Tuesday, June 30, 2015
I've got a toothache, I think under a crown that was installed a few years ago. I called to make an appointment with the dentist I met a couple months ago at Hyrum Tire, Dr. Lance Gunnell. I'm seeing him on Thursday, when he's in his Hyrum office, just four miles away.
Last year a crew from Questar Gas came out to re-route a gas line that the previous owner of this property had built an outbuilding over. I mentioned to the crew that I intended to knock that building down, and one of them said he'd like to take it. He'd saw it into pieces with a sawzall, and then put it back together on posts to make a boathouse for his wife. Not only would he put it to good use, he'd do all the work of taking it down. Of course I said “yes” to that! Well, I lost track of this fellow's name and number, and I wanted to get that process started – as we want to put a backup generator on the slab. What to do? I called a different Questar Gas employee, another guy who had been out here. I explained my dilemma to him, and he said he'd ask around the office for me while I held on the line. About 30 seconds later, another guy got on the phone and said he knew exactly who I mean, a guy named Steve M., and he'd have Steve call me right away. Another minute or so, and Steve called me – and now we have arranged for that building to be removed next week. The people here are so helpful, and the community so small, that things like this happen routinely. This would almost certainly not have been the case when we were living down in California...
Monday, June 29, 2015
Dear iMac owner,This is not a response to any complaint we raised. It is a program just announced by Apple. According to some news sources, Apple noticed the trend in their service data, and took action unilaterally.
Apple has determined that certain 3TB hard drives used in 27-inch iMac systems may fail. These systems were sold between December 2012 and September 2013.
Our records show that you have an iMac with an affected 3TB hard drive. Apple will replace your hard drive with a new one, free of charge.
Please visit the iMac (27-inch) 3TB Hard Drive Replacement Program page to learn more about the replacement process.
We apologize for any inconvenience.
iMac serial number: (redacted)
I located an authorized service location 10 miles from our home. I called them, and they knew all about the program. They said to just bring the computer in, and they would do the replacement. No charge. No hassle. Twenty four hour turnaround.
I cannot recall the maker of any other computer, peripheral, or component that I've ever owned proactively reaching out to me to offer mitigation for a service trend showing a problem.
My service experience to date with Apple computers (8 years now) is quite limited, simply because very little has ever gone wrong. I've had two problems that I resolved in just minutes with searches of Apple's knowledge base, one hardware problem (a keyboard with a drink spilled on it) that they fixed under warranty in an Apple store, and now this. Every time, the problem is solved, quickly, and at no cost to me. By contrast, I used Dell computers for quite a few years. Initially their service was quite good, but it deteriorated over the years to the point where I would rather buy a new computer than call their service number.
I'm no Apple fan-boy, but I will happily pay a premium for excellent hardware and software backed by excellent service!
I have several reactions...
- My parents were serial child endangerers. Under these rules, they probably would have been executed.
- This happened Westbrook, Maine (on the outskirts of Portland). What the hell happened to Maine since the '50s and '60s, when I visited so many times?
- If the same rules were applied here in Northern Utah, every parent I know would be charged with child endangerment – free range kids are the rule here.
Puerto Rico – as many have predicted it would – has run out of other people's money. The socialists have ruined another economy. There are quite a few parallels to the current Greek crisis, but this one is much closer to home. Though many Americans don't know it, Puerto Rico is actually part of the United States. It's a Commonwealth, not a state, though there is rising support in Puerto Rico to become a state.
It will be interesting, and instructive, to see what the Obama administration's reaction to this is...
Sunday, June 28, 2015
I moved sprinklers for my friend and neighbor Tim D. again this morning. His grand-daughter Taylor came over to help when I was about halfway through. I was sopping wet by the time I got done, as the pipes I had to move were in waist-high (and very wet!) alfalfa. In some places the field was so muddy that it threatened to suck the boots right off my feet! I also set up sprinklers around our house – sixteen sprinkler heads are currently going all around us.
It's paperwork time!
All three of my siblings, unfortunately, are still serial victims of the Microsoft empire. The tech version of the Stockholm syndrome seems to have afflicted them – none of them are inclined to see the light. I'm afraid that may not change until Chinese hackers hold their data for ransom...
