They’re Coming to Take Me Away

I’ve been aware for some time that nothing I do online is really private.  If I look at some clothing website on Tuesday, by Wednesday, I’m getting sidebar ads for that same clothing company.  If I watch a Paws for Hope video on YouTube, suddenly lots of their videos pop to the top of my feed.  Same with Facebook.  Not too irritating although it makes me wonder if cyberspace is smart enough to know what I’m looking at, why isn’t it smart enough to know when I’ve made a purchase so they can stop showing me the ads for what I’ve bought?

I have a “color-by-number” app on my phone – it’s a mindless game that I often play if I have the tv on or am listening to a book on tape.  It only takes up about ¼ of my brain (if that).  It has a function that offers me “hints” if I watch the occasional ad.  Most of the time I ignore that function, but occasionally the puzzles have little bits that are almost impossible to see, so I like to have a couple of hints available.  About a month ago I noticed that the ads on this game were aligning with stuff that I was searching for online using my phone.  Not 100% but close enough.  So now my game is paying attention to what I’m up to when I’m not playing.   I wasn’t sure if I should worry about this or not.

Then yesterday I had the tv on while I was working in my studio.  One of the interminably long Cindy Crawford ads came on – the ones in which they talk about the special melons in the south of France.  I flipped on mute and waited it out.  While I was watching out of the corner of my eye for the commercial to end, I thought to myself “Well, at least they don’t run those Crepe Erase ads anymore.”  I’m not sure why I don’t like these ads, but I don’t even like to say the words “crepe” and “erase” together.  I have nothing against Jane Seymour, their spokeswoman, but I just don’t like the ads.  So imagine my shock when about 20 minutes later, there was Jane Seymour hawking Crepe Erase!  Honestly, I haven’t seen one of these ads for a couple of years at least.  It’s clear they’re reading my mind – this crosses the line!

Do you have a favorite hat?

Royal Living

Last week I extolled calling a professional concerning my front porch.  The stucco guys weren’t the only professionals I called upon last week.

The story of my “privy” is a long one.  When I moved into my house 30 years ago, the lid on the bank had been previously broken in 2 places and glues back together….badly.   The glue had been liberally applied and the excess, which had yellowed, had not been wipe off.  It looked so awful that I always draped a towel or napkin over it.   A few years later, it got dropped and broken again, this time it couldn’t be put back together again.  Luckily YA, Child back then, found an exact replacement at Architectural Antiques downtown.

I had learned early on to changed out the tank ball; it needed to be done every year or so.  I also installed a new fill valve several years back.  So when the trip lever broke about a year ago, I figured it would be a quick fix.  Wrong.  I won’t go into the excruciating detail, suffice it to say, it went from bad to worse and we ended up having to jiggle as we flushed and then jiggling again after the ball dropped.  Sometimes twice.  I’ve probably spent 40 hours in the last year trying to adjust, replacing levers, replacing the ball.  Awful. 

I was pretty sure what the plumber would tell me, but when he showed me what was contributing to my issues and talked through the repairs, I knew that I had been right to expect the worse.  He came back two days later and voila – a new throne!  It uses less water, fills faster and does its job better.  I almost wish I had replaced it years ago.  YA is reserving judgement as it’s taller than the old one.

Toilet paper – over or under?

Farming This Week

The weekend farm report comes to us from Ben.

Another Minnesota spring, jumps from rain and cold to 90°. Bailey still has her winter coat, she needs to start shedding soon. 

Remember the three Roosters? The dynamics are changing. Number Three is the boss now. Number Two can hang out with Three, but number One has been outcast. And three is kind of a bully. One and two got into it a while ago, full on neck feathers raised and jumping at each other with their claws. Bailey ran over and broke it up. Later, all three of them got into it. Again, Bailey ran over and broke it up. 

This week was supposed to be all about commencement. Turns out I spent more time at the doctors office than I did at commencement. The backache became a kidney stone, which became legs and feet numb. Lots of tests that are negative so far but I’m having kind of a tough time getting around.

Commencement went well, it was a real team effort and it wouldn’t have gotten done without student worker April, my brother Ernie, my theater partner Jerry, and Kelly, who drives me everywhere and helps out before going to get Amelia and doing all the chores at home. 
The lights were rented from a local guy, and he even offered to deliver them, which was a huge savings especially since I’m not driving. Had all the helpers getting things set up, hung, cabled, and focused. I was there some of the time pointing and giving helpful suggestions. Some phone calls, one video chat, and several text messages later, April is running lights for the nursing graduation and she did good and it looks great! 
Had help to take it all down again and the local guy picked it all back up. I am so lucky to have friends like this. 

