...the Elevated Record

Blog from the Hill


December 31, 20/20

Happy New Year!

In four hours, by my clock, 20/20 will cease to be; become an ex-year; be relegated to the scrap heap of what might have been, once, but is no more. A new year will have begun, at least as marked on our wall calendars. Wait - my wall calendar stops tonight! Since I know that modern society is far more advanced than the Mayans, I guess it will be, finally, the end of the world! (I can hardly wait!).

Is that all there is? If that's all there is, my friends, then let's keep dancing. Let's break out the booze and have a ball, if that's all there is...

December 30, 20/20

After uploading the particulars of my failure to export the template I was working on in Artisteer to their customer service, they emailed me back and said it was a problem with their server. It is fixed. I have just exported the template and installed it in my blog. It is ready for me to designate it as Default on January 1st. It won't be a great shock to my readers, for I've only changed the photo at the banner and the color of the banner background and the body of the reports. What might shock them is that I've changed the slogan from ...It will be easier, they said... to Red Sky in the Morning.

Becky and I spent a few hours with Suzanne this morning/afternoon, during which time we enjoyed "Honky Tonky Winky Wonky Dark Chocolate Toffee Coffee", some Chicken Cassoulet and GF Coconut Cake. We ate way too much (and likely too fast), but it was a birthday feast, for sure. Yummy!

In honor of the Mystic Monks Dark Chocolate Toffee Coffee, I borrowed from the Wonky Donkey book and wrote this parody:

I walked into my kitchen and I saw – some coffee. It smelled like hard, chewy candy…
It was a Toffee Coffee.

I walked into my kitchen and I saw – some coffee. It smelled like hard, chewy candy and it was on a high shelf…
It was a Lofty Toffee Coffee.

I walked into my kitchen and I saw – some coffee. It smelled like hard, chewy candy, it was on a high shelf and it was chuckling to itself...
It was a Laughing Lofty Toffee Coffee.

I walked into my kitchen and I saw – some coffee. It smelled like hard, chewy candy, it was on a high shelf, it was chuckling to itself and had foam on it...
It was a Frothy Laughing Lofty Toffee Coffee.

I walked into my kitchen and I saw – some coffee. It smelled like hard, chewy candy, it was on a high shelf, it was chuckling to itself, had foam on it and liked to sit still all day...
It was a Slothie Frothy Laughing Lofty Toffee Coffee.

I walked into my kitchen and I saw – some coffee. It was delicious!

(with thanks to the Wonky Donkey and the Mystic Monks).

Below is a photo of the Gluten-Free Coconut Cake.
It looks a bit like a white, fuzzy frog, but it tasted
Just right!

A Gluten-Free Coconut Cake (looks like a white, fuzzy frog)

December 29, 20/20

For the 3rd Tuesday in a row, the person who was supposed to read Compline on Facebook Videos Live didn't. I don't know if she's dead, dying, hospitalized with a malignant hangnail in her left great toe or what. Maybe she decided to take the rest of the year off or quit altogether. It would be nice, though, to know and maybe have someone step in to take her place instead of just leaving Tuesdays blank. <End Rant Here>

I went to the stores today to do a little grocery shopping. I bought some Irish Cream at the ABC, some hot dogs - no - some Great Dogs/tissues/red kidney beans at Publix and distilled water/sweetened condensed milk at Ingles. Then I came home and spent some real money! I found an ultrasonic (actually 50KHz) cleaner for deep cleaning things like jewelry, stained clothing, glasses, dentures and possibly even the oven trays that have gotten so badly varnished with grease that they cannot be cleaned by normal means. They say all you need is some detergent, a basin or vat large enough to hold the things you're cleaning AND enough water to completely cover them. Well, shucks, I got all that stuff, so I ordered one - that and three water filters for the kitchen sink.

Oh, and I also replaced my template maker, because the old one wouldn't export the project I had been developing. I'm so clever. The new one won't save it, either, so I wrote a nasty-gram to the developers to see why it won't do it. The old one always used to save the projects. Is there something inherantly flawed in the project, or has my Windows computer got a virus? Digital Covid? (Say it ain't so!).

December 28, 20/20

Monday-Monday, can't trust that day!

I didn't get a Bible Study this morning, Starbucks reneged on my Birthday Reward, my computer totally locked up when I was complaining to Starbucks online, my template making software (Artisteer) refused to export my project, the weatherman was trying to talk so fast that he flubbed every other word and a caller (who couldn't help it) kept muttering all the while she wasn't speaking. I had a total meltdown!

