Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas, 2012

My Christmas status report...

Well, it seems we are all still here, Mayan calendar not withstanding.  I kept telling people that their calendar stopped because they ran out of numbers!

I've been living here for about a year and a half now.  Doc Deb was gracious and invited me to move in when I lost my job last year.  I'd been doing maintenance stuff in exchange for my keep, until she lost her job in March.  She decided to move down to Texas to be with her parents, who are getting a bit frail.  I'd pulled the pin on my retirement benefits (such as they are), so now I'm staying in the house, making the mortgage payment.

The last three months have been exciting - I started working as a contract writer for a company called Remilon.  I'm writing on-line classes on programming for them, for starters.  The idea is, you could take a full class on one of many subjects for free, and then take the CLEP exam, and get college credit for the class.  It's an inexpensive way to clear out a lot of undergrad requirements, given that the cost of a CLEP exam is usually under $100.00.  My first lesson is finished, and I just uploaded the video for my second one yesterday.

Given that I live at the main crossroads in Red Lion, there is a *lot* of traffic, and traffic noise, which makes recording my lessons pretty much impossible.  I went to the local library, and asked if I could use one of their conference rooms as my recording studio.  I wound up talking with the director, Don, about it.  One thing led to another, and I wound up hanging a projection screen in the board room for them.  We are working on starting some computer skills classes there.  I use the library as my office sometimes, as it gets me out of the house and away from potential distractions (like Baxter helping me type).

Got the heater working, and think I've located the leak that flooded the basement.  It's not the boiler, nor is it the water heater.  I believe that it's in one of the pipes going through the cellar wall to the heater in the kitchen.  That means, the kitchen floor will have to come up in order to locate and repair said leak.  Fun.

I got an estimate on getting the old siding replaced.  The Home Depot guy (also named Don) was mostly worried about the sagging laundry room.  I did a little poking around, and it looks like there is no really code-grade footing for it.  The floor will also have to come up for diagnosis and repair, and possible jacking/shoring.  Yay.

Christmas... I'm going to get the place picked up and cleaned up this weekend.  My plan for Monday is to bake.  Current projects are to be two pumpkin pies and weapons-grade fudge topped brownies.  (I may do soft oatmeal cookies before that, just to get me through the weekend.)  Christmas day will be my Christmas movie marathon: The Ice Harvest (John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Connie Nielsen), The Holiday (Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Jude Law), Scrooged (Bill Murray, Karen Allen), and a new one, the 200th episode of NCIS.  I think of as a take on "It's a Wonderful Life", with Gibbs taking George Bailey's place in the center of things.  And maybe, if I can find them, the "Eureka" Christmas episodes, too.  Dinner will be turkey tamales and Caesar salad.  And french vanilla ice cream laced with brandy (from the book "Ice Cream Happy Hour").  And, of course, I hope to chat with my daughter.  She is on the road from L.A. to Billings, Montana as we speak.  She expects to arrive today, and will be staying with my cousin and his wife until she can get situated.

Update - pictures!!

Living room with tree, candles, and Baxter

Dining area/work area

Bar, red hat, and Dakota

Kitchen work station, with pie!!

Close-up, workstation and pie!  Kitchen composting happens in the green bins on the left.

And that's about it for year end here in PA.

Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Elevating Thought

(I decided that I should cross-post this here, as well as at leelu's place.)

 It's been a month since the election, and I'm still trying to re-group.  What upset me the most (after the outcome)  was the encroaching lack of civility and clear, useful journalism on the Right as well as the Left.  I find that disheartening, since one of the Big Deals we made about the Left was and is their lack of civility, and the mendacity of the MSM.

One writer who comes to mind is John Nolte, at Breitbart.  Here is his opener on the Zimmerman/NBC suit:
"Though it might feel like a hundred years ago, it was only last April when the media joined Barack Obama's cynical crusade to gin up his base in Florida through the artificial inflaming of racial tensions. And there was no question NBC News was the worst of these co-conspirators after the network was busted editing a 9-1-1 call to make Trayvon Martin's suspected shooter, George Zimmerman, look like a racist. Today, Zimmerman filed suit against the Peacock Network."
Now, I gather that his basic assertion about NBC editing the sound track of the 911 call is factual.  But I don't think anyone would deny that the inflammatory nature of the paragraph.  I'm not suggesting that Mr. Nolte do anything differently - he has his "bully pulpit", the editors must like the way he's writing, and the First Amendment applies.  You go, John.

