The Longest Day

Today is the longest day – but not that hot around here. Temps today only up to about 68F under partly cloudy skies. Looking out my window to the east, I see a Puget Sound Convergence Zone of some clouds, with some blue skies to the north.

This has happened since the last post:

  • Got back from the long trip: drive to SLC, fly to Houston (via Seattle, go figure), drive to SLC in a car destined for the Jensens, drive home.
  • Our local ward got combined with the Port Townsend ward (our ward was getting too small, so this is a good thing). Got fired as the Ward Clerk, but hired on as Executive Secretary. Lots of cleanup required with the ward dissolve (like organizing all of the keys).
  • Took a drive down to Stacy’s house to visit their cute family and spoil grandkids. Stayed about a week, left town just as the heat wave (100F+) started.
  • On the trip home, a semi rollover in Oregon about 9 miles north of the CA border. Blocked all lanes; traffic was at a standstill. Luckily for us, we got stuck just before the old highway 99 exit, so snuck around the accident and took that very windy road. Otherwise, an uneventful trip home.
  • Got a lawsuit settlement check for a class action against a prior health care organization. Modest amount, but helpful.
  • Decided to use part of the check to purchase the generator bypass switch for our generator. Will require a bit of electrical work in the panel, but fairly easy (been inside a panel before, with no shocking results).

The Reading program is on hold until the copyright owner gets around to signing an exclusive sales agreement for the software. Hopefully, that will happen soon.

The Jensen’s will be visiting next month. The kids have all visited the last two summers, but this will be a first for Jared and Christine. Some work involved in getting ready for their clan (1 girl, 4 boys).. So, my project list has increased a bit:

  • Have to assemble a metal bunk bed frame. It has to go upstairs, and the shipping box is 125 pounds. Will have to take the pieces upstairs in smaller loads.
  • Then have to get new mattresses for the bed. One twin, one double. And figure out how to get them upstairs. Hoping to buy it from a mattress store that will deliver.
  • Installation of the generator bypass switch before the fall storms. I’ve changed all ‘can lights’ to LED bulbs, and need to identify the (up to) 6 circuits to hook up to the bypass switch. That will include the chest freezer in the garage (so all garage circuits), the refrigerator, TV room (for the LED TV and DirecTV so I can watch TV during power outages), and the master bedroom (mainly for the CPAP machine). That will be enough for the short power outages we get here.

And the McEwan’s will be visiting in August. That will also be fun.

Working on an update to a little program I wrote to block comment spam. Got the Google ReCAPTCHA working in it now, so it’s pretty effective, I think.

All of that should be enough to keep me from being bored.

Monday – 10 April 2017 continue the trip report … (I got a lot of catching up to do..)

We had a great visit at Pam’s sister’s house. Pam was able to visit with her mother several times, who was quite surprised to see her. Her mother is dealing with Alzheimer issues, but is in a nice care home that she enjoys with her little dog.

We went to a local BBQ place, took a drive through the area, and generally relaxed and had a good time. We stayed for about a week, getting Pam’s mother’s old Camry ready for a drive to Utah. It is still in good shape, minus a few dings, but mechnically sound. I got an oil change at the local Jiffy Lube, got the tire air rotated at America’s Tires.

On the day of departure, there was a good series of storms just to the northwest, in the path of our travel. We went through a good and heavy thunderstorm (that later caused some tornado warnings), but the storm was heading east and we were heading west. So we eventually got into good clear weather, and wandered northwesterly.

Because it was on the way, and Pam is a big fan of “Fixer Upper”, we stopped in Waco TX and went to the “Magnolia Compound”. Big tourist attraction, due to the success of that show. Local churches around the compound were taking advantage of the tourists, charging $10 for parking. But we used the free parking provided by the compound.

We wandered through the the area (me pushing Pam in the wheelchair), and the store (lots of overpriced furnishing knick-knacky stuff, IMHO). Didn’t get to the bakery – there was a big long line. Nice place for a visit – a big open play area for the kids, and a dozen food trucks. We only spent about an hour there, then back on the road.

Stayed overnight in Santa Rosa NM (right on the famous Route 66), and left the next morning for Utah. The roads were generally good, the weather was sunny with a bit of clouds, and I managed to miss the turkey buzzard that flew right in front of me. Mostly two and four-lane roads, but little traffic. Nice-looking farm country to high desert.

Travelled past Shiprock NM, around Albequerque, then into Utah, where the country changed into the pretty red-rock country. I really like that area of the country; too bad it is hot in the summer and too high an altitude for Pam.

Stopped at one of my favorite places – Hole In the Rock, just north of Moab. Saw that place one time before; my favorite is the full-size Jeep made out of rusty tools and license plates. Here’s a picture.


