Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Just dropping in...

...to say I won't be around for a while. Or at least until late next week.

I'm off to a tax seminar in Baltimore, for work. Sixteen hours of c.p.e., spent in the company of more than two hundred tax accountants and attorneys. What could be more fun?

This will be my first time in Baltimore, in a hotel right across the street from the inner harbor - and a waterfront mall. In fact, the hotel has a skyway that connects to the mall. Be still, my pocketbook.

Flying in ridiculously early the day before the conference gives me a bit of time to do some exploring. There is an aquarium nearby, as well as a science center and a really, really old ship. I see that there are some special activities aboard her the day that I'm free. The pier at which she's tied up is across the street from the hotel...though it looks as if the fastest way to get there is...through the mall.

If I read the history correctly, the USS Constellation saw service from 1854 to 1955. Yeah, you read that right. I'm just a little bit excited about the idea of taking a tour. Kind of cool to be able to say you were on board a ship that saw service in the Civil War.

Pictures after, if I don't drop my camera in the harbor.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Not what I planned on doing

New item added to vacation to-do list: clean basement.

It doesn't necessarily need to be done this week, but must be done by September 17th.

Start at the beginning: A month or more back I noticed that the basement floor near the washer was damp. There is a four by three foot mat in front of the laundry machines, a relic left by the previous owners. The corner of the mat was wet, and the concrete was wet underneath. Thinking about it, I realized I'd used the "giant pile o' clothes" setting ("extra large" to normal people) on the last load I'd washed.

"Self," I said, "All that spinning must force some water up and over the tub, and it trickled down here, running toward the floor drain conveniently placed three feet from the front of the washer. It can't possibly be old hoses or a cracked tub or anything serious. Stop using that wash size. Now move along here, there is nothing more to see."

Ignoring the obvious is a specialty of mine.

Today I washed the mattress pad, turning the washer on when I walked out the door for breakfast. When I came back...more water on the floor.

On the plus side, I'd washed everything but the clothes on my back the day before, so there are enough clean clothes to wear for about ten days.

On the not-so-plus side, the washer was about 8 - 10 years old when I bought the condo five years ago. Unlike my 35 year old Maytag at the old flat, newish appliances are not built to last forever. Just recently I saw a listing of how long appliances are supposed to last; washers should last ten years, while dryers die at about eight.

After some looking around and recommendations from friends, I've ordered a new set. Personally, I will never do the 8 - 10 loads per week on which the Energy Star ratings are based, so I didn't need to take running cost into consideration. These condos, while two bedroom, are not exactly set up for families, but tend to sell to singles and couples. So I don't need a high volume set, assuming I plan to sell the condo before this set bites the dust. I don't want fancy, or mega-numbers of cycles, or special inserts...

In other words, I could shop cheap.

The place I bought from prompts you for all the installation stuff (they require new water hoses and dryer venting, which I would have bought anyway) as you check out. Delivery is set for Saturday 9/17. For a modest fee, they will haul away the old units.

But back to the basement.

Yeah...the basement has been accumulating things for the last five years. Granted, once all the empty boxes are broken down and disposed of, what is left will not seem like a lot. But there is still quite a bit of shifting of stuff, plus a lot of general cleaning to do down there. The basement is on the to-do list, but after several other things. Was after several other things.

I am eternally grateful for a job that drives me crazy, but allows me enough income over expenses to not completely panic over something like this. More than that, I'm grateful to the God who gave me that job and provides all that I need - and blesses me with so much beyond.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Pass the ::YAWN:: coffee

As a general rule, I'm a sleeping champ. It takes less than ten minutes to fall asleep. The obligatory middle-of-the-night call of nature wakes me enough to do what's needed, but falling back to sleep afterwards is almost never an issue.

Except when it is.

Like last night.

After getting up at about 2:30, I simply could not return to dreamland. My mind wasn't racing, I wasn't particularly uncomfortable, I just could not sleep. Just before 3:30, I gave up and got out of bed.

Now, of course, I could nod off in a heartbeat. Closing my office door and doing so is very tempting. I'm functional, as long as I'm only doing one thing at a time with no distractions. You know, like needing to breathe.

The coffee situation this morning hasn't helped. My wonderful stainless steel travel mug will overflow when the lid is put on if it is filled to the mark the coffee shop people like to use. Therefore, I ask for a little room for cream, to keep coffee out of my lap (they will not - by corporate decree - put the lid on your personal travel mug; you need to do it yourself).