But I think this kind of writing only helps to maybe put an up-tick in the pitch fork, torch, tar, feather, and rail markets.  Which I don't think is really helpful at all, even in the short term.

My metaphysics training has taught me to stand guard at the doorway of thought.  In a nutshell, this warning is based upon the idea that we see and become what we think and believe.  If we don't pay attention to what we are admitting into our thoughts, we can start to slide downhill.  A practical example - repeat a lie often enough, and it (seems to) become true.

My distress is in no small part to my own slippage.  Looking back over my pre-election and near-post election posts, I'm struck by how they could have been less, well, vulgar, and more informative and thoughtful.  Fortunately, Gerard turned on a light for me, and gave me a glimpse of what I've been seeking.  It has apparently been wending its way thru the web.  One full copy of it is at The Thinking Housewife.  I'm excerpting the first section here:

A Plan for Traditionalists

AT The Orthosphere, Kristor offers a reasonable guide to survival and affecting the culture. In the immediate future, he recommends:
  1. Resolve to pay no more PC jizya (beautifully spelled out in the Solzhenitsyn essay that has been discussed a lot lately in the wider orthosphere). Tell the truth, and call a spade a spade: calmly, politely, and without being obstreperous about it, but nevertheless firmly. Without making a big deal about it or calling attention to yourself, fail to appear for the public rites of Moloch. If you must thus appear, quietly fail to meet the requirements of the rite.
  2. Write, read, blog, talk: join a book club, an apologetics roundtable, a bible study group. Learn the arguments for reaction, for Christianity, for theism; learn the arguments against them, and how they may be defeated. Speak up: fearlessly, scandalously, but always humbly and politely.
  3. Live a virtuous, upright life, at home and in business. Speak the truth, and do the right thing. Whatever it happens to be, don’t let it be about yourself; let it be about the True, the Good, and the Beautiful.
  4. Beware; and be prepared to move, quickly. Get rid of stuff that you don’t need or that is not positively beautiful to you in some way – especially debt and belly fat, which are likely going to cost you as the financial and medical sectors of the economy devolve over the next ten years.
  5. Maintain tradition in small things: e.g., dress more formally than is customary these days, practice old-fashioned manners, refrain from swearing; read old books, and then discuss them around the family dinner table; join together in regular and serious family prayer, if only to bless each meal; remember your family holiday traditions, and observe them gravely and with joy.
  6. Pray without ceasing. Pray whenever your attention is not wholly consumed with the task at hand. Work toward praying even when it is. Nothing is so convincing as sanctity, or so attractive, or so authoritative. Without it, personal rectitude can seem like Pharisaical arrogance (and risks becoming just that). You can’t push sanctity. But you can work at allowing it to happen.
 (Debt isn't the huge problem it was five years ago.  The belly fat, though continues to be tough.)

There's more, all worth read, pondering, and incorporating into our lives.  Go!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

This Old House, II

Heating.  Did I mention heating?

I got a full load of heating oil about two weeks ago.  First time in about a year, given the Doc's and my impecunious state.  Fired it up, cranked it up to 68 deg.  It kicked over and started running.  Lots of gurgling in the pipes.  Minimal heat downstairs, nothing on the second floor.  Time to punt.

Got into the library's on-line catalog, and found the Time-Life DIY series book on home heating and cooling.  Reserved it, picked it up, and read it.  It is an excellent reference (I ordered a copy from the Paper Back Swap Book Club), but of course, a bit generic.  So, back to the interweb... this time for the owner's manual for the boiler in the basement.  Which I now have in PDF format.  I love the internet, and Google is my friend.

The trouble shooting diagnostics pointed me to a low water situation.  I poked around and poked around, until I had the piping figured - input, output, and return.  I found the inlet valve, as well as the pressure regulator and the expansion tank.  Both inlet valves were open (two inlet valves - one at the top of the inlet stack, and another between the pressure reducing valve and the expansion tank.  I don't know.)  I fiddled and futzed, and finally realized that it didn't seem that any water was actually entering the system.  Just for grins, I rapped on the expansion tank.  I sounded resounding hollow, which I took to mean "empty".

So, I turned off the main inlet valve, and unscrewed the tank.  It weighed about what I expected an empty tank to weigh.  And no wonder!  The inlet was completely plugged with a tightly packed wad of rusty crud.  Just for fun, I turned the water back on.  Aaaand, still nothing.  So, I removed the pressure regulator.  It, too, was plugged with rusty crud, and when I opened the valve, water squirted out of the pipe at an angle, just like water squirts out of a hose when you have your thumb on it.

