Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bizzee

Another busy day at work.

We're leaving tomorrow afternoon right after work for Alabama, so busy tonight packing and preparing. Blogging is taking second place tonight.

And then tomorrow I'll be at work before getting on the road for 4-6 hours.

So... sorry, dear dedicated readers. No good stuff for a day or two. Maybe I'll have some tales or pics from Alabama with which to entertain you then.

Try hard to survive in the meanwhile. The Duke and Duchess of Earle are getting into Vacation Mode!

Hoo-Hah! Bizzee indeed.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Another believer

If you'll scroll down slightly to yesterday's defense of golf and then read the comments all the way to Ivy's, you'll see that yet another faithful reader has been victimized by the dreaded "C" phenomenom.

I also noticed that I first had a comment from RobotJam, and then (and only then) did Ivy's problems surface.

Could this be yet another connection between RobotJam and the Consp... (oops, almost named it!)? While I hate to admit that Karyn is ever right, in this case I think she's onto something.

Not much else to report today. Busy preparing for the beeg trip to Alabama!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Golf’s appeal?

Yesterday r. e. wolf gave me his view on the game of golf:

“Hit the little ball.
Go find the little ball.
Hit it again.
Keep finding, keep hitting.
Eventually knock it into a little hole in the ground. Then what?

“Hit it some more.
Chase it some more.”

Well... yeah.

But first you have to HIT it. That can be challenging—at least, for some of us. I mean, swinging at the ball is easy, but hitting it can be another story entirely.

Even the pros whiff it occasionally. Well, okay, VERY occasionally. But they do!

And then, as r. e. says, you have to go FIND the little ball. Now THAT can be REALLY challenging!

But enough of the negative, let’s talk about the positive aspects of the game. When you DO hit the ball, and hit it well, it just SOARS up and up, rising above all the trees (and some birds), and then falls lightly down to roll across the grass. Hopefully in the general direction you had in mind when you swung at it.

Carol is fond of saying that she was hooked on golf from the first time she made solid contact with the ball and watched it take off and fly. THAT was FUN!

Now I, on the other hand, am still waiting for that experience, personally. But it sure LOOKS like fun, when I see others do it. So I’m sure it WILL be fun if when I ever do it.

But you know; a lot of people bad-mouth golf as a dumb game that consists of chasing a little white ball around. From that perspective, let’s look at some other sports.

How about bowling? You toss this big, heavy ball and let it roll down a hardwood lane towards a bunch of wooden pins. You either hit them or you don’t. The ball comes back, and you roll it again. Big whoop!

Tennis? You swat a ball with a racket. If it clears the net, somebody swats it back. Then you swat it at them, and so on. Again, big whoop!

Basketball? You run back and forth between two “goals” and try to throw the ball into one of them while keeping the other team from throwing the same ball into the other one. If either team succeeds, they toss the ball to the other team and let THEM try. BOOOORR-ing.

And the list, as they say, goes on and on.

At least in golf you can walk around outdoors in the fresh air. You can listen to the birds sing, watch the deer and the antelope play, and listen for “discouraging words” that come floating on the breeze from other golfers (and turn the air blue).

Some will never understand the enjoyment others can get from experiences like that.

But then, I’ll never understand how people like r. e. wolf can create works of art like he does.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Another holiday? ALREADY?

Good old American Independence Day. The day we celebrate our freedom from those tyrants over in Britain.

Funny how they were our enemies to the death 230 years ago, but for the last century we’ve been the closest of military allies. Time does change things.

Along with fireworks, July 4th gives us the opportunity for another long weekend off from work. ESPECIALLY when it occurs on a Tuesday, and the employer decided to give us Monday off as well.

(It wasn’t a totally altruistic gesture. We employees asked if we could give up Presidents Day, a Monday in bleak February, and in exchange get off on July 3 for a FOUR-DAY weekend! Management agreed! Well, actually, I’m considered a member of management, so there was a bit of an inside deal there.)

So, what shall we do over this four-day weekend to celebrate and get in a little R&R?

I KNOW! Lets go out of town with our camper and play golf! (Bet you didn’t see that one coming, did you? Oh. You did, huh? From a mile away? Okay, so STEREOTYPE me. Go ahead.)

