Woke up this morning to a power outage; not hard to wake up with those since I wear a CPAP mask. Heard some sirens from the local fire department shortly thereafter, so figured the news wasn’t good. I figured it wasn’t weather related, since it was cold (about 30F) but not windy. (All the trees around here can sometimes irritate the power poles and wiring.)

Took a shower while the hot water heater (insulated, but in a cold garage) still had hot water. Then popped on FB to check the local Public Utility District (PUD) status; they usually have fairly quick updates. They said a transformer failure at the local distribution place.

So, the morning was quieter than usual; no music via Pandora. No interwebs to wander around. Although I hadn’t charged my phone and tablet last night, there was still enough to use it. (Hence the ability to check FB.) And I do have one of those external USB batteries to recharge.

It was a nice sunny day (well, some high clouds), so there was enough outside light through our big windows to see things. The windows are all double-pane, but still can let in some coldness.

Fired up the propane fireplace. It doesn’t’ really put out much heat, even with the powered fans. Might have to think about replacing that.

The PUD was saying that power might take 12-24 hours depending on location. So at about 130pm, decided to fire up the generator. Went out to the garage, did the ‘release’ thing on the garage door opener, but couldn’t get the door (double-wide metal sectional thing) up. Turned out that the garage door spring had broken, so no assist on getting the door up.

But the generator is just inside the garage. Hooked up the extension cord to the door opener, and started the generator (after figuring out the generator battery was out of charge, so had to use the pull-rope). Got it started after about 8 pulls, quickly opened the garage door (because gas engines inside a garage are not really healthy) and moved the generator out on the driveway. (It has a heavy-duty cable to secure it from wandering away.).

Then ran a long heavy-duty extension cord to the den, and hooked it up to the LCD TV and DirecTV box. The generator was able to easily power the TV, so that is good news – I did want to test that on the next power outage. I also used generator power to charge up the phone and tablet. (The battery pack did a good job on the phone, getting it from about 15% to 90%.)

I already had lots of flashlights (you can never have too many). The outside chest freezer only got up to 10F, so it was OK. The inside refrigerator was OK for the moment, but would probably need to connect it to the generator in the evening.

So I spent most of the day reading (paper and electronic books), and checking FB via the phone and tablet.

The PUD guys were rearranging the power switching, so were able to get some areas near us powered up. We got power at about 430pm, although it was a ‘brown-out’ level; the bathroom lights were a bit dim, so I measured the voltage at about 90VAC. It took until about 600pm to get full voltage back.

So, the results of this power outage

  • It’s time to get a generator bypass panel wired into the house. I figure the generator can run the TV/den, the bedroom, and the refrigerator and freezer. The generator is a 6000-7000W unit, so should handle that load OK. That will eliminate the hassle of running those orange extension cords around. Looks like the cost will be around $250-300, plus an hours’ worth of electrician time. (Although I could do it myself, I also need to get a whole-house power conditioner thing installed, so might as well let the electrician do it.
  • I also need to get the garage door spring replaced. Not a job for the do-it-yourselfer, though, since those springs can be a bit deadly.
  • I used to have several of those USB power ‘banks’, but they are hiding at the moment. So will need to find those this week. I ordered two more from the Daily Steals site at $10 apiece, which is a good price.

Other preps were OK. I’ve got a couple of LED camping lights that put out a lot of light at minimal battery cost. And I have lots of other flashlights around, including those that plug into the wall and light up on when power fails.

Food and water preps are good for short-term.

And, I figured out that although toilets still flush, the bathroom fan won’t work during a power outage. So a purchase of some air freshener might be a good idea.

New Grandbaby!

Congrats to Stacy and Justin on their new little girl! Cute baby!

15895317_10154783774741063_2306125257778464361_nBorn early this morning; Mom and baby are well.

She came a bit later than Stacy expected. We were thinking that she would arrive while we were staying with them over Christmas/New Year’s.

But babies have their own timetable, of course.

She joins older brother Dominic (5) and Audrey (3). Both are recovering from mild flu, so they probably won’t get to meet their new little sister until tomorrow. But I suspect a video encounter for them to see their new sister.

For us here on the Olympic Peninsula, some stormy weather overnight. I did see a few very short snow flurries this morning, but the storm has cleared out leaving just a few clouds and bright blue skies.

Plans for today – some more work on the WordPress plugins; two of the new ones have installation problems. Probably related to some wrong configuration on the Subversion paths/URLs that I inadvertently caused. Not a big deal, though…it’s not like I have thousands of users of those plugins. I made both of them for my own convenience in managing the Missionary Letters sites.

Catching Up – Again

A new year. Let’s see if I can get back into the habit of posting here. Mostly for my own amusement, as my visitor count can probably be done on one hand.

Fixed one of my WordPress plugins today – the AmazoLinkenator. It automatically adds Amazon affiliate links to any Amazon site link on a WordPress site. A German user said it didn’t work with URLs that have  ‘umlauts’ – those German characters that have those double-dots above characters.

The code extracts URLs from a text string into an array, then works on those URL items in the array to add the affiliate link. The regex (pattern-matching code) didn’t find a URL with a umlaut, so a lot of asking the googles found a better regex pattern that works with URLs with umlauts.

I’m putting it here for my own reference, along with where I found it.


It seems to work OK, so updated the plugin.

Got home last week from an extended trip to see grandkids (and their families). Went to Utah first the week before Christmas, and spent a few days there, watching them open their presents early. (The back of the Highlander was stuffed with boxes full of presents…there was just enough room for two suitcases.)