So that was how I spent my Friday.  Fortunately, it wasn't horrendously cold over the weekend, because I couldn't get replacement parts until Monday, when I got paid.  I went into York on my usual payday supply run, and picked up a new regulator and tank.  (Also got my new glasses, a pair of jeans, and dog food.  And beer.)

I got home, and went to work... I immediately noticed that the new valve wasn't configured quite like the old one.  That one had external thread for a coupling nut.  Mine had internal threads for a 1/2" nipple.  Sigh.

So, off to the local ACE I go.  I get the 1/2' female end piece, and happily return home.  I get the whole thing soldered together, and realize that there is no way to assemble it - all on the ends were threaded.  It seems the original coupling was there for a reason.  Duh.

All DIY home repair projects require (at least) three trips to the hardware store.  I got a coupling, plus fittings and pipe, and swung home.  This time for sure!

And it went together, and held water!!  It ran, and, when I finally went up to take a shower, the bathroom was warm!  Whoa.

However... the next morning, when I was in the bathroom again, I could hear water running.  The only open valves I knew of were the ones controlling water to the heater.  Yes, I had a bad feeling about that.  Turned out to be accurate, too.  There was about an inch of water on the basement floor.  I had work to do, so I turned off the valve, and went and did it, then stopped at ACE on the way home.  (Not a fourth trip - the first of what I expect will be another three.)

Figured I didn't need an $80.00 sump pump just yet, so I got a hand drill powered pump, rated and 150 gal./hour.  Worked great.  Turned the water back on, turned the furnace back on, and away it went.  I wisely checked back an hour or so later.  The water had risen a tad, so I turned it off, and called it a day.

When I checked this afternoon, the floor was 80% dry.  I turned the water back on, and let it run.  I then turned it off, and cranked the thermostat up so it would kick in.  I'm trying to figure out the circumstances of the leak - it it when the system is pressurized from the incoming pressure, or when it is hot and running?

I'm going to go check, and will pick up this thread later.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

This Old House

The house I am renting from my friend, The Doc, is older that she and I put together, and that's old.  It seems that the inspector may have been beholden to the seller or their agent somehow, because he said the roof was OK.  If, by "OK" he meant that, "Yes, there actually is a roof on the building.", then I'm wrong, and he was telling the truth.

On the other hand, if he meant "Yes, there's a roof on the building, and it is in desperate need of replacement, because it will do you no good when there's rain or melting snow!", then he prevaricated.

A year ago last October, I spent a weekend on the roof over the original house, tarping it.  It was freezing (really, 30 - 32 deg F) and windy.  I got black adhesive all over a new pair of jeans, and generally didn't have much fun.  But, my office and bedroom remained dry under precipitation.

A couple of months ago, I took the dogs out for a drive.  One the way home, it began to rain.  About six miles out, the rain turned into what I know as a "gully-washer".  It caused me to contemplate pulling over and waiting it.

When we got home, the laundry room was awash.  The second floor back bedroom opens out onto a small balcony/patio.  It is covered with the exact same useless roofing material as the main house and the second storey back bedroom.  So, a couple of weeks before Sandy hit, I tarped the part of it that was over the laundry room.  When Sandy hit, I discovered a drip, so I put a bucket under it.  The next morning, there was about 1/2 inch of water in the bucket, so I consider the laundry room successfully tarped.

When I went through the back bedroom to tarp said patio/balcony, I discovered that  the wall that faces the back yard had turned into a biology experiment, much like the one we did in high school biology.  We were studying molds and fungi, so we set up a bunch of petri dished loaded with agar, and let them fromage over the two week Christmas break.  (It was 1965, I was in Catholic school, so it was a Christmas break, damnit!)

Fortunately, the room does not smell anything like the biology classroom did when we got back from the break.  But it definitely alive, at least in spots.  Truly, in spots.  And runs, and eruptions.  Ecchh!

So, I got out on the roof over the bedroom/kitchen addition, and tarped it.  I have no way of telling if I was successful in stopping the leakage, because I'm going to have to remediate the room to actually tell.  But I'm not going to do that just yet, I think.

The Doc wanted to get a roof put on, but her abrupt lack of employment made that impossible.  My meager retirement income doesn't have room in it to save any significant money for the project.  And the course writing gig has taken longer that I thought to get spun up.

So, for now, I work the writing gig, and once I've officially gotten the hang of it, I can start generating disposable income for such thing as roof, old bills, and back taxes.

