Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Score

Tile Floors: 7
Glass Dishes: 0

Oh! My Aching Back!

I did it! I got our storage unit allotment reduced from three down to two. And in the process, I got the boxes in the two remaining units organized enough to allow quick retrieval of the things we really don't need.

Also in the process, I managed to anger my back. I'm not sure which of the broken rules of box handling caused the pain, but I think it was a "twisting lift" infraction. In any case, I had a bit of discomfort yesterday.

Up and down at the temple last night was not fun.

I was very concerned about sleeping with Kara last night. She is using our old futon mattress, and about the only nice thing I can say about it is that after sleeping on it 5 nights a week, hotel room beds no longer make my back ache.

Thank heaven for Motrin - I slept like a baby. I think it's time for some more.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Googling Tadpoles

Tonight Anna did a Google search on how to care for tadpoles.

The reason is unfortunately obvious.


A Sauna Update

It's been a while since I've written about the sauna, so I thought I would give a quick update.

The previous efforts seem to have paid off. Kara is now using our sauna five days a week. (The other two days she's in Dallas.) It's not perfect, and if it runs for too long before she is able to get in, the terps build up to a point that it is a problem. But for the most part, it's working OK for her.

I was very relieved to notice that the her increased sauna use the last few months has not caused our power bill to go up (or stay the same - January just about killed me!) The sauna seems to be much more efficient than what I had feared.

Still, in order to make the most of the electricity use, I've started taking advantage of the left over thermal energy by taking a quick sauna myself when Kara is done. After she turns off the heater, it is still plenty hot (160) to get me sweating right off the bat.

It's supposed to help one loose weight. Kara says I really stink when I'm done, which is a good thing. Better to rinse all that stinky stuff right down the drain.

Friday, April 27, 2007

House of Cards

The biggest problem with delusion is that it doesn't last. Sooner or later, a gust of reality will come along and blow aside the gauzy veil that allows the deluded mind to take comfort in not seeing clearly, and the stark reality of the situation becomes painfully obvious.

Yesterday this blow to ignorant bliss came by way of a bill for a doctor that Kara saw several years ago. Kara believes he helped her quite a bit. I will keep my opinion to myself.

In any case, we owed this doctor an amount of money that was almost five digits long. The initial plan was to pay this bill with equity from the sale of our house. The problem is, there was no paper statement for this bill, and I did not understand just how much we owed. By the time a paper bill did arrive, the equity had been pretty much tied up into improvements on this house.

So we went to plan B - insurance.

We were having a very hard time getting any insurance paperwork from this doctor - he's actually a Naturopathic Doctor, and they don't usually deal with insurance. So it took a lot of pushing and prodding to finally get the paperwork we needed. We sent it in, and the insurance company promptly and flatly denied payment.

This led to plan C - Ignore it and hope it goes away.

Which, of course, it didn't. So plan D was to put it all on the one credit card that had a high enough limit. This should have been easy, but instead required 5 calls from the doctors office and two calls involving the credit card's fraud prevention hotline. I was starting to feel like Han Solo trying to engage the hyperdrive in The Empire Strikes Back.

Anyway, this little episode brought into sharp focus our current debt structure, which does not make me proud. And, of course, I have no boat or airplane or other fancy toy to justify what we owe. Instead, I have a house full of unfinished projects, and a clear understanding of the need for me to spend a little more time (make that a LOT more time) wearing my Accounts Receivable hat. There is far too much money owed to us by the insurance companies that hasn't yet been claimed.

The problem with having so much to do is that it is too easy to ignore the least savory tasks. And for some reason I'd rather clean the toilets than deal with the insurance companies. But this little exercise has given me just a little more incentive.

And on top of everything else that happened yesterday, one of Anna's fish died.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Too much stuff!

I took the day off from work yesterday. We still have three (ouch) storage units, and I needed to get moved out of one of them before we had to pay rent on it again. Actually, I need to get moved out of all of them, as they're eating us alive. The units are all inside a climate-controlled building, which we did for the sake of the pianos. And since we were only going to be in them for a couple of months, I figured we'd just put all our stuff in the same place, for convenience.

