Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas for me

First of all, Season's Greetings to all, regardless the specific holiday you celebrate. It matters not what day you celebrate or for what reasons, just celebrate! As has been the case for the last couple of years I have been too busy in my head to sit down and make up the usual tissue of lies and unverifiable "facts" which were the substance of my Christmas letters of years past. It's not that I don't enjoy doing it; it's just that it requires a trance like state that I rarely achieve since I left my last job. Boy, those were the days! I remember getting up at an uncivilized hour, driving 15 miles to the commuter rail and then riding the train into Boston to earn a good wage, mostly for putting up with a ridiculous amount of crap from people who were even more unhappy than I was. In the evening I would reverse the commute, come home, eat, complain, go to bed--rinse and repeat. Taking leave of that job, despite the loss of the income and benefits was one of the happier days of my life. I have been busy for the last three years with finding and working on my house. It is an ugly beast, still, but it's my own home--something I never thought I would have. I've not been as happy with life in general as I am at this moment. I spend my days ripping old work out, measuring for new work, cutting things to length, throwing them away and measuring carefully, this time and repeating the process until I get it right (or close enough!). On the days when my gimpy leg and aching left shoulder are being less quarrelsome than usual, I do things like hanging sheetrock, wrestling a pellet stove into position (eight times, two different stoves--first one didn't work properly) making dump runs and so many trips to the local Lowe's that most people who work there know me well enough to greet me--or run to hide when they see me coming!
I've met a lot of good people and some jerks. I am fairly well known as the "guy who takes all the pictures". The camera has been a great tool for breaking the ice with folks--most of them, anyway. I now do some photography for the Chamber of Commerce; I volunteer at the local non-profit entertainment venue, The Oswego Music Hall , photographing musicians and I do pro bono work for any other non-profits that I can help out. I intend to open my photography business in the coming spring and hope that the visibility I've gotten from doing the volunteer work will be my "advertising budget".
As John Lennon once said, "Life is what happens while you're making other plans.". I'm not sure what might have been, but I'm grateful for what is. I was talking to a gentleman, not too long ago, who is a world traveller and has been to some very exotic locales. He and I often chat about geographical, scientific or philosophical esoterica--both of us read omnivourously--and have some fine conversations. When I told him that I had not had the pleasure of traveling as widely as he has he said, "That may be true, but you notice things. If you went down to Minetto (a village five miles to the south of Oswego) you would see something that other people, including the ones who live there, missed.". I think that's fairly accurate. I travel pretty small but I try to see pretty big.
When this time of the year rolls around I do miss my family. It's not that I'm lonely, I don't mind being by myself for a lot of most days--and, yes, I do enjoy the company of friends or friendly strangers--it's more about not seeing and spending time with all my wonderful siblings and their children and grandchildren. I am so happy to be around all the little ones (even though I'm a terrible curmudgeon) and see them and their parents having a good time. Of course being the, now, elderly uncle, I don't gotta worry about changing diapers, although soothing an unhappy baby is something I'm fairly good at doing. The outings and parties with a trainload of sibs, neices, nephews, in-laws, outlaws and scads of kidaloos are really what I enjoy most about going to visit family. I hope that, one day, when my home is habitable--for those with more conventional ideas and traditional notions of what constitutes "suitable for habitation"--that some of you will come to visit, during the summer months when we often have long and lovely days of sun, mild temperatures and friendly breezes off Lake Ontario--a mile or two to the north of my house.
Now then, to the subject of Christmas. This Christmas season has been a good one., thus far. I have gotten some lovely swag from a few friends and a very nice gift or two from some of y'all. The goodies are greatly appreciated, but the cards and letters about what your families have been doing for the last year are what I truly treasure. For those of you who may not have my current snail mail and e-mail information, I'll include it in the copy of this that is e-mailed.
Gosh, I guess it got to be long winded, meandering and full of the usual sort of non-sequitirs--in other words, Mission Accomplished!!
May you all enjoy a wonderful holiday season and a happy, healthy and hopeful 2010. Merry ChrisKwanukahnalia!!
  • N.B.:
About the photos: Some of you will, no doubt, recognize the signatures/card motifs/photos; thereby knowing that your Christmas missives have been entered into the Frigidaire Photo Placement Contest. There are two rules, as per last year, for the contest.
Rule 1.) Cards will be advanced per a very complicated formula (including but not limited to such criteria as: child cuteness, family grooming AND--this is a big one--everyone looking at the camera at the same time! ) at the discretion of the sole judging authority (that would be me).
Rule B.) Inclusion of pictures of deceased American notables, printed in that delicious combination of black, green and now, colored inks on Crane's very best currency paper will, as always, exert some considerable influence on the judge. In the event of a tie, in terms of the more subjective criteria listed in Rule 1, likenesses of Ulyssess S. Grant, Benjamin Franklin, William McKinley, Grover Cleveland, James Madison and Salmon P. Chase will weigh, in inverse order, heavily on the judging authority.
  • N.B.P.S., too, also:
The doggy card is from my pal, Buddy, the around the corner Dachshund/God knows what else mix who spent his summer holiday at my home (he loves a place full of nooks and crannies to explore) and his mom, the nice lady who needed cataract surgery, thus necessitating Buddy's stay during her convalescence.
  • N.B. , Oh, yeah, one more thing:
Those yellow and shiny refrigerator magnets are my nifty german precision levels. They tell me, among other things, how far off plumb and level my finish work will be!
Many of you already go to "The Coyote Chronicles" . Those of you who don't had better do so. The subject of today's post is easily the best Christmas song I've heard in years! Happy Holidays, Mack!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tolerance is sometimes a vice

