Nov 2007

NaBloPoMo Ends Today

I'm Pooped
This is day thirty and this is post thirty. You know what? I really enjoyed it. Thanks to Eden Marriott Kennedy for creating and managing this great event. It has helped me be more disciplined about what to blog. It's also produced a nice springboard for continuing. Being committed to a set block of time forced me to establish some practices and think of things that needed to be done to sustain the site. The great thing was that there was not much grumbling about what to post. I just did it. Some things that happened to me during the day made good material for a post and I was excited to get it here. Other days would be uneventful. On those days I would go to a list of ideas I had created. The list was made before the month started. It's is not used up either. More content is coming! On days when there were guests in the house or other work needed to be done, I was able to a quickly post a photo, a short snippet from the day's events or something I found on the web. Another byproduct, my niece and friend Sara were inspired from my participation in the event to invest in their blogs. I tried to read postings from other NaBloPoMo participants too. I was amazed at the variety of bloggers out there. THANK YOU to everyone who left comments. I appreciate them. Don't stop commenting! It felt good, . . didn't it? Keep doing that comment thing. You won't go blind and you hands won't fall off. Best of all you can do it in private. . . or in public. . . you don't mind if people watch, do you? I know some people like to watch. Return here often and look for more stuff in the future, maybe even tomorrow.
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Upcoming New Album - Linda Sharar, Everyday

Linda Sharar
Photo by Charan Devereaux

Today I received a copy of Linda Sharar's latest mixes from her upcoming album, Everyday. The album is in the final stages of being mixed. It's very exciting to get an early listen to what is going to be a wonderful new release. This will be Linda's third CD. She has previously recorded two other titles Participate and Any Second Street. Linda is also a coworker as well as a friend. To work with talented people like Linda is such an honor and a treat. I have known Linda since I became a software engineer. She is a wonderful and warm person with many talents. She always puts so much into everything she does and it really shows in these new songs. I remember a while back she had a twinkle in her eye and I knew something was up. I was right. She had told me she was going back into the studio to record another album. Everyone was extremely excited, since this would be an album that would be an outpouring of experiences and emotions following the birth of her daughter and her entrance into motherhood. Following the end of sleep deprivation and the terrible two's, she was now ready. There was a lot of hard work done in the studio and she also assembled a wonderful group of artists to help with the project. We got periodic updates and listed to snippets of the tracks that were being put down all during the process. Her enthusiasm and excitement as the project progressed was contagious. This album will be well worth the wait. The tracks are done and final production is in full swing.

Linda is also doing something special with this album she is donating a portion of the proceeds from the album to help cover the cost of special therapy equipment for her nephew with autism. You can read more about that and sign up to pre-purchase a copy of the CD here.

I've listened to the tracks and can't wait to listen again. As a special treat, Linda has allowed me to upload one of the songs to my blog. I've picked one of my favorites, Round the Corner. Click the link below to listen. You can also hear more songs from Linda's MySpace page. Enjoy!

Listen to: Round the Corner

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Propeller Head Stuff

During this month's posting blitz I have made some small changes to the site. Some of the changes were done consciously and others were feature changes caused by a software upgrade. RapidWeaver version 3.6.5 is the software tool used to create this website. This website is being maintained using an Apple Macintosh computer .

For my own records and your unbridled curiosity in all things geeky, I'll list the changes to the site since the beginning of the month.

  • RapidWeaver software upgrade
  • I fixed my poor grammar in the banner slogan, replacing "of" with "from."
  • NaBloPoMo badge/link added to the sidebar
  • Tags feature added to postings
  • Tags cloud added in the sidebar
  • Tags are now in each posting
  • Category counts removed (reduces processing time during publishing)
  • "Category" in each posting changed to "Filed in"
  • Category delimiter changed from "," to "|" (That thing is called a pipe)
  • Multiple Categories and Tags are now supported
  • Removed "Permalink" at bottom of each post.
  • Each post title is now a hyperlink to the permanent link page
  • Comments can now be entered on the permanent link page, avoiding the comments pop-up
  • HaloScan comments engine upgraded
  • All images posted in the blog are viewable from a Photo Album page called "Stuff From the Blog"
  • Standardization of photo's in The Blog.
  • "Contact me" in footer was removed.
  • Archive no longer shows empty months.

After this month there should be some major changes. A new look and feel is planned. The blog will also move to the home page. When the new hardware is set up and working, there will finally be live weather updates. I'm too cheap to keep the current computer running 24/7 for updates. The new hardware will significantly reduce energy consumption. I'll have more on the hardware later.

