats to make Debbie's trip a living hell. We had eight cats in five carriers (three of them were doubled up with “buddies”). Each carrier had puppy pads (basically giant disposable diapers) in the bottom and small litter boxes. We didn't feed the cats for 12 hours prior to leaving, but they had access to water. As we loaded the carriers into her truck, there was much yowling and complaining, most especially from Jahaur, who sounded like he was positive we were about to skin him alive. We thought that sort of yowling would go on for the entire trip, as we've experienced on previous trips. Also, other cats we've traveled with have always done some combination of peeing, pooping, and puking – usually all three at once. As you might imagine, that leads to some ... unattractive ... odors in the car. In the pouring rain, opening windows would be a bit problematic (soaking the cats was unlikely to improve their mood). I felt great sympathy for Debbie, but both of us figured that if I were to drive the cats things would be even worse – my mere existence horrifies four of our cats, and my presence would be even worse. As things turned out, though, none of these things happened. The howling and yowling settled down after just 15 minutes or so. Jahaur was very stressed (panting) for the first couple of hours, but was fine after that. There was no peeing, pooping, or puking – none at all. Debbie's trip wasn't quite as pleasant as mine with the dogs, but it wasn't actually unpleasant. Yay!
We got clear of the rain as we approached the Nevada border, and had good weather the rest of the way up. We stopped several times to walk the dogs, and on our first stop we had our lunch. It was rather a special lunch for us. The day before, Debbie had stopped in at the Bravo Cafe. There Manoli and his family gave Debbie an emotional good-bye – we've known them now for over fifteen years, watched some of their kids grow up and work in the cafe. We've eaten a great many fine meals there over the years. Yesterday Debbie got a “sandwich kit” for chicken salad sandwiches. Manoli's chicken salad sandwiches have to be seen to be believed. He makes the salad fresh for each sandwich, chopping roast chicken, tomatoes, onions, and more. The bread he uses is made in abnormally large loaves – so when he slices it, the resulting sandwich fills a normal sized dinner plate. He serves them up with a couple dill pickle strips. Unless you've starved yourself for, say, three days, then there's no way you can eat the whole thing. I got through about three quarters of mine, Debbie about the same. The dogs each got some chicken salad, and the crows and sparrows got the leftover bread. I'm going to miss the Bravo Cafe, and especially Manoli and Rosio and the rest of the gang...
We stopped in St. George at the Freddy's there, and got a small chocolate malted shake. Yum! We walked the dogs a couple more times, stopped for gas in Cedar City and Farmington, but otherwise we just drove. We rolled into our Paradise driveway just after 10 pm. With the time zone change, that works out to fourteen and a half hours of travel – not a bad time at all!
Then we set up all the dog and cat stuff in the house. There's a lot of stuff to set up :) Litter boxes, dog beds, and lots of little details. Then we hauled all the cats inside, still in their carriers, and getting mighty worried. Cats really, really don't like new things. When we finally got them all in the cattery (except for Jahaur, who was in our bedroom), we opened their carrier doors. None of them budged – at that point their carriers looked like home compared with the scary new cattery. We “encouraged” them to get out, and within a half hour or so they were finally exploring a bit. We let Jahaur out in our bedroom, and he reacted about the same way. By the time we went to bed at about 1 am, though, he was making himself at home. The dogs, of course, couldn't care less that they were in a new house. So long as we were there, they were happy.
It was a long, long day. We finally got to sleep, but then we were awakened by the phone ringing at 6 am. There aren't many people stirring in Paradise at that hour, so we were very surprised to be getting a call. It turned out to be our neighbor Tim D., calling to find out if we were ok. He was worried because when he looked south toward our house, he saw the flashing lights of emergency vehicles all over the place – several ambulances, police cars, and fire trucks. We knew nothing of this; we'd slept through all the sirens and commotion. Later, after daylight, I walked down to the scene of the accident, roughly 200 yards south of our driveway. There were skid marks, ruts on the side of the road (on our property), and some small car parts, shattered glass, and tail light fragments. We don't know anything at all about what happened or who was involved...
