Monday, August 31, 2015
Nothing exciting on the walk today – no crazy voles, no skunks, no stooping hawks. But it sure was beautiful!
We're going to head out to the left fork of Blacksmith River this evening to look for some more wildlife...
Sunday, August 30, 2015
Even the dogs enjoyed the feast, in their role as lickers-of-bowls...
This morning I was feeling very lazy, and had to force myself out on a walk with Race and Miki. Once I got myself in motion, though, it was just as enjoyable as always. No crazy voles or close hawk encounters, though. We did see lots of hawks again, including one quite large red-tailed hawk. They're very skittish birds, usually flying off when we get to within 100' or so of them. I speculate that this is because they're actually quite vulnerable to injury, their formidable appearance notwithstanding. It would be very easy for a hawk to suffer an injury that would prevent it from hunting – a broken wing, or even just a few key flight feathers pulled out – and that would kill the hawk by starvation. That makes the behavior we saw yesterday, wherein the hawk allowed Race within a foot or so of him, quite unusual. I don't know how to account for it...
Some photos from this morning's walk for you:
Saturday, August 29, 2015
With no warning at all, a medium-sized hawk suddenly stooped down, nailing the vole in one claw. Miki immediately ran behind me, stuck his cowardly little field spaniel head between my legs, and started barking like mad. Race pulled even harder toward the hawk and immediately entered full-on insane mode. Border collie spittle was flying in all directions, and I was being inexorably dragged toward the hawk – who didn't seem particularly perturbed by any of these goings-on. He puffed himself up and spread his wings, but when that didn't scare Race off he just took off with the vole impaled on his claw. As the hawk flew away, Miki came out from behind me and claimed all the credit for scaring off the hawk.
Yesterday evening we took a drive just before sunset to see if we could spot some wildlife up the Blacksmith Fork canyon, toward Hardware Ranch. Boy, howdy, did we see some wildlife, especially deer! Lots of fawns, including several sets of twins. We also saw blue herons, a couple falcons, some larger hawks, and three or four bazillion swallows. As we drove back toward home, a larger-than-usual moon, nearly full, hung low in the sky behind us. Very enjoyable, that drive was...
Friday, August 28, 2015
Debbie's physical therapy went well. Wess G., her therapist, seems happy with her progress. He recommended that she try a couple sessions of “water therapy” next week, so we signed up for that. As he describes it, the water therapy is basically a giant, deep bathtub with a treadmill inside. The treadmill can be raised and lowered to any depth within the little pool. This allows the physical therapist to raise or lower the amount of weight your feet and legs are feeling. When the treadmill is low (deep in the water), the water is buoying you up so that very little of your weight is felt. When the treadmill is high (shallow in the water), more of your weight is felt. Should be interesting.
Early this afternoon we drove up to Zollinger's Tree Farm. Several people here have recommended it to us, and we need several things pretty soon. Top of my list: some weeping willows to plug “holes” in the trees along the irrigation canal that runs through our property. As soon as I drove in, I could see that this was my kind of nursery. There are no Home Depot-style displays of merchandise. Instead, there are simple display beds for the retail inventory. I got out of my truck and started walking around, and just a few minutes later a fellow came up and introduced himself as Ron (and I found out later that's Ron Zollinger, third generation owner of the nursery).
We spent a very pleasant hour or so wandering around looking at the inventory that might meet our needs. First success: he had three good-sized (about 12' tall, 8' diameter) weeping willows, all balled up and ready to go. They're tagged for us, and will be delivered and planted in mid-September. Second success: I need ground cover to go around our shed, 200 lineal feet of 8 foot wide ground. He recommended a prostrate sumac that has very dark green shiny leaves, an attractive informal form, and the ability to shade out any weed known to mankind. It's also easy to prune, grows very quickly to its mature size of 8' to 10' diameter, stays under 2' tall, and is hardy as hell. He didn't have enough for me in stock, so he's going to scrounge around for some more. Third success: I asked him for advice on a tree I love – quaking aspen. He recommended against putting any of them in (and he's stopped carrying them), because the valley's population is being decimated by the combination of a borer and a fungus that the quaking aspen are susceptible to. When I asked him if there was any tree that was similar in appearance but without these problems, he recommended paper birch. Then he told me he had five big ones in inventory that were a little beat up from being on display a bit too long, and offered to let me have them at a great price (and it was irresistible!) but still with their normal guarantee (they'll replace any tree that isn't thriving). He thinks it will take a year or two for them to recover once they're established in a new location. Fourth success: I started describing some of the landscaping challenges we have around the house, and he stopped me with this offer – given that I was buying a crapload of trees from him, he'd come out and scope out our place, and dispense some advice and perhaps landscape design, and waive his usual fee. Win! He'll be out to our place next week, and then we'll know a lot more. That was an afternoon very well spent!
We also have a project underway to put in propane-fueled backup generators, a 32KW model for the house and a 22KW model for the shed. The propane tanks we're installing will give us 4 days of run time on the house, and 2 on the barn, at full rating. We will normally be running at far below that, so in reality we'll have more like a week of run time. The propane tanks will be installed next week some time, and the generators should be installed before the middle of September. We'll be ready for the outages that winter typically brings.
