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Showing posts with label winter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label winter. Show all posts

Monday, February 06, 2017 2 comments

In-Tents Weekend

Mason is in Cub Scouts (Tiger) now, and there are a zillion activities happening all the time. We went on his first camping trip over the weekend, over at Scoutland (a Scout Camp on Lake Lanier, near Gainesville).

So I started digging around, looking for all my old camping gear. The Boy had destroyed the big cabin tent, back in his Drunk and Doofus days, and I couldn’t locate anything but my old sleeping bag and my backpacking espresso maker (don’t judge… we’re talking dozens of pre-teen boys running around, wired on s’mores and trail mix, you gotta keep up somehow). Mason didn’t have a bag in any case, so the wife went out and got him a sleeping bag and us a tent.

I found The Boy’s old backpack from his scouting days, and there were a few useful items in it (most useful of all, a drawstring bag for clothes). So we gathered up food and other essentials, and loaded up the Miata—a backpack on wheels—and arrived at the camp as dusk was coming. Scoutland campsites have wooden platforms with metal pipe framework on them for a cabin-style tent, and several people pitched their tents on them. Our “four-person” tent1 was just slightly too large to fit comfortably on the platform, so we cleared the ground of pinecones and pitched it there. I unrolled our foam pads on the tent floor, put the bags atop them, and shoved our gear to the side. There was just enough room. I hung the battery-powered lantern on the loop at the apex of the tent, and that gave us plenty of light to arrange things as it got dark. Several people were impressed by how much stuff we pulled out of the Miata, by the way. Having gone backpacking a few times turns out to be a useful skill. ;-) For some reason, the parents’ signup sheet asked for age, and I’m pretty sure I was the oldest person there. Growing older, but not up.

The forecast low was 27°F, but that wasn’t a big deal. In fact, a couple of Girl Scouts were sleeping in hammocks. (Don’t mess with Girl Scouts!) As for us, Mason’s bag was rated for those temps, and my bag is an Army surplus down mummy bag, probably good to -40° in its prime. But I learned something important that night: when I was 28, even 38, I could toss my bag onto a foam pad and sleep okay. At 58… not so much. My hip drove into the ground, and now I find the mummy bag too confining, so I guess I need to retire it. The wife suggested (after the fact) I swap bags with Mason, which isn't a bad idea. He woke up once from the cold, and was fine after I told him to just burrow down into his bag & pull it over his head. Around 2 a.m., I fished a pool float out of the trunk of the car, blew it up (which warmed me up as well), and slept well until it deflated.

So Saturday morning was cold as you-know-what. Water buckets were iced over, cars covered in frost, etc. As Mason went to sleep at his usual bedtime, he woke up at his usual 7 a.m. The camp was dead quiet, except for him talking to me… but the Girl Scout leader (who was coordinating the campout for the county troops/packs) heard the noise and got a fire going. Soon, we had bacon and eggs going, and the kids filched marshmallows. Then the boys went running all over the large campsite, leaving the adults to wander around or sit by the fire and try to get warm.

Turns out a couple of the dads in Mason’s pack are very much into these clever things called “Hot Hands.” When you expose them to air and shake them, they produce an exothermic chemical reaction. I brought gloves that were more than adequate for 27°F, and my old ski mittens that would have sufficed for much colder temps, but my feet were cold… and I hate for my feet to be cold these days. So they tossed me a packet of “Toe Warmers,” which work the same way as the Hot Hands do. You take them out of the pack, stick them to your socks, and enjoy your day. At least I did. I also zipped into Gainesville to get an air mattress. For their part, they thought my espresso maker was awesome.

Saturday night was cold, but not as cold as before. That was fortunate, because it started raining around 2 a.m. The hammock’ers, not having thought to put up rain flies, bailed for a tent. Indeed, I think I might have been the only person in the camp who expected rain—as a motorcyclist, I know when you’re outdoors, 30% chance of rain means a near-certainty. The other pack dads left everything out, and I mean everything. So when Mason woke up at 7:15 a.m., declaring “I slept great!” I decided to just load up and go home. I always keep a towel in the Miata (highly recommended for any convertible), so I wiped down the tent and the cooler I left outside, then loaded the little car while Mason had one last run-around with the kids who hadn’t gone home Saturday afternoon. Overall, he had a blast and didn’t really want to go home.

Mason ended up with three patches for the weekend: Family Camping, Leave No Trace (for helping pick up trash), and Polar Bear (for camping in below-freezing weather). The latter is on the way, but he brought the other two home…

I left a blank spot for the Polar Bear patch

We’ll sew them onto his backpack.



1Camping equipment manufacturers love to play fast and loose with capacity. A tent measuring 6 feet by 9 feet can only be considered “four-person” if a) the people in question are children; b) they have no gear. In reality, there is barely enough room for two people and the gear you don’t want to leave outside.

Sunday, January 15, 2017 4 comments

Charlie & Mason Blogging

Mason continues to be one of Charlie's favorite people, as you can see here…

"Are you fighting a… a Diamond Ender Creeper?" "sigh No such thing, Charlie."

Can you believe the little rugrat is a year old now? I mean Charlie, of course. Mason is 7; he only acts like a one year old on occasion. Mason is doing very good in school, especially math, and will be testing for the gifted program early next month. Now if I could only get him more interested in reading.

As for Charlie, we took him to Emory Neurological Evaluation Center earlier this week (at the tail-end of Winter #1) for some tests with a team of psychologists. The schools opened Tuesday, but on a two-hour delay, so we had to keep Mason out of school and take him with us. Give him a fully-charged iPad, and he’s fine with that. They noted Charlie’s issues with coordination and the like, and that his physical appearance indicates Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. (On top of the meth issues. I so want to punch Badger Boobs right now.)

The million-dollar question is, of course, whether he can grow out of all that and lead a normal life. That was not a question they had answers for; but did schedule more tests for next month, including a genetic test.

Still, I see lots of hopeful signs, many that have just started happening. He’s always had good people skills (that, his good looks, and sunny disposition will suit him for management… and even if he isn’t all that bright, that isn’t a handicap for management). He was sick, more on than off, for the last two months but he’s finally moved on past that.

Now that he’s feeling better, he’s acting more aware of stuff going on around him. He’s also fighting sleep tooth and nail, which is only hopeful because The Boy and Mason both did the same and they were both pretty advanced—otherwise, it’s a pain in the butt. Now Daughter Dearest wasn’t much for fighting sleep, and she ended up at least as advanced, so maybe that’s not an indicator. Lately, he wants to squirm off laps and get to the floor, which we tend to forbid unless it’s fairly clean. You can see in his face that he knows he should be able to move himself around by now, and he’s really trying to get it.

But today brought a bunch of “firsts.”

He’s shown a fondness for starches lately (bread, pasta, and now rice). Just this week, he’s really started to get the hang of chewing stuff that isn’t fingers or teething aids. He’ll eat all the bread we’ll give him; usually we’ll break it into small bits and stick it in the ol’ pie hole. Today, the wife put a piece on his highchair tray; he got frustrated after several attempts at trying to pick it up. Me, not knowing about this, tried the same thing a little later. He got it on the second attempt! Then he repeated it, so he’s at least beginning to get the hang of self-feeding. At suppertime, after gobbling his container of baby food, he scarfed a good chunk of potato and a couple spoons of rice, both new foods at least in non-puree form.

