Wednesday, January 31, 2007 1 comment

Dreams Deferred Are Dreams Denied?

Some mornings, I hold my nose and see what commercial radio has to say for itself. I just skip from station to station as the commercials come on, until I get tired of it and retreat to Album 88. But a part of a segment caught my ear earlier this week.

One pair of chatterboxes was talking — I’m not sure if it was about someone who called in or how they heard about it — about a woman who was pretty sure her boyfriend planned to “pop the question” on Valentine’s Day. Amazingly enough, she had a problem with it: while she loves him, she wants to be a stay-at-home mom, and he earns about half what she does. The callers were predictably falling into the “marry him anyway” camp, even the one guy out of the five calls they aired. My own thoughts were rather uncharitable as well. But something one of the callers said stuck with me, and it came back to mind this morning: it’s good she has this dream, but could they not put off having kids until they got more financially secure and then she could do the full-time hausfrau career?

When I got out of college, I had a few dreams of my own — but as John Lennon said, “ Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.” I wanted to be completely debt-free by now, and on track to retire by 50: I have a mortgage that might be paid off when I’m 73. I wanted a place that was as energy self-sufficient as possible: no money for as much as a single solar panel. I dreamed of being able to schedule work around my life: our lives revolve around four chicken houses that don’t belong to us.

Mrs. Fetched wondered why I didn’t tell her I had these dreams when I was objecting to the runaway psychotic episode that ended with us buying FAR Manor. I did, repeatedly, and not just then. She just wasn’t listening.

So after thinking about it, I’m not sure what the right thing is for the woman in question. It’s good to love someone. And yet, if things don’t work out and she has to scuttle her plans — especially if her potential husband is the reason — she could end up resenting him in the end. But if she marries someone else simply because he can support her dream, where’s the self-respect?

I’m glad I don’t have to make the decision for her.

Monday, January 29, 2007 3 comments

The Bane of My Existence

Look upon its evil and tremble! Approach only with your nose held firmly shut against its stench! Tarry not, lest you find your weekends sacrificed to its endless need!

(It's a pretty recent shot, judging from the debris on the north side.)

Friday, January 26, 2007 4 comments

Friday Night Cinema

It’s too cold to go out and catch a movie. Pour yourself something to warm you up and watch a short flick for free!

As I’ve written here before, I’m not the biggest fan of spiders. But this week, it’s OK to give them a little pity as we learn what happens to Spiders on Drugs.

Thursday, January 25, 2007 4 comments

TB01: This time for sure! (I think)

TB01: The Boy leaves home (again).

It was obviously coming: he asked to borrow the car Friday night, after Dad got in, and said he’d be back Saturday morning. As he had done this a few times in the previous week, and come back when he said he would, we didn’t think much of it. On the other hand, we weren’t exactly surprised when he didn’t show up Saturday morning. Or afternoon. Or evening. Or all day Sunday.

But when Monday rolled around, and still no Boy, Mrs. Fetched decided the car had been away from home long enough. It didn’t take her long to find it: at Lobster’s apartment, the second place she looked and she only went to the first because it was on the way into town. He handed over the key without argument, and she brought it home. Of course, he had all but run the entire tank of gas out of it, after I’d filled it up Thursday afternoon. He had to have gone 300 miles.

So Tuesday night, we’re scrambling to get things together so we can get Daughter Dearest to a concert — a warmup for a performance at the GMEA conference in Savannah, for which she leaves very early tomorrow morning — and who comes walking up the driveway wanting us to drop everything and move his stuff to Lobster’s apartment? The video equipment took up plenty of space, so there wasn’t room for his amplifier — he griped about that, but we managed to get him (and his other stuff) to Lobster’s and got down to the church in time for DD to get warmed up.

