I Got a Rock

Halloween 2014

It's a chilly, windy, misty night here, so there hasn't been a lot of trick-or-treat traffic so far. That a shame, because it was pretty nice out this morning, albeit a little colder than it's been. It's still early, but it's not looking good. I've only had one clump of seven tweens and almost tweens, and there weren't any other clumps that I could see up or down the street. Also no parents shepherding the real little guys around. I think the weather may be a little too rugged for them, especially since what's the point of having a cool looking Flash costume if it's buried underneath a parka. I may wind-up having to eat all this candy I bought.

I was disappointed by my candy choices this year. No one was selling the little bags of Whoppers, not Wal-mart, not Target, not the supermarket. The only way I could buy them was as miniatures (only three malted milk balls per package) as part of an assortment that contained peanut butter cups. I've never liked the taste of peanuts (so any leftovers are useless to me), and I'm uncomfortable giving them to children whose parents aren't present (which is probably a massive overreaction on my part, but then peanut butter's been banned by a lot of the local schools around here).

In setting up, I discovered that my doorbell isn't working. Probably the contacts in the switch have corroded. This is like the third button I've installed out there since I moved in. Granted, it doesn't get much use except on Halloween...

--update-- Two more pair of treaters, one set of whom are walking around while their parent(s?) follow them around in a car. The other parent (dad) was on foot. --update--

...and during political season, so maybe I'll wait until Wednesday to fix it. And maybe rewire the whole system. It's never worked right, and it takes an inordinate amount of pressure on the button to get it to bong. And it never bings. I think they wired the backdoor bell to the front, but the backdoor sounds the same (bong). The bing bell is in there, but it never activates for some reason.
teaching 02

We're Having a Heat Wave...

For the first time in what has been an extraordinarily temperate summer, the temperature has broken 90° here at Casa Machina. We are the midst of the first real heat wave of the year, and of course, I pulled the air conditioners out of the windows two weeks ago. Actually, calling it a heat wave is kind of an insult to heat waves. It has been more a matter of humidity than heat. Until today the temperatures the past couple of days have only been mid- to high eighties, but with the humidity hovering around 70%. Soupy, but tolerable. Today is a bit different.

As noted, this is the first time the temperatures have even touched 90° this year. Till now it's been quite an enjoyable summer. Up until this past weekend, the night-time temperatures in August were in the low sixties, or even down into the fifties, with day-time highs in the low eighties, with only the occasional humid day thrown in. That's why I pulled the A/C units out. I only have one window in my bedroom, and I wanted to open it full up.

I'd turned on the A/C only four times in July, and hadn't touched it in August. I tried to avoid the heat by doing some stuff down in the basement, but when it hit 85° on the first floor I gave in. I reinstalled the big portable unit in my office. That one's easy — it's stored in a cubby next to the window anyway, and it only took ten minutes to set it up. The bedroom one is more involved, and I'd have to carry it upstairs, so I just left it down in the basement and closed the bedroom door.

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Now if it were tomorrow, I wouldn't have bothered. I'd have just left for work early, and enjoyed the A/C there. I met my new MCC class last Wednesday. Well most of them,anyway. I had four no-shows, a new league record. MCC has a program that phones people who have registered but no shown up, so I forwarded their names, and calls were made so we'll see. There was one who has no phone number on file with registration,so she's still a mystery.

I was pleased with the first session. I finished the lecture portion with plenty of time for the lab, and yet still was able to add a couple of tweaks to it. I'd been a little dissatisfied with the flow in previous semesters, but this time it seemed to work well. I didn't even have any after-the-fact thoughts about new tweaks. I was also pretty happy with the lab lecture, too. Those are easy to second guess, because the feedback is immediate when you haven't explained things well.

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Computers 02

Four Weekends and a Funeral...

...or how I spent my summer.

I spent a good portion of the summer teaching — the lab portion of my usual MCC assignment on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8 to 10 p.m. The three days a week thing got old fast, but otherwise I had a good class and a good time. One of my students was even a minor local celebrity, a features reporter for a local TV station who is apparently chucking it all to become a (male) nurse. Of course since the local TV station is not local to where I live, I had no idea until some of the other students pointed it out. He was totally not the stereotypical self-absorbed TV personality, but was rather a keen student and very helpful to others.

As for the rest of the time, here are the highlights...

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Summer ends for me on Tuesday, with the start of the semester at MCC. Meanwhile I have been busy preparing syllabi and lecture notes. I'm teaching my usual general chemistry course at MCC, Mondays and Wednesdays 4-7, and a lab over at CCSU on Thursdays from 4:30 to 7:30. The department chair at CCSU offered me a second lab section, but it conflicted with MCC, alas.

Hoping I can post this...

Nope, still down... and I lost all my tags. Bother.

And now we appear to be back.
Dawn

Howdy, Y'all! Long Time no Post!

So... Last time I posted was back in April. The lack of posting hasn't been because I've been especially busy, or had nothing to talk about, but rather a matter of procrastination. <Shrug>

A couple of days ago I got back from a short camping trip to Watkins Glen, NY, with a small subset of my usual camping group. Fun trip for the most part. Did a couple of good hikes to see gorges and waterfalls, including the spectacular Taughannock Falls, along with a nice bike ride on the Catherine Valley Trail.The only negatives were the heavy rain the first night, and the fact that my air mattress developed a leak that got progressively worse each night, culminating in waking up at 2:30 Tuesday morning with my heavy upper body flat on the ground, my less heavy lower body boosted high in the air by the remaining inflation, and the largish meal I'd had at the BBQ joint in town trying to work its way back out through my esophagus. Yeesh!

