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So, here it is June 4. The lake is still only 66 degrees! Brrr. I wanted to go water skiing for the first time this season, but unfortunately the boat battery is complete toast. We put the boat in over a month ago, and the battery drained itself pumping the bilge. Last weekend I detected this, and charged the battery. Today I went out and the bilge pump was still operating, but it didn't have enough power to start the boat. I gave it a little charge (feeling stupid I hadn't done it last night when it could have had all night), but it wasn't enough to start the boat. Should have been -- it went from "charging" to "finishing charge" in just a couple hours. But, apparently it's really too toast. Bummer.

So we decided to put the rest of the dock in instead. Even in a wetsuit, standing around in 66 degree water for an hour and a half is hypothermia-inducing. We had more than the usual trouble with getting the darn thing leveled and squared, and didn't manage to finish. The final bit will be less work than today, but it was annoying we didn't finish. We were just too cold. So, hot showers and sitting around reading under a blanket for the rest of the day...

It's going to be in the 50's for the next two days. This will not improve the lake temperature. Where's global warming when you need it?
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Had the opportunity to bicycle most of the way to work yesterday. Decent showing, 23.46 in 2:08:27 for an average of 10.9. Of course I skip the final hill this way, so that helps.
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Everyone else in my family seems to be doing it, now we can always get PreCheck. I won't have it in time for my upcoming square dance trip to Ft. Wayne, but maybe I can drop by the Global Entry office and have my interview (which would otherwise be scheduled for like November). Only if they process it enough for me to have the interview scheduled. Ken says they schedule them for 15 minutes, but they only take 5 minutes, so you can just stop by and get interviewed at a random time, but only if you already have one scheduled. So, probably they'll get it done in time for me to stop by on the way to Ft. Wayne. Then, I think it will take effect in time for my return trip! And, for going to Oregon for the eclipse in August. If I don't manage the interview this trip, I'll just have to make a special trip to the airport sometime in the summer, I guess.

One of the questions in the application is "what countries have you visited in the past 5 years" -- well, I didn't remember so I scrolled back through my "trips" tag on LJ... Only UK and Spain; the Norway trip was just beyond the threshold (and they don't count Canada.)
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Does the DW brain trust work like the LJ brain trust used to?

I'm trying to figure out if it's possible to park at Davis Square on a weekday evening around 6:30pm. I see a Herbert St. lot mentioned on the web, but I can't get any review sites to tell me if I'm going to succeed or if I should just park at Alewife and take the T in. I'm sure at 6:30pm there will be parking at Alewife. But that makes it 15 minutes longer to get home afterwards because of having to take the T out, and by then there won't be any traffic. (On the way in, timing is a wash because of traffic.) So, if parking is likely, then I'd rather drive all the way to Davis. But, if I'm going to fail to park, end up driving back to Alewife, and getting to my destination at 7:30 as a result, then, well,I'd rather go to Alewife first. Any ideas?
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Apparently my company isn't quite doing as well as I had thought. We lost a little money last year and are on track to lose a little money this year. Not a disaster, but enough that they wanted to make "an adjustment". Do more with less! Of course, it's easier to lay off people in the U.S. with our "employment at will" laws, so we get most of the hit. Probably we're more expensive, too, so you get more bang for the buck. Not me -- yet. Probably not me for a while, it is predicted that we'll be back on target to make a little money next year, so we're not spiraling the drain. I'm still moderately happy with the work and deliriously happy that they put up with my part time nonsense. Moving somewhere else I'd have to convince them half time was really a good deal, plus I'd have to learn all manner of new software and processes. I'm going to have my 10-year anniversary this November!

Gaaaah!

May. 23rd, 2017 11:51 pm
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I STILL ITCH from my bites this weekend. It's really hard to sleep. I'm going to go take another benadryl and cross my fingers. It seemed better last night than the night before, but worse again tonight.
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So, it's May in Maine. I forgot about blackflies. I didn't realize how badly they'd bitten my legs Friday evening until sometime on Saturday when the welts made themselves known.

