Well, hello there!  I’ve been doing my best to keep from going outside for any reason at all.  This is hard to do since the wife has gone to Colorado for moral support and washing machine replacement.  Over the last week, the daily average has been somewhere between hell and a much warmer spot (Phoenix).  I have a Mini-Max thermometer and it told me on Friday that the highest temperature reached was 101 degrees (fahrenhot).  Since the actual thermometer is on the front porch, I aimed my camera out the front door and zoomed in on the reading.  Hah!  I didn’t have to go outside!

At night is has been a little more reasonable – only hitting the low 80’s.  I’d mow my jungle lawn, but I’m afraid that the lawn tractor will go up in a burst of flame (not to mention the plastic of the seat adhering to my seat).  Mowing at 0300 is probably not a good idea either.

Yesterday, a little lost cloud passed over my house and in a freakish set of circumstances let loose with a huge blast of thunder at exactly the same time my cat landed on the floor after jumping off the couch.  I jumped a foot, but suffice it to say that the cat jumped further – around 15 feet if I measured correctly.  When last seen, she was headed horizontally across the floor in hovercat mode about three inches off the floor.  She didn’t even respond to my calls of ‘crunchy!’ until the storm had passed.  Even then she repeatedly looked at me as if I’d done it on purpose.

Today it is only as hot as the approaches to hell: a mere 84.  It is partly cloudy (a condition the weather-guessers insist on calling ‘partly sunny’) and there is a very small breeze blowing once in a while.  I did get my lawn mowed however.  It was rapid and required that I actually leave the house so I made it fast and ducked back inside right away.  As I gaze out the window, I can see little ridges of grass where, in my haste, I didn’t quite get over far enough and left a trail.

Boredom has set in.  I’ve watched enough satellite TV to pay for my outrageous billing for the month and have reverted back to books.  I’ve started Tom Clancy’s latest book, which weighs in at approximately 5 pounds (weight, not monetary) and contains over 700 pages.  I’m halfway through it and enjoying it thoroughly.  A week ago, I ended up at Ollie’s (a local “we have everything” store) and bought three more backup books just in case this heat wave continues past December.

I sat at the table this morning eating my cereal and had a random thought: Why did all the cereal companies drop the use of waxed paper for liners?  Waxed paper kept a great seal and allowed you to have more than one box open at the same time without any of them going stale.  Now, they create these Kevlar liners that takes a bazooka to open and, in the process, scatters cereal all over the kitchen floor.  This is excepting, of course, Shredded Wheat.  These little bales of hay come three to a packet but, if you note on the specifications box, the figures are for TWO biscuits.  This means that you have to figure 1.5 times all the figures to actually arrive at what you ate/are eating.  On the other hand, you can re-pack one biscuit for the next time.  This means that when Shredded Wheat comes around in breakfast rotation (about a week later) the one biscuit you saved has gone stale.  Bummer.

Fixing my own meals doesn’t stop at breakfast.  I now have to do both lunch and supper (or dinner – depending on where you were brought up).  I wouldn’t mind so much, but I have to go out into the garage and open the freezer door to select an eatable.  Once that’s done, I fix it in one of two ways: 1) boil it in a pan, or, 2) nuke it with microwaves.  Done either way, the meal kind of tastes the same – bleh.

I haven’t included any animal pictures lately because even the squirrels are holed up in their air-conditioned condos awaiting cooler weather.  I imagine it’s pretty hard on them because they start out with a fur coat and get warmer.  Even the birds are panting when they land on the lawn.  Their prey (worms, one presumes) are dug in deep enough so that even the sharpest robin’s beak can’t reach them.  I know this is true because I saw a robin just the other day with a shovel over its shoulder.

Random thoughts are cool; one never knows where they will end up.


Happy fall to you

As it was pointed out on the news today, the autumnal equinox occurred at twenty-three-something last night.  The time is, of course, in Eastern Daylight Time.  For one, I am fairly happy to see this summer go away.  It has been a very hot and muggy summer.  It was pretty much full of days where you didn’t even want to go outside for any reason.  If you did, you’d be covered in sweat perspiration, and your clothes would hang on you like burlap bags.

I notice that Flighty’s post today ( holds a wonderful picture of ‘punkins’; the traditional Autumn and October vegetable.  Somehow, I just can’t bring myself to call them by their proper name of pumpkins.  I’ve always called them the diminutive of punkin.  My dad used the term as well as his dad when he grew them on his farm out in Colorado.  Like Flighty, I’m not all the keen on punkins, but they make a great severed head for Halloween.

It is still  muggy and hot outside.  Yesterday it hit 95 degrees and it is supposed to be this way for the rest of the week.  We had a touch of rain, but it pretty much steamed up from the ground right as it hit.  I don’t see any more on the way for us for the rest of the week.  There is a storm system to the west of us, but it seems to be carrying northwards up into the Michigan peninsula and will probably cross the border into Canada instead of coming this way.