I rearranged things to a more comfortable position and was able to get back to sleep until dawn. First thing I did was drive into town to Walmart to price a new mattress. Then I went to Dunkies for breakfast and wifi to check the forecast. They were predicting thundershowers the next day, so instead of getting a new mattress, I decided to cut my trip short by a couple of days, broke camp, and headed home. It turned out to be a good decision. I kept checking the weather radar the next day, and there were some intense cells over Watkins Glen. Now I just need to find and patch the leak. And maybe have a chat with baby!sis because her kids were the last to use the mattress.

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While in Watkins Glen, we went and saw Guardians of the Galaxy at the local theater for cheap*. It was great fun, but no one but me wanted to stay to watch all of the end credits, so I missed the big reveal. Not to worry, I already had heard about who it was. When I got back home I started looking up the comic book version of the team, and I'm pretty sure I must have bought some of the original series. I was a huge fan of Adam Warlock, and he was in it. Actually, knowing that now makes me disappointed that he didn't make it into the movie (although some have speculated the he, too, is part of the Collection). The only character I actually remembered was Drax, from his time with Warlock. And, of course, Thanos and Ronan. I did once buy the first issue of Nova, so I also recognized the Nova Corps, but I never was a fan.

* I should note that it had been almost nine years since the last time I was inside a movie theater. It may have been cheap by today's standards, but I don't think I paid that much in the first run theaters back in the day. One of the many reasons I haven't been in so many years.

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Anyway, I have lots more to post about, but for now... baby steps.
Dandelions

Pollenpocalypse 2014

Boshe moi, the pollen vortex is frackin' killing me.

March finally showed up on April 1st, and for the past few days April has been trying to shove it out of the way with a vengeance. On one hand, I was finally able to ride my bike two days in a row. On the other hand, I am wheezing like a patient in a TB ward. I hate to think what it would be like without the zyrtek, because even with it, boosted by some diphenhydramine, my mucus membranes are still running overtime on histamine production.

I had the windows open for the first time yesterday. Did I mention I had all the windows except the ones in the front replaced? Back in January, when it was 7 °F outside. Cold as it was, at least I could breathe.

I never did see any crocuses this year, although the daffodils and tulips have sprouted. I'm worried about the two krabapple trees in the front yard. Neither has shown any signs of life yet. They're both a few years old, so it's not like this was their first winter. The branches still seem fairly flexible, so at least there's some moisture in there.
Rain02

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do...

I think it's time for me to break up with Mother Nature. I seem to be trapped in an increasingly abusive relationship with her. The past few months have been especially abusive on her part, and I've had it. Start with the coldest winter I can remember*, one that doesn't seem to be anywhere near ending though it's the last days of March. Throw in the snow storms and the ice. Then the last few days have been the nor'easter from hell. It's been raining hamsters and now there's water seeping into my basement as the water table rises. Plus the winds seem to have wrecked my gas grill.

* And I have an especially good memory...

I can't take much more of this. I thought we might finally be getting a break three weeks ago when the temperatures got up to about 60 one sunny Saturday. I even broke out the bike for the first time in months for a sloppy ride through the snow melt on the bike path. I even left the bike in the car, figuring I'd be back reasonably soon after. Nope.

Bother.

I really am itching to ride. Last year was my worst year since I got the new bike back in 2007. Didn't even break 900 miles for the year. The year before I'd done almost 2300. It shows in my weight. Between the lack of exercise and the cabin fever, I'm gaining. Not good.

More rain in the forecast for tomorrow. One of these days I'd better install that sump pump.

On a happier note, I appear to be well set for teaching the rest of the year. I've got a summer lab lined up at MCC, and my usual course at MCC along with a lab at CCSU for the fall. I could actually make a reasonable sum of money this year. OTOH, it was kind of fun getting almost everything back from Uncle Sam that was withheld for taxes last year. I'll be getting most everything back from CT, too. On the gripping hand, I owe more to RI than I do to either the US or CT, even though the only income I got in this state was a piddly amount of interest and some dividends. Almost makes me want to start thinking about a move to CT**.

** Seriously, the tax rate in RI is double what it is in CT, and CT seems to offer better services. I need to investigate.
Snow02

Snow Daze...

I am so done with winter...

I've had to deal with two full and one partial snow days in the last week and a half. One of the full ones and the partial (they shut down classes at 4:00 on a day when I teach from 3:05 to 4:20) happened to my course at Central, one that already had four credits worth of material jammed into a three credit course. I lost yesterday from my MCC schedule, but at least that course has more places where I can make up the difference. I normally tack on some non-syllabus material on the last day anyway. Both of the full days landed on the final lecture before an exam, so I've had to postpone the exams a day, which is probably harder on the students than it is me.

Boskone kicks off today, and I'll head up there for the evening in a little while. Had the Subaru maintained* this morning, so there should be no problems with the drive. I would dearly love to be able to take the train up from Wickford, but while it would get me there today, service stops before I want to leave tonight, and there's no service at all on the weekend. Bother.

* I've already put 10,000 miles on the Sub since I got it less than six months ago. It has been very handy having AWD for the snowy days, especially the drive out to and back from New Britain on that partial snow day.