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
We arrived just after 10 pm MST, and we spent the last two hours setting up the animals. Seven of our cats are ensconced in their new cattery, and are busy exploring it with big round eyes and crouching postures. Everything is scary :) The dogs are penned and crated. The last cat – Jahaur – is busy yowling as he explores our bedroom, but he's starting to settle down.
We're here. We've moved. We're no longer Jamulians – we're Paradisians!
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
The pets are looking quite confused. The dogs wander around as if asking us just what the hell is going on. Race (our border collie) in particular looks concerned each time a box goes out the door, and the house gets a little emptier. The cats, other than Jahaur (our Savannah cat), seem to spend most of their time searching out new hiding places as we methodically eliminate all their old ones. Jahaur is in some sort of denial, we think. He comes out of the bedroom, sees how we've laid waste to the house, and runs back into the bedroom to hide under the bed.
Little do the cats know that things are going to get much, much worse in the morning. We've got five cat carriers lined up in the living room. The three kittens, all tightly bonded, will go into one. Koa and Kama, also tightly bonded, will go into another. Then Jahaur, Maka Lea, and Kapua will each get their own carrier. It's easy to predict that the yowling and lamentations will be (a) loud, and (b) heart-rending. The level of cat distress will be at about 17 on a 1-10 scale. And that's when they're still in the house! Once they're in the car, and the car is moving, we're expecting the volume to increase considerably, and that various foul fluids and solids will be ejected – some at high velocity – from all three orifices on each of eight cats. That's twenty-four foulness emitters in total.
Debbie will be driving that vehicle. I will be in our other truck with the four dogs, who will be asleep with a look of utter happiness and contentment on their mugs. It will be quiet and peaceful, and the worst olfactory event I expect is an occasional dog fart. Debbie is driving the “cat truck” because we're both certain that if I was driving, the four newest cats (who still won't let me approach them) will be even more distressed. Probably the only way I can really help is to be sympathetic when Debbie calls me, which I expect her to do quite frequently.
It's going to be a long day tomorrow. I suspect it will also be a day that severely tests Debbie's attachment to felines...
Monday, December 15, 2014
We met with the new owners (Stacy and Moon W.) to do a final “handover” to them. They had lots of questions about where things were, how they work, etc. We also gave them a key, and made arrangements for all the services that needed to be turned off or transferred (power, phone, etc.). We surprised them with a cash gift – they've been so nice and understanding this past couple of months that we wanted to recognize it somehow. They're much younger than us, and this will be their first house – they're obviously very, very excited about moving in and making it their own. Despite that, they've been extraordinarily patient with us and our receding turnover estimates. We also knew that they were watching their pennies very closely, and that they just barely qualified for the mortgage – so we figured a little extra cash would be appreciated. Their faces told us we were right :)
For dinner we went to Hana Sushi in El Cajon, our favorite sushi place near Jamul. I had the large sashimi combo, and now I'm kicking myself for never having ordered it before. It was so good! The big assortment has 8 different kinds of fish chosen by the sushi chef, and this time two of them were things I'd never had before. One of them was a serious treat: white tuna, which I'd never even heard of. Delicious!
Today we'll be doing more serious packing, and final walk-throughs on the house to make sure we didn't leave anything behind that we care about. I'm having lunch with a couple of old friends today, too. This morning has been consumed with shutting down services to our house, and transferring them to the new owners. It's rarely enjoyable when dealing with customer service departments of large companies, and this is no exception. Can you say “eternahold”?
Sunday, December 14, 2014
Saturday, December 13, 2014
The animals were, of course, ecstatic to see the two of us return. We suspect they thought themselves abandoned. Jahaur, in particular was just beside himself with joy when he first spotted Debbie :)
Friday, December 12, 2014
The rest of the day today we'll be “cat-proofing” the two rooms that will have cats in them (the cattery for seven of the cats, and our bedroom for Jahaur, our Savannah cat). That will feel like a vacation after yesterday's push :)
Yesterday morning we got a phone call from Bruce N., one of the realtors who helped us find our Paradise home. He and his wife (June) have become friends. They live in Avon, the next town south. Bruce called to see if we were moving in, and to extend an offer we instantly accepted: to bring us our supper late yesterday afternoon. We'd been thinking we'd run and get some fast food or something like that – we knew we'd be tired and dirty and in no mood to spend more than 10 seconds preparing a meal. The thought of someone delivering a meal to us was ... enticing. We expected them to deliver some sort of takeout meal, but instead they came in bearing two large trays with a homemade spinach/pear/avocado salad (wonderful!), a loaf of fresh homemade bread (we ate the whole thing within two hours), a cheesy chicken and vegetable casserole over rice (oh, those carbs tasted so good!), and brownies for dessert. I don't have the words for how wonderful that dinner was. It was absolutely the perfect thing for us at that moment.
