Wednesday, June 25, 2008

maybe 2 is 2many

Wow, the calendar shows nearly 20 days since I last posted anything to this blog. Maybe I was overly ambitious in starting a second. Kinda like second child, or second pet syndrome. You know, the first one gets all the time and training, all the pictures and parties and such. Well, we'll see if I keep this up.

I have been busy. The boys finished school on the 12th, I did major hardware upgrades to Offspring #1's desktop. New motherboard, CPU, graphics card and ram, oh, and DVDr/w. Over the last 8 or 9 years I've done hardware upgrades to every desktop system in the house, multiple times, and they never work out exactly the same. Plus, whenever I start a new upgrade, the last one was long enough ago that I can't quite remember exactly what I did before. Some of those were very horrid, taking days to get everything working properly. *ind*ws xp doesn't exactly take kindly to major component changes.

The first few times I didn't really understand about xp, and ended up completely reinstalling the os, and then spending, like, 18 hours to go through all the service packs and security updates, and reinstall programs. uhhggg. And of course no install is complete without the requisite phone call to the call center in India to receive another authorization number for the os.

At any rate, the last upgrade went fairly well, the os did balk at bit at starting up but finally decided to play, and now Offspring #1 is able to once again spend hours engaged in yet another massive multi player whatever. Offspring #2 plays as well, but he had me upgrade his system some months ago. BTW, they both are required to pay for their own hardware.

Oh, ya know, part of why I wasn't posting much - we'd been having kick a** heat here, and I just couldn't bear having the 'puter on, generating that much more heat. So I really was trying to minimize use. And I was researching spinning wheels, having suddenly decided I must have one, and learn to spin. And researching how to spin. More about that is on the other blog.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Sumo Time

Tomorrow, I go watch a Sumo wrestling tournament. A first for me. #2 Offspring is in his 4th year of Japanese language study, and his Sensei scored some tickets for the preliminary rounds. Since the venue is clear up in L.A., (the Sports Arena) I volunteered to drive.

Aren't the Peonies pretty?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hoping to get caught up soon...

I've many stories to share from the trip to Knoxville; the dungeon dorm, who needs sleep, ice cream vs sour cream, Tetris blocks, funniest performance ever, the teenager I left behind...

I'll get at least a few of these posted soon, please be patient.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Rant Time!

Just the other day the local newspaper carried an column about traffic safety and cell phone use. Numerous studies were sited that pretty much indicate that driving while talking on a cell phone incurs about the same distraction level as say, having an animated discussion with someone riding in the car. I wonder who funds these things. Maybe there needs to be a study on near misses while driving and using a cell phone.

So today was just another day when someone talking on a cell phone while driving nearly clocked me. It was like my car was invisible until I honked the horn. He was exiting a driveway and started slowly rolling out onto the street and I thought, "OK, there's plenty of room for him to wait there for an opening in traffic."

Except he didn't wait, he actually started accelerating! Broad daylight, no visual obstructions, didn't stop until I honked and swerved. The look on his face was as if I had just suddenly appeared out of thin air. I'm usually not surprised if someone overlooks me while I'm driving the MINI, it is a smaller car. But I was driving a Mazda 3 sedan this time. And I've had people nearly run me off the road while I'm driving a big white pickup truck. It seems like at least half the time I can see the other driver is holding a cell phone against their ear.

Maybe they would be just as distracted using a hands free cell phone device, I don't know. The MINI is a manual transmission, so if I've got one hand busy holding a cell phone against my ear, that leaves one other hand to handle steering and shifting (and turn indicators, powering windows up/down, activating wipers, adjusting radio, etc.). So I do use a blue tooth device. I like driving with both hands on the wheel, except for during shifts. Having both hands on the wheel gives me an edge when I have to dodge those other drivers.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Fire Pit Done!

I am astounded at how long it took me to finish this project. Of course, if I knew what I was doing, it would have been a 3 day project instead of what, 3 weeks? I didn't work on it every day (its too hot, too cold, I just can't bear looking at it today), and some days only an hour or 2 but now it is finally done and I'm fairly content with the out come. I do have another rock project in the back of my mind, but there are other things to finish up around here.

