Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Of Garfield, Song, and Teeth

My son and I read Garfield this evening, and sang a particular song, as we usually do. A little later he informed me that he'd gotten three teeth out today: including one that's been loose for well over a year. All he has left are the original molars.

A Damp and Dreary Wednesday, With Bright Spots Indoors

My wife, son, and #3 daughter, are playing "Cue Me" in the living room. I've been "networking" - a fancy word for touching base in an online community and mentioning blog posts I've written and projects I'm working on. It does seem to have benefits: besides being a social activity.

I've started making 3D models for a graphics project I'm calling "Galaxy Cadet" for now. #1 daughter says it's a good enough name to use when it's published. She may be right about that.

And, I've written about dinosaurs and the swine flu - for different posts, of course. I looked at what I've made online over the last month or so: and it's still not enough to run a household on. But, it's a lot closer than it was last year at this time. I'm learning - and more people have discovered what I do.

It's been a gray, dripping day here: I'm planning on turning in early, right after I read Garfield with my son.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday: New Schedule and 4 1/2 Hours Without Internet or Phote

Following up on a counseling session this morning, I sketched out the tasks I have set for myself - and started putting them into a weekly schedule.

And, found out why I feel so frazzled sometimes. I've been over-reaching a bit.

So, starting today, I've been using the schedule to keep me on track. Or, rather, that was the idea. Around 2:15 this household lost our Internet connection: as well as phone and television. I eventually found out that a fiber-optic cable had been cut, and several cities in Minnesota were 'in the dark.'

We got our connection back about 6:45.

Since quite a lot of what I do is online, that 4 1/2 hour outage put quite a crimp in today's plans. My sincere hope is that tomorrow will go more smoothly. On the 'up' side, I got quite a lot more of the paper-and-pen work done than I normally would.

Apart from that, the day was pretty routine: I cleaned out one of my wife's sprout-growing trays; she's practiced on the keyboard (including something from "The King and I"); my son's looking forward to a field trip to the state capital this week; and he and I wrapped up our day by reading Garfield.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday: This Has Been a Pretty Good Week

My wife, #3 daughter, and my son are playing Cue Me in the living room, and I've been trying to get my webcam and the Internet back on speaking terms.

In no particular order, here are some highlights from the week:

A nail clipper wasn't where it's supposed to be. Of course, I immediately assumed that my son had borrowed it and laid down somewhere else. I've learned to be dubious about assumptions. For good reason. The nail clipper was in plain sight, on the left side of my work area, instead of in a cup on the right. When I saw it, my memory informed me that I'd used it earlier: and left it there.

We've had a day with a high in the eighties, with bright sun; another about forty degrees below that; one with lowering clouds and drizzle; and a small thunderstorm. In other words, a fairly normal springtime week in central Minnesota.

My wife's started growing sprouts again: for which I'm duly grateful. She's got a sort of plastic box that's designed for growing sprouts - and it seems to work better than the glass-jar-water-and-hope system she used before.

Some of those sprouts went on burgers that I grilled yesterday and today. I'm very glad to back in the habit of grilling burgers on weekend.

I've started taking Soo Bahk Do classes, and as expected I've forgotten a great deal. On the other hand, I remember more than I thought I would. And, I'm not quite as badly out of shape as I'd feared. Practicing every day between classes helps.

The only negative consequence of getting back into the process of learning Soo Bahk Do is that I have quite a few hours a week now that aren't available for writing or other work. That's more than balanced by what I expect will be improved physical condition and mental focus. In short: I'm feeling better. Aside from sore muscles, that is - but that will pass.

My wife had one of my brothers-in-law take a look at her car. It's had battery problems. He found faulty connections, fixed them, and fixed the situation. Aside from being a great bunch, the family I married into has quite a wide range of abilities.

A Bit of Family History, or The Night My Father Almost Ran Down the Convoy

After reading part of a report my son's writing for a class, I decided to write down the information he'll need. By the time I was finished, I had an account of one of my father's experiences in the U. S. Navy during WWII: and thought it was worth sharing.

