Archive for April, 2007

Yellow flowers

Monday, April 30th, 2007

Here are some yellow wildflowers at Big Sur. We thought they were kind of pretty.

Back on the train today, after more than six months. The drive was starting to get oppressive, so I decided over the weekend to revert. That decision was aided by the traffic disaster we were guaranteed to have today after the big overpass collapse on Sunday morning. I’m looking forward to seeing the news and finding out just how bad the traffic turned out to be.

Not much has changed train-wise. I’m writing this on the trip home, of course, and it’s more crowded this afternoon than it had been this morning – just like before. I honestly can’t figure out where all these people come from in the afternoon. Maybe their cars are all stolen during the day so they have to take the train home at night. I shudder to think how many cars these people lose over the course of an average year.

Or maybe there’s another explanation. Care to postulate, Loyal Readers? I do have a few thoughts of my own, of course.

Anyway. It’s another warm day today. The weekend was downright hot. The landscaping idiots showed up on Saturday morning to re-pour the cement. Everything seemed to be going okay (other than the fact that they promised the cement truck would arrive by 8:00 but it didn’t come until 1:00 and I had commitments that had to be cancelled or worked around to accommodate the idiots) until the truck arrived. The driver announced he wouldn’t release any cement until it was paid for. The landscape idiots had the unbelievable gall to try to get me to pay for it! That was, of course, outrageously non-contractual in nature, and I quite hotly refused to pay. After arguing with me for quite a while, claiming we had agreed to pay for the cement redo(!), they finally angrily left to get the money. While they were gone, the cement truck driver told me he knows these people and they always try to pull that on their customers. What a mistake it was to hire these idiots. And then we found out they have no idea how to make salt finish cement. So now we have broom finish.

Anyway. The cement seems to look okay. I’ll have a closer look when I get home this evening and we still need to see if it drains properly, but it will probably work out.

The baptism went well on Saturday. It needed to be postponed from 2:00 to 3:30 to accommodate the presiding officer. Lots of people showed up anyway (mostly out-of-town family of the new members) and it was a nice meeting. The mission president came too, which was a pleasant surprise.

Let’s see, what else is going on? Sunday was busy. Too busy. WAY too busy. Meetings, meetings, meetings. Not a day of rest for me, unfortunately. We got lots of things done, and there was certainly nothing unappropriate, but it was just too much. We got home at about 8:30ish and I crashed. Feeling much better today, thanks.

Got the battery replaced in the Sable on Saturday morning. It was a noneventful activity. Loyal Reader Number Two helped me work on it, along with some investigative work on the Miata’s cooling system. He was extremely helpful and it was really nice to do a little work together.

Loyal Reader Number One went to a “recital audition” on Sunday afternoon. He felt like his piece went very well, and that feeling was confirmed when he was notified on Sunday evening that he’s been selected for the actual recital next week. Loyal Reader Number Four and I hope to be able to attend that recital – non-participants weren’t invited to the audition. Congrats to LRN1!

Additional congrats to LRN1 on his ACT score, which arrived over the weekend. He got a 35, which is amazingly good. We were all pleasantly surprised at how quickly they turned around his score. He only took the test a couple of weeks ago.

Well, that’s about it for tonight. See you on Tuesday.


Friday, April 27th, 2007

Here’s one of my favorite ocean views, taken at Big Sur, of course. Hopefully, this picture is sharp. And there are no birds.

I’m sleepy! So there will be very little here.

Good day at work. I got several things done that had been sitting on the to-do list for a while. The outbound drive was unusually quick, partly making up for the long return trip in the afternoon. There certainly seems to be a cosmic traffic rule around here: short morning/long evening or long morning/short evening. Never short/short, but rarely long/long.

Let’s see, anything else? Oh yeah, I finally went swimming today! It was in the upper 80’s when I got home and I was feeling pretty hot. The pool water was at 74 degrees, which isn’t exactly warm, but it was easy(ish) to get used to. I heated up the jacuzzi and Loyal Readers Numbers One and Two came outside and got in with me. We enjoyed the cold water as well as the hot. I’m predicting that within just a few days the pool will be warm enough to be really comfortable. I’m looking forward to coming home from work and having a quick dip before dinner. Or maybe after dinner. Or maybe both. Who knows?