The project that didn't get exported was a redesigned template for this Blogsite. I might have to start 2021 with 2020's template, but since this one has only seen use for a few months, it shouldn't matter that much. Thing is, I think the new photo in the header is much cooler (or maybe hotter) - Red Sky in the Morning. I should have taken a warning, I guess.

December 27, 20/20

I got frustrated, this morning, because the church service that was supposed to start at 10:30am was 13 minutes late. It was Lessons and Carols, and while in the past, in different churches, the Mass was celebrated after the Service of the Word (with L&C substituted therefor), this morning there was no Mass. I had prepared our "Remote Elements" (bread and wine), but they weren't consecrated. It didn't stop us from consuming them, though.

FInding out that my Linux computers don't have the same features in Zoom or Facebook Meet as the Windows computers do, I decided to attend the Virtual Coffee Hour using my Windows one so I could have a background and some other fun effects. That was a wasted effort, though, because the church's website has been redesigned, and in doing so, the link that used to sign me into the Virtual Coffee Hour - didn't. Zoom asked me to enter a pass code for the first time ever. I didn't have a pass code, so we had to finish our wine in only each other's company.

I did get the remnants of the snow and ice off the car, this afternoon, and went to the store to replenish our food supply. I found quite a few other goodies that weren't on the shopping list, too, but that's what Becky gets for letting me do the food shopping. <Evil Grin>

December 26, 20/20

Happy Birthday to ME!

I awoke this morning a year older than when I went to bed: 74! I never expected to live this long, but don't think I'm complaining. No, I'm tickled, or as Susy would put it, I'm "Pickled Tink".

I celebrated my birthday by staying home and resting. I didn't go out and shoven the 3" of snow from the footpath, mostly because I didn't do any shoveling, but also because there was very little snow on the concrete to be a hinderance to woot travel, even if I were inclined to do that. There was, though 3" of snow on the car. I didn't clear that off, either, though in the afternoon, when the sun had cleared the street, I did back the car out, turn it around and back it in again, to present the windshield to the afternoon sun. It didn't make any appreciable difference, so before sunset, I turned it around again.

We had been invited to a Birthday Dinner at Suzanne's, but since her brother had to leave his car at the bottom of their mountain and make the one-mile climb to the house, that dinner was postponed until the coming week. Like we do in the Episcopal Church, I considered my birthday to be a "Movable Feast". We'll get around to it, soon enough.

December 25, 20/20

Merry Christmas!

We started to watch a pre-recorded video, and Melinda called, so barely one minute into the video, we talked with her for about an hour, and it would have been longer, but Suzanne called and we excused ourselves from the long call and called her back. We didn't talk with her all that long, but before we had finished, another call from Melinda came through. While we were saying goodbye to her, Sid called. We were in time to answer his call, and spoke with him too. So, with the Christmas wishes duely exchanged, during which we managed to consume some Lentil soup for lunch. We finally got the video watched, then recalled that we hadn't "attended" our church service at 10am, so I changed the channel to YouTube, found the recorded video thereof, watched it, celebrated the Eucharist, and fulfilled our obligation to church.

December 24, 20/20

Merry Christmas Eve!

We found out that our favorite Sirius XM station on Dish TV has been changed from Symphonic Hall to Classical Christmas, though it's still Sirius channel 76. Siriusly? We hope it's just for the holidays and that it will return to Symphonic Hall afterward.

At 4pm, we met the Church on Zoom for a Christmas Carol Sing Along. Anyone who uses Zoom knows that each computer runs at a different speed, and each Internet connection runs at a different speed. It makes it very frustrating for me, because I, personally, seem to run on Mountain Time (Z+8 or so). More often than not, when I start talking, someone else has already started talking, but I haven't heard them yet because of the slowness of my particular web node. Therefore, their voice will come over my speakers and it makes it sound to me as though they don't give a damn that someone else is already talking, they're going to say whatever it is they want. I know I shouldn't take it personally, but I do feel bad because I rarely get to share anything with the group. So, naturally, when questions were asked about our favorite memories of Christmas, I tried to put in my two cents worth, and one time in five I got it said without anyone else interrupting. I think even Becky got to jump in and contribute one of her favorite stories.

We have one other Church function to attend tonight, at 8pm, and that is the Christ Mass on YouTube, so I'm not able to contribute anything, not will I be expected to.

December 23, 20/20

Happy LunaVersary!