This is the first interplanetary mission where the aiming wasn't done entirely with Earth-bound metrics. Unmentioned in the article is another interesting fact: none of this would have been possible until about 7 or 8 years ago, when the computing power required to model complex gravitational systems became routinely available...
Saturday, June 27, 2015
Debbie continues to improve every day. The bruising and swelling are starting to disappear now. There's just a small blotch remaining from her epic black eye, and her right arm is beginning to resemble a human arm now. Yesterday we took delivery of a machine that replaces the old-fashioned ice bag for her knee. It works by circulating chilled water through a pad that wraps around her knee. It chills a much larger area than a bag could, and does it more evenly. It's also got a controllable temperature. Nice gadget!
This morning I ran up to Ridley's in Hyrum (a small town four miles north of us), and came across a cheerful scene. In the city park there were dozens and dozens of kids in bathing suits, and several firemen were squirting them all with fire hoses. There was much kicking and screaming from the delighted kids, and smiling faces of the parents and adult onlookers surrounding them. I wanted to take some photos of it, but onlookers asked me not to, so I didn't. I'm not sure why they care, but I'll respect their wishes. Sure looked like a lot of fun for the kids!
My neighbor Tim D. is on a trip to Philadelphia with his son for the next few days. I'm handling the irrigation for him. This morning that means turning off one string of hand line, and moving three others. I'll have one last move tomorrow, then I'll stack all the pipe for him as we'll be done with this cycle of irrigation.
I'm working on my tractor, getting the log splitter plumbed correctly. I filled the hydraulic fluid on my tractor. It was very low because when I attached the log splitter, its cylinder got filled from the tractor's reservoir, taking about 2 gallons of the 3 gallons in the reservoir. This is what happens when you attach a big implement to a little tractor :)
Friday, June 26, 2015
The main things I wanted to get done today were to test-mount the log splitter after plumbing it to the backhoe hydraulic coupler, and to move my air compressor into it's intended location. This didn't go so well, mainly because that hydraulic plumbing took three trips into town to get all the right parts. By the time I finished all that running around, I was done for the day. Dang it!
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Walking back toward home on our walk, downhill, we were looking directly into the sun. The irrigation systems were all nicely backlit, and stood out all the way across the valley. You can't really see the distant ones in this photo, though I could see them clearly with my Mark I eyeballs.
The sprinklers next to the road misted us in three separate places, and that felt good to all of us. Miki (our smart little guy) figured it out after two sprinklers, and planted himself firmly in place on the third. He stayed there, eyes closed, for four sprinkler rotations. By that time he was nicely wetted, which would have cooled him nicely. Meanwhile, Race and Mo'i got as far away from the water as the leash would let them, and looked at Miki as though he had lost his dogly mind :)
I've visited Narva several times, and also driven from Narva through Russia to St. Petersburg (once with an Estonian friend, another time by myself). I've also spent a number of days along the northern Estonian coastline (along the Baltic Sea), in every season. It's quite a beautiful place, most especially in the spring. There's a lot of good hiking in the area, which might surprise you if you casually inspected a map. I can attest to the Narva area being nearly 100% Russian. The character of the area is far more like Russia itself than the rest of Estonia is. With apologies to my Russian friends, that's not a good thing. What you notice immediately upon entering an all-Russian area is the trash along the roadside. The Russians are the worst litterers I've ever run into. One summer I hiked for about an hour along a river near Narva, as it approached the Baltic Sea. When I walked out of the forest and onto the pebble beach, I was surrounded by an awesome display of Russian flesh – a large number of Russian adults were stretched out on the beach, some wore bathing attire; many did not. The average weight of those people was pushing 300 pounds. The rotundity was quite impressive. Bottles of vodka were everywhere. Snores filled the air. This is one of my most lasting memories of Narva :)
But the dissenting opinion (written by Scalia, joined by Alito and Thomas) ... that's another story altogether! I can't recall another case where any of the opinions were quite this scathing, or so bluntly written. It's absolutely stuffed with delicious and spicy sections, a few of them laugh-out-loud funny. It's also as good a summary as I've seen about what's wrong with the court. If you stop and think hard while you're reading that dissent, and you're not a progressive, it will bring the doom upon you. It tells the story of America's rot from the top...