Let me know if you noticed any other recent changes not documented here. If there is something want to see changed please let me know.
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Greenhand

FFA Manual
Yes, I was a member. I spent a year at Essex Agricultural and Technical Institute as a forestry major. I joined the FFA and achieved the degree of Greenhand. That's my pin attached to the cover. I never got one of those cool corduroy jackets, but I coveted the ones my classmates had. They made you look like you were a member of a motorcycle gang. Most people don't know about the FFA, but the movie Napoleon Dynamite put it on the map in this new century. Being at Essex Aggie was a wonderful experience. I sometimes regret that I left. The reasons I left were all good though. I enjoyed my limited time there and have many great memories of the place. Students got half a day in class and half a day in the field or on the farm. I got to manage timber stands, plant trees, study lots and lots of biology and also work at traditional farm skills. The staff were all friendly and helpful. My fellow students were a pleasure to be with and all had a good sense of themselves. My father always said I was the happiest there. It must have showed. Being on the super honor roll was evidence of that. Whenever I drive by the school I always feel a sense of pride and gratitude. I wish I could go back all over again.
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McCormick Farmall Cub

McCormick Farmall Cub
Found this parked not far from our home.
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No One Cares What You Had for Lunch -100 Ideas for Your Blog by Margaret Mason

No One Cares What You Had for Lunch -100 Ideas for Your Blog by Margaret Mason
This book is very timely since many bloggers are currently participating in National Blog posting Month. When bloggers sign up for NaBloPoMo they should be taken straight to Maggie's website so they can purchase a copy of her book. (the t-shirt on that page is funny, but has nothing to do with blogging) This book will help you create a fabulous blog everyone will want to read. She takes you out of your comfort zone and into places that are challenging and fun. The format of the book is well organized and easy to follow. Maggie's clear knowledge of the subject, will help take the worries out of finding content for your blog. Her writings affirmed the choices I made when I dove straight into a thirty day blog posting commitment. I also plan to follow some of her suggestions for my blog content. I highly recommend you buy a copy and read it for lunch. When people ask "What did you have for lunch today?" You can reply, "I had a Mason Blogger with fries" It was yummy!

You may also find these slides interesting. They are from a talk the author did this month in Indianapolis. I know that Maggie's narrative, that went along with these slides, would be as inspiring as reading her book. She is also very fun!
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The Fireplace is Working

The Fireplace is Working
Spent most of the day wrestling with this three hundred pound beast. It is now producing cozy warmth and letting us thumb our noses at the oil companies. Today was a good day to get it working. The temperature was in the twenties last night. I had to bring in the holiday beer we were chilling on the porch. We can exploit the fruit of our recent efforts as well as all the wood that is now sized, split and stacked. I want to use as much as possible this year. Stay warm.
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Anatomy of a Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwich

Some will say the best part of the post Thanksgiving festivities (besides the nap) is the turkey sandwich. I will agree with that, provided the proper sandwich construction is followed. If you mix up the layers you risk messing up the blending of the flavors. Here is my process for a perfect Thanksgiving turkey sandwich.

  1. Rye Bread (bottom slice)
  2. Cains Mayonnaise
  3. Turkey meat, both white and dark meat
  4. Stuffing spread and pressed into the meat
  5. Salt and Pepper
  6. Cranberry sauce
  7. Lettuce (anything but iceberg)
  8. Rye Bread (top slice)

Best eaten with a Hood Golden EggNog beverage or apple cider.
YUM!

How do you make yours?
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Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

Tin Lizzy
Tin Lizzy on Thanksgiving Day 2007
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Dear Milk Carton Graphic Designer

Very funny. Do you fulfill a secret sadistic pleasure every time someone OPENS THE MILK CARTON THE WRONG WAY! The arrow goes next to the word "Open" Not next to the words "Sell By". And if you retort that one should read what is says. I will reply - I did read it! - forty three years ago and it has not changed on me until you decided to get your jollies. So Pleas fix it. I was able to.

Your view of the world.
Milk Carton Madness

The Correct View of the World
Milk Carton Correctness
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Trucks

"Let's play trucks!" A cry heard from boyhood days. It was usually replied to with an approval. Out would come the fleet of metal trucks from our toy boxes and things would settle down into truck territories. First up, the roads. You would need a piece of wood, like say a shingle, at least two inches wide and eight inches long. The process would begin by dragging that stick across flat, dry, powdery dirt in a neighborhood yard. The dryer and dustier the better. The roads were defined with side by side wind rows of the powder that would serpentined thru the yard. If you had a truck with a plow or an earth mover truck, all the better. That was more authentic. Your road was sacred. If another wanted to cross your road project and make an intersection they would have to ask permission or face the wrath of a pissed off seven year old. Once the road was done, dump trucks were loaded with dirt and gravel then deployed at all different construction projects. Loads could also include grass clippings, more dusty dirt or wood chips. All vehicles were actually hand pushed around. (batteries not even an option and no remote controls!) The sounds came from various tones of raspberries blown from the lips of their respective drivers. As progress would continue there were more sound affects but hardly any chatter was produced. Occasionally a declaration would be uttered like "this tree trunk is the gas station. Everyone needs to come here to fill up after each trip" and thus a new civic law was enacted for the backyard municipality. If you passed another boy propelled truck on the road the correct greeting must be uttered in the deepest construction man tone possible. The greeting was "Hi Joe" and the reply was (in an attempted deeper tone) "Hi Joe" and off you'd go. The thing was, EVERYONE was named Joe. No Mike, Billy, Jimmy or Jerry, you were Joe. Is there any other name for a self respecting truck driver? No way Jose! These projects could last hours and hours. If it was a particularly impressive civil plan , it could continue into an additional day. The end result was a development plan everyone would be proud of. Another result was the dust and dirt would cover elbows, shins and knees. If it was a particularly ambitious project on a humid day we could sometimes have faces so covered in dust it would look like we had been given black eyes. The mark of a truly successful day of trucks. "Right Joe?" "Right Joe." brrrrrmmmm, Brrrrrrruuuuurrrrrr, ruuum ruuuum errrrrchhhhh.
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Mise En Place

