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Friday, June 30, 2006 1 comment

Friday Night Cinema

You get paid on Friday... next Friday... and you don’t have time to drag yourself to the theater anyway.

Tonight’s selection is a horror flick... or it would be horrifying if you could only stop laughing at the soundtrack. Go watch it and see I’m right.

Soundtrack: Jonathan Coulton

Video/machinima: Mike “Spiff” Booth, a program manager at Adobe. If he manages FrameMaker, I understand why the thing has been languishing lately: he’s too busy making silly machinima to pay attention to his product. :-P j/k!!!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006 2 comments

We have network

I have to hand it to Alltel — the new DSL box came in today, the most optimistic end of the 3–5 days the support guy said it would take. The CD had been shoved into the box at an odd angle and came out warped, but it wasn’t difficult to locate the disk that came with the old DSL box and use that instead.

With the DSL working again, I quickly realized that the Airport hub had taken a hit in the Ethernet port as well. I had just enough time to get to Office Max before they closed and grabbed a D-Link router. It didn’t take long to set it up and get it talking to the DSL box, and it has a built-in 4-port Ethernet hub so I took the Netgear hub out.

Daughter Dearest is ecstatic, and I’m pretty happy too because I can work at home tomorrow.

Work stuff

Some brief scenes of work lately....

I got moved to a different cube last week, after being told I wasn’t moving, which in turn came after I was told to get packing. This was the first time I’ve moved cubes where it wasn’t part of a group move: instead of grabbing boxes off a stack and told to pack up everything, a Facilities person did 90% of the job for me. He moved all the stuff that wasn’t on my desk (taking drawers or the entire piece of furniture), and all I had to do was clear the desk and set up my phones and computer at the new cube.

The new cube is an improvement, although it would have been hard to find a worse cube than the one I just left after several years: near a main traffic area, across from the training room (the trainer’s voice carries and he leaves the door open, not to mention the equipment noise), as far away from windows as possible. The new cube is near a window, and there’s a little chit-chat and equipment noise, but nothing my headphones can’t drown out.

One problem: the keyboard support was broken. I emailed the Facilities guy asking for a replacement, preferably with a mouse surface. So yesterday I came in to find a new platform on the floor and a Ryobi 18V drill in its case. When the assistant didn’t show up after an hour, I took drill in hand and did the five-minute transplant job myself. It’s a great stand; enough room to use it for lunch (after moving the keyboard).

Last night, I sat down and made a list of all the things I’d like to do given the time, or see happen in general. I might post it later, but none of the work-related items had anything to do with my current employment. Scary.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006 4 comments

What The Boy hasn’t learned

That could actually be the subject of a voluminous blog in its own right, but for now we’ll limit it to one thing: he hasn’t learned that “magic” words only work on machinery.

I came home from work yesterday, to exactly what I expected: no supper. Fine, whatever, I had some last photos to shoot for a work thing and had picked up two MOVs to fix a surge protector. While retrieving a tripod for the photos, Mrs. Fetched rolled in. I didn’t say anything, just went into the outbuilding and shot the photos.

I needed a Phillips screwdriver to get into the surge protector (one of those nice old Isobar models that have screws holding the case together — not something you want to throw away if you can salvage it), and didn’t have it in the outbuilding. I came back out to find Mrs. Fetched dumping gas into her Barge and the detached garage opened up.

“We need to make sure the windows in the garage don’t open,” she told me. “The Boy said he’s going to get his guitars and amps tomorrow, and he’s not getting them until he pays us for the phone bill.” Neither one of us said the obvious: he probably wanted to sell them to buy drugs. I forgot to mention: last weekend, he admitted his friend borrowed his phone and pretty much stayed on it constantly, running up $600 worth of airtime (putting the girlies to shame). Mrs. Fetched demanded his phone, he threw a tantrum and left, and Mrs. Fetched had his number suspended first thing Monday. So with that in mind, I went back into the outbuilding and finished what I was doing (the new order: I’m not suspending anything for anybody in this free-range insane asylum). Then I picked up a two-by-four laying around, measured out the right length, and fed it to the table saw.