I was so deluded back then. I thought that the stuff that we had in the house in Utah would work OK here. But now that we're in our new house, I'm starting to understand that this was faulty logic. We really,
really, really should have sold everything and started over from scratch. At least with the furniture, which is what we're going to end up doing, anyway, I'm afraid.

Before leaving, I caught up on a few chores left over from Monday, then I programmed our garage door opener to accept one of the new remotes we got when we moved in. We've been in the house six months now, and I've always just used the little keypad remote on the side of the garage door. But the forecast was for some serious precipitation in the afternoon, and I thought a remote would be a good idea.

So I packed up a lunch and headed out to the storage unit. When I
got there, I did a quick survey of the setup and decided how best to proceed. After a couple of hours I had made some really good progress. I had managed to move half our stuff into the hallway, hoping that nobody would come by to try and get into an adjoining unit.

I got to a point where I couldn't figure out what to do next, and realized that this was a symptom of lunchtime. So I sat down in the La-z-boy (I miss the La-z-boy) and ate my lunch. Then I thought I might recline the chair and rest my eyes, just for a minute or two.

It's a good thing I had the foresight to set an alarm on my phone. When that thing went off, I had no idea who I was or where I was or what I was doing. Talk about a power nap! But it did the trick.

I didn't completely get the unit cleared out before I needed to leave, but I came pretty darn close. I should be able to finish up by the end of the week And I'm optimistic that with a little bit of ebay action and a yard sale, we can get down to one unit in the next couple of months.

The drive home was a bit interesting. By the time I finished my work and began loading some boxes in the car to bring home, the promised storms had arrived. I watched out the large overhead door at the end of the building as the rain came down in sheets and the water ran down the driveway in a river three feet wide. I thought that maybe I might want to wait a little for the rain let up, but then the power went off for a few seconds and I realized that if I didn't leave soon and the power went off while the doors were down I could be stuck in the building for a while.

So I drove home in white-knuckle rain so heavy the wipers couldn't keep up, and the radio reported a tornado warning for just a couple of miles behind me. Yowza. But I made it home OK, and got the car unloaded enough to take Anna to her acting class.

After the class, I took the girls to the mall, where Anna had found a store that had a Webkinz. Not the one she wanted, but a white Persian cat, which was acceptable. She likes cats, and this one was (just) in her price range.

Her name is Cecilia.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Drama That Is ebay

It's called a Webkinz. It's like a Beany Baby with it's own online community. You buy the doll, enter a code on a web page, and suddenly you are playing with your new toy in a virtual world with all of your little Webkinz-owning friends.

Cute, isn't it?

It's a pain in the part where pains aren't good, that's what it is.

Anna wants the Pegasus. She must have the Pegasus. She has been saving and saving for Pegasus for the last week now. Unfortunately, Pegasus is rare. About to be retired, they say.

Anna hasn't been able to find Pegasus in a store. Never mind that she hasn't actually gone to a store where they sell Webkinz, or called or emailed or anything. She just knows she won't be able to find it in the store, because it's rare.

She knows it's rare, because that's what the sellers on ebay say. Every one of the 208 Webkins Pegasus dolls for sale at this very moment has listed in the item description that this toy is rare.

It's also expensive. With shipping, most sell for well over $20. Anna doesn't have $20. And I won't give it to her, now that I'm a mean dad and she's getting an allowance.

You see, the time was not too long ago that I would have just made up jobs for her to do for a little bit of money, and she would have gotten me to agree to let her have the money now while she worked it off later, thereby managing to get away with twice as much money for half as many jobs.

But she made a mistake.

Anna's mistake was negotiating for an allowance. I feel it's rather generous, but it stipulates completion of chores. And she is not allowed to borrow against it. So now she has to save up her money in order to get what she wants.

What a mean dad I am.

Now Anna's learning some life lessons. Like how hard it is to buy something on ebay for three dollars less than the current going rate. She has been outbid over a dozen times in the last 24 hours. She's learning about disappointment and discouragement, and you'd think for all the tears this stupid little doll has caused that it was a date to the prom.

I know I'm going to be in trouble one of these days, when the tears are over a boy and not some flimsy piece of stuffed fabric. Then again, it might actually be easier, because I understand the pain of a broken heart and should be much more sympathetic.