Another new friend (and my neighbor to the north), Tim D., spent 9 hours between Wednesday and Thursday moving about 100 cubic yards of rich, black topsoil from next to our barn to the west end of our “garden”. This is the soil that was excavated to make the foundation for our barn. The builders just piled it all up next to the barn, but that left it right on a field that Tim wants to run alfalfa on (we've let him use it so that we don't have two acres of weeds there – and he can use the hay for his horses). My barn builder let us rent his giant loader (the front scoop holds 1.5 cubic yards) and Tim spent many years operating one, so he did the actual work. He moved all that topsoil, plus smaller piles of rock and road base, then roughly leveled the field to get ready for the spring plowing. Yesterday afternoon Tim finished the job. He'll be planting alfalfa in the spring.
There was lots of progress on the barn yesterday as well. The masons finished putting in the rock along the bottom four feet or so of the barn. They won't be able to clean and seal it until spring, so it's not looking as good now as it will then – but it looks pretty darned good even now! The plumber came and installed the boiler. One minor setback: the gas line we buried isn't holding pressure. One of the three joints must be leaking. He and the builder will be working on that this morning. Unless there's some disaster, they should have that fixed, and next week we'll get it inspected – and then the barn will have heat. Woo hoo! And (finally!) the garage door installers showed up and started that process. They'll be finished with the door today. It won't be long now until we have a finished and usable barn...
Thursday, December 11, 2014
We also took delivery of some new furniture, but with a less-than-wonderful delivery experience. We paid the vendor (a furniture manufacturer in North Carolina) for “concierge” service, wherein a team of people was to bring in the furniture and unpack it. Instead, we got a surly truck driver who refused to step foot in our house or to wait while we unpacked and inspected our furniture – and one box was very badly damaged. After the driver left, we unpacked the furniture (a couch, wide chair, and footstool) and it was all in fine shape, so all was ok in the end. Debbie gave an earful of discontented feedback to the shipper and the furniture place, though – made her feel much better :)
Today will be the “day of the boxes”. I expect to make approximately 42,982 trips back-and-forth to the truck...
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Monday, December 8, 2014
Yesterday, though, we did get our monster log bed loaded onto the truck – and to my surprise, Debbie and I were able to do it all by ourselves. The headboard piece is the largest, weighing around 250 or 300 pounds. Somehow we lugged that outside, up the ramp, and onto the truck. I sure am glad to have that done!
At this point the “only” rooms left to pack are the laundry room and our bedroom (mainly clothes and slide rule books). I'm pretty sure we will not be able to finish that today, which means we can't drive to Utah tomorrow. It looks like Wednesday will be our travel day. Oh, well...
Saturday night we had a lovely dinner with “eg” and her neice. “eg” wanted a ceiling fan motor to make into a potter's wheel, and we delivered that along with a dinner at Dolci's (delicious!). Tonight we're having sushi at Hana's in El Cajon with our friends (and my former colleagues) Aleck L. and Jimmy Y. We'll be ready for that by the day's end!
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Last night we treated ourselves to sushi at our favorite local spot: Hana Sushi in El Cajon. Wonderful fish, fresh wasabi (if you've never tried this, you should – I detest the green paste normally sold as wasabi, but the fresh stuff is really good), iced green tea (good even without any sugar!) and the great company of the couple that owns the place. We're trying to talk them into opening a branch in Paradise, Utah, but so far with no effect :(
Time to start packing and lugging...