Life is good.  Really!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Afternoon Farm-Wifery

We were predicted to have a little snow the other evening, so I decided to pull up the remainder of the garden goodies.  I got a fair amount of Thai Hot peppers, along with some green tomatos, oregano, and young garlic and onions.

I spent half my time getting  the basil leaves off the stems, while not getting the dried flower bits into the bowl at the same time.  I don't know if the dried flower parts are useful or not, but they smell stronger than the leaves.  Research required, as it is with the oregano flowers.

I decided to de-leaf the pepper plants, instead of making a pile of individual peppers (I have a small one going already).  Then, I got even more creative (hah!), and now have them hanging from the Pepto-Bismol pink shelves to dry!

All of that reminded me of farm and family.  My parents were first generation "off the farm" - dad from Billing MT, mother and step-mom from Illinois.  I have spent a fair amount of time 'on the farm' over the years.  One of my earliest memories is sitting on Uncle Paul's lap, steering (and I use the term loosely) the tractor down some king of chute from the stockyard to the barn.

I remember feeding chickens at Uncle Jordan's, and gathering eggs.  That's where I learned to 'candle' eggs too.  When I wasn't being a tourist, I'd go out and help the boys set the irrigation water for the sugar beets.

I discovered that cleaning produce is a form of medditation.  My mind was free to wander about.  I thought Deep Thoughts on relationships, family, politics, even (alleged) global warming.

I plan on doubling the amount of raised beds for next year, and making them all at least 12" deep.  Deeper - with Miracle-Grow soil -seems to yield significantly better results.  And a BBQ deck, and fencing so I can let Koda and Suzu out to meander in the back without worrying about them wandering off into traffic.

More, later...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Public Service Announcement

I have discovered (by careful trial) that green Thai Hot chili peppers are about 98% as effective ("hot") as red Thai Hot chili peppers.

That is all.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Voter Turnout... S.E. Pa:

I arrived just after 11 AM.

I guess signage around the  place is OK?  This isn't L.A. County, so I don't know.

Quiet as a church yard.  Oh, wait...

No pictures inside, of course, but they were doing a steady business.  One gentleman was waiting patiently for something to get cleared up so he could cast his vote.

There were only six items on the ballot: president/vice president, U.S. Senator,   U.S. Congressman, State Representative, Attorney General, Auditor and Treasurer.

Voting machine appeared to register my vote correctly...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thank God Bush Isn't In Charge... (Updated & Bumped x3)

...or Ray Nagin.

Note: I thought I'd cross this post here.

Update VI:  Jewel, over at Gerard's, tells a great story:  

"Today, my husband witnessed a wondrous act of resourcefulness. A man with a horse trailer hitched to his truck was filling up individual 5 gallon jugs of gas in order to transport them back to New Jersey. He went out into the wide world of American plenty that lies just beyond disaster. He didn't wait like a hopeless fool in a line of idling cars for gasoline that is rationed by the spoonful. His neighbors hired him because he had a big, gas eating truck, and gave him money and jugs and sent him to Lancaster County to go shopping. He brought back not only gasoline, but food, water, clothing, blankets, batteries, and other things they might need. Those people are heroes, because they used their God-given talents and brains and didn't go crying to the cameras, asking for the government to come and help."

It's easy to get "wrapped around the axle" in a mess like Sandy.  Jewel's post is a wonderful reminder that everything you need is available a couple of hours away.

Update VDaily Caller reports that the IBEW sent a letter to the Florida electrical utility demanding that the emergency workers join the (damned) union.  Class act, brothers!

Not to be out done, nanny Bloomberg answers THS's question.  Seems he disapproves of the National Guard's policy of carrying weapons, particularly guns.  He's afraid of "martial law". (Ed Driscoll at Instapundit)

Did I mention that truth is stranger than fiction, because fiction has to make sense?  Yeah, 's true. 

Update IV:  Tree Hugging Sister over at the Coalition asks:

FEMA Is Out of Water Redux ~ Anybody Ask the Army Corps of Engineers for Help?

Seems they are waiting to be activated, but none of the super-geniuses in charge have thought to do that.  So supplies that are pre-contracted (like water and ice) are gathering dust while everyone waits for FEMA to get a contract out.  Tomorrow.

And this, from the New York Post: "Some Rockaways residents who work as firefighters in The Bronx and Manhattan were fuming yesterday — sitting idly in their firehouses while their neighbors and family members miles away struggled to get help."


Update III:  The proverbial $64.00 questions that need asking are, "Why weren't Cuomo and Bloomberg setting up relief sites two weeks ago?  Why weren't they pre-positioning bottled water, MREs and blankets?  Who says you have to wait on FEMA to do it??  WHO??"