Just in time: as I dropped the last board into place, I heard an unfamiliar car pull up. I quickly locked the garage, shut off the lights, and closed the last door just as The Boy stepped out.

“Is the garage unlocked?” he asked.

“No. Why?”

“I’m going to get my guitar and amp.”

“No you’re not. Not until you pay us the $600 for the phone.”

“F— that. Open the garage or I’ll bust a window.”

“Go right ahead if you want to get arrested,” I said. Mrs. Fetched came back outside, phone in hand, and heard the last exchange. “I’ll call the law!” she yelled, waving the phone.

The Boy walked right up to the door, perhaps he pushed it to see if it hadn’t latched, but decided not to call our (non-)bluff. “F— you! F— you!” he started screaming, walking back to the car (a wise move on his part... if he’d wanted a fight, in my frame of mind I’d have given him plenty more than he wanted).

“F— you right back,” I replied, with the appropriate gesture, as he got back in the car. “You think you’re going to just order us around and blow off your obligations to us, you’re wrong.” The girl at the wheel of this silver Grand Am (with an airbrushed “Kindra” plate on the front) waved at us a couple of times. Mrs. Fetched saw it as more provocation (anything she doesn’t understand is a provocation); I saw it as the futile gesture of someone trying to be helpful and wandering into the middle of something she didn’t want to be a part of.

He rolled down his window and screamed from the safety of the car, “You sell my stuff and I’ll sue you! I’ll sue you!”

“Nobody said anything about selling it,” Mrs. Fetched said with a minimum of heat. “You can have it as soon as we get the money for the phone bill.” He spat something about getting the money from his friend and they drove off. His last gesture was what old-timers would call a “V for Victory” sign — I’m not sure how kids interpret it.

Reruns of the Summer of Discontent are the last thing I need right now. Or maybe I need them as something to direct all my own anger toward. The less time I spend at FAR Manor for now, the better.

Monday, June 26, 2006 No comments

Weekend Wash-out

I should have known better than to think I was going to spend Saturday at the resort. My first hint should have been the phone starting to ring about 7:30 on Saturday morning — and I’ve let the in-laws know (several times, with various amounts of strength) that they should leave us alone until 9. I didn’t mind taking a turn at the chicken houses in the morning — Daughter Dearest had a headache and I would be enjoying the rest of the afternoon. Before we left, I threw some bread into the machine on the dough cycle, to take care of when we got back.

But as we were wrapping up, her dad came by and asked if I could help with putting an extension on the standpipe in his pond, to raise it up another foot or so. I really didn’t want to, but I’d told him some time back that I would help with that so I was pretty much stuck. Besides, I figured I could still light out right after we finished, and spend the rest of the afternoon and early evening taking a well-deserved mini-break. This pipe thing didn’t turn out so well: he had the extension bolted inside a much larger pipe; the pond water would flow up from underneath and out the extension, but the larger pipe stuck up a few more inches so debris wouldn’t have a chance to clog the outflow. Great idea on paper, but it added about 50 pounds to the weight. To make a long story short, the boat drifted backwards as I was trying to left the assembly into place and the whole thing ended up at the bottom of the pond. I was a lot more upset about it than he was; he said he’d get his grapple and try to pull it out later.

So it was time for Mrs. Fetched to deliver the coup de grace. She handed me a faucet repair kit and told me I had to fix the kitchen faucet at the rental place. $#¡+!!! Like these people are freeking paying rent anyway, more than once a whenever it won’t impact their cigarette budget. I wrote off the day and went to fix the sink.

“Oh, you can go tomorrow after church,” she reassured me. “Hey, we’ll all go after church.” Riiiiiiiiight. Like it wasn’t going to rain. I went ahead and took the photos for work that I’d figured to take Sunday, and then we all went bowling (which was actually an excuse for Daughter Dearest to meet up with a kid that she’d talked to online). The bowling outing went OK, although we would have been better off quitting after two games. The kid’s Dad, it turns out, knows a lot of the same local folks Mrs. Fetched does; we ended up yakking all evening nearly to midnight. While we were out, the rain started rolling in and lightning nailed the DSL box that I thought I’d unplugged.

