Monday, October 31, 2016

Filmmaker Mom

Speaking of awards, this is starting to become a regular thing but mom entered the 2016 CATV Halloween-o-thon and she won first prize. Go mom, congratulations. We couldn't be more proud of her. The cards were somewhat stacked against her, as well. She had an idea of what sort of movie to make but she wasn't paying attention and missed the entry deadline. They gave her a cushion and she got started on the movie, but it was hard for her to find the time to make it. She ended up filming pieces here and there, utilizing her cast and crew who also happen to be her family. Little by little she put it together and then the editing came into play. Previously she would go into CATV when she could and use their computers and software, but this time it was harder to make it in. She then got a free trial of the editing software, Final Cut Pro, but it lasted only 30 days and ended before she could even begin.

That left the final option of buying the software, which isn't cheap, but in my opinion was worth it because she makes these movies all the time and needs it. It was money well spent. She scrambled to get the movie finished and as always it was last minute, but she submitted it on time, though it was down to the wire. On that day she needed help from A to do some final editing but A decided to stay late at school and mom was not exactly thrilled about this. We made it home on time and all was well.

The final part of this drama was that on the actual day of contest, when they screened the films and gave out awards, she forgot about it. It wasn't until about 30 minutes before the screening that she realized that it was going to happen, so she rushed out the door and made it in time. Then she won first place.

How cool is that? I think she was pleasantly surprised, but we were all stoked for her. It was a team effort to make it but in reality it was all mom's inspiration and vision.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Ki Young Lee for the pic.

Driving and Drawing

This is pretty cool, though I'm not sure of the circumstances surrounding it, but A was heading off to the UNH campus on the coast to so some oceanography stuff with her science class and apparently there was a drawing contest. The kids had to come up with an image pertinent to sea, but for whatever reason the kids didn't start doing their drawings until they were in the car, on the drive over. So with pencil in hand she drew a picture of an octopus and if you can believe it, she won the drawing contest. She claims that she won because nobody else entered the contest, which I accepted with some skepticism. I think she did a great job on her drawing, and let's face it, I'm being completely objective.

Either way, she won the contest and with it a day of Oceanography with UNH, or something like that. The school is sending out a team to spend some time with the school teaching them about the wonders of the ocean. Kind of cool, if you ask me, though nobody asked me, did they?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to crisis- for the pic.

So Sore

It was with some trepidation that I played my first hockey game two nights ago, and when I say trepidation, I mean verging on outright fear. I played adult league hockey two years ago and had a blast, despite my lack of ability. Let's face it, there are guys out there that have played their entire lives, and they are really good. Other have played at least for several years, which was more than I had played my entire life. It was literally my first time even attempting to play hockey, and while it was a challenge to say the least, I had a blast. Sure, some of those guys were really good, and while they kept it toned down for most of the games, they could turn it on when the need arose and score at will. At some point it got ridiculous, but what are you going to do?

The next year I wanted to play but it costs some money and being the broke SAHD that I am, I wasn't in a position to justify spending a few hundred dollars on improving my hockey game, so I passed. It was a bummer, especially since I was at the rink all the time with the kids. I saw my team filing in to play and was bummed I couldn't be with them. The following year I was working at the Inn and had the cash but didn't have the time. Isn't it crazy how things work out? I was working nights and couldn't the evening off to play. Sure, I was making some cash, but the work was a chore and the hours intolerable.

This year is first year that I had both the time and money. Even still, I had great reservation about returning because I am not a hockey player (I just play one on TV) and as I mentioned, the competition can be fierce. I had also heard from several friends that the league had gotten too intense and players from the league above were coming down and tearing things up. I think this ruined it for many of the guys, and I can see why. It's no fun when 2-3 players are doing everything.

I decided to go for it anyway. Heck, I had the dough (barely), and I had the time. I even got mom's blessing. It was still hard to justify paying the fee, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Of course I missed the first game because of N's birthday, but this week I finally made it back. I was nervous to say the least, and it would not have taken much to dissuade me from attending - I know, I'm such a coward. Nothing, however, came up, so I went and if you can believe it, I had fun. I also didn't kill myself, which was a distinct possibility given my abilities. We won the game, I was able to contribute in some form, and my glorious hockey career is back up and running. I love when that happens.