Mise en place
Mise en place
Fait accompli
Butternut Soup
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First Snowfall 2007

First Snow Fall 2007
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The Black Hole Theory is Clogged

Science was turned on it's ear today when the black hole theory was disproved at the residence of John LeJeune, an amateur black hole enthusiast. While preparing for guests to arrive this Thanksgiving season the two black holes LeJeune has been maintaining became clogged. The first hole, Garagetofil resisted yesterday when he tried to store a portable gas grill in it. "It just sort of made this belching sound and out came the grill. It wasn't like it just popped out in a short polite belch, it sort of rolled out slowly like a prolonged, how long can this last, kind of burp," said LeJeune "The grill landed upright and It just wouldn't go back in."

The second occurrence happened today. LeJeune was removing belongings saved from two family homes he assisted in clearing out and selling earlier this year. "The stuff just had to get out of the living and guest rooms. We were successful in removing the boxes yesterday and we thought that the other black hole, Atticanholdit, was fine. We didn't think we could reproduce the fluke that happened yesterday in a million years. Unfortunately I had one box of magazines to place in there early in the evening and when I placed them at the top of the ladder and shut the hatch they came flowing out like a waterfall. It was actually sort of artistic how the black hole cascaded the magazines down the ladder and then down the stairway. It was almost like it was apologetic that scientific theories about black holes could be refuted by an amateur like me. We had to put the magazines in a conventional recycle bin just to be safe"

NASA scientist are still dumbfounded that in the space of two days LeJeune was able to disprove years of scientific theory and research. Early NASA investigations confirm that the amateur did succeed in clogging both holes. They thought it could never be done.
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Drum Machine by tokyoplastic

Tokyo Drum Machine
This came from Finding Japan. Christopher came across it from a Twitter post by Scott Lockman of Tokyo Calling. I enjoy finding these little gems on the internet. Japanese animation is amazing in it's bold simplicity. This is a Flash automation that must have taken a long time to create. Also check out tokyoplastic. You'll have to hunt around a bit to find out where to click. Once you do you will be delighted and surprised with the animation.

I have been very interested in Japan for a long time. My career took me in close contact with many people there and I now have coworkers who are on my project that live and work in Japan. I was fortunate enough to travel there on a business trip a few years ago. It had a life changing impact on me. Japan is a paradox. Some things are simple and others complicated . I'm naturally drawn to it's beauty and delicate people. To perpetuate my Japan fix I listen to Christopher, Rich and Scott's podcasts on my commute to and from work. I always find them interesting and entertaining.

Christopher is the newest podcaster from Japan. His podcasts have given me the most insight into how it is for an american visiting Japan. He is a graduate student studying there for a year. He was fortunate enough to have his company transfer him there so he is both working and attending school. His podcast and Blog is Finding Japan.

Scott Lockman is Japan's first podcaster. He is an english teacher working in Japan and lives there with his wife and three daughters. This man has an amazing speaking voice and should be doing voiceover for a living. He chronicles his life as an american who has lived there quite a while but speaks very little japanese. He also teaches podcasting and video blogging at one of the universities he teaches at. His podcast and blog is Tokyo Calling.

Rich Pav is another american married with two sons and living in Japan. He is in the high tech industry and covers many subjects in japanese culture. His podcasts are personal and thoughtful. It's interesting because he feels very self conscious about his recordings but he does not sound self conscious at all. Rich speaks his mind and is very real. His viewpoints on life give me a sense of his patience and tolerance for people. His podcast and blog is Herro Flom Japan.

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What do you do with a pile of sticks?

Need to get rid of these!
The above pile is one of two. With the impending arrival of a front end loader coming to increase the size of my lawn, they had to be dealt with. We usually pile sticks someplace in the yard and hallmark them for fireplace kindling. With all the trees that have been trimmed or removed recently we have more than our fair share of sticks! What we like to do is leave them for a while and let them dry out and exfoliate naturally. Once that is done they get broken up and shoved in boxes, bags, bins, and whatever else will hold a bunch of sticks. They are then moved into the house and used to start our fireplace insert - wood stove contraption. Getting unwieldy sticks into the stove in a clean, neat and quick way is a contradiction in terms. I gave this a little thought and came up with making faggots. They would be self contained neat. We would also get the sticks removed from where we need to do the heavy equipment work.