Yes, but this time we’re going farther than usual. We’re going to drive all the way to Montgomery, Alabama and play Capitol Hills. It’s a Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail course, with three (count ‘em – THREE) complete 18-hole courses on one property.

We purchased their “summer special” — three days of all the golf you can stand for one fixed price. And we can stand quite a bit!

So, we will hit the road on Friday, arrive on Saturday, play golf on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, and then drive home tired but happy on Wednesday (one day of vacation).

If we can find some Wi-Fi hot spot where we’re staying I’ll try to post little updates over the weekend. Just because I know how upset and morose you get when you stop by here and there’s nothing new or entertaining to read. Might even post a picture or two. Ya never know.

Meanwhile we have preparations to make for the next three days. There’s food to get ready (although we’ll buy most of our meals to make this a vacation for Carol too), wine to buy, clothes and stuff to pack.

So, a special thanks to my British friends (M. E Ellis, RobotJam, the Crabby Cows, and... Well gee, I guess you are the only ones) for our Independence Day. I’m glad you guys lost that particular war!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

More photos

Yesterday was hot and humid with no wind.

So, did we stay inside? NO!! We went out and walked around the golf course.

But on the bright side, Carol got a few more of her dramatic photos of Texas wildlife. I think you'll enjoy them, so click HERE to see them.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Be careful what you wish for

The summer sun was blazing (though twas March, and only spring).
Our sky seemed hard as copper, and no show’rs did April bring.
The heat in May was high enough to scorch and crack the ground,
But drenching downpour from some storm was nowhere to be found.

The farmers shrugged and shook their heads, lamenting loss of crops,
Our forecasts called for days of sun, no mention of raindrops.
We wished and prayed for rain to come and turn the brown to green,
But though we searched and scanned the skies, no trace of rain was seen.

The ground was cracked and hard as rock, (but fairways sure were fast!
I hit the golf ball just as far as in some years long past!)
But grass was stressed and turning brown. It seemed to be in pain.
Though sprinklers kept it just alive, it really needed rain.

But then in June the patterns changed. An upper level low
Did form right over Houston and the winds began to blow.
It drenched that town and flooded streets, the bayous flowed like rivers.
They told us it would come our way, and some began to shiver.

Within a day the lightning flashed, the thunder rumbled too.
A heavy rain began to pour, then puddles formed (a few).
But as the hours passed with little letup in the flow,
Concerns about flash flooding first were voiced and soon did grow.

The system moved so slowly, and brought us so much rain,
That cracks filled in and water rose too fast for it to drain.
The puddles grew and formed small ponds which soon became a lake.
We wondered... should we build an ark? And how long would THAT take?

Well, now the rains have come and gone, our drought is truly broken,
And some who wished and prayed for rain are wishing they'd not spoken.
For each event a consequence will follow, as you know.
Before, I had it easy; but tonight I had to MOW!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

No post today

Well, none besides this one.

Busy day at work, then a local Workforce Development board commitee meeting (I'm the committee chair) followed by a full board meeting (I'm vice-chair).

So yeah, I kinda had to go.

Got a golfing friend coming over soon with some clubs for me to re-grip, and dinner's ready. I'd rather post, but no time.

Wait. I just posted.

Okay, ignore the title.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Feast

Remember the flooding in Houston on Monday? Well, that system moved slowly southwest, and yesterday it sat for most of the day right over the place where I work.

Victoria, about 30 miles to the northwest, got just a sprinkle or two.

Here's what the area around my plant got:


This view was taken from the front door of the Admin Building looking east. The highway is about 1/3 of a mile straight ahead, and all the land in between is ordinarily a pasture with grazing cows. A very pastoral, bucolic setting. I figure the water was nearly two feet deep in parts of the temporary lake.

Looking back at the plant from the entrance driveway, we saw this:

I call this our reflecting pond. Quite pretty, actually, but ordinarily it's just a mowed grassy area.

The rain was still lightly falling when these were taken.

I think the county burn ban (From our earlier "extreme drought") has probably been lifted by now.

P. S. Yet another reported laptop failure attributable (and actually attributed, by the owner!) to the "C." Check the short post by r.e.wolf over at this blog. And beware!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Carol called to me,

“John. Come here, quick!”

There was no mistaking the urgency. I found her in the kitchen, standing near the sink furiously wiping up water off the floor.