Last night we had dinner at a neighbor's home: Gary and Elaine S., who live across Highway 165 from us. We feasted on fish they caught last week in Alaska, and fresh vegetables from another neighbor's garden. The company was great, especially the funny stories we heard about Gary's misadventures as a young man.
This afternoon, we feasted on more sweet corn and beets from Tim D.'s garden. Once again, I ate the beets along with all the greens – so good, they were. Past tense, unfortunately...
Thursday, August 27, 2015
If you're gonna mess with a hawk, just be prepared for the consequences of an error...
Now comes the news that LeGrand Johnson has been acquired by Summit Materials, a much larger conglomerate that went public earlier this year. The Summit management says that not much will change, but ... that's what the acquiring company's management always says in such a situation :) Locals are watching with concern, as the LeGrand Johnson company is such a large and important part of the business community here...
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
The OCT device uses computational tomography, a fancy way of saying that it makes heavy use of computing power to present the 3D images in a usable way. I was amazed that the sophisticated laser and other optics, along with a powerful computer and fancy software, could all be purchased for under $50,000. Even though I'm a technology guy myself, I still can't quite wrap my brain around the incredibly rapid advances. I wouldn't have guessed you could buy this capability for under a half million dollars. At the rate this seems to be going, you'll probably be able to do it on your iPhone 8, with a $10 laser/lens attachment, using voice control :)
So for the past 10 years or so, every time I go in for a physical I ask the doctor if there are any post-Lamisil treatments for toenail fungus. A little over a month ago, I asked my new GP that question, and got an answer I didn't expect. She told me that a recent Mayo Clinic study had shown that Australian tea tree oil, applied directly to the toenails twice a day, was just as effective as Lamisil – without any of Lamisil's problems. It was safe to use continuously.
I couldn't find a reference to the Mayo Clinic study that my doctor referred to in an online search, but I did find a little information. It wasn't particularly optimistic. Though I couldn't help being skeptical of it, I bought myself a little bottle of that tea tree oil the same day, and I've been applying it religiously ever since.
I'm happy (and a little surprised) to report that it seems to be working. It is certainly true that my toenails are in far better condition now than at any time other than during my two courses of Lamisil. What appears to be the case is that my toenails are growing in totally free of any fungal infection, and the affected parts are no longer infected (though they are, of course, still damaged by previous infection). It looks like within a few weeks my toenails will be completely clear. The only side-effect I've noticed is that our Savannah cat steers well clear of my feet – he doesn't like the smell of the tea tree oil :)
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
The major change we saw on today's walk is that the fields of barley have all been harvested, and their stalks cut and baled for straw. Aside from the obvious visual aspect (all those beautiful stalks of barley gone!), several hundred acres of prime vole habitat have just disappeared. Voles are not our favorite pest, so we're quite ok with that :) The dogs were reveling in the newly exposed voles – as the fat voles waddled from place to place wondering what the hell happened to them, the dogs practically pulled me across the fields trying to get to them. Race actually did get one, by darting from the road into the edge of the field, snapping up a vole, crushing it and swallowing it before I could even say “No!”. That dog is fast! He looked quite satisfied with himself when he was finished swallowing.
On the way back down I spotted some motion off to our right, in a clump of sunflowers. Neither dog saw a thing. It was a big striped skunk, and he was not inclined to tolerate our presence. As he stamped his little skunk feet and pouted, I skedaddled on down the road before he decided to make me a target!
Birds of various kinds have taken ownership of these barley fields. Sparrows and goldfinches were scavenging uncollected barley grains. Crows and magpies were doing the same, but they also appeared to be interested in the voles scampering around for cover. Each big field had several hawks perched around them, and we saw two hawks guarding kills – one vole and one weasel. We also saw a lone, confused seagull walking around as if to ask the other birds “What are you all so excited about? I don’t see anything here...”
It sure felt good to be out walking again...
My friend and neighbor Tim D. called us last night, just as we were tucking ourselves into bed. He's doing volunteer work at the Logan Temple early this morning (he has to be there at 4 am), and that meant he wouldn't be able to move his hand lines (irrigation) this morning. You could tell he was embarrassed to ask, but he wanted to know if I'd be willing to shut off the water for him, so nothing got over-watered. I told him I'd move the hand lines for him, and naturally he tried to talk me out of it. This, from the guy who spent a good part of last fall helping me dig trenches!
Monday, August 24, 2015
When I'd called him earlier in the day, we planned to take him out for a meal at the Red Iguana, our favorite Utah Mexican food restaurant that has a great vegetarian menu. But Chook informed us that there were some celebrations planned for the evening that he had not known about – a surprise party, sort of, where he was the man of the hour. He couldn't say “no” to that, so unfortunately we only had 20 or 30 minutes to talk with him. Meeting him and his fellow monks (and their abbot) was interesting. They were all very friendly, and even jolly – lots of good humor was on display, jokes were cracked, funny stories told. The two monks there from Virginia Beach both know my brother Scott. The first thing they said upon meeting me was “But you don’t look anything at all like Scott!” I explained to them that my siblings and I all had grave doubts about the alleged shared genetic relationship, and they got a good laugh from that. I had a chance to thank Chook for being a good friend to my brother, which I'd wanted to do.