Time for bed. Have a great weekend and I’ll see you on Monday.

Birds on a rock

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

Here’s yet another in my famous seagull series. Solemn Promise: no birds tomorrow.

No post yesterday – Wednesday night, dontcha know. Besides, not much happened. I got up, got ready, went to work, worked, went home, ate, went to meeting, met, went home, got unready, and went to bed. Some days are just like that.

Today, on the other hand. It was Young Minds At Work day (formerly known as Take Your Children to Work Day, previously known as Take Your Daughters to Work Day [sexist pigs!]) and Loyal Readers Numbers One and Two went to work with me. They were impressed with my overly large office and unimpressed with the general industrialosity of the campus. You can’t win ’em all, I guess.

We did some work and a lot of running around. There were some displays in various buildings on campus – they didn’t do a real good job of letting people know what was where, but we found several things of varying degrees of interest to look at. After the last place, we went back to the car to get back to my office for a few meetings. Much to our surprise, the car’s battery chose that moment to end its mission here on earth. Very sad; sympathies all around. We got the security people to come over and give us a jump start and drove over to my building. We left the car idling with the doors locked (I have one of those keypads on the driver’s door) and went inside for my staff meeting. After the meeting and a couple of emails, we decided to call it an early (about 2:30) day.

We headed for home and had a pretty harrowing time of it. Early on, the air conditioner and radio would occasionally cut out. Deciding this wasn’t a good thing, I turned them off and let the car concentrate its electrical efforts on the engine and other essential items. Twice, it wasn’t enough to keep the motor running. The first time, the entire electrical system just cut out and I started coasting to a stop at a conveniently-located exit ramp. Partway up the ramp, it all started working again and the engine hadn’t stopped turning over yet, so we drove on. The next time was even weirder. The electronics cut out repeatedly for about thirty seconds, turning the car into something of a bucking bronco. Finally, it appeared to be well and truly dead, so I began coasting to a stop on the shoulder. As we slowed, it all came back and, as the engine hadn’t stopped turning over yet, we drove on. This time we made it all the way home. I shut down the engine in the garage and tried to start it back up. Result: negative function. New battery time on Saturday. Until then, it’s grounded.

Also a baptism on Saturday, for which I need to finish preparing. Two very nice young brothers are joining the church – their mother is a member and their fathers aren’t, so they weren’t baptized at the standard age. She’s decided to become active again and the boys are excited to sign up. Good for them. I’m hoping for a nice service. It will most likely be sparsely populated, as we had to change the time last night and it’s hard to get the word out, but I’m hoping at least a few people attend. I’ll be there, anyway.

The landscapers are still landscaping. They tore all the defective concrete out and are scheduled to replace it on Saturday. We’ll see how that goes. Loyal Reader Number Four mentioned today that they couldn’t possibly do a worse job than the first time. And she was right.

Loyal Reader Number Five expressed interest in acquiring one of my fine Limited Edition Framed Great Art Masterpiece Prints. Since I’ve never sold one yet, I’ll have to think a little bit about the price. Let’s just say it’s affordable, with flexible terms and easy monthly payments.

Good luck to Loyal Reader Number Seven in the Ocean Sciences Bowl Nationals! Have fun and let us know how it goes. You’re an inspiration to Loyal Readers everywhere.

See you tomorrow.

Son of Birdzilla

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

Here’s part of my seagull series of Great Art. I call it “Son of Birdzilla.” Framed prints are available for discriminating Great Art lovers. Picture taken during the Big Sur camping trip.

As Loyal Reader Number Seven noted, there was no post yesterday. It’s not that I wasn’t home or that there wasn’t time. I was home and there was time. I used it all, however, in other pursuits – mainly, trying to get the HRVA’s email server working again. It’s been giving me fits for quite a while now, and the fits aren’t over yet, although they’re a little better now. The problems started right from the beginning – many mail servers are set up to reject email from residential IP addresses, assuming they’re all spambots. I got sick of all my HRVA mail being rejected, so I set up Sendmail to deliver through one of my existing commercial email servers. No problem for a while, but then that server started requiring login information to connect and HRVA mail went down again. I got that problem corrected last night and can now send and receive email through the HRVA’s server just fine. I also discovered quite by accident that my copy of Spamassassin was misconfigured and not doing anything, so I fixed that too. Now I only have two problems left: (1) I can’t get the HRVA website itself to send emails – likely a problem with permissions for the non-human-account-holding user, and (2) I tried to create an aliased account for the HRVA’s webmaster account but the mail server rejects messages to, reporting it’s a non-existent user. I’ll get those things figured out.