Sure, my legs are so sore that they feel like they're going to fall off, but that's the price you have to pay to play with the big boys. I just hope my legs start working again by the next game.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Molly M for the pic.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Happy Trails

We haven't been riding our bikes much this season, and didn't much at all over summer, but this past week we hit the trails and it was a blast. The weather was perfect, slightly cool even with a decent breeze. I was dreading the pain and suffering because I'm so out of shape but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, I thought I did pretty okay. Sure, N was miles ahead of me and had to constantly stop and wait for me, but in the end I didn't feel like I was dying. And it was fun.

I've actually been doing the so-called "power ride" fairly regularly, which encompasses about 3.5 miles with some major hills. Mom and the kids often do this as a walk and call it aptly enough the "power walk." The beginning hill is a killer but what a good workout, and I think it helped prep a bit for the trails.

Now that the weather is cool and dry, I'd like to ride more, at least until the snow arrives. We'll see how that goes.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Pepe' Cam Photography for the pic.

Drones and Skateboards

Being a parent means constantly searching for what interests your kids, especially what they are passionate about, and it's been a little tricky with N. With A, she's shown a keen interest, not to mention an aptitude, for many things, including books, music, art, and even science. For N, it's been a little more of a search, though he has from the get go been interested in machines, especially big ones. I'm guessing it's a boy thing because I was the same way (and still am).

Kids also need to have the cool factor in their interests, though I think this is even more true for boys because it's a big part of the scrutiny of their peers. Because of this N has had an interest in things that are slightly fringe/edgy (i.e., X-Games), like BMX bikes, surfing, motorcycles, and skateboards. Hockey and LAX are a lot of fun, but somewhat mainstream. N likes to operate a little on the outer rim of crowd, and recently he's been interested in skateboards, or rather, making them. He takes it very seriously but more importantly, he wants to be left alone to do it. Unless it's really necessary, he doesn't want my assistance, and I completely dig that. I'll operate the table saw, but he can take it from there. I give him free reign over my tools, though it can be a little challenging finding them later. Not a big deal on my end.

With that in mind, he has become a skateboard making machine. Sure, that's an exaggeration since he's only made two, but after figuring out the first one, he made the second one like it was nothing. Bear in mind, this is not a simple process because he has to make the plywood from thin sheets and glue, and then bend the board into shape. It's not something I would ever think to do, and he went for it. One thing about N is he has a bit of an engineers mindset in that he's patient and very thorough. He does a nice job and takes pride in his work; you just can't beat that.

He's also made a buddy over at the school who is really into drones. This kid not only like to fly them, but he apparently races them and makes them from scratch. Pretty cool stuff. What's even cooler is that he's helping N out in making them for himself, and he's been very generous with his time, expertise, and even materials. I don't know this kid very well but he seems nice and his mom is very friendly, not to mention a big city sophisticated/highly educated professional person. I think she and R jive.

With this in mind, N went ahead and built his own drone. He had to order many of the parts but his buddy gave him the motors that he would need, which is pretty cool. He assembled the body, soldered the wiring and circuits, and obtained a remote control unit. It required some special programming so that the RC unit could communicate with the drone, but it's all hooked up and works beautifully. He flew it for me and it's pretty darn cool, though surprisingly heavy. His next project will be to install a camera on the thing, and then who knows where it will lead him. Wherever that may be, I have no doubt that it'll be pretty cool.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Drone Dudes for the pic.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Season's Greetings

Time for the puck to be dropped to the ice. Hockey season has begun and it's always an interesting time when we return to the rink because while it's nice to see old friends again it's also bit overwhelming having to greet that massive wave of people. How many times can I ask, "how was your summer?" Either way, this year seemed to come up faster than usual, or we weren't on the lookout and it crept up out of nowhere. N alluded to being a bit nervous to be on the ice, and I can totally relate. As usual I'm slated to be a coach and I'm asking the same old question: what the heck was I thinking? Throw in the usual neurosis about the sport (even more so this year) and it makes for interesting theater. So many unknowns to start the season that I won't get into, at least not yet.

For now it's time to get our gear up to date and get our hockey legs warmed up. Regardless of what happens it should be an interesting season.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Eric Kilby for the pic.

