Saturday, April 30, 2016
My tutoring session with Abby S. went exceptionally well. She is picking up the concepts behind programming quickly, and with great enthusiasm. Today she and I worked together to build a little web page using the Web Audio API to play a single musical note that could be either a pure tone or a chord with an arbitrary number of component tones. Her homework is to turn that into a program that can play two notes. We'll be expanding this into a program that can play a tune.
I thought we'd spend most of today working on her understanding of a two-dimensional lookup table, where one dimension was indexed by the musical note name and the other by an octave number. The result would be the frequency of the note. Instead of spending an hour or so on it, she had it nailed in less than five minutes – and passed all my tests of her understanding easily. This is a reasonably complex data structure for such a novice programmer, but she picked it up very easily. As an experiment, I showed her how (in the debugger) to drill down into the “document” variable (which is a very complex data structure that contains the entirety of the currently displayed web page). She got the general idea of that sort of nested tree structure immediately.
It's fun teaching someone so bright and motivated! And Debbie loves to feed her treats, so we got a lemon pie out of this, too :)
My brother Scott came to visit a little later, and we went to my neighbor Tim D.'s house to pick up a load of firewood that Tim gave me. While there, Scott got to meet Tim's wife Jeannie – and her new puppy Gus. That little guy had just been brought home from the breeder, at age 6 weeks. He looked terrified when we first saw him – it was his first time out of the crate he was born in. By the time we left, about a half hour later, little Gus was running around playing with their other two dogs (Lexy and Marley), along with any human who happened to be standing nearby. This little fellow is going to be just fine, I think. Debbie came over to see Gus, too, and I think she's going to end up helping Jeannie train him. That is one cute little puppy!
I filled the bird feeders after our morning caffeiniation. We're using about 10 pounds of black oil sunflower seed per week right now, along with around 6 pounds of “high value” food (nuts, dried fruit, shelled sunflowers) and 4 pounds of Nijer thistle. All the sunflower seed and thistle feeders have to be refilled daily. Our feeders attract huge numbers of American goldfinches (often more than 50 at a time), Lesser's goldfinches, house finches, and red-winged blackbirds. We also get chickadees and nuthatches in smaller numbers, and a couple of (so far unidentified) woodpeckers that love to hang on our suet feeder (which is loaded with a mixture of lard and peanut butter). The occasional magpie comes in and tries to figure out how to get to the seeds, but all our feeders are magpie-proof. We also get Asian pigeons that like to hunt on the ground for misplaced seeds. The sound from all these birds is something I greatly enjoy: if you open our front door it can be quite overwhelming. Our UPS deliveryman commented on the sound yesterday, amazed that it was always like this...
I started working on my office in the shed in the morning, finishing up the wiring of the outlet strips. Then I decided to get ready for the ceiling fan that was scheduled for delivery in the afternoon. On Thursday I had purchased an “old work” (retrofit) ceiling fan box that could be installed through a 4" diameter hole. I marked the center of the room, offset a few inches to avoid a truss (detected by knocking on the ceiling), and then cut my hole with the oscillating saw (love that thing!). Next step was initially a stumper: how do I get the wire from the hole in the ceiling to the wall where I had power available?
The ceiling hole is 13' from the exposed wall with power, and the intervening space was filled with trusses and blown-in insulation. There's no way that I could squeeze into that space – and even if I could, I'd wreck the 18" thick blanket of insulation. My first thought was that I'd poke the 14 gauge Romex up through the hole while Debbie watched from outside and gave me some guidance. That plan fell apart when I discovered that Debbie was not comfortable climbing the ladder (all these years and I never knew she had a fear of ladders!). My second plan worked much better. I have a “fish” – a fiberglass rod in screw-together sections – that's designed for fishing wires through walls. That rod is quite flexible, about like a wire coat-hanger. I screwed together enough sections to make a 15' “pole”, then wiggled it so that the far end was roughly over the hole in the ceiling (I had to guess about that, as the hole was covered by all that insulation and I couldn't actually see where it was). Then I got on a ladder inside my office, stuck my arm up through that hole, and felt around until I felt the fish. Success! Then all I had to do was to tie the Romex onto the end of the fish, go outside and pull the fish out. That worked great.