I went to the dentist this morning to get my bridge permanently cemented. When the dentist pulled to bridge off of the temporary cement, the molar to which it had been attached became quite offended, for after all its warm hat had just been removed. Then, to multiply the offence, the dentist insisted of removing the cement that had remained on the tooth. At the same time, the bicuspid, which was also beneath the bridge, didn't seem to care. However, the stronger cement was mixed and applied, and at first Mr. Molar threw a fit because the bridge was now cold! By the time I had driven home, though, he had calmed down and forgotten his anger. He finds the stronger cement warmer, somehow, and now only fights with food, not out of anger, but because he just loves to bite things.

December 22, 20/20

Becky and I drove to the World Market to purchase some sugar free Torani Syrups that she uses to sweeten her coffee. We found four flavors to her liking, and put them into our shopping cart, Then I saw a display of stuffed olives. Some were stuffed with garlic, some with sun-dried tomatoes, some with feta cheese, and so forth. We got the garlic and tomato ones. Then, before we could make good our escape, we saw a freezer with pints of Hard Ice Cream. We got some Egg Nog ice cream, and if it weren't for the rum they had added to it, it would have tasted like ice cream (same ingredients as egg nog, save for the nutmeg). Becky didn't appreciate the rum as much as I did, and in fairness, it was the predominant flavor and while a half-pint wasn't enough to make her tipsy, she has cultivated a dislike for most alcoholic drinks. She tolerates Irish Cream quite well, though.

I drove out to the store later to pick up some water filters (PUR) and cash in a $2-off coupon. The coupon says it is for multi-packs, but all the grocery stores carry are single cartridges. I was told, though, that Bed, Bath and Beyond carried the multi-packs (2, 4 or 5 to a box). They didn't. But, so I wouldn't have wasted a trip, I did buy a knee pillow about the size of an old bicycle seat (I have been using a King-size pillow, which makes it terribly complicated to turn over) and a package of floss threaders to clean under my new bridge (and make sure there are no trolls under there).

Again tonight, there was no Compline video on the church's facebook page. The same officient has missed a few weeks in a row, now, and one of the other officients was having trouble with her ISP last Friday, and so there wasn't one then, either. I wonder how long it will be before Rev. Milly pulls the plug on our videos. If she does, I can envision me continuing to read it on Mondays, even on my own facebook page. Wait and see...

December 21, 20/20

Happy Solstice / First day of Winter!

I got up early, because it's Monday and Trash & Recycling Pickup Day. Looking out my bedroom window, I saw that the sky was clear, but 20 minutes later, after dressing, I wheeled the trash and recycling buckets to the curb in a rather dense fog. It was the kind of day we pilots would call EBAW - Even Birds are Walking, and yet I was accompanied by the squaking of a flock of geese as they flew overhead. They must have been VFR on Top, another pilot's term indicating the ability to fly by Visual Flight Rules on top of a layer of cloud.

Bible Study, this morning, threw me for a loop, at first. I had studied next Sunday's lesson, as we usually do take a look at the next Sunday's lesson in Bible Study, but to my surprise, we discussed the Christmas Eve lesson instead. All of my observations went out the window, and of course, I had no such observations for the lesson discussed. I just listened.

We drove to Suzanne's after Becky's allergy shots, enjoyed some of her famous Split Pea Soup, using Bugles as croutons, with a side of olives and open-face melted cheese and tomato sandwiches. Then we played three games of Mah Jongg. I won the first hand with Confusion, Suzanne won the second with a terminals hand, and Becky squeeked out the third with a Pungity-Pair hand (a home-grown had of 3-Pungs and a Pair).

We got home about 5:30pm, napped for an hour, then made final preparations for our Monday evening reading of Compline, during which we sang Come, thou Long Expected Jesus to the tune Hyfrydol. It turned out pretty well, even though I branched off with the Tenor part for the second stanza, during which the accompaniment used my own harmonization. If you're interested to hear it, surf on over to GraceAsheville/Videos

December 20, 20/20

The Fourth Sunday in Advent

The morning's service on YouTube was quite good, with a stimulating sermon about Mary and her cousin Elizabeth, and how they were totally unprepared to be instrumtnes of change, yet were totally willing to carry out their calling. 

Then this evening, though tomorrow is the actual date of the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, I couldn't resist getting a snapshot of it. It appears to have been a star set upon the tree at the bottom of our hill. I've put that photo as wallpaper on my laptop, but I may have to redo it tomorrow if it truly appears to be the Star of Bethlehem, as they are saying on the News.