The house and grounds I am caring for is once again up for sale.  The price has been reduced drastically down to around $215K.  If I had the money, that would sound attractive to me for a historic house and just a hair under 3 acres of huge trees.  Since I’m the ‘caretaker’ I’ve been asked to get it ready for tours by making sure all the doors close properly and the floors are nice and clean – that sort of thing.  Since the house as been vacant for so long, and the heating/cooling has been turned off, some of the frames around the doors have warped slightly.  I need to touch them up with a little filing or planing so they will close.  I am told that doors not closing is a big turn-off for potential house buyers.

Well, breakfast is done, so I guess it’s time for me to get moving over to the house and begin working on it.


Are the RSS feeds worth it?

I have about ten or twelve blogs that I read regularly.  All of them come to me using the RSS feed button up on the right side of the address bar (the little red/green one, depending on which browser you use).  All but a couple work just fine. I get each blog entry just a few minutes after it is posted – except MINE!  I make a post, and wait, and wait, and wait, but it still doesn’t get delivered.

My RSS client is Mozilla’s Thunderbird.  TB is a great email client and has no equal as far as I’m concerned.  I’ve used it for years and haven’t had a moment’s trouble.  Lately, it has begun screwing up.  The ‘you have email’ tone will sound and I go looking for the newly arrived email – nothing.  There isn’t a single email I haven’t read anywhere.  I also get the tone for an arriving blog post via RSS.  Same thing – no new post.

The TB forum has a couple of suggestions, but they simply don’t work very well.  I hesitate to go delving into the files that TB uses to keep entries separate and emails from getting put into the wrong slot but this time I tried it.  I deleted the indexing files for the two most troublesome blog threads and restarted TB.  That appeared to work, but the very next blog entry made, I think it was by my brother, I got the tone and nothing else.

WordPress has been informed, and they’ve at least attempted to find out what is going on, but they are hampered by the “not invented here” syndrome.  They claim their house is clean, so it must be that awful software from ‘outside’ messing about.  I’m not so sure.  I think that there is some sort of blockage on my blog here and no matter how many entries I make, they won’t get posted to the RSS feed.

Let’s see if this one makes it.

On another subject:  Just today I had a new water softener installed.  Our old one blew a gasket or something and pumped the resin out of the green oxygen-tank-looking-thingie in the basement.  It was a mess.  All our toilet filler valves were clogged and didn’t stop when they should have (thank goodness for overflow valves), the flow-restricting washers in our showers plugged up, and horrible coffee-colored water oozed out of our faucets.  Fortunately, we caught it early and kept the sludge out of the hot water heater (whoo-hoo).  So now we have a new Culligan unit with all sorts of filters, reverse-osmosis membranal dongles and a space-age control unit that even has a wireless remote up in the kitchen.  There is also a new tap on the left side of the sink with nicely fresh water that has been triple filtered and softened to the point that it won’t stand up at all.  I don’t even have to lug 40 pound bags of salt down two flights of stairs either – they do that.  All for the monthly bill of around $93.  Believe me, it’s worth it not to have to deal with it.

According to the weather radar at we are about to have a tiny little rain cell go over us.  It’s been hotter than ever here with temperatures running around 95 and higher for weeks.  It looks as if this might be broken for a while because the weather guessers are predicting temperatures down in the mid 70’s now for a week or so.  I hope they’re right.  But I bet they aren’t.

Oops, I amend my last to – it’s raining now.  Thunder is rumbling as I type.

I wrote a small program to help me out of a jam.  I bought a nice 1500VA UPS last month and it is hefty enough to plug three computers in to and still keep them alive for over 30 minutes if the A/C goes out.  The big problem being that the software that came with the UPS only runs on one computer and the USB connection only runs to that computer.  So, if the A/C craps out, the one computer will be informed that it should shut down and it does.  The other two computers are left in the lurch.  When the A/C drops, they don’t care because the UPS keeps them alive.  BUT, they don’t know when the UPS tells the one computer to shutdown.  So, what to do?

I wrote a program that runs in the other two computers.  I also added a cheap A/C powered USB hub to each computer and a cheap one-gig thumb drive to each.  I created a special file (POWER.txt) in a special folder (POWER) in the root folder of each thumb drive.  My program looks for this file every 5 minutes.  If it is found, nothing whatsoever happens until the next five minute period.  If the file comes up missing then my program assumes that the A/C power has failed (which would make the power supplies for the USB hubs die) and causes the computer running the program to shutdown in an orderly manner.

If anyone is interested in this program, add a comment here and I’ll pass a link so you can download it.  It is customizable in that you can pick the drive/folder/file you wish to monitor AND you can choose a check time between 1 and 15 minutes.  It’s free also.