Sunday morning dawned as expected: threatening. The sky pretty much opened up on us on the way to church; my little Civic hydroplaned a couple of times but I kept the car straight and the speed down, getting there without incident. It pretty much rained hard all through the service, when it wasn’t pouring even harder. We had no idea how hard until we started heading home.

Less than a mile from home, the SUV in front of us stopped and turned around. Once he cleared his bulky self out of the way, we saw why: a tree down across the road. Two ways to go around, and the shorter way involves a dirt road for a stretch. I turned around and headed back, flashing my lights at oncoming cars to warn them of impending unhappiness ahead.

All the creeks were flooding over; one usually scenic pasture on a sheep farm was especially wetter than normal. Crossing a large creek, it looked scary even though the water was still well below the road... and this is what the crossing looked like several hours later. The next creek was even scarier at that time; it was over the road a couple of inches. In one of the less intelligent moves I’ve made since moving up here in the first place, I put it in low gear and crossed it (without incident). There was another tree down just before the driveway, but the sheriff’s office had some prisoners clearing it and they finished shortly enough.

“Resort delayed is resort denied,” I told Mrs. Fetched.
“Hm. Well, you can go next weekend.”
Like I believe she meant it. July 4 weekend? The place will be packed even if I was allowed away from FAR Manor. Even now, it doesn’t do to dwell on it much... anger doesn’t solve anything for me.

Rain gauges were full, so we got at least six inches of rain in the space of a few hours — after six weeks of nearly no rain at all. Making up a rain deficit is one thing, making it up all at once is another.

But the nightmare was only beginning. Whatever wind there was in the storm blew copious amounts of rain into two of the chicken houses... unless it just went under the foundation and came up from below. Oh, and we had to shovel our driveway out of the road. Already in “I just don’t care anymore” mode, I basically shut off my brain and did whatever I was told until it was time to leave.

I might feel differently about things if I felt like I was getting support through the week — things like supper waiting when I got home from work (which pretty much makes everything else possible around here), things either clean or nobody griping about them not being clean, or if I thought anyone had any respect for projects that I would like to work on from time to time. But the way things are, everyone seems to think that I’m obligated to them from 7a.m. Saturday morning to 11p.m. Sunday night. There’s not going to be a repeat. One way or the other.

Saturday, June 24, 2006 No comments

The Lord Provideth

Mrs. Fetched told me yesterday (Thursday) that she was thinking about taking the kids up to a resort where we have a membership, about an hour from FAR Manor. Naturally, I wouldn’t be able to go along, since I would be working. So I opined that I might go on Saturday. Telegraphing weekend plans to Mrs. Fetched can be a mistake some times; she has a habit of torpedoing them.

So we were wrapping up VBS this evening, and she caught me and told me what I least wanted to hear: it was our turn to clean the church, and we would have to do that before I could go anywhere tomorrow.

But The Lord Provideth: some of the other people were taking down decorations and starting to clean, so not only was it happening tonight, we were going to have a lot of help! A couple of the young teenage females even took over vacuuming the sanctuary, which is usually what I do when we clean. Naturally, I had to go over a couple of the spots they missed, and they didn't know I usually run the vacuum over the pews (which are upholstered)... but they caught on fast.

Looks like I’ll get a little poolside break tomorrow after all... unless something else blows up.

Thursday, June 22, 2006 No comments


This afternoon, as I was pounding on work stuff & Mrs. Fetched was doing the same with her own, she told me: “I can’t wait for this week to be over with.”

I said, “I’ve felt that way since Tuesday.”

Grasping the nettle

Two projects blew up on me at work this week. That wouldn’t usually be a major problem — happens all the time — except that I got volunteered to run the games for Vacation Bible School at church this week. Then someone got the brilliant idea to start VBS at 6:30 instead of 7:00, which gave me no time to run home and get prepared... but now it’s out of my hands; I had to pass off the games to my (quite capable) assistant.