The opinion itself is available online. It's not that long; I read it carefully in just over an hour. The majority opinion makes me long for a mechanism to impeach the Supreme Court. If you want to skip directly to the fun stuff, Scalia's dissent starts on page 27 of the PDF. The Federalist has a good collection of some of the best quotes out of Scalia's dissent. I'll give you just one example:
“Today’s interpretation is not merely unnatural; it is unheard of. Who would ever have dreamt that ‘Exchange established by the State’ means ‘Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government’?”I don't think Scalia is very happy about this decision :)
When we finished our walk, my friend and neighbor Tim D. came over to start moving his hand lines. He's got five of them running at the same time, irrigating the four different fields that he's growing alfalfa in, or using as pasture for his two horses. He and I got all those lines moved in about 30 minutes, and then I drove my tractor over to his place to borrow his cultivator.
Our tractors both have a Category 1 (the size) 3-point hitch, so we can use the same implements. By happy coincidence, he and I have a perfectly complimentary set of implements – couldn't have done that better if we'd tried! I spent about an hour using the cultivator to break up all the ground we'd leveled and graded the day before, to prepare it for planting grass. Some of that soil was so hard-packed that I had to make a dozen or so passes with the cultivator to get it broken up – but in the end, I was able to make a nice bed of soil for the grass seed.
Naturally, the next thing I did was to seed that area. I ran down to Tractor Supply Company (just six miles up the road) and picked up a 25 pound bag of forage mix – full sun, low water requirement; perfect. All I had to broadcast the seed with was a little hand-held and hand-cranked broadcast seeder. It took a while to get the seed spread on a (roughly) half acre! My right arm, which did the cranking, is now quite sore :) And the sun was beating down on me the whole time, 90 degrees or so and 40% relative humidity. It was hot! After I got the seed down, I set up a couple of sprinklers. I'll have to move them a few times to cover the whole area, but in a couple of days I should have that grass seed started. In a few weeks, we'll have turned what was a complete mess into a nice grassy area that I can mow. Woo hoo!
Other than anyone with even the slightest amount of common sense, that is...
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
I've said this many times before, but I'm going to do it again: I cannot fathom why anyone would actually believe that the federal government can do a good job at anything – anything at all. There's not a single good example of a large government program that's well run. There are a nearly infinite number of examples of government programs run poorly and/or corruptly. Why would anyone expect, for instance, Obamacare to be any different? Of course it's a disaster – that's what the federal government is actually good at!
What do you suppose Hillary Clinton pays the interns who help in her campaign? If you guessed zippity-doo-dah, you'd be right!
I did a bit of the finishing work with the loader on my tractor. I knocked down a couple of sharp corners, and flattened out a ridge. To get ready for this work, I had to take my backhoe off. That's always a tricky thing to do. It requires futzing around with the hydraulics to get the backhoe positioned perfectly to take the load off the two pins that hold it in place. It usually takes me about a half hour, but today I did it in just 20 minutes. I'm thinking that maybe I should just spend a day practicing this until I actually get good at it :)
Now I'm hot and tired, and looking forward to a nice visit with Bruce and June!
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Debbie is progressing incrementally, looking and feeling a bit better every day. She's still essentially bedridden, though, and she's going a little stir crazy because of it. It's been almost three weeks since her fall, and since she's been imprisoned in her (nice, comfortable, full-service included) bed.
Last night, one of her friends from southern California (Marsha Y.) stopped by for a great visit. She stayed for several hours of conversations and reminiscences. We stayed up way past our bedtime!
As we were walking back into our driveway, a gigantic loader drove by us, very slowly. It was one that our neighbor Tim D. had arranged for us, to do some terraforming down on the southeast part of our property. This is the same general area where the Mormon horde helped us clean up a few weeks ago. There was a part there, roughly an acre in extent, that was so weirdly sloped that there was no way I could mow it. The loader was there to sculpt that weirdness into something more attractive, and more maintainable.
That was plenty of excitement for one day, but it got even better. Around 1 pm, I got a call from a trucker – he had a load for me. I was expecting my air compressor (which I've been trying to buy since January!), so I got my tractor going and met him by the road, expecting to be unloading 650 pounds of air compressor. Instead, he had a much smaller pallet. I had to get the bill of lading out to see what it was – and it was the PTO powered pressure washer that I ordered back in March. It finally came in! Woo hoo! I took it into the shed and started to unpack it, and my phone rang again – another trucker with a load – and this time it was the air compressor. Double woo hoo!