December 19, 20/20

I awoke at about 7AM, saw that the temperature was 25 degrees, looked at the sky and found a bright red horizon. I thought, 'That will make a great photo,' but by the time I had finished my morning clean-up routine, the red was gone, completely. Maybe someone will have captured it for me.

For some reason, this evening's Compline service, though it was broadcast, had no audio with it. For the second night in a row, we read our own Compline, which is perfectly legit, but totally changes it from a shared Order of Service to a private devotion.

December 18, 20/20

We awoke to 28 degree temperatures, decided not to go anywhere today unless absolutely necessary, dressed warmly, kept the drapes drawn and vegged out for the day.

We tried to help Melinda with her problems, but apparently our "help" didn't help. We're feeling a little helpless where she is concerned, and wonder if there is any way she can resolve the situation.

Naturally, while we were on the phone with her, another call came through, so I left Becky with her sister's call and returned the incoming call. It was from Suzanne, reporting the good news that her Medicare Provider (and ours), Humana, has gifted her a huge box of medical equipment, the likes of which she (nor we) can afford. I am left wondering if fI will be gifted, in like wise, with such a box. In a way I hope so, because it would make monitoring our health much easier, not to mention maintaining a more healthy environment. Since Becky and I have opted to change providers in 23 days, I'm guessing we might not receive one.

December 17, 20/20

More shots, this morning, which turned out to be uneventful. On the way home, though, as I turned to enter our neighborhood, there was a police car at the side of the road, and two smashed cars in the front yard of the second house from the corner. The policeman was standing near his cruiser and he turned and watched me as I slowed from 30 MPH on Bingham Road to the requisite 20 MPH on Thomas Street. I think he liked the color of our car, and why not, because it is a very unusual shade of green.

This afternoon, I drove to Publix and raided their supplies of tissues (two boxes only, by store regulations), coffee filters, spaghetti sauce, Gluten-Free pizza, GF frozen meals and Klondike Bars. After dinner, though, I started feeling like I had to use the toilet, but nothing was forthcoming. Three hours later, I still feel that way. I'm beginning to wonder about my digestive system.

By massaging my left TMJoint, last night and a few times today, my jaw has not hurt at all. By the same token, using the sciatic nerve relief stretches that I learned yesterday, I have not had any discomfort all day. 

December 16, 20/20

First thing in the morning, I had my permanent bridge installed, but with temporary cement because I've been having some discomfort in my jaw, and the dentist wants to rule out the need for a root canal before putting the bridge in place more securely. Late last night, I realized that the discomfort I've been feeling was from Temopromandibular Joint dysfunction (TMJ), and not from the teeth at all. I'm sure he will be pleased to learn that.

We got to see the chiropractor in the afternoon. After driving there with the seat-warmers running, our muscles were warm and relaxed, so the adjustments went really easily. I had mentioned some sciatic nerve pain in my left hip, and was shown some exercises to stretch the connective tissues and ease the trauma to the nerve itself. I did them last night at bedtime, on both legs, and found that the right leg needed it as much as - or more than - the left. I was been pain-free all night.

I got a call from the Geek Squad at Best Buy, informing me that Becky's computer was ready, and I could make an appointment to pick it up. The appointment I made was for 5:20PM, so I left the house at 5PM, forgot my mask, so returned to the house and got a mask, then got to the store two minutes after the appointed time. It didn't really matter, because there were three clerks at the Geek Squad counter and no customers near it. I brought the computer home, and got it hooked up. It works quite well, and we couldn't be happier.

December 15, 20/20

"Beware the Ides of December!"

This morning, there was nobody ahead of Becky when she entered the clinic for her allergy shots, so she was in and out in record time.

From there we drove to Best Buy to take her computer in for general maintenance and "de-lousing", as I call it. I hadn't called for an appointment, and waited, as a walk-in, until there were no appointees to be served, and then they took the computer and wrote it up for the works. Perhaps it will become the young, fast computer it was always supposed to be. The check-in process took less than 20 minutes. Then I went to find two cables that I needed for my computer: an HDMI cable to connect my Lenovo to the monitor; and a USB-USB cable to connect the same computer to the Wi-Fi, because the Wi-Fi thingie inside it was not able to remain connected for more than five minutes. Finding the cables sans-help took another 20 minutes, then waiting in line took yet another 20 minutes. Now all we need is the word that her computer has been cleaned out, passed all the tests and is ready to be picked up again. Likely by Friday.

