What's on my mind.

29 June 2009

Almost a Third of a Century.

It'll be truly a third in another 120 days.

I had a great birthday weekend and I want to tell you guys all about it. (Mostly because what I'm doing at work, right now, is WAY boring.)

Saturday I took Nettie and the dog to the river. Honey swam and chased sticks and boats (and a seadoo!) peed on bushes/trees and generally had a good doggy time. Then we went to Roly Poly's (I forgot to get her a 'Mom's birthday' treat sandwich) and when we got home we watched TV for a while. Then it was time to get ready to go to Birmingham.

I went to a screening of "Love 'n Dancing" at Rhythm N Motion dance studio with a dance party afterwards. The movie was less sappy than other dance movies and the dancing (West Coast Swing) in it was great. Tomorrow is my last WSC lesson and it's been so much fun although watching the movie (and tape of the 2006 WCS championship finals) showed me HOW different what I've been doing and really good WCS is. Before the movie T.J. gave a quick lesson in salsa and hustle and after we tried out what we'd learned. The dance was less stuffy than the TBDC ones - younger, too. There weren't very many people but we had a good time.

Sunday after cake and cards, we went up to the Pelham civic center and skated. Matt met us there, he managed to squeeze us in between golf, hiking, and church. It felt so cool when we walked in the building and I even rolled my sleeves down before getting on the ice, but when I stopped to get a drink 5 min. later I rolled them right up again. Mom was sitting in the rink lobby with her shawl on and I, next to her, was sweating buckets. We had an octogenarian, pentagenairian, me, and a pre-teen on the ice.

So other than the dog being mad at me, it was a very nice weekend. And only Nettie thinks I'm OLD.

05 June 2009

Roomba Time!

I took my Roomba out for a spin last night. Figured out pretty quick that I should just put the piano bench in another room and I can't go too far because it can (and will) get itself stuck under the corner of the couch. The dog ignored it until it came over to the couch and then she kind of freaked out.

All in all it did a pretty good job. I didn't use the virtual wall, because it was in the box way over in the next room, so I blocked room off with random stuff (by the stairs) and my dining room chairs at the other side, which the Roomba doesn't fit under. To start with I was worried it was going to blow around as much hair as it picked up but needn't have. It managed to get around the piano and bench (after I pulled it out a bit) but it would have been faster without the bench in there. I might want to move the rocking chair out of the room, too, since the Roomba can't get under it all the way; yesterday I just moved it to block the least amount of wall possible. Somewhat amusingly, it kept trying to climb up into the book case. I don't have a base for the shelves and the lip is low enough the Roomba attempts it before hitting the books. The base of my couch is smaller than the box, so there's a space (like at the bottom of cabinets) that is just a little too short for the Roomba; it got stuck twice at the corner and I had rescue it.

I didn't take a picture of the bin and filter because it was kind of gross (I really don't understand those vacuums with the see-through bin - who wants to see what they've sucked up off the floor?) but it got most of the hair off the floor. The only things it didn't do well was right at the edge of the rug where dirt got "stuck" because (I guess) the beater was too high since the wheels were on the rug; I don't think this will be noticeable if one is standing or even sitting on the couch, just lying down. Besides, I read my book and rubbed the dogs ears while my floor got cleaned - what do I have to complain about? At least until Mom borrows it semi-permanently.

04 June 2009

June Goals

Real quick, here are my goals for June:
Eat more veggies and fruit;
Yoga 2 a week;
Eat no more than 6 meals out per week (easier since choir's on break);
Not kill any of my family or Nettie's friend on our beach trip next week.

Field Vehicles

Several people are talking about field vehicles and I guess I'm lucky but I've never had to rent a field vehicle. (I do have a story about that for later.) I work for the State and we have our own vehicles, mostly trucks and SUVs, which while low mpg, they do meet all the general field vehicle requirements. (Can I get a pencil/map/GPS/field book holder, too?)

Picking up core requires (sometimes extensive) driving on bad lease roads and carrying several hundred feet of boxed, 2-inch core in the bed - this limits our choices to 4WD full-sized trucks; even then some of the hills were iffy, also you don't jack-rabbit off from a stop. Luckily the truck that could haul the most also had an extended cab because all three of us rode to lunch in one truck. (We're State employees, we're taking our lunch break!) For looking at actual outcrops, we use one of the SUVs - space for people in relative comfort, room for samples, good clearance so we don't have to worry about what's on the shoulder, etc. The mappers tend to be pickier and a little possessive about the trucks. (Big Blue is Ed's truck, the red one with the ugly camper shell was Dorothy's...)

Most of the field work I've done since working here was at our "old test site", a short way down a decent lease road, where anything except the mini-van or Crown Vic would do. (Actually, no one really wants to drive the Crown Vic or mini-van on the highway either. We also have the "mail van" that's rather scary but it still makes to the PO.) Our new test site (where we might actually get to put some CO2 in the ground!) is really close to the highway and on a great lease road - I could drive my brother's Mustang up there, but we haven't brought in drilling and work-over rigs yet. The agency's vehicles get well used, a lot. High mileage is the rule, but for the most part they are well cared for but where I worked right after college we had a couple of real doozies.