I don't understand tears over toys. I never cried when I couldn't find a Jawa, even when all my friends managed to come up with one. I was disappointed, sure. But there were never tears. I never cried about toys.

Girls, yes. Toys, no.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Texas Tradition

Pictures in the bluebonnets is a Texas tradition. We took the girls to the park yesterday to celebrate making it through Saturday morning. There were wildflowers galore in the accompanying field.

It's amazing how something so pretty can stuff up a nose so fast.

Now the Laundry Room Sucks, Too

It's taken a decent chunk of two Saturdays, and there's still a couple of hours to go, but the laundry room now has an exhaust fan that blows to the outside. We put this in because the room had no natural ventilation, and it was starting to smell moldy.

Smelling moldy is bad.

I had bought a light-and-fan combo a year ago to put in our Lehi laundry room, but hadn't gotten any further then measuring a support stud for the attic. The laundry room light in this house was already attached to a large ceiling joist, so I didn't need to add any extra support.

But there were other challenges. The biggest was the large piece of press board that was covering the entire laundry room area and had to be taken up without destroying it, as it provides the main access to the HVAC unit. Getting the board up wouldn't have been too hard, except that a couple of phone lines and a heating duct both went through it. I cut the board so the duct now went through a notch instead of a hole, and stood the board up on its side, being careful not to pull the phone wires out.

I then took the existing light fixture out, measured a spot for the fan box, then somehow cut the hole an inch and a half too wide. Fortunately the fixture is large enough to cover the excess hole and the aluminum duct tape I sealed it with.

By the end of last Saturday, I had a functional light and fan, but there was still work to be done yesterday. The light and fan were wired together to the same switch, and the fan just blew into the attic. So yesterday I put a T in the dryer duct so the fan would exhaust to the outside, and I ran a new wire so the light and fan could be switched separately.

I decided that putting another hole in the roof was not a good idea. I hate going up there anyway, and for some reason this roof has a very steep pitch. Maybe that's so both inches of annual snow fall will slide off easily and not collapse the roof.

But since the laundry room air needs to go outside, I had to find a way for it to do so. I opted to tap into the dryer vent, which comes up fairly close to the fan. I was afraid this would be the hard part of the job, but it turned out to be the easiest. I got to use metal cutters (which I bought) and a duct crimping tool (which I found lying around the attic) and lots of duct tape.

I don't think I've ever used duct tape on an actual duct before.

I figured running a new 3+ground wire would be fairly simple - just tape it to the old wire and pull. I put Anna down in the laundry room to guide the new wire up. I knew the old wire would likely be stapled to a stud, but I (deludedly) expected it to pull loose with a little wiggling.

What actually happened was that the outer casing of the wire stripped off, and I ended up with the old wire in the attic, the new wire in the laundry room, and no wire in the wall.

Remembering that Anna was just on the other side of the ceiling, I tried to limit my swear words to the fake ones I learned at BYU-H (as opposed to the ones I learned at Kahuku). I then regained my composure and tried to make a joke while figuring out what to do next.

"We don't really need a light in the laundry room, do we, Anna?"

"Well, I guess we could use a flashlight..." she answered, in all seriousness. She even asked Kara if we needed a light in the laundry room.

I tried several different ways to feed a makeshift fish tape through the wall, but it was clear that the only way I was going to get a wire run was to remove the switch box, feed the wire through the wall, and then put in a new box.

Fortunately I had a few electrical boxes left over from the now-abandoned "Ethernet in Every Room" project. (And no, Wi-Fi won't work, unfortunately.)

I didn't want to cut and patch a big hole in the drywall, so I made the executive decision to pry the box off of the stud (I only broke one screwdriver doing this) and let it fall down into the void between the studs.

I know. Shame on me.

However, once I did this the rest of the project went smooth as silk and quick as a sneeze, which is what happens to people who spend too much time in the attic.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Atlanta Trip Follow-up

Yes, the trees are beautiful. It was quite green. Texas is green right now, too, but the trees aren't nearly as tall.

I had a chance to punch the Charger. It jumped about the same as our Honda. I found a document in the car that says it has the 3.5L V6. I'm guessing the 6.1L Hemi V8 has a little more power.

