First snowfall this year

It wasn’t much, but it was the first snow to fall this year.  The storm blew through in about an hour right after the temperature dropped almost 15 degrees – down to 28.  This was two days ago and now the temperature this morning is a steady 16.  Wind chill makes it seem as if it was 12, but, actually, is there any difference between 16 and 12 when you’re outside?

The gloomy day kept up until about an hour after the snow and then the sun came out.  Didn’t melt the snow though.

My huge woodpecker friend came back but stayed mostly in the tree out front.  He started on one side, worked his way around the trunk, and then hopped from one branch to another.  All the while pecking at, presumably, bugs; or, at least looking for them.

Bill

Mostly lonely flowers

I really have to get back into blogging regularly.  I like to post pictures of the yard and things like that.  This post has some bedraggled remainders of fall that are just hanging in there.

The Iris popped up in the midst of dead leaves one day last week.  It’s the only one of our normal second growth every year.  For some reason just this one came up.  The poppies are the only two left of a rather large group of them earlier this fall.

My two woodpeckers are back.  The big one is hard to capture on camera as he is very fast.  He hits the suet block, raps a few times, and grabs a chunk so he can fly off.  The smaller male will stick around a bit.  Now that I study the picture a bit more, the small one might actually be the female – no red head feathers I can see.

The one morning glory is also a tough competitor, being the only one remaining of a twisty chain of them running up a big stake.

I have included the obligatory shot of finches too.

Bill

Addition to our little family

My granddaughter, Briana, now has a little 18-month old kitty to keep her company.  She has named her ‘Cami’ because, as you can see, she blends in rather well with the rug.

We think Cami will love living with us.  Our elder cat, Mystic, who is 21 years old, took things calmly but Cami did a little hissing and growling.  That was two days ago – they are now sleeping on our waterbed, although at opposite ends.  They seen to be getting along better now.

Bill

Definite signs of Fall

Here are a series of pictures that you might enjoy.  All were shot at, or near, my house.  The little red PT Cruiser is the wife’s.

Daffy, I put in a shot of an albino squirrel just for you.  Of course, there are the obligatory finch shots too.  Note that they are beginning to show their winter feathers – just a little darker than usual.

The airplane was at around 15,000 feet and on course to the West.  It was nothing but a dot with a small contrail but the camera managed to get some pretty good detail.

Enjoy,

Bill

Transition into fall is underway

I haven’t posted here very much lately and for that I’m sorry.  I am just getting over a horrible cold that threatened to explode my head.  One of those really good colds that fills all 97 sinus cavities and keeps them full no matter what you do.  Because of this, post-nasal drip caused a racking cough approximately every 30 seconds.  Who can function under those conditions?

On good days – of which we have now after severe rain for a week – I can walk outside a bit and view all the trees changing around me.  There are lots of maple and walnut trees and in about a week or so they will reach their best.  I plan on taking my camera around the neighborhood and posting some of the better ones.

Of course, after that, the trees tend to let go and drop every one of those darn leaves on my yard.  It seems like even trees several yards up from me take much glee in flinging them into my yard instead of straight down.  I’m ready this year though – I have a mulcher attachment on my riding mower.  That’ll fix ’em.

My brother has started a blog over on Blogspot ( http://haikueveryday-bear.blogspot.com/ ) and, if you’re interested, trot over there and check it out.  He like Haiku (as do I) and tries to put one up fairly often.  It’s a form of poetry that he describes on his blog.  Haiku is great fun – give it a try.

Random Thoughts for the Day:

Emailed from my sister:

1. I think part of a best friend’s job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks  more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is a great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my own  neighborhood.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t at least kind of tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren’t going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don’t want to have to restart my collection…again.

13. I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.

14. “Do not machine wash or tumble dry” means I will never wash this — ever.

15. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Damn it!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What’d you do after I didn’t answer? Drop the phone and run away?

16. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

17. I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

18. My 4-year old son asked me in the car the other day “Dad what would happen if you ran  over a ninja?” How the hell do I respond to that?

19. I think the freezer deserves a light as well..

20. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lites than Kay.

Bill

Friday Funnies

A tough old cowboy from Bear Lake valley in Idaho counseled his grandson that if he wanted to live a long life that the secret was to sprinkle a pinch of gunpowder on his oatmeal every morning.

