October 2010


Not because it’s Halloween but because I have a colonoscopy tomorrow. Ugh.

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Mel and I dug up one corner of our yard this Saturday. It may become a flower bed and it may not.

There is a place where our back patio and the house make an inside corner and where there is never any direct sunlight. A window looks out on it and all we’ve ever had there is sparse shade-loving grass. It has also always been slightly sloped toward the house which makes for a damp foundation which is always bad.

So several years ago I borrowed a friend’s derelict tiller and grubbed up the place and moved the dirt somewhere else. I filled a raised bed with some and I hauled away two pickup loads to the yards of those who had erosion problems.

It was almost enough.

So Saturday we did some more tilling and regrading and put in some edging stones to make that corner into something more attractive to look at through that window.

Then it started raining and we stopped working.

But the rain brought out a sad fact of my yard that I had forgotten: my soil is mostly clay. It drains poorly and when it gets wet becomes as slippery as ice. If it weren’t for the grass stabilizing it and adding a couple of inches of good soil, it would be unfit to live on. I attempted to deal with this in our new bed by adding some topsoil purchased at the store but what I appeared to have created is quicksand. I went out into the rain-soaked bed to pack it down and my feet just sank and my shoes became coated with it.

I guess mother nature will eventually take care of it herself since plants with roots will stabilize the clay and now that I’ve got the slope away from the house, water will not pool.

The best solution is probably just to move but I think this is a common problem in this part of Oklahoma. When I went to see a friend’s house under construction, I remember sinking in up to my calves in similar dirt so I don’t know what the real answer is.

At long last, the fence is done. Not just the old dilapidated part but the entire thing. I rebuilt the two gates and they work well. I built them in different sizes than before so that they would open properly and latch reliably.

That goodness that’s over. It was a huge task and I neglected to figure in how to get the old stuff hauled off but now it’s done. I also decided to do a bit of “real” woodworking on the gates since I have the gear to do that with although it added several hours to the timeline. I cut a series of half-lap joints on the gate frame to stiffen it rather than just tacking it together with mending plates. Not sure if that was worth the time but it looks nicer.

Another thing that came in unexpectedly handy was my Japanese handsaw. I found myself needing to cut a couple of places where my circular saw wouldn’t cut deeply enough or I had no other tool that would get into the crack I had available. I used it several times to cut off a piece flush to a surface or rip off a long strip from an edge. Those saws are inevitably sharper than the American counterpart and I’m glad I had one.

On to the next thing.

Just spent the last four days traveling to Edwards Air Force Base and back.

It’s a pity that blogging about work is so verboten because this would make a fine entry and anybody reading it would wish they were me. Alas that doesn’t happen very often.

It was in many ways a wasted trip because the test that was to have taken place was scrubbed due to technical difficulties but I still made the most of it by seeing cool stuff.

I hope that my being sent is an indicator of my employer’s willingness to use me in more varied roles. I really enjoy being gainfully employed.

Knead able to make it back to town just in time to go with Mel to see Carrie Underwood perform. The tickets were her birthday present. It was quite entertaining even though I’m not a fan. Good music is that way though.

My sister bless her heart upgraded her iPhone and gave me her old one.  I’ve been wanting an iPhone ever since they came out but could never justify it.  But free phone = go ahead and upgrade to the data plan.  Whee!

It’s pretty cool but perhaps because of its age, it’s dog slow with everything.  And the battery will not last through the day although it will last through the business day.  But only if you don’t turn it on and do all that cool stuff which is kind of the whole point to having it.  I’ll have to research and see if there’s a warranty-voiding thing I can do to put in a better battery or maybe just buy one of those things they sell in the SkyMall catalog.

I tried to use the AA.com app and it works really well until you pass out of service such as you do when you go to the baggage claim at LAX.  At that point, you can’t retrieve the baggage carousel number that you need.  The guys with me with blackberries didn’t have any trouble nor did the other guy who has a newer iPhone so I’m not sure what was going on there.

But, it’s still worth having.  Awesome.  Now I’m off to play Angry Birds.

The Man is sending me to Edwards AFB. Cool. I haven’t gotten to travel in quite awhile; looking forward to it.

Erin has a friend from Mexico. This girl showed up in the eighth grade knowing no English at all and learned it very quickly and, more than that, became extremely popular. Everyone loves her. I think it’s a bit of a mystery to her parents; her Dad is a chemical engineer of some sort and is always working and her mom is very quiet – mostly because her English is not very good. At least she thinks so – I don’t have any trouble understanding her. I suppose one day they will return to Mexico but for now they seem happy.

Anyway, Erin and her friends apparently decided that since the whole homecoming royalty thing is nothing more than a popularity contest anyway, that they would nominate their Mexican friend. She is many wonderful things but beauty queen is not one of them.

Well, she garnered enough votes to make it. Erin said that there were several cheerleaders and “preps” who were plenty steamed about being outvoted but Erin and her friends were thrilled. There are many lessons to be learned here; most of them political.

What amused me was the girl’s attempt to explain to her parents what had just happened and what it meant. Her Dad speaks multiple languages fluently so he understood well enough but was still a bit culturally mystified. The conversation went something like:

“So I need to buy a long dress.”

“Why?”

“To wear to the game.”

“You’re wearing a formal dress to a football game?”

“Yes.”

“Is the school paying for it?”

“No.”

“You mean a bunch of other kids chose you to do something that is causing me to have to buy a fancy dress that you’re only going to wear once and likely freeze when you do because you’ll be sitting outside?”

“Yes. Pretty much.”

“They elected you; they should pay for the dress.”

“That’s not how it works.”

I wish I had been a fly on the wall for that conversation. In the end she got her long dress and did indeed freeze as she sat on the dais in the end zone and her parents did show up and take lots of photos. Everybody seemed happy. Except some cheerleaders and preps who had gotten stiffed during the election.

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