I found Andy Griffith doing his football routine on the Sirius Blue Collar Comedy channel. It was funny, but then the next guy's routine got a little TOO blue. So I switched to Laugh Break, which was a little more friendly to my tender sensitivities.

I only had one salad on this trip, but I worked out twice on the elliptical, and I only ate at mealtimes. I think I actually made progress this time around.

I couldn't skip the train when I got back, because I landed at terminal E, not A or C.

I get to do it all again in a couple of weeks. But this time I'll get to have dinner with my old buddy Joe, who is now a pilot and scheduled to be in Atlanta at the same time I am. And I'm sure it will be even more memorable than my dinner with Tyronn.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Dinner with Tyronn Lue

I had dinner with Tyronn Lue tonight.

Well, actually I didn't have dinner with Tyronn. I just sat by him in a booth.

Actually, I sat by myself in a booth that was near his. Three booths away, really. But there was nobody sitting in the booths between us.

He left about the same time my Eggplant and Chicken Parmesan arrived.

Don't ask me why I ordered an Italian meal in a Cajun restaurant. Probably for the same reason I wrote a blog about Tyronn Lue.

Because I can.

No Need to Iron Socks After All

I decided to try traveling light on this trip. I've had enough of big suitcases and baggage claims, so I only packed enough clothes for two days. This would ensure that I had the chance to wash one set of clothes in my hotel room sink, just to make sure I could.

I learned how to do this at a combined Priest and Laurel activity some twenty-odd years ago. The Priests were there to learn how to do basic missionary things like sew on buttons and wash clothes in the sink (in case of a no-clean-white-shirt emergency). The Laurels were there to help show the Priests how these things were to be done. However, most of the girls looked as lost as the boys when the leaders did their little demonstrations.

At this exercise, I learned how to lay a piece of wet clothing in a towel and then twist it until the towel was doubled up into a ball, squeezing out a surprising amount of water. This is easier to do with a partner, but can be managed alone if you stand on one end of the towel and weigh more than a Priest. Which now I do.

You can then iron the clothes to get rid of both the wrinkles and the rest of the water. Or you can just let them hang to dry, which is what I chose to do last night. However, this morning my socks were still quite wet, and I was afraid that I would have to iron them before wearing them tomorrow.

Fortunately, the water left on its own and I have avoided once again becoming the sort of person who has actually ironed socks.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Greetings from Atlanta

Well, I made it safe and sound. I should be sleeping, but I couldn't keep you in suspense about my trip any longer.

I made it to DFW in 45 minutes, which is some kind of a record. I was even holding back, going with the main flow and getting passed quite a bit.

I didn't know which of the three American terminals my flight left from, but I guessed C.

It was A. So I got to ride the train. I got off at the stop for gate A11. That's what I thought I read on the monitor.

It was A37. But that's OK. a little walk would be good for me. I got to my gate, and realized that I was pretty close to where I came into terminal C. So when I get home, I'll skip the train.

The flight was uneventful, and I was able to get a car without too much trouble. I did my best to jump out of the little shuttle and be first in line. I didn't push anybody, don't worry. That lady would have fallen on her own, I'm sure. (Just kidding).

I signed up for a compact car. They gave me a Charger. That's what the police in Willow Park drive. I wanted to be impressed, but so far it's just like most other rental cars. I haven't had much need to punch it. Maybe if I do, then I can be impressed.

It only had 5 miles on it. Maybe it still needs to be broken in.

After about 10 minutes of squirreling around down by the airport, trying to get on the right road going the right way, it was just open road between me and my hotel.

It's very beautiful here. Large black shadows of trees against a dark gray sky. I can't wait to see it in the daytime.

One thing the car does have that I've never experienced before is satellite radio. I never knew there was so much music out there that I have never heard. I punched scan and let the radio look for something I might like to listen to. I recognized three songs, none that I was really interested in. I finally stopped on Channel 75. It was Frank Sinatra - Fly Me to the Moon. It was the best I could find.

200 channels, and still nothing to listen to.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The results are in

Grocery shopping - check
Put checks in the mail - check
Change the air filter in the furnace - check
Replace the laundry room light with an exhaust fan - check
Make a packing list - not yet
Spray Vodka on the couch - check
Put nail stops in the window frames - no
Update the playlist on Kara's iPod - tomorrow
Write blog - check
Write follow-up blog - check

Spared by the Big Storms

Yesterday we had some weather. They kept talking about it all day - first it would get here at 9:00 am, then at 3:00 pm, and then and 8:00 pm.