We ate lunch at TGI Friday's, since we were right around the corner from it.

December 14, 20/20

As I was listening to Classical Minnesota Public Radio this morning, I heard a piece of music that I recognized. On the album, PDQ Bach on the Air, Prof. Peter Schickle was bad-mouthing Beethoven, and Beethoven was offended and started striking him with strident chords. Those chords came from Beethoven's 4th symphony, 4th movement. I learned a little about Beethoven from that, and in fact I'm finding that the music I used to dislike has become quite enjoyable. As Prof. Peter said, "...he did write some good stuff...".

Suzanne called, just after the start of Bible Study, to ask if we were interested in coming up for some Latkes, since this is the first time since the start of Hannukah (last Saturday) that we felt like frying them up. I guess she got tired of waiting for our response, feeling that we might be out and about, and when I did return her call, some 40 minutes later, she said that I had called exactly 22 seconds after she had mixed in the non-gluten-free flour! But, to make up for it, she had enough of the potato/egg (and whatever else) mixture to make some gluten-free ones - or she could make something that she had read about on facebook, Latke Covered Pickles! Well, she had us at pickles! 20 minutes later, we were seated at her table eating the pickles and enjoying them immensely.

After some relaxing and conversing, she made some chocolate shortbread, again using the gluten-free flour, and they turned out to be quite delicious, also. Needless to say, we were delighted and "Sturffed to the point of busting," as my brother, John, would say.

Then at 8PM, Becky and I again officiated at Compline on Facebook Live Video. I opened with a poem that Mom had written, The Youngest Shepherd, and halfway through the readings, we sang Hail Mary, Full of Grace, this time in English and Latin instead of Swahili. From what I saw in the comments, the one person who had logged in to watch it live enjoyed our singing. We've done some further testing and have found that if I sing more quietly, I won't overpower Becky's voice, and my voice is more controlable!

December 13, 20/20

Fridat the 13th came on a Sunday this month!

Church this morning was quite interesting. During the prelude there was a small child who was fussy, but as soon as people started speaking, she was fine. I'm pretty sure she wasn't just singing along with the organ, because she was really sobbing like her heart was breaking. Poor little thing. Her family was in the church to light the candles on the Advent Wreath (3, today).

The sermon was about knowing who you are and who you are not. Rev. Milly told of her experience in a mission that she had helped to establish, and a fellow who would walk the streets yelling unintelligible or vulgar things. He started by just walking past the open doors of the mission, then progressed to stopping outside the door, then coming inside for a few minutes but refusing coffee or food, through finally deciding that he could trust the people with his name. Finally, he started having conversations with the missioners and accepting food and coffee. It wasn't until he could tell them his name, though, that feeling included happened.

The scripture was, of course, about people asking John the Baptizer "Who are you?" They thought he might be dangerous to the established government because he was getting quite a following. They found out that he was just one shouting in the wilderness, bearing witness to the One to come along later, and then they decided he wasn't an immediate threat.

Yesterday I learned that the edition of Mozart we're using is out of date (which doesn't mean anything other than it isn't the latest and greatest version). Since the price of Mozart has been steadily rising, and since the publishers will only accept music files made with Finale or Sibelius, we decided to use Sibelius. There is a version that we can use for free, a little less than the full version's features (like we are limited to only two voices per staff), but it will be adequate for our purposes, I'm sure. Oddly enough, the method for entering notes onto the score is very like MuseScore, which I use on my Linux computers. Sibelius is, of course, Windows and Mac only. Now maybe Becky can get some of her music published, though. She (read "we") will have to transcribe them from Mozart to Sibelius by hand (by computer, really, but not automatically) before we can send them off to the publisher. We'll get busy and let you know if any are actually even considered for publication.

December 12, 20/20

Fifty-two degrees, this morning, and I decided to go out to the porch to look at the weather. It was good enough to be fascinating. there were some clouds around the horizon, but for the most part there were blue skies overhead. As I stood still, I heard some rustling off to the south side. A small bird flew from one of the bushes at the corner of the house, zoomed across the front of the house and into a shrub on the north side. Soon, a seond small bird did the same thing, then after a short while, a third, then a fourth and fifth. They were in a hurry, as though they were in danger. Then I saw it, a hawk circling overhead, not in a hurry to go anywhere in particular, but just looking around. I was intrigued. I didn't know hawks would hunt smaller birds, and those five were not more than four inches, beak to tail fethers.

