Archive for February, 2013

User Registration

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

I’ve noticed some increased activity lately of new user registrations. When I look at who seems to be registering, I’m guessing it is mostly spambots doing their dirty work. So I tightened up the new user registration requirements, and deleted all but a handful of those registered. If I inadvertently removed a legitimate user by mistake, I apologize. Please go ahead and re-register. Thanks. Ted

Forgive Us Henne, We Doubted Ye

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere is probably no polite way to say this. Our cat Henne on occasion has some aromatic poos. After scratching around in her litter box, she looks quite unabashed about it too, as she struts around with wafts of poison mustard gas surrounding her. This habit of hers goes in spurts (pardon the expression,) such that we never know when it might strike.

Last night I awoke to a terrible smell, and immediately blamed her through the fog of half-sleep. I dozed back off, and some time later when I awoke for the day, Alice and I exchanged opinions that a cat accident must have occurred during the night. I got up and walked around sniffing for evidence. I even parked my nose near her litter box and inhaled. The evidence was inconclusive. Then I began to suspect the dog, and went downstairs. Again there was nothing conclusive.

While I was down there, I put Franco on the porch, and received a larger dose of the odor. The first skunk of spring had made his/her presence known. This is a big day, because it means the maple trees will be waking up soon, and all the work that will entail. I found Henne upstairs, scratched her ears, and told her I was sorry I’d doubted her. She gave me the cat look that said, “why I continue to put up with these humans I’ll never know.”

Mitten Sittin’

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

frontporchIt is a beautiful winter day. The temperature is about 25, and we had a nice snow overnight that smoothed out the edges again. What started out as a disappointing December snowfall has come right back on track in January and February.

Franco and I were out this morning doing some chores, including carrying some armloads of wood from the woodshed over to the wood storage rack inside the front porch. After a few trips, I was warm from exerting myself, and decided to sit on the porch for a spell. This is easier in the summer when there is no snow on the porch, but I solved the problem by taking off my choppers, placing them on the porch, and sitting on them.

Franco was delighted and happily brought me his latest stick for some fetch fun. The picture at the beginning of this article was taken from the porch. I was reminded while I was sitting there about the story of Alice’s grandfather, who had this house built in the 1920s. His hips gave out on him, and he used to spend a lot of his time in his later years sitting on the porch and looking out at the view. I remember wondering how someone could just sit like that for hours at a time. As the years go by, I’m starting to get the idea.

So many of us fight the weather because it becomes an impediment to what we want to do. Icy winter roads are hazardous, and no mistake about it. It isn’t as fun to be outside when you have to dress for cold weather to be sure. But I’d like to suggest it is possible to get past all that and enjoy the weather for what it is. The closer I get to that realization, the more I enjoy all the seasons.

People like a chip with a break point of about 4 pounds per square inch

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

blizzardIt has been a blizzardy couple of days. Michigan Tech closed yesterday at noon, and has been closed all day today. The blizzard of high winds and quite a bit of snow hit the Houghton area harder than it did out here. Alice made it home alright yesterday, although she had a few dicey moments in town getting the car going. Once she got on the main roads, things were pretty much fine. I think they kept things closed in town today mostly to give themselves an opportunity to clear away the snow without having all the cars in their way.

I found myself in Tapiola, about 4 miles from home, at around 9:00 last night. Since I was out with the truck and had finished up my business, I decided to drop by Karvakko’s Market for some junk food. I wound up talking with my friend at the counter for quite a while since the weather had made business was so slow. In the end, I purchased a large bag of Frito’s Potato Chips and took them home.

Alice and I don’t allow ourselves many of these snack foods. Perhaps because of that, there is a bit of a pent-up-demand going on. We dived into that bag of chips, and emerged with greasy salty lips, and a lump in our stomachs. Gosh they were good though.

