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Archived Entries from June 2010


The Pool House

What a mess.

As promised, I spent most of the day Friday cleaning out the mess inside the pool house. By the time I was finished I had lots more stuff up on shelves and hooks and the garbage tote was full as was a "regular" garbage can as well.

I also sent a full recycling bin to the curb Monday morning as well as two milk crates full of old plastic bottles and buckets and stuff.

It almost looks like it could be a cool place to hang out and drink beer. I need to put a window in there. Maybe if and when I ever get around to re-siding it.

This weekend I'll be busy with family coming into town, some on Friday, some on Saturday, so I doubt I'll get any more work around the house done this weekend, but I have several things on my list for the upcoming vacation days, including finishing up the floor trim that used to be hidden by the sectional and armoire but is now visible for everyone to see, painting the whole main floor of the house, cleaning out the crawl space, putting a floor in and painting my garden shed (and then installing some of my nerdrium structure and getting a Linux server back up and going out there...), and cleaning out the other half of the garage. Should keep me busy until August.

Posted: Tuesday, June 29, 2010, 10:20 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Time Off

One of the odd side-effects of having my spouse work at the University is that I haven't been taking as many days off from work. She doesn't (yet) have a lot of time to take off, and as she has to go to work every day, I tend to go to work every day. The "problem," if one can call it that, is that I get 24 vacation days a year, and can only carry over 48 total from year to year or I "lose" them.

I've taken 6 vacation days this year, and our "year" ends August 15th. I ended last year with 45.5 days, so I stand to lose about 16 days if I don't take them this year. So I talked to the boss and it looks like I'm going to take Mondays and Fridays off for the next eight weeks.

Needless to say, a few closets, as well as the crawlspace and the pool house, are going to be purged over the next two months. I mean, I'm going to be throwing away all sorts of stuff. As I said over the weekend, I don't care if there are bags of gold bars in the crawlspace, we haven't missed them for the last ten years, so they're out of here. (Not that I think there is any actual gold under the house, of course).

I start tomorrow (today?) with the pool house. I just had to replace the throttle cable (or whatever it is) on the mower because when it sits outside in the rain water goes down the "sheath" and had puddled where the cable dipped down by the motor and the metal cable itself eventually rusted and snapped. It was easy to replace, but that's twenty bucks down the drain. Let's get all the garbage in the pool house thrown out and make some room for the mower (which actually hasn't really been sitting out in the rain much--now that we're a one-car family it is usually in the other half of the garage--another area that is going to get purged of crap....).

I watched the NBA draft with my brother-in-law Cole tonight. It's amazing how much he knows about all of the different college basketball players. I knew who John Wall and Evan Turner were, but beyond that, I was pretty clueless. We were getting into the end of the first round and he would still spout off about whoever the next guy was that was going to get picked for whatever reason, and he was usually right, and always had all sorts of "side information" about the player in question.

Grad school is going well this summer. We have Java-based labs each week so I've been leaning on Tod somewhat to help me out with the coding. He's a good friend, and is very patient--I have made it clear that I don't want him just doing the code for me, so he sort of leads me along and gets me to arrive at the solution sort of on my own. I think I'd be able to wrap my head around the Java stuff more if I used it every day. Then again, I don't know that I want to be a Java programmer that has to do this stuff every day.

My boss has two job interviews at other universities in the upcoming month. While I think she's putting the cart ahead of the horse somewhat, she's made it clear that at the very worst there will be money around for me until at least September 2012. And that's if all of my other part-time funding sources go away (which they likely won't). Even I can't bring myself to worry about what will happen over two years from now. Grad school will finish up in May of 2011--I'll re-take stock in the situation at that point and see where I need to go.

Okay, I guess I should go to bed and rest up for my day of actual "work" tomorrow.

Posted: Friday, June 25, 2010, 6:40 am
Mood: Tired | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Tuliptrees

A few years ago I planted a tuliptree in our yard, not knowing much about that particular species of tree. I did some reading back then and found out some interesting things, including the fact that Thomas Jefferson planted a slew of them when he founded the U. of Virginia way back when. One of his original such trees still exists on the campus (it is over 200 years old!).

