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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Running Around

I spent the morning yesterday just doing basic cleanup, then headed over to Mom and Dad's. Mom took me to get the truck from the shop, and followed me home. Then we went to a mall to eat and I went to Sears and got some tool boxes. Mom suggested we take them back to my place since they fit in her van, but wouldn't fit well in the Jeep which was back at their place. So, back here and the pain of trying to get something in the house that is too bulky to just pick up. I really need to get at least one of the doors set up so that it is easy to get in here. Then, back to their place where I tried again to load pictures on the digital picture frames I got them for Christmas. I was unsuccessful. They are set up to use a memory care I guess, and only threw in loading the internal memory on them as a joke. Home again, with the smaller of the frames with me. I'll try today.

I left the toolboxes boxed in the small hall in front of the washer and dryer inside the back door. I was able to barely slide by. I heard the housemate doing laundry in the middle of the night when he came in from work. I'm not sure how he managed to get to the washer or dryer. Today I'll finish putting them together and continue sorting tools. It is difficult for me, seeing the unsorted mess of tools and pulling things out. I thought that it would be a good feeling, but all I feel is shame that I let them get so unorganized and overwhelmed at all the STUFF I have. Nice stuff, that should have been taken better care of.

I forgot the cat food, and they are on the last bits, so I will need to go get that. Of course, I get stuff that I need a pet store to find, which is back up by the mall. And, it's a good thing that I froze the bananas that I want to make banana bread out of because I also forgot to stop and get eggs. I do have my home made bean soup, and home made bread. I did get that far.

I stayed up past midnight playing a solitaire game on the laptop. As a result I am getting a later start today. Onward and upward...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Now It Begins

I have no more excuses. My 'round tuit it sitting right there. All the things I 'need to get done' are laying before me with no excuse for not getting done. Even going to Springer for New Years, which is the Southern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail. The weather is supposed to be warm and clear. I have the gear to camp out overnight. No excuses.

I cruised the website that shows houses for sale in Tennessee. I looked in the price range I want for this place. I need to get to work here. A lot of work. While I go back and forth on the probability of being downsized on January 9, the fact of the matter is that I need to get to work on the decluttering and remodeling of this place. That was the entire reason I bought here. While I look at gardening sites on the internet and think I might put out a garden next summer, the reality is that I may not be able to afford to stay here. I need to get busy.

Mom will take me to pick up the Toyota from the shop today. The cost to get it inspection worthy is $1179.00. There is all of my squeak room. I maybe shouldn't have taken off these two weeks, and kept them to be paid if/when I am downsized. Then again, I wanted this time off. Of course, if I'm going to have all the time off in the world soon... I wish I knew for sure. I would make planning easier.

My life is a lot like the weather. If I don't like it, I just need to stick around awhile and it changes.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Another Year Older

Yesterday was my birthday. I decided I was going to celebrate my 30th one. I got a lot of mileage out of my 29th birthday, celebrating it for a good 10 years. Who says you are required to celebrate one that has anything to do with how many years I've been on this earth? I did do a journal entry yesterday. My spell check didn't work quite right, and in the process I lost the entire entry. I walked away and decided I wasn't supposed to post on my birthday.

Actually, I had intended on posting when I got home from my Birthday party at Nancye and Bill's place. But, it was after midnight, and while I was on the computer I wasn't in a mood think after driving an hour in the rain. I made it home just fine, though. The party was just the way I like, small and fun. We drank Gluewein and ate, laughed at Nancye as she cooked, then ate up the shrimp and rice dish she made. Did I mention I had fun?

Now I enter the season where I make resolutions, list goals, and generally ponder what direction my life is taking, and what corrections I feel I may need to make, and how to go about doing so. I have a large pot of pinto beans cooking, and they look like they are actually going to come out the way I like them, with bean soup liquor just ready for some more things to make it into a hearty soup. I'll divide most of it out into freezer containers (it started out as 2lbs. of beans!), and add veggies and such to a nice small pot of the rest. I will make bread - in the bread machine - and have a from scratch meal later. Oops, I'm heading to my parents' place for dinner tonight and to do Christmas, so tomorrow I'll have my bean soup.

The needles needed to make the socks have been acquired, and one is started. Not a lot done on it yet. I do like my new hat that I knitted, but forgot it when I went out yesterday. NotLarry, the housemate, helped me rebuild the vacuum that had smoked and stopped working. My long hair was the culprit as usual. It gets wrapped around the roller and in the bearings and such. He took command of the issue as soon as I mentioned it. I had just 'put it on the list' and was ignoring it. I am re-inspired to organize my tools, although I was able to come up with the necessary ones while he was working on the vacuum.