The worst vehicle I think I have ever driven was a Dogde dually with possessed alignment. This truck would pull to one side long enough for you to start to get used to it and then it would switch, suddenly, to pulling to the other side. Or the amount/strength of the pull would change. It was exhausting to drive. One time couple of the guys were driving back to the hotel after doing a tank tightness test (well after midnight) and were pulled over for weaving. They hadn't had a drop of alcohol, they were just to tired to fight the steering wheel. There was also an old Explorer that'd shake your fillings out above 50 miles/hour; that one was loads of fun to ride in to Montgomery. At that job there was a definite hierarchy of vehicle allocation: owners - new(every few years) SUV (for work and personal use); engineers going to meeting - newish SUV/truck; survey crews - slightly older SUV/newish trucks; environmental division - a couple of trucks that wouldn't be replaced until they wouldn't tow the grout machine; geologic division (both of us) - whatever was left or POV. A couple times I was very thankful for my station wagon had front-wheel drive.

The University's vans were another set interesting field vehicles. Apparently years ago my Alma mater rented the vans in New Mexico and everybody just met in Albuquerque for field camp. Then the rental companies figured out what they were doing with the vans and stopped giving them the corporate rate. After that they started using the university's vans but the motor-pool people had already figured out not to give the Geology department nice vans because we'd get them all muddy. When I was at field camp both vans had a crack in the windshield, top to bottom. The whole set of vans purchased one year had the windshields badly seated and they all had cracks. I can assure you there was no way you could rev the engine up enough to warp the frame (like in drag racing); seriously, a semi passed us one day, going up hill - can you say under-powered? (Still better than under-braked.) On a southern Appalachian field trip we had a pair of under braked vans - wouldn't erring on the side of over-powered brakes be preferable to possibly under-braked? - We only had to take one brake-cooling break, thanks good route planning and 1st gear.

The only rental car/ field experience I had was near Denver. My advisor and I were there for a class and had a free day, so we went out driving. "Unimproved road" means something different in Colorado than it means in Alabama. In AL it, generally, means county maintained dirt; I think in CO means any track one could conceivably drive some sort of land vehicle over. We started on a paved road which became dirt which became a jeep track which started to look a lot like the photos Silver Fox posted. We decided after a short distance that perhaps we didn't want to have to walk back to civilization and turned around. My advisor told me a story about a field trip where they'd reserved high-clearance 4-wheel drive vehicles and were given sedans. IIRC, he told me they returned 3 and drew a map to the 4th.

03 June 2009

Wedding Weekend

I'll get the sad news out of the way first, then talk about all the fun stuff.

Q-tip wasn't around Sunday or Monday and I was starting to get worried because she's always around the house, hoping to slip in the door. Last night she drags herself up the front steps and she's all beat up. Her face looked funny, the right eye mostly swollen shut, cut at the tear duct is pussy, she's not closing her mouth... She sniffed at some food and took a lick or two of water and later some milk but not much; all she seemed to want was loving and to curl up somewhere soft. This morning she demanded attention. Her right eye was now open but obviously badly infected and so was her mouth. (WOW is that some seriously bad morning breath, btw.) She didn't protest one bit when I put her in the car or when we got out at the vet's. On top of the infection she had lost weight, was very dehydrated, and her jaw was broken. (The later probably the primary cause of the former two.) After talking to the vet and considering her age (about 14), I had her put down this morning. If she'd just come home Sunday maybe she'd have been alright. She was such a sweet kitty and her lack of grooming meant she didn't make me itch much. I'll miss her but she had a good life.
OK, done with the sad stuff.

Saturday my nephew got married. OMG, they are all (my nieces and nephews) so grown-up! The bridal couple looked very happy and in love. I managed to not actually bite my tongue or massively roll my eyes when the preacher read and talked about 'man being the head of his family the way Christ is the head of the church...' (I think it should be an equal partnership, regardless of what Paul wrote nearly 2000 years ago.) It was a nice ceremony. The only thing I really would have changed about the reception was the location; the room was too small. The groom's cake was deliciously sinful. The bride seem very sweet with, maybe, a feisty side. (The only problem I see there is that her father's name is "Rob" and we don't need any more Roberts in our family*.) And while I would never wish a baby on a pair of newlyweds they have several months to get used to being married and get settled a bit before my grand-nephew is born. After the wedding, we met at my SIL's parent's place for dinner, my family and hers, which was, as usual, very nice. Lulu, also as usual, cooked a fine meal and Sally made some wonderful brownies served with strawberries and real whipped cream. I was actually chocolated out after that. Then my bros, SIL, niece, and 2 nephews went to Nana Funks (in Lakeview (?), on the recommendation of the bartender at my big brother's hotel). NF has, I believe, the smallest dance floors I've ever seen but we cut a rug and had a good time. I think my nephew's were a little embarrassed by us but they stayed at our table. I decided to sleep at my brother's because after riding back to their house (and my car) the thought of driving almost 1.5 hours home was not appealing.

Sunday was Pentecost and we sang some pretty music and the choir is off all of June. (Yay! no rehearsal tonight!) Later I took Honey to the river for a quick walk and swim. Apparently the river is much more fun than the pond in our yard. Monday was a holiday, too. Officially it is Jefferson Davis' birthday but I was celebrating National Go Barefoot Day, which is appropriate because I stepped on some of glass in my kitchen despite not having broken a glass in months, and may still have a sliver in there. Alternative celebrations for Monday are:
International Children's Day
Festival of Carna (either one works)
Discovery of the Magnetic North Pole
First recorded batch of Scotch Whiskey
the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band
Birthday of Marilyn Monroe, Andy Griffith, and Morgan Freedman
Death of James Buchanan, and Helen Keller
(all from the June 1st Wikipedia entry)

So other than the glass and being worried about Q-Tip, it was a good weekend.

*We had 3 RTMs there (Jr., III, and IV/father, brother, nephew); I also have an uncle and several cousins named Robert. At a family reunion if you say "Bob" a quarter of the men turn around.