Always tweaking something!

Upstate NY


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?



Poke this!

Day 4000 something, I think.

Some idjit staring at his idjitPhone screen wandered through my backyard last night, apparently in an attempt to track down his next Pokemon thingamawhatzit.  He was totally oblivious to where he was.  I’m assuming he got to my back yard from the street out front, walked along my lilacs and behind the camper out to the church parking lot behind me.

He wandered aimlessly around the parking lot for a while, started back towards my yard then FINALLY (after about 10 minutes of me staring at his stupid ass) looked up and noticed me staring at his stupid ass.  He waved at me like the village idiot he is and wandered off out the parking lots normal exit off to my west.   The dude was at least in his mid 20’s and not someone I recognized from our neighborhood.  He’s lucky he didn’t walk out in front of me while I was driving, because I might not have been able to stop in time. (Kinda on purpose)

What ever company it was that started this stupid activity ought to be forced to shut it down.  Someone is going to get themselves dead because of this aimless wandering.  Maybe after a few families sue the games inventor because one of their sons or daughters walked out in front of a semi while chasing a pokemon and got flattened, they’ll wise up.

In the mean time, if anyone wanders across my yard again uninvited, they will be forcibly detained until the town cops can get to my house and arrest these fools for trespassing and total lack of common sense.

In non-ranty news – we’re headed up to the Adirondacks for a week of camping.  Going to meet up with one of our boys and his wife & daughter.  My mission?  Spoil my grand daughter.  Period.  She’s a hoot.  Not quite 2, going on 13.  She will definitely keep the 4 adults entertained.

Oh – and it rained today, for like the first time in a month.  Now I’ll have to mow the yard next week dammit!

I keep thinking . . .

I keep thinking I should stop in and put in some sort of update. Unfortunately it’s been so long since I really DID post that a proper ‘update’ would take several thousand words. So we’re going to have to let fly with an improper update I guess.

Golf season ended. Happy to say my short game has been showing some pretty good improvement. Feel pretty confident with the wedges (all 4 of them) and the putting has been pretty solid. What I need to work on is consistency off the tee. I can, at times, whack a golf ball near 300 yards, but I have no idea where it’s going. Pull one left, push one right, about every 4th drive I hit an absolute bomb down the middle and end up with a ridiculously short approach shot from a good lie. That I flub. Consistently inconsistent. Got it down pat.

Still at 3 grand kids & holding. Had a first birthday party for little Logan last week, have one to go to for Cecily this weekend. Considering the newest batch of grandkiddies just turned 1, I think it’s fair to say that it might be a while before #4 gets in the oven. Especially after the difficult labor involved with getting little Miss Cecily delivered.

This past July we hitched up the camper and spent a week in the Adirondacks with Eric, Kelly & little Miss Cecily. Her first ever camping trip at all of 10 months old. She had a blast and took advantage of having 4 adults around to cater to her every need. We’re in the midst of planning another trip next summer. Have the campground and campsites picked out, just waiting for the reservation window to open. If you like more ‘rustic’ campsites, I can highly recommend Lake Durant Campground. No electric, no water hookups (but spigots distributed all over the campground), restrooms are decent and the sole shower facility is, well, rustic works. Clean, but clearly showing it’s age.

I broke down and got a solar panel for our camper. With 8 hours of good sunlight a day, we can run interior LED lights with little to no restrictions. Unfortunately, the kind of campgrounds we like are heavily wooded with really nice separation between sites. I was doing good to get 4 hours of direct light most days. On our 6 day trip, we were just slowly losing ground each day. By the time we had packed up and were ready to hit the road, I had to hook up the truck’s power just to roll in the awning – we were that low on juice. But it all worked out. The sites we have picked out for next year have better southern & western exposures (we’re on the shore of a small lake with water to the south & west!!)), so I think we’ll be fine.

Have one more trip planned for Columbus Day weekend. Much as I hate how much the spousal unit drinks 3 – 4 days a week, this trip is in NY’s Finger Lakes wine country. I am sure we’ll spend at least one day of the weekend on the wine trail, checking out wineries we have yet to visit. I’ve adopted the strategy of trying wines I wouldn’t normally drink during the tastings. Learned that I’ve been ignoring some good wines.

For those of you that haven’t read this thing from the beginning, I’ve had tons of experience with this drinking issue the spousal unit has. I’ve done Al Anon, she’s done AA. We’ve done couples counselling and I was seeing a therapist on my own before we started the couples stuff. Then our couples counselor up and moved to Virginia, we never transferred to another therapist and things have slowly spiraled back down to nearly where were 10 years ago.

But I do have my Al Anon learnings to rely on and I can always start attending meetings again. I know where there are a couple near me, problem is getting out on a weeknight to attend. Might just have to run that flag up the pole and see what the reaction is.