The clerk handed the coffee to me, and I almost asked, "Where's the coffee?" I finally found it, more than three inches below the high water mark, a paltry half a mug of coffee.

That I paid a full mug's price for.

I asked her to fix it, but she still left more than an inch off the top. Methinks I will mark my fill line with Sharpie, to avoid early morning, pre-coffee confusion like this. Granted, I was grumpy from lack of sleep, but this clerk has been waiting on me for the last month...

Grumble, grumble. I need an attitude adjustment, the kind that comes from eight hours of blissful, uninterrupted sleep.

Friday, August 26, 2016

It's been a while

More than three weeks. Not much new going on.

Although, this morning I found out my best friend may be moving again, this time to Texas.

Her youngest grandson is a bit of a gymnastics prodigy. This last April, at 7 years old, he placed 5th in the regional championships. According to his grandmother, he has a tremendous amount of natural ability, but has yet to hit the point where he really needs to put in a lot of work to improve.

The gym he is currently training with just lost two of its top coaches to a rival gym across town. If they switch gyms, he will be with the same coaches, but with less time available for (of course) more money. The gym he is currently at was working to get either or both of the Hamm brothers (who are more or less local) to coach in place of the guys who left, but that fell through.

Long story short, the family is considering moving to Texas so their son can be coached in one of the elite centers in the country. He would have to try out for a spot; nothing is guaranteed. If he has what it takes to compete at that level, the family is willing to do what is needed to make it happen.

Meanwhile, I need to start saving for a trip to the 2024 Olympics, just in case. Rome, Paris, Budapest and Los Angeles are the remaining candidate cities; Hamburg dropped out, thank heaven. The host city will be picked next September. I'm not so sure Paris is a good bet, nor Italy, given the migrant issues. Budapest is a long shot. But a lot can happen between now and then, including the future star himself deciding gymnastics is no longer fun when he has to actually work at it.

Nothing much new in my world. Looking forward to fall. We've had exactly one day with a high below 80 degrees this month, and it appears nothing is going to interrupt that streak in the near future. Less humid, at least. Still, the apple orchard store is open and caramel apples are ready.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

The good, the bad, the unredeemably ugly 8.3.16

The Good: It's Wednesday. Hump Day. For many of us, halfway through the workweek.

More Good: Back to school sales have started. I may be obsessed with school supplies, and I haven't been a full time student in 35 years. One of my favorite lines from a favorite movie: "I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils..."*

I fully intend to rush the autumn season by putting out all the autumn décor the last weekend in August. There may even be seasonal food (I've all the ingredients for either/and pumpkin soup and pumpkin bread in the house right now). The only thing I may wait until Labor Day to change over is the stuff on the front door; my neighbors may think I'm crazier than they already think I am if I put the fall wreath out in August.

The Bad:
Hot. Humid. Sweltering. On the bright side, the worst days are today and tomorrow, rather than over the weekend. So over this recurring swamp-like atmosphere.

As much as I'm anticipating the season changing, the ever later sunrise time is a bit disheartening. Based on the current sunrise, I think I'll be driving to work in the dark within ten days or so. There is absolutely nothing I can do about it, but that won't stop me from disliking it.

The Ugly: This week both my local paper and Outlook have made major changes to their websites. Not only are the changes overwhelmingly ugly, they render the sites almost unusable. The local paper was bought out by Gannett a while ago (home of USA Today); they have now changed their site to adhere to the parent company's "standards". Apparently that means a cluttered home page, fewer stories accessible without major digging, and a depersonalized comment section.

Outlook - just no. Ugly, harder-on-the-eyes font. More white space, but more jammed into the spaces where there is actual content. Invisible checkboxes and toolbars. No way to delete an email on the phone app unless you open the email. Oh - and now, all junk email shows in your inbox (they have some new thing called "clutter" that has to "learn" your preferences - save.me.now).

*You've Got Mail, in an email from Tom Hanks to Meg Ryan.

The good, the bad, the unredeemably ugly 8.3.16

The Good: It's Wednesday. Hump Day. For many of us, halfway through the workweek.