Weather looks to be nice now for a week. Get my brother going in the tractor and I’ve talked with the neighbors about planting my corn.

Ducks and Chickens are still good and hanging in there. With the nicer weather, we could open the screen door so the chicks get some sunshine and fresh air.

When was the last time you stirred up trouble? Was it worth it?

Automotive Aeronautics

Saw a news story yesterday about a Tesla flying into a building.  Watch until the end, because the last camera’s viewpoint is fascinating.

Of course, I assumed it was a Tesla that was driving itself.  Imagine sitting back in your Tesla, kind of paying attention and suddenly you are crashing into a building.  Turns out that it was a guy driving; he said he lost control.  Witnesses suggested he had sped up to make a light before the car took wing.  So the story isn’t as fun as a Tesla auto-piloting it’s way into a building – not sure what that says about me.

I’m thinking the driver was incredibly lucky – his entry point into the building was the glass window and door entry way; if he had sailed into some other part of the building at that speed, I wouldn’t be writing this story because the poor guy would likely be pushing up daisies. 

When was the last time you flew anywhere?  Any flights coming up?

Before / After

The next step in the front porch drama has concluded.  I’m sure you remember the photos of tim and me from sandblasting last summer.  So so dirty. 

What I didn’t say at the time was that what we uncovered when we got rid of the 3-4 layers of paint was horrific.   Completely uneven, a few long gouges and all the holes from when the house had been insulated back in the `80s.  My vision of painting the weekend after the sandblasting and being done were shattered.  tim walked me through plastering process but as the weeks went on, I knew I wasn’t up to it.  3 years into this project, I just needed a professional.

I found The Stucco Guy through my hardware store.  He came out, looked it over, took a few photos and the next day sent me a quote.  I accepted but by this time it was too chilly to do stucco work so we made a date for this spring.

They came last Tuesday morning and spent most of the day prepping.  Then on Wednesday they did the base coat.  It was a little disheartening because it is dark gray on application and it made the front porch seem quite gloomy.  They assured me it would lighten up over night and they would do the final coat the next day. 

On Thursday, I purposely stayed upstairs in my home office; I was so worried how it would turn out and if I would like it.  When he texted me at 4:30 that they were done and cleaning up, I was almost afraid to go downstairs.  It’s so beautiful that when I stepped out onto the porch, I teared up a little.  Best news?  He didn’t increase the price he had estimated for me last fall.  Very reasonable for 3 days of work (for 2 of them) and such a fabulous result.

There is some work to be done yet, but it’s the kind of work that YA and I are qualified for (little sanding, little painting) and hopefully will be done within the next month.  Only 3+ years to remodel a small front porch.  Gotta love these old houses!

When was the last time you gave in and called a professional?

A Comedy of Errors

I was told this story on Sunday by a member of our Bell Choir. I thought is was pretty funny.

A couple of weeks ago, a member of my Bell Choir was playing the organ at a local Catholic wedding. She was under the impression that all she had to do was accompany the singer. Well, when she got to the church the day of the wedding, the priest informed her that she needed to play for the whole wedding service, including the liturgy. She had no music for the service, and had to rummage through the organist’s files until she found it. It wasn’t in the right order, however, so she just tried to wing it.

The organ in the church she was at is in the balcony at the back of the sanctuary, and unless people looked back, no one could see her. She phoned her cousin, who had played at several Catholic weddings, and her cousin talked her through the service. It came time for communion, and her cousin remembered that there had to be a hymn as the bread and wine were brought to the altar. She told my friend to just open the hymnal and play something. My friend hurriedly opened the hymnal and played the first chord of the song on the page to which it opened, which was in D major, and realized that she had opened the hymnal to Oh Come, All Ye Faithful, which wouldn’t have worked out for a Spring wedding. She sustained the D major chord with the foot pedals as she flipped through the hymnal to find another hymn in D major, and finally found one. I guess the rest of the wedding service went ok.

I can only imagine how nerve-racking that must have been. I sort of wish she had played Oh Come, All Ye Faithful. That would have really made the wedding one for the books.

Any comedy of errors you can tell about? What are some songs you would like to hear at a wedding?