They have let down the people who have (foolishly) trusted in them.

Update II:  You have to, HAVE TO  be ready to live in isolation for at least a week after something like Sandy or Katrina or the Sylmar quake.  There just aren't enough Official First Responders to come and wipe your nose!!  So far, the only real assistance in Rockaway or Staten Island has been neighbors helping neighbors.  And that is how it happens - you take care of yourself, your family, and your neighborhood.

Update: Mary Katherine Ham at Hot Air has a great piece up about Federal vs. local disaster recovery management, and (of all things) "The Waffle House Index".


From Drudge:

I am willing to bet that I am not the only one who was paying attention to the news, particularly the weather, in the last two weeks or so.  I made sure the truck had a full tank.  I made sure that I had propane for the camp stove, batteries for flashlights and camping lamps, a well-stocked freezer and fridge, a clean bathtub full of fresh water,

 Here's the money quote from nanny Bloomberg:

“We are, over the next few days, going to have to work out some procedures to make sure people can get food,” Mayor Bloomberg insisted.

Let that sink in.  Like New Orleans in Katrina, whose disaster preparedness plan amounted to "We should have one".

Yup.  He obviously took lessons from Nagin.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I think...

...that's it!

Still overcast and raining/drizzling, but no wind.  Didn't see any damage on our walk a bit ago (OK, one roof shingle out of whack).

Golden Crust is open,  I suspect Riddle's and Subway took the two day hiatus, altho there was a lot of condensation on the inside of Riddle's windows, and someone was looking around.

I was expecting a much worse time!

Not Sure What to Think

It's about 9:15 in the morning, and it's quiet.  Traffic is normal sounding, but no wind.  No rain.

Pretty good overcast, 37 degrees.  The Weather Channel map shows the storm center west of Harrisburg.

We're outside of the wind map, so I'm thinking, "We;re done??"

Monday, October 29, 2012

It's Quiet. Too quiet...

Not all that far from midnight, and it's damned quiet here. Rain is coming down pretty steadily, but I'm not hearing much in the way of wind.


Man jumps out of a 10th floor window. As he passes each floor, he's heard to say: "So far, so good!"

Weather Channel predicts we'll be in 58+ mph winds tomorrow morning.

Reading an e-book from the library. The Troubled Man, a Kurt Wallander novel.  BBC did a couple of novel to videos, starring Kenneth Branagh in the title role.  Good stuff

 Have my Calibri and Kindle books loaded and ready to go, too.

So far, so good.

It's Even More So!

Wind has been whistling, which is something new. Gold Crust closed. We are safe and dry so far. The next 24 - 48 hours will tell. Going to inventory/top off the grab and go bags before I sleep! Exciting stuff, Maynard!!

Comments Are Enabled...

...sorry about that!

Google Crisis Sandy Map


Blustrier and Wetter

It's official.  I am hunkered.

Tarping isn't as good as I would have liked - still have some drips, but most of the water will be going off the roofs, not thru them, so there's that.

Tub is full of water.  Laundry dome.  Presumably last load of dishes running.  Car moved next door

I woke up at about 5:30 to rain and lots of traffic.  Right not, the occasional vehicle goes by.  Library was closed, as are the Subway across the street and the pottery shop.  Gym was open when we went for our abbreviated walk.  Dakota and Suzu didn't seem to want to be out any more than I.

I see that Golden Crust is still open.

Got two new cookbooks in the mail today.  Betting there won't mail for the next couple of days. At least.

Heh.  "Calm before the storm" was always a metaphor until now.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

It's Beer...

...and shower o'clock!

I've got the back 40 cleared of potential missiles.  A lot of it stacked on the side porch.  The monster table saw is still where Nick and I left it when we moved it from my storage space.  It is, however, covered with plastic sheeting, as is the folding table saw.

Bbq and smoker are next to the "open" cinder block wall, heavily weighted down.  Didn't remember to think about getting something to tie them down.


Trimmed the excess tarp from the back roof.  The idea of that one is to prevent any more water damage to the exterior-facing wall under it.

Will move the Blazer next tomorrow.

Gusty winds and a stead drizzle right now.  According to the 'Droid, local temp is 49 degrees.

Have to secure the storm windows here in the office.  Requires crawling/moving furniture.  Tomorrow.  (And some pictures, too!)

Let the hunkering begin!

As they say...

...posting may be light.  Or non-existant for the duration of Sandy.