But why don’t we allow ourselves more of these snacks? And why is it that among the many indulgences we could allow ourselves, that this one comes out near the top of the list. Today as I was perusing my Google News, I came across an article entitled, “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food” in the New York Times Magazine. One sentence from the article struck me as so sad and funny at the same time that I used it for the title of this piece. It seems we’ve marshaled our best and brightest not to make us healthier, but to maximize profits by figuring out what combinations of ingredients make us want to grab another handful, aggressively positioning these items on supermarket shelves, and then standing back and watching the dollars roll in.

kitchenThere are many ways we could choose to organize ourselves to maximize our potential. It seems to me one of the great ironies of capitalism that “consumer spending” is such an important part of our economy. And that it doesn’t matter what we spend on, as long as we spend. A dollar is a dollar, whether it is spent on walnuts or potato chips. Kind of makes you think…

Built-in Snow Receptor

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

Alice and I had a very nice dinner at the Feedmill Restaurant in Tapiola last night. We walked out of there stuffed and happy, such that I forgot to put my hat on as we walked to the car. I observed an unanticipated use for my bald head; that of a snow receptor. Not only could I tell it was snowing by the impacts on my un-buffered scalp, but I could tell how hard and what type of snow. I don’t remember dwelling in my data collecting mode for long, partly because our car was close, and partly because I stuck my hat on because my head was cold.

I got to thinking that possibly other artifacts of old age might also be there for a reason. Sore joints, dry skin, leaky bladder, grumpy demeanor, laziness, loss of taste, etc. etc. All must be there for an evolutionary reason, and I intend to look at these things not as limiting, but as empowering. As my old age arsenal is enhanced, I may become one of the most sensory humans alive. I’ll check into it if I feel like it, when I get up from my nap.

Snowtastrophe

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

snow1Son Steve called yesterday evening. He wondered if I had some time to perhaps run into town the next morning. From his tone of voice, I eventually determined that something serious was going on, and asked him to explain.

This winter we had very little snow in December, but got a lot of snow in January and February. The guys were barely keeping one car mobile with their primitive snow handling gear. The freezing rain last week did them in. The little bit of traction the VW Golf once had in the driveway evaporated when ice coated the entire driveway under the car. Steve tried and tried to get his car out, and eventually threw in the towel and asked me (and my truck) for help.

I arrived around 10:00 and sorted out the gear. I started scooping around his car with the yooper scoop I brought. These devices were designed with this project in mind… when you have a lot of snow to move, and have a distance to move it. You just jam the scoop into the snow bank and slide it along the ground to its new destination, then come back for another load. Once we had all the accessible snow around and under the car moved, we hooked up the tow strap between the two vehicles, and easily pulled the Golf out. Phase one complete.

snow2Next we began shoveling John’s car. We were delighted as the car began to show itself through the snowbank that had enveloped it. First the trunk, then the back window, then a door! We wound up taking several breaks because I just ran out of steam. We had constructed a pretty good sized hill by this time, up which we had to push our scoops and empty the snow. Then back for another load.

snow3When we finally got John’s car so that we could get inside, Steve inserted the key and cranked. Nothing. Not even a whimper. Grumble grumble. I drove the truck into the spot where the VW had been. The scale was all wrong, of course. A spot that had been adequate for the VW required some back and forth 4-wheel drive before I got close enough for the jumper cables to stretch. As soon as we hooked things up, Steve gave it another try, and she fired right up. Yay! And amazement upon amazement, it backed right out of the driveway without getting stuck.

ted3dThe final step in the process was to clear enough of the snow away from the front of the garage so that one of the cars could go inside, leaving the other outside. I bowed out of that and decided to head home. It seems I don’t have the scoop-ability I once did 🙂 I was honored to have my picture taken with Steve’s pinhole 3D camera. He built it from scrap lumber in my workshop, and figured out how to make it take some pretty neat photos. With the correct 3D glasses, you should be able to see me clearly standing in from of my truck with my trusty yooper scoop.

Deer

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

We had a fairly warm and snowless winter until a few weeks ago. I think the deer had it pretty good in December. Often I see evidence of the deer moving snow aside on our lawn so they can graze after the first few snowfalls. This year the snow, when it finally came, was so fast and furious that the deer seemed overwhelmed by it.

Franco and I see deer pretty much every day. He, of course, sees and/or smells them way before I do, and sometimes takes of running for them. He is very good about coming when I call him, so I sometimes let him go for a while. If I don’t happen to notice him run off, he can be gone for some time while I’m calling because it just takes him that much longer to come back. He seems to lack any internal sense that he is getting too far away and should probably return home by himself.

The deer we see still seem to be in pretty good shape. Especially in this cold weather, their fur seems puffed up like the chickadees’ feathers are. We had one in the front yard the other day trying to get at one of our planted cedar trees through the wire cage that surrounds it. While the deer could probably bend the cage over and eat her fill, she instead delicately put her mouth between the wires and nibbled on the branches she could get to. We could tell she was getting something because we could see the tree move.