Oh – golf ended, so bowling started. Did you know that those sports use different muscles? Boy, I do. I can tell you which ones bowling uses the most too. Right now what aches the most is my left hip flexor (flexing to slide), right forearm (lifting through the ball) and right calf (pushing into the slide). And? 84 degrees in beautiful upstate NY yesterday. That is too damned hot to be bowling. I was wearing one of my tech fabric golf polo’s and it was still darn near dripping. Hate to say it, but I can’t wait for it to cool off. But not like last February. Last Feb we set a record for lowest average monthly temperature in the history of ever for our county. That month long average temp? 12.5. Farenheit. On top of the usual metric ass load of snow we get too. We did kind of wimp out in that category this winter though (too damn cold to snow). We only got 102 inches. Barely average for us. Boston was whining about the 100 inches they got – I wanted to tell them “Hey – Welcome to our average winter!” Buncha wimps.

Game of the century (to date) around here? The new Rex Ryan Era Bills against the hated Patriots. This weeks chant? “Splat the Pats!” Don’t expect me to be answering emails Sunday. I will be on the back porch cheering on my Bills.

Till then – behave or have fun. Pick one.

Not a horrid or torrid start

Survived the start of golf season. Re-learned where a few choice muscles are, thinking a soak in the hot tub tonight wouldn’t hurt. Much as I expected, driving and mid to short irons weren’t bad, putting wasn’t terrible, but the delicate stuff – those little 5 – 25 yard chips and pitches were bothersome. I think the poor short game I displayed last night cost me 4 – 5 strokes and maybe a couple of holes.

For the most part, I play the course and just try to shoot the best I can. I don’t worry much about my opponent, if I win a hole, fine, if I lose it, whatever. This is a fun league and we all get pretty much nothing for prizes at the end of the year. There are a handful of categories, and the top performer in each category gets a sleeve of golf balls. Three whole balls. Last year, to save a few bucks, some of the prizes were actually re-cycled balls dug up in the woods by our league hound dog. They’re nice and only give out the best condition ones, not something that’s been out there for a long time or is really beat up. Again – what ever. I’m just trying to improve my game.

But I did crack a couple of drives out 280+ yards – in the fairway. My OWN fairway even. That and canning a 30 foot putt with about 2 feet of break for a par really made my night.

The other thing that made the night? It was sunny, 65-ish degrees with only a mild breeze. One of the nicer days we’ve had since, oh, I’d say September or October. Winter was brutal up here this year and just seems to be really reluctant to let go.

Next up? Making the solar charger for the camper pretty. We have a couple of boondocking trips scheduled for this summer – boondocking being going without water & electric hookups. But I figure we can fill the water tank when we get to the camp site and run much of our stuff off the battery – lots of 12V applications in the camper. But to avoid having to hook the truck up and run it to recharge the battery, I got hold of an 85 Watt solar panel. On a sunny day it ought to be able to kick out enough juice to fully charge the camper battery in about 10 hours. I’ve got some hardware to configure so I can monitor the panel output and battery status. It’s a fun project, might keep me out of trouble and better yet might allow us to spend a week in the woods, off the grid in a modicum of comfort. We’ll see.

The cost of where you live.

Day 3902 (days since I quit smoking) (10 years, 8 months & 1 week)

Golf league starts tonight.  Been jonesing for a sport to play since bowling stopped a month ago.  Our usual arrangement for dinner on golf nights involves me calling the local Applebee’s form the parking lot of the golf course and putting in a “car side pick up” order.  Applebee’s has some nice salads that work well, because if a salad gets cold – does it matter?

Anyhow.  Cindy looked through their menu last night, made her choices and wrote them down on a little note that I was supposed to put in my wallet this morning so I knew what the hell she wanted for dinner.

Problem #1?  I left the little note right in front of the little doodad we have for charging our phones.  I think it’s called CRS – a hazard of ones mid=50’s and beyond I’m afraid.

Problem #2?  Just for shits & giggles (and maybe a memory jog) I looked up an Applebee’s menu on-line.  Scanned through the choices.  Saw my favorite salad (Oriental Chicken Salad, with grilled chicken please) and saw that it was $9.99.  Wow!  Less than last year – how often does that happen?  Then I looked up at the location it had me pegged at – Newton, Kansas.  FYI – that’s 1,225 miles from my house.  Not exactly a trip you’d want to make with take out dinners.  So I got on their little locator dealie and picked the restaurant closest to my house (0.5 miles – WAY better than 1,225!)  Downside?  My salad now cost $10.79!!  Almost a dollar more just because it’s here in beautiful upstate NY?

So on top of higher income taxes and outrageous property & school taxes AND 8.25% sales tax, even on meals in restaurants, I also get to pay 8% more for the same meal that someone in Newton, Kansas is going to enjoy tonight?   Phooey.

Ah well, what are you gonna do?  Not like I’m going to move – my whole family is here and that’s reason enough to stay.