95% Done

Definitely light at the end of the tunnel...

I don't know if this is my OCD or simply a way to avoid doing other things that require my attention, but I have been focusing on finishing that year 2 woodpile, and it's looking pretty darn good. You can tell you're in good shape when it looks like just a small gap that needs filling in. As it stands there is plenty of wood to fill the need if we finish year 1 and need to dip in, but hopefully year 1 will hold and we won't have to do that. Usually I have several things going at once and I tend to neglect or forget about several of them and they sit around unattended, haunting me and reminding me of my impotence.

I decided to just plow ahead and get at least one thing done. Sure, it's at the expense of things that might require more immediate attention, but at least one project will move forward to completion. Then, if I'm looking at other projects that are incomplete, at least I can say I got one thing done. I would like to point out that I was able to make this amazing progress because of the help of the kids, who did a lions share of the stacking. While I personally love to stack wood (and cut and split it), it does take a lot of time, and the kids do a great job. All I need to do is split it and they take over, it's great.

Plus, there's something special about looking at a nicely stacked pile of wood; it makes you feel warm inside, especially when it's burning.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to shockk for the pic.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Biting Off Too Much

I'm not sure why I got myself into this but I agreed to work two separate catering jobs in one day. Actually, I do know why, to make the big bucks to support our fabulous lifestyles. I usually work the evening shift on the weekends and for whatever reason I was scheduled to work the mornings. I knew the other catering company had a gig that evening so I mentioned I was free and they said come on down. With the second job I ended up working from 6:00AM to about 10:00PM, and believe me, I was exhausted. And to add to the fun, I had to work at 6:00AM the next morning, so the fun just kept going. Don't you love when that happens?

For what it's worth I enjoy working with the other caterers because the jobs are usually more fun, the crew is cool and the atmosphere much more relaxed. The Inn has more steady work and longer hours. In the end, which is better? I think I have some idea.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Gary Seloff for the pic.

Power Ride

I don't get nearly enough aerobic exercise as I could, and with hockey season looming this could cause me great pain and suffering. As a way to temper this, I have been doing a bit of bike riding that entails some pretty serious hills. Mom and the kids do what they call a "power walk" that goes on for about 3.5 miles and includes some major hills, and when I say major, I mean majorly-major. Enough to bring a grown man to his knees, that's for sure. The challenge, however, means that you get a good workout, and I've been doing it fairly regularly, which in my case means 2-3 times. Even still, that 2-3 times more than I'd done all summer, and I feel motivated.

We'll see how long this motivation lasts, but it feels good to get out and break out into a sweat. Who knows, I may even start to fit into my jeans. Stranger things have happened.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to c.enoksson for the pic.

Return to Sender

In less than a week we managed to get all the splitting we needed to accomplish done. This is a record for us because in the past it took us, or rather me, at least a month, if not more. Granted, this was largely due to me resting on my laurels while I sat and watched the wood pile gather dust and mold. Somehow this time around I just motivated and powered through it. I think several things helped. First, I had N there to help me, so it made it much faster and easier. Second, JM wanted to use it next, so he was waiting for it. Thirdly, the weather has been cool and pleasant, making the job more tolerable. And finally, we are on a mission to get that year 2 pile done before it snows, so the clock is ticking. I'd say it's about 90% done, which is better than most years.

The arranging of transportation has been incredibly smooth, as well, so when I called JM to say I was done, he literally came by an hour later to get it. We passed him in our driveway on the way out and when we returned home, the splitter was gone. Don't you love when that happens?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to dennis dahn for the pic.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Let's Split

After some back and forth communication, I finally obtained JP's splitter, and it's probably a good time because it's getting cold and you just never know when that snow storm is going to hit you. Once there's snow on the ground it's much harder to motivate and split wood, though a real-man in training shouldn't let a little white stuff discourage him.