It hit about 5:30.

I had just dropped Anna off at a friend's house for a sleepover, and taken Alyssa to Kara's Visiting Teacher's house to play (they have a baby - what more would Alyssa need?) and I got home just a little before the rain hit. Kara got home a little after.

The weatherman said there could be winds up to 70 mph and golf-ball sized hail. All we had were a few episodes of near-horizontal rain. It was enough to provide some entertaining weather watching without the annoying and costly cleanup that can sometimes follow. There are places nearby that got tornadoes and hail, but not us.

As a side note, the fan that is at the heart of The Stinky Sucky Office Project did not let in any rain, even though it was rolling down the window in sheets. This was really nice.

Today is another full Saturday, and yet I sit here typing. But it's OK, because "Write Blog" is on my to do list!

I leave for Atlanta tomorrow night. I'll be there for the first half of the week at one company, and possibly the second half at another company. My guess, though, is that the trip to the second company will take place some other time. This is OK, though, because two short trips would be easier for Kara than one long trip. Plus, on the airplane I am able to work on one of my most delusional projects, so the more flight time, the better.

I'll talk about that later.

For today, my list is:

Grocery shopping
Put checks in the mail
Change the air filter in the furnace
Replace the laundry room light with an exhaust fan
Make a packing list
Spray Vodka on the couch
Put nail stops in the window frames
Update the playlist on Kara's iPod
Write blog (check)

That should keep me busy for a while. Stay tuned for the report.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Uncle J's Zenith Space Commander

Although Our family probably didn't travel as often as I think I remember, most of our family summer trips were to visit family, and that always meant a trip to see Uncle Jay and Aunt Ila in Las Vegas.

One of my earliest memories of visiting Uncle J as a child is that he had a remote control for his TV. To a kid in the early 70's, this was cool stuff. This remote was called the Zenith Space Commander, and when you pushed the buttons, it really did click. The contraption had several buttons and, along with the click, made a high-pitched noise that that would cause the dial on the TV to turn. I think it might have had an on/off button, too.

During this particular visit, I took the opportunity to demonstrate my newfound understanding of direct-dial long distance by calling a friend back in Omaha. When my parents found out who I was talking to, they were embarrassed half to death. (In those days, long distance calling charges actually meant something.) But being a good uncle, J just laughed and though it was cute.

As I remember it, his old house had a pergola over the patio, and growing on the pergola were grapes. Real, live, put them in your mouth and eat them grapes. They had seeds (most grapes did back then) and they were a little tart, but they came from a plant, not a store. Amazing.

They moved in to another house, and this one had figs and pomegranates in the back yard, where we had many an extended family gathering. I remember always having cantaloupe and honeydew (Grandpa Leavitt's favorite) and to this day I can't eat a melon without a memory of those trips coming back to me.

Jay and Ila's home was nicknamed the Leavitt Hotel, and I stayed there many times, both as a child and as an adult with my own children. Jay and Ila even put up a friend of ours from Austin. He was in Vegas for a trade show, and by staying with Uncle J he was able to bring his wife and son along, too.

Uncle J was an avid golfer, and quite good. I'm sure he was not personally involved in having Daylight Savings Time changed - he was willing to golf whatever time the sun got up. I'm sure if they had lighted courses, he would have golfed all night.

There are so many more things I can think of to write, but they will need to wait for another time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

J Marion Leavitt

Earlier today my Uncle J had a massive stroke, and he is not expected to make it through the day.

This is a picture of the girls and I with Aunt Ila and Uncle Jay last summer. I'm glad we went.

I'll post more on this later.

Update: I just got word from my mom that the doctors are waiting for a couple more family members to arrive, and then they will take him off of the ventilator. The funeral is scheduled for Saturday at 10:00.

The last time there was a funeral in Vegas, I was able to make a (very long) day out of it, driving down in the morning and driving back that night. I don't have that kind of option this time. I'm scheduled to fly to Atlanta for work Sunday night, so I'm afraid I may have to miss this one. I haven't given up yet, but I just don't see it happening.