“What happened,” I asked. Seemed like a logical question at the time, but her expression told me it was not. At least, not to her.

“The sink” was her answer. I looked—saw nothing unusual. Well, except for the spray of water droplets on the counter beside the sink.

“What happened?” I’m a slow learner. I’d already asked that question.

She scowled again and said, “Just LOOK at the end of the faucet.” Unspoken, but clear in her tone was an added, “DUH!”

I looked. Seemed like something was sticking out of the end where the water comes out. I reached toward the single lever to turn it on, but she shouted, “DON’T!”

I didn’t.

“The AERATOR!” she said, still wiping the floor.

I looked closer. Sure enough, the screen and a little piece of white plastic were protruding from the end of the spout.

I tried again. “What hap... I mean, uh, hmmm. I guess the aerator’s broken, huh? Sprayed water all over? Let me take it off.”

Apparently that was the response she’d been looking for. She finished wiping up the floor and stood to begin wiping the countertop. I removed the aerator. It consisted of a shiny metal housing. Inside was a plastic cage, a white circular plastic piece that looked like a dime with perforations, and two metal screens. The plastic pieces literally disintegrated in my hand.

They had begun disintegrating when Carol turned on the water to rinse some dishes. The pieces quickly plugged the screens, causing a nozzle effect that had quite impressive results: water spray over much of the kitchen within 6 feet of the sink.

Fortunately a big Lowes home improvement store is located less than a mile from my home, and they had a replacement aerator that fit. A quick, inexpensive fix.

So, what’s the point? A warning!

Plumbing problems usually occur in multiples of three, and I fear that this may be the start of a new wave of, well... You know what. The signals are flowing; through the pipes, the wires and the airwaves.

Guard your homes and appliances. I fear the “C” is readying for a flooding onslaught!

(For more indications, please read the readers’ comments to yesterday’s post. It’s not just plumbing! It’s vehicles, and TVs, and freezers, and...)

Monday, June 19, 2006

And on the subject of puns...

Lunchroom conversations at my plant can (and do) take wild and unexpected turns.

They can start out on any subject imaginable, from work topics to television shows and series, from golf stories to why my spouse is leaving me, and lots more. (NO, NOT CAROL!! I meant somebody else’s spouse leaving him/her! Sheesh!)

Last week our Production Engineer (a chemical engineer by education) and a technician were discussing the failure of a trial fix to a recent small problem. The engineer had theorized the reason for the problem, completed some calculations based on his assumptions, and applied the “solution.”

His comment to the technician was, “Well, it should have worked, but those were just ‘paper numbers’.”

In the 5-second pause that followed, my fertile brain (“full of fertilizer,” is how most co-workers describe it) came up with the following. Unable to resist (rarely can I resist an opportunity like this one), I swallowed my food, stood, held out one arm and crooned:

(To the tune of “Paper Roses”)

“Paper numbers, paper numbers,
Oh, how real those numbers seemed to me.
But they’re only, calculations,
With no basis in real-i-ty.”

I sat down. The dumbfounded looks on everyone’s face changed to smiles. Applause followed.

I stood, took a bow, and sat again.

That verse has now been posted in the engineer’s office above his computer.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

My Father’s Day card

Both of my daughters (and wife Carol as well, for that matter) find my proclivity for puns somewhat painful (“pun”-ishing is the term Carol uses).

In fact, they might choose some alternate descriptive terms to “painful,” but this is MY blog, and a family blog, so we’ll leave those other descriptive terms to your vivid imagination.

Regardless, they both know that I consider puns to be clever — at least, the ones the I come up with — so they humor me.

Example: My younger daughter Amy just sent me a card that, on the front, shows a very simple cartoon picture of a smiling fish near the sandy bottom of the sea. The fish is saying, “Happy Father’s Day.”

On the inside of the card is printed, “Just a little Father’s Day cod.”

My daughter’s hand-written message inside reads:

“Dad,

Tom
[her husband] took one look at this and accused me of being ‘just as bad’ as you are, since I am the one PAYING for the card! I prefer to think I just know you well and am considerate of your... uh... ‘eclectic’ sense of humor! Have a great Father’s Day.”

There’s a story behind her use of the word “eclectic.”

