Always tweaking something!

nature

STELLA!

Good ol’ Winter Storm Stella seemed to start a little slowly.  Or maybe just late.  But that gal had some staying power.  Our area had just recovered (almost) from a one day windstorm where the measured peak gust topped out at 82mph.  Here in western NY.  Over 100,000 customers without power.  That’s about 1/3 of out county.  We were spared  from that and actually hosted our son and his clan for a day before their power was restored.

Spent Saturday morning at their house cleaning up some ash trees that fell.  The largest took out a swing set we had just built last summer.  Clearing out the rest of the ash trees is high on this springs to-do list.  The Emerald Ash Borer is wreaking havoc here.  After that, the swing set will be re-built.

Then came Stella.  Slow, steady and with the endurance of a marathon runner.  Tuesday morning, not so bad.  Tuesday night?  Less than great.  Got home to 12″ in the driveway (I love my 4WD truck, yessir!).  Got the driveway cleared out, came in and collapsed.

Wednesday morning got up early so I could clear another 10 inches out of the driveway.  If you’re keeping score, that’s 22 inches in about 30 hours.  Made it to work fine.  Schools closed, many businesses closed.  Traffic was wonderfully light and our road crews here kick some serious butt.  Sure, there was some snow in the road, but for the most part you could find clear wheel tracks to ride in.

I’ve been providing rides to a colleague at work who is up visiting from Florida.  She’s helping me clean up some work that got delayed by another client flexing some muscle and re-arranging my schedule.  She got a front wheel drive car but hasn’t driven in snow for years.  Her hotel is also having trouble keeping the snow from drifting in over their driveway.  My truck gets in & out fine, no way her car would make it.

So.  Wednesday night I drop colleague off at her hotel.  Drive home – house is cold-ish.  Dropped to 60 or so.  Turns out the furnace vent got drifted in and the controller won’t run the furnace with a clogged vent.  Went around the side of the house, cleared out a 4 foot tall snow drift from around the vent.  Furnace is fine & we were back up to a toasty 68 in a couple of hours.

There are another 4 or 5 inches of snow waiting for me in the driveway – I’ll get that in the morning.  That makes our total snowfall from Stella 26 inches in about 42 hours.  Not a record for here by a long shot, but it was nearly double the forecast.  Oops.

Thursday?  Back to normal.  Roads were actually pretty clear coming home tonight, morning rush ought to be back to usual.  That’s too bad,  I was actually enjoying driving on the nearly deserted roads during our local travel advisory.   Guess normal is all relative, eh?

 

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The Ides of April?

Day 3523

The government made me do it, I swear!  Figuring I owed on my taxes this year, I postponed the inevitable until the last possible weekend.   I didn’t think we’d even have enough deductions to itemize them this year.  College loans are paid off and  it’s been years since we could claim the kids as dependents.  Heck – those same kids are working on dependents of their own now.

We (the spousal unit & I) claim zero exemptions on both federal and state taxes and it seems that’s never quite enough to keep the scale balanced.  Last year I made a sizable contribution to an IRA since I wasn’t eligible to start on a 401k yet.  That actually helped quite a bit at the time.   This year, even with the 401k started, when the dust finally settled we were deep in the hole.  Comfortably into the 4 figure range with the Feds and we’d have to toss another couple of hundred to the state.

What’s a guy to do?  Seeing as I was using my banks on line tax software, I played with some numbers.  (No – not a mysterious large donation to some charity)  I wasn’t maxed out on my 401k contributions (quite), so I looked at the IRA options again.  Using the tax software I was able to compare the effects of various contributions to my IRA account.  Finally settled on a number that reduced my federal taxes owed to a much more modest amount and even got me a return from the state.  Net effect?  I’m out about $100 to the various governments in tax payments and I’ve padded my retirement nest egg by LOTS of rounds of golf for my future self.  In essence, the government used my distaste for sending them money to force me to make investments for my retirement.  My new motto?  10 more years!!  That’s when I get to use all this money I’m putting away.

On a separate note – it’s been interesting reading blog entries about recent weather.  Sitting here on the east (Right!) coast, it’s sort of a weather forecast for us.  So all that nasty shit we saw happening in the Rockies and then in the Midwest has arrived here.  Yesterday we peaked at something like 82 degrees – 3 degrees short of the record for the day.  That followed an 80+ degree Sunday too.  So yeah – 82 yesterday afternoon sometime, obviously WELL before 5pm because when I crawled out of the cave here and got back above ground to go home it was already down to 59.  This morning on the drive in it was 37 and the temps aren’t going to stop until they bottom out at around 18 later tonight.  As part of that transition, we get this:

Ides of April

Yes, I’m under that upside down raindrop thingy, which is appropriate as it’s raining here now.  The pink that’s juuuusssst to the west of me?  Ice & freezing rain.  Lunch time ought to be fun.  And of course, the blue behind it is the inevitable snow.  After this latest finger of the bi-polar vortex slides by, we’ll return to more seasonal temps by Thursday.  Maybe.  I hope.  Trying to make plans to golf in Syracuse this weekend, even temps in the 50’s would be tolerable.

The cat would like some warm weather too.  Our back porch is sort of a roofed, screened in deck.  Nice sized.  If you count screen, it’s completely enclosed.  Well, Diesel (the cat) got out there over the weekend.  Good lord, he loves it out there.   If we leave the slider open we may never see him in the house again except for trips to the litter box.  When he’s not on the porch, he’s really enjoying sitting in front of an open window keeping an eye on the bird feeder (Cat TV)  got to make sure all the birds are sharing the food nicely.  He’s bumped his head into the glass several times thinking he’s going to pounce on a bird.  Hope the screens are stout enough to keep him in.

