DXMachina (dxmachina) wrote,

June Swoon

So, long time, no write...

It seems like June just went by in a flash. It's not like I've been particularly busy. Classes were done mid-May, and I don't teach again for another week and a half, so mostly I've just been hanging around the house. July will be busier, what with teaching, camping in Maine, and possibly Readercon.

So what did I do in June? It feels like I accomplished nothing, but that can't be true, can it?

The first week, I expanded the garden a little bit and finally got around to planting stuff in it. Beside the usual tomatoes, cukes, squash, and cantaloupes, I put in a bunch of onions, and I'm trying some beets and parsnips. Most everything was started from seed, but the cukes died when I stuck them in the ground, so I did wind up buying a pack from Schartner's. Also, bunnies have been nibbling on the cantaloupes. They'd better cut it out, because cute only gets so far. Also, something has been digging bunny sized holes in my back yard. I worry there's a little elevator in the hole that pops the rabbit out of it.

The reason I was so late planting this year was because the weather has been so weird. Unlike last year, when it seemed like the weather was a month ahead of schedule, this year it seemed like it was a month behind. A lot of nights in the forties during this May. June has been mostly normal, some days hot, some days very pleasant, although right now we're in a long stretch of August-like humidity. I installed the A/Cs this past week, but only needed to run them twice.

In setting up the garden, I had to turn on the water to the outside spigots. Someday, I will find the people who installed the spigots in my house, and there will be stern words. They located them up between the joists on top of the foundation with the valves pointing upwards, which makes them incredibly awkward to get at. Plus, one is right next to the dryer vent, so the dryer partially blocks access. Bozhe moi.

Anyway, I got out the stepladder, reached up into the insulation, and turned on the valves. The one in front was fine, but the valve in back, over the dryer, started spurting water. Fortunately, closing the valve stopped the leak. Meanwhile, although the valve in front wasn't leaking, the front spigot was, so I had to turn that one off to. The washers are all 20+ years old, so I guess it's not surprising. Nothing for it but to replace the washers. Easy enough on the spigot, because with the valve off, I could take the spigot apart. But to do the valve over the dryer I had to shut off the water to the whole house. That's even before having to somehow get a suitable wrench up between the joists and manipulate it to take the valve apart. Took a little while plus a couple of trips to the Depot, but I finally got them both working. Sort of... Even with the new washers, the valve over the dryer still dripped a little. The only way to stop it was to tighten down the nut that allows the valve to turn all the way down, so now the valve won't turn at all, at least not unless I loosen it again. Hopefully I'll remember this when I go to turn the spigots off in the fall.

My cycling is way behind where I've normally been. As of today I've done just under 400 miles for the year. This time last year I'd already ridden more than 900. It's my lowest total since 2007. Part of it is that after going nuts last year (my legs still haven't recovered from the abuse I gave them in August and September), I took January and February off altogether. But the weather was a lot of it, too. Even if I'd wanted to ride early in the year, it was just too frackin' cold. Even into May temperatures rarely made it into the sixties around here. It was too cold to be much fun, so I didn't ride much. June is the first month I've been anywhere close to a normal routine. I'm also taking shorter rides, because my legs still bother me. They're getting better. Today I took my longest ride of the year, from Kingston Station down to the sea wall in Narragansett, a bit over 18 miles round trip. It's the first time I've done anything other than my usual laps on the South County path. I haven't been to any other paths yet this year, although that should change if I go up to Readercon.

Some of the slack has been taken up by volleyball, but that's done until September unless I play over in the sandpit in West Kingston for the summer.

I have been writing some. One project that is coming along nicely is a rewrite and reformat of the lab manual we use for the general chem course I teach. Tom wrote it originally, and it's published in house, photocopying the output from the word processor (pasted up with some illustrations taped into the masters), then comb-binding it. The students get it for free. Since I have both the time and the desktop publishing tools and skilz , I decided to go through it and clean it up, and then set it up in InDesign, applying a few typographical principles along the way. There were corrections to be made, and I've been rewriting a lot of the material to update, clarify, and enhance. Tom's daughter, now with a fine arts degree in hand, is doing new illustrations to replace the ones she did rather crudely as a teenager, and I'll add those to the InDesign files so printing will be seamless. I'm really having a ball getting back in touch with my chemistry roots.

I've also been doing some historical research with an eye to writing some articles to try and supplement my income. I have some ideas and one outline so far, but nothing more substantial yet. One problem is that I keep finding interesting tangents that distract. Need to focus a little better on that stuff. OTOH, I keep remembering the old Philip Jose Farmer quote about a dullard being someone who opens up an encyclopedia, reads the one article he's interested in, and then puts it back on the shelf. So not a dullard, then. At least I've got that going for me.

I've finally joined the 21st century, and bought an HD TV. It's a refurbished Vizio I got from Woot! 42", nice picture. It's a "Smart TV", so it comes with an ethernet port and mostly useless apps. The one app I'd like is the one for MLB.TV, but it turns out Vizio doesn't have one. LG does. Sigh...

Still, I can watch by connecting my laptop to the thing. Turns out that VLC on the laptop using the TV as the second screen works even better for movies and TV shows than Vizio's own media player, so I use the laptop for movies, too.

One other bit of news. My next door neighbor to the north has put her house up for sale, so it looks like I'll have some new neighbors at some point.

Tags: biking, house, neighborhood, teaching, volleyball, weather, writing

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