In between that, I had him on his play mat on the living room floor. The phone rang, so I laid him on his tummy and grabbed it. I then heard a thump; thinking the wife had come up while I was occupied, I walked through the kitchen to see if she was in the garage. She wasn’t, but I heard Charlie wail. He had somehow gotten off the mat and was in front of Rosie’s pen… a good four feet away, and he had to have turned to get there. He’s not crawling yet, but he can flop from Point A to Point B now. On the bed, I’ve seen him get his knees underneath and scoot forward (especially if I’ve put a toy just out of reach).

With Spring #1 being an unusually warm one, all of us (including Charlie) have been enjoying the outdoors this weekend. If we’re doing stuff, he can at least sit in the stroller and watch. If he gets bored, we just send Mason over to talk to him for a few seconds. We took a brief ride in the Miata with the top down this afternoon, and I’m planning on grilling steaks for lunch tomorrow. In the middle of January, when it’s usually inhospitable outside. I might let him sit in his stroller and watch.

Saturday, December 12, 2015 5 comments

Just Add Light

It’s unusually warm for the bottom of the year on Planet Georgia. Our high today was around 72°F, a good 20 degrees above normal. So, when I announced I was heading to the grocery store, Fizzle suggested I grill some fish for supper.

Good idea, thinks I, and added salmon to my list. As it turned out, the wife had a few things she wanted to get, and Christmas presents was part of it. So we got about 90% of the presents this morning.

But we neglected not the grocery run. My feet were well sore by the time we were done, as I just came off a gout flareup (the only one this year that was more than mild) this week. There were a few other things to do this afternoon, and they got done.

This time of year, it’s pretty much dark by grilling time… but I made do.

Bring on the food!

Work lights are really useful for all sorts of things. Oh, and it’s not just Planet Georgia. Not by a long shot:



May your days be merry and warm—even if they’re not bright!

Sunday, March 01, 2015 4 comments

Winter #3

Winter #3 took up pretty much the entire second half of February. And two weeks of winter on Planet Georgia is about as much as anyone can stand.

It began with a shot of Arctic air, once again pulling temperatures below 10°F overnight. It warmed up long enough to start raining on that Monday evening, then it got cold again. And kept raining. You know what that means:

So pretty. If you don’t have to live in it.

The power started blinking on and off around 7pm Monday night. The computers, DSL, and TV are all on UPSes, so we were okay for a while. The outages started getting more frequent and longer, and we grabbed flashlights. Just after 8pm, it went down… and stayed down. For 71 hours. We lit some candles, cursed the ice, and I shut down my desktop before the UPS ran out of steam. All my mobile gadgets had a full charge, and the TV held up for another half hour before the UPS ran down. We kept ourselves occupied and went to bed when we felt like it. All night long, we heard the cracking of branches (or entire trees) coming down. (Daughter Dearest, who was sleeping upstairs, said she hoped she didn’t end up with a tree wanting to cuddle up in bed with her. None did.)

In the morning, it was pretty chilly in the bedrooms despite the fireplace insert doing a fine job. We grabbed some cold breakfast and went out to survey the situation. The roads weren’t icy, but they had a few obstructions:

Kind of hard to drive over

It was then that we realized the one thing we didn’t do the day before: get gas for the generator. A neighbor with a Jeep said he could get over or around what was on the road, and offered to take our gas cans to town. With nothing better to do in the meantime, we got the chainsaw (and we had gas for that) and got to work clearing the road. Down the road, we saw other people sawing away at the downed trees on either side of FAR Manor. With the southbound lanes cleared, the wife called the guy she had working on the farm and had him bring the tractor up. There were some larger trees in the northbound lanes, and once I got chunks cut he would push them to the side with the tractor. It took maybe an hour or so to get the road open.

The gas got delivered, and I got the generator started (with the help of a little starter fluid). Voila, we had lights, refrigerators, furnace—and the Internet! The phone company buried fiber all along the road a couple years ago, so the phone and DSL were working. What wasn’t working was pretty much anything that ran on 240V service: water pump, hot water heater, stove, and dryer. We had water jugs and a toaster oven, though, and we were careful to run only one high-wattage appliance at a time. I had the work laptop, so I was able to get work stuff done.

On breaks, I got outside and took pictures:

Underexposed and overdramatic

We ended up getting Big V and bringing her to the manor. She hasn’t been taking good care of herself lately, and by the second day she was heading toward Diabetic Coma Land. Wife called 911 and they sent an ambulance to get her to the hospital. Otherwise, life went on, a bit of a hassle but we were warm and connected. We had to dump five gallons of gas into the generator twice a day, until the power came back on at 7pm Thursday evening.

But we weren’t out of the soup just yet. Another shot of moisture was coming. At first, the weather dudes were talking the dreaded “wintry mix,” then changed over to snow as we got closer to the actual event. It came in Tuesday night, of course. The power blipped once but stayed up—I rather thought it would, as all the stuff that was going to come down already had. But it snowed all day and night Wednesday. So here’s what it looked like outside the window come Thursday:

We usually get this much snow in March.

The Boy was here, so he took Mason and Skylar out to the pasture to slide down the hill while I worked. The temperatures were already above freezing, so Mason came in pretty much wet everywhere. Only his t-shirt was dry, so I got him into dry clothes. Meanwhile, he was complaining because he wanted to be out in it some more. (Un)fortunately for him, Mason-sicles are not allowed in the manor. It has stayed above freezing for a couple of days, so all that’s left are a few patches of slushy snow in shaded spots.

It’s March now. C’mon, spring!

Tuesday, March 04, 2014 2 comments

Spring #3 comes in like a… kneecap

Winter #3 brought snow and a little ice to FAR Manor, and a recurrence of the winter congestion that lingers for weeks. About the time the snow started melting in earnest, I was finally able to get outside and let Mason play around in what was left. He had a good time all in all, and had a howling fit about having to come inside to get warm and dry.

Then Spring #3 really got itself going, right at the end of February, and it promised a real spring to come (not soon enough). I even drove home with the top down on my Miata one sunny evening, at least until I got about 10 miles from home. There hasn’t been a Winter #4 yet, but it had better hurry up if it’s going to get here. The best part is that weekends have often been warm and sunny, while the crappy weather comes in through the week when I have to be in the office anyway.

Tonya Harding
Tanya, Queen of Kneecaps
So… the last weekend in February. Absolutely gorgeous. I spent a few hours cutting firewood for the not-so-warm nights, then washed my car. Somewhere in there, I banged my knee—the one that isn’t all that good to begin with, of course. I can’t remember how I did it, but thought at the time, “I hope I didn’t knock another bone chip off it.” But it stopped hurting after a couple minutes, so I completely forgot about it and went about my business.

Until evening, when it started hurting. And continued to hurt. By Monday, I was wondering where Reality the crutch had gone (it’s not in the closet where it belongs). To make matters even more fun, that stomach virus going around caught up with me Tuesday, because I couldn’t outrun it. I learned how to limp very quickly to the bathroom.