 Got a full tank of gas & fresh oil in the engine.  Made arrangements with my neighbor, Sandy (no, really!!)to park my truck next door, out of reach of the big walnut tree if it falls.  One load of laundry to do. Outside freezer on super cold.  Have beer. wine & gin if the fridge.  Making chili, pork roast and cookies today and tomorrow.  Getting old-fashioned dead tree substrate books from the library tomorrow.  Freezing pint bottles of water  Got propane cylinders for camp stove.  Ton o' batteries.

Gotta bring in all of the potential flying objects.

The first inland "S" on the strom tracks you see... that's pretty much my house.

I've been following Google Crisis... they seem to be doing a good job of it:
You can play with what's displayed.

Gas stations and grocery stores were pretty busy last night.  Thankfully, I'm done!

More as it develops.

I'll try and post from my 'Droid, if it comes to that.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Grab 'n' Go Bags

"Grab 'n' Go" Bags" are you first line of defense in a disaster.  They should be in a place where you can grab them on your way out the door.  These are from the Huntington Beach CERT organization, which I belonged to for a couple of years.  Their purpose is to keep you going if you have to evacuate on short notice.  The contents of these are based on the Southern California environment, so adjust accordingly.

 I sent these to Mr Bingley at The Coalition of the Swilling, and decided that with the approach of Sandy, I put them up here, along with my comments to Mr. B.  (Click for full size)

Sone notes:
Adult, left column: 
  • Radio - I have one that runs on its own solar cell, batteries, or juice from its hand crank
  • Money - change, $1s, $5s, and $10s.  If you don't break down your $20s, you'll find that everything costs $20.00
  • Whistle - make sure it's a damned loud one, not a cheapo toy store one.
  • Okay/Help signs - 8 1/2" x 11", 72 point print, red text "Help", green text "OK"  Put the appropriate one in a street-facing window - lets first responders know how you're doing.
  • Out of state contact - I expect you be that for your family down south.  If they can't raise each other, they call you, and you relay messages.
  • Important docs - old driver's license/passport
  • First aid - no kit is too bog.  I like the ones at Sam's - $20.00, great for BLS.  I'd make sure I had tubes of anti-biotic and cortisone creams as well.  Eye drops/wash.  Low dose aspirin, just in case.  Written first aid guide.  
Right column:
  • TP - the new cash.  Need I say more?
  • Good book - bring some of your favorite adult spirits along w/ the books and cards
  • Blanket/tent, etc - I have my camping gear backed in a couple of large plastic storage boxes.
  • Dust mask - I can't use the disposable ones - they fog my glasses when I exhale.  I broke down and got an inexpensive (not "cheap") respirator at Home Depot.  Works much better...
  • Tools - I have an old catalog cast that I keep my hard hat and misc b & e tools in (I was the CERT ligtht urban search & rescue team leader for a year.)

Pets - most of the first aid items listed are in a good first aid kit (like the one from Home Depot)
  • Get an inverter that will run out of the cigarette lighter - this will allow  you to charge things like laptops, that need a 110/120 v AC outlet.  Got mine at Sam's.
Random Notes:
  • I have "FirstAid", "iTriage" and the "U.S. Army (sorry, Marines) Survival Guide" apps on my 'Droid. 
  • Keep your phone charged in your car!!
  • Make sure you have an extra phone charger for each phone.  Radio Shack and Office Depot both sell chargers that have interchangeable plugs, so you can use 1 charger to charge several phones (mine plugs into the wall, the cig lighter, and even take a 9v battery!)
  • Or just get a cigarette lighter powered USB outlet.  (Apple people, YMMV)
 A good practice is to check the batteries on your smoke alarm, and inventory your survival stuff twice a year, on the day the time changes (or on New Year's Day and the 4th of July if you don't switch to/from Daylight Savings Time).  Make sure batteries are fresh (or charged), rotate water and other perishables.

A bottle or two of your favorite Adult Beverage is not a bad thing to have on hand, either.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pray and Act

The Manhattan Declaration and the 40 day fast for America.

I found this while reading through reader comments at Brietbart about  the AFP commercial I linked to in the post below.  The responder did not include any links, so, since Google is my friend, I found a bunch of posts about the 40 day fast for America.

I followed the link to the "Pray and A.C.T." page at the Renewing American Leadership (ReAL) website.  It describes the why and how of the fast.  It also directs you to the Pray and A.C.T. website.  as of today, the link fails, returning a "Server Not Found" error.  I'll poke into that when I'm done here...