Now that the pit is done, I have a few largish (largish - no way in h*** that I can pick this sucker up, but I can probably roll it) rocks to place as accents. Then I can start putting the flagstones (see 'em stacked on the wall in the pic?) back into place around the fire pit. The plan is to space the stones in a pleasing pattern with some wide blank areas in between, then use mortar and decorative rocks to fill in the blank areas.

Gee, there are other benefits besides the self satisfaction in doing these projects. My core muscles are getting a pretty good workout, and I'm hardly going anywhere, so my gas bill is staying low.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Still Hot!

Today is somewhat cooler, and the normal on-shore flow has returned. Its still plenty warm, but now there is some moisture in the air and I no longer break a sweat just by breathing. Work on the fire pit has resumed, but dammit am I slow at this. It is shaping up, but every time I'm satisfied with one section, I decide to redo another. Perhaps by tomorrow I'll be ready to mix up more mortar, and we can be roasting marshmallows by the weekend, provided its not too windy. I still need to have a spark screen/cover made up to fit over the top.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Power Plant!

We've a power plant on the roof! I flipped the switches yesterday and those panels are busy doing their thing! The electric meter is running backward for most of the daylight hours. I was surprised by how early the system started making power this morning.

Oh, I am still trying to get my fire pit built. I am appalled at how long I am taking to get this done. I have most of the rocks selected, just a few more and then I'll start with the mortar. I sure hope I like how it turns out. Its not like a knitting project, something that can be unraveled and redone.

Today is unseasonably warm, and I've convinced myself that I shouldn't be out in the mid-day heat. It would be nice to wrap this project up this weekend.

Friday, April 18, 2008

They're Installed!

All of the installation process finished up yesterday afternoon. I've been shown how to flip all the switches and start taking advantage of our very own roof mounted power plant. But I can't touch those switches yet. The city inspector was here this morning, and signed off his inspection. Now we wait for the power company to send their inspector out. Today is Friday, so hopefully by sometime next week we'll be converting sunshine into electricity!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bang, bang, whir, zzzzzz....

That is what it sounds like inside my house right now. The solar panel installers are busily getting the panel mounting hardware installed.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Gettin Solar Powered!

Today the installers arrived, they're up on the roof making all manner of noise, pounding, tapping, drilling and thumping. In the garage too, where the control panel for the system gets installed. Everything should be finished and working by the end of the week. Pictures soon!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Wow HOT!

As in the weather. I was so busy complaining in my last post that I didn't take time to mention how stunningly beautiful it is around here right now. Oh, and my goodness, these incredibly huge butterflies were all over the Echium flowers, those things were almost as big as hummingbirds! I wish I'd managed a picture, but my little camera couldn't keep up. So I have just picture of the flowers. Lots of blooming flowers, all kinds of birds all over the place, and weather so warm all the windows are open. I know it won't last, and I wouldn't want it to, but I'm enjoying it right now. Update! The huge butterflies aren't butterflies at all, but White-lined Sphinx moths. Today I don't see any. They could be dead, apparently they die shortly after reproducing.

We've decided to redo a small part of the backyard. The Offspring are reluctant participants, but boy-oh-boy, are they big enough to get some work done now! We had an area partially covered with flagstones, and grassed growing between. At least that was the plan. Mostly the weeds were coming up in between with the grasses sort of here and there. It didn't seem like a very inviting place, so its getting a makeover.

The grasses and weeds were killed and dug up, and then the flagstones removed. The d.g. below is getting re leveled (it wasn't draining well before) and then the stones will be replaced and small river rock set in between. We're adding a fire pit to the area too, and I've just about finished digging out the footing. The Offspring have been collecting rock from around the property, and hopefully tomorrow I can start building the pit.

Oh, and tomorrow the solar panel installation crew comes to start our installation. Bye-bye electric bill!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Yikes, where does the time go?

Last Sunday afternoon we returned from Sacramento. We decided to try and skip the L.A. area completely, and so went south on the 99 then cut off on the 58. I don't remember ever driving along that stretch of highway before, and so enjoyed seeing some new territory. I really liked the foothills above Bakersfield, and all those enormous wind turbines outside Tehachapi. Eventually the 58 brought us to 395 south and finally the 15. We did indeed skip all that L.A. traffic, and managed to miss any inland empire traffic as well.