Anyway. Terrible drive to work today. I tried taking the back roads, which are always wide open on the way home. Turns out they’re jam-packed in the morning. I won’t be making that mistake again. The trip home was great, though. I might have something to do with the fact that I stayed at work until 7:15. That’s a tradeoff I’m not willing to make on an ongoing basis.

Tonight was no problem, though. Loyal Readers Numbers One and Two were (still are) at battle-axe lessons and Loyal Reader Number Four was booked solid with visiting teaching appointments this evening. It was just me and the Loyal Pets when I got home. Just as I got dinner warmed up and was finding an interesting program on the History Channel, though, LRN4 got home, so don’t worry too much about my poor lonesone self.

The Loyal Readers just got home. And they’re already going to bed.

And I need to get to bed too. Evenings seem so short when I don’t get here until after 8:00, but that’s how it is some days. See you tomorrow.


Friday, April 20th, 2007

Here’s Loyal Readers Numbers Five, Six, and Twelve’s old house in Big Bear – the one they’re moving out of this weekend. Compare and contrast with yesterday’s picture.

What a busy day today! I stayed home, it being my off Friday and all. I did have to dial in to two meetings, sign timecards, and do an hour or two on my laptop, but that was about it for work. However, there were plenty of other things that needed doing. Let’s see if we can remember them all.

We had an appointment at noon for a little work on the trailer. There was a recall on the refrigerator and the parts had come in, so they invited us to bring the trailer over to be worked on. We did, and while we were there, we picked up an electrical part we had ordered for the heater. Since the trailer was just sitting there while the guy worked on the fridge from the outside, I went inside and installed the new part and Loyal Reader Number Four swept the floor. It was good to kill a few birds with one stone.

While we were at the trailer joint, we had a look at a couple of new trailers and motorhomes. Fortunately, we didn’t see anything we liked better than what we already have. There’s some good news.

In the early afternoon, I ran over to the Tracy Honda dealer for a new tail light (link note: have you ever seen more pathetic prose?) for the Accord. Somebody had destroyed the driver’s side light sometime yesterday. We have no idea when or how it was done, but we needed a new one. It looked like it would be really easy to install – just take out three little nuts holding the old one on and swap them. What I couldn’t see at first was that the tail light unit was also bolted in on the bottom, and the bumper cover has to be partially removed to get to the bolts. So I spent quite a bit of time on it, but it’s done and it looks great. Let’s hope we don’t have to do that again anytime soon, though – it was quite expensive.

Later in the afternoon, we decided to put up our new Rubbermaid shed. It mostly snaps together, and if you’ve ever tried to snap a shed together, you know how hard that can be. We got the ground (mostly) leveled underneath, put the floor together, put up all the walls (mostly) correctly, and got one of the four roof panels installed. We struggled with the second one for quite a while until it got too dark to work. We’ll finish it up tomorrow. I’m just hoping there isn’t a strong wind overnight so I don’t have to comb the neighborhood for shed pieces tomorrow morning.

The boys are holding a scout troop car wash tomorrow morning to help pay for summer camp. Since I have to pay anyway, I might as well get something additional for my money, so I bought four washes. I’m going to have to do quite a bit of running back and forth to get all those cars over there. Let’s hope they do a halfway decent job. A fully decent job would be even better.

I’m delighted to hear about the progress on Chateau Grand Ours. You’ll be in there in no time, LRN5, LRN6, and LRN12. And living with the grandparents will be even more motivation to finish quickly, no doubt. Get those toilets in!

Lots of other stuff going on, but no time to talk about it. Thanks to the Loyal Readers for their continued patronage, and have a great weekend. See you on Monday.