Update 2: Here is a link to the official obituary.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Al Qaeda Children's Cartoon

(This one may be a little tasteless - sorry)

Have you heard about the new Al Qaeda children's cartoon?

It's called Dodi the Explodi

(Fortunately there's only one episode)

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Dangers of Spelling Lists

Anna forgot to bring home her spelling list today. She needs to study her spelling words every day, because this is not her strongest point.

No problem, though. Her teacher has the list posted up on her web page. Last time I got there the round-about way - district page, school page, staff page, teacher's page. But I was in a hurry, so I wanted to go straight to the teacher's page.

It was an easy address - www.teacher'

Um, actually, it was www.mrsteacher'

Now, this teacher has a fairly common name. There are probably dozens, maybe even hundreds, of people with the same name in this world.

One of them appears to be a bit of an exhibitionist.

A Good Easter Weekend

Despite being unseasonably cold, we had a great weekend. Saturday was every bit as busy as predicted. I went to the storage unit and filled the truck. It will probably take me several weeks to get the boxes all emptied out, but I wanted to bring home as much as I could. We still have stuff in three units, and my goal is to get that trimmed down to 2 before we have to pay rent again at the end of the month.

Kara worked hard at getting things ready for Easter. She spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen boiling eggs and baking. The girls had a great time doing the easter eggs this year. We made 15, and there are only 5 left! I think this will be the first year we won't have to throw a bunch of boiled eggs away.

The easter bunny was good to the girls this year. Each got a puzzle and a computer game and some socks. A little bit of chocolate, too.

Kara made blueberry bunny pancakes for breakfast. Yum! She also made a delicious trifle for dessert, and she made the pudding from scratch. It turned out excellent!

As promised, here is a picture of the girls in their Easter dresses. As you can see, I was able to talk them into long sleeves. Anna's talk at church was extremely good. My talk was passable. It could have been really good if I had only spent half as much time on it as I did working on Anna's.

Alyssa decided that she wanted to talk, too, so I took her up to the podium. She shuffled some papers and her scriptures, but didn't actually say anything. Oh, well. At least she was interested, and she didn't freak out at the sight of the audience like I thought she would.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Good Friday and Busy Saturday

Yesterday was Good Friday, and it was a good day around here. The girls still had school, I still had work, and Kara was still at the clinic, but by the end of the day we were all together and everyone was in a pretty good mood.

Kara and I have both had the feeling that we were on the verge of some big improvements in her health, and this last trip to the clinic brought some results that tell us we may be right. She told me she feels better than she has in a long, long time. I hope this new high point is just the start of many great improvements.

Yesterday was movie night. I didn't have a chance to go and rent the new "Charlotte's Web", so we decided to just watch something that we already had at home. As it got later, I opted for something a little shorter - the old Rankin-Bass "Here Comes Peter Cottontail."

We've had this for several years, and the girls didn't really like it that much, but I didn't want to watch anything longer than an hour, so I got Alyssa excited about watching a movie with the Easter Bunny in it. To my surprise, Anna didn't complain about the selection, either.

It was fun to watch this together as a family. It reminded me of being a child, excited for whatever holiday was coming up. And since there was no such thing as home video back in those days, we had one shot at watching the special holiday shows. If we missed them, we were out of luck for a whole year. So my sisters and I would scour the TV listings, making sure we knew when our favorite specials were coming on.

Now we scour the isles at Wal-Mart, looking for the shows from our youth, and our kids watch them until they're bored and then ask for something new.

But I digress. Alyssa, of course, fell asleep before old Irontail had won the easter egg contest, and so I suggested that since she wasn't watching we could put in something else. Both Anna and Kara quickly said "No." So maybe two years in storage has made this video a little more interesting.

Today is set to be a busy day. Kara and the girls are going to decorate eggs and make flowers out of toilet paper rolls.
I have to shop for our Easter dinner, and then go to the storage unit and find easter baskets, etc. And I need to shop for some long sleeve shirts to go under the girl's Easter dresses. Instead of the roasty, toasty Easter I was expecting, it's going to be quite a chilly one.

In fact, when I got up this morning, it was snowing. OK, Canada. You can keep the rest of your air, thank you.