This evening, he stopped by to pick up his amp and a distortion pedal from the garage. He tells me (I’ll believe it when I see it) that he interviewed with a local phone survey company, the interview went well, and he hopes to be starting there next week. I hope so: an evening job will give him plenty of time to drag himself out of bed and get to it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007 3 comments

Trip to the docs

I had my quarterly checkup last week. The doc I usually see wasn’t in, so I got the other one. He plied me with many questions about how I was feeling, took an EKG (it came out normal), and my blood pressure was “low end of normal” (which sounds good to me!). Then it wrapped up with the blood draw to monitor my cholesterol and other things.

Last time I was in, my cholesterol was like 236. Not great, especially for someone not even 50. They put me on Lipitor; while its most noticeable side effect gives it the nickname RipItMore, I was expecting some improvement. Over the weekend, I fantasized about it getting all the way down to 170, then got back to earth and set myself to be pleased with any score under 200.

So the test results came in today.

154


Yeah, you read that right: DOWN 82 POINTS. If Mrs. Fetched and Daughter Dearest had not been around, I would have been dancing naked around FAR Manor this evening!

Monday, January 22, 2007 3 comments

Data recovery!

I got a disk enclosure at CrudUSA today — they didn’t have any Firewire boxes, just USB2.0. But it was only $20 and works OK with newer Macs. I spent a couple of hours digging the hard drive out of my iBook, which incidentally exposed the video chip that needs to be heated up. I'll craft a heat shield for it tomorrow (while working at home) and take it into work Wednesday. The computer took a minute or two to recognize the new drive, but it’s been fine since then.

Maybe I'll take Daughter Dearest’s iBook apart tomorrow evening. If that goes as planned, I can take them both in and get them both (I hope! I hope! I hope!) fixed at once. If the fix doesn’t work, it’ll be back to CrudUSA for another drive enclosure; then we’ll both at least have our data where we can get to it.

Sunday, January 21, 2007 3 comments

Weekend?

A “weekend” is when you try to compress seven days of living into two, so it seems.

Dad got here Friday night and spent the weekend; this is his break in the drive to Florida for a month or so. It’s always fun to have him around. We have long talks about whatever, joke about getting older, watch some football (more TV than I usually watch in several months), drink some beer, and just chill. He’ll be leaving tomorrow morning for the last leg of the trip.

Daughter Dearest had her second All-State chorus audition yesterday morning — and got a perfect score! She’s pretty happy about it, although the second rehearsal is mainly a formality to make sure the kids have been practicing the music. During the waiting-around part, she ran into a couple of old friends who are now at other schools, so that was also good.

Her band members came by to practice/rehearse this afternoon. As cold and rainy as it has been this weekend, the garage just wasn’t terribly hospitable. They retreated to the house a couple of times for hot chocolate, and indulged me with an interview for the podcast (I hope to finish it up by next weekend, you know how that goes by now… should be up a week from Wednesday), then called it a day. I need to order a couple of wicks for my kerosene heater.

That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it absorbed much of the last couple of days.

Friday, January 19, 2007 4 comments

As if the laptop wasn’t enough…

My new cellphone decided to get in on the act. I guess the first inkling that something wasn’t right was when the alarm didn’t go off this morning. The Sync has a really nice alarm on it; you can tell it when to go off and what days to go off (so you don’t have to remember to turn it off Friday night and back on Sunday night), and has a pleasant chime tone.

This morning at work, I checked the phone and found it was off. Turning it on got only to the initial screen… over and over and over again. I yanked the battery and tried again — same result. I ended up pulling everything out of the phone that could be pulled: battery, SIM card, and flash card, and let it sit for about an hour. Same result.

With Dad on his way, I wanted an excuse to leave work early anyway. Liz at the Cingular store took a look, listened to what I’d done to try getting its attention, and immediately went to the back to get me a new phone. I told her I’d downloaded a ringtone (they gave out a freebie for re-upping my contract, sigh) and she credited the bill so I could get another copy. I had to get “Brick House” for Mrs. Fetched’s special ringtone. The ringtone I’d made and the picture I was using for wallpaper were on the flash card, fortunately. I guess I’ll make sure I copy anything else I download onto the flash card from now on. The only thing I have to worry about now is my address book, and I can copy what I had on the old phone from my work computer.