Here's how we did it.
First you need a way to tame the sticks and make them a uniform size to fit in the stove. Most people know the maximum log length for their stove or fireplace. Ours is eighteen inches. You can use any container that will match your requirements. We used a container that is ubiquitous around these parts, a fish box.
Box and string are ready
The box is important because it keeps the sticks from getting all over the place while you collect them and allows the twine to stay put during stacking and tying. There were already holes in the sides of the box and we used them to thread the twine through. This was a lucky find as it really helped keep the string in place. The twine we used is a huge roll we had found in my parents basement. My dad has a neat trick that I'd like to share with you. He always kept string in a coffee can. Poked a hole in the lid and fed the string out from the top. This makes dispensing the string very easy. Another tip - always take the twine off the roll from the inside of the roll. It tangles less and you can keep the packaging on the roll.
No Tangles
OK, back to the sticks. After you have enough sticks for a bundle, it's time to tie them up.
See how tidy!
When tying the bundle I tied the string using several wraps on itself. Instead of one over and under, I did three or four over and under twists. This stopped the string from slipping apart and you could still pull on the string to compress the bundle.
This keeps the thing from exploding after you compress it
Please note I used two pieces of twine to wrap the bundles. This keeps the bundle more uniform and will aid in maintaining it's shape. I alternate the tension until the bundle is snug and then tie the same knot again on top of the first knot. This knot is now like a square knot on steroids. (right Barry?) I used a lot of twine and so I wrapped the bundle several times with the string. This is what you get when all is done.
Anal bliss!
Once you have done one, repeat the process and start stacking. We used an old pallet.
We stacked them on an old pallet
We finished with 52 bundles!
Anal on a large scale
We should be able to now start fifty two fires easily.
If only the wood stove wasn't broken.

One important note. If you use these bundles to start your fire, make sure they will be contained when the string burns. The bundles may expand slightly. We keep ours behind the andirons so they don't fall forward.
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Random

Mary said write about spatzle. It was yummy but I thought too big,
I'm worried if I write about faggots people will take it the wrong way.
The station wagon is in the shop for routine service; rotate, balance, align an LOF.
We're trying to plan a schedule for t-day.
Jess wants to learn more about rugs. She sells tile.
The tree guy said two weeks. That expired today. He has not shown up yet.
My office needs to be cleaned for our house guests. Guess what I'm doing for the next two days.
We had a funeral to go to today. Too many memories of what I have not blogged about but need to.
The wood stove needs to be repaired. I just need time. We have seven cords of wood to burn.
My passport is still not renewed. It is a major priority one to do task.
Work is busy. We're trying to adopt a new process on how to build software.
I feel like I need to buy a new corkscrew.
I want to start tying more flies for fly fishing.
I worry my feed reader is too full to keep up with it.
I also need to clean my office at work.
Zeke's ACL surgery was a success. Zeke is our neighbor's dog.
We're debating a lot about if a boat is still part of our life. Sarah don't listen to this.
Eden and I have the same shoe size (I think).

Thanks for letting me dump on you. Time for a hot tub.
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Confessions of a Mommy Blog Reader

It started with this quote from iGoogle's Quote of the day widget I had on my browser homepage.

People often write me and ask how I keep my wood floors so clean when I live with a child and a dog, and my answer is that I use a technique called Suffering From a Mental Illness. - Heather Armstrong, Dooce, 07-07-06

I really liked this quote. I wanted to find out about this person. I thought I'd find a book or magazine article. It lead me to the Quotation Page. There I found 10 witty tomes from this woman who had the word Dooce next to her name. What's a Dooce? Her bio said "Blogger from Salt Lake City." I find her website and started reading, and reading, and laughing, and crying, and laughing, and thinking, my god! where has this woman come from. She has amazing writing skills. I find out more at her FAQ page. My favorite gem is #6. She speaks her mind, takes no prisoners and slaps people with reality about how silly and self righteous they can be. But the weirdest thing is that basically, this woman is a mommy blogger. There are zillions of these mommy blogs on the internet. Most of them are so colored in pastel and syrupy sweet that they make you want to puke from cuteness overdose. I found myself returning to her site daily. This woman was different. She was edgy, thoughtful and sarcastic. She also has this amazing dog named Chuck. No hot links for him, you can't miss him. He has his own annual calendar for sale on her website. Her husband Jon has his own blog. This sometimes makes for interesting blog volleys between the two of them. I could not stop myself. I was checking her site almost daily. Then it got worse. Jon posted this entry about a trip Heather was on. And then there were these pictures, and Heather names each one of these ladies with a hot link. I ask my self "there are more like her?" naaahhh. But yes she was cavorting with other mommy bloggers. This can't be. Of course I had to find out if they were as opinionated and funny as Heather and yes they were and very talented writers. The thing is, these woman don't sugarcoat motherhood. They tell it like it is, the good, the bad, the ugly. They seem successful and know the blogging world well. Alice, Eden, Maggie and Melissa all bloggers, and all hanging out with each other doing this. Oh my god! and I start reading more and more and subscribing to their blog feeds. Now I'm hooked.
Next thing that happens is that Eden has this challenge called NaBloPoMo and here I am. Good gravy. . . fifteen more posts till the end of the month.
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My Nuts Got Crushed

The Nutcrackers were crushed by the Wicked Pissahs at last Saturday night's roller derby bout. Final score was 142 to 41. Yes, they were beat by 101 points. I'm depressed. You can learn more about The Boston Derby Dames at their website. Hopefully the next bout will not be a blowout.