Sometime in all of this I have to prepare my Priesthood lesson and finish up two Sacrament Meeting talks (one for me and one for Anna).

I think I'll use a large chocolate bunny as a visual aid...

Thursday, April 5, 2007

So far, so good

Day one of The Stinky Sucky Office Project appears to be a success. There is negative pressure in the office (air pressure, not work pressure - that's still very much positive) and the hallway outside the office door doesn't smell so much like the office. Hooray!

Our insurance changed last September because of our move, and the doctor's office still had the old information on all of the forms, so I couldn't submit them. This is significant, as we pay for Kara's treatment up front, and then get reimbursements from the insurance company. I finally got updated paperwork (300 or so pages) and submitted the first batch, after saying a big prayer over it. Now we wait to see if they will pay without putting up a fight.

We're busy trying to figure out our summer schedule, and it ain't easy. I want to spend a few weeks in Utah so I can see family and spend time in the office. While I'm there, I'd like to bring the girls with me and have them split their time between Utah and Washington. The trick will be being gone for long enough that Kara gets a break, but not so long that it's a burden for her.

And then there's trying to figure out when that trip is going to be. Anna has had so much fun at her acting class that I would like to send her to Camp Casa this summer. It's three full weeks in June and July, but I don't dare sign her up until I know just what the insurance companies are going to do with our claims. Alyssa also has six 30-minute sessions with the speech therapist at school this summer, but I don't yet know just how we'll be scheduling that.

I'm starting to get the feeling that we need to pick a date, probably late July, and just start planning around it. I know there's something that happens the end of July in Utah that might be fun, if I could just remember what...

I bought something else with my birthday money the other day, with a little encouragement from Anna. I've been interested in the Animusic DVDs, having seen some of the videos on PBS and at home shows. Anna's music teacher at school has them, and showed them to the class. I think they're pretty neat; like a cross between Fantasia, Vangelis, and Tron. I've always had an interest in electronic music and computer animation, and I've recently become fascinated with kinetic sculpture, so it didn't take much convincing to pick these up, once I found a good deal online.

Disc 2 arrived yesterday (disc 1 is still in the mail - hopefully it will come today) and I enjoyed it. The music may be a little monotonous for an everyday life soundtrack, but the creativity and thought that went into creating the instruments and animation is great. I see these videos as being the ones that get pulled out for 5-10 minutes of winding down before bed.

Now, if you will excuse me, it's time to go assault some plants.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Here goes nothing...

OK. The Stinky Sucky Office Project is now underway. I have a twin window fan installed in my office. The fans can be set separately, which is interesting. I have one fan blowing out on high, and one fan blowing in on low, to help me get some of the fine Canadian air that has dropped us over 30 degrees.

Thanks, Canada.

This setup is worth a try, but it isn't completely perfect. Since the fan is only about a foot off of the floor, the air that is being sucked out is cooler than the stuff at the 10' level, which a ceiling-mounted exhaust fan would pull. Plus, since it's right next to the AC it might spit the cool air outside before it has a chance to get over to me.

But these are all potential issues that may or may not make a big difference. The most important thing right now is to keep the office smell out of the rest of the house. If this setup does that, then we're in business.

Return of the Crunch

One way to get a project done is to ask for help. I don't know if this is the best, or quickest, or easiest way, but it is one way. There's a spot on my Y chromosome that tries to prevent me from asking, but I've learned that when someone is scheduled to come and help, it's much harder to procrastinate a task.

Plus I've watched enough AFV to realize that, deluded as I am, there are some jobs that require some help.

Like jobs involving electricity.

Tomorrow night my home teacher is coming with his electrical fish tape to help me with Home Improvement Phase XLII, also known as "The Stinky Sucky Office Project." This is where I attempt to keep the necessary but problematic computer/monitor/printer odors from escaping the office and drifting through an otherwise (mostly) clean house, as the do now.

To accomplish this goal, I have purchased the Great-Aunt of All Exhaust Fans and will install it to vent the air out to the world. This will create negative pressure in the office, and air will only flow from the house to the office.

All of the work involved in putting this fan in, and making sure I'm ready to do it at the appointed hour tomorrow, has put me in a bit of crunch mode.