The Night My Father Almost Ran Down the Convoy

My father, Bernard Ives Gill, was a Lieutenant J.G. on an LST during World War II. One of this duties was standing watch on the bridge: and, being a rather junior officer, he often got the night watches.

On one of these, he told me, both he and the sailor at the helm neglected to observe a progressive change in position, relative to the rest of the convoy.

The LST was designed so that the signal cables or chains which ran from the bridge to the engine room passed right by the captain's cabin. And, being mechanical connections, they made quite a racket when someone on the bridge signaled the engine room, and someone in the engine room rang the repeater to acknowledge the order.

During night watches, it was customary for the slight adjustments in power which were necessary to keep the ship in position to be carried by a runner from the bridge to the engine room as written messages. That way, the captain could have a good night's sleep.

Back to that quit night watch.

An LST is very roughly as long as a football field, and weighs thousands of tons. It is not particularly maneuverable.

As I said, both my father and the sailor at the helm hadn't noticed that the stern of the ship ahead of them had been getting bigger. Not until they were too close for comfort.

And not until in was too late to send a runner. The ship's engines had to be re-set: fast!

I gather that the rattling, clanking, banging sound the repeater cables made in the captain's cabin brought him rather sharply awake. Naturally, he was curious as to why the sudden maneuver was necessary.

I don't know what happened after that: My father would only say that he was embarrassed, and that the captain wasn't pleased.

"Quote of the Day" Reminded Me of Me and My Kids

Today's "Quote of the Day" from The Quotations Page is:

"Thomas Jefferson once said, 'We should never judge a president by his age, only by his works.' And ever since he told me that, I stopped worrying."
Ronald Reagan (1911 - 2004)

#1 daughter says I remind her of Merlin, since I talk about events in human, geological, and cosmic history as if I'd experienced them first-hand.

#2 daughter doesn't put it that way, but was impressed at how I exclaimed "hey! That's the Lion Gate!" when glancing at a travel brochure she'd gotten from college. Apparently I said it the way most people would say, "Hey! That's - - - " and identify some familiar contemporary landmark.

My personal experience only goes back to around the midpoint of the 20th century (that's my story, and I'm sticking with it): but I've read enough about humanity's story and our little probes into what makes the universe tick, so that I do have a sort of vicarious 'memory' of those things.

And now, my son has a paper he wants me to look over, before he turns it in.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's Tornado Week

I got a surprise a few minutes ago, when the sirens went off here in Sauk Centre. There are a few clouds in the sky: but nothing that would yield more than a drizzle. Maybe. And, it's not the first Wednesday of the month, when the system is routinely tested.

One of my brothers-in-law was over, helping my wife and #3 daughter get a car started. He told me it was Tornado Week. I looked it up at the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. It's a five days, five topics, week:
  • Monday - Thunderstorms, Hail, Straight-Line Winds, Lightning
  • Tuesday - Severe Weather Warnings
  • Wednesday - Floods, Flash Floods
  • Thursday - Tornado Drill Day
  • Friday - Heat
Pretty good idea, I think.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturday: The Family Easter Get-Together

I think at least one of us went over to my father-in-law's to rest, but at one point around 18 people were here, including the 5/6 of my family who are in Minnesota.

It's the Easter get-together: this time we're hosting it. And, I think it's going quite well. Some of the younger kids are outside, playing in a sandbox, others are inside, #3 daughter and a niece are probably deep in conference, and just about everyone else is in the living room, talking and catching up.

I'm here at the computer by the north window, and one of my brothers-in-law is set up a bit south and east of me. I'm getting the day's writing done, and he's working on a Master of Science degree in Information Technology.

He's been working in the field for years - but this will give him the sort of academic certification that impresses companies. He says he's learning something, too. He's doing the coursework and 'attending' lectures online, though a Minnesota college. He said what it was, but I can't remember the name offhand.