What? Do I HAVE to tell it now? Yes, I do!

Amy is a graphic designer. She has a great eye for themes in many aspects of life. For example, she has decorated her office in a 1970s d├ęcor, complete with furniture she found at various yard or garage sales, and on eBay.

Not long ago she was very proud of a lamp she bought for next-to-nothing. She called it “The World’s Ugliest Lamp,” but restored it to use in her office. (I keep trying to upload a picture but so far Blogger won't let me. Maybe the thing is TOO ugly! Click HERE to see it.)

She sent us that picture (from eBay) and was describing via “IM” (Instant Messaging) her efforts to restore the base. I commented on the IM session that it looked “eclectic.”

Carol, reading over my shoulder, asked me, “Well, what ELSE would it be? Gas?”

Through my convulsions, I typed out to Amy a description of her mother’s comment. Amy first thought I’d just made that up, and groaned. Then she thought her mother was punning deliberately, and was horrified that Carol had caught my disease. THEN, when she realized her mother had just assumed I’d made a typo (which is typical when we are IM-ing and “chatting” fast and informally), she also had to laugh.

So, between what was PRINTED on the “cod” and what was written inside, I had TWO good laughs. Well done, Amy!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Thanks!

...to all of you who've wished me a happy Fathers Day.

It will be, I guarantee.

How can I be so sure? (Well, BESIDES my ability to see into the future and predict events? That goes without saying, of course.)

Because, regardless of the weather or events of Sunday, I already know that I am loved by the two girls I fathered, and by their mother!

We were a FUNCTIONAL family. No DYS- in our household. No drunk Daddy, no molesting, no beating up on wife or children. Dad wasn't in prison, or strung out on dope. He provided pretty well, I guess, since we were all clothed and fed and housed.

The girls were educated well (mostly home-schooled by Mom), and both later graduated from college. They are now well prepared for life and both are successful and in good marriages.

My wife loves me, and I'm crazy in love with her (although I don't always show it as well as I ought and kinda take her love for granted every now and then.)

But you know, a father couldn't ask for a whole lot more than that in the "what really matters" department.

So Fathers Day will be really good here in Victoria. For me anyway.

If the weather's nice and we get in a round of golf... bonus!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

(Shhhh.)

Lovely weather, right?

(don’t say anything now, but both Viki and Michelle have checked back in and seem to be OK.)

Yeah, I know it’s hot, but the forecast says we MIGHT get some showers this weekend.

(everybody’s computer is working, and no one has emailed me of any other failures or problems)

We could use the rain. I just hope our weekend golf doesn’t get rained out.

(several of you commented with various strategies to use, and all sounded fine)

I mean, this weekend IS Fathers Day, and I’d really like to get a round in before watching the US Open on TV.

(however, for me the best ploy is to just not mention the “C” and hope it ignores me for a time)

But, I guess we’ll take whatever the weather gives us. If it’s lemons, I’ll try to make lemonade!

(at least until the next major problem. But for now I’m keeping mum about it)

Well, tomorrow’s Friday. The weekend is almost here. Hope you have a good one!

(I think quiet is the best approach now for me, so that’s all I’ll write on the subject)

I’ll let you know how the golf goes. If we get to play.

Later, y’all!

(shhhh)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Feast or famine

I’m talking about rain.

This year, in our part of the world, it’s mostly famine. Two weeks ago we had four days of rain during which Victoria, Texas got about 8 inches, depending on whose measurement you believe. Other than that brief time span, we’ve had almost none. For months!

Every growing thing responded immediately to the moisture. By the time the ground was firm enough to run the mower across it, the grass was six inches high. Areas of my lawn which had not needed mowing all spring suddenly produced enough volume that I had piles of clippings in every spot where the mover made a turn.

Four days later it was time to mow again. Now, a week later, I once more have about 6 inches of grass to cut.

But now the ground below the vegetation is dry and powdery once more. When I mow today I will throw up clouds of dust when I pass over some sparse areas.

And then, unless we get another shower, I probably won’t have to mow again because all growth will shut down pending more moisture.

The rain we had was welcome. In fact, it was desperately needed by those with livestock who depend on pasture to support their herds.

But did it “break the drought?” Not nearly.

