Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve 2012

It's Christmas Eve. We've got a tree up in the living room: the same permanent/artificial one we've had for a few seasons now.

I'm taking a slight break from blogging, doing shorter 'seasonal' posts for today and Wednesday.

We'll be going to church today, and again tomorrow: and hope to see #2 daughter and son-in-law later today. Or tomorrow. Or whenever they're able to break free.

One more thing: Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Rain, Snow: Held Over - - - By Popular Demand?

We've got a winter weather advisory going until midnight. It used to be until 3:00 p.m., but apparently was so popular that the weather service extended it.

The opening act was rain, more or less. "Drizzle" would be more accurate.

That turned by degrees into tiny damp bits of snow: which is what we've still got, a few minutes before four.

My webcam (Small Town America: Central Minnesota) looks at the northeast part of Ash Street and South 9th, here in Sauk Centre.

The window is next to my desk, but I'm more likely to 'look' outside through the webcam: and that's another topic.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Missed the Deadline, Couldn't Log In: Other Than That, No Problem

Spending last weekend in North Dakota, visiting #2 daughter and son-in-law, discussing Spiral Light Candle, and having a family get-together, put me (more) off-schedule:

Bulletin? This Week?

I didn't think about the Knights of Columbus council bulletin for this month, until late Wednesday afternoon. That's when the local Grand Knight called, and asked me if I'd gotten his email.

I hadn't checked my personal email since returning to Sauk Centre. Oops.

He said that he probably should have called earlier: true enough. The monthly meeting is next Tuesday.

The Way it's Supposed to Work

I liked to have the bulletin finished and sent to the printer by the end of Sunday evening, nine days before the monthly meeting.

That way, Main Street Printing (or Main Street Printing, depending on who you're talking to) has a press-ready file in their email first thing Monday morning. Sometimes I don't get the bulletin ready for them until Monday afternoon, or Tueday.

Three Days Late? No Problem - - -

Wednesday? Getting it to the printer then, the bulletin would have to be printed, folded, then sent to my house: where my wife and #3 daughter would apply labels, I'd do the other pre-mailing preparation and paperwork, and finally get the bulletins to the Post Office - before mid-afternoon Friday.

I checked my personal email: or, more accurately, tried to. I couldn't log in. I'd changed the password recently, and couldn't remember the 'easy to remember' new one.

- - - and Locked Out of Email? No Problem - - -

All I had to do was log into my hosting service, and change the password 'from the inside.'

I couldn't log into my hosting service, either. New password? User error? Didn't matter: I couldn't log in.

No problem: I called tech support. GoDaddy, the service I use, still has one of the best tech support I've encountered: which is a good thing, since the way they reset passwords is to send a verification email.

The tech I worked with appreciated the humor: to get into my email, I needed a verification code - - - that he would send by email.

Happily, I have a 'business' account with another service - which will remain nameless, since I'm not impressed by their code-heavy, sluggish, email system. I didn't choose that service, there are good reasons for using it, and that's another topic.

I got new passwords established, finally, and looked through my email.

- - - Only Half of the Information?- - -

One of the messages I needed for the bulletin was there.

The other wasn't.

By now it was Wednesday evening: three full days after I'd have preferred to have the bulletin at the printer.

A phone call and less than an hour later, I had all the information I needed. Later Wednesday night I had the December bulletin ready. I made an Acrobat (*.pdf) copy, so Main Street Printing would have a quick and easy ready-for-print file.

I attached the Acrobat copy to an email: along with the original, editable, file. Once in a while, the bulletin needs to be changed at the last moment. Main Street Printing and I use the same software, so they can make minor changes at their end.

Technical Difficulties

I'd called Main Street Printing Wednesday afternoon: explaining that I was very late with the bulletin, would have it ready by Thursday morning, and asking what could realistically be done about printing it.

Their computer was in the shop. It was supposed to be back Thursday: with emphasis on "supposed to be."

I went through my usual email-and-attachment routine, anyway. There was a chance that they'd have their computer back. If not, I could print out a press-ready copy and bring that to the print shop.

Good News: Finally

Donna and the other folks at Main Street Printing are very good at what they do. When I called Thursday morning, she told me that she'd pulled out their old computer, used it to pick up my email, and already had the bulletins printed.

The Knights of Columbus mailing list was on the old computer, too: so labels would be ready, too.