The fan ceiling box turned out to be trivially easy to install. I'd expected that job to take a few hours, but instead it was under a half hour, beginning to end. When the fan came in the afternoon, I had it installed onto the new box in under an hour – and it all worked on the first try (even the snazzy remote control that came with the fan). Now my office has a fan to circulate the air warmed by the wood stove, and some lights. Yay!
This morning my student Abby S. should be here for a lesson, and then my brother Scott is going to be here to help out a bit. I'm hoping to be able to finish up that last bit of outlet strip wiring, and I also need to install the fan's remote control into a hole in the wall. Once that's complete, it's cleanup time – and then I'll be moving my stuff over to the office...
Friday, April 29, 2016
Thursday, April 28, 2016
All of the outlet strips are mounted 24" off the floor, where they'll be completely hidden under the workbenches, tables, and desks I'll be putting up.
The ceiling fan will be in the very center of the room. This afternoon I bought a special electrical box designed for installation through an existing ceiling, through a hole just big enough to fit the box. It uses a pair of extensible brackets to fasten itself into to adjacent joists in the ceiling. In the case of my office, those will actually be the bottoms of factory-made roof trusses, mounted on 16" centers. The ceiling of my office has about 18" of blown-in insulation on top of it, so I'll be poking a piece of Romex through the ceiling hole and threading it through nine trusses to get it to a wall where I can supply power. That oughtta be fun! I think I'll enlist Debbie's help to guide me on that one :)
One of the interruptions today was from Amazon, telling me that the ceiling fan I'd ordered for my office will be here tomorrow, instead of the end of next week. Woo hoo! More wiring! There is good news there, though: now I can do all the really messy work before I start actually moving my stuff into the new office. But I also had to make a run to Lowe's, to get the parts I'd need to wire up that ceiling fan :)
Another interruption today was very welcome: our builder (Jim J., the same fellow who built my shed) came over to go over the plans for the changes we're making to the house. He's getting ready to pull a permit, and once he has that he's going to start working. It's going to be a mess around the house for a while once that starts! Demolition of old concrete, on all three construction areas (mud room, sun room, and patio), is the first step. Big mess!
Then came a call from Darren N., who works for Thomas Petroleum. I'd told him last year of my interest in getting a tank for diesel and for gasoline. He called to let me know that they've just gotten a bunch of used 500 gallon tanks in, rugged outdoor tanks with high stands – perfect for gravity fed fueling of my tractor, our cars, etc. These things were being used in the oil industry to support field operations, but with the tumble in oil prices the oil companies cut way back on field operations and sold off a bunch of stuff – including these tanks. They're a steal at the price on offer: $500 refurbished, delivered, and installed – including a hose and filler nozzle. I ordered two for us. That means that we'll be able to have a supply of tax-free diesel on hand for my tractor, and regular gasoline for all our vehicles and other equipment. One more little piece of self-sufficiency!
Early this afternoon Gerald (the fellow who does annual maintenance for Golden Spike Electric) came out to do the annual maintenance on our backup generators. As we're starting to expect out here, he's a really nice fellow – and competent, vastly experienced, and conscientious about his work. I had an enjoyable conversation with him about his experiences, especially as a Mormon missionary in Barcelona, Spain. That was about 40 years ago, but it's still fresh in his mind; a formative experience for him.
While working in my new office this morning, I got kind of cold, as it was only in the low 40s. So I started a fire in the wood stove I had installed last fall – that's the first time I'd tried it out. All was fine until the stove started to get hot, and then all of a sudden the new paint on the exterior started giving off some really obnoxious fumes. They warn you about these fumes in the manual, saying that some people might find them unpleasant. That's about like saying that some people might find having their legs run over by a bulldozer unpleasant! Those fumes had me running from the room in fear for my life from poisonous fumes. I held my breath and went back in to open all the windows wide, then evacuated for an hour until the fumes had cleared. Oh, they were awful! I hope that phase of this stove's life is over quickly! It did warm up the room nicely, though :)
Debbie and I went out to Angie's for a nice late lunch. We both had the cod fish fry, and chicken noodle soup. Wonderful, as always, it was...