The FedEx truck drove up the hill and stopped at our house. True to form, I couldn't remember what I had ordered, and when I received a flat package about 11" X 17", I was completely mistified. It was inflexible, came from Ohio, but I had no clue what it held. Then when I opened it, realization dawned. I had ordered two books, "The Wonky Donkey" and its sequel, "The Dinky Donkey". I have, since, recorded a video of myself reading the books, edited them to take out all the errors, pauses and embarrassments, then posted them to facebook, shared with only 7 people. (The Wonky Donkey) (The Dinky Donkey). I didn't share them with everyone due to copyright patrol.

Then, of course, when Melinda called this afternoon, we got to talking about them, and I knew she would want to at least hear the books, so I read them to her over the phone (4 minutes each), and had a much easier time of it than when I recorded them. Isn't that always the way?

December 11, 20/20

Happy New Look!

You will notice right off that the Blog has a new look. Why, you might ask? Well, because, I might answer. The truth, though, is that I got my Windows computer back from repair at the Geek Squad (Best Buy), and once again have access to my TemplateMaker (Artisteer). The first thing I did, then, was to remake the template for my Blog from the Hill. The type face is somewhat larger, the background is a different color, and the result, I think, is much easier to read. 

At Suzanne's request, I drove up to her house to retrieve a container of her Curried Lentil Soup. As I approached her house, I saw the FedEx truck pulling out of her driveway, so I figured she had just received a shipment of something. Upon reaching her house, I walked in to find that she was fit to be tied. There was a large box on the floor, partially opened, and I could see at a glance why she was not happy. Whatever moron at Wal-Mart had packed the box had taken the time to wrap the coffee in bubble wrap, but had barely put any packing around the five candles that used to be in glass jars, but were now lying in glass shards! Suzanne said this was the second shipment of candles she had received that had been broken like that. Had I not arrived when I did, within a minute she would have been on the phone with Wal-Mart, expressing her displeasure.

After I left to return home, I received a few texts from Suzanne, that I couldn't read until I got home and parked the car, saying that the woman who took her call refunded the purchase price for all five candles, though only three of them had actually broken. That was a good response, of course, and hopefully they will find out who "packed" the box so terribly and make his employment status go away.

Oh, BTW, the Curried Lentil Soup was delicious!

December 10, 20/20

When we awoke today, the temperature was already in the middle 30s, and still I layered up to take Becky to get her shots. During our mandatory 30-minute wait afterwards, I only had to run the engine one time - halfway through the wait.

The rest of the day was spent at home, on the phone, snoozing and/or watching the telly. (Really exciting reading, this).

December 09, 20/20

We awoke to 27 degrees this morning. It's beginning to feel a lot like winter, and this is the second week in a row that I had to wait for the temperature to rise above freezing before starting the laundry. I got it done, though, starting just before lunch and finishing shortly after our afternoon trip to Starbucks for some coffee.

I received two calls from the Geek Squad at Best Buy. The first was to tell me that on Friday, while I was scheduled to retrieve my computer at 10:20, their operating hours have been shortened to accomodate the Governor's anti-Covid regulation, and they wanted to know if I wanted to delay getting the computer back (same day), or if I could receive it curbside. I opted for curbside. The second call was to say they got the computer to boot up, and they needed my PIN to gain access so they could test it out and make any updates or adjustments it might need. Naturally, I gave them the PIN. I'm relieved that they didn't have to replace the Windows, so I can expect to still have my Template Maker, Artisteer, when I get the computer home again.

December 08, 20/20

We awoke to 27 degree temperatures, some dark clouds left over from yesterday's "snow" and a little red tinge on the south-eastern horizon. "Red sky in the morning, Sailors take warning!" Well, this sailor has never noticed anything particularly evil on such a day, although this morning was a bit raw. Wind chill was at 14 degrees.

I took Becky to get her shots, this morning, wearing a warm shirt, a sweatshirt, a jacket and a waterproof windbreaker (normally my jacket is good down to 20 degrees). We had the seat heat going all the way, and of course when I shut the engine off in the parking lot of Allergy Partners, the forced air heat and seat heat went away. Two times during our 30-minute wait after her shots I had to run the engine to warm up our seats, for as I mentioned, it was bitterly cold outside the car - and inside within 10 minutes of shutting the engine off.