As my thumbs have turned greener with age I've spent more time while out and about paying attention to types of trees and other flora. I noticed at one point that Mathews Avenue in Urbana, just east of the University of Illinois Quad, is also lined with tuliptrees from Green Street all the way to Nevada. They're old, tall, straight, and beautiful.

Well, I have wanted another tuliptree for my landscape and have been anxiously paying attention to see if the little tree in my back yard would "give birth" like the multitudes of redbuds, silver maples, and pin oaks.

Let's just say that I finally acquired a new tuliptree sapling. I trimmed the leaves like a hydrangea start so that it wouldn't have to expend too much energy getting water and such up to the huge leaves. Actually, the following picture has two such hydrangea starts, as well as three new "northern gold" forsythia bushes, and on the left is my new tuliptree.

Since that photo was taken I have actually planted the tuliptree in the ground north of my house, near where my ding-a-ling neighbor cut down a 20-year (or so) old redbed tree a few years back. Of course, I planted it well on my side of the property line. If he's going to keep cutting down trees, I'm going to keep planting them.

It has rained pretty good the last couple of days, so hopefully my new tree has successfully rooted into the ground and will do well. I have a two-foot tall piece of chicken wire circling the tree lest some bunny (or deer!) chomp it off before it gets a chance to establish itself.

I truly hope that of any of the trees I've transplanted as saplings (two redbuds and two pin oaks thus far) this tuliptree survives and thrives.

Posted: Wednesday, June 23, 2010, 6:08 pm
Mood: Awesome | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Comets!

An old friend of mine posted a link (on Facebook, of course) this morning to a National Geographic article about a green-tinted comet that is visible for the next few days.

As I can't seem to sleep past 3:30 or 4:00 a.m. lately, I got in the car and drove out into the "country" to check it out. Even at four in the morning the sunrise is starting so it was probably a bit lighter out than would have been ideal, but if the comet is what I think it is, it's a hair north of straight NE and about 15-20 degrees up from the horizon. I didn't catch a glimpse of the green tint--I'll try to get out there earlier tomorrow.

Not sure why I've been having a hard time sleeping lately. I think it ends up becoming a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy: I wake up too early in the morning, work all day, come home and make/eat dinner, have a glass of wine, and then am out like a light by 9:00 p.m. or so, and seven hours later, I'm wide awake. Rinse, lather, repeat.

It looks like we're going to have a full house for the Fourth of July this year. Our (9th annual!) party is going to be Saturday the 3rd. If I have this straight, my one sister is flying (by herself?) down to Florida to see my other sister the week prior to the Fourth, and then the two of them, and my two nephews, are going to drive back up to Chicago, and stay at our place for a day or two that weekend. And I just got word from my cousin in Missouri that he and his daughter may make the trek over to see us that weekend as well. We should have room for everyone, but Alex may be sleeping on a couch downstairs and the redhead and I may have to sprawl out on the sectional. Shouldn't be a problem--Alex sleeps down there half the time anyway and I'll be so, er, tired for all of the cooking and preparations and such that falling asleep on the couch will probably happen anyway for me as well. It will all work out--the house is more than big enough for all of us!

Work has been interesting lately. We're still waiting to see if our wonderful President is going to continue to fund the IPM Centers or not. Even if they don't, and all other funding goes away, my boss said she has enough money to pay our salaries through at least September of 2012. And by all other funding, I mean that right now I don't get paid 100% by that grant--bits and pieces of my salary are picked up by lots of other grants and groups (the department pays for a quarter of my salary now, for example).

I'm not worried yet--that's over two years away. If all goes well, I'll finish up graduate school next May, and the University and State of Illinois had better figure something out in the next two years or they may as well close the doors (on the University and the state...). So who knows. I'm not going to worry about it--I have too much else on my plate to worry about right now as it is.

Anyway. I don't know much else.