So I spent the next two hours unpacking and inspecting the two shipments. The pressure washer is a particularly impressive piece of machinery. It's a pile of parts and a bag of bolts right now, though the pump is fully assembled. The pump is Italian, and I'd have guessed that even if I didn't already know – there's a certain style to Italian machinery that one rarely sees in machinery made anywhere else. This is a purely functional, industrial piece of kit – but some engineers spent time making it beautiful anyway.
The air compressor was remarkable for a completely different reason: it was not a kit! I was shocked – for once, a piece of equipment I ordered came fully assembled. Wow! However, the air compressor more than makes up for that by the complexity of its installation. I have to connect it to both 240 V and 120 V, plus an air intake (to clean outside air), the compressed air output, and two separate water drains (one for the tank, the other for the air dryer). Another project :)
The word is starting to get out around town that Debbie is injured again. This evening, one of the members of the Relief Society for the ward we live in stopped by to check on us. As with all their visits, she just wanted to make sure we got any help we needed. She looked disappointed that we really didn't need any :) She chatted with Debbie for a while, very friendly and neighborly. She's good friends with Michelle H., the woman who cleans our house. Small towns are nice that way. When she left, she left Debbie wearing a smile and feeling very good indeed about the area we retired to.
We love living here!
Before you start condemning the major media, you should reflect upon why they are so bad. The reason is simple. The kind of “news” they're spewing is manifestly what consumers want. It's what draws the viewers and readers. It's not their fault that we're (collectively) a bunch of moronic thrill seekers. It's ours...
3D printing has a place with prototyping and very low volume manufacturing, but for anything needed in quantities above a few dozen, conventional manufacturing techniques are inherently less expensive. That doesn't look likely to change anytime in the foreseeable future. But ... 3D printing does let you make some things that you couldn't practicably make by any other means...
“If you were told that a BMW and a golf-cart were the same price, which would you buy?”I'm already buying the BMW (only), even though it still costs a bit more. I haven't purchased a hard disk in about four years...
Monday, June 22, 2015
After all that work (the last half or so in the hot sun), I'm not feeling too energetic today :)
For instance, our property here is bordered by two roads, each running north/south. On the east side of our property, the road is mainly known by it's highway name: State 165. That road is also known as “200 West”, which means it's 2 blocks west of Main Street in Paradise. Every town has a Main Street and a Center Street, laid out at 90° to each other (forming a cross). Their intersection is the zero/zero point of a coordinate system that names all other roads in that town. The road on the west side of our property is “400 West” – which is, of course, 4 blocks west of Main Street in Paradise.
While all this was confusing at first, now that we've figured it out we're finding it to be very convenient. If someone gives us an address, we immediately know where it is. We don't need a map. There are only a dozen or so towns in all of Cache Valley, and we've learned where all of them are. If someone gives us an address like, say, “435 N 500 E, Providence” – then we know exactly where that is and how to get there without needing a map at all. Good trick!
There's a more detailed explanation of the system here...
“I cannot imagine the horror that could’ve occurred if people were sitting around with concealed weapons, this thing started and you had a full-scale gunfight. You might not even have three survivors.”So his take is that had the victims been able to defend themselves, more people would have died. That's such an utterly stupid analysis that I am at a loss for words. My pistol-packing mama wasn't, though: she thinks Mr. Shrum is “missing a few wires up there”. Quite possibly!
It seems rather obvious to me that if even one person inside that church had had a gun, the results would have been different – and fewer people would have died, Mr. Shrum's moronic views notwithstanding. In order for that to have happened, though, South Carolina would have to change it's laws. It's currently illegal there for citizens with concealed carry permits to take a gun into a church. Obviously that didn't stop Roof – but it would (and did!) stop ordinary citizens from defending themselves. I won't be a bit surprised if the police discover that one of the reasons Roof targeted a church is that it's a gun-free zone – so he knew that nobody would be defending themselves there...
Sunday, June 21, 2015
In a crowded city at a busy bus stop, a woman who was waiting for a bus was wearing a tight leather skirt. As the bus stopped and it was her turn to get on, she became aware that her skirt was too tight to allow her leg to come up to the height of the first step of the bus.