People here are starting to talk about how “nice” it would be to get an Alberto-strength tropical storm to dump additional inches of water on this area. Well, okay; but let’s be careful what we wish for.

We haven’t forgotten Katrina, have we? And what about Rita, where the evacuation efforts (some ill-advised) killed more people than the storm did.

Given that choice, I’d opt for continuing famine (of rain). For now, at least.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

An eerie calm prevails...

Viki has checked in. She seems to be hunkered down and hiding out.

(Ha! As if THAT transparent ploy would fool the “C.”)

Viki, it’s not the men in overcoats and sunglasses you have to worry about! It’s the ‘devices’ themselves. They communicate on a whole different level from us humans.”

I fear she’s not listening.

As for Michelle, my South African friend, there’s still no word. It’s been 4 full days now, and I fear that at BEST her computer is non-functional. At worst, we may later read that her entire house has fallen down around her and burned (ignited by the electrical appliances), and then washed away by massive leaks from the failed plumbing.

Others of my readers have checked in, some with problems of their own, and some who have (as yet) been spared.

Tomorrow I shall try to post on an innocuous subject such as birds, or something going on at work. Perhaps the “C” will take a holiday.

We can only hope!

Monday, June 12, 2006

I’m a little worried...

Two of my regular readers, who usually post to their blogs with fair regularity, have not been heard from since late last week.

They are Vikibabbles and Wind Spirit. Viki lives in Chicago, and Michelle (Wind Spirit) resides on the other side of the globe in South Africa.

Why am I concerned? In each case, their last post was all about the “C.” Further, in both cases they were experiencing the “BSOD” terror (Blue Screen of Death) on their computers. Their last posts are still there now, as I write this.

No, I’m not implying that anything happened to THEM, personally. But I fear for their computers, cars, homes, plumbing, appliances, and so on.

In addition, Michelle wrote a week or two ago that she thought RobotJam might be behind the entire phenomenon. And if you look at HIS last post... Well, it's strange to say the least! He’s trying to claim that money is nothing but paper! How weird can you get?

When will we learn, people? You can’t mess with the “C.”

It’s bigger than all of us!


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Bird identification

Why is this bird called a "Scissor-tailed flycatcher?"



Because it catches flies, of course!

You’ve seen lots of the bird pictures Carol has taken. Many of the birds were from our back yard and from the golf course. Well, one part of that activity that Carol enjoys (me too, for that matter) is identifying the bird species we see.

(If you missed them, here are some links: Back yard birds, Cock fight, Belton birds, and Belton birds-1.)

ANYway, part of the identification sometimes requires us to go to a handbook and compare our pictures to those in the book. Another part is listening to their songs or calls.

That’s one of the (VERY) few areas in which I might be better than Carol. I’ve always had an ear for music, and seem to be more adept at distinguishing between subtle tones and notes than she is. I’ve succeeded in teaching her to identify cardinals by their distinctive “WEE-choo, WEET, WEET, WEET” song.

Our local Red-bellied Woodpecker (misnamed, because its HEAD is red, not its belly – but that’s what our book call them!) has a “bre-e-e-eep, bre-e-e-eep” call.

Last week we saw and photographed a small bird with a sharp-pointed beak. Later we identified it as a “Carolina Wren.” (What was a Carolina Wren doing in South Texas? No telling.) It had a loud, piercing call that sounded like, “TEA-kettle, TEA-kettle, TEA-kettle.”

As I said, that’s part of the fun of identification.

This morning Carol came in from the back yard and proudly announced that she had heard the distinctive call of a woodpecker. She identified it immediately and sure enough, when she spotted it, that’s what it was.

I asked her if it made a “bre-e-e-eep, bre-e-e-eep” call.

She gave me a blank stare. “No. It made a “rat-ta-ta-ta-ta-tat.”

I snorted coffee out my nose.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Working in a rural county

My plant is located out in the sticks. The entire county only boasts a population of 20,000, and half of those people live in the county seat, 14 miles away from us. Consequently there are few strangers, and everybody (pretty much) tries to help out others when they can.

Today my office phone brought a call from our local phone company (Verizon) repair man. His name is Darrell. Yes, we’re on a first-name basis.

He was calling to tell me that our county hospital recently installed a brand new phone switch. Their old switch was just sitting in a room taking up space, not connected any more, and they wanted to get rid of it.