There’s a house built into the cliff. This is an old stage stop from the 1850’s. Quirky little place, but fun for the family.

The only Texas Longhorn we saw on the trip .. and it was in Utah!

Full Size Jeep made out of rusty metal and License Plates

Full Size Jeep made out of rusty metal and License Plates

It’s a funky place, but it amuses me.

Then back on the road, through the pretty red-rock and canyonlands of Southeastern Utah, up highway 89 into SLC and eventually to the hotel in Layton. (We didn’t take the scary Highway 12 route of the Hogback, but that’s a great road to travel on if you are in the area. It’s the back way out of Bryce Canyon into Escalante and Beaver. Great scenery.)

We spent a day in Utah, visiting with daughter Christine and her family, and dropping off the Camry for their use, getting back into our comfortable Highlander.

We were able to take Liam (grandson) with us back to Washington. He’s heavily into sports (as is the rest of his family), but it was Spring Break, and he had the week off, sports-wise and school-wise. He wasn’t able to visit last summer (his three brothers and sister did), so he was really looking forward to the trip.

An uneventful trip from Utah to home, taking the usual route through Idaho, eastern Oregon, and down the Columbia River, turning right at Portland/Vancouver to head home. Got home about 9pm, and that was the big trip. A great adventure.

Friday–7 April 2017

Catching up…

Pam and I took a long trip starting on March 15th. We first drove to Utah to see the Utah gang. The trip there was uneventful; just a long drive. My glasses (used for reading and computer) broke the day before, so stopped by the local dollar store in Utah to grab some cheap readers.

We stopped in Baker City OR – about halfway there, as we got a late start. Stayed at the usual place, then got on the road the next day around 7:00am. The trip continued to be uneventful until we met the Utah gang at the Cracker Barrel – one of their favorites, and had dinner.

After dinner, we went down to Midvale UT to stay at my sister’s house. Free hotel, and all that. She wasn’t there; she had planned a trip with two daughters to see Nina (mother). Nina is 96, still going strong, and enjoyed their visit.

Saturday was a nice day, sunny and a little bit of a breeze. So we met both daughters and their families (Utah contingent, plus the CA group who where there for a week; thus the trip to see the whole gang) at Liberty Park in SLC. Nice big park, and a nice place for a picnic lunch.

Sunday was the baby blessing (newest granddaughter / CA gang), then a nice afternoon lunch at Stacy’s mother-in-law’s house.

Complications started at Linda’s house Sunday night. We came back from dinner, and went downstairs to get to the basement bedroom. Pam misjudged the last step, and fell on her knee. She thought she was OK, but an hour later couldn’t put pressure on her knee.

So, off to the local Urgent Care place, where they found a small fracture on the plateau of her leg bone, just under the knee. They gave her a knee brace and crutches, and an appointment with a local orthopedist the next day. So, crutches in hand (and under arm) she hobbled back to the car and Linda’s house.

Monday was spent seeing the orthopedist, who said that a cast was not needed, but to stay off her feet and continue to use the knee brace thing. That required a trip to the local medical supply place, where we rented a wheelchair for the month. (We have a wheelchair at home, plus two powered wheelchairs. But we didn’t bring any of them – plus the working one is in the shop. And the other power chair needs new batteries..)

We decided that it would be easier for Pam not to have to negotiate stairs, so checked into a hotel in Layton Monday night. Tuesday, we had a nice dinner with all (local Kneader’s, one of Pam’s favorite places in Utah).

Wednesday was travel day, this time via air to Katy TX, to visit Pam’s sister and mother. The usual travel hassles (but not too bad, since you get an escort and priority TSA screening because of the wheelchair).

Alaska Air (where we had some ‘miles’) routed us from SLC to Seattle then Texas. Deplaning in Seattle was difficult; they are doing some remodel work on the terminals there, and the arriving and departing plan required the old-fashioned stairways to the tarmac then more stairs to the gates. Not a good thing with a wheelchair and crutches. So we had to wait for a portable elevator from the plane to the tarmac, a journey into the depths of the terminal (we saw all of the conveyor belts for luggage), then a repeat trip to the departing plane – which also required stairs; although we had a ramp, and a ‘pusher’ to push the chair up to the plane entrance.

We were unable to get seats together, so Pam was in the back of the plane (aisle seat) and I was in row 14. She had a window-seat person that had a low-capacity bladder, which caused problems since Pam had to get up (with a broken leg) each time that person had to head for the head.

But, we survived, got the luggage, and met up with Pam’s sister, who took us to their very nice house in Katy TX.


Wednesday–15 March 2017

Let’s see:

  • Friday the 13th fell on Monday this month
  • Yesterday was “Pi Day”, so I had a piece of pie
  • Today is “Beware the Ides of March” day

That should take care of that.