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
This evening we went for a drive out toward Ant Flats, in the FJ Cruiser with Mike and Race riding in back. At first we didn't see very much wildlife – not even a single deer on the way in. Then near where we turned around, we saw a golden eagle hunting up on a ridge to our east. We stopped at a fishing spot that was unoccupied, and let the dogs out. Race jumped into the stream with great joy, chasing down a stick (Debbie got video; I'll post it once I've got it). When they jumped back into the FJ, we were almost overwhelmed by the perfume of wet dog :) Then on the way back home we (finally!) saw several deer, about a dozen all together, in three groups. The dogs were very happy :)
There is one thing that has made this awful decision a bit easier for us since we moved up here. Unlike any other veterinarian we've ever had (including several we called friends), Dr. Andrea Russell here has been willing to give us direct answers to tough questions around these end-of-life decisions. If you ask her for advice, you'll get it. If you ask her what she'd do, she'll tell you. Such a simple thing, it sounds like – and yet it's something no other vet has ever been willing to provide. I can imagine some people might find that blunt, and perhaps a bit unfeeling – but we think it's the most helpful thing she could do in such a difficult and emotional situation...
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Einstein's famous formula: E=MC² (Energy = Mass x Speed of Light squared)
A lesser known formulation of his, asserted that: If you were to strip naked and run around in a circle at the speed of 298 km/sec (the speed of light) it could be possible for you to screw yourself.
If you are not physically capable of achieving that speed at your age, you can easily accomplish the same result by: simply voting Democrat in the Nov. 8, 2016 election.
So yesterday I put the heating system work aside for the moment, and started on the networking and power. The network had already been run to a point just outside my office, so all I had to do to complete that was to put a pair of network jacks on my office wall and run short stubs out the other side. That's now done.
Now I'm in the middle of installing power strips and wiring up circuits. Some time ago I'd located some really nice quality power strips: 4' long, all metal, a built-in 15 amp circuit breaker, and 12 three-prong outlets, each rated 15 amps individually. I bought eight of these, two for each of the walls inside my office. I'm now in the middle of installing these 24" off the floor, where they should be invisible once I have tables and workbenches installed. I'm installing them in two groups, each with four power strips plugged into a two-gang duplex outlet. Each of those will be on its own 30 amp circuit.
This will give me a very well-protected power supply for the office. Starting at the meter, there's a 150 amp main breaker, then a 50 amp sub-box breaker, a 30 amp outlet box breaker, and finally the 15 amp breaker on each power strip. If I have some sort of malfunction, one of those things had better blow!
Monday, April 25, 2016
When we arrived at Debbie Miller's house, we thought we'd gotten there about 20 minutes early. It turns out we neglected to take the time zone change into account, and in fact we got there an hour and 20 minutes early. Oops! Debbie Miller graciously did not throw us out on the street, and instead we had a nice visit with her while we waited for Sheila to show up with the puppies. Debbie Miller has three beautiful black field spaniels (a huge treat for us!) and a cute little beagle who looks totally overwhelmed by the (relatively) massive field spaniels. All were curious and friendly with us.
Finally, right on (the correct) time, Sheila showed up. Not only had she brought the puppies and their mom (Sissy), she'd also brought a dog we didn't even know about: Frankie the black-and-tan field spaniel. Frankie is one gorgeous dog, with all the beauty of a field spaniel combined with a two-tone “paint job”. Unfortunately Frankie came with some behavioral and training baggage, and Sheila has quite a bit of work to do to whip her into shape. On the appearance side, though, Frankie is just plain a knock out.
Sissy, the mom, reminded Debbie and I very strongly of Lea, our first field spaniel. She died about a year and a half ago, and both of us found the close resemblance in Sissy's face quite startling. Sissy is a beautiful dog herself, with a great dog personality – and she's a terrific mom, too. It was easy to see why Sheila is so closely attached to her.