By the end of Friday afternoon, I'd dropped the bulletins off at the Post Office. On schedule, to my relief: and surprise.

Slightly-related posts:

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Busy All Week, and Not Much Done

It's been another one of those weeks that felt full of hectic activity: with very little actually accomplished. On the other hand, I did get Spiral Light Candle's Find a Retailer page updated. Here's how it looked on Wednesday:

Spiral Light Candle's Store Locator map, reduced to fit this blog's format.
November 28, 2012.

Those candles that burn in a circle are in over 200 stores as of the middle of last week. Spiral Light Candle has a pretty good online store, too.

My son-in-law and #2 daughter have been doing the heavy lifting, taking Spiral Light Candle from a good idea into a factory in North Dakota: but my wife and I own a piece of the company, too; and our son was 'on loan' this week, helping with the Christmas rush.

We picked him up this weekend, spending all Saturday with #2 daughter and son-in-law. I'll be astonished if we see them again before next year: but maybe they'll come to a family get-together here in Sauk Centre. Then again maybe not.

Either way, I'm glad we went to see them this weekend: and I'm glad to be back home.

Spiral Light Candle factory, south section: production floor and offices.
March-April, 2012.

Finally, my wife received her black belt in Soo Bahk Do this evening. This is the realization of a decades-old dream for her. #3 daughter has her black belt, too. Actually, the belts are midnight blue, and that's another topic.

Related posts:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Family, Candles, and an Online Store

My son is 'on loan' to #2 daughter and son-in-law this week. He's helping them keep up with orders for those special candles.

Spiral Light Candle factory, south section: production floor and offices.
March-April, 2012.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is Small Business Saturday®, and I think locally-owned businesses are a good idea, so: if you're in Mayville or Hillsboro, North Dakota, I'd like you to take a look at Spiral Light Candles at Dale's Food Pride or the Mayville Cenex.

Since quite a few folks don't live in North Dakota's Traill County, Spiral Light Candle's store locator helps you find retailers closer to home. We're in California, New York, and quite a few states between. There's our online store, too.

"We?" "Our?"

Spiral Light Candle is a family business. I own part of it, and do some technical work as needed. Helping a company get started has been a fascinating experience for me. Happily, I haven't had to do much of the work. :)


Prototype of Spiral Light Candle's counter-top display. June 2012.

Friday, November 23, 2012

More Snow, Less Wind, and a Long Weekend

More snow, less wind, than last night. November 23, 2012.

It sounded like winter last night, with wind rushing a little snow around the house. I stayed up later than I might have, since weather reports kept adding 'one more thing' to the forecast: but kept insisting that the excitement would be over at 6:00 this morning. As it turns out, they were right.

Staying inside makes sense in that sort of weather, but for some folks staying put isn't an option.
"Warm weather gives way to snowy, cold Thanksgiving"
Ryan Johnson, INFORUM (November 22, 2012, 9:26 p.m.)

"The unseasonably warm weather of recent days came to an abrupt end Thanksgiving afternoon...

"...Meteorologist Brad Hopkins said Fargo started its Thanksgiving at about 39 degrees, but the temperature dropped to about 20 by the evening as strong winds and 1 to 2 inches of snow swept across most of the Red River Valley and parts of Minnesota.

"...Pembina County in northeastern North Dakota issued a no-travel advisory at 6 p.m. because of black ice and poor conditions.

"Gusts of more than 30 mph also reduced visibility and contributed to accidents along Interstate 94 near Fergus Falls, Minn...."
Now I'm going to get back to having a relaxed Thanksgiving Day weekend.

Somewhat-related posts:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving, 2012: Macy's Parade; Wind Advisory; Relaxing

Mid-afternoon in Sauk Centre: Thanksgiving Day. November 22, 2012.

Thanksgiving Day came 'early' this year. It's the third Thursday in November, so it can fall anywhere between the 22nd and the 28th. I think I got that right.

I watched part of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on television: a regular, if minor, celebration for me. A new (to me) wrinkle was the Fred Hill Briefcase Drill Team. I am not making that up.

Fred Hill Briefcase Drill Team

chillwisc, YouTube (December 3, 2008)
Video, 2:55

We're having a very low-key holiday here in Sauk Centre. I spent most of the day relaxing, and looking through some reports from Spiral Light Candle: and then relaxing some more.