Slightly embarrassed and with a quick smile to the bus driver, she reached behind her to unzip her skirt a little, thinking that this would give her enough slack to raise her leg.
Again, she tried to make the step only to discover she still couldn't. So, a little more embarrassed, she once again reached behind her to unzip her skirt a little more. For the second time, she attempted the step, and, once again, much to her chagrin, she could not raise her leg. With a little smile to the driver, she again reached behind to unzip a little more and again was unable to make the step.
About this time, a large Texan who was standing behind her picked her up easily by the waist and placed her gently on the step of the bus.
She went ballistic and turned to the would-be Samaritan and screeched, "How dare you touch my body! I don't even know who you are!'
The Texan smiled and drawled, "Well, ma'am, normally I would agree with you, but after you unzipped my fly three times, I kinda figured we was friends."
The dogs and I took a walk just before this. The temperature was 89°, down from today's high of 93°. The forecast for tomorrow is for a high of 88°, a tad cooler than today. The dogs didn't seem to care about the heat, but ... when we walked under an irrigation sprinkler, they were practically dancing in the cool water, obviously reveling in it :)
I can't place the year exactly, but it would have been when I was about 13 or 14 years old – so something like '65 or '66. It was a weekday before Father's Day, I think a Friday (because Father's Day was imminent). I was working with my dad at the home of a landscaping customer, somewhere in northern New Jersey. The customer's name was Deer (or maybe Deere), a couple with at least one child, a young girl perhaps 17 or 18 years old.
My dad was working in the front of the house, and I was spreading mulch down in the back yard, near a pool house. The girl (whose name I've long since forgotten) came down to go swimming. Before she went in to change, she stopped to talk with me for a few minutes. I remember that she asked me what we were going to do for Father's Day, and I said “Nothing special. We’ll all be home on Sunday, as usual.”
“Does your father work on Sunday?”, she asked.
“Usually in his office, or maybe at the nursery.” I said. “But we’ll probably play some croquet or something in the afternoon.”
We really did play croquet on occasion, and other sorts of games both indoors and outside.
“My father always works at his office in town every day. We hardly ever see him.” she said. “You’re really lucky to be with your father all the time!”
That last sentence was accompanied by an expression of the purest envy.
If I remember correctly, her dad was a lawyer. It was evident from the quality of his home that he made a great deal more money than my dad did. I'd imagined, in the naive way of a child, that having all that money would make for some very happy kids. I certainly wouldn't have minded having my own swimming pool!
But there was his daughter, envying me because I had something she couldn't have: what we'd call today quality time with my dad.
I know now that she was right to be envious. Between work and play, I was with my father for more time in a year than most kids have in their entire childhood. My dad was extremely accessible to me, as his work was either on the farm I grew up on or at customers' sites, where I was quite likely dragooned to help. I had many, many hours of time with him driving to and from customers' sites – time we filled with conversation about all sorts of things. Whether we were on the road or at home on the farm, he'd frequently take a few minutes to show me something interesting, or to explain something I was curious about. This was my “everyday dad”, and I only realized how unusual that was when I joined the U.S. Navy and met people with very different experiences of their father (or, all to often, no experience at all because they never knew him).
Yup, she was right to be envious. I was a lucky kid indeed to have the father I did...
Sure, we occasionally take a swipe at pseudoscience—homeopathy, astrology, claims that genetically modified food causes cancer, and so on. But the great thing about science is that it’s self-correcting. The good drives out the bad, because experiments get replicated and hypotheses put to the test. So a really bad idea cannot survive long in science.
Or so I used to think. Now, thanks largely to climate science, I have changed my mind. It turns out bad ideas can persist in science for decades, and surrounded by myrmidons of furious defenders they can turn into intolerant dogmas.
I, for one, welcome our new news overlords. They couldn't possibly be any worse than the current batch!