Major moment of revelation! OK, I know this blogging thing is good for me, because it makes me think things through. In my mind, I heard your questions about why I don't just put a fan in the window. After all, the office has a double window, and the window AC only takes up one side.

I have thought of this before, and the problem is I don't want to push the stinky air out only to suck it back in again with the AC, which I thought was going to have fresh air draw. But as I discovered after I put it in, the AC does not have a fresh air draw, which means I can use a window fan instead of a ceiling exhaust fan.

Do you know what this means? I can implement
The Stinky Sucky Office Project without running wire, cutting holes in walls, ceilings, and roofs, and with equipment that costs less than one fourth of the exhaust fan and wire and ductwork.

And I can do it myself!

Stay tuned. I'm on my way to Lowe's to pick one up and give it a try right now!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Four Seasons of Texas

As the saying goes, there are four seasons in Texas: December, January, February, and Summer.

February was a long time ago, and Summer is well underway here. The electronic sign at Casa Manana said 91 today. The one across the street said 93. In any case, it was hot. Tomorrow should be much cooler, thank goodness.

Hot, wet summer days have a tendency to create thunderstorms. I managed to catch this picture tonight. We didn't get anything from this storm but a light show. Some places got baseball-sized hail.

In totally unrelated news, our Toy Story DVD is going away.

Don't get me wrong - I like Buzz, Woody and the guys. Just not every day, like Alyssa does. She rediscovered this video sometime in March, and has watched it constantly ever since. Actually, she hasn't watched it. She just keeps jumping from one chapter to the another. Our Toy Story DVD is going away.

I told her tonight that I was going to put it away for a while, and she was OK with that, which surprised me. But it's just like how we got rid of her bottles. We could not get her to stop drinking bottles. We kept asking if we could get rid of them, and she would pitch a fit. So we waited.

Then one night in December we asked if we could give her bottles to Santa so he could feed the baby reindeer. (We were always saying silly things like this.) To our surprise, she agreed. So Christmas morning, when she asked for her bottle, we reminded her that Santa had taken them. She let out a disappointed "Ohhh" and that was it.

That was years ago, but if you were to ask her tomorrow where her bottles are, she will tell you who has them. Santa.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Writing About Dogs and Cats

This weekend was General Conference, and I thought we would be able to watch it with streaming video. So I brought my computer out to the living room and hooked it up to the TV. We were able to watch BYU's feed for about half an hour before it hung. KSL's feed made you start at the beginning, which I wasn't really interested in doing. So I just loaded the audio feed and let it run through the Windows Media Player.

I hate to admit this, but I enjoyed watching conference this way. The audio came through just great, and the swirling colors of the "visualization" was more interesting to look at than a person standing at a podium.

With the computer in the living room, writing today's blog is more of a family affair. I asked the girls what to write about. Alyssa said "doggie," which I can only assume is a reference to a dog we saw today (at a distance) while we went for a walk between sessions. After two nearly solid days of rain, we have now had two absolutely gorgeous days for the weekend. There was no way we could not go for a walk.

Anna suggested that I write about Tommy going into Kara's room. Tommy is a cat that lives across the street and down about three houses. The whole neighborhood is apparently his territory. He makes himself at home in the garage whenever he can, and would be all over in the house if we let him. This morning Kara's window was open and Tommy went in. Anna was able to coax him out, but couldn't get the window shut.

When I happened onto the scene, Tommy was wandering around the back yard. Anna was standing in front of Kara's window telling Tommy to shoo. Alyssa was standing on the patio (in her underwear) trying to get Tommy to come. Tommy, being a good cat, ignored them both completely.

Some other tidbits from the weekend:

I accidentally bought seeded grapes at Costco. How spoiled seedless grapes have made us.

Alyssa found a pillbug and put it in a jar. She got a bowl of water and gave it a bath. I'm not joking.

I found Easter dresses for both girls at Kohl's yesterday. This time Alyssa's was easy (first one we tried.) Anna has decided that she is now a young lady of fashion and tried on every dress that was her size. The one she liked best was the least modest, but by replacing the tank top it came with we were able to reach an acceptable compromise.

Photos will follow, once we get the dresses washed up enough for a fashion show.