But then ... the main attraction! Eight roly-poly, fat-sausage shaped, five-week-old field spaniel puppies. We had a little over three hours of non-stop puppy-infused delight. It was such good medicine for us, after losing Mo'i just two days ago. The puppies looked like the photos below for maybe 30 minutes of that time; the rest of the time was raucous puppy chaos. The video below the photos will give you some idea of what that was like :)
We still don't know if we're going to get one or two puppies from this litter, but Sheila told us it's looking a bit more likely that we can have two. Woo hoo!
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Saturday, April 23, 2016
This morning was completely overcast, which makes for nice diffuse lighting for flower photography and saturated low-contrast landscapes, both interesting photographic effects. So I wandered around our yard for a bit taking photos of springtime. This was right after I filled all our bird feeders, and spotted a male Bullock's Oriole feeding at the feeder containing nuts and dried fruit. Some samples:
Debbie and I are going to watch a movie (on Blu-Ray) this afternoon: Iron Man 3. This will shock some people who know me :) Even more shocking – we've already watched (and enjoyed) Iron Man and Iron Man 2. These movies have no memorable characters, little real drama, implausible plots and technology, a bit of slapstick humor, tons of action, some pretty girls, and lots and lots of shoot-'em-up action that somehow all blends together into a somewhat mindless but very entertaining package. Somehow that's just what we've needed the past few days...
Tomorrow we're headed out on a day trip that should be almost the exact opposite of yesterday's experience with Mo'i – we're driving to Wells, Nevada (yes, on purpose!) to spend a couple of hours with a five week old litter of field spaniel puppies – one or two of which are destined to join our home in about four weeks. This is a litter raised by the same breeder (Sheila Miller) who raised and selected Lea, Mo'i, and Miki for us. She's going to try to pick the most likely agility star out of the litter, which is what she did with Miki and she hit a home run on that one. Sitting amongst those little puppies will be good medicine, I think...
Yesterday morning, before we went to the vet's with Mo'i, I did some work out in the shed on the heating system, and I actually got quite a bit done. I'll be posting about that later (I'm in a bit of a hurry right now, as my student, Abby S., is due here shortly). After we got back from the vet's, Debbie and I both needed to do something to get through our grief for Mo'i.
I went out and mowed the yard for the first time this season, and that turned out to have the perfect amount of thinking required: just enough to keep my mind on the task, not so much that my emotional state rendered me incapable of doing it. After three hours of mowing I was slightly more functional.
Debbie took a different tack: she went around the house and removed all the things particular to Mo'i. That was a surprising amount of stuff. Mo'i had a set of paraphernalia related to diapers, for instance: diaper holders, the diapers themselves, and a special box to hold all that stuff. Then there were his medicines, five of them, occupying a corner of our kitchen. He had his own special food to treat his kidney condition. We had an ever-present spray bottle of Pine-Sol mix and a loose roll of paper towels, standing by to clean up Mo'i messes. Then there were a couple of extra dog beds, the kind with very soft mattresses, to give him some comfort this past year. All of these things were very visible reminders of Mo'i, and Debbie took care of them all. The medicines and food are going to the vet, our donation to help other families whose pets need these things, but which they can't afford. Two of the dog beds got re-purposed into “upstairs” beds for Miki and Race (which they used while we watched a movie last night). Everything else was tossed or put away. Debbie felt a little better after doing all that.
While filling the bird feeders yesterday, I noticed that we had some yellow tulips popping up, along with more daffodils. I cut a few stems of them, and Debbie put them in some old pretty bottles she'd saved, making each bottle into a single-stem vase. They add a bit of cheer to our kitchen right now.
More later. Now I need to go prepare for the arrival of Abby S.!
Friday, April 22, 2016
Now we both feel like someone kicked us in the heart. We're so sad to have had to say good-bye our great friend, yet relieved that he's not suffering any more. We're also relieved that he made the decision about when relatively easy for us; it hasn't always been so with our animals.
Blogging will be light-to-nonexistant today...
I picked him up and laid him out on his bed. He looked frightened and confused, probably not understanding why he couldn't get himself up. After we comforted him for a bit he looked a little better. We tried to get some water into him, but he wasn't at all interested. Debbie and I laid down next to him and petted him until he fell back asleep. It was good to see that fear disappear from his eyes, and his breathing return to normal.