Our wood pile is looking good and for all intents and purposes we could stop stacking right now and we'd probably be okay, but I think the end is in sight (with a little help from the kids) get it done. Might as well finish what we started. As always there are blocks of wood that are either too big or too knotty to split by hand, and I usually set them aside in a pile until I can obtain the splitter, and the pile was getting pretty big. These are the pieces where the maul simply bounces off as if it were made of rubber, or the maul sinks in a few inches and then no more, over and over again. It's like the wood is glued together, and believe me, at some point you just don't want to deal with it anymore. The knowledge that I would eventually get the splitter inspired me to toss the piece aside at the first sign of resistance, which only compounded the situation, i.e., made the pile grow.

With fall well over half over and winter on the way, I figured it was time to obtain the splitter and finish those pieces off. I spoke with JP and he said to talk to AM to get it, but I had to coordinate times with her because she's busy with assorted life responsibilities. I had to coordinate with JM during the allotted time slot (his truck has a trailer hitch to tow the thing) and now we have the splitter in our possession. I'm going to have the kids help me out and it should go a lot faster than splitting solo.

Then, when we're finished, I have to once again coordinate with JM to come pick it up. Boy, life sure would be easier if we had a truck, not just for logistical reasons, but to satisfy my real-man in training status. Then again, one thing at a time, right?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Mdrn-Mrvls for the pic.

Fall Attire

The weather is getting cooler and soon it will be time to shelve the shorts and start wearing long pants. This presents us with a bit of a conundrum because some of us not only don't like wearing long pants, but we especially don't like wearing jeans, which are a staple of the youthful wardrobe. Now granted, jeans are not as comfortable sweat pants or shorts, but you can't go through life wearing sweat pants and shorts, at some point you need to wear something else. Forget about fashion, the practical logistics of staying warm demand it.

Either way, I've been encouraging said person to wear jeans with mixed results. Sometimes there is cooperation, other times resistance. This individual is growing, as well, which adds another layer to the mix. I finally decided the time had come and went out and got them a pair of jeans. They had a big sale (they're always having a sale) over at Kohl's and they were pretty darn cheap, so I figured it was worth the risk. Plus, they're not the cheesy bargain brand Tough Skins that I wore as a kid, they're Levi's. The denim is surprisingly soft, and when said individual tried them on, they not only looked really good, but they were not averse to wearing them... I think.

We'll see where this one goes, but at least for now there are pants to be worn in cold weather that don't make you look like a hip-hop star.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to damage_justice for the pic.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Droning On

Yet another of N's projects is building a drone, from scratch, no less. His new buddy is a drone enthusiast and has all sorts of spare parts and know-how. He gave N a bunch of extra motors and has been giving him tips on building the thing. With mom and dad's blessing he ordered the other parts he needed and the other day he headed over to his friend's house and they built the thing. His house is a bit of a trek from us but I didn't mind taking him over if it meant hanging with friends and doing cool things. His friend goes to the same school as him over in the big city, so they are school friends, as well.

With the structural stuff done, I guess there are some software and programming steps that still need to be completed. He brought the machine home and it's pretty darn cool. The goal is to attach a camera to it and do aerial photography, which is also pretty darn cool.

Apparently this friend is an expert on drones and takes part in all sorts of activities involving drones. I think this intrigues N and I think this is a very cool thing. The fact that they built the thing from scratch is pretty cool, for a countless number of reasons. I'm curious to see what happens next, but whatever it is, I'm thinking it will be pretty impressive. It already is.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Angie Chang for the pic.

Missing Out

Timing was not on our side (or rather, my side) this past weekend because I had to work in lieu of going to two movies that I would have liked to have seen. We got passes to see Star Trek on Friday and this cool Mountain Film festival on Saturday, and as luck would have it, I had to work on both evenings. Total bummer, but on the bright note, the tickets were free (because of work), and at least mom and the kids got to go. On Friday the kids invited their buddies and it worked out nicely, and everyone enjoyed the movies, with the exception of me, of course, though I know I would have liked them if I'd gone. That's the price you pay to make the big bucks to support a fabulous lifestyle.

There were some good vibes regarding the attainment of said tickets. We get complimentary season passes to the film series but there are several special events that do not apply. I need to contact the film series coordinator and request tickets, which is never a problem because she's very cool and it comes with the territory. I didn't realize the Mountain series was a special event (though I should have known better) and when I went to get tickets two days prior to take-off, they told me as such. I emailed the person in charge and got a reply that she was out of town and wouldn't be back until after the movie. Total bummer. The message did say that her assistant was around and could be contacted in the event of an emergency, but I hardly thought that this was an emergency.