Got paid yesterday. I signed up for the "summer skip a payment" from the credit union to skip my car payment for June (which I sort of hate doing, because I want nothing more than to pay the stupid car off and now that's one more month that I have to pay on it now) so I was going to have all sorts of extra money to get caught up on bills and get the pool situated for the year, etc., etc. Then the air conditioner broke. And lookie there, the bill was just about the same amount as my car payment. Fantastic. Funny how stuff works sometimes. I guess I should just be thankful that by skipping that payment I had the money laying around to pay for the a/c. Oh well. It's all good.

Okay, I'm going to go see if I can't get another hour of sleep in.

Posted: Thursday, June 17, 2010, 10:15 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Facebook

So I've been sort of concerned that I've been neglecting my blog. I think the culprit is Facebook.

It's too easy to post pictures and updates and stuff.

But really, does anybody on Facebook care about my photos and stuff? 95% of the people I'm "friends" with don't post regular updates. Why do I? I've been writing on this blog longer than Facebook has existed.

I'm not going to do anything overly dramatic like delete my account or anything. I'll still lurk. But I'm going to try to get back to using this thing for what I created it for. Facebook or not.

Like, if people want to hear what I have to say, come read it here. People friend you on Facebook because they know you, not necessarily because they want fifteen minute updates of your life. Right? And there's nothing wrong with that, of course, but I already have my podium, and that podium is right here.

Now I had a great post to make this morning but my flash card for the one digital camera died today and the reader for the flash card for the other digital camera stopped working last week. Fortunately all this stuff is cheap.

Okay, time to watch "Persons Unknown" a total "Lost" ripoff.

Posted: Tuesday, June 15, 2010, 2:00 am
Mood: Okay | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Disk Partitions

Well I'm down in the old Nerdrium sitting on a chair typing on a keyboard that rests on top of a short file cabinet, my Quicksilver G4 on the floor beside it.

I tried to install some software on the Boot Camp Windows partition of my laptop and there wasn't enough room. Apparently making that "drive" 20 gigs was shortsighted on my part.

So I downloaded a utility to clone the Windows partition and then had Boot Camp delete it.

But now Boot Camp won't let me create a new partition.

So, I decided to copy the 15 gig disk image from the laptop to a big hard drive on this machine so that I can hopefully delete it on the laptop and convince Boot Camp Utility from letting me go forward with a new partition.

I've gone from 50/50 down to about 10% that this whole thing is actually going to work, and I'm absolutely not reformatting my laptop and reinstalling snow leopard, so this may be the end of Windows on my laptop.

Yeah, but I need Windows on my laptop. Grr. I never should have tried this whole partition foolishness. Oh well. We'll see how it goes.

Posted: Friday, June 11, 2010, 1:20 am
Mood: Frustrated | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Green Thumb Sunday

Does thing still work? I feel like I haven't blogged in forever. Yikes.

We've hit the ground running this Spring/Summer and I've been crazy busy at work and even crazier busier at home. I'm in the middle of all sorts of stuff at work right now that I'll have to get into at a later time--too much to talk about right now.

Our son Alex graduated from eighth grade a few weeks back, which is half-impossible to believe. In two years I'll have two kids in high school. Scary.

So I thought I'd check in and post some pictures from the back yard.

Two of the hydrangea that I propagated at the beginning of the season have rooted and are growing and doing well. I may move them to bigger containers soon.

I've been doing lots and lots and lots of weeding. After weeding, and before putting down new mulch I've been putting newspaper down as a weed barrier. It works really well. One area that we weeded the hell out of earlier this year and re-mulched is around our tuliptree, and I must say, I think it looks awesome now that everything is growing and filling out.

The vegetables are all doing well as well. Here's my eight tomato plants:

Here's a shot of a cherry tomato plant in a big planter as well as several varieties of pepers. The bushes behind them are spirea and the planter on the left side has lettuce in it.

Lastly, here's how our raised garden bed is doing. I was worried that it wasn't going to get enough sun, but things seem to be growing and doing well. Peas on the left going gangbusters, carrots in the front middle, broccoli on the front right. The rest of it is filled out with a few leftover tomato plants and peppers. I also planted cucumbers (just recently) in the back--I need to put some sort of fencing up so that they can climb up the side of the playhouse.

Phew.

Posted: Monday, June 07, 2010, 9:06 pm
Mood: Great! | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


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