On my bike ride, 23.63 miles, just about what Google predicted, I discovered that blackflies go about 4-5mph. If you're only going 3mph they can do more than just keep up, but also get some nips in. There was one very steep pitch in which I lost my stride because of waving my arms (alternately) to keep the flies from my face. I tried to get back on the bike but the flies were just too thick. So I sprinted a little bit with the bike to get out of the cloud, and then walked up to the top of the hill (only a few hundred feet). I really wasn't going much slower walking than riding.

There were a LOT of uppy-downies. It's all glacial there... I must have gained and lost the same 150 feet five times between Sweden and Waterford. (There's also a Norway, ME, which I saw signs for, but it wasn't on my route. Sweden is, well, let's just say "don't blink on the way through".) Despite my claim that I wasn't going on any roads that I hadn't street-viewed, I did in fact go on such a road, which was paved for the first two miles. The next mile was dirt. It was tolerable.

Lunch at the general store in Harrison, then back to Bridgton to pick up the car. There was a lovely park in Bridgton, and surprisingly there wasn't a blackfly problem there, because there was a stiff breeze coming off a lake which kept them away. So I read my book for an hour there before heading back to the camp to pick up the aerial rig.

Blackflies were a terrible problem there too, trying to tie the mat onto the car, I would do a little tying, then duck inside the car to wait it out (a few flies came in with me but not too many), or, after I'd got it partially on, I drove a few hundred feet and started the next bit of work where there were new flies who perhaps didn't know about me yet and I'd get 30 seconds of respite.

The drive was much calmer. Ducktape does not stick when it's hot, the adhesive melts. I think that was a big problem on Friday, with it so hot. Everything stayed in order the whole drive back, at 65 degrees max. Still, I arrived after 11, pretty exhausted from the entire thing.
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Here I am because Jocelyn has a school trip to Camp Winona, and she wanted to bring the aerial rig. Arrived yesterday after a grueling trip through too much traffic (why aren't those people at work? I left before noon!) in too hot weather (what? More 90+ days in May?) with a too bit item on top of my car (we need to find a better plan for putting the mat on top of the car without me freaking out every time it flaps a bit). Shoulda been 3:15, actually took 4:45. Strangely, despite the giant thing on top of the car, I got decent gas mileage. This tank also had the trip home from Vermont with the mat on top. Probably because I was going slowly, and it was all long trips rather than little short shits where the car doesn't even get warmed up.

There was chaos at the camp about where to put the rig, who was going to set it up, who knew anything, so that took a while. Not that I had anything better to do. Blackfly season! Hopefully Jocelyn won't get too bit up teaching this morning. Her gig starts shortly. I'm not staying at the camp, though. We don't need Mom Cooties...

After checking in to my motel last night I had about 1.5 hours of daylight left, so I bicycled down to the center of Bridgton where I had some traditional diner food at a traditional diner, which was better than pizza at the pizza joint, and cheaper/faster than a "real" restaurant. Bridgton is on a hill, the descent (and later ascent) was about 100 feet according to my GPS. Which always sounds stupidly small, but it's pretty noticeable when you're riding!

Today I plan to bicycle ~25 miles in a loop through some neighboring towns. No idea how much ascent and descent there will be -- it will be an adventure. I am expecting not too much, because the area has a lot of lakes, and that usually means not too hilly. But I was surprised last night, so we'll see! One of the roads I'm riding on is named "Ingalls Hill"... Hopefully about halfway through I'll find some place for lunch that also has a bathroom... It's kind of unfortunate that I have to do all this after I check out of my hotel, so I can't clean up when I'm done. I brought another clean shirt so I can be a little less stinky even if I can't really wash.

I'm supposed to show back up at the camp around 5, get the stuff loaded back in the car, and go home. I could have stayed another day, but realistically, she's not going to get much more use out of the rig by my being here another day, and while this is fun, I'm going to be done with it.
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I'm making a dish that contains meatballs tonight. I forgot to get the ground turkey out of the freezer this morning. I don't like doing it in the microwave because it ends up cooking part of it and leaving part still frozen. But, it's a hot day. So, I put the frozen brick of meat on a plate, and put the plate in the back of the car. 2 hours later it is soft and perfect!
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As expected, my performance was worse. My route was also worse - though safer. Yesterday's shortcut involved a highway crossing that seemed somewhat dangerous, so maybe I shouldn't be going that way...