I told the kids that we were out of luck and probably had to skip it this year (we go every year), when lo and behold her assistant contacted me and said she put 4 tickets on hold at the box office for me. Wow, how cool was that? I guess my email got forwarded to her and she took care of it. I was stoked, and it all worked out beautifully, except of course for the fact that I couldn't go, but you have to look at the positives, right?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Filippo Venturi for the pic.

Back to School

The kids are cruising along with their studies and one area that they are doing fine in is math. I won't go into the agonizing details about what they are doing, but one area that A is delving deeper into is algebra. Since mom and dad are the teachers in this household, we've had to re-learn algebra, and while both of us took plenty of math in our academic careers, it takes a little time to get the wheels turning again. Algebra is one of those subjects, at least for me, where the problems look straightforward and doable but somehow during the process of calculating what the variables are, I screw something up. The mistakes often happen when we're dealing with expanding parenthetical equations with negative numbers. There are just too many things to remember, and forgetting just one means the whole house of cards crumble. It's possible it's just a question of practice, which I can and will do, but needless to say it's frustrating, especially when you go into it thinking that you can break down walls and come out of whimpering over your incompetence.

Oh well, that's the point of education, right? To avoid being a whimpering incompetent. I think it may be too late for me.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to yadav1212 for the pic.

Friday, October 7, 2016

New Boots

It's probably a little earlier than usual for this, which is a good thing, but we've updated our ski equipment and are ready to hit the slopes. All we need is a little (or a lot) of snow, though that's realistically at least a month away. Then again, I recall going trick-or-treating with plenty of snow on the ground, so you just never know.

The big things to consider are footwear for skiing and hockey, both of which can be expensive. We've found good deals on used snowboard boots, which you can get for next to nothing ($10-20), and we get good deals on used ski boots at our favorite ski shop, Henderson's. The stuff isn't new, and sometimes it's in pretty bad shape, but with a little leg work, time and patience, you can find clean used gear that looks almost new. Hockey is a little more complicated. We're sort of past the point of buying them used gear, and what really sets you back are the skates. With kids growing so quickly, upgrades are often necessary, as was the case last year when we replaced both kids' skates. Ouch! All I can say is that I'm thankful to be gainfully employed, sort of.

This year we seem to be set for most of the stuff. Both kids can use their skates again, though N is definitely growing. A is all set with ski and snowboard boots, and her skates are just fine. Truth be told, she's hardly worn them so that's a big relief. N needed new ski boots, no doubt about it, and as I mentioned, we headed over on the early side to Henderson's. They have a big Labor Day blowout sale that we missed, but being a ski shop and all, they have gear throughout the winter. It's the selection of good used equipment that starts to decline. This year our options were still pretty good, and they set him up in a good way. He's wearing big boy sizes (i.e., adult) now so he got a really cool pair of boots that even match his skis... did I mention that he can still use his skis this year (whew!)?

You can really see the difference between the kids and adult boots, though this seems obvious. I guess I just never paid attention. He really likes them and they fit beautifully. Now the only project is to find dad a new pair of skis considering that his are so old. Then again, if the shoe fits, wear it, right? Though in this case it would be the ski boot.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to suziesparkle for the pic.

Proper Attire

On the subject of golf, just wanted to relay how truly clueless I am. Last year when we were at one of the local public courses I wore shorts and tank top (I was trying to look like this guy) and got scolded by the staff, though they let me play on. Apparently tank tops are no-no, something my friends were amazed I didn't know. This past week I wore jeans (talk about embarrassing) and they told me they don't allow that, but since I knew the guys and it was late in the season and the day, they said just go ahead. But, if I wear jeans the next time, they'll probably flog with me with a 9-iron.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Bouncer Criss for the pic.

Front Nine

Fall is in the air, which means falling leaves will eventually turn to snow and golfing will come to an end. I think the season ends some time in October, so N and I decided that we should get as much golf in as possible, not that it's so simple. Golf is a bit of a production, not just in getting to the course, but allotting the time to play: even just doing half the course, the "front nine" as they say in golfing circles, takes a few hours. Who has a few hours to spare? Not me, that's for sure. That doesn't mean we don't set aside time to do it, because let's face it, the opportunity is too good to pass up. We have some nice golf courses nearby, and we get to golf for free at one of the best. You just can't beat that.

