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Wednesday, September 30, 2020 1 comment

Taking a break

When I last talked about my remote workspace, I was adding a 40" monitor. So I got rhythm, I got music I have good lighting, lots (but never enough) of screen real estate, powered speakers I connect to my phone for music and conference calls… but not all was perfect in my homemade remote worker’s paradise.

We replaced the kitchen island a while back, and the old one is upstairs. I thought about using it as a makeshift standing desk, but that didn't materialize. Worse, it was a tight squeeze between the island and the big monitor, and Charlie banged his head on the corner of the monitor more than once when coming to visit. The only natural light is from a narrow gable, and that was partly blocked by the window A/C unit.

Mason’s fall break ran from Thursday through today, so I took the days off as well, hoping to camp down at the pond again. But with Beta coming for the weekend, bringing about two inches of rain, we decided to stay home. We tackled some of the stuff upstairs, making a little more room. I looked at the gable window, with the A/C blocking a good third of the incoming natural light, and looked at the island.

As Gru would say: “Light bulllllb.”

With an anxious Mason holding up the window, I pulled the A/C out of the window… and immediately got a bath from rainwater not quite drained out of the unit. I also found a few slits in my fingertips, compliments of my wrapping them too far around the back, but toilet paper and pressure took care of that. I borrowed a lid from a large storage tub to put the unit on as I carried it out to the garage to finish draining.

With the collected rainwater down to a few drips, I hucked the A/C out to what was once Studio FAR, but became the wife’s personal storage dump a while back. There was also a tall dorm fridge out there, plugged in but empty, so I unplugged it and carried it into the garage for a quick cleanup. There were a few drips of who-knows-what inside, but the ice buildup needed more than a couple disinfectant wipes to deal with. I got a blow dryer and started melting the ice while pulling at it with my fingers. It took maybe 20 minutes to defrost, and I dried it off and hucked it upstairs. Of course, the island + fridge were about one inch wider than the gable, but the gable outlet is switched anyway. I parked the fridge in front of the island and plugged it into a non-switched outlet.

With the break area ready, I began accessorizing. First came the coffee grinder and espresso maker from downstairs, along with the loose coffee sitting in freezers (and a pint of half&half). I ordered a 0.5l electric kettle, and a French press of nominally the same capacity, and they arrived over the weekend.

So everything was ready to go this morning, when I went back to work. That’s when I found the French press's idea of “0.5 liter” includes neither coffee nor the plunger. OK, so now I know to not fill the kettle quite full. This afternoon, I made a cappuccino for my 3pm power-up.

There will certainly be some other tweaks to the workspace, especially around the exercise equipment. But this is a big step forward. I can look out the window while I’m making coffee, and I don’t have to go back downstairs (with its potential distractions) unless I forget to bring a coffee cup along.

Saturday, September 19, 2020 1 comment

Nuke and pave

I’ve been thinking for a while that the county should either rename our road to Pothole Parkway, or stop playing whack-a-mole with the deteriorating asphalt and get serious about repaving it. And since there’s a lot of bike traffic on weekends, put in bike lanes while they repaved.

Wide and smooth
Mirabile dictu, the universe must have been paying attention for a change. The county is repaving the road… and putting in bike lanes!

Of course, before repaving, you have to de-pave. The results remind me a lot of the dirt roads when I was a kid in southwest Michigan: wide and smooth. Back then, the road commission would run a grader up and down them on occasion, then follow up with a coating of oil. Not only did it keep the dust down, it created something almost as solid as pavement. (They switched to something a little easier on the environment in the late 80s.) I remember piling eight teenagers in a VW Beetle and blasting our way down those roads at around 65MPH, trying to catch up to the people who knew where we were supposed to be going! Every once in a while, there would be a pothole, and some of the passengers would levitate for a moment.

But I digress. With Sally threatening to lay down a huge amount of rain, they panic-paved as much of the first section as they could. That was probably for the best, because the first section includes the steepest slopes (not like there’s any flat sections). We did get a lot of rain, but not the wash-out-road amounts that some were fearing, and most of it wasn’t that heavy. So the work goes on.

They started on the far end from FAR Manor, which is okay. We won’t get disrupted until the last leg. I'm hoping Mason and I will be the first to ride the bike lane all the way from north to south.

Thursday, September 17, 2020 No comments

Birthday campout

Mason turned 11 on Tuesday after Labor Day, and the wife planned a bash down at the pond (where there are a couple of pavilions, a swing set, and a large grassy area for kids to run loose in). Then she suggested I take the Starflyer down there and camp with Mason.

Hey, why not? I’ve been wanting to get out, and would have if it was just the adults. The whole thing about campgrounds, as I’ve said before, is kids take off and hang out with other kids. It’s awesome, unless there happens to be a pandemic going on. But if it’s just us…

It just popped up here, I swear…

The two-track down to the pond can be treacherous, but this time the washout was all on one side. I kept to the other side, and got it where I needed it. There’s not a 30A connection, so I couldn’t run the A/C, but there’s 15A connections and it only got hot for a few hours during the afternoon. I had fans, and zipped up the screen covers on the sunny side. It was nice and comfortable by bedtime. Sizzle opined that this was more glamping than camping; he had a cabin tent for his boys and strung a hammock for himself. I pointed out that sleeping on a mat on the ground is fine when you’re 30, even 40. At 50… not so much. At 60, forget it.

In the mornings, it was chilly enough that warming up a kettle on the inside stove was a welcome way to get the day started. I keep a French press in the camper for coffee, and Sizzle decided this wasn’t a bad way to camp after a cup or two. I also warm up a second kettle to put in the pump pot—so I have both hot and cold water at the sink for washing.

The birthday party was Sunday afternoon, and several relatives came down to join the fun. I pulled the Porta-Potti out of its cabinet and designated the camper as “the ladies room” for the afternoon. It’s a pretty low sit, so most of the women didn’t try it out. But the niece’s daughter found it perfect, and used it often. (I usually put it in the walkway at night, so nobody has to traipse into the woods in the dark, and it got used that way as well.)

Since Monday was a holiday, Skylar and the niece’s son stayed in the camper with Mason and me. The boys gave me the big end, Skylar got the drop-down bed (in which the dinette table sits on props and holds up the mattress) and the other boys grabbed the small end (and the bunk light with the fan… little rats).

I find that tearing down takes a lot longer than setup. Maybe it’s because my help evaporates, or maybe because I’m reluctant to admit it’s over. But Mason has a 5-day weekend (fall break) at the end of September. I’ve already taken vacation days—so if the weather cooperates, we’ll be back. Hopefully, the wife will join us this time.


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