A while back, I mentioned wanting to move a desk into the bedroom, and expecting Mrs. Fetched to deprecate it as she usually does any idea of mine. But now it’s too hot to work on the porch (summers have attitude in the south, and the first day of summer had it in spades here), and everyone else was at VBS, so I just went ahead and did it. Then I ate some leftovers and got to work.

The family came in a bit after 9:00. Mrs. Fetched walked in, saw my setup, and said, “Good thing you cleaned that area up. That looks good there.” I was stunned but did a decent job of not showing it.

Just goes to show... Mrs. Fetched is completely predictable if you run an idea by her. But if you just do it, she’s completely random.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006 3 comments

That didn’t last long...

Daughter Dearest has already bailed from her first job, after just over a week. Some b***h of a customer got snippy with her, which upset her, and her boss decided DD couldn’t handle the stress. She still has the second job with our friends from church, who have an e-learning business, so she’s not completely back to nesting in her room with the laptop. She (and Mrs. Fetched) met with her erstwhile boss today, who hasn’t changed her mind but will be willing to re-hire her once she has more waitressing experience.

So I think she’s going to apply at Fire Mountain. With any luck, we’ll be able to talk them into putting her on the same shift as M.A.E. so we only have to do one drop-off and pick-up.

I know the answer, but I can’t say...

Well, I can’t say it on a public mailing list using my real name, anyway. But it’s too funny not to share.

The following conversation took place on a mailing list I subscribe to. The text in red is from a documentation manager who works for a competitor; text in blue is someone who is trying to be helpful.

Anyone with experience converting from AuthorIT to FrameMaker 7.2?

Did you have any significant problems? What sort of prep work did you do before converting?

Why are you interested in converting from AuthorIT to FrameMaker? I ask because I have just been working in a place where AuthorIT is being considered as a replacement for FrameMaker - is AuthorIT not delivering the goods?

My company uses FrameMaker and may go to XmetaL eventually. We acquired a company that outsourced the doc to a turn-key vendor that does not even store files on our corporate server, let alone use our standard templates, our file management system, and so on. This creates all sorts of problems, including putting our intellectual property at risk, severely limiting our control of resourcing projects, and so on.

At this point, I should mention that I have a pretty good idea of which company it is that got acquired: one I used to work for about ten years ago, in fact — although the outsourcing bit must have happened recently. And so the thread continues:

Thanks! That sort of outsourcing takes a lot of courage, or faith in your supplier, or stupidity!

You can probably guess what my vote would be. I was happy for the employees of this particular ex-corporation to see them get acquired; that’s a place in dire need of a culture enema. In fact, once the enema has been administered, I would consider working for them again.

I thought about jumping in on a thread on one of the other mailing lists that the competitor posted to, where my email address isn’t tied to the company I work for, but I don’t have anything to say that they probably aren’t aware of already — there isn’t a trivially easy migration path. You have to do what engineers call a “double-pump,” convert to an intermediate format that both programs understand, then convert that to your target format. If they are using structured FrameMaker, they could create AuthorIT templates to export XML in a format that their FrameMaker setup could use directly. Otherwise, they should export to Word format, using the same style names as their FrameMaker templates, and expect some cleanup work.

A question that will be harder to answer, but the manager is going to have to ask soon, is “Do we clear the decks of any ongoing work and do this conversion all at once, or convert each document as it’s needed?” There are advantages and trade-offs either way. Doing it all at once means you might miss some deadlines (which tend to slip on their own anyway), and you may end up converting documents that you won’t need later on, but you also don’t need to keep a rather expensive AuthorIT database around. Doing it piecemeal is probably easier, but you have to keep the old rig around (unless you just export everything to the intermediate format and do the second conversion later) and the goal line is hard to see (how do you know when you’re done?).