So we're golfing a fair amount. Our goal was once a week at the course and once or twice a week at the driving range. This past week there was too much going on to hit the course, but going to the range is fairly doable, and it's definitely a great way to work on our swing. Speaking of which, I've been getting increasingly interested in my golf game and am putting more thought into my swing. I'm still pretty bad but being more thoughtful about it makes it more interesting and fun. And, while N has expressed his skepticism about this, the last time we went out golfing I only lost one ball. This is significant considering that I usually lose about 4-6 balls every outing. It's a good thing N brings plenty of extra balls, and we end up finding a bunch on the course (clearly I'm not alone).

One last note, the last time we golfed I also noticed that N was doing a fine job. His drives were straight and beautiful, and he did a nice job when he hit with his irons. I'm no pro and can't give expert feedback, but some things about golf are pretty intuitive, and I think he was looking good. He's definitely gaining confidence, which is all the more reason to keep hitting the course. Next time we may get crazy and try doing the "back nine." I'm not sure if that is the proper term but I'll let you figure out what it means.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Eddy Doyle for the pic.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Back On the Ice?

I've decided that I'm going to play hockey this year and it wasn't the easiest decision because inertia is hard to overcome (I've skipped out the past two years) and I'm definitely going into a situation where I'm inexperienced and somewhat incompetent (that's what I look like on the ice). It's hard for men, especially real-men in training, to put themselves in these situations because it's a real blow to the fragile male ego, exacerbated by the fact that guys who play hockey are super macho. Factor in playing on a regular basis, and it's akin to torture.

There are also the issues of time and money, neither or which are negligible, though you have to make time for the things you enjoy, right? I think I can actually afford it this time, so I'm going for it. My previous team has moved on without me but I contacted them and inquired as to the possibility of me playing, and they said they had space. The captain even welcomed me back. How can I turn back now?

The fact of the matter is that I really enjoyed playing and think that challenging myself is not a bad thing, both physically and emotionally. Plus, it helps me with my skating, which is decent, and my hockey skills, which are well below average. This, in turn, gives me some semblance of credibility when I try to go out and coach the kids, who by now are well above me in terms of skill and in many instances, size.

Oh well, might as well go out there and have some fun, right? This should be interesting. Needless to say I have reservations and am a little anxious, but those are the times when you have to jump in with both feet, right? At least that's what I tell my kids.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Kate K for the pic.

Fully Stacked

In the interest of the all important goal of making dad's life easier, I have been increasingly reliant on the help of the kids in doing my daily chores, especially the ones that require a little muscle. N has been doing most of the lawn-mowing, though I still do the hills, and I've come up with a new system to stack the firewood. I cut and split the wood, but then A transports it with the wheelbarrow to the stacked pile, and N stacks it. This addresses many concerns, including helping dad complete the wood (very important), getting A to do something that is outdoors and physical, and getting N to do something that appeals to his meticulous nature. I win-win-win situation if there ever was one.

The kids are happy to help out and never make a stink about my asking for them to take part, which I really appreciate on a number of levels. Also, the wood pile is looking good, and I think (hope?) that by the end of this month year 2 will be completed. Then again, I said that last month, and will probably say it every month until it's done, but sometimes that's just the way things work out.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Kristi Clapinski for the pic.

Compost Prep

This is a small side-note in terms of all the things that need to be done around our house, but it's been bugging me for months, so suffice it to say that I feel relieved that I finally dealt with it. What else is new in my life? We compost our food stuff and I have to say that I think it should be mandatory everywhere. It's just a great way to reduce the stuff that goes into landfills and a great way to put food waste to good use. Even if you don't actually use the end product, it's still better than putting it into the trash.

Anyway, we compost our food and our compost bin really fills up over the course of winter. Normally this wouldn't be a problem except that we have critters that come and eat the scraps. This, too, wouldn't be a problem if those critters didn't include bears, and not just one. Two springs ago we had regular visits by bears who ate our compost and garbage and made a complete mess of the situation. We now keep our garbage in the barn and I built shelters for the compost, which I was told was useless since a bear can rip it to pieces since their so strong. Even still, I figured why make it easy on them?