I guess I’ll have to stop referring to them as Stinkular, if they keep up that kind of service. Then again, they’re going to be AT&T anyway.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 6 comments

Gone dark

My iBook has given me 3-½ years of trouble-free service, travelling pretty much everywhere, substituting as my work system for a couple of weeks when the old box died, taking pretty much anything I threw at it.

Until tonight.

I flipped it open, and the screen stayed dark. I fiddled with the keys for a while, trying to get a response out of it, but nothing happened. I gave it a few minutes to wake up, then tried the three-finger salute (which I’ve had to do only two or three times). I heard the startup chimes, heard the disk chattering, but the screen stayed dark. I hit F2 (increase brightness) to no avail.

Thinking — hoping — the cable through the hinge had broken (a common problem), I hooked it up to a monitor through the VGA port. Nothing on either screen.

This. Sucks. I was hoping to replace it earlier, but that didn’t happen.

Fortunately, my ancient beige G3 is still working. I’ll have to get my photos and music off the iBook somehow… I should be able to access it through the network. Maybe I’ll borrow my work laptop for a while, even though it doesn’t work with the VPN.

So do I want an iMac or another laptop? Decisions, decisions. Our stock is up at the moment; maybe I should just cash some in and go shopping.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 4 comments

Updated: Who’s Who and What’s What

If you’re a new reader, or just can’t remember who goes where in this free-range insane asylum, I keep a series of informational posts. It’s actually the page for June 2005, but I didn’t post anything that month — the only month in which I didn’t post anything since I started the blog.

There used to be a link in the sidebar, but it was a casualty of the upgrade. So were all my Techcomm links. And the link to Olivia’s blog got whacked too. Back to maintenance....

Monday, January 15, 2007 2 comments

Winter yard work

Global warming aside, winters tend to be mild on Planet Georgia. At least they seem that way to one who grew up in Michigan. Mrs. Fetched got me doing what I’d planned to do anyway — cleaning up the yard. I’d taken care of the front yard a while back, but had an issue preventing me from going much further.

She wanted to move some plants around, as part of a master plan to run a driveway loop around the front of the house, so we tackled that first. A yellowbell that gets run over a lot (like it cares) already was in the way of the proposed loop route, so we moved it out back. Five cypresses that grow into monstrous Christmas trees have sprouted around the big one (pictured here), so we dug up three of them, moved one to the back, and potted the other two. We can’t think of a good place to put them, so I think they’ll go to her mom.

That left the leaves — and without a generator, the blower couldn’t reach past where I’d already cleared things out. But when there’s a will, there’s a way, and Mrs. Fetched is nothing if not willful. She brought the blower around to the back yard as I was raking out from under the steps (a corner that traps leaves) and suggested we could use an outlet on the porch. It then occurred to me that there was an outlet just inside the basement door, and that was enough to get us going.

Even with fewer trees out back, we had a lot of leaves on the ground. Once you get beyond a certain point, the blower really isn’t much help — you just have to wade in with a rake and plow them around with your legs. We eventually got them down into the moonscape where Buster T. Butthead has his run, so now he has plenty of nesting material. We loaded up a tarp and took some of them to one of the pens as well.

While working on the leaves, I noticed the yellow berries on the backyard hollies — but we raked until things got dim so I had to wait until this morning to get pictures. The light was better, so it was probably worth the wait (and thank God for another day off!). I also dragged out Clickzilla and took a few more; I’m looking forward to seeing how those turn out (film, jeez, how did we ever cope?).

We also designated one of the beds as the Official Herb Garden. I’m not going to move what’s already established — the rosemary plants are happy as can be, and the parsley took a big hit during the summer but has started recovering with cooler weather. I was given a big pot of garlic, so that’s going to get planted shortly, and I have chives in a pot that need to be planted. I’ll get some mint and oregano when the spring shipments start.