I should get moving now. Just general cleaning today, and an evening with the left over Gluewein and Lebkuchen (spiced red wine and gingerbread cookies), with the middle of the day spent with my parents. Not a bad schedule.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Lazy

I didn't get a whole lot done yesterday. I decided to start knitting again. I was so emotionally depleted on Friday from thinking all day that I would be called in and be 'downsized' that while passing time till dinner with Bill and Nancye I stopped in Hobby Lobby. That is my candy store. I actually find things there that I like. Anyway, I had decided a few weeks ago to learn to knit socks. I've always been intimidated by turning a heel to make a sock, even though I consider myself a fairly experienced knitter. So, I went to the yarn aisle to look for a book with detailed instructions. Which I found. I also found another $60 worth of awesome yarn. I got some bamboo yarn in 'camo' that is sooo soft. I got a couple colors of 'fisherman wool' to try making the socks, oh and I got a cheap skein of yarn to actually use while I'm learning. When I got home I discovered that the sock instructions take 5(!) double pointed needles, not the standard (I thought) 4 that I had in each size imaginable. Since I wanted to (for once) follow instructions exactly, I put the sock on hold and started a hat using circular needles I already have. I'm enjoying knitting again as I knew I would.

This desire to knit again was reinforced by a blog (isn't everything I do lately influenced by someone else's blog?) written by a proclaimed Luddite (look it up if you don't know what that is) who says that what is wrong with pretty much everything is that no one 'makes' anything anymore. The economy is all service or management jobs. No one produces, creates, fabricates or otherwise 'makes' anything anymore. In the spirit of starting where I am, I am now making a cap, and will make some socks once I get the set of needles. To reinforce his observation, WalMart only carries a token display of needles. I will have to go to an actual yarn shop. This makes my happy, really. I want to support the smaller shops. And, the $60 worth of yarn may have been a cheap(er) preventative move to keep me from getting even more cool yarn when I'm in a shop dedicated to wooing knitters and crafters with awesome displays.

This morning at almost 6am, there was a hard thud, the house shook, and there was a tinkling of something breaking. I got up, pulled on sweats and went to the back door. A smallish tree had come down and hit the house. It was dark, so I couldn't tell what broke. I headed into the bedroom and got some shoes to investigate, and when I sat down on the couch to put them on, saw in the dim light that my grandmother's antique clock had fallen off the mantle. That was the 'broken' sounds I heard. It fell on the whirligig that I got in Germany that is my only Christmas decoration this year. I couldn't deal with it, so I gently picked it up and looked for a flat place to set it. The only place that wasn't piled high was a kitchen counter. It's a couple hours later now, and while I'm dressed I still haven't gone outside to inspect the fallen tree to see if the house itself sustained damage. From a cursory inspection earlier, it looks like nothing happened to the house.

Which brings me to my tasks for today. Besides seeing if any yarn shops are open today, I will dig into the piles of stuff and sort, clean, and put away. I kinda left things pulled out from my last vacation when I sorted. Now it's time to get rid of and repack.

Oh, the Toyota got put into the shop yesterday to be brought up to speed so I can get it inspected and new plates on it by the end of the year. They will call me with an estimate on Monday. I did spend a few hours with my Mom, who came and got me at the shop, and we ate and shopped and ran around a bit. I guess that counts.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

VACATION!!!

This is the first day of my 2 week vacation. I made it. So far I'm enjoying it. It is a bit after 8:30am, and I have had my first cup of coffee, cruised several of the journals I read, taken a shower and cleaned up, and my second cup of coffee is brewing. I had thought a bit about doing some traveling now that I have the Jeep, driving no where in particular with my hiking/camping gear. However, other issues have intruded.

At 3pm on Thursday, a broadcast email from our Project Manager at work notified us all that there will be a mandated reduction in personnel on January 9. No other information. Anything after that is all speculation. This was not a total surprise. Upper level folk have been taking positions on other contracts for a couple of months now. There has been a migration of people to the positions supporting combat troops down range. None of these people have been replaced with new hires. The writing has been there.

I had decided that I would just ride this train till it ran out of track. For one thing, it's not like I have pressing opportunities elsewhere. I am undecided if I want to look for another contract in military support. Another year at my nice salary would make a huge difference in my ability to take off and do whatever I want for awhile, but I am more or less ok now. With the notice given at work I have decided to stay home and get the things done that have needed doing for awhile now. The good part of this is that I tend to get comfortable. It takes something like staring unemployment in the eye again to light that fire under my butt to get me moving.

For the moment now, I have a warm house, affectionate cats who have food, water, and a nice mechanical litterbox, and pretty much everything I need to be healthy and happy. I am moving from a position of strength, and I am grateful for that.

Monday, December 15, 2008

What Doesn't Work... Me

I am sick. I spent all weekend sick, with acid stomach and a bad headache. I finally felt better Sunday afternoon, and woke up this morning feeling well. You know, the feeling of wow, nothing hurts for the first time in a few days! Went to work, and about 9:30am a wave of nausea swept over me. Nothing I did helped, so I came home. I slept all afternoon. So, now I feel ok, not great. I can't take more time off this week without running out of leave for the time I'm taking off the next two weeks. So, here's hoping that I can make it through the next 4 days.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It Just Works

I spend all week reading blogs. I keep thinking in the mornings that I'll blog about the day that evening, and at night I think I'll wait until I am thinking clearly the next morning. When reading blogs I find that a few of them have patterns, or types of posts that they do on certain days of the week. Thinks like favorite tidbits, or posting a recipe on a specific day of the week, or a craft project. I am not so organized to have recipes or crafts going to do that on a regular basis.