I waited for the punch line.

Then he told me, “They’re willing to give it to anybody who’ll haul it off. It works fine, and it’s just like yours!

He went on, “I told them you might be able to use some of the digital cards in it. They’re the same as in yours. You know, both trunk cards and internal line cards. Cards that’ll cost you hundreds or even thousands if they go bad on your switch and I have to order you new ones. You know, if your switch takes, like, a lightning hit or something?”

(See, a phone switch is digital; just a big computer, really.)

“Anyway, if you want it call this guy. He’s in charge of maintenance, and he just wants it hauled off or he’ll throw it in the dumpster.”

I asked Darrell why he thought of me. Didn’t others of his industrial and business customers have switches like that?

“Oh, sure,” he told me. “But you’re the only one who doesn’t have a service agreement with Verizon. All the others would get replacement cards at no extra charge ‘cause they’re paying a monthly fee. But you’d have to pay big bucks if your cards went bad. So I thought, I’ll just call John.”

So, did I call the hospital maintenance man? You bet I did.

He said he’d have it ready for me to haul away one day next week, and I told him to just let me know when.

Depending on its condition (unless it’s just junk, which I doubt from Darrell’s description), I’ll probably arrange for a company donation to the County hospital to kind of even up the score a little.

You talk about a win/win situation! Verizon may not be too happy about it, but Darrell is taking care of local organizations and sowing lots of goodwill.

There can be advantages to small community life!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Anecdotal evidence (and humor)

Are you still in doubt as to the effects of the big “C?”

If so — or even if you’re not and are curious about another blogger’s recent experiences — you HAVE to go to Vikibabbles and read her post for today.

Well, sometimes she posts more than once per day, so the one you must read is titled, naturally, “The Big ‘C’.”

Then, if you enjoy her style as much as I do, scroll down and read her post of Friday, June 2, titled, “First off...”

She had ME rolling on the floor.

(Course, there are times when that doesn’t take much.)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Fridge repairs — a 12-step program

Due most likely to the “C” (as I wrote about here a few days ago), my freezer door ice and water dispenser stopped working properly this past weekend.

Yesterday I decided to see if I could fix it myself.

1. Navigated to the manufacturer’s web site, entered model number, click “Parts and Service” and eventually got to an actual parts list and drawing of my fridge. But the reference numbers on the drawing didn’t match the numbers on the parts list, so I didn’t know what to order.

2. Called the 800 number (BIG mistake). Listened to prompts, followed prompts to dead ends, interminable music on hold, additional prompts, and finally a live human being(!). Explained the problem with the numbers not matching up on THEIR OWN WEB SITE, and was offered a transfer to “retail parts.” That’s who I thought I HAD.

3. Accepted the offered transfer, heard music briefly, then ringing. The ringing went on for over ten (10) minutes. I timed it. No one ever answered. I hung up.

4. Got smart and called a LOCAL appliance parts and repair place. They immediately knew what I needed, but said I had to bring in my old, broken part so they could match it up. Otherwise I might get one that was similar but wouldn’t work. Knowing that Murphy is alive and well, I attacked the fridge.

5. The part in question was a water valve that sends water to both the ice maker and the in-door dispenser. Yes, I turned off the water supply first, and unplugged the fridge, as neither a drenching nor electrocution was in my short-range plans. This water valve assembly is located at floor level in the back of the fridge behind a fiber panel.

6. From a reclining position on the floor, I was able to remove the old valve with minimal damage to self and fridge. Drove to appliance repair store and matched up parts. The new one was not quite identical to the old, but very similar.

7. Drove home. Reclined on the floor. Connected the water supply line and dispenser lines. Checked for leaks. (None!!) Almost done! Connected the electric plugs. Tried to attach the new valve assembly to the mounting bracket, but...

8. Darn! This new bracket is different and doesn’t line up. Removed plumbing and electrical connections. Removed the mounting bracket from the old valve. Determined that it won’t fit on the new valve.

9. Adjourned to garage work room (more tools out there!) Adapted the old bracket (through drilling of holes and judicious bolting) to connect it to the new valve. Feeling very satisfied, returned to the fridge and reclined on the now cold, very hard tile floor.