At work, there’s a first-aid kit with various useful things. There’s a dispenser of stuff called Pain-Aid, which is half aspirin and half ibuprofen. This combination seemed to improve things immensely. By Saturday, it was feeling fairly good… and then the wife had a bunch of errands that needed to be run and no time to run them. Off I went, limping around this store and that, and you can guess the result: by that night it was screaming again.

Rest and ibuprofen (and the ice cuff) have helped; today, it has been mostly usable. Still, it’s off to the doc tomorrow morning to check it out. Once it’s working right, maybe I can enjoy Spring #4.

Saturday, February 01, 2014 2 comments

The End (of both Winter #2 and Jury Duty)

Yesterday dawned bright and sunny, and warmed up rapidly. The snow began retreating right away. But I could not tarry to enjoy the dawning of Spring #2, as I had a jury to sit on.

So, once again, off to the courthouse. I bypassed the assembly room, and went straight on back. I’d left my Juror badge at home, because the wife hit me with three last-minute things as I was trying to edge away, but they got me another one.

“Why are there seven of us?” one of the jurors asked. “I thought the judge said they were going to pick six people.”

“I assume one of us is an alternate,” I said. “But I figured they would have told us who.” Nobody wanted to speculate further, then the bailiff came and led us in. It used to be that the judge came in last, there would be an “all rise,” and then everyone could sit after the judge did. Now, it’s the jurors who come in last, and everyone stands for us. Things change, ever so subtly, over time. (The lawyers address the judge as “judge” instead of “Your Honor,” as well, something I’ve never managed to feel comfortable with.)

So… on to the trial. New Year’s Day last year, a cop pulled over a woman doing 78 in a 55 zone. This is the edge of the retail district, and there have been several nasty wrecks at the stoplight just up the road. They smelled like booze, and she had a few bobbles during the field sobriety test. He took her in, and she blew a .17 on the in-house breathalyzer.

Now, I had mentioned some interesting stuff in Thursday’s post. With the trial over, I get to tell about it. During voir dire, the defense attorney asked “has anyone had classes in computer programming or engineering?” Several hands went up, mine being one. Most people had basic things like Excel training or a general introduction, one had a Java class.

Then, he got to me. “I had three years of electrical engineering classes at Michigan Tech before I switched majors.” Programming languages? “Yes, FORTRAN, Pascal, I taught myself C and C++, did some recreational assembler programming,” etc. It was pretty easy to put two and two together… he had mentioned the brand of breathalyzer they use at the local cop shop in an earlier question, so I figured he was going to work that angle. Calibration procedures? “I’ve never done them, but I have a general idea of how it’s done.” I figured that there was just no effing way that he’d want me on that jury.

So (remember, this was Thursday) when the clerk called off the numbers of those of us selected, I was shocked to hear my number come up last.

Back to Friday. We heard the opening arguments, and then we (for once) got to go to lunch on time and without a huge rush to get back. I walked to the local Pool Room, where the onion rings are second only to The Varsity’s, and got a chicken sandwich to go with them.

I have to hand it to the defense attorney: he did the absolute best he could with an open-and-shut case. He pulled a nice head-fake, making the main thrust the less than courteous behavior of the cop (e.g. he put on a raincoat, and made the poor tipsy woman do all her field sobriety tests in the rain). He did try a clever dodge—the cops calibrate their radar devices daily, while a trained dude comes in quarterly to calibrate the breathalyzer—but mobile gadgets need more frequent calibration. It didn’t help the DA, when he sort of overstated his case to begin with, but in the end the defense couldn’t overcome that pesky breathalyzer reading.

When it came time for the jury to do its thing, the judge called my name. “You are the alternate juror,” he said. Surprise! That meant I got to sit by myself in another room while the other six did the hard work. The bailiff was kind enough to let me keep the note pad they had issued me, so I did a little writing while waiting to see if I’d get called in (not an idle thing: one juror actually did have a heart attack earlier in the week, and the alternate got the call). I had time to fill up a sheet of paper on both sides, then the bailiff said the others were ready.

So in we marched, me at the end of the line this time, and the other jurors had reached the same (reluctant) conclusion that I had. Guilty. Again, to my surprise, the DA suggested a very lenient sentence, since it was her first-ever brush with The Law. She got off with a sentence slightly lighter than what The Boy got for having a small quantity of dried leaves, and he wasn’t operating a motor vehicle under its pernicious influence at the time.

So that was the end of jury duty. We shuffled down to the clerk’s office to get a “proof of service” letter. I probably won’t need it, but it’s always good to dot your Ts and cross your eyes.

I learned a few interesting tidbits in this whole thing. For example, on Planet Georgia at least, they can’t administer a breathalyzer test within 20 minutes after you burp. So if you keep belching every 15 minutes, you can defer having to blow until you sober up. :-P The Boy claims that putting mustard on your tongue will defeat the breathalyzer as well, but how many of us keep a bottle of mustard in our glove box for the Blue Light Special? You can also ask for an “independent test,” which is something the cops are required to tell you, but don’t exactly make a point of. (On the stand, the cop admitted to some less than 1% of DUI arrestees asking for one.) I’m certainly not advocating driving while bombed—remember, I was ready to vote guilty if need be—but I’m always one for people outwitting machines and knowing their rights. Do what I do: drink at home and write weird stuff. Don’t let the cops steamroll you, but remember that most of them are trying to do the right thing.


So. Spring #2. It was nice enough that I took Mason outside today. I would have built a fire in the firepit table, but he’s not exactly the kind of kid who likes to stay in one place. We had a pretty good time until the sun got into the trees and the breeze came up. Suddenly, it felt like the first of February all over again.

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day. I sure hope the real spring comes early. Especially after January. On the other hand, it was a good month for book sales…

Thursday, January 30, 2014 4 comments

Jury Duty Day 2, and more Winter #2

So everyone has heard about the debacle that was Atlanta traffic on Tuesday afternoon by now, right? Seriously, people who don’t live on Planet Georgia: it’s not the two inches of snow that throws everyone in the ditch here, it’s the quarter inch of ice underneath. I was explaining elsewhere, that we get snow in a fairly narrow temperature range—below 25°F, it’s usually “too cold to snow” here. So when we do get snow, the ground is often warm enough to melt it… then it freezes while we get more snow on top.

Then, once the snow came in, it stayed below freezing for several days. Usually, it’s here today and gone tomorrow. And we had icicles on the house. Icicles, people! Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve seen that?

Oh yeah… jury duty. I wasn’t called in on Tuesday, which is fortunate, because the mess really started in the afternoon. I just plopped the work laptop on the desk and got to it. I called the jury duty hotline in the evening and got: “report on Thursday, January 30.” I ran the message again to make sure I got that right… then realized yeah, they’ll be closed Wednesday.

So Wednesday was another work at home day, except that I took a brief break to let Mason play in the snow. The only problem (as you might expect) was convincing him that he was getting cold and we needed to go back in. But in the time we were outside, he got to make snow angels, drive his trucks around, crawl around in it, fall down and complain about losing his footing.