The "ACT" part of the page asks that you go to the Manhattan Declaration webite, and read and sign it.  That link goes to the web page.  Here is a link to the declaration as a .PDF.

The declaration is about 4,700 words long, so get comfortable.  It is a clear and concise defense of life, marriage, and religious liberty from a Christian moral perspective.  Two thinks I liked the most about it:  first, it strongly and clearly emphasizes human free will, and the fundamental right and freedom to follow one's own conscience.  (I inferred that one might add "well informed" as a state of said conscience.  Or that could just be the Ghosts of Jesuits Past.)  Second, was the mini-lesson on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s from the Birmingham jail: "...citing Christian writers such as Augustine and Aquinas, King taught that just laws elevate and ennoble human beings because they are rooted in the moral law whose ultimate source is God Himself. Unjust laws degrade human beings. Inasmuch as they can claim no authority beyond sheer human will, they lack any power to bind in conscience. King's willingness to go to jail, rather than comply with legal injustice, was exemplary and inspiring."

Read the whole thing.  Sign it if you feel so moved.  Fast if you feel so moved.  And act, if you feel so moved.

Pax Vobiscum.

(Originally posted at Leelu's Place)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Subway Redux...

I live pretty much at the intersection of PA 24 and PA 74 - Main and Broadway, Red Lion.  When I started coming up here regularly a year ago May, there was a Subway shop directly across the street.  The Doc and I would go over there pretty often, sometimes for the whole meal, sometimes just for tea and and cookies.  Sadly, the owner had just gotten tired of the drill, and decided to close.  This was just after Labor Day, 2011.  I've been looking at an empty store since then.  For most of that time, there was a sign in the window that said "Closed of Remodeling - Opening Soon".  It wasn't until about three months ago that I noticed some signs of activity - a couple of times I saw guys with clipboards wandering about the place.  Then about 2 months ago, there was a new sign in the window - Help Wanted!!

For about the last 5 - 6 weeks, there has been actual construction going on - the place had been stripped out to the bare walls, and the sign on the roof removed very quickly after it had closed.  Now, slowly, the place was coming back.  New wall paper, new seating, and a new sandwich line.

I spoke with the new owner, James, last Sunday.  In answer to my "When are you opening?" question,  he told me that he'd planned on opening last week, but he had some (what I've come to call) "supplier issues".  He invited me to an open house, scheduled for this evening.  I felt that I needed to being a "host" gift as a sort of "Welcome to the Neighborhood" gesture, so I baked a double batch of my Weapons Grade Chocolate Brownies, and took them over at about 6 this evening.  Well, the health inspector hadn't made it by in time, so the party was postponed until tomorrow evening.  But, since I'd brought brownies, I was invited to have what turned out to be the first sandwich.  (On the house!)

It turned out to be a training night for the new kids, so I had the experience of having the preparation of my sandwich critiqued but the trainer.  There were a couple of small glitches, but in the end, my Roasted Tuscan Chicken sandwich, (although not actually roasted) was still tasty and satisfying.  So, before I head up to York for the debate party, I'm going to swing in and get my open house 6 inch meal.

I owe my daughter a debt of thanks for getting me back to Subway, when we took our last road trip together in '97.  Say what you will about fast food, Subway makes a damned good sandwich to order.  I've only found one that was a tad off, and that was only because the cookies were obviously from an inferior vendor.  The sandwich was OK.

So, James and crew, welcome to the neighborhood!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Garden Finale

This is pretty much the end of this year's garden.

The Thai Basil and Thai Peppers are going gangbusters.  I believe it's the double layered bed that made the difference.  As you will see, the other peppers, planted at the same time, are nowhere near luxuriant!  There are garlic and onion trying to survive on the Shaded Jungle Floor.

Looking across to the Poblano peppers, with Thai Hots on the right.  Ya see what I mean??  Poblanos grew after most of the squash/melon vine died back, so I'm not expecting too many, but hey...!

Thai Hots get their close-up:

Mini Honeydew:

Micro Watermelon (note the paving bricks for size reference... very sad.)

The Thai Basil.  That bed is 4 feet by 4 feet, again, for reference.  Going to pick all the basil (Thai and Sweet) and dry it.  I noticed that I had two spontaneous Thai Basil plants pop up in the original kitchen garden.  Maybe I'll have some come up next spring?!

The tomato jungle:

And the Nectarine stick.  Note the spontaneous, late blooming tomato. 