The bottlebrush aka Pampas Grass is still looking good out there. Some of the trees have already started to bud out, which is not good — we have at least two months of Anything Goes weather ahead of us, and I’m pretty sure they’re going to get clobbered by March.

Now that I’ve upgraded the blog, I’ve also tied it to my Flickr account. I’ll be futzing with the layout later, perhaps today.

Thursday, January 11, 2007 3 comments

That Went OK

After making backups of the last 9 months or so, I finally bit the bullet and “upgraded” to the new Blogger. I might futz with the template this weekend, but the important thing is that it seems to have come over all right.

Thursday, January 04, 2007 3 comments

Auto da Fe

Stuff accumulates at FAR Manor — even cars. I have no idea how we’ve managed to amass a fleet of three small cars, two SUVs (The Barge and Barge Vader) plus a motorcycle… but there they are. Two of the cars are Civics: the red one with a stick that I drive (and have retrieved from the body shop after The Boy’s little mishap), and a green one with an automatic that will become Daughter Dearest’s once she gets her full license. I had to dink with both of them yesterday evening.

The green Civic wasn’t starting. Mrs. Fetched said something about the spark plugs, so I checked them: good guess, dear; the one I pulled was pretty worn. I got some new ones and got to work last night.

For whatever reason, Honda has to make this difficult — the plugs are recessed several inches down, and the long rubber caps are a bear to get off. In fact, two of them came apart as I tried to get them off. I figured I could do the plugs now, though, and replace the wires later.

Because the plugs are recessed so far down, you need a plug socket with a neoprene insert to get them out of their wells. But the insert holds so tightly, when you put the plugs back in you have to remove the insert… or the socket comes loose from the extension. So to save time and hassle, I decided to pull all four of the old plugs then put in the new ones. To prevent crossed wires, I stuck them back in their holes.

Clink.
Onosecond: that brief but seemingly eternal moment of time between Something Bad happening and your reaction.
A piece of connector had fallen into the cylinder! I imagined having to tow the car to the mechanic, who would have to pull the head to get the pieces out. Then it occurred to me that he would probably just fish it out with a magnet… and I had one. It took a few minutes to find it, and a few more to get one end so I could pull it through the hole, but persistence paid off. I then noticed a piece of plastic propped at the rim of the hole, so I stuck a piece of fuel line on a vacuum cleaner nozzle and got that — then tried to make sure there wasn’t anything else lurking in there by sticking the hose down into the cylinder. Getting nothing but greasy carbon after a couple of tries, I figured no news was good news. I put the plugs in and figure to get the wires Saturday.

Since it was Car Night, I went to the red Civic. Daughter Dearest bought me a pair of speakers to replace the ones in the front doors, which had gotten fuzzy then quit working altogether. I pulled the first speaker out, and immediately realized why they had stopped working. Splat’s older brother had installed the speakers, but didn’t bother to solder the wires or crimp a lug to them. Renewing my vow to smack the kid next time I see him, I got my soldering iron and my new roll of solder, and got to work. Now I have two working speakers, plus two new ones. Mrs. Fetched suggested I put the new ones in the green Civic if they’re needed. Not a bad idea.

Now tonight, I’m sitting at a gas station waiting for help. Y’see, I had another flat tire this evening. While I have a jack this time, the lug wrench has disappeared. And it’s starting to rain. So I can relate to Family Man’s mood tonight…

Wednesday, January 03, 2007 4 comments

To sleep, perchance to snore

Mrs. Fetched took Daughter Dearest to the doctor early last month, because she was feeling run down all the time. I figured that whatever it was could be fixed by her getting some exercise and staying off the phone with her boyfriend in Indiana at night — when you’re 17, you usually don’t need to worry about chronic conditions, after all. Mrs. Fetched agreed with me, but the doctor thought she might have sleep apnia.