The shelters seemed to have accomplished said goal, though they make access a bit of a chore, which in turn makes me reluctant to empty the bins. As you can imagine, they get pretty full. This is normally not a problem during the warmer months because the food breaks down to a fraction of it's bulk, but during winter it freezes into a solid block. By spring of last year the thing was a solid block of food scrap ice, and I had to start using an unprotected compost bin, which in turn meant inviting bears to come feast on it.

Fortunately, with the cold weather and bit critters (i.e., bears) hibernating, I was able to transfer the waste once it thawed and there were no problems. It did, however, highlight the fact that it is important to empty the bins and start the winter with a clean slate, so to speak. As you can imagine, it's not something I'm jumping for joy to do, so I tend to put it off and let it nag at me for months. Then again, what else is new? Well, I finally dealt with one of the full bins and took the compost out, which was basically just soil. It's amazing what food waste turns into.

We usually put the stuff in the garden but we're not doing a garden this year, so I just dumped it into the woods. I could have fertilized some trees of even the lawn, but I think they are growing fine at this time, and given that I'm happy to have simply addressed the immediate situation, I'll leave it at that. Next year with better planning I'll find a good use for the stuff.

For now we're looking pretty decent for winter. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Larry for the pic.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Drummer Girl

A has begun to expand her musical interests and is now dabbling in drums. Her guitar teacher TS is a multi-talented musician and shreds on all instruments, including drums, so he's more than qualified to give her some instruction. I think it's good for her to get a diverse set of musical experiences, and she is on percussions in her wind ensemble - she plays guitar for the jazz band. Also, she's got music in her blood so she tends to have a feel for whatever instrument she takes on. At least that was the case for piano and guitar, and I've heard her playing drums and it's not bad.

Another benefit of her learning the basics of drums is that she can give some tips to her brother, which he has not objected to. Plus, we have the electric drum set, so there is ample opportunity to practice. I'm not sure where all this will lead, but it's cool to see the kids interested in something musical.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to daniel ab for the pic.

Longboard Progress

I have to say that I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this project, but my uncertainty has certainly been proven wrong. N is taking woodworking over at the middle school and people rant and rave about this class so we thought it would be a good experience for him. So far I think it has been, but when he told the teacher about his idea to make a skateboard, the guy shot him down. I don't know the circumstances or how it was presented to him, but I do know that he told N he couldn't do it because it was too hard or logistically not possible. Kind of a bummer.

Well, I am also proud of N because it was not discouraged and decided instead to make it on his own. Again, I wasn't completely sure how feasible this would be, but wanted to support him any way. This meant giving him complete access to all my tools and obtaining the proper raw materials. He did the research, I got the stuff, and unleashed him into his work space. The only thing I helped him with was working the table saw to rip the boards (1/8 inch Baltic Birch thanks to Baker Lumber), to his specifications, of course.

Yesterday I was in the barn and saw his progress and was blown away - he'd actually glued the sheets together and had cut the form of the board, and it looked great. He glued together 4 sheets and believe me when I tell you it looks like a professional had done it. I think his grandad and his uncle The Amazing PR Man would approve. They might even be impressed, I know I was.

It's still in a bit of a rough state, but he did a great job cutting it and whatever the outcome, he's made fantastic progress up to this point. Plus, he has plenty of wood leftover to make another one, and we know where to get more wood. Who knows, maybe he'll even make one for me.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Yutaka Seki for the pic.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Club Crazy

Since N has been getting into golf, naturally my OCD kicked in and I began to investigate getting him some decent clubs. He started off with a starter kid's set that I got from a guy in the next town and it seemed to work out fine. In fact, it was a fairly decent set with a bag that he could wear like a backpack, and he was into it. As he grew, however, it became clear that they were too small, and despite my suggestions that he use bigger clubs, he wanted to keep using them. I found another decent set at the recycling center that he was again reluctant to use (somehow my recommendations carry no weight), so I used them, though they were a little small on me. They were a big kid set and rather nice. It really took someone with clout and authority to get him to upgrade his clubs to the big kid set.