This evening, Becky and I started to gear up for the Monday-after-Christmas Compline service. She wanted us to sing her anthem, Blessed be the Child (words adapted from St. Ephraim the Serian), but we didn't want to use the puny sound of her computer to accompany it (as we did yesterday when we sang Comfort, Comfort ye my People). I brought up the program, MuseScore, on my computer, had to learn how to change the voice from piano to Pipe Organ, then I input the music and the lyrics, adjusted the dynamic levels and then we got onto Facebook Live Video (on my facebook account, sharing only to me) and started Playback on MuseScore. We sang along with it and when we had finished, I stopped the Live Video and reviewed the outcome. Aside from the fact that Becky was reading the words from her computer, and so had her right side to the camera and was seated across the room from the camera/mic, it was a satisfactory recording! I'm very satisfied with the outcome.

I noticed that, with not singing regularly since March, my voice has become lazy. My vibrato has slowed and widened, and I don't much care for the sound. I may end up lightening up, not pushing so hard, and see if that will sound a bit better. Ah, well, I'm a work in progress until the Great Egress.

December 07, 20/20

Pearl Harbor Day!

Not necessarily a "Happy" remembrance, but an important part of American History. I wasn't alive for it, but my brother, Lloyd, was. I doubt if he has any personal memories of the day, for he was just 6 days old when it happened.

Other than that, I had a fairly busy day. We had Bible Study this morning, and as usual, when I had something to say, I couldn't get any recognition. Instead of blurting out an answer to a question, I decided just to raise my hand. after two minutes of no acknowledgement, though, I lowered it again. Ten minutes and two subjects later, I was asked if I had something to say, and by then I couldn't recall what I wanted to say, so I just shook my head. It's not just me. Becky didn't get recognized when she raised her hand, either. I guess THAT's not the way to do it, either.

I had an appointment with the dentist at 1 PM, and I was called back to the operatory right on time. It was to get prepared for a bridge, so there was lots of anesthetic injected (worked a treat - I didn't feel a thing). then there was the removal of an old filling and a good bit of the tooth, then the removal of an old crown and some resurfacing of the tooth under it. Then there was the manufacture and fitting of a temporary bridge. I left the operatory about three hours later, right around four PM. My tongue and lower lip were still numb, but my jaw was beginning to ache.

I paid a visit to the bank to cash the check from 1807 & Friends (payment for having revamped their website), and from there, took my Windows computer to be surviced (since it won't boot up any more - I had ignored it for 18 months, and I guess it thought it didn't have to answer to me anymore). I thought I would have to pay about $100 to get it up and running again, but I was told that for $200, I could get a membership in their Service Plan, where I could get my computers tuned up or repaired for a $0 labor fee. Naturally I accepted that offer. When I get mine back (which should be no later than Friday), I'll put that at Becky's desk and take hers in for de-lousing and a tune-up. It covers all the computers in the household, so my HP, Lenovo, Asus and Toshiba are all covered, as well as Becky's Dell.

Now that I have two laptop computers, of course, I have stopped going to meetings where I might need either one of them. But I've learned how to disable the mousepad (or whatever it's called) so that when I'm typing and my thumb touches the pad, the cursor won't relocate to some other part of the page and do who knows what to my document. Then, when I've finished typing for the session, I re-enable the pad and go about my business. I know there are Windows computers that have a manual switch to do that, but my ASUS didn't come with that. Fortunately, Linux is capable of doing it for me.

December 06, 20/20

I don't know what's going on with our church's YouTube channel. Always before last week, we could turn on the YouTube channel on our television any time the link comes up for the upcoming service, and when the time comes around, the service will automatically start playing. Last week, the link took us to a still photo of the facade of the church with a dark gradient overlay. When the service started, the photo didn't change to a video of the service, so we watched the whole service as though we were sitting on the lawn, staring at the building and not being allowed inside.

This morning, again the photo was displayed, and again the video did not replace the photo when the service started. I was irritated, and decided to check on my computer, and was surprised to find that the computer feed had the video of the church service playing. Then I backed out of the channel on the television, then clicked the link again and found that the video was, indeed, playing there, too. Apparently the video feed is no longer able to turn off the photo and replace it with the video. We asked about it at the Virtual Coffee Hour, and we were told that changes had to be made to prevent the video on the YouTube channel from showing 10 minutes of lead-in if someone chose to watch the recording rather than the real-time feed. The result, though, is that now all of us must watch the recording and not the real-time feed, because the real-time feed shows only the photograph.