Here are two BDD hopefuls for the next bout.
New Prospects
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I love it when she talks salty

We're unloading a couple of yards of topsoil from the Black Beast (aka the pick-up truck). In the final stages she is sweeping down the bed to get the last vestages of the soil off the truck. I ask her to start from the top and work down to the tailgate. "Do you want me to do the gunwales?" - I pause and think, did I hear that right? Then I flush with pride. "YES!" I say. . . I love it when she talks salty. Besides, it wasn't that much of a stretch. I have boat cleats on the side of my truck. They must be gunwales.

Gunwales
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My friend has the only speaking part

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Butternut Soup

Today I thought I'd share with you my recipe for my Butternut Soup. This recipe is adapted from The Sugar Mill Hotel Cookbook. I purchased the cookbook in the Virgin Islands while on a bareboat charter vacation. The recipe is deceptively easy and yields a very yummy and hearty soup. It can be served as an appitizer or main course. It has become a Thanksgiving tradition with our family for over 15 years. The secret is the hot sauce. It adds just a little kick to make it interesting. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

1/2 cup minced onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 14 oz. can chicken broth
3 cups cubed fresh butternut squash
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt
pepper
hot sauce to taste
fresh cream

Garnish
salted whipped cream
toasted pumpkin seeds or fresh parsley


In a stockpot:
Cook onion in butter until soft.
Add squash and chicken broth.
(The broth should just cover the squash)
Mix well and cook until the squash is very tender.
(Squash will easily crush with a fork)

Fill blender to 3/4 full.
Add cream to thin (approx. 1 to 3 oz.)
Season with sugar, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and Tabasco.
Whirl soup carefully in the blender, it may expand rapidly.
Serve and garnish.

Makes 4 hearty servings.

For an extra special treat make a soup tureen
out of a pumpkin and serve from the table.
Comes complete with it's own lid.

Bon Appétit!

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Happy Birthday Brian!

Sunday, November 11, 2007 (1)Sunday, November 11, 2007 (2)
Sunday, November 11, 2007 (3)
Sunday, November 11, 2007 (5)Sunday, November 11, 2007 (4)

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Who's This?

Ginger Cat

We call it (gender unknown) Ginger Cat. Ginger Cat is a well taken care of cat belonging to neighbors we don't even know. They are not very close but Ginger Cat's territory obviously extends to our house. Just ask our summer neighbor cat Cutie. Ginger Cat chased her up a tree one day when Cutie was spotted on our patio. When the mood strikes, Ginger Cat comes to visit us. When a cat comes to visit this household it gets the royal treatment, patting, snuggles, belly rubs, you name it. Sometimes we let them into the house to say hi to whomever is in the house. It is usually a nice surprise. WE NEVER FEED THESE BEASTS! (bad idea = friend for life) But If you are a cat that attends the John LeJeune School of Cat Love, even for a brief time, you will want more. My sister and brother in law from Indiana are here and they went to the same cat love graduate school I went to. So Ginger Cat decided to visit Friday evening and got some major snuggles. After a while, I was a bit concerned and I did not want Ginger Cat to get too comfortable. We were also very tired so I showed Ginger Cat the door. I remember this distinctly.

Saturday morning comes around and we are saying our good mornings when my sister asks if we'd left the front door open last night. I said "no, why would we do that, it was thirty two degrees outside last night." She said the door was open so she closed it. I apologized profusely remembering that my wife had brought in a big ficus tree Friday because of impending frost. She must not have shut it tightly. Then my brother in law asked what time we let Ginger Cat back in last night. I said "Huh. We have a new couch. I don't want overnight pets any more." He said that the cat was walking around the house most of the night and they finally let it out. I then checked the screen for the front door and it was un-latched. This is too weird.