Such are the decisions a manager has to make. I suppose if I were the one making the decision, I would export everything to the intermediate format, and archive anything not being actively maintained. Then I could decommission the AuthorIT rig and “insource” some writers to import the active projects and get to work.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006 8 comments

The frustration of forgetting

The usual pre-visitor cleaning frenzy is well under way at FAR Manor. Let me be frank here: I usually don’t bother doing any cleaning until Mrs. Fetched gets into a lather about it, because it’s a losing battle. The 80/20 rule applies here: 80% of the clutter is caused by 20% of the people (one, and that’s Mrs. Fetched). She’ll come in and drop whatever she’s carrying — groceries, mail, tools, church stuff — on the most convenient horizontal surface because she’s too tired or too busy to deal with it right away. Naturally, she denies it. (I suppose I would too.)

The real problem arises when I try to do (or suggest) something that might be something approaching a solution. Any time I’ve done anything, she immediately shoots it down with no consideration of discussion. Fool that I am, I keep forgetting this and need a reminder from time to time.

So during the cleanup, a couple of dusty paper trays (in/out boxes) turned up. Hey, I thought, we both end up with magazines and miscellaneous bits of paper strewn around the house — why not put these to use as a way to collect those things we haven’t dealt with yet? Since there was plenty of “test data” on the kitchen table and the built-in desk next to it, I laid the trays side-by-side on the desk and started sorting stuff into them. I guess The Boy gets his ability to construct elaborate fantasy worlds from me — I had the idea all laid out in my mind. Anything we weren’t ready to sort through would go in our inboxes; we could put stuff in each others’ boxes as long as we didn’t care what happened to it next. No more clutter all over the place, right?


Mrs. Fetched took one look at it and immediately said, “That can’t go there. I’m putting the bread box there.” No curiosity about what I had in mind, no consideration given to the idea — and when I tried to explain, it immediately became open hostility. It was my idea, it was a solution, therefore it had to die and quickly. I tipped the contents of her box onto the desk, picked up the few things of mine and dropped them in the bedroom, then took the trays to the outbuilding where they might see some use.

Mrs. Fetched isn’t very big on solutions, she much prefers to complain about the problems instead. This has been demonstrated over and over again, and it just doesn’t seem to stick in my mind no matter how often it’s been hammered in (probably because I can’t even imagine such illogical thinking). She would rather complain about mice in the house than let the cats in, for example. I suppose it would be OK if my entire home life consisted of following her around and cleaning up after her, but that’s too high a price to pay. In the last couple of years, I have begun to understand why some men will go from work to a bar for several hours — there’s no supper (but lots of complaints) waiting at home, why would anyone rush to go home to that?

I then considered setting up a small desk in our bedroom where I can keep my things organized, but I know exactly how that would play out. First, there would be resistance to bringing a desk in — it would make it harder to reach the blinds, it would block the window, it would block the vent, it doesn’t look right, etc. etc. etc. Even if by some miracle I brought the desk in without her disapproval, it would rapidly become useless to me. She has no concept of “my” space: it’s her house, her kitchen, her furniture... I just pay for everything.

Proof: In the house we lived in before, she suggested I take over a room that had been added on and was connected to the rest of the house through an opening where the dining room window used to be and a door that opened on the porch. I had the place all set up the way I wanted it... and then anything she didn’t want to deal with, she started throwing in that room. I’d clean it up and she would throw more stuff in. Before too long, I was having a hard time keeping enough floor space clear to walk from one end to the other. After a while, I gave up — then she complained how messy it looked. I told her to stop throwing her crap in there and she escalated hostilities. I’ve never been one for confrontation, unless pushed to the wall, and that works against me (but some years back, every time she complained about clutter, I would automatically respond “Stop buying more crap at Wal-Mart all the time then,” until she actually stopped). At FAR Manor, the reason my outbuilding hasn’t been treated likewise is because it’s not part of the house — it’s more convenient for her to drop things on a table than walk 30 yards (round-trip).