Also, I was, once again, effectively stopped from giving an answer to a question that was raised during the Virtual Coffee Hour. After the question was raised, there was a lively discussion about it, and the answer I would have given went unheard. I started to answer the question four times (I usually stop trying after the third time), and each time someone else started talking at the same time I had, or - and this is the one that kicks me in the teeth - someone started talking right AFTER I had started talking. Being what I consider myself the more polite of the conflicting voices, I stopped speaking to let the others have their say. I even raised my hand, and I was blatantly ignored. It was as though a) my sound wasn't working, as has happened in the past, or b) I was being deliberately silenced, cencured or otherwise not allowed to give my answer. I have almost decided not to attend the Virtual Coffee Hour, for it seems there is little, if any, virtue to be found there.

December 05, 20/20

This afternoon we drove to Suzanne's house again, this time to deliver some buttermilk for Irish Soda Bread, made with King Arthur's Measure-for-Measure Gluten Free Flour. Breaking tradition with the Irish, though, Suzanne incorporated some Craisins (dried cranberries) and Raisins. The result was wonderful American-Style Irish Soda Bread. Then we played Mah Jongg (Suzanne won the first and last hands, I won the second and Becky won the third. That was all the energy available for the games, so we sat around in the living room for a while and talked.

When we got home, the mail had been delivered, and in the letterbox was a check for my work on the 1807 & Friends website. That will pay to have my Windows computer repaired so that it will actually boot up and run again. That way, when I want to change a template, again, I won't have to stumble around blindly in the wilds of the CSS files to find that one element I want to change, then try to remember how to change it without blundering too badly and ruining everything. I was lucky, with the 1807 & Friends template. I didn't ruin it. I don't wish to rely on luck again, though.

December 04, 20/20

Two items came in the mail today, some Dried Orange Peel (because the stores in Asheville have decided that we can get by pretty well without it), and some Dark Chocolate Toffee Coffee. As we were discussing the Toffee Coffee, I said it reminded me of the Wonkey Donkey story, and now there's even a sequel to it, Dinky Donkey. When the reading of Wonkey Donkey was causing such a stir on facebook some years back, it was out of print, but one could purchase it for over $100 on Ebay, or some such place. Now, though, Signals.com has both the books for sale for $14.99 each. Guess who ordered them?

December 03, 20/20

Our morning started at 27 degrees, outside temperature, while inside we were at a comfortable 72 degrees. What a reversal of fortune!

Then we drove to Allergy Partners for Becky's shots, and on the way home we stopped at Starbucks for additional shots - of espresso, this time.

Having received an email reminding me of the monthly eMeeting of the LUG (Linux Users Group), I was in the midst of making plans to "attend" to see if any of the members knew how to connect the scanner function of our All-in-One printer/copier/fax/scanner to my Linux computer. But since I had recently reloaded the OS, I decided to give it another test to see if it might be connected to the scanner. IT IS! I can now scan photos and documents, just as though it's a real computer again!

December 02, 20/20

We awoke this morning to a temperature of 27 degrees. Normally I would have started doing laundry as soon as awakening, but with temperatures below freezing, and with the laundry in the garage, not insulated from outside temperatures, I decided to postpone the laundry until the temps had been above freezing for at least an hour.

Shortly after noon, the expected technician from ADT arrived to change out the radio in our control box. It uses cellphone towers to communicate with the monitoring sites, and cell service in our area has been upgraded to 5G, so to take advantage of the stronger, newer and more reliable signal, the new radio was installed at no cost to us (other than the typical annual increase in monitoring fees). He was done in twenty-five minutes.

That's when I started the laundry. Not long after I had finished the laundry, I noticed that the cuffs of my shirt were separating from the sleeves. What? the shirt is only about 40 years old, so how could it be disintegrating already? I guess it's time to buy a couple new shirts, since this will be the second OLD one to be discarded since moving to the mountains.

December 01, 20/20

Happy Lloyd Smith Day!

Lloyd has not completed 79 trips around the sun! I have his word that he still has lots of gas in the tank, too. One orbit is 584 million miles, and I'm assuming those are statute miles, and not nautical miles which are a bit longer, which would make it over 663 million statute miles. Seventy-nine orbits at 584 statute miles each would be over 46 billion miles! That's a lot of miles by any standards. The part that frightens me is that I've made the same trip with him, all but the first five orbits. Since people use, on average, 3 gallons of water per day for drinking, bathing, meal preparation etc., that would mean Lloyd has averaged 531,761 miles per gallon of water! That's some impressive mileage! Well, congratulations, and keep on keeping on!