Then the other day we were at Golf and Ski Warehouse and the salesperson had him try out an adult club while hooking him up to their computer simulator, which is pretty cool. The way it works is you hit the ball into a heavy tarp and the computer extrapolates the arc and distance of your shot, calculating the velocity of the ball as well as the head of the club. Apparently he was swinging the club fast enough to warrant an adult sized club, and the guy kept showering him with praise about how fast his swing was at his age (he told him to keep it up). Granted, it could have been a simple case of a salesperson trying to sell us a club, but I go there fairly often (they sell ski stuff) and they don't work on commission. Plus, I'm pretty good friends with one of their managers and know he wouldn't try to pull one over on me.

Whatever be the case, they all enthusiastically suggested N was ready for a big-boy club, and that's all I needed for my OCD to kick in. I did some online research on drivers and found that like everything in life there is an overload of information. Consequently, I didn't know where to begin, but as luck would have it (or not?), they had a pretty cool line of clubs on clearance, and they steered me in this direction. Apparently Nike is getting out of the golf club business, focusing instead on what they do best with shoes and clothes. I read that Adidas is doing the same; I think they own Taylor Made but are getting out. Either way, Nike clubs are being discontinued so they were having a fire sale. For the record, the prices at Golf and Ski matched what you could online, which was more than 50% off. It was a good opportunity to get him a decent club that he could use for awhile. Plus, the Nike clubs look really cool.

So of course I got it for him, and he loves it. For all it's worth, and I think it's worth a lot, as soon as he got the new driver N was hitting it over 200+ yards, averaging about 225. That's pretty darn good for anyone at any age.

Since I was on a tear I decided to look at irons as well, thinking that drivers were the expensive part of a person's golf club set. I was unpleasantly surprised, however, to learn that drivers are the cheap clubs and the real cost of set is in the irons. They had clubs that were over $1000. Is that crazy, or what? I don't think I'm ready, or will ever be ready, to drop that kind of money on golf clubs, but I'll keep my eyes open for a life-altering sale.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to sportstechie for the pic.

Future Wood

I had gotten myself a little in over my head with wood this year, though it wasn't all my fault (as usual). I had mistakenly and a little foolishly assumed that our usual source TB was not coming through for us. He never returned my calls, but he never does and always delivers. This does not sit well with my neurotic tendencies, and I always request that he at least lets me know if he can or cannot get wood. After months of asking him, I figured this was the year that he wasn't coming through, so I contacted another source, DS, who said he could get me wood. Then one morning, out of nowhere, TB shows up with a truckload of wood. I was stoked but also wondering if I could handle two deliveries. That's a lot of wood.

DS has a small truck so it's only 3.5 cords, but it's still a lot of wood and expense. I was looking at a 10 cord pile in our front yard. I asked DS if I could get his small load later in summer, maybe in the fall, and he was fine with that. As summer passed, however, I rested on my laurels and didn't get in touch with him. By the time fall rolled around, which is now, I was thinking either he wrote me off or was waiting for me to ask for the wood. On a bright note, I had the money to pay him.

When I finally did contact him, he informed me that he now had his bigger truck in operation and would deliver a full load, which wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear. Then again, I'm making pretty good progress on the current load, so I asked him if we could get his full truckload (8 cords) in the spring, and he was fine with that.

So now I'm really stoked, because I have enough wood for two winters and then some, and then if I get another load, I'm good to go for probably another two years. The full logs sit well over time, and I can cut them at my leisure, assuming that I can get them in the spring. I've learned, however, that making assumptions about future events can often get you into trouble, so I'll wait in and see.

In the meantime, I'll get the year 2 pile finished and see where we stand. Hopefully we'll get it done before the snow comes.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to gary for the pic.

Postcards From Spain

This is sort of amusing and sort of not, but our neighbor and friend J&NH just informed me that they received their postcard from Spain, and it only took a month. How crazy is that? I think it was quicker than what we experienced with Grand Turk, but still a bit outrageous. I mean Spain is an industrial country, is it not? I shouldn't complain because it did arrive, and I had pretty much written it off as a wash, so maybe I should just look a the bright side and laugh about the experience. Or maybe not.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Ashley G for the pic.