We're going to see if we can get an earlier appointment at the vet. It looks to us like Mo'i is doing the best he can to tell us that he's done and ready to go...
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Around noon today I went over to Tim D.'s house to spray his lawn. I also sprayed part of his horse pasture (at his request), because there were a few million dandelions established there.
Later I worked a bit more on the insulated plenum. I fabricated a piece of OSB for the top outside piece, and mounted the duct connector into it. I used my scroll saw to cut that circle, and it went through that OSB like butter. I also built a square box of 2x3s around the side you see in that first photo; that will allow air to enter the duct from a square hole on the inside piece. For Eric S., who asked what I use for a straightedge: in that second photo you can see what it looks like right after I cut off a 16" wide piece. The straightedge is a milled piece of walnut :)
The next step on my office heating system is to build an insulated plenum with a filter holder. This is where the warm air from the first floor will go first, basically into a big box with a filter in the middle, then after being filtered into an insulated 7" diameter duct. I'm building this plenum against an insulated wall, and on top of an insulated floor, so that means I have four insulated walls to build to make a fully enclosed box. I started with the two sides, which are now finished. You can see it in various stages of construction in the photos below, which are in order left-to-right.
Having the right tools to do this with really makes this sort of thing easy to do. The only addition I can think of that would have made it any easier would be a panel saw (for cutting 8' x 4' sheets of things like the OSB I used here). Good panel saws are expensive, though, and my need (I think!) will be infrequent – so for now, at least, I'm sticking with a straightedge and a steady hand on the circular saw.
I started by installing the two partially finished walls in the right place. I left one side off so that I could nail the 1x3 frames into the existing wall and floor. The nail gun with 2" nails worked very well for this! Then I nailed the final sides on, and (last photo) stuffed them with blow-in insulation (which I just fluffed by hand and stuffed in).
That insulation was slightly mysterious. The marketing folks have “green” in every possible place they could on the package, and even in green ink. They really, really want you to know that it's recycled (up to 85%!), itch-free (not like that nasty fiberglass stuff!), and safe. What they don't tell you is that it's full of dust that will make you sneeze non-stop, your eyes will tear up, and you'll need to blow your nose approximately 10 times per minute. They also don't bother mentioning what the stuff actually is made of. This leads me to believe that they're not very proud of the ingredients, whatever they might be. That rules out my favorite possibility: dehydrated, shredded politicians. If that's what it was made of, you can be sure they'd be bragging about that!
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
After I finished with that, I went to work spraying (for dandelions and other broad-leaf weeds). Given that the dandelions in our front yard look like cabbages ready for harvest, it's about time! But this is really the first day that weather allowed it. I first did the (about) 3.5 acres of our yard, including the acre or so on the highway side of the irrigation canal. Then I went over to our neighbor Alan L.'s house and did his (about) 2 acres. This was after eating a “Debbie special” pasta lunch that nearly put me in a carb coma. My sprayer is towed behind my ATV, so I had four hours worth of shaking and vibrating to help settle that lunch :)
Then after I knocked off for the day, our neighbors to the east of us (Gary and Elaine S.) called us to ask if we'd seen any goslings! It seems that the pair that's been nesting in a tree near our house showed up at their pond, with just two goslings. When I told them about the four that I'd captured, much excitement ensued until we figured out that the ones I caught were a lot older than the two they saw – the ones in their pond had pretty clearly just hatched, whereas the ones I captured were around two weeks old. There really should be more than two of the little goslings, though, so we're all afraid something happened to the others on the way to Gary and Elaine's pond. Their pond is over a quarter mile and across a highway from the nest – how the mom got even those two goslings over there is a mystery to us. All the more so given that both Gary and I were in our yards working all day – it's hard to believe we'd miss the gosling procession!
Now Debbie and I are about to go deliver a lemon pie to Tim and Jeannie D. Debbie baked two of them today, one for us (now almost gone, because Gary and Elaine had a piece :) and one for Tim and Jeannie...
