Hit a milestone

April 17th, 2015

… so I’m taking Marion out for sushi tonight. I promised her that I’d do it when I hit my second weight-loss milestone. The first was losing the ten pounds I gained after I broke my ankle a few years ago.

That weight was very hard for me to lose. However, I slowly started losing weight after being sick a few months ago, and got the first ten pounds off about a month ago. Yesterday, I hit the second milestone, which was to weight less than 200 pounds at my morning weigh-in. We couldn’t go out for dinner last night because we had dance classes, so we’re doing it tonight.

The next milestone is to stay under 200 – I expect to be bouncing back and forth across the 200-pound line for a week, roughly, before I stay consistently under it. I think my best weight was 185, but I haven’t weighed that little for thirty years or more.

Tasty

March 29th, 2015

I spent much of the afternoon in the kitchen today. I made meatballs for tomorrow’s dinner, then made a deep-dish strawberry pie. Dinner tonight was the leftovers from last night – a chicken and mushroom stir-fry. I stopped at the oriental market yesterday afternoon and picked up shitake, oyster, and crab mushrooms, which went into the dish.

I also picked up ginger, basil, and mint, because they’re cheaper there than at the grocery stores in my area. The ginger and basil will go into any number of things. The mint is for infused simple syrup, because I ran across a tip that recommended doing that rather than muddling mint for mojitos.

In any case, we had the strawberry pie for dessert tonight. Wow. Just wow. It was very tasty. I believe that’s the first time I’ve ever seen Marion have a second piece of pie. I’ve been forbidden from taking the rest of the pie in to work tomorrow. I do have more strawberries, so I may make another one as soon as the pie dish is cleaned.

Fun and interesting

March 29th, 2015

We went to a concert last night at the Arvada Center. The Colorado Chamber Orchestra presented their spring concert, which included Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, Handel’s Royal Fireworks Music, and Mendelssohn’s Symphony #5: Reformation. They also performed Remembrance, by Michael Udow, a local composer.

I didn’t care for Remembrance, but everything else was quite nice. Fanfare for the Common Man was different from every other performance of it I’ve attended, because it was performed “in the round.” Our seats were pretty close to the center, and we were surrounded by the brass section, with French horns to our right, trumpets/cornets to the left, and trombones and tubas behind us, with the remainder of the orchestra on stage. The music director for the orchestra, Michael Blomster, first performed the piece forty years ago, with Aaron Copland conducting, which I thought was an interesting bit of information.

All in all, a very nice concert that I quite enjoyed.

Homemakers

March 28th, 2015

Last weekend, we went up to Steamboat Springs to visit with Marion’s cousin Hal. It was a good weekend – the last hurrah for the ski season – and we had a good time. The highlight of the trip, though, was what we saw on the trip. We usually drive from Denver to Silverthorne, take state highway 9 north to Kremmling, then turn west to go through Rabbit Ears Pass to Steamboat.

We often see pronghorn antelope near Kremmling, and this trip was no exception. We also saw a few bighorn sheep grazing beside the highway, but the highlight was just on the northern edge of Silverthorne. Click for larger.

NestingEagles

Beautiful. This was the best photo I got of them. I did get this nice one of the male (I think) flying off.

FlyingEagle

Then yesterday evening, we went for a walk. I’d noticed on my commute to and from work that there seemed to be something nesting in a field by Standley Lake. The route we normally take doesn’t go too close to that field, but we detoured to see if I was correct about there being an active nest there.

I was.

NestingOwl

I took a large number of photos, but this is the best one that shows both the nesting parent and the fledgling. On the far side of the field, there was a couple sitting in their backyard. The woman got my attention and directed me to where I could see the male.

SingleOwl

I got a number of good photos of him, but I like this one the best, because of the way his horns are being blown by the wind. The lady also told me that the nest had been shared for several years between the owls and a pair of red-tailed hawks.

I presume the hawks nest later in the season. I’ll keep my eyes open for that.

Best laid plans, and all that

March 15th, 2015

I posted yesterday’s thing on Pi Day a few minutes early. Part of that was a simple mistake, but part was because I needed to get out of the house to get to a meeting in the northern part of Boulder.

Unfortunately, when I got to the front door, it wouldn’t open for me. The handle would twist, but the latch wouldn’t withdraw. Eventually, I went out the back door and got a screwdriver from the garage so I could disassemble the doorknob in order to get on with my day – my back door lock can’t be accessed from the outside, so I need my front door working. I ended up putting the doorknob back in place without the latch mechanism, and relying on my deadbolt while I went to the meeting and stopped at a hardware store later for a replacement.

I need to rely on my deadbolt, anyway. The last time I had problems with my front door, I was locked out, and the locksmith who came ended up breaking the jamb by shouldering the door, because he couldn’t drill out the lock properly.

In any case, I have a new doorknob and key, so I’ll need to get some duplicates made. I’ll also have to see if I have the rekeying tool for the deadbolt, which would let me cut down by one the number of keys I have to carry.

Happy Pi Day!

March 14th, 2015

I’m posting this as closely as I can to 9:26:53 (you know, I hope my ISP’s server notes the proper time zone for me) – here’s a few photos to explain:

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And, if you still can’t figure out the relevance of this post:

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The Few, the Proud, the …

March 12th, 2015

Deaf?
Distracted?
Drugged?