Guess all my docs have uploaded.  Better get back to cranking out reports.


Everybody Needs a Quickie

Day 2542

Back from Clan gathering #2 this year. Had a fine, fun time as is always the case with this crew. Hot & muggy during the day, cool & sometimes rainy at night.

We were again camping out in the yard. Temperature wise it was wonderful weather for sleeping outdoors. The first night I got up around 2 or 3 or something (it was dark, the stars were gorgeous) and stepped outside thee tent to pee. Found the third tree on the left and did my business. Walked back to the tent and as I bent to get in the door, I heard leaves rustling off to my right – up the hill and just inside the woods. It’s a good thing I just peed or I may have wet my pants. I’m sticking with believing it was a deer making it’s way through the woods not too far from me. I’d rather not ponder the possibilities that it was a bear. They are definitely in the area, but they have more sense than to hang out around a bunch of rowdy humans, right?

The cousins finally mounted the buck skull they found during the weekend of Zach & Jill’s wedding two years ago. Here’s what happens when you let ants, beetles & other little beasties clean the skull for you:

Gorgeous 9-point Buck

Saturday morning we al headed into Arlington, Vermont for their weekly Saturday tag sale extravaganza. Every Saturday the whole town turns into a giant flea market. If you know where to look you can run into some excellent deals. All I ran into was another head scratcher. See what I mean:

Yard? Floor? Huh?

So if a “Yard Sale” is inside, what is it, really?

Off to do more job apps. The one place I interviewed with a couple weeks ago responded sooner than they said they would. Due to economic conditions, they are not filling the position I was hoping for. Better to know now than 6 months after starting. I guess.

With that, I’m signing off. Got to go catch up with all my reads after a few days away . . .


Lucky Duck – Take 4,912

Day 2356

It’s been an odd winter. DC, Philly & NYC get pounded multiple times. We in the snow belt? Eh. Tuesday, KC, St. Louis, Chicago & Detroit (to name only a few) got pounded. Here in the show belt all we heard for two days was “Watch out for Tuesday night & Wednesday! It’s going to be a doozy!”

Eh.

Silly me was actually making plans to set up my camera in the garage so I could get a picture of my own bad self coming up the driveway with the snow blower, clearing away a foot or more of freshly fallen snow. Coulda been a cool shot, except instead of that foot of snow, we had maybe 5 inches.

Guess we smell bad or something. I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth, but you gotta know if he has any teeth, right? Looks like once again the storm track wasn’t what the NWS thought it would be. Maybe it’s Lake Erie. Something in or over the lake is affecting storm tracks and by the time the weather systems get all the way to us, no one has a clue which way they’re headed.

This one certainly missed us. Not to diminish what happened further west. You folks got dumped on and blown all over the place. No doubting that. But here in the east it’s becoming a case of Chicken Little or the Boy Who Cried Wolf. School superintendents across Western NY closed schools Tuesday night. The little ticker thingy was just buzzing across the TV screen all night with the school & business closings.

Those of us that are working today really need to thank them for keeping the busses off the road this morning. Of course, all those kids home from school necessitated many parents having to stay home too. That meant even less traffic on the roads. So this morning, I got up a little early, cranked up the snow blower and cleared the fresh snow out of the driveway. In spite of the roads looking like veins of two-track all strung together, my drive time to work was maybe a minute longer than average. That’s because I had to keep my speed down to 60 instead of my normal 70 on my 6.5 mile expressway jaunt.

Truth be told, the local weather guys changed their forecast about 10 P.M. Wish I’d seen that. I was watching Jim Cantore wax disastrous on the Weather Channel. That guy is a master at over using hyperbole to make what ever situation he’s reporting seem like it’s only seconds away from killing him. He was on Michigan Ave in Chicago saying he got frostbite! I’m calling BS on that. His skin got a little cold. If he had frostbite, next time we see him he ought to be missing the tip of his nose or something. Frostbite kills tissue, not just gets it a little cold. Maybe people acclimated to Atlanta’s weather ought to avoid reporting on northern snow storms.

We did get a little bit of snow off the lake later Wednesday. Might have amounted to another 4 inches but it was that real light fluffy stuff that big heavy duty snow blowers struggle with. Kids & teachers got a free day off, that made the commuting easier on everyone else, we all go home happy. Win – win, right?

Aaaanyhow.

Good ol’ Ollie the grand-pup was pretty much house broken when the kids first brought him home. The only real trick, as G.G. noted, was in training the humans to recognize when the puppy was asking to be let out. Those humans can be so dense sometimes!

In spite of how, how, AVERAGE I bowled last week, I am still excited about bowling again tonight. And actually, last week wasn’t quite average. Started out ok, after 2 games I was actually +2 on my average for the night. But that third game! Back to struggling. Missed a couple easy spares (Brain farts really, just let my mind wander during the delivery) and couldn’t buy a strike, even with a $5 bill tucked in the thumbhole. (That’s a joke – the $5 is a tip to the now non-existent pin boys – in hopes that they might help a stubborn pin or two fall over)

But this is a new week. We have a position round tonight, so we’ll get out the Kama Sutra and check out what our new starting forms are. But REALLY, position round means first place team bowls against second place, third bowls against fourth, etc, etc, al the way down to 21 vs 22. It’s important to have a good night during position rounds because you can move up or down several places in the standings very quickly. And with the prize money increasing by maybe a whole $1 per man as you climb in position, it could make or break your season. Because there’s a HUGE difference in getting $120 a man for finishing in first versus getting $98 a man for finishing in 22nd. Hew-juh! (If anybody has seen a Billy Fucillo car ad, that makes sense. – It’s a local kinda joke)

Two days to piece this together. Sheesh! Breaks over, gotta run.