10. Reconnected plumbing and electrical connections. Tested same. Still no leaks(!!). Quickly learned that with the old mounting bracket attached, given the fact that the new valve is slightly different from the old one, the new assembly will not fit in the space the old one came out of.

11. Sat up on the cold, hard tile floor and stared at the fridge and the valve. Made sure Carol was not in earshot and then proceeded to tell the fridge, the new valve, the kitchen, the house, and the rest of the world exactly what I thought of ALL of them at that moment. Considered leaving the fridge in a permanently water-free state.

12. Came to the conclusion that manual ice-making would likely NOT be an activity Carol would find desirable. Took another look at the problem and realized that I could make enough room by cutting out some of the hard foam insulation in that area, so did so. Valve now fit! Mounted the assembly, cleaned up behind the fridge and pushed it back in place. Project complete!

Yes, everything now works. No, it hasn’t started leaking... YET.

We’ll see how long it takes the “C” to attack something else!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Anybody remember Bobbie Gentry?

Every year about this time I start singing “Ode to Billy Joe.” It stays in my mind, kinda tiptoeing around the edges and every now and then popping out into plain sight.

Why? Well, the first line. “It was the third of June...” That’s all the association I need to get started on it, and once I get started...

I read recently that Gentry recorded that song with just the accompaniment of her acoustic guitar, and sent it as a demo to the recording company. The folks there were so taken with the performance that they just added the orchestra to the original demo and released it.

If you’ve ever lived in the country, or just visited country folk when the family sits around the table at a big mid-day meal, you’ll recognize the authenticity of the picture painted in the words of that poem/song. Between the words, you can almost hear the clink of the plates and bowls as the food is passed around; the clack of the serving utensils spooning out the black-eyed peas; the clicking of knives and forks as the food is consumed. Bet they had sweet tea in a big iced pitcher.

Mama has heard the gossip and is quick to share it. The news of the suicide gets chewed on a while, like the plenteous food, and then set aside. Mama is none too subtle in making a connection between the singer and “that nice young preacher Brother Taylor,” who, “said he’d be pleased to have dinner on Sunday.” Sounds like a match-making going on.

And though most at the table makes reference to a connection between the singer and the suicide victim, nobody can see that she’s stricken. I imagine that Preacher Taylor got a cool reception if he made any overtures to the singer at dinner that next Sunday.

And that’s the beauty of the song. It rings true, in all the little details. It paints a clear picture in relatively few words, showing the listener, not so much telling what the real story and emotions are.

I wish I could do that so well in my writing.

I’ve liked that song from the first time I heard it. I used to sing that to my girls on our long-driving family vacations.

If you’re not familiar with it, give it a listen sometime and see if you don’t agree with me. If you can’t find it or download it, let me know and I’ll figure out a way to get it to you (without violating any copyright laws, of course.)

Monday, June 05, 2006

He’s done it again!

Yes, dear readers, it was a pleasant interlude. But I fear it’s over.

You see, our friend RobotJam has returned from vacation. (And, btw, you need to check out his post dated yesterday. A HILARIOUS story of his experience in a pub in Yorkshire.)

(Speaking of Yorkshire, isn’t that the place that’s named for the pudding?)

While Rob was gone, he managed to avoid dreaming. “*Coincidentally*” during that same period of time there was a strange absence of the events we’ve come to identify as part of the “C.”

(If you’re just visiting and not familiar with the “C,” it stands for a word that starts with “Con” and ends with “piracy.” Oh, there’s an “s” in the middle. But we don’t actually SAY the word aloud or spell it out in its entirety, you see, because that gives it strength.)

When the “C” is active, all sorts of mechanical, electronic/electrical, plumbing, structural, and other types of failures occur. And they usually occur in series. And parallel failures occur among others of us who understand this phenomenon.

Why do I think the interlude is over, you ask?

I have a side-by-side refrigerator-freezer, with an ice and cold-water dispenser in the freezer door. Up until Sunday everything worked just fine. Then, (gee, the same day that Rob was back and started blogging again... hmmm...) Carol tried to dispense some cold water.

I’ll bet you think it didn’t work, right? OH, no, it dispensed cold water just fine. Trouble was; when Carol removed the glass the cold water kept on dispensing! She yelled for me to come quick, grabbed a nearby plastic pitcher (larger container) and held it under the flow, while I tried to turn off the water shutoff valve under the kitchen counter.