Yesterday I started wearing flip-flops - a sort of informal milestone marking the beginning of my summer.

The hummingbird feeder is still inside, but I'll be setting it out sometime in the next couple of weeks, for the benefit of early arrivals. We had a pretty good clientele last year, and I'm hoping for another good season.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday: Church Bells, Soo Bahk Do, and a Bobcat

The bells at Our Lady of the Angels church, two blocks down, rang about 10 minutes ago: so did the St. Paul's bells - but their sound took a little longer to get here. I'll be going outside soon, to get some photos - but first I'd better get caught up.

#3 daughter's wrist is much improved. She still wears a brace sometimes, when she's out and doing anything requiring strength in the right wrist - but she's typing, picking and strumming with both hands now.

My wife, #3 daughter, my son, and I went to Soo Bahk Do class yesterday. I lasted for 25 minutes before bowing out: not bad, under the circumstances. I've reviewed the first two hyungs (forms - a sequence of about a couple dozen or so movements), and haven't forgotten everything. I plan to practice them until the next class - there's a lot of remembering to be done there.

This morning my son went to school while my wife and #3 daughter went to my father-in-law's. They helped him put up a retaining wall in the front yard (note to self-get photo): and my wife got to operate a Bobcat.

Me? I've been writing, doing chores and errands, more writing, and putting in a token effort at organizing my workspace from time to time.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sunday Afternoon: Sunlight and Music

I'm told that #3 daughter played guitar another time, recently: but this afternoon is the first time I've heard her do so, after the accident. At this moment, she's singing, too.

#1 daughter has left, with her rabbit and my son's probably-defunct laptop. We're hoping to at least get data off its hard drive: the laptop, that is; not the rabbit. She'd have stayed later, but she and my wife thought it would be best for her to go a bit early, then rest, drink tea, and apply warm cloth to her head. She's got a sort of cold in her sinuses. Par for the course, this season.

I did much better than I expected to, in Soo Bahk Do Thursday, and plan to go again this evening.

Last night, watching a Bleach episode on my computer, my daughter wondered why I didn't use the headset outlet on the speakers, instead of switching plugs each time I wanted to go from headset to speakers and back.

It was a 'shazam!' moment for me. I'd never thought of it. I've got the headset plugged into the speakers now, of course: Makes all the sense in the world.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Saturday: The Grill's Been Drained

I would have grilled burgers this noon, but when I got out there, the burner controls were set for medium heat, and the propane tank valve was not quite shut. It's possible that I left it that way last week: and there are other possibilities.

Either way, the tank's empty - and getting it re-filled today wasn't practical.

Frustrating: I like grilling - and eating - those burgers.

Well, there's next weekend to look forward to.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wednesday: Of a Defunct Laptop and Some Guy on a Bobcat

#3 daughter was out, helping my son shovel, last week. She's definitely feeling better. That wrist is very much on the mend: she's down to wearing a brace 'as needed.' Like when she's shoveling.

I'm assured that she took it easy. She's sensible.

And, I learned that "some guy on a Bobcat" (a brand of snowmobile) has been by twice, now, when she was shoveling - and did quite a bit of the work both times. She doesn't know who he is, she tells me.

My son is not a happy camper today. He's got a fever - not much, just a degree above normal - and we kept him home from school. On the up side, an external CD drive he'd been waiting for came. Then, when he plugged it in, his laptop went dead. No lights, no fan - nothing.

Right now, it's a large trivet.

My son is not a happy camper. I've called the place in Alexandria, up the road, where we get our servicing done, and will be having #1 daughter drop it off Monday. (Unless something unusual happens, we'll be seeing her this weekend.)

My wife comforted the laptopless lad, and made arrangements for him to work this summer, and save up enough for a new laptop. He's been putting money away for a while now, but a thirteen-year-old's income, in this household, encourages patience when it comes to large purchases.
Unique, innovative candles
Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle online store

On Twitter, I'm Aluwir