A while later we are all out side stacking firewood and along comes GC, who walks up to the screen door, opens it with a flick of its paw and tries to give the front door a big push. (I had bolted it.) Ah ha! We found our cat burglar! and then Ginger Cat was all "you ain't lettin me in?. . . then I'm outta here" walking away showing us nothing but its tail.
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An Exhilaration of Wings edited by Jen Hill

An Exhilaration of Wings

This is a monumental occasion. I have been reading this book for well over two years. It is a good book, but not a page turner. Subsequently I read this in little bitty bird bites. I celebrate it’s return to the bookshelf and it’s departure from my nightstand, backpack, luggage, desktop and wherever else it followed me. An Exhilaration of Wings is a series of themed chapters with quotes and excerpts for each chapters theme. Chapters such as Birds of Sea and Shore, City Birds, Migration and Birdsong are visited by well known naturalists of an earlier time. This book seems intentionally compiled to be using works prior to the emergence of the now very popular pastime of birding or bird watching. Discussions from the past of things unique then as well as still common themes now. Sadly there are entries about birds we shall never see again such as the passenger pigeon and the great auk. The passages are interesting, witty and insightful. Hats off to Jen Hill for her exhaustive research in compiling such a vast and diverse collection. I'm glad I finally was able to find the last page but feel like I've left an old friend
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Trans-mis-she-unn

transmission-diagram
From: HowStuffWorks.com

10/30/07
Call to Transmission Repair Shop (TRS)
Me: "Can you repair my transmission? It will not go into third gear. It's a GMC 1500 pickup, automatic, two wheel drive."
TRS: "Sure, bring it in. We'll take a look at it."
I drive home later that evening coordinating with my wife to come pick me up at home, drive me to the garage where they told me they don't fix transmissions even though they said "they'd look at it." She drives me to the "We only look at things not repair them" garage. She then follows me to the TRS and then drives me home.

10/31/07
Call from Transmission Repair Shop
TRS: "Yes we will need to rebuild it."
Me: "Ok. Please do the work. I need it by next Friday November 9. I have family flying in from out of town and we'll need the extra vehicle. Can you do that?"
TRS: "Oh, I can probably have it to you this Friday (11/2) if not Monday (11/6)."
Me: "Ok, Call me when it is ready."
TRS: "No problem"

11/2/07 Friday
No call

11/5/07 Monday
No call

11/6/07 Tuesday
No call

11/7/2007 Wednesday
No Call

I Call the TRS
ME: "Is my truck ready?"
TRS: "Yes it's been ready since Monday"
Me: (thinking WTF????) "Ok I'll be down to pay you today. I have an appointment around the corner from you. I'll need to pick yhe truck up this evening though."
TRS: "Ok, see you then"

10 minutes later
Call from TRS
TRS: "We're waiting on a switch we need to put in but it will be ready this afternoon."
Me: (thinking WTF???) "No problem, I can't get it until later anyway."

Side note: My appointment around the corner. . . I wait 45 minutes to see an oral surgeon. He walks into the waiting room to tell me the computers are down and he can't take my x-ray today. (Me: thinking WTF???)

I go to the TRS, pay the bill then head to work.

Later that evening I walk to the train station, take the (28 minute late) train, walk to the TRS, get the car and drive home. I'm happy the car now goes into third gear.

11/8/07 Thursday
Call from TRS
TRS: "There is some fresh transmission fluid on the ground where we left your car last night, we think you may need to bring it in."
Me: (thinking WTF???) "Ok, I'll check to see if it is leaking. If it is, I'll bring it in tonight. "

I call my wife. She says "Yes it is continuously dripping - all over the driveway."

I drive home last night, get in the truck, call my wife to ask her to pick me up at the TRS after she gets out of work. She agrees. I drop off the truck. She picks me up. I then take her to dinner for having to picking me up so many times.

11/9/2007 Friday
Call from TRS
TRS: "There was a seal broken at the drive shaft we fixed it and it is all set."
Me: "OK I'll be down to pick it up."

I walk to the train station and take the train, walk from the station to the TRS and pick up the truck. I asked if they refilled the transmission fluid. - Yes they did.

15 Minutes later I'm driving down the highway heading toward home. I look out the rear view mirror and see a GIGANTIC BILLOWING CLOUD OF WHITE SMOKE following me down the highway. I suddenly realize I am the creator of said smoke. (Me: Screaming WTF???) As I say this I pass a State Police car. I quickly pull over at the next exit looking for blue lights (none) and try figure out where to safely stop the car and clean my underwear. Tow trucks and taxi cabs were called.

(conversation with TRS censored)



The Taxi driver says "Make sure they road test that thing before you take it home. They should pay for this cab ride too" I told him I already had those on my list.

Later today the TRS called and said the transmission cooling line blew. It is now repaired, test driven and all cleaned up. My sister and brother-in-law have graciously consented to make a detour with me to the TRS on the way home from the airport. Hopefully It will work correctly when I drive home tonight. Wish me luck
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Eric got published!

