Another Spring, Another Garden

The snow peas are coming in fine …

Snow peas coming up

Snow peas coming up

… although that might be a bit of a misnomer. It was nearly 80 yesterday. Fortunately the humidity didn’t match. We could still get a late cold snap, and even snow. But I really want to get more things started. Potatoes should do okay regardless:

Where the potatoes are

Where the potatoes are

That looks boring now, but soon, soon. As the potatoes come up, I’ll sweep the earth in from the sides and mound over the potatoes, which should increase yield. And there at the bottom left, you can see my snow/frost preventer.

Finally, a cold frame

Finally, a cold frame

In years past, I’ve started from seed in trays similar to those above. Sitting out in the weather, all it took was one frosty night to kill all my seedlings dead. I’d have to remember to bring them in at night, and put them out in the morning. Now I don’t have to do that. And since I don’t … I probably won’t need to. It’d be even cooler if I could put a temperature sensing system connected to a motor to crank that frame up and down at the appropriate times. But I can certainly go outside and pull the prop as necessary. The frame is hinged to the bed on the side away from the camera. The top is 3′ x 4′ x 1/8″ plexiglass, screwed to the top of the frame, and one center bar.

I got all that done, and tools brought in, and pictures taken just as the rain started to come down. Apparently we’re due for an inch or two this weekend. I hope the potatoes like that.


Argh III

In my introduction conference entry for my CMIS class, I said I hate school group projects. At work it’s fine, people are motivated and interested – the mission gets accomplished. My dislike continues to be fueled by the current group project I’m participating in. I posted up template documents, did my part quickly, completely, and early to provide exemplar material to make it easy for my teammates to follow the template … and we needed everyone to the the first part done by last night. Of the other three folks, only one had anything done. Me == Sad.

I’ve finished my Geology course – that’s the last of the General Education Requirements retired. All that’s left is upper division electives – the one that I’ve got three weeks left in now, two in the Summer session, and two in the Fall. Huzzah!

So sorry for the delay in this post – my life is pretty bloody full right now, and daylight savings time sent me for a loop. Feeble excuses at best, but I’m here now…

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Our condolences to the family, friends, and compatriots of Specialist Acosta

  • Spc. Edward J. Acosta, 21, of Hesperia, Calif., died March 5, in La Jolla, Calif., of injuries sustained Dec. 3, 2011, when his vehicle was struck by an improvised-explosive device in Wardak province, Afghanistan.

I’ll rest when I’m dead

I took off from work a couple of hours early on Friday.

At that time, I was still feeling a bit off my feed – this whatever it is that isn’t a cold anymore has been kicking my ass. So I “took it easy” this weekend: I slept in past eight both days! Thanks, Lexi!!!

After that, though, no rest for the wicked. I put in about 12 hours writing for both classes yesterday. Today: Shopping, washed the car, cleaned the dining room, weeded out the raised beds, and seeded/prepared for snow peas. Then I reviewed the writing I did yesterday, and submitted the assignment I could. The other one doesn’t have a class link for submission yet, argh! Now THAT’S frustrating.

Oh, yeah, and the bug’s still got me, more’s the pity. Still plugging away with the antibiotics, fluids, and other OTC meds.

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Our condolences to the families, friends, and units of these fallen warriors:

Maj. Robert J. Marchanti II, 48, of Baltimore, Maryland, died Feb. 25, from  wounds received during an attack at the Interior Ministry, Kabul, Afghanistan.

On Feb. 25, the armed forces medical examiner at the Dover Port Mortuary in Dover, Del., positively identified the remains of Staff Sgt. Ahmed K. Altaie, of Ann Arbor, Michigan. On Dec. 11, 2006, a casualty review board declared Altaie “missing – captured” after his disappearance in Baghdad, Iraq on Oct. 23, 2006.

Cpl. Conner T. Lowry, 24, of Chicago, Illinois, died March 1 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Jordan L. Bear, 25, of Denver, Colorado, died Mar. 1, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from small arms fire during an attack on his base.

Pfc. Payton A. Jones, 19, of Marble Falls, Texas, died Mar. 1, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from small arms fire during an attack on his base.

Columbus Revisited

Formerly lurking, kind reader Doug was sad to read of my problems in Columbus (as you might see in a comment to the prior post).

Let me be clear – the problems in Columbus were those of my cold virus, a car rental company, and an airline. Columbus has always been a gracious and pleasant place for me to visit – everyone is seriously NICE! That’s probably a middle-of-the-country thing that’s also related to the pace of life far away from the loons (like me) on either coast.

I haven’t seen much of the town yet – I usually fly in, work, and fly out again. However, I may try to visit during one of the nicer-weather times of the year … though it wasn’t too bad for mid-February: rain and 40’s is way better than snow/ice and teens. I’ll let you know, Doug!