He pointed out the icicles on the house… and I have NO idea where “I want to eat one!” came from. And he was very insistent about it. What the heck, I used to do it all the time. I found a sufficiently long stick, got him to stand back, and knocked one down.

I was rather surprised that he started slurping that thing, and wouldn’t turn it loose. That is, until he fell… then the icicle went flying, and he started begging me for another one. But he was cold, and I was getting cold, so I took his angrily protesting self back inside.


OK, back to jury duty. When we last saw the inside of the courthouse, it was 2:15 p.m. Monday. None of us waiting in the assembly room had been given a lunch break. That didn’t jibe well with the comforting speech from one of the judges earlier in the morning, who claimed to understand the inconvenience that reporting to jury duty was (before heaping the inconvenience of no lunch on us all). With a couple days to… um, cool off, perhaps things would be better today, right?

So I trundled in, flipped open my Kindle, and waited. I popped earbuds on and cranked up some music at one point, because a pair of teabaggers were reinforcing their constructed reality. And waited some more. Read some more. Played Midnight Mahjongg on my iPhone. Waited some more. Noon came, with no sign of an impending lunch break. Here we go again

Fortunately, some judge suddenly thought about the starvelings in the assembly room, and we got a super-generous 45-minute lunch break starting at 12:45. It was enough time to grab a lunch special at the local pizza joint, anyway.

So we returned. I was hoping the all-day no-call meant that all the cases were being pled out, and we’d all soon be sent home. But… around 3p.m., the clerk called a clump of jurors, and they filed out. Shortly after, he assembled another clump, which included yours truly. Heigh ho, heigh ho, it’s off to court we go.

As for the rest of the story, it will have to wait for (I hope) tomorrow, when we finish the trial, because I got selected. That was very surprising, and I’ll go into details when it’s over.

Jury duty. It’s like getting a “chocolate” icicle:


Monday, January 27, 2014 3 comments

Winter #2, and Jury Duty day 1

Image source: openclipart.org
So I missed blogging about Winter #1, when it hit −1°F for the first time since the 1980s. The outdoor dogs got through it just fine; we put hay in and around their houses and they had no problems. In fact, Mongo (Buster T. Butthead’s progeny) never bothered going inside his house. I checked on him several times in the early hours of the night, when it was already in single digits, and he was just curled up happily in the hay. The other two dogs had enough sense to use their doghouses, and they were plenty warm. In the morning, Mongo was basking in the cold sun… no problems.

For you metric-inclined folks,
that’s 2°F. About −17°C.
Winter #2 settled in late last week, bringing another round of frigid temperatures, entire days below freezing, and so forth. Sunday poked itself up to around 50°, and it’s almost as nice today, but the next blast is coming in tonight. Snowpocalypse again! My fighting off a bad cold is not helping matters any.


As if Planet Georgia having its first real winter in three years wasn’t enough, I got a jury summons right around Christmas time. That, of course, brought to mind the Jim Carrey version of the Grinch, when he was playing in the post office: “Jury duty! Jury duty! Pink slip! Blackmail! Eviction notice!” My mother in law was also summoned, but she died in May so they weren’t going to get her in there. The wife had the “privilege” of calling the clerk to tell them about it; she held up pretty well.

This is nowhere near the first time I’ve been on jury duty, but it’s the first time in a long time. But getting back to Winter #2, there was ice on the roads going into town. Which didn’t make sense at all, given that the low at FAR Manor was 37° last night, but this is Planet Georgia. The local police were stopping cars on a side road, warning them about the roads; the tow trucks parked along the side of the road suggested someone had already slid off into the woods.

I didn’t lose traction anywhere, but did keep the speed down. I dropped Mason off at his preK, grabbed some breakfast, then went back to the courthouse.


Image source: WPclipart.com
The fun began when the judge started asking the general questions that everyone has to answer. When he got to “any felony convictions?” he lost more of the pool than all the previous questions combined.

Then, I was in on a selection for a DUI case. If you’ve never been lucky enough to get called to jury duty, they go through a process called voir dire (which is not French for “do you really belong here,” but that’s the upshot). That’s where the fun really began.

I do believe that the increasing Criminalization of Everything is starting to catch up to the “justice” system. About ⅓ of the potential jurors were getting struck (or “reserved”) for various reasons—one was going through his own DUI arrest, another had been stopped once on suspicion of DUI, others had different brushes with the law. Before we got halfway through the process, the judge sent those of us who had already been questioned downstairs. I’ve been on several trips through the jury mill, and I’ve never seen anything like this. Last time I was there, the lawyers would ask their questions, then the DA would strike or pass, and the defense attorney would do the same, until they had their jury.

While I’d raised my hand and answered several of the lawyers’ questions, I felt sure that I was going to get selected for that case… but it didn’t turn out that way. I continued to read +Brooke Johnson’s The Clockwork Giant on my Kindle, and waited for lunch. And waited… and waited… Finally, at 1p.m., I asked the clerk if we were going to get a lunch break. “The judge decides,” he said. Sure, judges are like minor deities in their courtrooms, but I’ve never had to wait until 2:15 for lunch during jury duty before. Finally, we got sent home for the day, with instructions to call in this evening to see if we have to come in tomorrow.

I hope not… Winter #2 is still in effect, and it’s supposed to sleet and/or snow in the morning, then snow all afternoon, and never get above freezing.

Stay tuned for more misadventures in jury duty! I’m live-tweeting stuff that doesn’t name any names on my Twitter account through the day. Look for the #juryduty hashtag. And if we get a real Snowpocalypse, I’ll be blogging that (if the power holds up).

Sunday, February 03, 2013 3 comments

Winter #1

Whoever coined the phrase, “Here today, gone tomorrow” must have been talking about winter on Planet Georgia. Or what passes for winter here.

Yesterday afternoon, I was enjoying a little quiet time—splitting enough wood to fill the rack. The sky looked dark, threatening rain, but I was ready to knock off from swinging the maul and get some writing done. As I pulled up the driveway, I saw a bunch of white stuff coming down. “What is that?” I thought, wondering if a nearby tree was dropping some debris—then, the penny dropped.

Flaky weather we're having…
Snow? It was like 40°F outside. But I got out of the truck, and it was definitely snow. I’ve never accused weather (and rarely anything else) on Planet Georgia of making sense.

The girlies were out shopping, so I let them know what was happening at the manor. I assumed it was more a novelty than anything. Daughter Dearest asked me, “Is it sticking?”

“Not on the yard or the driveway,” I assured her. “But it’s still coming down.”

“Well, let us know if it starts to stick.”

Light up the night!
After a half an hour of snow, it actually began to stick. I called to let them know, and they started wrapping up their shopping. The snow continued through the afternoon, and into the night, although it didn’t accumulate all that much.

There was still snow on the ground come morning, but it began retreating under the full frontal assault of Sunday sunlight. The wife wanted Mason to have a chance to go play, so she got him some boots and a jacket, and I put on my coat, and let him run around outside. He gravitated to the patio, where he poured sand over one of his trucks. “It’s covered in snow! Kind of,” he said. (It’s hilarious, what three year old kids will come up with sometimes.)

Sand looks like snow if you over-expose…
About half an hour after we got outside, the snow on the yard was pretty much gone. There was still an icy patch on the driveway, and Mason kept wanting to walk across it on his orbits around the house. I finally told him he was risking falling and hurting himself, and to go around it.