Now none of the Fetched family figured there was anything to this — especially Daughter Dearest. Even she figured she needed to exercise more and lose some weight. Nevertheless, the doc (who has been pretty good overall) scheduled her for a sleep test at the clinic next to the hospital. As Daughter Dearest is a homebody, who likes her bed, we figured this would throw some false readings. And yet, off we went one cold night — and found that we had to check in at the hospital. Inconvenience is the most sure way to rile Mrs. Fetched, and this is certainly no exception. But after checking in, we hiked back across the parking lot (quickly! it’s cold!) to the sleep clinic where the technician and a big ol’ pile of wires was waiting.

So he got to work, putting goop and a couple dozen wires on her head and elsewhere. Her attitude wasn’t exactly wonderful, so when I asked her which finger they put the tape on… she showed me!



This was before they put the airmask on her.

When we went to pick her up the next morning, she said, “I’m sure they’ll say I failed. I didn’t sleep well all night.” Sure enough, a couple of weeks later the results came in, but the data was stuff that didn’t reflect a restless night: she stopped breathing rather frequently and her oxygen levels dropped to 70 (they should stay around 90 or better), causing an erratic heart rate. When they turned on the airflow, everything went normal. So now she has one of those CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines.

Mrs. Fetched figures I should have a sleep test, too. It wouldn’t surprise me if I do have sleep apnia — I’ve woken up on occasion feeling like I wasn’t getting any air. In my case, though, I tried the low-tech version: Breathe-Right strips. Mrs. Fetched had bought some for me in the past, but I never felt like they were doing my any good. I snore, but so does she. But this time, I noticed that when wearing them, I go to sleep faster and don’t wake up in the middle of the night (and I don’t snore nearly as much). So I’ll probably be using them for… ever.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007 3 comments

That Floating Feeling

For whatever reason, I like wooden boats — must be a mid-life crisis thing. I have to occasionally combat the urge to buy a wooden sailboat kit (not only do I have the urge to get a boat, mind you, but I want to build it) by simple logic: I have little spare time to engage in either boat-building or sailing, and the only sizable body of water near FAR Manor is populated primarily by pickled powerboaters. Another powerful disincentive, that we had nothing suitable for towing a trailer, was nullified last year with the addition of Barge Vader to our fleet. But the lack of opportunity and high hazard potential generally do the job.

The substitute idea — a fiberglass/plastic kayak — is proving harder to fight. Not only are they affordable, I could carry something that light on top of my Civic and there are plenty of small rivers or mountain streams around here. I could even take it to the lake were I feeling sufficiently foolhardy, or even to Florida. The only argument I can find against it is that I would have to get Mrs. Fetched to help me leave a vehicle at the endpoint of my trip — and with Daughter Dearest about to get a full-fledged driver’s license, that would be less of an issue as well.

So last week I found myself, against my will, at Wal-Mart. Bored stiff, I picked up a “magazine” that turned out to be full of plans for home-built boats... including a couple of kayaks. It’s winter! So build it over the winter and take it out come spring. It’s 17 feet long! So tow it with Barge Vader. This was getting scary — fortunately, the kayak article itself provided me with an out: “you can drag it across a rocky bottom, but you shouldn’t.” Streams on Planet Georgia are nothing but rocky bottoms, and often shallow. Whew, dumb move averted by the source of temptation itself!

I’ve found I can replace the urge to get a boat with paintings of wooden boats. I found a small print at the community yard sale last year, now hanging in the outbuilding I’m now calling Studio FARfetched. The preacher’s wife remembered me looking for one, and gave me a numbered David Knowlton print (called “Misty Morning”) that they’ve had for a few years for Christmas. The frame is a little loose, but still hangs. We put it above the TV so I’ll have something worth looking at when I’m facing that way.

It would be nice to have both the time and the money for a boat. But we’d have to perform chickenhouse-ectomy first, I figure.

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