So I guess I’ll have to start spending more time out there. I have enough air conditioning, but need better heat in the winter. I also need to get Ethernet or wireless run out there somehow (wireless might be easier if I can get a signal through the sheet-metal siding), and get a small refrigerator where I can keep some beer, then I’ll be home free. Daughter Dearest said about this plan, “and we’ll never see you again.” Well, maybe, at least until Mrs. Fetched is ready to do more about problems than complain.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006 2 comments

Making lemonade

When you’re confronted with a device designed to be used against you, how do you react? Geeks find their own uses for technology.

This is precisely why attempts to firewall access to naughty sites is ultimately futile — motivated kids will eventually break through whatever obstacles you throw at them, or (like in this case) turn them to their advantage. You have to trust them to make good choices — in our case, we’re batting .500 at the moment.

Monday, June 12, 2006 4 comments

Things that make you go “hunh!”

One of the good things about the Techcomm list is that it’s not archived. That means we can gripe about our jobs, or make jokes about Britney Spears, or otherwise say what’s on our mind, without it coming back to haunt us when a prospective employer googles our names.

So during the silly jokes about June 6, 2006 being the Day of the Beast, a couple of people asked what that was about... and the discussion quickly turned to comparative religion. Somebody posted a link to Beliefnet’s Personality Quiz, that is supposed to compare your personal beliefs with those of various religions and denominations. The Techcomm tradition is to take whatever quiz is given and post the results for all to see (remember, no archives!).

But I have to admit being boggled by my results (top 5 of 26 shown):
1. Orthodox Quaker (100%)
2. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (85%)
3. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (75%)
4. Seventh Day Adventist (72%)
5. Liberal Quakers (70%)

Along with the obligatory oatmeal joke, one of the responses pointed to the Quaker Wikipedia entry. I like what I saw, although I suppose I’m predisposed to like it given my quiz results. The funny hats are mostly gone, a result of Quakers realizing that their dress code was becoming a badge of pride — that takes guts, admitting that one of your most distinctive features is getting in the way of your faith. Nowadays, “plain dress” means having the clothes you truly need and avoiding designer brands or other ostentation. I guess I could give up the Hawaiian shirts.

Not that it matters; finding the funny hat and so on would probably be easier than finding a Quaker congregation on this part of Planet Georgia. There are several “meetings” (as they call them) in metro Atlanta, but that’s a long drive from FAR Manor. Fortunately, where I am now (Methodist, see #2 on the list), the church is flexible enough to accommodate most Quaker beliefs and would indeed consider many of them to be virtuous. So unless I find myself moving to Pennsylvania or Ohio, I don’t see myself changing churches any time soon.

Take the quiz, if you dare, and post your results in the comments. This could be fun.

The wisdom of a teenager

Daughter Dearest wound up, on a Sunday afternoon of all things, being the only waitress at the lodge. The other one called in sick. She summed it up thus: “Real life sucks. Almost as much as the other kind.” There’s a kind of Zen-like quality to that statement.

’Course, the bright side was that she got all the tips for the afternoon & evening. Just the credit card tips came to $75, and her cash tips tend to match the credit tips, so if she made less than $140 on the night I would be surprised. We were joking yesterday that she would be able to afford a car before she got her real driver's license. If she has a few more nights like that, it won’t be a joke.

Saturday, June 10, 2006 2 comments

“Chigger Weed”

That’s what Mrs. Fetched calls them, anyway. It’s growing wild in front of an azalea along the driveway. Each flower is about the size of a dime.

I noticed them this morning while weed-eating, and decided to get a picture instead of mowing them down — sometimes, I’ll take the bribe of flowers or berries that a weed offers. But I wailed on a lot of briars, grass sprouting here & there, and small pine trees (and I’ve pulled up hundreds of the little suckers). I also ran enough sticks through the chipper to supply our mulch needs for the forseeable future, and used the Mantis that we bought at a yard sale last week to uproot all the weeds in between the sunflower rows.

If you’ve never seen a Mantis, they’re a cool little gadget — basically, a mini-tiller powered by a two-smoke chain saw engine. I got the hang of it pretty quickly, and the way it bounces when it hits a rock is quite amusing. I got two feet of air once last night, chewing up the grass in a flower bed. It really does great when the dirt is soft, digs in and starts throwing rocks at you out the back. When it gets too much vegetation wrapped around the tines, I hang it in a tree and pull out the strings.