Thursday, December 4, 2014
It took me a minute to absorb the situation and see how this happened. The back end includes a lift gate and pull-out ramp. To protect those mechanisms, a pair of “skids” extends down below them. When the truck is on level ground, those skids are about a foot off the ground. When I pulled off my driveway to turn around, the nose of the truck was headed up a hill with perhaps a 15% grade. That brought the skids down to within an inch or so of the pavement. Then when the rear wheels rolled off the pavement, the truck dropped onto those skids – and left the tires an inch off the ground, over the shallow drainage trench just off the pavement. Sheesh!
The fix was obvious: raise the rear tires, put some rubble under them, and then I'd be fine. My 3 ton garage jack could only lift the truck about an inch, just shy of the distance needed. Any higher and the thing's pressure relief valve just said “no”. Well, really “No f’ing way, dude!”, but that's a detail. So down the hill I went to find me a good old-fashioned bottle jack, a handy thing to have anyway. I found one a half hour away, in Spring Valley – a 12 ton bottle jack with 5" lift capacity. That little thing made short work of raising the truck, and within 15 minutes of arriving home with it, I drove the truck out of the problem. Whew!
The rest of the day yesterday, and so far today, we're packing and loading the truck. Our covered patio is almost finished. We're leaving a lot of that stuff behind, so there wasn't much to do. Debbie's been busy wrapping all our art work with stretchy plastic film, and putting bubble wrap around the edges – she's almost done with that. This is, in general, going much faster than we had imagined it would.
As I'm sure you can imagine, the house now looks like a category 5 hurricane ripped through the interior. The cats are quite disturbed. They don't like new things in general, and at the moment the house seems to be radically changing constantly. The dogs are sleeping – they don't care what's happening, as long as we're there and not upset. They watch us carefully, though, to see if we're unhappy – and if we were, you can be sure they'd be upset too :)
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Further diagnostics might have been able to detect one of the other possible causes. However, when we queried the cardiologist about treatment for any of those other possibilities, they were all treatments we would not put Mo'i through at this stage (surgery, radiation, etc.). The poor guy has problems we already know about that are not treatable, he's 16 years old, and has little enough time left no matter what we did about his heart. We just couldn't put him through more misery for yet another medical problem. The cardiologist, naturally, would like to have understood what the cause of the problem was – but he did understand that if that didn't lead to treatment, it really didn't matter to us (and certainly not to Mo'i).
Yesterday and today Mo'i seems just fine, behaving in his usual old-age fashion. His appetite is normal, and he's moving around like we're used to seeing. This morning he enjoyed his banana ends as usual, and ate a bonus bowl of food with gusto. We're just going to keep a good eye on him (if a severe arrhythmia shows up, we can detect it ourselves with a stethoscope, and get treatment) and be thankful for each hour we have left...
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Today he's looking better – good appetite and he's eager to go out for a walk. Figures. But the cardiologist has the EKG, and we need to figure out why this happened. There are, we understand, lots of possibilities. They range from very treatable things like potassium imbalances to terminal, like a tumor on the heart. He's very old and already suffering from terminal cancer, so we're not going to do any treatment that would cause him any pain...
Monday, December 1, 2014
Today we start on the house, tossing out junk, deciding what we're going to take, and perhaps even some packing...
Sunday, November 30, 2014
Yesterday was the first day of the “not so much fun” part of our move. We're going through long-stored stuff, some of it dating back to the '70s. Much of it has been stored in our long-forbearing friend's barn for the past 15 years, and the local rodent population has built the equivalent of Mexico City amongst it. So, as you might imagine, a significant fraction of that long-stored trove is going straight into a dumpster. A significant fraction will be given away, and a remarkably small amount (I'm guessing about 20 cubic feet) will go with us to Utah. Makes us feel pretty stupid about storing all that stuff, but then again, I don't know how we could ever have predicted where our life would take us.
We got about halfway through our stuff at our friend's barn yesterday, which is faster than I expected that effort to go. We'll be finished up there either late today or tomorrow sometime, and then we start on our house. There's less stuff for us to worry about at the house, as much of what's there that we're not taking with us has already been given away, promised to someone, or the new owners are going to take it. So I think we're actually going to be ready to start packing up the moving truck we're renting by Wednesday or Thursday this week, well ahead of my notional schedule...