I didn't get as much knitting done as I'd hoped, DH had to take a conference call on his cell phone, which lasted over 2.5 hours. So I took over driving duties at Kramer Junction and brought us all the way home. He was still on the call when he got out of the car. During that entire time, no conversation and no radio. sigh.

On Monday afternoon the Younger Offspring decided he was ready to start a major upgrade to his desktop system. Can you guess who most of the work fell too? Plus I was trying to finish up rearranging my bedroom and cleaning the carpet before dinner time. All the components of the system were going into a new case, along with a new motherboard and new graphics card. Oh, and the new power supply that was needed to drive the new components. (insert trip to big box electronics store on Tuesday here)

On connecting all the cables, I realized the mb only supported one IDE cable, and YO's system had 3 IDE drives. We were short one. We decided to get another SATA hdd, and just copy the 2 IDE hdds over to it. Cut to Wed. morning. I get up early to order the new hdd online instead of another trip to big box store. We were planning on heading out to Joshua Tree to meet up with some folks and play around on top ropes. I didn't really want to go (odd), but DH really wanted me to, and I knew I wouldn't have time to work on the system on Thursday, so figured waiting or parts to be shipped wouldn't hurt.

As it turned out, DH had remember wrong about the dates for the J-Tree meet up, so we didn't go at all, so I cancelled the online order (mostly) and YO and I went to the big box store after all. This turned out to be a great move. I was looking for some cables and found an adapter that allows IDE devices to be plugged into SATA. Yippee! No need to buy 500 gig hdd, saved about $80. Too bad it didn't work at first, but we found ways to work around the lack of the DVD-ROM. The adapter only works properly if the IDE device it's connected to is set to master mode. I finally remembered to check that this morning, and now everything is working beautifully.

Last Tuesday was my finally whale watching trip of the season, and both offspring agreed to go with since they're on spring break. We didn't see any whales, sadly, but did get some good looks at one of the submarines leaving the sub base. I'm told it's a Los Angeles class fast attack sub, but I really have no idea.
Monday the solar panel installation is set to start, I wonder how smooth all that will go?

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Do other people end up with themed days, or even weeks? The theme around the house lately is leaky stuff. The pool pump started leaking in February and needed a new gasket. The water heater started leaking last month and needed replacing. Another piece of pool equipment started leaking and needs replacing. The part is under warranty, but the labor to dig it out and replace it isn't. The irrigation line sub meter installation started leaking - the plumber came back and fixed it. And now that its not raining anymore, all the irrigation lines need checking for leaks or just function. Thankfully, none of the cars seem to be leaking anything, but when the repair guy came to fix the garage door, his truck leaked transmission fluid all over the driveway, puddles in some spots. Sometimes one of my dogs leaks too, that's sort of off and on. sigh...

Monday, March 31, 2008

Where does all the time go?

I can't believe I've started a second blog. Obviously still living in an imaginary world, where I have all the time I need to do everything I want to do, in addition to all those things that just plain need doing. Some irrational part of me believes that I can force myself into greater efficiency if I've less free time. I did finally get my car washed last week, and the irrigation system mostly up to snuff, except for the part on drip lines.

I thought I'd be saving money and work time by installing drip to replace some of the overhead watering on one of the slopes, but that hasn't been the case. The drip hoses don't stay in place well on the slope, but I very much doubt that has anything to do with the dogs running through and over everything. Or the gophers burying the emitters. Or Shae chewing through the lines while trying to dig the gophers out. At any rate, the lovely and well spaced winter rains seem to be over, so the irrigation system needs to function. I thought I'd get it done today, but decided to go photograph the wildflowers on the hill instead. Soon most of the bloom will be over, and I know I'd regret not getting out to see what is blooming.

The area north of the house burned maybe 4 or 5 years before the house was built, and while there is plenty of scrub, it looks like toyon and some other shrubs are just finally getting some size, over 10 years later. There's another shrub I don't recognize, I've got to look it up. OK, Coffeeberry or Rhamnus californica. Anyway, it was a lovely walk. Shae and I startled a deer, she looked very well fed. I didn't get any pictures of the doe, but will post some of the wildflower ones. Some of the flowers are so small, tiny little purple blossoms, multitudes of different little yellow ones, I wonder if I'll ever learn all their names?