Wind, followed by a little snow, made Christmas decorations some neighbors set up earlier look more seasonal.

The weather forecast promises more of the same: wind advisory, snow flurries, heavy overcast. Days like this help me appreciate insulated windows and central heating.

More-or-less-related posts:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

'Aside From That, Not Bad'

It's been one of those gray, overcast, damp, dripping days on October. Then, a little before noon, I realized that my glasses needed cleaning.

Then I broke them. I wouldn't have expected metal frames to make the sharp snapping sound these did when the became two monocles.

The good news is that I can still get a replacement frame; and Eyes on Main, downtown, is lending me a substitute frame that almost fits these lenses.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Flu Shot

I got my annual flu shot yesterday. It's a routine I started a few years ago.

The year I missed the influenza inoculation was the same year I experienced a modestly spectacular encounter with the flu. That may have been a coincidence, but then again maybe it wasn't.

I need to find out if I have been inoculated against shingles. I think I took care of that. If not, it should be done.

As usual, folks at the pharmacy where I got the shot were very earnest about getting full health insurance information from me. I think it's a cultural thing. I was born during the Truman administration, but my attitude is rooted in an older tradition.

By the time the fellow who does the injection came, and asked - again - about insurance, I'd become a bit 'earnest' myself. I told him:
"The insurance won't pay it. Nobody else will pay it. Somebody's got to pay it: so I'll pay it."
He told me that he remembered me from last year. I believe it. ;)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Finally: A Planned Trip

This time, the drive up to North Dakota was planned. The trip was mostly a family get-together, with intervals of business. I saw Spiral Light Candle Corporation's new online store, complete with better navigation and a short demo video; talked about what the company will be doing over the next several months; and enjoyed being with #2 daughter and son-in-law.

#1 daughter was there, too, so we had a 'complete set' this time.

Between 'talking shop' and watching a movie, I didn't get much sleep over the weekend. I figure that I'll be caught up in a few days.

Slightly-related posts:

Saturday, September 29, 2012

#1 Daughter's Car: or, Now What?!

As I've said before, I think that being a parent is a permanent occupation.What's changing, now that my wife and I are easing into the 'empty nest' phase, is what sort of issues come up.

For the last few decades, 'being a parent' has involved changing diapers, getting up in the small hours of the night, and dealing with education and larger sets of clothing.

Now that more of the kids are out of the house, we keep in touch by telephone and correspondence (e- and otherwise): and occasionally get more-or-less distressing news. The latest medical crisis obliged me to spend a week in North Dakota, filling in for the boss at a candle factory. (September 16, 2012)

Yesterday, #1 daughter called, using her cell phone. She was less than a thousand feet outside West Union, just west of Sauk Centre. Her car had shuddered, the motor stopped, at which point she lost power steering - but could coast to a safe stop.

After letting us know what happened, she called a towing service and got the car and herself to a garage on the north side: where the automobile was declared DOA. Metal shreds in the oil indicated that something had gone catastrophically wrong with the engine.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that the chap at the garage said that it definitely wasn't her fault.

In principle, the engine could be replaced: in practice, that would cost about as much as the car is worth, so we're looking at alternatives. #1 daughter and I spent most of this morning looking at used vehicles, and have a half-dozen or so 'possibles' to consider. Next step is to figure out what she can afford.

The good news is that my life hasn't been boring. Ever.

Vaguely-related posts:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Another Month, Another Unexpected Drive

Being a parent doesn't end when the kids move out. What changes is the job description.

Last month, #1 daughter needed a ride. Normally, I wouldn't do this sort of thing: but there was a medical angle involved, and she lives only 20 minutes or so down the road. (August 13, 2012)

This month, #2 daughter and her husband were on vacation in Louisiana. Last weekend we got a late-night phone call.

The good news is that #2 daughter survived, and is recovering. The bad news: she experienced a medical emergency that included losing about two liters of blood. She's five-foot-nothing, so that's a lot of her usual supply.

More good news: my son-in-law's family is is Louisiana: so the two of them had good folks to stay with.

Meanwhile, back at the factory - - -

My son-in-law and #2 daughter started a candle manufacturing company, and turned an old potato warehouse into a factory recently. They've got a good staff, so taking a few days off wasn't a concern.

Spiral Light Candle factory, south section: during construction.
December 31, 2011.