 Percé Rock by Eric Myers
Percé Rock by Eric Myers

Eric got published! This was the wonderful news I got this morning. It is documented here. I hurried to see him and the actual book. The book his picture is in is beautiful and full of interesting pictures and illustrations. It is titled Canada Rocks: The Geologic Journey by Nick Eyles and Andrew Miall, Published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Markham, ON Canada. Eric has worked very hard on his photography and it shows. This is one of my favorites. He also has an excellent blog and he inspired his brother Keith to chronicle his tour of America by motorcycle with a blog. The published photograph is from a previous trip Eric and his brother took to Canada. They are both motorcycle enthusiasts. So much so that Keith started a business called Moto-Maps. He makes compact flip chart type maps of planned routes for motorcycle touring. It is a great idea and the maps are very popular. While they travel, they take lots of pictures and video and post to their blogs quite frequently. I've lived vacariously through them as they travel around on two wheels getting bugs in their teeth. I don't know how vicarious it is, because the simple fact is, I don't have the guts to drive around at high speeds in something that does not surround me in steel.

Hats off to Eric. This reinforces the idea that you should always tag your photos!
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I upgraded the website software

If you see anything horrible please let me know.
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Should I be embarrassed or proud?


Maureen, technology rock star and lovely person rolled into one, posted this. I thought this would be interesting. It seemed harmless. So I mosey over to here. When all was said and done I am presented with this:

Nerd Score

I guess when someone says you are a deity, it is supposed to be flattering. I even beat Maureen, a "Supreme Nerd." She has won awards, spoken in front of thousands of nerds and geeks about software tools and she has even been sent on trips with an inner circle of technology guru's because of her nerdy accomplishments. I beat her??? I'm a little rattled over this.

Anyway, sorry this posting is brief today. I'm posting this early because my wife will be out this evening. This means I will get some quality time with a newer version of Rapid Weaver, the software I use to create this site. But. . . I'm really not a nerd.

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Scarecrow Football

Saw this on the way home from the farm Sunday. Talk about taking something to a whole new level.

Scarecrow Football
I've added all the current images from the blog to an album page in the Photo Album.
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Green Meadows Farm

Green Meadows Farm

For three years now we've been a member of a community-supported agriculture (CSA) organic farm. Green Meadows Farm is located in Hamilton Massachusetts and is owned by the Patton Family. We buy a share of the harvest before the season starts and this guarantees them income for operating expenses. In return we get a weekly portion of the harvest all season long. The season usually lasts a half year. Currently they are even selling extensions for the late harvest and augmenting the share with other organic produce sent cooperatively to the farm from larger producers. They grow all organic fruits and vegatables, raise livestock and also sell a flower share. They even have a wine share in cooperation with a local winery. We purchase shares for vegatables, lamb and pork. Everything is amazingly fresh and delicious. Because the food is harvested at it's peak it tasts better and lasts longer than anything we have bought in a supermarket. Having restaurant quality food every day is a real treat. Interestingly, the harvest will dictate our meal planning which is a good thing because we don't have to decide what to make. We are eating seasonally and getting a well rounded organic diet.

Some of the harvest is pick your own. This affords us the opportunity to go into the fields and pick out our share and see how things are grown. It may be berries, beans, herbs or potatoes that will be collected. The best part is that it gets you out into the summer air. While out in the fields we may see the mobile chicken coop. This is a cage on wheels that moves from place to place. The chickens fertilise the patch they are parked over and they pick up the insects and grubbs at the same time keeping those insect pests at bey. We have also participated in some of the education sessions the farm hosts. Our favorite was the edible wild plant lesson. Who knew there were so many things to eat during a walk in the woods!

Being able to know and talk to the people who are growing your food gives a you a real connection to what is happening with the food you eat. We are more attuned to the weather and how it will affect the weekly share. When the weather is Ideal we can look forward to a wonderful bounty from that weeks harvest. Because we are share holders we have also had to experience the lean times. Entire fields were flooded during the May rains of 2006. That year was not a bust, but all that flooding set the schedule behind almost a month.

We will continue own a piece of this very special place for next year, supporting the community, supporting the goals of CSA and eating healthy all at the same time. We look forward to the veggies we'll get for the next couple of weeks in the lead up to Thanksgiving, but our friends below may not have such happy expectations.

Do You think they're nervous?

Do you think they're nervous?

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The Lascivious Biddies Were In Town!

Biddies4ever

We took a trip to Fitchburg Friday night to see the all girl cocktail pop band The Lascivious Biddies. The band roll call starts with Lee Ann Westover, lead vocals, Lily Maase, guitar & vocals, Deidre Rodman, piano, melodica, train whistle and vocals, and Saskia Sunshine Lane, bass and vocals. This venue was different from the first time we saw the Biddies which was at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge. This time they put on a stage show in one of Fitchburg State College's performing arts centers, The Percival Auditorium. This was a real treat. The acoustics and the well managed Bose sound system were spot on for the type of music they create. The two sets were very complete with favorite originals such as Texas and Famous, new covers To Keep My Love Alive, previously recorder covers, Paper Moon, You Don't Own Me and some debut songs we had not heard before, Saskai's Odd Bird and Diedre's brand new tribute Coney Island Day. Some of the new songs can be found on their latest release the EP Love You Mean It. We were very very interested in finding out how the band would change with new guitarist Lily Maase. She immediately put us to ease with her lyrical guitar styling, vocals and her ability to rock out when it was time for her solo's. Lee Ann's was up to her usual fun antics and amazing vocals. This woman has pipes! She anchors the show with lascivious skill! Deidre's diversity of talent has really anchored the eclectic styling of the group. Her solo Coney Island Day a tribute to the now closed Coney Island amusement park was wonderful. The treat of the night was Odd Bird written by Saskia Lane. The witty and amusing lyrics were full of fun and Saskia's bass solo was beautifully intense reminding me of many bass solos from Keith Jarret recordings. I was happy to hear new music from them in both original songs and standards. My private dream was that they would move in the direction of jazz standards and some show tunes done with their unique twist. They have helped that dream come true. In addition, the new works from the huge level of talent within the band is continuing to keep their repertoire exciting and diverse. The full program satisfied all at the new venue. It involved solos, group participation, Mad Libs (yes fill in the blank), and an encore. I'm glad we got to see the Biddies again My only wish is that they could play the Boston area more often.