But then we had to go on to our meal without Chook, something he should regret for the rest of his life. The food at the Red Iguana is really something extraordinary. Debbie and I heard about their special yesterday – a steak and shrimp in poblano sauce – and just put down our menus and said “That!” After we got it, we were very glad we did, for it was food for the gods. Debbie followed that up with arroz con leche (a milky, cinnamony rice pudding), and I had a chocolate flan (a firm, slightly sweet custard with caramel sauce, fresh strawberries, and whipped cream). Both were excellent, but I think I like the traditional flan better. We went home with very happy tummies.
The drive home wasn't so pleasant, though. As we approached Ogden, the traffic on Interstate 15 came to a complete stop. We were directed off the highway to a detour through downtown Ogden. Our assumption was that there was an accident, though we didn't see anything. Today that was confirmed: there was an accident that killed a man and his daughter, and gravely injured his wife and another child. Very sad...
Sunday, August 23, 2015
Saturday, August 22, 2015
A man was in his front yard mowing grass when his attractive blonde female neighbor came out of the house and went straight to the mailbox. She opened it then slammed it shut and stormed back in the house..
A little later she came out of her house again went to the mail box and again, opened it, slammed it shut again. Angrily, back into the house she went.
As the man was getting ready to edge the lawn, here she came out again, marched to the mail box, opened it and then slammed it closed harder than ever.
Puzzled by her actions the man asked her, 'Is something wrong?'
To which she replied, 'There certainly is! My stupid computer keeps saying, 'YOU'VE GOT MAIL!'
I didn't think to take a photo of these until after we ate them :)
It's so nice to live in a part of the world that can grow good veggies!
I arrived at 8 pm dressed in my pajamas, as the instructions asked. I had to buy a pair of pajamas for this purpose – I can't remember ever sleeping in pajamas before, so even just wearing them was strange. Walking through the hospital parking lot in pajamas and slippers was also kind of weird. I got lots of smiles on the way in; one couple asked me if I had just escaped from somewhere :)
For the first part of the night, until 1 am, Sage collected data on my sleep. I was able to go to sleep fairly quickly, and slept well until she had all the data she needed and woke me up for the second part.
CPAP machine to me, and experimenting with different pressures to find the setting that would work best for me. This is a special CPAP with the ability to have its pressure set remotely by Sage. For this to work, I had to be asleep – and with this machine strapped to my face, making noises and shoving air into me, that wasn't happening. I wasn't able to sleep more than 5 minutes for the rest of the night. Sage was able to collect a small amount of data, but she's pretty sure she did not get enough for the doctor to set a pressure. That means ... I'm almost certainly going to be told to go back for another night at the sleep lab. This next visit will be all night with the CPAP machine, most likely on some kind of sleep medication so they can be sure to get their data. Lovely. Can't say I'm looking forward to that!
Also, after the not-so-pleasant experience last night with the CPAP machine I'm wondering whether the cure is worse than the problem. That will be a topic for discussion with my doctor!
Friday, August 21, 2015
I'm headed up to the hospital in Logan tonight for a sleep study. My doctor thinks I likely have sleep apnea, but they're going to do some tests tonight to prove that. Somehow I'm supposed to sleep with electrodes on my head and my chest, a sensor mask over my mouth and nose, and sensors strapped to two fingers. That ought to be interesting!
Thursday, August 20, 2015
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The closest thing I've ever seen to this was a “code bomb” that an angry employee committed about a week before he left. This was at an electronic stock trading company, and the code bomb added a random number of shares to an order, intermittently (a few times a day). So, for instance, a trader might place an order to sell 1,000 shares of IBM, and it would be turned into an order to sell (say) 1,400 shares instead. Fortunately we caught this during testing, before the software ever got released to a real trader. That one could have been bad. We just fixed it and moved on; the company never took any action against the ex-employee. I don't think we ever even told him that we'd found his bomb...
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
After our walk, I poked around for a few hours moving and setting up sprinklers. I've now finished putting quick-disconnects on all my hoses and sprinklers, which makes the job of setting them out much less tedious (no screwing and unscrewing hoses).
Then it was time for Debbie's second physical therapy appointment, and like the first, it went very well. Observable progress was in evidence, and if you watch her it's clear she's gaining confidence and strength. She'll be on her feet soon!
As a treat, we took ourselves out to Jack's Wood-Fired Pizza. Of all the restaurants we've sampled in the area, this one holds the strongest claim to being exceptional – not just “for the area”, but in an absolute sense. We had a truly enjoyable meal: mushroom soup (a lovely soup with a light broth and a touch of cheese), pizzas (we each had our own tiny pizza), and lemon cake with fresh berries for dessert. Scrumptious!
recumbent exercise bicycle. Naturally it was a kit, with a dozen or so major parts and a nice collection of hardware. Thankfully the directions were crystal clear, all the parts were there, and they even included all the necessary tools. Two hours later, I finally got it all put together and working. It's a nice piece of gear, and at least right now looks like a good value for the money...