But golf tonight!  Managed two trips to the driving range, think I remember how to swing a club (230+ yards carry with a 3 wood on a few shots, that’ll work)  Didn’t hit my driver a lot, but I do know that when I don’t swing out of my shoes, I can hit it nice.  If I start to swing a little too hard, I start to lose it on a straight push right and when I try to absolutely crush the ball I hit this weak little pull/duck hook that will endanger every tree on the left edge of the fairway.  Lesson here?  Don’t swing out your ass.  250 + roll out is fine, fine, fine.

Back to our irregularly scheduled program!

Liquid Courage

Saw this on the way home last night.

Balls Vodka

Never heard of this particular brand, but talk about liquid courage! Drink this stuff and grow some real balls! Yeaaahhhh – no thanks. I will happily stick with my occasional craft (or home brew) beer and call it an evening.

Gorgeous weather here in the tundra today – I’m really near the Lake Ontario coast here at work and it’s all of 64. Further south in the big city it’s more like 69. Officially the warmest day of the year. But guess what? Friday is supposed to peak in the upper 50’s then turn colder with showers changing to snow and accumulating 1 – 3 inches by Saturday morning. Guess what I have scheduled for Saturday at noon? Supposed to go trade in our camper for one we picked up at the RV show a few weeks ago.

Still worried about whether or not the pile of snow in the church parking lot that abuts my back yard (and is the only access I have to my back yard with a camper) will melt enough to allow me to get the trailer out. Last I looked it was still a 1 foot deep, 4 foot wide band of ice. Thought I could get the snow blower out there and clear enough of a path to make it. But now, if we DO get 3″ Friday night, there will be fresh snow back there. Think I’ll just go yank it out Friday night and park in the driveway. The spousal unit will think I’m nuts, but I have a nasty case of spring fever and I need to be doing this.

In other fun stuff – we are taking two camping trips this year where we’ll be “boondocking” – camping with no water or electric hook ups. Now tent camping, this is no biggie. We did it for years while the kids were growing up. But now, with a camper? We are officially spoiled. The new camper can store 60 gallons of fresh water, 67 gallons of gray water waste and another 28 gallons of black water (toilet offerings). I can run off the camper battery for a while. Lights are no problem, even running the water pump for short bursts isn’t bad. But then you add in maybe using the stereo system, outside lights at night, it could drain the battery faster than one would think. The solution? I used up my American Express reward dollars and got an 85W solar panel and a charge controller. They’re sitting in my garage right now, waiting for something to do. Honestly, they are fueling some of my spring fever.

In perfect conditions, that panel would allow me to fully charge the battery I have on our current camper in about 8 – 10 hours, if we were to really drain it. If we’re even a teeny bit conservative, we’ll have no problem at all. I don’t know what kind of battery is in the new to us camper. I’d hope it’s larger, but won’t know till Saturday.

Being the geek engineer I am, you can bet I’ll spend a few weekends running various lights & systems so I can get a gauge on just how much power will be needed when going off grid. Our first boondock trip is a 3 day jaunt over Memorial Day, the traditional camping season kick off weekend. We’ll be not too far away, will definitely be getting in some winery tours, biking and relaxation. It’ll also give me a good opportunity to check out the new charging system. So yeah, I have spring fever in spades.

Last night of bowling for this season is tonight. Didn’t make it to that mythical 196 average I was trying for, but the team has really climbed in the standings the last 4 – 6 weeks. We are mathematically eliminated from first place, but we ought to improve on last seasons 11th out of 26 finish. Then – the quest for the single digit handicap in golf begins!

Need an interpretation

Sunday afternoon, I saw some odd markings on my thermometer. Sometime around 3PM I went and took a peek at it. What I saw looked like this: 35

Not sure what to make of that. First, there were actually 2 squiggly symbols. This thing: – was also missing. So am I to take it that temperatures here actually crawled ABOVE thawing for a handful of hours Sunday? First time in 32 days.

Then there’s this:

Not a record we're proud about

Not a record we’re proud about

Yeah – we set a record. Several actually. Won’t claim to be proud about it at all. But March is here, and things gotta get better. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Bowling last week was, well, interesting. First two games I had two open frames in each. Had a 200 and a 205. Sucks out loud when your only opens are poor spare shots in the 9th and 10th frames. That 200 could easily have been a 230. Third game I had no opens at all. Also only had 2 strikes, not consecutively, so oddly enough, that was my worst game at a whopping 190. For the night I bested my average by 25 pins, but that isn’t the kind of pace I need to get my average up to my target. Ah well. Best to concentrate on having a good time. And? We took 6 of 8 points from the other team so no room for complaining.

Sales guy at work just ran a quote that may end up sending me to Pittsburgh. That’ll be a fun trip. Sorta too close to fly, but still a long drive at 4.5 hours. The fact that I may have to take test equipment with me also makes flying more difficult. So? Potential road trip to Pittsburgh coming up. My outfit also has an office in Aliquippa, so I may swing by there and say hi.

That’s it from Ice Station Rochester. See you soon.