After the show we got to chat with the ladies and finally introduce ourselves in person instead of email. They are as lovely and gracious as they are talented. I originally found out about the Lascivious Biddies during a newscast about podcasting. With a name like theirs, I just had to find out more. The group has a full dedication to the cyber world thanks to Lee Ann, with the podcast, blog, full feature web presence, My Space pages and now a You Tube page. They Biddies were solely responsible for getting me into the world of podcasts. A world I could now not be without during my long commutes. It has fully replaced my addiction to books-on-tape. I always look forward to new podcasts from the Bids. They are silly, insightful and intimate.

Thanks again ladies for a throughly enjoyable evening. By the way. . . LOVE the shoes!
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Hurricane Noel passed by.

Here is a picture of what happened with the weather as Noel passed by.

Click on this to go to my weather page

The Red line is the temperature the grey line is the barometric pressure. The pressure is now rising a bit. The wind direction is currently moving from NNE to N and it's average speed is dropping, I think this means the eye of the storm has now passed north of our latitude. There are small broken branches and leaves everywhere. This is one of those late fall storms that results in rapid defoliation of the trees. Not good for our friends from Texas who wanted to do some leaf peeping next week.
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Moo


MOOoooo0000
What the. . .
While driving down the road this summer, I was startled to find a GIANT FIBERGLASS STEER facing me on the road. This place ain't no prairie. This is fish town. Here was a blogging opportunity! I'm used to seeing the life size humpback whale parked across from the movie theater, but a steer, no. This was not your Hilltop Steakhouse life size steer, this was an oh-my-god size steer with it's own personal trailor. Seems like the folks at The Manor Inn have gone upscale. They are offering all organic, hormone free vegetarian fed beef. I bet this boy was fed nothing but resin and gel-coat. Seems that after I started researching this topic there a a whole lot of giant roadside cattle out there.
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Subtitute Professor

A friend of mine has to man a booth at an annual trade show in Lost Wages. Each year he asks me to cover a marketing class he teaches. I really enjoy doing this class and take quite a bit of time in preparing the lesson. Nothing too strenuous for the students. It is a 101 class at a community college. I have taught it several times and I've learned quite a bit about the art of substitute teaching. Over the years we have had to come up with a strategy to keep the students in the room. Sadly, I'm not kidding. All of these things are based on experience.

Here is our game plan.

1. Do not announce the week before there will be a substitute instructor. If you do, three people out of twenty five will show up for the class.

2. Arrive for the class at the EXACT time it starts. If you come early people will walk in see you are a substitute and walk out.

3. Start the lesson immediately. If you wait for the stragglers you'll loose a few people who were already seated. "I'll be right back, I forgot something." is a lie.

4. Do not greet the stragglers. If you do, it will give them an opportunity to speak to you and say "Oh, I must be in the wrong room, sorry" and then they will walk. (The other students will rat this person out and tell you the person is in fact a student in that class.)

5. Expect to see the number of people in the class decrease if you give them a five minute bio break.

6. Do not challenge anyone who suddenly stands up and says they have to go back to work, babysit or (fill in lame reason here). It will just
waste your time.

7. Take attendance at the end of class. They all know showing up for class is twenty five percent of their grade. Revenge is sweet!

These people pay good money to further their education but they don't want to show up for class. Hint; If you pay all this money for the course and the books, but don't want to attend the classes, do your self a favor, DON'T register. Use the money to buy some tacos. You can buy a lot of tacos with several hundred dollars and eating a taco won't take as much time as a three credit course.
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Here we go!

I just Joined NaBloPoMo07 because Eden said to. November 1, 2007 was also drawing near. We will see if this lasts.

Kaboom!

Last night I was inspired to post, because my niece felt she had to gush about the horseshoes. (Please wash your hands after reading the post). I had to reply. Some things just have to be stopped. That is why they invented Imodium. But today, in a benevolent mood, I bought the domain name that matched the title of her blog. I'm done being nice. Game on horseshoe fans!

Enough said.

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