26.31 in 2:32:17 for an average of 10.3.

Tomorrow, I ride to yoga. Thursday I'm not sure, probably just dorking around home. Or, maybe, deciding that when it's 90 (yow! in May!) one should go kayaking instead, despite bike week.

Friday, Jocelyn's school has a retreat thing in Maine that lasts all weekend. Naturally, she wants to bring the silks rig. (Can you spot a theme here?) There was some fussing by the school and the camp about liability, but they calmed down and agreed to have it. But, it has to get there, and the camp bus is not going to work out. So, hm, who gets to drive it? Why the person with the experience from last time!

So, I'm bringing my bicycle. I won't stay at the camp, cuz Jocelyn has better things to do than have her mom hanging around, and I'll arrive after they are already settled, so as to reduce chaos, and hopefully get something done for work Friday morning. (I'm sure there will be chaos anyway.) I'll get there around 4pm, it says here (the place is about 3 hours drive, but it'll take me longer cuz I'll drive slow and stop sometimes to check the load). Then we'll set up the rig, and I'll repair to a nearby motel. Saturday I plan to take a bike ride around the area. It's not a particularly mountainous place, so it'll probably be mostly flat. I street-viewed my planned route, just to make sure there weren't going to be any surprise dirt roads. If it's not street-viewable, I won't plan to go on it. I might do a little bicycling on Friday as well, to go get something for dinner.

I pick up the rig on Saturday afternoon, because I didn't want to spend TWO days dorking around in Maine, and they don't have a lot of time Sunday morning before leaving after lunch.

Bike week!

May. 15th, 2017 07:48 pm
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It's Bike Week again with the Commuter Challenge. What with it raining on the weekend, I had kind of a lame start, but I managed to bike home from work today to make up for it. Screwed around with the route, giving me perhaps the shortest distance I've managed so far, 25.19. A tailwind gave me an average of 11.0, which is pretty decent. (Tomorrow won't be so good, I'll have the corresponding headwind.) Riding time was 2:16:25; I forgot to look at my watch to get elapsed.
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Tax year 2015 I owed money to both the state and the feds. In order to keep this from happening in 2016, and to be safe from the penalty thing, I sent estimated payments to both along with my payment in April '16. Time passes, I forget all about it.

Along comes December 31, and I look at my last paycheck, compare to my '15 liability, decide I need to send an estimated payment, and send one on Jan 15. I go to turbotax in March, fill in fields. When I enter estimated payments, do I enter the April '16 payments? No. I only enter the Jan '17 payments. Turns out I've overpaid anyway, so I file and wait for my refund.

Time passes. I get checks! Um, wait, the checks are for the wrong amounts. No! They're not! They included the April '16 payments! Took me a while to figure out what happened.

So, since they KNOW, why do we have to do this? Why can't we just give them the raw data of deductions and additional income and let them sort it out?
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Last Sunday we went to the last day of Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey's circus. They're being driven out of business by several factors: Animal rights activists, Cirque du Soleil style circuses, and people just being too busy to go to shows. I mean, if they weren't going out of business, we might not have gone this year. Every year I think, gee, we should go to the circus, but then we're too busy. Well, this year we made sure we weren't too busy...

It was a full house, other people having done the same math. I don't know how full the arena would have been in a typical year. We scored some random parking very near the arena but not official parking, so it was (a) cheaper and (b) much faster in and out. We'd left lots of time for parking, so this got us into the arena right at door-opening time.

They have a pre-show, where you get to go down onto the show floor, and some clowns wander around interacting with you, and other performers do some tricks, e.g. juggling, bike tricks, floor acrobatics, and you can watch them. There were some audience participation parts of the non-clown performers, but we only interacted with a clown.

Trying to buy a tshirt was not a success, as they're trying to get rid of their stock, and no longer had many adult shirts. We came away with one medium. Too big for Jocelyn, too small for me, but either of us can wear it.