More Good: Back to school sales have started. I may be obsessed with school supplies, and I haven't been a full time student in 35 years. One of my favorite lines from a favorite movie: "I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils..."*

I fully intend to rush the autumn season by putting out all the autumn décor the last weekend in August. There may even be seasonal food (I've all the ingredients for either/and pumpkin soup and pumpkin bread in the house right now). The only thing I may wait until Labor Day to change over is the stuff on the front door; my neighbors may think I'm crazier than they already think I am if I put the fall wreath out in August.

The Bad:
Hot. Humid. Sweltering. On the bright side, the worst days are today and tomorrow, rather than over the weekend. So over this recurring swamp-like atmosphere.

As much as I'm anticipating the season changing, the ever later sunrise time is a bit disheartening. Based on the current sunrise, I think I'll be driving to work in the dark within ten days or so. There is absolutely nothing I can do about it, but that won't stop me from disliking it.

The Ugly: This week both my local paper and Outlook have made major changes to their websites. Not only are the changes overwhelmingly ugly, they render the sites almost unusable. The local paper was bought out by Gannett a while ago (home of USA Today); they have now changed their site to adhere to the parent company's "standards". Apparently that means a cluttered home page, fewer stories accessible without major digging, and a depersonalized comment section.

Outlook - just no. Ugly, harder-on-the-eyes font. More white space, but more jammed into the spaces where there is actual content. Invisible checkboxes and toolbars. No way to delete an email on the phone app unless you open the email. Oh - and now, all junk email shows in your inbox (they have some new thing called "clutter" that has to "learn" your preferences - save.me.now).

*You've Got Mail, in an email from Tom Hanks to Meg Ryan.

Friday, July 29, 2016

No particular order

Hit the trifecta today: Friday, payday, "summer day".

I've a long list of things I want or need to do this weekend. Thankfully, the weather is going to be pleasantly dry and even a bit on the cool side, at least for today and part of tomorrow. I'm always a bit more in a mood to work on things when it's not tropical outside, whether or not the actual work needs to be done outside.

Last night's dream featured a man peering in my bedroom windows, with intent to enter and cause harm. In the dream, a friend's police officer husband went to investigate; in real life, I took a quick look at the patio before I left for work, just in case.

Anyone who has been to my place knows that a criminal bringing a ladder and climbing up to the second floor windows is a ridiculously difficult way to enter my condo, given the alternative points of ingress.

Where was I? Things to do...there are three projects that WILL be complete by the end of August. I worked on one a bit Wednesday night, and was surprised at the progress made in just an hour and a half. Then again, everything was set up ahead so I could focus on just doing the one thing I needed to do. That seems to be the key to getting anything done after work during the week: set everything up on the weekend.

Not part of those three projects, but needing to be done is a quick declutter of the loft. I'd like to have the upstairs carpet cleaned in late August (I'm off one mid-week day then), but before they can do that, I need to move some stuff. As in furniture. Ideally, the people who want my old bed, dresser and chest of drawers will be able to pick it up before then. They are at an out of town family wedding until next week, or I'd get that settled. We'll see if Stanley will offer their "two rooms and a hall" deal when each of the rooms is 16 x 16 feet.

Also not part of those three projects, I need to figure out when to schedule a chimney cleaning. It's been on my list to have done for the past couple of years - not urgent, as the fireplace is gas (no creosote build up) and not used more than once a week through the winter. A cleaning is a way to get rid of any gunk left when the old owners converted from natural to gas, as well as a chance to have it inspected for any crack or other issues.

Oh yeah - and get rid of miscellaneous critter skeletons. Yet another critter found its way past the cap and down the flue. From the sound of it, this wasn't a winged creature, but a chipmunk or squirrel. Short of taking the damper apart and out, there is no way to rescue them (which would most likely end with a sooty, crazed rodent careening around the house in panic).

I've contacted the home owner's association about repairs to the cap. If I read the association documents correctly, while the inside of the chimney is my responsibility (it's contained within the outside walls), the cap is theirs (my "property" ends at the roof). No sense having the thing cleaned if animals can still get in.

August starts Monday. Summer is almost gone. Oops - correction: Summer is almost gone!! Contrary to popular belief, I don't actually hate summer, it's more that I like every other season more. Autumn is my favorite (add to to-do list: bring out autumn décor items to put out last weekend in August (Labor Day is late-ish this year and I don't want to wait).

Enjoy your weekend!