Jack's yesterday afternoon. As usual, we had wonderful meal – fire-roasted tomato soup (wonderful stuff, that is!) and I had a “Cache” pizza (at right; roasted chicken, mushrooms, lots of mozzarella, spinach, onions, and a lovely white sauce. Afterwards we went up to Aggie's creamery and had a decadent ice cream cone. Stuffed, we went for a drive up Logan Canyon, taking the first right to explore something new for us. We saw no wildlife other than a brief glimpse of an American Dipper, but I did see bazillions of plants that look like they're going to be wildflowers. Several hillsides we drove by were quite densely covered. I'll be out there again in a couple of weeks to check that out!
Before I got on the phone with my mom, I completed the next step in the heating system: installing the wooden tube and it's yoke on the second floor. In the first photo you can see it in the hole, where it nestled perfectly in the mounting plate installed below it. In the second photo you can see the yoke I built around it, so that I could nail it to the floor while covering that 1/2" gap I'd cut. I used the nail gun (the yellow-and-black tool in the second photo) to do all the nailing. This is the first non-trivial nailing that I've done with it. The 2" nails I used to hold the yoke to the floor were effortless to drive, and wonderfully accurate. There was the additional benefit of not hitting my thumb with a hammer :) I used 1" nails driven at an angle to attach the tube to the yoke, and that also went very easily. I think I'm gonna get attached to my nail gun!
Early this morning I went to Lowe's to pick up a few supplies for this part of the heating system construction. While I was loading my truck with the stuff I'd bought, I noticed a big, healthy-looking black Labrador Retriever running around the parking lot, whining as if in distress. He looked like he was searching for something; his owner, I imagined. I called to him and he came right over to me, let me hold him by the collar. He had a tag with his name (“Buddy”) and a telephone number, so I called it – but it was disconnected. Dang! So I walked inside the store (I was the only customer at that hour) and hailed the first employee I saw, a young woman. I told her what had happened, and she went into action immediately – grabbed a rope to tie him up with and told me all the steps she was going to take. First call would be to the shelter, where they'd have him checked for a microchip. If that didn't work, the shelter would put him up while they searched for the owner. Lowe's would put up a sign. All of this was part of their new employee training, the woman told me. Kudos to Lowe's – that's a really wonderful way to handle this sort of problem, and even better to train all their employees to do so. I left feeling pretty good about Buddy's prospects...
Yesterday was a busy day around here. In the morning I took the next few steps on getting the heating installed for my new office in the shed. The first challenge was to cut a rectangular hole in the floor of the second floor that exactly matched a rectangular hole I'd already cut in the ceiling of the first floor (got that?). It took me a while to come up with a solution, but here's what I did. I took a long “jobber bit” for my drill and put the shaft in one corner of the hole in the first floor ceiling, aiming straight up. Then I used a torpedo level to get the shaft precisely vertical – and then drilled the hole. That's the hole you see at the upper right in the first photo below. From there I measured out a rectangle 1/2" larger in every direction than the one below. After that I used my oscillating saw to cut out the floor, and when I pulled out the piece I cut – there was my other hole, right where it should be (third photo)! Success!
That oscillating saw is right up there on my personal list of the greatest inventions in the history of the world – in the same company as chocolate ice cream, willing women, dogs, wildflowers, assembly language, and tractors.
The next step was to build a “tunnel” to conduct the air from the first floor to the second floor (being pushed by a blower that will be mounted on the ceiling of the first floor). I made this with four pieces of OSB simply glued up. You can see it in clamps below. The soft mallet visible in the second photo is what I used to “bonk” the pieces into the right place once I had the clamps tight. Force, applied carefully, does wonders for woodworking. And management :)
Around 1 pm my brother Scott dropped in, and we spent the afternoon spreading some wood chip mulch around. This is the first time I've used the wood chips that I made with the Wallenstein chipper/shredder I bought almost two years ago. They looked very nice to me, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could easily move them with a shovel. Scott told me that it was the nicest wood chip mulch he's ever seen – but he tends to the hyperbolic in both his praise and his scorn, so I'm not too sure how much to read into that :)
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
My brother Scott and I spent a good part of yesterday planting sumac on the north and west sides of my barn (the result is in the photo at right). These are just barely starting to bud, but hopefully in a couple of weeks we'll have lots of green around the barn, the weeds will be at least slightly suppressed, and they'll start spreading. These have a beautiful red fall color, too. Scott's coming over again today, and we'll put down a bit of fertilizer and then some wood chips as mulch.
