Sunday, March 26, 2006

Today's ... Um, Activities


Today's task was a prosaic one: clean out the pig sty that my office has become to make it presentable for company later this week. Wait. That might have been an insult to the country's porcine population. In any event, the closet in question, along with a nearby twin bed have become the repository for anything that had no "home." The closet was literally filled to the underside of the shelf and was overflowing out onto the floor in the room. The results of today's efforts:

Today's Cleaning Project - The Floor Is Visible!

En route to this peaceful and buccolic outcome lay pitfalls, yea, veritable road hazzards. The shredder, normally of voracious appetite, choked fearfully to a halt. Electronic Heimlick manuvers were to no avail.

Careful examination revealed the impediment: the auto-off switch mechanically blocked the paper wad from being regurgitated during the electronic Heimlick manuver. Surgical intervention was urgently needed to extract the wad of paper so eagerly devoured but so impossible to consume.

The initially tentative efforts with the kitchen knife cum letter opener dubbed "scalpel" became more vigorous in the face of lack of effect. While firmly grasping the constipated switch mechanism with left hand and operating with the right on the errant mechanism, Newton's laws of thermodynamics were once again proven conclusively:

1. An object in motion will tend to stay in motion until acted upon by an outside force causing it to come to rest

2. Two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time.

SCORE: Knife: 1 Thumb: 0

Enter [stage right] wife: "Don't you think that you need a bandaid for that?"

Injured Male (washing hand vigorously under running cold water with lots of soap foam and rinsing with copious amounts of cold water from the tap): "No, dear, I think that this one is past bandaids."

Wife: "I'll get you some gauze to put on it. You want some antibiotic ointment, too?"

Injured Male (while repeating the foam soap washing and rinsing in cold water): "Honey, I think that this one will need a trip to the ER and a few stitches."

Wife: "Here's a paper towel to put on it." [Exits right, sits down, removes flip-flops and starts putting on shoes after first reaching for winter down parka and changing her mind]

Injured Male[holding tight pressure on injured left thumb with right hand]: "I'm not going to change my slippers."

Wife: "No, but I am, I'm driving."

At the ER, former place of employment for injured male, he is greeted with smiles of glee by one and all with thoughts that are not even concealed: "Hey, what did you do to yourself!" It's been nearly a year - and this is the welcome he gets! However, being taken immediately to a room and having one female former co-worker after another come in to chat (four in all - three in the line of duty, actually) staying longer than their duties required.

And after less than an hour's wait - at just after 11 AM on a Sunday morning - and four sutures later, he is bade farewell to return home to wrestle with the errant shredder. This time, though, with needle nose pliers, the tool that should have been chosen the first time around and which required less than 5 minutes to rectify the entire situation.

Photographic documentation of dressing and wound follow for your viewing pleasure - for those of medical or curious bent of mind:

Afternoon Dressing

The wound would likely not have oozed as much blood if I had not continued cleaning through out the afternoon. Time was limited and the job was not getting done on it's own...

Dressing Removed

They asked me at the ER what my pain score was: "1 - right after it happened maybe 2 or 3." It has ached a bit but not overly so. I will doubtless take some Tylenol prior to bedtime.

Cleaned Up

As you can see, it is a well done suturing job for which I am very grateful. I look forward to some healing (hopefully without infection as it was thoroughly cleaned both before and after arriving in the ER) in time to play clarinet this coming weekend.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Belt Bought (Suspenders Shipped)

External Hard Drive


Yes, we finally bought an external hard drive ( which is USB 2.0 only (not Firewire as well). It is 160 GB which works out to 148 GB storage capacity. It has proprietary back up software which we used a couple nights ago to back up the laptop hard drive: 2.5 hours for 8.5 GB with a final file size of about 5.5 GB (~33% compression at the highest compression setting). It cost $106 with free shipping and arrived in about 3 - 4 days even though the "free" shipping was 9 - 10 days delivery time.