Tolerance is sometimes a vice? When I put something up on this blog, or read posts on other blogs, and the comment threads are filled with comments that run the gamut from humorous to toxic--that's okay with me. What's not okay is when threadjackers descend on blogs to push their own narrow agendas and try to turn someone else's platform into their own bully pulpit. Anyone who disagrees with me, here or elsewhere is welcome to do so. When their disagreements are based in honest argument I will either agree, disagree or ignore them. When they are obvious trolls I will do what I can to chase them off. By "obvious troll" I mean those commenters who have no desire to do anything but disrupt the thread to the point of having other commenters give up and walk away. Many of the trolls have their own blogs which, of course, they invite people to visit. This particular bait is not tempting to me. If they had a legitimate point I wouldn't be calling them "trolls" in the first place. Since they are trolls I see no reason to advance their hit counts. Occassionally, readers of my blog will notice that I have deleted a comment. Those comments are deleted because the people who have made them have been told that they would be. So, here's the short rules list. Say what you like when you visit my blog. Profanity, obscenity, personal insults--all fine, as long as you have a legitimate point to make. Personal threats--not so much. Those get screen capped and sent to other folks so that there will be a record. What prompts this post is my visits to a couple of other blogs. Both blogs are written by very intelligent and high-minded ladies who encourage diversity of opinion and do not simply excise those comments that they disagree with. Both of them also allow commenters who are, imo, trolls of the first order. I have no problem arguing, or even being wrong, when arguing with someone who is better prepared and relies on incontrovertible facts to buttress their arguments. When the arguments are based on opinion, anecdote, quote mining and cherry picking there is no point in arguing as they already "know" the truth and are attempting to convert people. That's all I got for the moment.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

This Old Hovel

Well, we broke a record (at Syracuse Airport) recently for the most consecutive days without at least an inch of measurable snowfall--something like 285 days. It appears that we will be getting more normal weather for the indefinite future. The current weather forecast for Oswego, NY and its environs, courtesy this site: Today...Some snow showers early...Then lake effect snows drifting south into northern sections this afternoon. Blowing snow. Accumulation 3 to 6 inches in the most persistent snows across the northern part of the county. Very windy. Early morning highs in the lower 30s...Then temperatures falling into the mid 20s. Southwest winds 25 to 40 mph...Becoming west with gusts up to 60 mph. Chance of snow near 100 percent. Tonight...Lake effect snow and blowing snow. Snow May be heavy at Times. Additional accumulation 9 to 17 inches in the most persistent snows. Very windy and colder with lows around 20. Southwest winds 25 to 40 mph...Becoming west. Gusts up to 55 mph. Chance of snow near 100 percent. Friday...Lake effect snow. Areas of blowing snow. Snow May be heavy at Times. Additional accumulation 8 to 16 inches in the most persistent snows. Windy with highs in the mid 20s. West winds 20 to 30 mph. Gusts up to 45 mph. Chance of snow near 100 percent. Friday Night...Lake effect snow. Snow May be heavy at Times. Brisk with lows in the lower 20s. West winds 15 to 25 mph. Chance of snow near 100 percent. Saturday...Lake effect snow. Highs around 30. West winds 15 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 90 percent. Saturday Night...Mostly cloudy with a chance of flurries. Lows 15 to 20. Sunday...Partly sunny. Highs in the mid 30s. Sunday Night...Mostly cloudy. Lows in the mid 20s. Monday...Mostly cloudy. Highs in the upper 30s. Monday Night...Mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of snow showers. Lows in the upper 20s. Tuesday...Mostly cloudy with a chance of snow and rain showers. Highs in the upper 30s. Chance of precipitation 30 percent. Lucky for me I live at the SW end of the county, where we might only get a dusting to a couple of feet, depending on which street you live on! The snowfall amounts measured at the weather observatories are often wildly at odds with what is experienced in areas that are quite close to those sites. Hey, I got my pellet stove (actually the second one, the first one didn't work and I had to swap it out for another unit) and if my back of the envelope math is correct I should be able get the first floor up to a tolerable temp. I'm closing off the second floor to both conserve energy and to keep from having the roof get too warm and have melting snow forming ice dams up there. I think I've got a little record of my own going. I'm approaching a year of having my house be treerat free. I am sitting here listening to some Suzy Boggus and Leonard Cohen. I am also listening to the wind howl. I think the house is finally stiff enough to stop rocking in anything like normal wind. Last year when the wind was blowing this hard I was reminded of that nursery rhyme, "Rockabye Baby". Some fair sized beams, lots of framing connectors and let-in steel wall bracing seems to have helped immensely. Life is good, as long as one doesn't weaken.