Spiral Light Candle factory, south section: production floor and offices.
March-April, 2012.

All we knew last weekend was that #2 daughter had been taken first to a hospital's emergency room, and then checked in for an indefinite stay. Job one for the family was to keep praying: while doctors worked at figuring out what was causing the problems. After that, there was the factory to consider.

My son-in-law had set things up with the assumption that he'd be back soon: not for an indefinitely long time. I knew in a general way what should be happening there, so my wife packed me up and I headed for North Dakota.

Meanwhile, my son-in-law wrote up a to-do list, highlighting tasks that I could at least start while I was at the factory. My main function was to be a set of eyes and hands on-site, so that he could see what was happening, and take action if need be.

As it turned out, the week I spent up there was fairly uneventful, apart from my working though a few of the highlighted tasks.

Things are getting back to normal now, with me back in Sauk Centre and the kids up in North Dakota. As I've said before, I'm not a 40-year-old kid any more: so I expect to spend a few days just resting up from my week as 'acting boss' at the factory.

Somewhat-related posts:

Monday, August 13, 2012

An Unexpected Drive

This has been an interesting several days. Among other things, I mixed up my posting schedule in another blog (A Catholic Citizen in America (August 13, 2012)); nearly missed a post in another; and had a far-from-adequate night's sleep.

Then, this evening, #1 daughter calls. She fell while at work, and needed a ride home. She's okay: just too shaky to risk driving.

No problem: I got a nice drive during sunset and twilight on the 20 miles between here and Alexandria; had a nice chat with #1 daughter; and have been relaxing, back here in Sauk Centre.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Weekend Grilling: Finally!

I went out to grill burgers on Saturday. Two major home-improvement projects and a minor health issue or three had kept me away from the grill since - good grief. Last summer.

Here's what was happening to the grill:

'You know it's been a long time when - - -.' (July 14, 2012)

It could have been worse. I suspect the dry summer we've had kept more vines from discovering the grill. I've moved it off the bricks, partly to put me in a slightly breezier spot, mostly to keep grease from spattering on the deck./patio/whatever.

I'm looking forward to more weekend grilling now.

Not-entirely-unrelated posts:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Good News - or - The Bright Side of Breaking a Tooth

About a week ago, part-way through Fortnight For Freedom and the local freedom rosary, I broke a tooth: one of the molars on the upper left side. It didn't hurt all that much, which is a good thing: this happened at the start of a weekend.

'Dr. Jim,' as the family calls Dr. Wachlarowicz, determined that what was left of the tooth could be salvaged - which isn't the way he put it. About a third of the tooth was gone, but what was left had a good anchorage - again, not the way he put it. I set up an appointment for a day in July, and life went on.

Last night, while cleaning my teeth, a loose filling in that broken tooth came out. Friday night, with the entire weekend ahead.

A few more pieces, and I'll have a 3-D puzzle. July 7, 2012.

Good news: that tooth still doesn't hurt, and it's actually easier to keep clean now. Even more good news: this break happened before repair work started. As an added bonus: I now have the start of a sort of 3=D puzzle.

I get what's left of the tooth attended to on Thursday of this week. I'm looking forward to that.

An almost-related post:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Planned Power Outage, Lots of Quiet, and Me

A planned power outage took my webcam offline for most of yesterday. It's back, providing a look out the window at my corner of small town America. Literally. It's looking out the window, near my desk:I'd figured the power would be off for maybe two hours. That estimate was a little off.

The electrician cut power a little after 8:30 yesterday morning. Circuits started coming back online by mid-afternoon. It's an old house, previous owner(s) had been less than orderly about the electrical system: and I really should have known better.

It's been a big job. At one point, when the electrician and his son were sorting out the electrical panel, a mass of wires overhead looked like an unraveled high-tech bird's nest.

We expect to have power restored to the kitchen stove today. The 'original equipment' in the basement, feeding power to that appliance, needed to be replaced: and nobody can carry everything along in a truck.

With no electricity yesterday, the house was quiet. I was also unable to do the usual research and writing. It was nice, in a way. I spent a half-hour on the front stoop, making notes and enjoying the view. I also finished reading "Platitudes Undone" - a facsimile edition of a book discovered in a San Francisco bookstore. Someone had given G. K. Chesterton a book of 'intelligent' sayings: which Chesterton read, writing comments by most of them. I think it's funny. A 'serious thinker' reading the book might have another reaction.

