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.

Saturday–25 February 2017

Much happenings since last post. We went to CA to see the newest granddaughter (and the rest of that great family). All the kids were cute, as expected. Pam flew down on a Thursday (she couldn’t wait); I drove down on the following Monday (Church things: a talk, and organist, plus the usual meetings). Drive was uneventful; the weather was mostly partly cloudy.

Although there had been much rain in CA before I left. The Oroville Dam (my uncle was an engineer for the dam) had problems with the spillway (main and emergency), with overtopping the emergency spillway causing some flooding concerns. They had a mandatory evacuation of low-lying areas below the dam. Lots of water in the flood plains as I drove down that area.

We drove back on a Friday. Big rainstorm that day, heavy from about Woodland to south of Red Bluff. But the freeways were above water – although that wasn’t the case the next day. Flooding across all lanes of I-5 north of Woodland (CA), but we missed it.

Our big concern was another landslide across the northbound lanes of I-5 above Woodland (WA). We were on the wrong side of that stretch during our return from CA a previous trip. Had to stay in Woodland, then a 50-mile detour that took 8 hours due to traffic. That closure lasted 3 days, so we were concerned a bit with the landslide that happened very near the first one.

But, we lucked out. The WDOT folks had only one lane (of three NB) blocked by the time we got there. Other than that excitement, a usual trip home. Although we had to stop in Roseburg for Pam to check out a sale at JoAnn’s – big sale, and no sales tax. I found it interesting that there were a half-dozen men waiting in that parking lot with me.

Since returning, I’ve been working on a ‘Learn to Read’ programming project. Found out that Windows 10 has an acceptable reading ‘voice’, so have spent some time designing a web-based site that includes reading and speaking words. Interesting to do.

Weather here has been typical – cloudy and showery some days, and showery with ‘sun-breaks’ other days. Temps ranging from 25-45F.

We got the electric bill for last month – there was a lot of cold weather (below freezing) which made our heat pump work overtime. The bill was $400. Our only alternative for heat is a propane fireplace insert, so not sure of savings there.

But I decided to do a wholesale replacement of all of the ‘can lights’ bulbs to LEDs. Found a 6-pack of LED 65W-equivalent bulbs for $18, so bought 3 of them. When they arrive, we’ll replace almost all of the existing bulbs (some CFL, some ‘old-fashioned’) with the LEDs. One on-line calculator said that I could recover the cost in electricity savings in about 7 weeks. And then the LED’s will only use about 10% of the power that incandescent use. Since there are some can lights that are on most of the time, this might save a bit on the next electric bill.

A trip to UT is planned for next month. We’ll drive there, then fly to TX for Pam to visit her mother (the flight goes from SLC to SEA to TX, but we got a cheap deal using Alaska air miles). Then drive from TX to UT (we’re bringing a car back to UT), then driving home. We’ve made the TX to UT drive before; it is quite scenic. Not sure how weather will affect us; hoping for minimal snow problems.

Friday–10 February 2017

Long day yesterday. Took Pam to the airport so she could visit the new granddaughter in CA. On the way back, some heavy rain around Tacoma (slow-down-to-30mph and the wipers still can’t keep up with the water). Stopped in Silverdale at The Habit (great stuff); they had a short power outage while I was finishing up the great cheeseburger. Filled up the gas tank. Headed to  WallyWorld to pick up prescriptions and a few other things. As I was getting ready to leave, got a text about the Hood Canal Bridge being closed because of high winds.

This happens when the winds on that floating bridge get above 45mph, and can be exacerbated by higher tides. That combines to put pressure of the current on the floating part of the bridge. (Years ago, that combination of things caused a section of the bridge to float away.)

Since the bridge was between my current location and home, I knew there would be a long wait to get home. I’d usually take the long way around Hood Canal (head south then over to Highway 101 north), which is about a ‘three hour tour’. Nice scenery, so not too bad.

Except there was a landslide across 101 near Hoodsport (south end of Hood Canal), so there was no telling when that would be fixed. So I resigned myself to an extended wait. I headed the back way to Port Gamble (right next to the bridge); that would put me close to the head of the line if/when the bridge opened – instead of waiting for a 6 mile backlog to filter across the bridge when it opened.

So, I parked next to the Port Gamble Cemetery – an open spot with few trees; since trees across roads or falling branches are not a good thing to be next to during high winds. Got quite windy; winds 25-30, with a few gusts that appeared to be 50+mph. And my view included the wind-whipped whitecaps on the Canal.

I got there about 2pm. The bridge opened at 830pm. A long wait, but I had an ebook to read, and stayed warm in the car. Finally got home about 900pm. Discovered there had been a power outage while I was gone (caused by a tree across the road home near here taking out a power line), but the lights were on when I got home.

This morning, rain (heavy at times), with another wind advisory. High winds have stopped ferry service near here. Getting gusts to 25mph here at home (my place is sort of wind-protected; the winds will be higher out on the Puget Sound). I suspect another closure of the Hood Canal Bridge, so today am staying home, hoping the lights stay on.