So what does he do? Runs full-bore and falls in the wet muddy grass.

We now return you to Long November. I leave you with a final picture, a snowscape that didn’t really exist but isn’t a Photoshop. Feel free to speculate in the comments, and I’ll give a gold star to the first correct guess.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012 4 comments

Long November, Sick Grandkid

This “winter” has been one long November on Planet Georgia. The mini-winters that make up the season have been few and far between so far. I’ve actually had to stretch the definition to designate the last couple of days Winter #2 — it didn’t stay below freezing through the day, and the forecast sleet and “wintry mix” never materialized. I guess the Mountain West and Europe have been getting all their winter and ours to boot. It’ll be March in a couple weeks, so time is running out.

Meanwhile, the weather got to Mason: he’s had a cold for the last week and a half. He was pretty good about it at first, but in the last few days he’s run out of patience. He’s cranky, doesn’t want to eat much, and his sleep cycles are all out of whack. He really needs to eat; it would probably make him (and us) feel better. I really don’t know how he manages to get by on a handful of fruit and liquids (juice and a little milk), but he doesn’t look starved yet. And yet, he’s spreading the misery. Mrs. Fetched says she’s taking him to the doctor tomorrow, but she’s been saying that for a week now.

However, he has figured out how to use the iPad. He can wake it up and find a game (or Adobe Ideas, a nice finger-painting app), even if he doesn’t quite understand how to play just yet. His favorite game is Otto Matic, right now. Even “better,” he’s figured out that my iPhone has most of the same games — which means I can’t give Twitter a look without Mason crawling into my lap and trying to grab my phone. It did come in handy over the weekend though, when we were trying to keep him from nodding off in the car before lunch: I handed him the phone and he took it from there.

Tax time is here, but I’ve already done ¾ of the work: just waiting on Mrs. Fetched to get me the business expenses and car taxes.

I downloaded the Blogger app for my iPhone over the weekend, thinking maybe it would help me compose stuff at lunch. Kind of, yeah… if it bothers to save drafts. Google needs to do some serious work on that app, or make a mobile-friendly dashboard. It’s best feature is (again, when it saves) the ability to upload photos from the phone.

Oh, remember Prince Stinky? He disappeared for a couple weeks, but came back with a little matted fur but otherwise fine. I think he has a first home somewhere nearby, and comes here to visit when he needs a little weirdness in his life. Mrs. Fetched is making noises about getting him fixed, so he won’t spray everything (Daughter Dearest says he even scented my car last weekend).

Winter and headcolds both go away, so things will soon improve at FAR Manor. Just gotta wait it out.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 3 comments

Winter on the Patio

As always, winter on Planet Georgia is confused: it’s warmest out when it’s cloudy. After a couple chilly nights during the week, temperatures recovered to roughly normal for the long weekend. Mrs. Fetched’s mom said she had some play sand a while back, and I finally brought it up to the manor. We put a coat and “boggin” (wooly cap) on Mason, the same on me, and we went out to the patio.

This worked out fairly well, except that Mason wanted to treat the sand the same way he treated the water during warmer weather: something to fling in all directions. I was only partially successful in dissuading him. Otherwise, I sat back and played with my phone — and found that the wifi carried all the way out to the patio… sweeeeet. The sand was much warmer on bare hands than water could be, a major plus.

Then Mrs. Fetched brought Skylar up. Mason was not happy about this at first, but they shortly worked things out and started flinging sand everywhere. sigh I built a fire in the table and kept my feet warm while watching the kids play. Except for one or two brief shouting matches, they played pretty well together.

Naturally, it wasn’t all that long before they decided to explore a little. This was mostly wading through where I’d piled the leaves from the back yard, and they came right back when I told them to (it’s a miracle, I tell you!).

Finally, lunch called and we all went inside. With rain coming tomorrow, I put the covers on things and left the spilled sand where it lie. It’ll likely wash in between the tiles, where it will possibly do some good.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 7 comments

All the Extras in One Shot

One thing you can say about the snow: it gave me the opportunity to get all the extra people at FAR Manor together in one shot!


From left to right: M.A.E., Moptop, The Boy, Lobster, Mason, and Snippet. If you’ve wanted to put faces next to the names, here they are.

The Boy and Snippet built the snowman. I, um, accessorized it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 2 comments

Christmas After Dark

But first, Andi asked me to get a shot of Mason and me out in the snow. Daughter Dearest took the shot, I fixed the tilt in Photoslobber.


After dark, the front yard turns into a miniature Festival of Lights. Mason loves to have me hold him up to the window so he can see. Sometimes, if he wakes up around 6, the lights come back on and he gets a little show while his comfort milk is warming up.


Moving indoors… Mrs. Fetched uses this time of year to cover most horizontal surfaces in the living room — at least the ones nominally out of reach of Mason — with fiber optic angels and related kitsch. This is a kind of traditional defender angel, wielding something a little heavier than a lightsaber… maybe a lightbroadsword? It turns different colors.


Not all angels prefer the traditional arsenal. This one appears to be wielding a laser cannon along with an astershield.



I have to admit I have a bit of a soft spot for this angel. She hangs on the wall, no weaponry. But you have to reach up her dress to turn her on. (Something that I like to point out because it annoys Daughter Dearest to no end.)


And that is how we roll after dark, coming off the bottom of the year.

Saturday, December 25, 2010 2 comments

White Christmas!!! [UPDATED with video]

First one in over 45 years!
The weather peeps said it was coming in at 1 a.m., but I guess it got hung up at the airport. It started at 9 and hasn’t stopped since (now 2 p.m.). Mrs. Fetched said the last time we had a White Christmas here, she was three or four.

Mason got lots of goodies, and Mrs. Fetched got the LCD TV she’s been wanting for over a year (Daughter Dearest and I got it for her).


[UPDATED] Just a little video from out front of the manor:


Mrs. Fetched was really happy with her present; Daughter Dearest and I chipped in on a 32" LCD TV. Instead of wrapping that monstrosity, we covered it with a quilt and stuck it behind the playpen and just wrapped the wall-mount bracket.

Hope everyone has a happy whatever-you-celebrate-this-time-of-year!

Thursday, December 16, 2010 4 comments

The Longest Drive

The nearer your destination
The more you’re slip-sliding away…
— Paul Simon


Yesterday’s drive home was one I would prefer to not repeat for… ever.

Daughter Dearest called me at work just before 6, as I was running a bit late. “We’ve got sleet coming down up here.”

“Okay,” I said. Sleet doesn’t bother me. Freezing rain bothers me, but I didn’t hear much about that so I wasn’t too terribly concerned. I finished up what I was doing and headed out.

It was raining and (of course) dark. There was a slick spot on the little side road I take to cut off some of the drive, but I figured once I got to the highway I’d be fine. So I was at the corner, waiting for the traffic to clear, and…

WHAM

Bumper dentI said a four-letter word meaning excrement, and got out to survey the damage:

The guy who hit me was pretty good about it, he gave me his info and called the local fuzz. The fuzz said it would be an hour or more before anyone got out there, and to just swap info and go. Okee-fine. He had some minor damage to his front; the Civic was drivable but the trunk is hard to open and close. Up the road I went, no problem. Got to 400, and it was pretty slow and thick… all… the… way… up. I think I got to 40MPH once. With as much traffic on that highway as there was, I knew there wouldn’t be any icing, but people were being cautious (and with good reason, many roads in Atlanta closed last night).