Here in the late afternoon, it’s too hot to work outside. I finally broke down and stuck the window air conditioner in the outbuilding.

Her First Job

I picked up Daughter Dearest from her first day being a waitress. She was exhausted, footsore, and had about $35 in tips.

Seems that the lodge’s idea of waitress training involves teaming you up with two more experienced servers and throwing you to the wolves having you serve a party of 57. She only messed up the drinks once, pouring unsweet tea into sweet tea glasses, and spilled a little coffee on her leg. Not bad for her first day. She’ll get used to being on her feet pretty quick; I figure it won’t bother her at all in about a week. We just have to make sure she has good shoes.

She’ll be doing this five days a week, all summer long. She’ll probably pull in $200 a week, which isn’t fantastic but not bad for a high school kid. It will be enough to get a car, or maybe a scooter or small motorcycle. (She has always loved the wind in her face.) They'll cut her hours back when school starts, probably to three evenings a week, but that will be enough for gas and so on.

Just think: In two years, God willing, we’ll be packing her off to college.

Friday, June 09, 2006 4 comments

Pesto season has arrived!

My basil plant finally got big enough where I felt comfortable harvesting some leaves for pesto. Next thing I knew, it was blooming. I’m going to snap off the flower/seed stalks, mostly, so it doesn’t get four feet high overnight.

Click on the tight close-up to get a wider view.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006 4 comments

Bee and Spanish Lavender

Taken in front of a Mexican restaurant yesterday. I just happened to have my camera with me. The bees were all over the lavender, but didn’t stay in one place very long. I just kept shooting until I got a couple of bees more or less in focus.

Lost in Translation

Another gem from Techcomm.

There were red faces in the Ordnance Survey office when its English surveyors returned from compiling a list of house names in mid- and north Wales. The results contained an unusually high number of properties called “Gwyliwch rhag y ci” or “Caewch y git,” better known in English as “Beware of the Dog” or “Shut the Gate.”

What’s worse than a song stuck in your head?

Answer: one stuck in your head that you’re dancing to.

This is all Daughter Dearest’s fault. Night before last, she introduced me to Cascada. iTunes has her album, Every Time We Touch, but for a whole CD’s worth of tunes I’d rather spend a couple extra bucks on the disc than download the songs and deal with even Apple’s lightweight DRM.

So yesterday we were out & about, Mrs. Fetched and Daughter Dearest were getting DD some tan pants for her new job (she starts Friday). I figured instead of hanging around a clothing store, which is right up there with a trip to the dentist in my book, I’d pop into Target on the way home to see if they had the Cascada CD. They did, I called the wimmin to let them know, and headed on home.

So I loaded up the iPod and gave it a listen. Whoa... just the stuff I like: high-energy, massively upbeat. And then I started spontaneously twitching to the song, now well stuck in my head. Thank God I didn’t have any meetings today. As it was, I was constantly trying to keep a lid on it while anyone else was around. (If you want to hear what has been bedeviling me all day, hit the above link and select “Everytime We Touch” on her jukebox.)

It’s finally flushing out... maybe because I’m listening to DI.fm Hardcore and I have something external to make me twitch.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006 2 comments


Today is June 6, 2006, considered the Day of the Beast by some (6/6/6, geddit?). JohnB on the Techcomm list dredged up some information that might be... uh, handy.

My personal favorite is 666F.

660 Approximate number of the Beast

DCLXVI Roman numeral of the Beast

666.0000 Number of the High Precision Beast

0.666 Number of the Millibeast

/ 666 Beast Common Denominator

(-666) ^ (1/2) Imaginary number of the Beast

1010011010 Binary of the Beast

1-666 Area code of the Beast

00666 Zip code of the Beast

Phillips 666 Gasoline of the Beast

Route 666 Highway of the Beast

666 F Oven temperature for Roast Beast

666 mg Recommended Minimum Daily Requirement of Beast

666i BMW of the Beast

668 Next-door neighbor of the Beast

766 Upstairs neighbor of the Beast

333 The semi-Christ

Monday, June 05, 2006 No comments

Daughter Dearest, photo artiste

Daughter Dearest had a little fun with the camera and iPhoto today, and came up with a couple of good ones. She was gracious enough to allow me to share them....