Still working on the Reading program. Fixed another problem that had been bugging me, and got the registration and login process mostly done. The registration process required a rewrite of the encryption code I was using; some functions were deprecated in the PHP 7 version I m using. But got that working.

Yesterday, I got a new sleep apnea machine, after going through a sleep study last week. Surprise, still have sleep apnea. The new machine ‘phones home’ so that they can keep track of my use of it. The new one is a lot quieter than the one I’ve had for about 6 years.

Then I had to work with the hosting place to upgrade my hosting plan. The MissionaryLetters site is a WordPress multi-site install, and every new missionary site creates another 10 tables in the database.

The basic low-cost hosting plan doesn’t allow lots of database tables, so I had to get a more expensive plan. The hosting place takes care of moving the content and databases to the new server. But for some reason, the database users were not moved. That required a one-hour ‘chat’ with the support people while that got fixed. Most of the WP sites I run were down because of that, but the sites are not that high-volume, so managed to survive that without customer complaints.

Today I am tweaking the code in the Reading program that keeps track of lessons done by the user. Along with getting ready for the road trip that starts tomorrow. It will be fun to see all the grandkids (and Christine and Stacy, etc) again. Last visit was Christmas. Looks like there will be good travel weather for the ‘here-to-Utah’ section.

Saturday–11 March 2017

Today started out in mid-40’sF and rainy, then gave way to partly cloudy skies with some sun and approaching 50F. A bit breezy just now, with 10-15mph winds.

Worked on the Reading program today. Fixed a problem with things not lining up correctly that had been bugging me for a couple days. Missed putting in a ‘CSS class’ in one of the instructions.

Now working getting/saving user login and session info, without screwing up the stable demo page. And asked a nephew’s wife if she’d be interested in creating some clip art for the program.

This is our local Stake Conference weekend. The sessions are in Port Angeles, about an hour away, so are broadcast to other ward buildings. Tonight is a test broadcast, so I’ll be heading over to the building in a bit to set up the video projection system.

Made a chicken and rice casserole last night. Took a recipe I found and modified it a bit. The chicken part was good, but the rice was a bit crunchy, although tasty. The rice part was regular white rice with a can of chicken broth and cream of chicken soup. Next time, will have to get the rice cooked while not drying out the chicken.

And, between rain storms, did a quick spray of moss-killer on the front lawn. A common problem around here. Moss likes to grow in this wet environment – on lawns, and on roofs. Luckily, our roof is not ‘infected’ with the moss. And the “Moss-Out” sprayer works pretty well at killing the moss, although you still have to rake it out of the lawn (which takes a bit of energy). I wanted to get the first application of the moss-killer on the lawn before we left this next week.

Friday-10 July 2017

The day started out with a “sun break”, then some light misty rain transitioned to mostly cloudy skies this evening. Last night’s windstorm didn’t cause any effects here, although it did close the Hood Canal Bridge for several hours very early this morning. No affect here, since we stayed home.

Spent most of the time working on the lesson conversion process for the Reading program. I probably could have tweaked the data with a plain import, but spending a couple of days writing and testing code was much more fun. The actual conversion of 80 lesson files to database only took 30 seconds. Some very minor tweaking of the data will get it ready for the program.

The next step is to finish the user registration/use part of the program, including keeping track of where students are. The key to that is to make it so the student has minimal login needs; most students will be under 10 years old, I think. So don’t want to clutter their experience with user names and passwords. That will take a bit of thinking.

Thursday–9 March 2017

This morning, my little weather station was reporting an outside temperature of 110F. Didn’t think that was right, what with the cloudy and rainy weather.

A trip upstairs to the weather console and the computer that reports to my weather site web page. The console was reporting the correct temperature, so I figured the software was a bit wonky. Restarted the computer, still the same. Did a power off restart, then an upgrade of the weather software (converts the console readings to a format that is sent up to my Weather Underground site), and a restart of the software. All was well then, showing an outside temp of 38F.

Temps today ranged up to 44F, with rain most of the day. This is a warmer storm, so no snow here, and snow levels increasing up in the Cascades to the east, causing some avalanche dangers closing the I-90 (main highway east from Seattle).

Around here, there is a high wind warning for early AM tomorrow. Winds gusting to 50mph, which will cause closing the Hood Canal Bridge, and maybe some power outages. But I am ready, with my generator and FLASHLIGHTS.

Got my haircut today, some minor grocery shopping, and then back to work on the Reading project. Fixed on interface/visual issue last night. Today, working on a process to convert the lesson files (written in sort of an XML format) into items to put into the lessons database. Lots of string conversion commands to get the lessons into a individual item format.