Things started going pear-shaped as I got off the four-lane and headed toward town. The road was a little icy, but nothing anyone couldn’t handle with a little caution and common sense (yeah, I know, Planet Georgia). Still, it was slammed up solid. It took about an hour to get three miles, where the first seriously slick spot had been lurking. The salt truck rolled by and getting through town was no problem.

There were several cars ahead of me on the road out of town, all moving a bit faster than I was comfortable going at this point. Hitting an icy patch at 30MPH, you might be able to keep it straight until you get through it, but whatever. I caught them at the stop sign and they took off down the highway — again, faster than I thought was prudent. Turned out I was right: I slowed way down as I topped a hill, and doing one of my periodic traction checks I found a really slick spot. I was able to keep the car straight and tap the brakes, getting the car stopped. At this point, it was crawling pace, with plenty of traction checks and complete stops, for another mile.

I caught up to the rest of the cars, all right… three of them were off the side of the road. I got stopped, as did the car behind me (last thing I needed was another rear-ender) and I put my foot on the road.

It was a skating rink. But I was bored and got out, sort of skating around (pushing off with one foot, skidding along on the other). To make a long story slightly less long, it took about two hours to clear the road enough to slip (literally) on by. A guy in a 4-Runner pulled the Chevy pickup out of the ditch, and the local marshal (tooling around in a 4x4 pickup) got another car back on the ice. The deputy said I’d probably be okay if I kept two wheels in the grass (still slick, but some traction) until I got past the creek, where the road was in better shape, and asked everyone where they were going. It turned out not to be idle curiosity; they sent the salt trucks in the directions that people were going. One passed me about three miles from home, as I was gingerly navigating one of many ice patches on my road. Again, there were cars behind me but as they found the going really icy and weren’t using the grass, I left them behind.

So I left work just after 6, and got home about 11:30. If I’d known it would be that bad, I’d have just holed up in a motel for the night.

Saturday, January 30, 2010 No comments

Winter #2 and Other Stuff

Iced over azaleaWinter #2 arrived last night, after a very nice send-off from Spring #1 on Wednesday. We’ll be back in the cold soup for a while, judging from the 5-day forecast. Actually, there’s plenty of ice around FAR Manor, but a half-mile down it was pretty much clear, with spots of ice on and off all the way to town. I had to go pick up my meds, and Daughter Dearest wanted a locking doorknob for her room, so we headed out. No problem. The roads are wet, but they’ll get pretty slick tonight as the temperatures drop.

Our first official error code of the 2.0 era is TS01 — last night, they thought “it would be safer if we spent the night at [a friend of Snippet’s], then I’ll be able to get to work tomorrow.” I knew they would do what they wanted, regardless of road conditions (the roads have been fine all along) and told them so — they wanted to come back to the manor to get some stuff, but I told them if the roads were bad they should either stay put or come back and stay put. They elected to not come back, naturally.

Mason on the bedI have to wonder about them sometimes… with such a good-natured, adorable baby in their lives, why would they want to go anywhere but where he is?

Mason continues to develop. He’s stopped doing his squats, I guess because he figures his legs are strong enough now. His attention span continues to get longer, he’ll sit quietly on my lap while I’m checking out my blog-buddies, sometimes looking out the window, sometimes getting interested in the clutter on or around the desk. He pushes himself up like in this picture, or gets his knees under him — but he hasn’t quite realized he can do both. Once he figures that out, he’ll be crawling all over the place.

I finally got unblocked somewhat on White Pickups — but at a high price I can’t discuss without giving away too much. Olga, my BDSM muse, mounted up on Thursday while I was walking to lunch and impatiently waited for me to get some freedom at 10:30pm — then rode me for 2400 words until midnight. When I got to thinking about it afterwards, I remembered a (still unwritten) scene that just didn’t make sense without this stuff for context. But things are moving again. I’m still not sure how all this comes together, but the characters have assured me I’m on the right track (they’re telling the story, I’m just writing it down)… I have to trust them to tell me more at the right time.

Tomorrow is White Knuckle Sunday, but with the ice I’m not sure if there will be anyone there for me to preach at — or even if I’ll get there myself.

Sunday, January 10, 2010 No comments

Manor Fever

Snow on fenceBetween working at home as usual on Wednesday and Thursday, and icy roads on Friday keeping me here, I’ve mostly been cooped up in the Manor with Mason. Mrs. Fetched’s mom came up to watch him when I was working, but I had him all to myself most of yesterday and Mrs. Fetched has once again bolted for the chicken houses this morning and I’m skipping church (if it hasn’t been cancelled).

Friday evening, Mr. Sunshine and his entire family (including J’s oldest from her first marriage, Kobold) came up to the manor to visit and eat — the good thing there is J makes quesadillas so we don’t have to cook. Kobold has, just in the last week, moved back from Indiana with his fiance and their 2-year old daughter (more about her later) — he left a few years ago, fed up with Mr. Sunshine and the control-freakery streak that seems to run pretty deep in that side of the family, to live with his bio-father and that side of the family. While he was up there, he picked up an affinity for farming and stepped right in to help Mrs. Fetched after Panda found more lucrative work. Mrs. Fetched and Kobold had run into a major electrical problem with the feed lines — as in, fire and flames. She described the problem to me, and I figured (from listening to her) that I had a pretty good idea what was causing the problem. Mistake #2: I said I thought I knew what it was. Since the repair dude was stuck with impassible roads between here and there, I got volunteered to see if I could fix it.

Saying “Mistake #2” above is not a misprint… Mistake #1 is one I should have learned not to make last time: assuming Mrs. Fetched has correctly diagnosed the problem. I’ve noticed in the last few months that her vision has been a bit off — I have to read fine print for her, for example — and she won’t admit there’s a problem. But I digress. When she said she “saw fire shooting out the downspout,” I wrongly assumed that she really saw it. Therefore, I was expecting a short in the motor housing, where she was expecting something actually in the feed line. Thus, up the ladder I go to inspect the wiring (she’d removed the cover earlier) and to pull the downspout bracket off the line. Seeing nothing obvious — no burned spots, no loose wires — I came down and had her hit the breaker while I looked up. There was a bright orange flash, all right, but it was down in the feed hopper… and then I saw smoke coming off the plug where the switch connects to the system. She should have seen the smoke, but more importantly, she should have taken the methodical approach and checked the easy stuff first. There is no time more wasted then time wasted in unnecessary diversions at the chicken houses.

Sad MasonNow Mason’s a pretty good kid, at least most of the time. One attribute he’s picked up from The Boy, though, is that he fights going to sleep — and last night, he did a fine job of keeping it at bay for quite a while.