Then off to Roseville, CA to visit the other daughter and her family. She is expecting (any day now), and we hoped that we would be there for the birth. Had a great Christmas with their two children, but no new kids. We finally had to leave last Thursday, so we would avoid the big snowstorms on the way back into WA. Travelling was good on all three legs of the trip, due to my close watch on forecasted weather. There were bad storms on my non-travel days, so was nice not to drive through snow or blizzards, or worry about road closures.

While in CA, I worked on a couple of new WordPress plugin, and also on the MissionaryLetters.com site.

Nice visits, but always good to be back on home turf.

Beginning a Heat Wave

…well, at least for this area of the Olympic Peninsula. My little weather station reported an outside temp of 79.5F just before 10am, then dropping down to low-to-mid 70’s for the rest of the day. (See temp graph below: red line is temp, green line is dew point. Click to embiggen.) Around here, anything above 75F is hot weather.

ScreenShot451That resulted in a sudden display of bony and arthritic legs around here (this is a retirement area, after all), blindingly white at times. I was not in that group, though, choosing to stay with the full-length jeans for today.

Went to a house in the area that had some free cardboard moving boxes. A young single-mother family in the ward is moving soon, and could use the boxes for their move. Flattened about 30 just-used-once moving boxes into the back of the SUV, and 6 bags of packing paper.

While doing that,  I saw a submarine go by on the Puget Sound (their house had a nice view), with its escorts of two supply vessels on either side guiding it, along with a couple-three US Coast Guard boats. The fleet headed down into the Hood Canal area, through the Hood Canal Bridge (a floating concrete bridge with a section that opens up for boat traffic). During a submarine transit, the Washington State Patrol roadblocks the bridge back to the banks (the bridge is about 0.9 miles long) to keep things safe. Always fun to watch the submarines go by, even though running on the surface, it’s hidden a bit by the supply boats on either side.

Took another walk around the neighborhood today. It’s a 0.85 mile trip, with a bit of elevation change. I figure one walk is better than none.

And it turns out that the wife’s laptop is feeling a bit poorly. It’s not as old as mine, only 3 years, and gets used for many hours each day. So we ordered a new one for her. Another HP Envy 17t: 17″ touch screen, 12GB RAM, 2TB hard disk (she stores a lot of pictures), Windows 10. Should be here by the end of the month, so I’ll get to set up that one too.



Plugging Along

Nice day today. Sunny (mostly), blue sky, blue Puget Sound, lots of green trees. Temps are getting warm (for here) – approaching upper 60’s.

Took two walks around the neighborhood after church today. Have gotten out of the habit of doing that the past few months. Leg muscles a bit stiff from that. Perhaps if I keep going on the walks, the weight will drop a bit; it has wandered up slightly over the last couple of months.

Have just about got the new laptop set up the way I want it. Used the Laplink program to move all of the programs from the old one to the new one; that worked out fairly well. Some tweaks on the programs, but much less effort than reinstalling everything. Took about 24 hours to move the programs across on the local wifi network. Could have done it faster with a direct connect via a crossover cable, but didn’t want to dig around and find one.

Copied all of the data files to the new computer; another 9 hours for that. I had previously backed them up to the desktop system, where they are backed up to the ‘cloud’ automatically. So a copy from the desktop to the new laptop was easy enough to start, just took quite a bit of time.

Some ribeye steaks for dinner tonight, with a salad for me. A good day.

Power to the People

Trip to ‘town’ for the usual food supplies today, plus medicine refills.

This weeks’ prep work: replaced the keyswitch on the almost new 7K/9K generator (got it barely used for $400, but the key didn’t work). New switch and keys only cost $9. Started right up (after I remembered to turn on the fuel valve and choke it). Not too noisy, about the same as my 4-stroke lawnmower.

Next on the list: install a manual transfer switch to some of the house circuits. In the meantime, got lots of heavy-duty power cords. Only need to power the fridge and freezer, plus the DirecTV/TV room (gotta keep myself entertained). Power outages here happen about 2-3 times a year, usually due to windstorms (lots of trees next to power lines here in the OlyPen).

Food/water supplies are OK for short term. And, of course, I have lots of FLASHLIGHTS (and batteries, along with two LED lanterns).

Weather today: a bit foggy in the morning, but cleared this afternoon to an almost-cloudless sky. Temps in mid-40F, above freezing overnight.

Notes and Roasts

I spent almost 2 hours practicing a song on the piano – I get to accompany a group of teenage girls in their Church presentation next Sunday. One song is sort of easy, the other is harder. Need to practice some more tomorrow to see if I can get these old fingers to bang on the correct keys.

Also helped the Financial Clerk with some beginning-of-year stuff while I was at the Church building.

Yesterday, I got some plastic shelve units from the orange-box store. Put one of the smaller ones up in the corner where there were some leftover paint cans. All were from the previous/original owner of the house, and they are mostly dried up. So I gathered up the ‘dead’ paint cans and drove over to the county waste place, where they told me they don’t take old paint unless it is ‘solid’.

That’s different from CA, which has a hazardous waste collection area at their waste place. So I put the cans back in the trunk, and stopped by the grocery store for a small bag of cat litter (their recommendation). That’s a project for later this week; I’ll solidify the old paint with the cat litter, then stick the cans in the regular garbage.

Some minor web site stuff done. And there is a roast beef in the oven; this time we seasoned it overnight with the steak seasoning (like we do for tri-tip roasts), so that is cooking slowly at 225F for a couple of hours. Will be interesting to see how that turns out.

Tonight’s activity: favorite TV shows – new episodes of NCIS and Limitless. Along with some more binge-watching of old NCIS episodes.