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.

Wednesday–8 March 2017

Today started out with a bit of sunshine, or what they call around here ‘sun breaks’. Still cool/cold; currently about 41F under cloudy skies. Series of wet storms coming through here; the usual for this time of year.

A trip to Silverdale with the electric chair that Pam uses on trips to Utah. I let the batteries run down, and they were not revivable. Had to get replacements (2), and then installed them and the chair still doesn’t work or take a charge. Took off the batteries again, hooked them both up to the charger to ensure full charge. Put them on again, and still no joy.

So I had to put the power lift on the back of the Highlander, strap the chair to it, and take it to the repair shop (about 30 miles). They verified proper battery connections, and took it back into the shop. Hope to hear from them tomorrow about the repair needs.

Also, a few weeks ago, one of the knobs on the climate control on the Highlander broke off, down to the shaft. Not repairable; you have to replace the unit.

Local Toyota dealer said $1100. Local independent shop said $600. E-bay said $110 (from a dismantler).

Survey says: “E-Bay!”.

Arrived today. Used my Harbor Freight plastic panel tools to pry it out (it snaps in/out of the center dash area). Popped the broken one out. Put the replacement in. Took all of 20 minutes.

And it works just fine. Doesn’t have the fake wood grain facing, but the radio above doesn’t either; just the heat seater knobs below (and the center console area) have the wood grain facing. So looks OK to me. (I suppose I could take the facing off of the old unit, but not a high priority.)

Rick for the win! And a savings of $500+ on the car repair.

Hope also to be lucky on the chair repair. We’ll find out tomorrow.

In the meantime, back to the Reading program as I work through cookies and arrays and such.

But, some frozen cherry pies (local school fundraiser) are arriving later today. I’ll count that as another win.

Tuesday–7 March 2017

This morning started out at 36F and some very light snowish drips. Nothing sticking, though. There is a winter weather warning for the area for low snow (down to sea level) – we are at 190 feet above mean sea level. Still light showers and 39F at noon as I write this. Looks like we’re in the rain/show shadow we usually get (see pix).


Have been working on the Reading program. Making some good progress with the base design, and the demo pages are working well.

I figured out the problem with selecting (and saving and using) the ‘voice’ used in the program. The available voice depends on your computers’ operating system and browser used. So finished the process of letting the user select the voice they like for their installation, and then using that in the program. I still need to store those settings in a local cookie for use if the session expires. And also extend the session timeout.

I also created a site design/status/notes page that will be used by the alpha testers. That will help keep info in one place, rather than scattered about in various email messages on that private mailing list.

Today’s programming tasks include finishing up a secure login process. Although I have created one for another site (with secure login and encrypted passwords, although not on an ‘https’ site), this new process might let me tweak the login process a bit more.

I also need to start converting the Reading lessons (about 3500 instructions in 80 lesson pages) from their original XML-type source into the lessons database. Spending a bit of time on a process that parses the original document into an array of instructions. I’ll use that array of instructions to insert into the lessons database. Hopefully, there will be minimal tweaking required of the imported data.