He’s old enough now that he can associate things: like eating (especially a warm bottle) makes him sleepy — and does very well at communicating concepts like “DO NOT WANT!!!” without words as we know them. So he started fighting before 10, and was up way past 11 last night; it was an ultimately losing battle, but I suppose every minute staying awake is a victory of sorts…

So he was sucking his fist, which is usually the “I’m hungry” sign, so we got the bottle warmed up and gave it to him. He sucked on it for a few seconds, his eyes started flagging, then he jerked away from the bottle and squalled. Rocking wasn’t doing it either — he knows what that’s for, and doesn’t want anything to do with it. Fortunately, I have an ace in the hole. His dad liked to swing, his Aunt Daughter Dearest loved to rock, and his happy thing is getting walked around. Mrs. Fetched says I spoiled him, but I discovered it by accident when he was a few weeks old — I had him, he was crying, and I remembered his plug (pacifier, it stops up the noise… sometimes) was in the bedroom. So I carried him with me, and he stopped crying before I’d gotten to the bedroom. So when he won’t rock, he’ll still let me walk him around, and he’s settling down before I reach the bedroom. A few laps through the house is usually enough to get him calmed down enough where we can finish rocking him to sleep.

I’ve learned a few things about Mason in the last few days. I knew he catnaps through the day — anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes, and you never know how long until he wakes up — but I found that once he eats (it doesn’t make him sleepy when he just woke up) and I play with him for about an hour, he’s worn out and ready for another nap. That won’t last long… probably sooner than later, he’ll start consolidating the catnaps into a longer afternoon nap. But by then, he should be scooting around in a walker and wearing himself out.

Meanwhile, Daughter Dearest has had dorm fever — she wanted to come home this weekend, but the main highway has been closed. I think it finally got cleared out last night, so we’re going to meet for lunch.

Friday, January 08, 2010 5 comments

Anniversaries and Snow

Mason bathThere were a couple of milestones this week. The biggie was me & Mrs. Fetched being married 25 years as of Tuesday. Doesn’t seem that long, usually, but it’s like half my life so far. We were courier-ing some school books to Daughter Dearest, that’s how we spent the evening. Big splash, huh?

The other was Mason reached four months on Wednesday. Lordy, the kid is developing… in the last week or so, he’s really started vocalizing. If he’s happy, or annoyed, he’ll let you know. Constantly. The other thing he’s started doing is squats. Literally. He’ll stand in someone’s lap and up… down… up… down… without much support except for balance. Baby Buns of Steel! Seriously, he has really strong legs and his neck muscles have always been pretty good. P.O.D’s young bride, who works in a daycare, told us about a kid who’s bigger and older than Mason and still needs help supporting his head.

He’s almost sleeping through the night. He’ll give us a 5 a.m. wake-up call from time to time, but 7 a.m. is getting more common. It’s really too bad The Boy and Snippet are missing most of this… they’ll regret it later.

Snowy roadOTOH, today was not a day for anyone to get out if it could be avoided. Winter #1 has been pretty cold, as far as winter goes on Planet Georgia these days… lots of days that it didn’t get above freezing. We finally got a little snow out of the deal. Down in Atlanta and points south, it was one of those nights where it rained, switched over to snow, then froze; here it was just snow. About an inch, enough to throw the pod people into panic — if they’re not wetting their pants over a random brown guy in a turban, an inch of snow will do it. Seeing as I was working at home yesterday, and the office was within the melt-freeze zone, I elected to stay here and work. The snow will stay around a while, since it won’t get above freezing until Tuesday. Daughter Dearest had most of her classes shut down today, so she got some exercise.

An electrical problem has occurred at the chicken houses, so I must go to see what that’s about…

Wednesday, December 30, 2009 7 comments

Approaching the end…

… of the year, anyway. As I type, we’re getting the classic wintry mix: rain, sleet, rain, and (at the moment) sleet and snow.

I've been wanting to do this for a while, and here it is. The Boy on the left (scanned from a portrait in the hall), Mason on the right (one I took) — both about 3-½ months old, give or take:

The Boy and Mason

Yup, Mason is his dad’s kid awright. Just like his dad, he fights going to sleep and doesn’t like losing. There are differences, of course: The Boy’s happy place was the swing; Mason’s is getting walked around and he wants a lot more interaction than his dad did.

The refrigerator that came with the house definitely met its end yesterday morning. I was in the kitchen, fixing some coffee, when I heard a loud SPAT and saw sparks shoot out from the bottom of the fridge in my peripheral vision. The smell of burning electrical equipment made for a less than happy morning. After making sure the metal skin of the fridge wasn’t “hot,” I reached back and unplugged the sucker; Mrs. Fetched cleared it out while I was at work. Fortunately, we have (had) two refrigerators in the kitchen, side by side, so it’s not like we’ll have trouble keeping the formula cold or anything. I hope maybe we’ll be able to get along with one fridge and not worry about replacing it. If we have to have some extra cold storage, there’s a couple of small refrigerators in the studio and I’m not exactly keeping them both full of beer at the moment, unfortunately… we could move one into the kitchen as an overflow icebox.

I've been loading up my Kindle a little bit, and am getting to like this thing. I’m still not where I would have bought one myself, but I do like having it. One of the really nice features about buying a Kindle book from Amazon is that they send the book to the Kindle as soon as you buy it online, whether you’re buying it from the Kindle itself (not happening w/o a credit card) or your computer. The latter is a really nice convenience that Apple should adapt for iTunes customers; send a new track straight to your iPhone? Why not? OTOH, I’ve found a couple of glitches, only one of which is Amazon’s fault. It seems that Amazon wants you to have a credit card recorded with them to buy books straight from the Kindle — but if you’re buying from your computer, you can use gift cards and essentially run it as a pre-paid system. It’s only a minor hassle (like I said, once you buy a book it goes straight to your Kindle), but the rest of the purchasing system seems so well thought-out that this stands out.

The second problem is more of a publisher’s issue. I bought Maria Lima’s Blood Kin — third in the series, I have the first two in paperback — and it started right at Chapter One even though there was a Preface. I guess I should mention, Kindle books have a default starting point that isn’t necessarily the front cover… it could start with the Table of Contents, Preface, or wherever the publisher says. Juno (Maria’s publisher) might not quite get the whole e-book concept just yet. In addition to starting a little past (what I would consider) the most logical place to start, they include legal boilerplate about not buying books with the cover torn off. Somehow, i doubt that Amazon is going to sell e-books without the cover… that page could be eliminated entirely without hurting a thing.

On the freebie side, there’s two major places I’m going so far: Project Gutenberg, which digitizes as many books as they can find whose copyright has expired (so that the books are now public domain), is the place to go if (like me) you misspent your youth avoiding the classics. One title I thoroughly enjoyed was P.G. Wodehouse’s Love Among the Chickens, but I might be just a little biased for reasons well-known to longtime readers. Isaac Asimov spoke highly of Wodehouse, so I had to check out some of his titles. Of course, a sci-fi lover will go nutz just from the selection of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells titles.

Speaking of sci-fi, the Baen Free Library is another worthy link, and includes some more modern titles than Gutenberg. Baen’s evil plot is to get you hooked on the first books in a series so you’ll go out and buy the others… great idea, sez I.