The show itself seemed less three-ring-y than I'd remembered the previous time, about a decade ago. There was often only one act performing. And they were more cirque-du-soleil-y than I remembered too. There was one aerial thing done with trapeze and bungee cord, with the lights off and the performers in fluorescent costumes lit by blacklight that could easily have been in Cirque du Soleil. It was lovely. Another act was all about parkour, and it was pretty cool. Trampolines and a very-well-sprung mat and those guys got a lot of height for their flips. The theme of the circus was exploration, and we'd just come from the regular jungle, with the tiger act, and this was the "concrete jungle", which also set the stage for a big act with BMX bikes and ramps, doing 360's in all possible axes, racing around looking like they were going to crash.

We were disappointed there was no flying trapeze. I guess instead we got bungee cord dancing in black light, and a lyra act with several different hoops being used at once. There was a human cannonball, tigers, camels (how are camels really different from elephants for this purpose?), poodles (man you can get dogs to do anything and they sure looked like they were enjoying themselves, tails wagging all over the place), and the usual assortments of clowns, jugglers, dancers, and other extras.

So, it was fun, and I'm sad that I'll never get to go again. But, there are all these other opportunities, what with Circus Smirkus (coming to Waltham in July...) and other local things.

Memory loss

May. 9th, 2017 08:55 pm
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So, my new computer only had 2GB. That wasn't enough so I googled what kind of memory to get, and bought it. Then I followed the tedious instructions to install -- one card goes under the keyboard and it was a royal pain.

Guess what? It Didn't Boot. Little flashy lights, we (with another computer!) googled about the flashy lights and the code is "RAM error". Right. So, first I tried to re-seat the cards, since one web page said it was tricky, and when that didn't work, I put back in the old cards. Trying hard to seat them well. Guess what? It Didn't Boot! Crap.

So I'm using Perry's old computer until I have a chance to take the brick to a computer fixit shop. Maybe they'll have better luck, hopefully with the new memory. It's been a few weeks since I actually received the new memory, I wonder if they'll take it back if it's the wrong kind? Hopefully the computer isn't really a brick.

Sigh.
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I got to bicycle home again. I took the "old route", which was almost exactly the same distance as the "new route", 25.70 miles, but my performance totally stank. 2:42 for an average of 9.5. (Actual personal worst was 9.2, it turns out.)

There was a bit of a headwind at the end, but the wind had shifted and it had been a bit of a tailwind at the beginning. There was a lot of traffic so there were some slow bits creeping past stopped cars. Maybe they added up. But I also got tired early. When I got to the antepenultimate hill, I needed a much lower gear than usual and wondered how in heck I was going to get up the penultimate hill. Barely, is the answer, and then on the final hill it again was in the lowest gear, which I never need there.
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Went to a weekend gaming party in Vermont at the Hulbert Outdoor Center, our third trip there. Jocelyn, despite having something to do Friday evening AND Sunday morning, wanted to (a) go and (b) bring the aerial rig. Somehow, we agreed to this.

So, since there was predicted rain Friday evening, when we put the mat onto the top of the SUV, we also covered it in plastic. This had an additional design goal of preventing air from getting between the mat and the top of the car, causing it to fly (and, worse, fly and stop flying with a ka-thump). We ended up duct-taping the plastic to the top edge of the windshield, putting flaps through the doors and under the mat at the back, using clips to tie the flaps together across the top of the car below the ceiling in front and below the mat itself in back, and then more duct tape at the rear end to "wrap it like a gift". There were, um, issues with the front edge at the beginning of the trip, but I'd brought a huge roll of more duct tape and was able to redo it a couple times along the way when it got loose. It seemed that 55mph was OK, but 60mph gave trouble. Even 55 was a little dicey, so I finished the last 30 miles at 50mph. Including Friday afternoon traffic getting out of Boston (I had to wait til 2:45 when Perry got out of school) it took well over 4 hours to get there -- it should be about 3 hours.

The trip back was easier, because (a) there wasn't as much traffic, and (b) I'd learned from the first experience how to do the duct tape and it was better to get it right first rather than trying to slap it on at the side of the road, so I stopped a couple times to verify all was well, but mostly we just drove. Still, it was more than 3.5 hours. (Ken managed to duck any of the driving of the mat because he was bringing Jocelyn either to or from VT at night, and all my driving was in the daytime, which is easier to deal with problems.)