Through the cold, another school assignment turned in each of the last two days. That and a few hours and a few hundred bucks on new tires yesterday. Sigh. I’m still on track, and it’ll get a bit better in another two weeks, once the one class is done with. Two eight week classes with overlap leads to a hellish pace during the overlap time. I’ll have to pay attention to scheduling for the summer session, or the garden might die…

*     *     *

Our condolences to the families, friends, and units of these fallen warriors:

  • Capt. Ryan P. Hall, 30, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, died February 18 when his U-28 aircraft was involved in an accident near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Africa.
  • Capt. Nicholas S. Whitlock, 29, of Newnan, Georgia, died February 18 when his U-28 aircraft was involved in an accident near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Africa.
  • 1st Lt. Justin J. Wilkens, 26, of Bend, Oregon, died February 18 when his U-28 aircraft was involved in an accident near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Africa.
  • Senior Airman Julian S. Scholten, 26, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, died February 18 when his U-28 aircraft was involved in an accident near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Africa.
  • Sgt. Allen R. McKenna Jr., 28, of Noble, Oklahoma, died Feb. 21 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan.
  • Sgt. Joshua A. Born, 25, of Niceville, Florida, died Feb. 23, in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his unit came under small arms fire.
  • Cpl. Timothy J. Conrad Jr., 22, of Roanoke, Virginia, died Feb. 23, in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his unit came under small arms fire.
  • Lt. Col. John D. Loftis, 44, of Paducah, Kentucky, died Feb. 25 from wounds received during an attack at the Interior Ministry, Kabul, Afghanistan.


Columbus Day

No, not that Columbus Day! Mine! I was in Columbus for the last two days on business. Still battling the cold from Hell, though. Getting through the days on antihistamines and cough suppressants, and getting through the nights somehow.

Today I finished up really early, and got to the airport early. There I was reminded of the maxim: If The Deal Seems Too Good To Be True, It Is. That’s because all the money I saved booking flight, hotel, and car through the Southwest Airlines website seems to be a third party package seller working in cahoots with SWA.

So, even though I’m there at 11 AM, they can’t put me on the 1410 flight home, even if there were room on it. So sayeth the ticket counter. So sayeth the bloke at the 1-800 number. So sayeth the first person at the gate I talked to. But through all of that, the saving grace was it didn’t matter, the flight wasn’t just full, it was overbooked.

When the boarding of that flight was done, and I overheard that there were still three seats empty, I asked the gate person, “Really? You’ll fly three empty seats and not change my ticket?”

Really. My only option at that precise moment was to cancel the 1830 flight, and buy a one-way there at the gate. $200. Um, not gonna do that.

But that wasn’t the ONLY fun part of the trip, oh, no! I also learned that the cheapest rental car really was. Cheapest, that is. Thrifty appeared not to have maintained that particular Chevy Aveo much – it rattled and shook when I stepped gently on the gas, and threatened to cut out if I pressed harder. The wipers didn’t wipe much (and it was raining). The check engine light came on, during the drive back to the airport this morning. I’ll give it this – it didn’t break down (entirely), I was everyplace I needed to be, on time. And I didn’t have to change a tire on that car.

What? Oh, yeah. I get to BWI, hope the shuttle to the daily garage, hoof it over to my car … flat left front tire. Sigh. Sigh. One quick tire change later (the wheelbarrow undersize spare tire was in fine shape) and I was on my way home.

Now I’m here. Nice to see y’all! Ciao!

New Heat

The old furnace

The old furnace

The old furnace was a wee bit crufty, and I really don’t like supplemental condensate pumps – they’re prone to failure, which makes a basement prone to water damage. But worst, we had a corroded burner in the old Janitrol, and not a replacement to be found – they don’t make them anymore. Now, thanks to A. P. Mathews, we have something new to heat the basement:

The new Trane

The new Trane

The new Trane – well, for starters it’s 21 years younger. It’s more fuel efficient, and moves more air, too. Two other big wins. We got rid of the condensate pump, and are using gravity to get to a sump access point. We also got rid of the effectively non-functional electrostatic air cleaner, and now have a HEPA filter in that inlet tunnel to the bottom left.

I’ve had A. P. Mathews under contract for the last 10 years, caring for our furnaces and AC units here at the house, they’re good, smart folks. Strongly Recommended!


One …

One free minute would be nice. Yesterday, I sat for my take-home midterm in Geology. It took me 5 hours. I pity the folks who read slowly and are tortured when it comes to writing. After that, I gave several hours to working on the front matter for an SRS (System Requirements Specification) document due this weekend for my Software Engineering class. I had one bum system last night that needed (remote) rebooting and hand holding for about an hour. There were several Linux systems updates last night and this morning, followed by reboot and testing. I did the weekly shopping this morning, finished and submitted the SRS, and did reading for the upcoming week’s class work the balance of the day. I finished up one course’s reading about 15 minutes ago.

One … is about the number of degrees fahrenheit that it felt like this morning, walking the dog in 18 degrees as measured, and gusty winds on top of that. It never did get above freezing today.

And lastly (on this side of the fold), Marcia has one heck of a cold, poor girl.

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One casualty reported this last week by DoD. I got all excited for a moment, before Sergeant Sutton’s notice stopped hiding from my eyes, in between DoD Nutrition Standards and the Overseas Service Photography Project. None of my narrowly averted excitement takes away from my  somber gratitude for the service and sacrifice on the part of Sergeant Sutton. Our condolences to the Sergeant’s family, friends, and the 223 Engineeers:

  • Sgt. 1st Class Billy A. Sutton, 42, of Tupelo, Mississippi, died Feb. 7 in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan.

JoCo Artificial Heart Package

Among the contents therein is the signed CD, which I most incautiously tore whilst attempting a manual decoupling of the liner notes from the case. Sigh. So I used an obtrusive and intimately personal repair method: thin strips of electrical tape. They seem most appropriate, given the title and image of the album. The good news is that it also arrived in Vinyl!

A nearly broken ArtHeart

A nearly broken ArtHeart