Yesterday was a reminder of an age gone by: a time remembered fondly as an era of serenity, tranquility, and quiet contemplation.

The experience reminded me of why I like living in the Information Age.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Snapshots from Texas; or, Candles at a Trade Show

My son-in-law called last night, and we talked until it was early this morning. He's in Texas, at a trade show to let more folks know about Spiral Light Candles.

He sent two snapshots:

Bright lights, and folks looking at Spiral Light Candle products in Texas. June 2012.

Aaron McWilliams and candles. Lots of candles. The Spiral Light kind. June 2012.

With Aaron in Texas, and the factory not needing her attention over the weekend, #2 daughter spent some time Saturday with us: mostly with my wife and #3 daughter.

About those candles: they're unique, the McWilliams invented them, and you might find them in a store in your area. If not, they launched the Spiral Light Candle online store recently. You can check for retailers in your area on the website, too: Related posts:

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Quick Trip, a Factory, Candles: and Home at Last!

Yesterday afternoon I drove up to Hillsboro, North Dakota, with my wife, son, and #3 daughter. Then I slept 12 hours, took photos as my son-in-law and #2 daughter did a ribbon-cutting at Spiral Light Candle's factory, and drove back home.

I know that wife, son, and #3 daughter were with me: I haven't checked to see if we forgot anything up in North Dakota. I don't plan to check until tomorrow morning. Right now I'm thoroughly enjoying being back home again.

Don't get me wrong: I enjoyed seeing everybody up in Hillsboro, but I also enjoy being back home.

Allegedly-related posts:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Big Hail, a Rabbit's Fox Hole, and Sunday

I didn't get photos of Friday night's thunderstorm and hail. I'm told we had inch-and-a-quarter size hailstones here in Sauk Centre. Father Statz, the parish priest, says that he left his car outside that night - and the next morning it looked like someone had gone over it with a ball peen hammer.

That would explain what I heard around 11:00 p.m. Friday night. Hail usually makes a fairly light "tap" when it hits the roof. This sounded more like someone dropping gravel on the house.

When #1 daughter went out to check on her rabbit, Giol, the next morning, she found that he'd dug a Giol-size trench by his shelter. It was deep enough for him to lie in, with his back flush with the surface of the ground: a sort of fox hole for a rabbit.

I went to Mass yesterday, with #1 daughter, as we often do on weekends. My wife, son, and #3 daughter left for church a few minutes ago, and I'm looking forward to a comparatively relaxed Sunday.

Friday, May 18, 2012

My Desk: It Works for Me

Some folks do their writing at an uncluttered desk, with a view of a lawn or garden. This is where I spend most of the day. And quite a few evenings.

My desk on a Friday afternoon. May 18, 2012.

The latest addition is that little gray box by the toy cars. It's a kitchen timer, set to go off every 30 minutes. When it beeps, I get up, stretch, and sometimes walk around a bit. Without that, I'd stay in place for hours.

A garden view would be nice, but there's a window to the right of my desk, looking out on a hummingbird feeder, some lawn, and (almost) the corner of Ash and South 9th in Sauk Centre. My webcam looks out that window, too, and that's another topic.

Not-entirely-unrelated posts:

A Sign, a Mirror, and a Very Useful Reminder

Nobody got hurt, the sign's okay, and damage to the van is somewhere between negligible and none. And I got a very useful reminder about paying attention.

This could have looked a lot worse. Or better. May 16, 2012.

I'd been driving along Sinclair Lewis Avenue, approaching Holy Family School, when I heard a loud TAP!! in the vicinity of my left wrist. That, and the mirror looking at the steering wheel, were the only noticeable effects of my clipping one of Sauk Centre's crosswalk signs.

Hard to miss: I hope. March 29, 2010.

I'd miscalculated where the left side of the van was, by maybe two inches. That sort of thing - at one time - simply didn't happen.

I'd been paying attention to parked vehicles, with particular attention to any signs of someone short and inattentive moving near them. I'd seen the sign, and had intended to drive close to it, making as much room as possible between the right side of the van and parked vehicles. But I hadn't paid attention to the sign. Not in terms of noting just where it was in relation to the van.

That's not good. But now I know that I need to pay (closer) attention to all objects near the van's projected path. And I'll be less self-confident when driving: which, if not carried to extremes, is a good idea.