Not long ago, I was talking with one of our local kids about the robotic probes that captured the wonderful images like these. She had never known a time when high quality imagery of objects in space was unavailable. Somewhere during the conversation, it dawned on her that the robotic probes were a relatively recent invention, and she asked me how we got images “before”. When I told her that we simply didn't have them – that, for example, we knew Saturn as a fuzzy blob with fuzzy rings and very little detail – she thought I was pulling her leg. Yet I can easily remember the wonder of those first probes – Ranger, Mariner, Venera – returning grainy images that were miraculously better than what could be obtained from earth. I can also remember the amazing advances in adaptive optics making leaps and bounds in improving earth-bound astrophotography. It wasn't so very long ago, really, that images like the one above could be found only in science fiction illustrations made by painters with vivid imaginations. Now they're routine, and rather taken for granted...
The most complex sounds of all come from some of the big guns that have computers controlling the water pattern so that it makes even coverage over a rectangular field. The computer moves several controls on the gun to make the water shoot exactly the right distance to hit the corners of a field without over-spraying the sides. They even compensate for wind drift! A few weeks ago, I stopped to talk with a farmer setting one of these up. He looked like an IT guy, with a laptop plugged into his “gun”, a wind direction and speed sensor, and a GPS surveying system to plot out the fields geometry. He told me that his “gun” cost a little over $3,000, but would pay for itself in the first year by evenly sprinkling his whole field without over-spraying. He figures he'll save around $1,000 in fuel alone (the sprinkler is powered by a diesel pump).
I could hear all these sprinklers as we walked. Some of the sprinklers I heard were likely over a mile away. It's quiet at 4 am in Paradise :)
Today is mowing day. I haven't mowed for over a week, and I irrigated this week. The fertilizer I put down a few weeks ago has kicked in, and the warm sunny days have done their thing. My lawn will have to be reclassified as a forest if I don't mow it down soon. I'm going to generate enough clippings that you'd think I could bale it and sell it as hay :)
Usually when I finish mowing, our driveway is covered with lots and lots of grass clippings. Today I'm going to blow them all off with the wheeled blower I got last week. Should look very nice when I get done!
Saturday, June 20, 2015
Well, now I have that box of miscellaneous drip irrigation parts and tools!
And the drip irrigation is working fine.
The dogs and I just got back from a roughly one mile walk, which we made very slowly because it's hot outside. Our thermometer reads 90°, and I believe it. The weather site says it's 23% relative humidity right now – not bad. Except that I know that's wrong, because we have irrigation running upwind of us – it's probably more like 80% at our house. When we had walked about a quarter mile away, the humidity dropped sharply; the difference was easily perceptible. The dogs had one exciting moment along the walk today. They all stayed on leash, but at one point they all three (even the ancient and venerable Mo'i!) zeroed in on a dead robin about 4 feet off the road. Suddenly I had three dogs pulling me with about 500 pounds of force. It was simply not possible for me to hold them back – until it occurred to me to grab onto my neighbor's fence post. For a good minute or so, those damned dogs did their level best to separate my left arm (holding their leashes) from my body. If they could have mustered just a few more pounds of force, they'd have succeeded. When I hold my two arms straight out in front of me now, my left arm is now about a half inch longer than the right. If it's still that way in the morning, I'm going to be a little worried about it!
Yesterday morning a gaggle of neighbors (Tim D., Maria S., and a bunch of little S.'s) came out, and we all pulled mustard from our field. Tim is running alfalfa and barley on our field, and one section – about a half acre – is more mustard than crop. There's no way to get rid of that other than pulling it, all 10 bazillion plants. We worked on that for a couple of hours yesterday, and about three hours this morning, and now its about 75% gone. We've made giant piles of the pulled mustard, which we'll be hauling up to an old quarry a half mile away, to dry and be burned. Monday morning we'll finish up the last of it. Pulling mustard is pretty low on my list of fun things to do, but ... doing it in a group like this, in soil softened by irrigation, with lots of joshing and good conversation ... that makes it a lot more interesting. I walked back in this morning with a stiff back, a serious thirst, and a big smile. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
Yesterday morning, right after we finished pulling mustard, Ryan O. (our heating and air conditioning guy) showed up to reconnect our air conditioning compressor. He had disconnected it last fall for us, so that I could dig a trench under it for water, network, and gas connections to the shed. When he lit it off, there was the most lovely burst of cool, crisp air on our second floor. It's been sweltering up there with our outdoor temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s. Now it's just sitting there at 72°, and feeling ever so nice when I come in from outside. Yay Ryan!