Lessons learned:
  • Plant a bit earlier.  (Also, keep an eye on the local farmers.  Follow their lead.  They might know a thing or two about this...)
  • Plant deeper - single layer beds aren't deep enough with this soil.  At least 10" of soil.
  • Not so many squash and melons.
  • Definitely no Tigger Melons.  Tasted yuck.
  • Deep tomato beds, too.
  • Miracle Grow Soil is the bomb!
  • Might go for 1 season ground cover on the beds, to reduce the incidence of weeds
  • Gotta be creative about squirrel defense.  Chicken wire fence tacked across the tops of the beds to keep the critters from digging.  Maybe I'll get more than 2 puny ears of corn.
  • Save old CDs and DVDs to make Shiney Twirleys to scare away the birds.  (Suspend them on string so they blow and twirl in the wind, reflecting random sunlight at random birds.  Saw this years ago in a big garden up the Sierra Madres.
  • Thinking tomatoes, peppers (Thai, Poblano, Jalapeno and Sweet), corn, watermelon, canteloupe, honeydew, basil, garlic and onion, maybe lettuce.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

2012 Street Fair

Today is Red  Lion Street Fair day. The boro blocks off Main and Broadway, for about a block in all four directions.  Most of the usual suspects - police, fire, commercial booths for wireless phones, insurance, home repair/upgrade and solar energy.

Main Street, looking south from Broadway.

York Area Regional Police Mobile Command Unit

Remains of the RLFD rescue demo.

My favorite just down the street from me, the Big Green Ice Cream Machine!
I took the opportunity to visit a couple of places that I had not ventured into previously.

First was the American Legion Post.  Since I am not a veteran, I'm not normally allowed.  But today, they were open and selling food, so I stuck my head in.  Large hall, with a bar along most of one wall.  Don't think a photo is appropriate, since it was pretty full of members and guests.

My next stop was the train station.  They were running the trains on the big layout, and Ed, the society president, gave a little talk about it.

The original station sign.  Affectionately known as "The Ma and Pa" line.

Ed giving his talk.  Says he was "railroaded" into being president.

Round house and turntable

Looking across town east to the coal mine.

Balancing rocks.  Note gramma on top!  Whimsy abounds.

Hand built - not a kit!

Membership info.

Ed invited us back at Christmas time, to see the addition of two levels above the existing layout, complete with  three waterfalls!

My last stop was the Fitness Factory.  I met Larry, the owner.  He's a (young) retired basketball coach, who bought the gym about a year ago.  Really reasonable rates.  I'm going to have to join!

Next door to the Fitness Factory, I met  the young woman who runs the  massage therapy place that the dogs and I go by several times a week.

Relaxing Note Therapeutic Massage

 I also met Dr. Joe, the Dallastown chiropractor.  I'm looking for someone who isn't going to try and lock me into "the program".  He seems a promising candidate.

More, later!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Walk in the Park

Turns out there's a really nice park about 3 blocks from the house.  It has become the dog walking site of choice on really hot days.  I noticed that Dakota especially was beat up after even a short walk thru as much shade as possible around downtown  I did a little research, and discovered that dogs not only cool themselves by panting, but also thru the pads on their feet.  

Dakota seems much more energetic when we get back from our walks in the park.  My theory is that the abundance of shade, coupled with the shaded (cooler) ground, plus a usually nice breeze makes for a more dog-friendly (and me-friendly) walk.

Cool, happy dogs! Suzu on the left, Dakota on the right.

Nice patch of shade, one of many.

I've also noticed the occasional "installation" at the base of random trees.  Today, it was  this:

Sylvan offering?

A small circle, piled with nuts(?).  You can see the green husks scattered at  the right.

The first one I found left me thinking about "The Blair Witch Project", but that's just me.  I do wonder about their significance.

I'm remembering to take my phone with me, so I can get pictures as we walk.

More later!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Garden VII

The garden seemed to hit a stasis period, then it exploded:

Flowering Basil

Flowering Oregano - regenerating in the middle


Nectarine Stick

Baby Melon Victorian Perfume, I think

Potential watermelon??

Thai Basil Bush...

Thai Hot Peppers - teeny, tiny nubs of new peppers...

Quince - I pruned up the shoots so it would concentrate on growing up.

Corn - silks and tassles... puny, tho.

Muskmelon, methinks...

Garlic (in front) onions (in back).

Tiger Lilly, no lillies

Royal Candles

First decent size tomato!


Newer squash plant

The beds encroach!

Then I started playing with the macro lens on the camera:

Macro lens Basil blossom
More Basil blossoms

Melon blossom

Squash blossom