Yesterday evening we helped my neighbor Alan L. move some trees: a couple of maple saplings, and several clumps of choke cherries. We're going to finish that job by moving the last of the choke cherries on Saturday.
Our yard is starting to get some flowers, and color! Spring is springing! From left to right: a flowering plum (I think) near our garage, daffodils out in our “garden”, periwinkles right next to the daffodils, some pretty new growth that I have no clue what it is, and something we have a lot of around the front of our house that my brother Scott tells me is spurge. From that linked article you can see that Euphorbia comes in lots of flavors, some of which look nothing whatsoever like the stuff in our yard – but some of them, if you drank enough, might have some resemblance...
Monday, April 18, 2016
Sunday, April 17, 2016
We're going to have plenty of water this year!
Saturday, April 16, 2016
Debbie and I took a walk this morning after Abby and I were done, as the weather was fine (though a tad chilly) and the views beautiful. Debbie's walking gait is now oh-so-close to appearing normal, both uphill (easier for her) and downhill. It's a big relief to me to see that. At the moment her need is more for strength and endurance than anything else. Regular walks will help with that.
The photo at right above is the view from the fields above our home toward Logan Peak (map), a roughly 9700' high peak in the Wellsville Mountains. The panoramas below were taken along our walk; each of them is about a 225° view (and the road is a straight road!). The dark area in the top panorama is caused by a cloud shadow over us.
The goose is still in the tree, still sitting on her eggs. We frequently see her mate below her in the field, standing guard and leading potential predators away from her.
We had something happen in our yard yesterday that seems really odd. Mo'i, our ancient field spaniel, was wandering around our back yard (he loves that back yard!). After he'd been out there for a while, a spectacular male pheasant wandered from our front yard, through the fence, and into the back yard – with Mo'i. I poked my head out our back door to see what would happen. Mo'i picked up on the pheasant's presence in just a minute or two, and started ambling over toward the pheasant. That's Mo'i's highest speed today, about like a slow walk for a person. The pheasant clearly saw Mo'i approaching – but did nothing. It just stood there in one place while Mo'i walked over to it. I thought for sure that was the end of the pheasant – Mo'i is a bird dog, after all. Instead of lunging for the pheasant, though, Mo'i just went up do it, snuffled it, turned around and walked off. And the pheasant still just stood there. Very weird!
One weirdness she doesn't mention, as it wasn't relevant to her point, is that optometrists routinely under-price or even give away their exam services. This is unlike any other medical provider that I know of. It's as if all their training, experience, and specialized equipment was worth almost nothing. Why? Because their business model typically depends on giving away their services in order to attract customers for the “dispensing” side of their business: selling glasses and contact lenses. This makes them particularly sensitive to competition from discount sources for glasses and contacts, of course.
The solution would seem to be obvious: the optometrists should start charging a fair price for their services, and stop selling glasses and contacts at high markups. The problem is that many optometrists have tried exactly that – and failed miserably. Why? Because not all optometrists (even in a particular area) have switched models, and as long as there's even a single optometrist offering discount (or free) exams, that's of course where patients will go. Then they'll buy their glasses and contacts from a discount source.
As de Rugy points out, this is difficult today for contacts. It's not difficult at all for glasses, though: there are about 50 sources for discounted glasses on the Internet. I've used two of them myself. The glasses I got certainly aren't the best ones I've ever purchased – but – they are both properly constructed, the prescription was accurate, and they work fine. And they cost about a tenth of what I'd pay for the equivalent glasses at an optometrist ($76 vs. $850 for my last pair). They're made in China (of course!), and took about a week to get here. That's not really much different than the optometrist! I had occasion to use one of those glasses (which I purchased as spares) a few weeks ago when I had to get my prescription re-done for the glasses I purchased from an optometrist (as that pair had been mis-manufactured). The cheap spare worked fine...