The mirror's on a pivot. Snapping it back in place was an easy fix. May 16, 2012.

Sort-of-related posts:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Asking for the Boss

The new garage is getting closer to being done. This afternoon, one of the folks who were working on the floor knocked on the back door. Or, rather, what had been the back door before it became the door from the living room into a sort of back entry/mudroom/whatever.

He told me he was looking for the boss. My wife wasn't home at the time, and wouldn't be for a few hours: and he needed her 'okay' before he'd start sealing the floor. Not mine. Hers.

He told me how to show the floor as it would look after sealant and wax went on: essentially, spill water on it and mop it around. I said something like 'got it,' then he asked me for some paper. He wrote down his phone number: and instructions for how to show the floor as it would look after sealant and wax went on.

Several years ago, a technician who'd been called in by my wife wouldn't ask her any questions. The three of us were in the same room, I'd told him that I didn't know anything about the issue at hand - and he'd ask me a question, I'd tell my wife what he'd said, she'd tell me, and I'd tell him. At least this time my wife wasn't there. And I've done enough customer service to know that not everybody's able to hold a detailed message in memory.

The floor is concrete, now acid-washed, and quite ready for sealing. I hope that the rich mottled-brown color looks the way it did this afternoon. That's one attractive floor treatment.

Apart from that, my son's well-settled into his office, we've got wire cages around the garage's fluorescent tubes, and the pass-through from the office to the living room is cut, with doors/hatches in place.

My wife's been very patient, waiting to get her garage/workshop. I'm glad it's almost entirely done.

Somewhat-related posts:

Friday, March 30, 2012

First Robin(s) of Spring, Or Summer, Or Whatever

Part of our back yard looks like freshly-ploughed earth: which it is, sort of. That's where the skid loaders and trucks drove and parked while the garage went up.

This morning I saw my first robin of the year. Two of them, actually. Also two quite small birds that chased each other too fast for me to make out any details. They might have been really small sparrows.

Eventually that churned-up soil will get replanted and look more like a lawn. Meanwhile, judging from what the robins were doing, it's a great place for birds to hunt worms and other small critters.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

New Office

My son is in his new office today. He finished moving stuff in yesterday, and started working at reducing echoes in the room. He does a little recording, and as he put it, his microphone hears better than he does.

Me? I'm still at my desk, by a north window. Which suits me just fine.

Related posts:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Home Schooling, a Garage, a Desk, and Business

My wife has another job, helping a family home school their kids. Today was her first day with the new folks. She and #3 daughter spent some time with lessons, some with the mother, working out how they'll schedule everything. My son will be pitching in, since this family wants to include computer skills.

We home schooled our kids, from grade 7 up. Their choice. This household could do everything except band, for my son, in-house. It helped that my wife's a computer science major with pretty close to a math minor; and I've got background in history, English, art, art history, and about half of a computer major. Not everybody comes with that big a grab-bag of experience. Which is why home schooling families share (pool?) their skills.

And that's getting a bit off-topic.

My son has been moving into his office today. It's a sort of oversize enclosed breezeway between the house and the new garage. My wife will have her big-enough garage later this week, when the concrete finishes curing. She's waited well over two decades for this, so I'm delighted that she'll finally have room to work with.

I still have my desk near a window in the north room. Which suits my needs quite well. I'll be moving back into the attic, maybe, starting this summer: but that'll be more of a library/archive and den. I like working here on the ground floor, where I can see what's happening in the kitchen and outside at the corner of South Ash and 9th.

Meanwhile, up in North Dakota, my son-in-law has moved Spiral Light Candle Corporation's factory and offices into their new building. Actually, the building has been around for decades: as a potato warehouse. It took a month or two to clean it out, install massive amounts of insulation, and set it up as a factory. With offices at one end.

I've seen what the place looked like when the walls were mostly up around the factory floor. It's changed since then, so I'm looking forward to getting up there and seeing the finished project.

Vaguely-related posts:

Friday, March 9, 2012

Joining Google+

I now have a profile on Google+, where I'm "Brian Gill." That's my name, although my signature reads "Brian H. Gill."

I'd prefer to use "Aluwir," since that's how quite a few folks know me online - and there's only one "Aluwir" that I know of: while there's a surprising number of Brian Gills out there. Including, for a while, someone who was in the same line of work that I was. He's probably still in that career: I've moved along.