At the same time we bought a copy of Norton Ghost 2003, the last version of the "real" (that is, DOS-based) Ghost. The two newer versions (9 & 10) are Windows-based versions of Drive Copy, a completely different product that now carries the Ghost label. This will not be a retail version - I believe it will be an OEM install CD only. I have been reading online the
Radified Guide to Norton Ghost to learn how to run the software to make a "image" of the hard drive which takes less time (~1/2 hour) to reinstall in the event of a hard drive failure.

This external hard drive should be large enough to image all three of our computers with space to spare. The next larger hard drive cost about double what I spent for this drive, so the price point was good. As AllanE pointed out, this hard drive cost less than the 80 GB external hard drive that we bought him just a year or so ago. That drive saved a huge amount of time when his work laptop hard drive died the day after our laptop hard drive quit.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Concert Today ~ Last Week's Project

Today was the day that our community band performed for the church service at a local church. Not one song - eight songs! We basically performed a 45 minute sacred concert. OK. An hour counting two saxaphone duets, a flute solo and a vocal solo that filled out the program.

The really big news is that I got to play my new clarinet for the concert. I have been unable to put the clarinet together or play it for about 3 weeks as it was too dry to assemble safely. The rings were loose on the bell - both ends, and the left C key wouldn't play because the wood had shrunken to the point it wouldn't re-open after being used. The wood was in great danger of splitting.

I contacted my clarinet expert/repairman who warned me to get some humidity into it (see the previous post). Many have been the efforts to get enough moisture into it:

1. A moist paper towel in a small cup
2. Large humidor
3. 2 small humidors
4. And finally a moist paper towel right in the bell of the instrument inside the case, is what did the trick (that is what I did in academy and college - low tech but effective).

Clarinet Humidifiers

As you can see it took a lot to tighten up those rings but it was worth the effort as that clarinet really does sound very good.

Last weekend's project was to reinforce the bunk beds so they will be safe for our grandchildren. It only took two (of the requisite three) trips to the hardware store to finish the project.

Reinforced Bunk Beds

1. The top and bottoms bunks are held together with bracing strips at each corner.
2. The back side and rear of the bunks are cross-braced.
3. The exposed side of the top bunk has a built-in bed rail/board to prevent children from falling out of bed.

That bed board/rail is a bit unique for being screwed at the bottom and brace at both ends at the top with U-bolts.

We have bought two new mattresses - one moderate priced "memory foam" with a box "spring" and frame that can be taken to use in a college apartment, if need be, and the other a less expensive and more typical bunk bed foam mattress of the $100 variety. We already had two Sealy Posturpedic mattresses, so we should now be set for the near future.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Jean Went To The Tobacconist

The Setup:

One week ago tonight I was asked to play my clarinet for church last Sabbath and was pleased to find a song that fit the pastor's topic of the day quite nicely. I spent a couple hours transcribing it by hand for clarinet and another couple starting a PowerPoint slide show with words and graphics to show while I played. Beth came home and did a marvelous job of revising my slide show by adding more powerful photos. And Sabbath it went very well - praise to God!

However, on Friday night the left hand C key would not work. I took it apart, re-seated the spring, oiled the key. Nothing worked. I used an alterate fingering which my pinky finger on the right hand "catches" every time I try to play that note which made me quite anxious.

Monday I called the clarinet repair man. Tuesday he called me back. The loose rings on the bell, the difficulty assembling the bell onto the lower joint. The sticking key. ALL have one source: the clarinet has SHRUNKEN in the DRY HOUSE!

He suggested getting tobacco humidors to moisten the case. The smaller ones that he recommended were out of stock and are due in tomorrow. Jean bought a larger one (~$5) that I think has started to make a little difference - the top ring is slightly starting to stick when I turn it - so we are making progress.

This is STILL all due to the uncured wood that is used to build new clarinets. He (clarinet repair man) said that it may be two full years before this instrument is not longer very sensitive to environmental change.

On the plus side, he also said that on Monday he saw a wooden oboe that had a 7 inch crack in it from the same cause: too dry! At least my instrument has been resistent to cracking thus far. I need to stop trying so hard to play it no matter what and also need to oil it yet again - I've been playing it so little, I've slacked off on oiling the bore. This weekend. For sure.