Now, isn’t it strange that the dispenser mechanism worked fine one day, and then overnight went whacko? Oh! There’s more. This dispenser features a selector that allows you to get ice cubes, crushed ice, or water. Moving the selector to the “cube” position causes the system to produce crushed ice, not cubes. My point: the entire device is now non-responsive.

**SIGH**

Yes, I hear you. You’re asking, “So why is that such a big deal?”

Well, it’s not. But I fear it’s just the beginning. You wait and see if this post doesn’t bring comments from others who have begun to experience a strange “*coincidence*” of similar or somehow related problems or failures.

And I’m still not totally convinced that RobotJam is part of the problem.

(But the timing is certainly suspect! )

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Romantic?

That’s how Carol describes me to her friends.

Well, maybe I am.

Hey, don’t go thinking I’m a wuss! I like action flicks and suspense novels as much as the next man. I drink beer and belch. I’m mechanically inclined and can fix most anything that’s broken (just ask Carol or my daughters). In fact, I’ve put several cars that were “totaled” by BOTH my daughters back on the road in good shape and insurable.

Hell, I’m a former Navy jet fighter pilot with over 250 logged carrier cat shots and arrested landings! (Think Tom Cruise in “Top Gun.”) A wuss? I don’t THINK so!

But I’m also a sucker for chick flicks. “Sleepless in Seattle” gets to me every time. I’m so in love with my wife of 38 years I can’t see straight. And yeah, I wrote a Romance novel (though strictly speaking it’s not a true genre Romance) and now I’m working on a romantic suspense thriller.

What’s in a name, anyway? Romantic? Sure. Macho? Sometimes.

So, yeah, I tell people I’m still in love with my first wife. (Of course, she’s also my ONLY wife!) When they ask how long we’ve been married I tell them, “Not long enough.” (And it’s not just a joke; it’s the truth.)

Do I really get “points” for that? No.

But it doesn’t hurt our relationship any, because she knows that how I really feel!

If it doesn’t work for you... Well, too bad.

It works for me and Carol.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

To answer a few questions...

...about the pictures Carol has been taking.

1. Yes, they were all taken with our new (6-month old) Olympus E-500 digital camera. It’s a SLR outfit with more options and settings than I have gotten comfortable with. But (as you have seen) Carol is the one who uses it most. Even SHE forgets sometimes to switch from spot metering to area metering, or from shutter priority to aperture priority. (We don’t show you the BAD pictures!)

2. The easiest way to get those startling close-ups and macros is to have an 8 megapixel camera, and then use Photoshop to display the shot at full size and crop out everything but the part you want to show. Essentially the high resolution allows you to zoom in, digitally. Still, you’ve got to be in perfect focus to have those zoomed-in shots look that clear.

3. “Is there anything Carol is NOT good at?” Not that I’ve found yet, but we’ve only been married 38 years. (I usually don’t tell how long we’ve been married. When asked, my standard answer is, “Not long enough!”)

(I get points for that.)

Friday, June 02, 2006

Botany Lesson

More pictures today. This is probably the last batch for a while.

While we were playing golf, Carol kept the camera at the ready. I've shown you the best of her bird and deer pictures, so today you get to smell look at the flowers.

They're worth a look, even if you're not into wild flowers.

Click HERE to see them.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

More pictures

But first I have a confession to make.

Carol was a bit concerned that in yesterday's post I made fun of her picture of the "wire bird," but failed to tell you the whole story.

You see, there was a reason she couldn't see what that little bird really was until she zoomed in with the telephoto. When I packed part of the car in preparation for our trip I left out just one small container. Inside that container was her newer pair of single-vision prescription sunglasses that she uses when she plays golf. So she was forced to use her older, weaker pair. Thus she couldn't see the, uh, "wire bird" clearly.

Now she claims that I left out the container intentionally, thinking that if she couldn't see well I might have a chance of scoring lower than she would. Now ALL of you know me well enough to be sure that I would NEVER do anything like that. Right? RIGHT!??

Well, I didn't. So there.

And even if I HAD, it didn't work. She still played a lot better than I did.

Okay, enough of that. Here are some more pictures. Enjoy!