Thinking about posting on a specific topic clicked while I was making muffins last weekend, though. I was thinking about how much I really like the silicon muffin cups I got, especially the ones that have clown feet attached to the bottom so they stand up. I was thinking how much I like it when something Just Works. As the week went on I thought about things more when they Just Worked. So, I'll see how many of those things I can remember.

First, the above mentioned silicon muffin cups. I got a set of 4 with the feet (Silly Feet? I forget) because they were mentioned in sarbar's posts of making muffins while hiking. Cooking on a backpacking stove requires that there is space below the muffin cup for boiling water. The feet do this automatically. Bring an inch of water to boil in the pot, put batter in muffin cup, set feet in water, add lid and cook. Fresh bread, something that is difficult to come by on the trail. I also picked up a set of 6 regular silicone muffin cups (minus feet). I put them on a baking sheet, using only as many as I need. No worries about the muffin pan having too many cups for the amount of batter or too few, no need to grease. Works well. No more than I cook I still like to have equipment that does it job well.

Another thing that Just Works is the 4WD on the Jeep. I put the Jeep into 4WD as I pull into my driveway. I plow through the permanent mud puddle with ease and I can stop and get started again if I want on the rutted out climb up the hill. No one has ever been able to get going again up the hill if the stopped with 2WD. I requires backing down the hill and starting again. So, I drive my driveway with confidence. Of course, the housemate, the neighbors who share the flat part of the driveway, my Mom, and friends all still have 2WD cars, so fixing the driveway is still on the list. It is just nice to have the 4WD available to me with just the shift of the gears. I also didn't realize how I tense up when it spits snow in the morning as I head (north) to work 40 miles up the interstate. Knowing I have the 4WD made me feel so much better.

There are more, and hopefully I'll blog about them as I come across them from now on. It's good to talk about things that go right. Something that could go in the list, but I'm waiting to give full approval till its in full use, is the new litter box. Since I got the two cats, litter cleaning is a daily chore. Ok, maybe it should have been before. I always used standard kitty litter before. When Nancye brought these guys to me she also gave me a container of clumping cat litter. For some reason I just never wanted to use it with Bazil. However, the clumping litter does go in the Just Works category. The down fall is that with these two cats the litter box is totally full in one day. When I travel the housemate isn't here every day. There are parts of the time he is gone for 3 days at a time. This would not work with the current setup.

I looked around for a self-cleaning litter box. Yes, there are a couple of styles. At least 3. One is really fancey, with special litter granules and you hook it to a water supply and a drain and it 'flushes' the granules with special cleaner a couple of times a day. I considered it, but the reviews said that it takes a half hour to flush and dry and can smell to high heaven while it is blow dried. Hmmmm.

I ended up buying a Litter Robot. It is a large tumbler. You put litter in the bottom of the round tumbler that is on its side on a pedestal and 7 minutes after the cat leaves a deposit and exits the litter box it rotates and screens the litter and dumps the deposits into a drawer in the pedestal. The contraption actually works as advertised. (Oh, I paid over $300 for it, that's how desperate I am for a working solution) Getting the cats to use it was my worry. The good news is that it is being used now. I still have the original open litter box sitting there, but I don't clean it as often. I also have the Robot turned off and start the cleaning cycle when the cats aren't around. I want them used to it before they see it rotate and freak out. So far, though, there is progress and if it does work for these guys it will be worth the price tag to me.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Another HF Video

The guys over at HammockForums.net are really getting into the innovation, not just of hammocks, but of videos, too. Here is one of our other Clown Laureate innovators. By the Way, we have several 'Clowns' over there...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Looney Bird

I hang out at HammockForums.net because I use a camping hammock rather than a tent. On that forum are a bunch of funny, intelligent and generally good folks. There is a lot of DIY (Do It Yourself) or MYOG (Make Your Own Gear) type posts, and some of the cottage industry guys making hammock and camping gear for sale hang there, too. One of the newer cottage industries, Warbonnet, came out with a new design of hammock called the Black Bird. I like it - of course I got one - and it is a hit with most of us who have them.

One of the guys there is, among other things, a comic performer. Below is his review of the Warbonnet Blackbird hammock. Watch and laugh:

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Back to Work

The first day back went ok. Around 2pm I wanted badly to take a nap. All I was doing was sitting in class monitoring one of the newer guys as he gets evaluated. It can be boring sitting in on yet another of the classes that I myself teach. However, I do have the freedom this time to get up and leave for a few minutes if I just can't sit still. Several of the guys at work have volunteered to go downrange (Iraq or Afghanistan) as support people for our software. It is really good money for a year. These guys are mostly retired Army, so they are used to being deployed away from home so it's not quite the same as a family man who has never been gone for long stepping up to do this. The dynamics at work are changing, though, and it's difficult to see far ahead.

I may be going back to Germany in January. We would go in support of another team. Not sure how that works, if we two teams work independently, or if our team works mostly under the other team lead's direction. I will feel much more comfortable this time around. I need to study German road signs, and maybe some of the language in general.