Old Tech

This past weekend was a “comfort tv” weekend.  After a LOT of hours gardening and then recuperating in my studio while it rained, I was all about watching some of my standard oldies but goodies.

WarGames.  Looking at the technology that was over the top when the movie came out, it’s a little laughable now.  Rotary phones.  Dot matrix printer.  Oh, and Matthew Broderick makes a call from a phone booth.  Except for the ones that they keep around in London for tourist photo ops and the one that Dr. Who uses, are there phone booths anywhere anymore?

Hopscotch.  Walter Matthau types up his anti-CIA memories on an old typewriter, which he drags with him through the movie.  It’s not even an automatic return typewriter.  Phone booths in this movie as well.  Also, all the information on agents and criminals in on paper in a file room: when Matthau shreds his personnel file, they don’t even have a photo of him any longer.

Romancing the Stone.  At least Kathleen Turner is typing on an automatic return typewriter.  There are a few calls from phone booths in this one as well which is interesting since most of the movie takes place in the Colombian jungle.

Jumpin’ Jack Flash.  Whoopi Goldberg works in a bank on a data terminal (not even actually a computer).  She doesn’t have a phone on her desk – although there is one for the whole department of workers that they are only allowed to use in an emergency.  This means she ends up in a phone booth down the street.  (Then she gets dragged in the phone booth all over Manhattan but that’ another segue.)

A few things are clear.  #1. Phone booths and typewriters were clearly a lot more prevalent 30 years ago than they are today.  A bit of research reveals that you can still buy a typewriter (Brother and Royal are the top manufacturers out there) but they’re not a cheap as you would think they would be.   #2. The plots of a lot of the movies I like would really have to be punched up if there weren’t phone booths and typewriters abounding.  #3. All my comfort movies are way too old.

Do you still have a typewriter?  Do you use it?

Mystery Musical Score

Over the weekend, I watched “Bunny Lake is Missing” with Lawrence Olivier and Carol Lynley.  It’s about a woman whose daughter has disappeared and many folks seem to think she has made up the daughter.  I hadn’t really intended to watch it but the opening credits listed a handful of characters and then I noticed “The Zombies”.  My curiosity about how you get American actress Carol Lynley, British legend Lawrence Olivier and The Zombies into one movie got the better of me.

At one point, Olivier, who plays a police inspector, takes Lynley to a pub to get something to eat.  The tv above the bar is tuned to a channel playing a broadcast of The Zombies.  They are not identified at all.  Then in another scene, they can again be heard on a radio playing in the background.  There is no reference to the band at all – and no indication of why The Zombies.   I looked it up after the movie was finished and apparently 3 of the songs in the movie were written by them.  But I couldn’t find anything that suggests how Otto Preminger (producer and director) hooked up with the band.  I guess since the movie was shot over 55 years ago, we’ll probably never know.

How long do you think you’d survive in a zombie apocalypse?

Finally – Farming!

This week’s farm report comes to us from Ben.

Well, as I write this, we’ve had one nice sunny day. Finally got some ground worked up. It does dry faster once you open it up, but it’s pretty sticky yet. It is always interesting to me how different soil conditions can be in the same field. I took the ‘First Day of Spring Work’ selfie, packed my tractor snacks, and had my tractor buddy.

I did plant one field of oats; it wasn’t perfect but at least it’s in the ground. Hopefully the weather stays sunny and nice as predicted, and I will finish oats. The co-op called me and we’re coordinating corn fertilizer. Things are moving! Doing some tweaks on the new camera system inside the drill, but I think it’s going to be pretty neat. The photos show the empty tank, and then with seed getting low.

I have one neighbor whose fields are adjacent to mine. Met them along the fence line so we talked for a few minutes. Not any drier on his side of the fence.

 Baby chicks are looking good. They’re about Robin sized. We moved them to a bigger pen and I got them a bigger feeder. All they do is eat and drink.

I found a nest behind a building. It’s a mix of duck eggs and chicken eggs. I’m not quite sure what I’m gonna do about that yet. If I want them to have the best chance at hatching and surviving, I need to collect them all and put them in an incubator. I’ve already got a pen of baby chicks, so I’d have to find another pen for this batch. I can try to let the mama hatch them, and then moving them somewhere safe, but that means keeping an eye on her and the nest and trying to catch them some morning when they’re all on the loose (before the dogs catch them). 

Happy Birthday on the 6th to my wife. Happy Mothers day, too!