And that's another topic.

Not-entirely-unrelated posts:

Monday, March 5, 2012

My Son: First Paying Job

My son finished his first paying job as a computer technician today. We've got other computer repair and maintenance outfits in town: what sets Peter apart is that he does house calls. Without charging a king's ransom.

Am I a proud papa? A delighted dad? You bet!

Related (?) posts:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Hey, I Can See In This Room!

Yesterday afternoon, and this morning, electricians installed lights in the north room and living room of our house. They did other stuff, too: but it's the new lighting that impressed me most.

We live in an old farmhouse that was extensively remodeled somewhere around 1970 or 1980. I'm told that having no ceiling lights was 'in' for a while back then.

For whatever reason, the two largest rooms on the ground floor had no lights at all in the ceilings. Which would have been fine, for folks who had enough floor and table lamps to spread around. And a lifestyle that allowed that sort of thing.

We didn't - both ways.

The living room was adequately lit, but the north room where I work? I had a desk lamp that provided pretty good light for my mouse pad - but apart from that, the room got pretty dark after sundown. Or on cloudy days.

Actually, the only time the room had adequate illumination - by my standards - was during the winter, on a clear day, with fresh snow outside.

That was then, this is now.

We've got three sets of broad-spectrum fluorescent lights in each room: and nice, even, good-enough illumination. Even by my standards.

I like it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dense Fog

I drove up to Hillsboro, North Dakota, today: and back. My wife and I had to take care of some business up there, involving the Spiral Light Candle company. That's what my son-in-law and #2 daughter have been working at developing for about a year now.

I'd hoped that the patchy fog we'd driven through on the way up would be gone this evening. Instead, starting between Fargo and Fergus Falls, we met light fog, medium fog, and downright emphatic fog.

It is not a good sign, when driving on an Interstate at night, when the lights of the semi in front of you disappear. Along, apparently, with the edge of the road.

I was very glad to be home, under our own roof, where I learned that there's a Dense Fog Advisory on until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow. Thankfully, I probably won't have to go out in it.

Now, an unabashed bit of self-promotion:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Case of the Incredible Jumping Posts

I've been annoyed recently by the way my posts behave. I'd load one, to see if I'd already said something, or check on what I had said. Or fix a typo.

The page with the post would load fine, except that it would jump down to around where the comments were. More or less. The post was there: but I had to scroll up to see it.

Annoying. And frustrating. Also a time-waster. It doesn't take long to scroll back to where a post starts: but it does take a little time, and that adds up after a while.

I looked in the HTML tags I'd put in the posts, to make lists or links: and they seemed okay. Nothing unusual, nothing wrong with the tags.

My son suggested that it might have something to do with the way my browser used cookies. Sure enough: the posts displayed fine in Chrome. So I tried dumping my FireFox browser's cookies. That sounds disgusting, by the way. Anyway, the posts still jumped.


Then I noticed that the incredible jumping posts all had comments. Aha! That gave me something more to look for. I finally found this in a Blogger help forum:I don't use IE (Internet Explorer), except every few years when I have to deal with some company whose online presence won't work with anything except Internet Explorer. It's interesting, though, that an IE glitch showed up about the same time that my FireFox browser got the jumps.

The two issues could be related:
"...5) Description of the problem: The homepage loads fine, but when clicking on any article that contains comments with IE, the page loads completely, then goes to a blank white screen or it freezes completely. Posts with no comments load fine, so this problem is definitely comment related, and just started as the new threaded comments came out....

"...There is also a problem with Firefox 9.0.1 related to comments. When clicking on any post that has comments, the page auto-scrolls down to the comments instead of loading at the top of the page, or at the read more jump. Pages without comments load fine...."
("Blank White Screen on certain posts in IE")
There's more, including a way to fix the FireFox comment issue by changing about 14 lines of code in each blog's template. I am definitely not going to try doing that.

This, I will try:
"...We've raised this with Google Engineering. Until it is fixed I would suggest settings your comments to either Full-Screen or Pop up rather than Embed...."
("Blank White Screen on certain posts in IE")
It's simple, easily reversible, and may not annoy too many folks. Including me.

Now, to see if changing the comment settings works.

If this is something I have to do individually for each blog, I'll concentrate on my more-active blogs:And, yes: That's an example of unabashed self-promotion.
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