I haven’t really had a chance to wander through the stacks of a third site, Manybooks, but some of the titles look like they’d be a good way to expand my horizons a bit.

Looking back at My predictions for 2009, I was a lot more pessimistic than the year actually turned out. Sure, I got a few things right, but I expected things to be a lot farther into the tank than they are now. Oh well, I’ll do a more detailed analysis tomorrow and maybe venture a few predictions for 2010.

If I miss you tomorrow night, Happy New Year, y’all!

Saturday, December 12, 2009 9 comments

Weekend Roundup [UPDATED]

Mason, innocent?Mason has been at the manor most of the week. Some nights Snippet has been here, some nights not… but this morning was the second time this week he slept until 6 a.m. I continue to hold out hope that this means he’ll soon be consistently sleeping through the night. Babies can be exhausting at times…

I guess he was somewhat of a pistol yesterday: Daughter Dearest had to go pick up Evil Lad NOT and bring him up here, which meant DoubleRed had to watch him for a few. For DoubleRed, very little can happen in her life without it turning into a crisis of one sort or another, and Mason picks up on her moods. So when Daughter Dearest got back, he was wailing with the volume at 11, DoubleRed was snarling and trying to take a test online… in short, nobody was happy. I got this second-hand from DD and Mrs. Fetched — what I did see was DoubleRed leaving the manor in a classic 8-cylinder huff; she returned just as I started writing this.

So while Mason is giving me the innocent look for all he’s worth, I’m not completely convinced. :-)

[UPDATE 13 Dec: He’s been working on turning himself over for a while now… he finally did it this morning. I got to see him do it the second time; Mrs. Fetched came out at 6 a.m. to find him on his back.]


I got home from work last night… and to Mrs. Fetched’s credit, “we need to swap a furnace at #3” was the third (rather than first) thing she said to me. Oh… did I mention that they got the houses sealed up enough to get birds? The good news was that it could (i.e. had to) wait until after supper. The not-so-good news was that we had to wait on Panda to show up, and he wasn’t able to get here until about 9. To be clear here, there are four or five furnaces in each chicken house — they hang on chains and blow hot air directly into the place. No ductwork involved.

Mrs. Fetched wasn’t completely sure about how to go about disconnecting a furnace from the gas line, but I sort of remembered looking at the hookups, and grabbed a pipe wrench and The Persuader (a 14" adjustable wrench) just to be sure. There was a handy nut just south of the gas cutoff, so I put the pipe wrench on, got the thing loose, started turning it… and the hose started kinking and twisting and not cooperating — like anything else in the chicken houses. With a combination of brute force and finesse, Panda and I were able to get the thing disconnected. Lifting it for Mrs. Fetched to get it off the chains was a relative breeze.

With the defective furnace off, we went to the back (which is closed off at this point) to get a working furnace. Same deal, but a little faster since we knew what we were doing. We threw it on the back of the pickup, rolled it down to where we needed it, and put it on — it only took two tries to get the hose counter-twisted enough for us to put it back on. So we plugged it in… and nothing. After some backing and forthing, Mrs. Fetched got agitated and took off, leaving Panda and I to deal with it. Figuring it was an electrical problem, we came back to the manor and got my voltmeter and a couple extension cords in case we had to plug it in elsewhere.

First, I tried the outlet. 120V. I opened the control box cover, and put the voltmeter on the AC terminals. 120V. OK, the thing’s getting power. I tried the thermostat terminals, 24V. Then I disconnected the thermostat, switched to ohms, and checked it. Open circuit.

"Make the thermostat click,” I told Panda. It was right behind us, so he did. Still open circuit.

"It’s either the thermostat or the cable,” I said.

"Mrs. Fetched said she just replaced that one,” Panda said, “but she might have done a different one and forgot.” We located a screwdriver and opened the thing up… it was packed with dust and feathers. Obviously she hadn’t opened this one up in a while. I blew the crap out of the thing…

“You think that loose wire might be the problem?” Panda said sarcastically. Someone, possibly the field man, pulled a bit too hard on it and there wasn’t much slack wire inside the thermostat. We didn’t have any pliers, but I managed to get the loose wire around the terminal and tighten it down. We plugged everything back in… and the furnace immediately coughed to life. After the high-five, we got a bit miffed at Mrs. Fetched for telling us the furnace was broke without checking the thermostat. I guess I need to send her to a troubleshooting methodology class.


Chopping WoodToday was jam-packed with all kinds of “fun.” Someone had to be here with Mason, but: DoubleRed was gone, Mrs. Fetched had to go to the bank, Daughter Dearest was going to the chicken houses with Panda, and I had to cut firewood. But since Mrs. Fetched was supposed to meet The Boy, and he wasn’t awake to answer his phone, she stayed home and I went outside. I’d located a dead tree close to the manor (identified as such by large swatches of missing bark), and found two more when I went out to cut it down. As the other two were relatively small (about four inches), I decided to tackle them first — no splitting required, just cut ’em up and they’re ready! Except for a dead branch breaking off and me stupidly standing my ground (it missed), there were no untoward incidents. The third tree was a foot across (or more) at the base, big enough to need splitting but small enough to split by hand.

After I cut that to pieces, then dropped an even larger trunk near Butthead’s dog run that I’ve wanted to get to for a while, I was pretty well worn out. I took Panda home (he came back with DD just as I was finishing up), then Mrs. Fetched and I loaded the cut-up wood onto the truck and took around to the garage. The biggest pieces, that need splitting, went under a tarp outside and the rest went in the garage where we can get to it. I think it will last until the rain stops later on Tuesday. My back was hurting pretty well at this point, so I figured I was done with the strenuous stuff for the day.

Family portrait (first draft)Somewhere along the line, when I wasn’t looking, The Boy and Snippet came in. Mrs. Fetched wanted us to do a family portrait today. Seeing as my hair was a rat’s nest, and I’d been sweating like a pig in 35-degree weather, I figured I needed a shower before anything else happened. Now earlier in the week, I started looking through a photography magazine I picked up at the grocery store a while back, and saw an ad for an iPhone app that provided remote control capabilities for DSLRs (WANT). Then, Mrs. Fetched told me she wanted a family portrait to include in the Christmas cards (WANT → NEED). I had some money sloshing around in my iTunes account, so I topped it up to where I could drop $20 for the “pro” version that lets you adjust exposure (among other things) from the iPhone. It took me a while to get the thing to talk, but when I got the cables plugged in a bit more firmly we were in business.

We took over 30 shots altogether, knocking off when the flash batteries wheezed out. After I threw out the obvious clunkers (flash didn’t fire, somebody had a “duhhh” look or was looking around), we had a dozen or so possibilities. Mrs. Fetched decided she didn’t like her green top, since the shoulders weren’t right, so we’ll be doing it again tomorrow. In this pic, I’m holding the iPhone behind Mrs. Fetched. I also took a couple shots with just The Boy, Snippet, and Mason, and one of those turned out pretty well. I think if the church ever decides to do another directory, it’ll be a breeze with the stuff I have at hand. Y'know, there’s all sorts of ads in that photography magazine for stuff I never realized I needed (and can actually afford).

So the rum has numbed my back, and Daughter Dearest wants me to cook some supper. Whatever.

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