Any snacks you need for the road?

Reading Affairs

I got Chris’ newsletter yesterday; he asks for pictures of people reading his book at the beach (or anywhere else for that matter).  It got me thinking about my current reading state of affairs.  March and April were a little discombobulated around here — too much work for a few weeks, then the stinky weather, more than one home project in the works.

Not surprisingly, my reading has been a little discombobulated as well.  You all know that I am usually in the middle of a few books at once but the past several weeks have been off the charts.  Instead of working my way through whatever I started, I would just pick up something that I thought suited my mood.  This means that right now, I’m in the middle of nine books.

Walking the Old Road by Staci Drouillard.  This is a “history” of Chippewa City and the Grand Marais Anishinaabe.  I want to like this book a lot more than I actually like it.  The author wanders all over and rambles with a lot of detail that is actually distracting from her topic.  Unfortunately I’m listening to it on CD and the author speaks v.e.r.y.  d.i.s.t.i.n.c.t.l.y and v.e.r.y s.l.o.w.l.y. so it’s taking much longer than if I had just plowed through the print.

Beautiful: the Life of Hedy Lamarr by Stephen Shearer.  Quite interesting.  Hedy Lamarr was incredibly intelligent and all we remember about her is how beautiful she was.  She was actually the co-inventor of a radio guidance system for the Navy.  Who knew?

Coyote vs Acme by Ian Frasier.  Re-reading this because we talked about the author a couple of weeks ago.  Funny.  Very funny.

Autumn Light by Iyer Pico.  This one keeps getting shuffled to the bottom of the pile. The writing is quite nice but it’s a memoir of a man helping his wife navigate the grief of losing her mother and whenever I start to pick it up I think “too sad”.

American Aristocracy by David Heymann.  I’m reading this because it’s a biography of Amy Powell (and her famous family).  She wrote the poem “Giver of Stars” which features in a JoJo Moyes story of the same name.  I’ve read the first half really quickly because I find I’m not all the interested in her family – just her.

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver.  I’m just in the beginning of this, so hard to give any kind of synopsis, but it’s Barbara Kingsolver, so I’m pretty sure I will end up liking it a lot.

My Fine Fellow by Jennieke Cohen.  This is an alternate history re-write of Pygmalion.  It’s an intriguing idea but unfortunately the author is sticking way to closely to the original story, just with different characters, so it’s not feeling as fresh or original as it should.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick.  I picked this up because I just recently actually watched Blade Runner (I don’t know why I waited so long – but I did).  It had such an ambiguous ending that I thought I’d see what the book was like.  I’m only a couple of chapters in… I’m not a big Philip K Dick fan, but I think I’ll make it through.

Why Didn’t They Ask Evans by Agatha Christie.  Re-reading this because I saw recently that Hugh Laurie is producing and directing another version of Christie’s work.  This isn’t actually Christie’s best work by a long shot but I’m still enjoying it.

I have a couple of other books from the library on the bedstand and Chris’ book AND the Sherlock Holmes book I bought while at his signing last month.  Maybe now that work has let up and the weather is improving, I can stick with just three or four and get some of them finished!

What are you reading right now?

Chomping at the Bit

Chomping at the bit.  I think this is a horse reference, right?  I’m not a horse person but I’ve heard this phrase my whole life; I can see a horse chomping at a bit in my mind’s eye and I can certainly understand the feeling.  Something between your teeth that is driving you nuts and you can’t do anything about it.  I’m right there.

Although we’ve had a couple of superb days, the wait for days warm enough for gardening has been tough.  It’s been too cold (and/or rainy) to get out and do anything.  A few mornings last week as I was fertilizing and watering my bales, I felt like an idiot out there.  One of the mornings, it wasn’t even above freezing and it seemed like a fool’s errand to be preparing bales when I was sure it would be at LEAST 2 weeks until I could plant (I almost always plant on Mother’s Day). 

YA and I did hit Bachman’s on Sunday, but all the flowers and veggies are in their little pots, sitting on the front porch in those cardboard boxes that Bachman’s uses.  They’ll have to be watered a couple of times before we get to planting.

I’ve been busy enough at work that I couldn’t take any days off this week and both of my upcoming weekend days have an engagement right in the middle of the day!  So I either go out and get dirty, get cleaned up, then go out later and get dirty again or I only get work done in the yard in the morning or the afternoon.  Maddening.

What spring routines are you chomping at the bit to get to?

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