I ordered a pizza for lunch today – I had some errands to run, and thought it would be a good thing to take back to the office. It didn’t go as smoothly as I expected.

Me: Hi, I’d like to place a to-go order.
Him: Is that for pickup?
Me: Yes.
Him: Your first name?
Me: Steve.
Him: (something unintelligible, but certainly not “Steve”)?
Me: No, Steve. S-T-E-V-E.
Him: Okay, what do you want?
Me: A ten-inch Super Goomba.
Him: Super Goomba, okay. What size?
Me: Ten-inch.

Then he told me it would be ready in 15-20 minutes, and how much it would cost. I finished my errands and entered their door to the sound of their extremely loud bell.

Him: Are you here to order or pick up?
Me: Pick up.
Him: Pete?
Me: No, Steve.
Him: Super Goomba?
Me: That’s it.

We then completed the transaction. If I didn’t like their food so much, I’d be tempted to go elsewhere. Then again, there is entertainment value.

That turned out nicely

March 8th, 2015

I made dinner last night – a paprika-heavy pork stew served over pasta, accompanied by sweet-and-sour red cabbage, with apple strudel for dessert. I don’t know if there’s a particular name that people would expect for the stew. The cookbook, which I found in Budapest last year, just calls it pork stew (The Hungarian name is “sertés pörkölt,” which Google Translate tells me means “pork stew”).

Very nice meal, and we’re having the leftovers tonight. Marion has told me I can make this dinner anytime I’d like. The last meal she said that about was a sweet potato, pine nut, and goat cheese strudel. I’m planning on making that again tomorrow night, actually – now that I’ve opened the package of phyllo dough, I need to use it.

I’ll admit that I’m surprised at the price of the cookbook. The back cover lists pricing in several currencies, and the price in dollars is just about $15. I paid in Hungarian francs, and I probably still have the receipt, but that sounds about right. When I wrote this post, Amazon had one copy available for over $60. I didn’t expect that.

Throwaway tech

March 2nd, 2015

I took my iMac in to the local Genius Bar on Saturday. It no longer boots, and I was having display problems before the “won’t boot” condition occurred. I’d looked into the display problems, and they were apparently caused by overheating damaging the RAM chips on the logic board. Presumably, leaving my system on for long periods (among other things, I used it as the main server on my home network) was what led to the problems.

The RAM can’t be replaced, of course, so I presumed repair would require a new logic board, and I wanted to find out just how much that would cost.

Well, the tech at the Genius Bar did get it to boot a couple of times, and the sensor diagnostics indicated no overheating problems. Trying to run some of his other tests didn’t work, though, and he couldn’t boot/run the more in-depth tests that may have isolated the problems. Therefore, replacing the main logic board is the minimum that seems necessary to get the system running again. Unfortunately, my iMac is a “late 2006″ model, and Apple no longer manufactures replacement parts for it. If I want it fixed, I have to go to an aftermarket repair facility. Looking on line, used logic boards run about $500, and labor charges can only add to that.

The tech at the Genius Bar suggested that my best course of action with the old iMac would be to sell it to one of the local aftermarket repair facilities for parts, because there’s still a demand for iMacs like mine. I imagine I’ll end up doing that. Although my company did send me for training in surface-mount soldering last year, I have no way of determining what to replace to solve the problems, and scattershot replacing of parts is likely to be expensive, with no guarantee of success.

For a system with 1GB of RAM and a 250GB hard drive, that’s not worth it to me. A new iMac runs about $1100 for the low-end model, which would give me a system with better display, 8GB of RAM, and 1TB of hard disk. I’m not sure I’ll do that, though. I have a “late 2011″ MacBook Pro I’ve upgraded to its maximum RAM capacity and a large flash drive that serves most of my needs quite well, so I can get by for the foreseeable future without buying anything new. For file server purposes, I may see how well my Beaglebone Black works.

On Shaving

February 22nd, 2015

I recorded the rebroadcast of the first Saturday Night Live show, and got around to watching it last night. SNL has a history of fake commercials, and the first episode had several. One of them was for the first triple-bladed razor. It went into the recent history of shaving tools, from straight razors through doubled-edged safety razors, to injectors, to double-bladed disposables. The tag line was, more-or-less, “The three-bladed razor: because you’ll believe anything.”

I found that amusing because I’d forgotten that three-bladed disposable razors were newer than that. When I started shaving, I used a double-edged safety razor, which is almost certainly what I was using in 1975, when SNL went on the air. I’ve been using triple-bladed disposables for years, though, and I’m aware of one five-bladed razor.

This past Christmas, I decided to go retro and learn to shave with a straight razor. I have more than one, because I read that you’ll damage the edge if you shave with the same razor daily. Two of them are antiques, which seem to have better edges than the new one I picked up. I understand that it takes a month or so to get to where you can get really good shaves with straight razors; I think it’s taking me a bit longer than that. I still get my best shaves with the disposables.

One thing I have learned is that lathering up with shaving soap and a badger bristle brush works much better than anything else I’ve tried. Even if I eventually decide to give up straight razor shaving, I’ll keep on using the brush and soap – it’s just so much better.