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Early yesterday afternoon I did something that was a lot of fun: I drove Dionecia B. – our friend, house-sitter, and longtime house cleaner – down to Rancho Jamul Auto Care to pick up the RV we've given her. It's been there for months getting a myriad of little problems fixed. At the same time, I signed over ownership to her. Her radiant visage when she picked up the pink slip was something I'll not soon forget. I drove behind her as she drove the RV back to her home, to make sure she made it ok – she did just fine.
Today I begin the “moving out” process: going through everything we own, deciding whether we're going to keep it, toss it away (I have a big dumpster positioned to take the junk), give it away to friends, or set it curbside for anyone who might want it to take. It's amazing how much crap one accumulates after 15 years of living in one place!
Friday, November 28, 2014
Thursday, November 27, 2014
There is only one way to do Thanksgiving "wrong," and that is to fail to be grateful for the people you are eating it with, and the many other good people of this great nation who are sitting down at other tables. The rest is a sideshow. And don't be afraid to have another helping of that sideshow, with extra gravy on top.You betcha I'm going for that extra gravy, Megan.
Here's hoping that your Thanksgiving Day is as wonderful as mine...
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Monday, November 24, 2014
I took the photo at right this morning, from a field near Wellsville. I had an appointment with our health insurance agent, whose home office is just a couple hundred yards from where I stood to snap this. We had beautiful weather today, as you can see...
...yet experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny...He wrote this in 1778, in a document called Preamble to a Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge. Considerably more diffusion is needed!
He really does think that American voters are stupid chumps.
My neighbor's dog just left a steaming pile on my lawn; it's a perfect metaphor for that speech.
If there's any justice in this world, Obama's comments on Hillary's odorosity along with his endorsement should guarantee that she loses...
Here's an explanation of how they got tables at one degree intervals. That's enough for many kinds of work, but I know there were tables at much smaller intervals (down to 10s of arc-seconds, I believe) that filled entire books. I don't fully understand the math being described here, but I'm guessing that method for getting to one degree intervals can be extended to smaller intervals. What jumps out at me about the method is that it involves some clever hoop-jumping, along with an awe-inspiring amount of tedium as well...
So this great historic deal is really nothing more than yet another trot out of verbal commitments, a last gasp for Mr. Obama, a placation to the always fierce warming constituency, and for the Chinese, a little chuckle or two at how easy it is to charm the eagerly gullible.You owe it to yourself to read the whole thing – and anything else you can find that Mr. Murphy has written. His speeches are just as good.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
The first thing I did today was to fill the trench over the water pipe to a depth of 2 feet. That took from 7:30 am to 3:00 pm. It wasn't physically difficult, as the tractor did nearly all the work – there was about 6 feet of trench I had to do by hand, but the other 250' was all with the backhoe. I had to jump on-and-off the tractor a few hundred times, to switch back and forth from driving to using the backhoe. That turned out to be just enough activity to keep me warm. I got wet later in the day, and that chilled me pretty thoroughly – but a 15 minute break in the nice, warm house cured that.
At 3:00 pm I went to work laying the two network cables in the trench. I had to shove them through the hole Jim J. drilled in my basement wall on Friday, then unspool the rather tight coils for 220' along the trench. I left plenty of slack so the dirt under the cables could settle and move the cables without breaking them. That whole job only took 45 minutes.
Then I spent an hour shoveling, filling the hole next to our house's basement back up. I don't want it to freeze there, because our water supply enters the house right next to where we dug the hole. I got about 3' of dirt in there, roughly a cubic yard of wet, mucky, heavy stuff. By the time I was finished, I was drenched in sweat and very hot. That was a big change from just a few minutes before :)
I called my builder (Jim J.) tonight to verify that we were in sync. He's planning to be here in the morning to lay down the gas pipe. With any luck at all, that means I can completely fill in the trench tomorrow afternoon. Then on Tuesday all I need to get done is to place the transformer foundation – and I'll be finished with everything that must be finished before I leave for Jamul.
When I looked out the window this morning, I wasn't at all sure I'd be able to get anything useful done. I was far too pessimistic – it turned out to be rather a good day to work!