There's a lot about a quarter mile north of our place that just sold early this year. The new owners haven't built on it yet, so it's just two and a half acres of weeds. Those weeds were taller than me – 6 or 7 feet tall in places – and some of them had 1" “trunks”. I called the new owners and got permission to mow it down, and that's what I used to test out my new mower. It worked like a champ! I only managed to stall the mower once, in a particularly tall thicket of something that looks a bit like tumbleweeds. The rest of it all went down effortlessly. It was hot, dusty work, but otherwise not physically demanding. Ninety minutes and the field was down. Yay!
I'm not sure what I'm going to do today. For now, I'm just going to sit and enjoy my apple juice and chair :)
Thursday, June 18, 2015
When we checked in for her appointment, we were surprised by a request to take more X-rays. This request came before we'd even finished the check-in paperwork. Though we'd brought our iPads so we could read while waiting, we never even got a chance to crack them open. The MRI from last week was full of artifacts from the metal in Debbie's knee (we knew this already), so the surgeon wanted X-rays to get a good picture of her knee's current status. These X-rays went quickly and easily, in no small part because of the kind and attentive work of the X-ray tech, a young lady named Brook.
As soon as we were done with the X-rays, we were scooted into the exam room, where we waited for about 10 seconds for the surgeon (Dr. Tom Higginbotham) to come in. We'd not met him before, so we didn't know what to expect, though he was highly recommended to us by two friends in Paradise. Within a few minutes, we knew we had a good 'un – he was cheerful, considerate of Debbie, full of information, and happily answered all our questions.
The way this fracture was diagnosed was interesting. The MRI clearly shows the edema in her knee. “Edema” is just a fancy word for swelling, in this case in her knee. It was very evident indeed at the time the MRI was taken, and indeed it still is. The MRI also shows that there were two kinds of liquid causing the edema. One was liquid that was mostly water, but the other was a liquid that was mostly fat or oil, and it floated on top of the water (much like separated salad dressing). The water-based liquid is mainly from blood or plasma, but what's the fatty liquid from? Well, it turns out that the presence of such a fatty liquid is a signature of a fracture. It's caused by bone marrow leaking out of the broken bone. It was the presence of that fatty liquid that lead Dr. Higginbotham to search for the fracture, which was quite a subtle feature on the MRI (and didn't show up at all on the X-ray).
So now we have a follow-up appointment in mid-July, and between now and then she's going to be basically bedridden and helplessly dependent on me. Which she hates, of course. After she's all healed from this fracture, then we'll have another discussion with Dr. Higginbotham about whether to clean up that meniscus (and remove all the hardware)...
Our neighbor's 11 year old boy (Nicolas S.) and I helped our mutual neighbor Tim D. move his irrigation pipes this morning. The pressure has been low for a couple days, but this morning it's back up, so Tim was eager to get his four strings of pipe up and running on his alfalfa. He's also wetting down some mustard so that Nicolas and his siblings can pull it out later today.
Yesterday afternoon we took delivery of some carpet stair treads. They're quite nicely made, and Debbie is very happy with the color and design. I'll be installing them today and tomorrow...
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
I started my day with a walk, at about 5 am, with all three dogs (some photos below). The weather was lovely, and we all watched the rising sun playing on the hills across the valley, to the west. Race was bounding through the tall alfalfa like a mad dog – in the space of five minutes, I'm sure he traveled at least two miles. At one point he was a half mile or so away from me. All I could see was the madly waving white tip of his tail, except for when he made a great leap onto a (possibly imaginary) vole. He did this about every ten seconds. He's going to be very disappointed on our next walk, though – the alfalfa field was mowed today. They'll probably bale it on Friday, then start watering to start the next cutting off growing quickly...
I had a good day today; got a lot done. I started by making a long-overdue cleanup of the shed's first floor. I loaded the tractor's forklift up three times: once with plastic and other packing trash, again with cardboard and pallets, and finally with two giant trash containers. You can actually see the floor in the garage section now :) Then I installed three swinging hummingbird feeder holders on our balcony rail. This, of course, involved several trips to the hardware store for screws, paint, etc. But it's done now!
Now I've got some laundry going, and I'm about to go wash the dishes, tend the cats, walk the dogs, and then crash. Hard!