Many people enjoyed watching Jocelyn and participating in the easy beginner tricks she can teach on Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon we participated in the ropes course. I had a better time than last time -- I think because fewer people were participating so there was less waiting for staff to check that you were clipped in properly, so there was more doing stuff. I don't think Jocelyn played any games. I played some Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday morning. Perry played all the time, and Ken played some while Jocelyn and I were roping.

I managed to bring my bicycle on top of the rig inside the SUV. The difficult part of putting the bike in was not tangling in the ropes holding the mat cover in place. I did two 8-mile bike rides in the mornings. One of them was up a fairly tall hill. I didn't get to the top because the pavement quit before the hill did, and I don't do dirt, but it was still pretty high. I looked at the GPS readings on my phone, which claimed about 940 feet. USGS claims that the nearby lake's elevation is 417 feet, so it was a little over 500 foot climb, in about a mile. This is equivalent to Blue Hill, though I think Blue Hill has a short stretch that's a lot steeper than anything on Terry Hill Road.
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Finally the stars aligned: it's after daylight savings time starts so it's possible to bike home from work, and I had an opportunity to do so yesterday, when it was nice (70ish, though it cooled off by the time I actually arrived home just around sunset). Bit of a headwind, but not really enough to account for my slothitude.

25.77 in 2:34 for an average of 10.0.

I took the new road home, but it involves a lot of slow lights, so the elapsed time was really long. Also there was stopping to first doff and then don my sweatshirt, and there seems to be something vaguely wrong with my bike so I poked at it a few times. I'm concerned it's metal fatigue in the seat. There's kind of a sway (very slight, but noticeable at speed) and for a while there was a squeak that seemed to come from the seat attachment. Unfortunately the company's been out of business for like 10 years.

Amusingly, I was passed by a friend of mine who was on his way down to Foxboro on his bicycle. We had a short chat, and then he decided to go at a reasonable pace and left me.

Today, I drove to the dentist from work in 1:25 (it's about 3 miles closer than home). If I rode faster it would be reasonable to just bike! Though I usually go in later and so driving in is only 40 minutes. Also, I would have been very wet.

And I have a new "not intended to be temporary" crown. Some of it was warranty work but some of the reconstruction was shared by me and insurance. Still, it was cheaper than the average crown.

Boats!

Apr. 23rd, 2017 07:25 pm
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The powerboat came back from the shop a couple weeks ago, and today we finally got around to launching it. A perfect day, very little wind, sunny and warm. We get down there, get it off the trailer and into the water, and try to start it. Grind. One little grind, and quit. Crap. We'd thought the battery was OK because it was raising and lowering the motor fine. Conference on the phone with people back home. We decide to jump it, our jumper cables are fairly long. Of course they're at home. So, back home to fetch them (I stayed with the boat). We were able to drag the boat close enough to the shore to get a connection -- "Don't do this near water", yeah right. Grind grind start. YAY. I drove around a bunch to charge the battery. Unfortunately some of the buoys that mark hazards in the middle of the lake have not yet been installed, so I had to remember where they were, which I apparently did successfully.

So, after joyriding, we returned to shore, where we "rescued" a couple of dead sailboats which had drifted near our shore in a recent storm. Some fussing to get them dragged to where we could portage them out. Boy are they dead -- so many holes in the bottom! We were able to drag them partway onto the dock and let them drain before dragging them all the way up the steps.

I'm not sure this is a brilliant move, however, because now we have these two dead boats, and we don't have a plan for getting rid of them. It's like, I picked up litter from the lake, and now I'm going to have to pay to get it hauled away. I've written to the local sailing club for advice. Likely the boats came from them anyway!

All this dragging of boats around has really tired me out. Plus the hour of sitting around in the wetsuit (someone has to be able to wade, possibly deep, in 55 degree water). Doing anything in a wetsuit is an enormous amount of work.
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Rode through F. Gilbert Hills State Forest, which is lovely and shaded. Ended with a stretch on route 1 and of course all the regular dorking around to get to and from home.

25.57 miles in 2:14 for an average of 11.4. There were a few hills, but none as steep or long as the ones on my regular route to work, and we managed to do the "start upwind when you're fresh so you'll get a tailwind when you're tired."

509 miles on the odometer for the year.
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No idea what I might use them for, since my needs are well-served by the free account, but I figured I should support them.
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