The grandson did so religiously to the age of 103 when he finally passed away.

The left behind 14 children, 30 grandchildren, 45 great-grandchildren, 25 great-great grandchildren and a 14-foot hole where the crematorium used to be.

Story from the Jacksonville, FL, Police Dept.

A man goes to a party and has too much to drink. His friends plead with him to let them take him home. He says no, as he only lives a mile away.

About five blocks from party, the police pull him over for weaving and ask him to get out of the car and walk the line. Just as he starts, the police radio blares out a notice of a robbery taking place in a house just a block away. The police tell the man to stay put, they will be right back and they hop a fence and run down the street to the robbery.

The guy waits and waits and finally decides to drive home. When he gets there, he tells his wife he is going to bed, and to tell anyone who might come looking for him that he has the flu and has been in bed all day.

A few hours later the police knock on the door. They ask if Mr. Joe is there and his wife says yes. They ask to see him and she replies that he is in bed with the flu and has been so all day.

Since the police have his driver’s license, they ask to see his car and she asks why. They insist on seeing his car, so she takes them to the garage. She opens the door. There sitting in the garage is the police car, with all its lights still flashing.

My wife insisted on inserting this gem:

Made breakfast for the cranky youngsters

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and fed the baby a bottle

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She dribbled milk all over herself and my new blouse

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I loaded up the kids in the carseat and took them to daycare & school

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I was late for work, and traffic was a nightmare

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My husband called my cell phone to tell me he got laid off from his construction job

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I got to the office (I’m a Tech Analyst)

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My supervisor chewed me out

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for misplacing the mouse

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I went out for lunch and got caught in the rain

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I left work early to pick up my new eye glasses (wrong size)

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I then picked up the kids from school & daycare

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Fed them all a quick meal

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Drove the boys to karate lessons

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And, then the girls to tap & ballet

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When we got back home, all they wanted to do was watch TV

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and, sing karaoke instead of doing their homework

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After much chaos, they took their baths & got ready for bed

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And after much hounding, they brushed their teeth

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Then I read them their nightly bedtime stories

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They finally went to sleep

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So, I tried doing some aerobics in the living room

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Now, I think I’m getting a migraine

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and, a runny nose

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I’m pretty certain it’s the flu

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After a long and grueling day, I crawled into bed and was just drifting off when

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I realized I had forgotten something

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And next week, I’m off to the spa and pool for some much-needed rest and relaxation with my girlfriend

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Tough Love vs. Spanking – Good Argument

Most people think it improper to spank children, so I have tried other methods to control my kids when they have one of ‘those moments.’

One that I found effective is for me to just take the child for a car ride and talk.

Some say it’s the vibration from the car, others say it’s the time away from any distractions such as TV, Video Games, Computer, IPod, etc.

Either way, my kids usually calm down and stop misbehaving after our car ride together. Eye to eye contact helps a lot too.

I’ve included a photo below of one of my sessions with my son, in case you would like to use the technique.

Sincerely,

Your Friend

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This works with grandchildren, nieces, and nephews as well.

Bye now.

A busy week

Last week I finally decided to get to work on my gaming computer.  For some time now it has been running for a while and then shutting down suddenly.  It was very hard to pin down exactly why this was happening.  Sometimes I could let it just sit there for a day – powered up – and come back from shopping and it would be powered down or completely frozen.  Other times it would freeze almost immediately.

When it froze, I could see what was on the screen but none of the controls, keyboard, mouse, or anything else worked.  Since the screen was displaying exactly what was happening when the computer froze, That meant (generally) that the graphics card was still working.  It had to be something else.  The only way I could regain control was to hold the power button down and wait for it to go off.  This, of course, made XP very angry and caused all the discs to be checked on power-up.  When you have three hard drives, and the smallest is 175Gb, this takes a while.

So, finally, last weekend I dragged out my testing equipment and went to work.  I hung all sorts of monitors, gauges, and other devices wherever I could and started exercising all my CPU/GPU dependent software.  I ran Flight Simulator X, Trainz 2009, and a couple of other programs that were memory intensive.  No problems noted, but sometimes the mouse would lose connectivity for a couple of seconds.