The Eyes have it


This is SO true

Go visit Shout Out Out Out and click the link for “Forever Indebted.” The lyrics are quite rude, but sometimes The Truth doesn’t come in pretty packages.

For some light humor with family-friendly lyrics, try the next song down: “Nobody Calls Me Unless They Want Something." Perfect song for the Robot Dance, and I can relate.

I survived the weekend

The wedding shoot went OK. No dead batteries, no mangled tapes, nobody fell out of the balcony/hallway (which would have been me since I was the one up in the balcony).

So Daughter Dearest (who ran the third camera) applied for a waitress job at the iHop yesterday... and got a waitress job at the mountaintop lodge where The Boy used to work. I’m still trying to figure out how that worked.

Sunday, June 04, 2006 1 comment

Looooooong day

It began at 6 a.m. this morning (and I especially don’t like getting up that early on weekends) to help set up the church yard sale. It continued first with hauling furniture to the yard sale, then a quick shower and over to a wedding rehearsal (we’ve videotaping the wedding tomorrow & wanted to figure out where to put the cameras and what to shoot).

After the rehearsal dinner, we trundled home for a while. I just got back from picking up M.A.E. from her new job at Fire Mountain (which she is doing quite well at in the first few days, learning what she needs to and everything). So I’ve been going for nearly 19 hours straight.


Friday, June 02, 2006 5 comments

It never registered

As the time for refinishing the wood floor in our living room draws ever closer (i.e. we’ll get it done someday), questions come up. One of the big ones is what we’re going to do about the baseboard heaters lining many of the walls.

The baseboards are the original heating system in the manor. There’s an oil-fired boiler in the basement that used water from the original well (a second well was drilled somewhere along the way, because of the taste of the water in the first); the system would simply send hot water (steam?) through the baseboards. If I remember correctly, the house I lived in through high school (in Moline, MI) had a similar system. You would hear an occasional gurgle, and that was about it.

Over the years, a couple of problems developed with the system: the chimney cap came off, and a water pipe broke somewhere upstairs. The previous owners threw up their hands, installed a gas furnace (actually one upstairs and one downstairs), and shut down the baseboard system. The chimney is blocked up with a piece of tin, with a couple of bricks to keep it there, to keep rain water from running in.

A friend of ours used to do construction work, until he fell off a roof a couple of years ago and broke his neck. He cruises around in a wheelchair most days, but on good days he manages with a walker or even a cane. He’s trying to get back into the saddle, as a designer & supervisor if nothing else. So when we told him we were planning to refinish our floor, he advised against it — he explained the process, and the many things to go wrong, irreversibly so. But when we got quoted $4200 to have it done (which would about cover a new floor entirely), we’ve pretty much decided to take our chances.

It was the process of getting the quote that led to the question of the baseboards. A floor sander can’t quite reach the corners, so normally you cover that up with some molding. The baseboards protrude nearly two inches from the wall, and are mounted about an inch above the floor, so they’ll have to come off (the quote included removing and discarding the baseboard). When I mentioned that to our friend, he got a funny look and asked us why we wanted to take them out — hey, they’re not working anyway.

“Some people use them for cooling,” he said. “You bury a water tank and pump water through the system. It works about as good as air conditioning.”

“That system pulls water out of its own well,” I pointed out. “What if we just ran a return line to the well instead of using a tank?”

He looked awestruck. “That would be cold water coming out of a well!”

So I need to find and fix a water line upstairs, locate the original well, and run a return pipe to it. If it doesn’t pan out, there’s not a lot of investment involved. Low risk, potential high return, what more could you ask? But now we’ll have to remove the baseboards to do the floor and replace them afterwards.


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