Then, after I added a recording oscilloscope to the mix I found that my power supply fan was running at half speed.  This, along with power demands, would cause the +12v and -12v rails to drop to around +/-9.5 volts or so.  This would, in turn, force the DVD drives (and all the hard drives) to slow down slightly.  When this happened, the various programs would start acting up.  As soon as one of them would stop responding (usually after a request for data from a drive, or a write request).  This froze the computer.

As things turned out, I found a toasted transistor in the power supply and replaced it.  The fan came back up to speed and, apparently, my troubles are over.  I have been flying with my friend Pete now for several days for varying amouts of time and haven’t had a single problem.

This computer will need to be replaced next I think.  I’ve replaced my primary development desktop with a Vista machine, and have seen ads for computers with as much as 6Gb of RAM and Terabyte drives for as little as $600.  The gaming computer has been with me now for almost 5 years but it’s getting long in the tooth.  I don’t even have a USB2.0 version on it, only 1.5.

My front yard has been sparsely populated for a while.  Given the very hot weather, coupled with an occasional huge thunderstorm, my families of squirrels have given up and remained in the trees.  I did manage to sneak up on one squirrel who, when I popped around the tree and surprised him, ran towards my front porch.  As I pursured, he goe excited and ran up the side of my brick house and shot completely across the front of the house and leapt for a tree near the corner.  I’ve never seen a squirrel do that – run up a vertical wall and then scamper across it.  If I’d had my camera I could have shot some neat pictures.

I have also been unable to capture a picture of my chipmunk.  He still darts out from time to time and grabs a mouthful of seeds spilled on the grass, but I’m never in a position to take a picture.

So, that’s all that’s been going on over here.

Rainy day ramblings

Today was full of surprises.  At about 0430 I got up for a moment and headed to the bathroom.  What captured my attention right away was the weird flashing lights on all the windows.  When I returned to the bedroom, I looked out and the entire sky was alight from end to end with huge blasts of lightning.  It was a completely silent display though – no thunder at all.  It looked like the Northern Lights.

At first I wondered if I should stick my hearing aids in to see if there was some thunder, but decided not to.  Instead, I went to my computer room and brought up the NOAA weather map (http://radar.weather.gov/Conus/index_lite.php).  Sure enough, there was a huge pod of storms centered overhead.

About that time, thunder began registering from the West – a normal direction for most storms.  Lightning began flashing even faster and, since thunder was accompanying it at around two or three second intervals (about 3 miles away) I decided to shut down my electronics.  Good thing too as about ten minutes later we had a power dip that lasted about three seconds.  I could hear my electronics and UPS boxes beeping.

When I got back to bed a half-hour later I kept getting jolted awake by thunder as I dozed off.  Very noisy indeed.  Finally gave up at about 0730 and went for my mile walk in brief sunshine.

Now, all day long it has been storming on and off.  First a burst of sun and next heavy, rain-laden clouds.  Not very much actual rain though.  My gauge shows only about 0.85 inches as of 1700 today.  The wind was very high at times and blew a squirrels nest right out of a tree and onto the top of my truck.  No damage, but I bet it was a wild ride for the squirrels inside it.

The weather has somewhat backed off now but the wind continues.  According to the weatherpersons it will continue like this for the next two days.  I don’t think so though.

Saturday was me and my wife’s 46th wedding anniversary.  We went to the Red Lobster and had a great dinner.  You have to be careful about telling anyone at those resturaunts though about special days because most of them make a big fuss over it.  I prefer not to be the object of everyone’s attention.  For example: when we went to a local Texas steak house for my birthday one of my friends told the greeter it was my birthday and, when I wasn’t looking, they wheeled over a huge spindly fake horse with a saddle and tried to get me to sit on it.  That wouldn’t have been too bad, but they also wanted me to slap on a goofy 10-gallon hat made of floppy felt that had a brim about 3-feet round.  I felt like an idiot.

My granddaughter is doing right well with her driving lessons.  She can now zoom along an interstate highway without trepidation.  She still merges cautiously, which is a plus, but needs to be just a bit more agressive.  She also received confirmation this afternoon that she has landed a great job working with kids part time.  This is not to interfere with her college classes though.  It will give her some spending money for sure and give her lots of practical experience for her chosen professional aims – lower grades teaching.

Time to get ready for dinner now.