...the Elevated Record

Blog from the Hill


September 30, 20/20

Happy September the Last!

There's almost nothing left of September, so take the rest of the week to read through this month or ignore it, your choice, and I'll post the start of October Saturday evening (if I remember).

In tonight's sky, I saw Saturn and Jupiter fairly close in the sky. I took a photo: 

Saturn                                Jupiter





         Saturn                                             Jupiter

If you pretend to see Saturn, you might see what looks like a pale spec of dust, and that will be the planet, a little lower in the photo than Saturn.

September 29, 20/20

Happy Birthday Melinda Franks!

Once again, she's caught up to me in age, and once again, I'll have to pull ahead of her. If she truly gets as old as me, I'll have given up and gone on to a new life.

This morning, it was raining, yet we drove up to Suzanne's so she would have a masculine presence for the installation of her new dishwasher. She prepared a breakfast for us of oatmeal, blueberrys, cranberries and pecan slivers, baked. it was a very satisfying meal, and as we were drinking out coffee afterwards, the installers came and put the new dishwasher into the cavity in the cabinets that had lain empty for 20 months. When the installation was done and tested, the installers departed, and we chatted for about 45 minutes then left after helping to return the cleaning supplies to their rightful place, under the sink.

It rained all the while we were there and all the way home, then for three hours while we enjoyed lunch, then as we drove to get Becky's shots, all the while we were waiting to be sure no undue reactions and until we got home again. It's still raining!

September 28, 20/20

This morning, our Bible Study was really an hour-long tribute to two of our members who are moving to Florida. We took turns telling stories about them, what they have done for each of us, what they have meant to us, and while Becky and I are so new to the congregation (just 3 years or so) and didn't really get to know them as well as the others and so didn't have anything to contribute other than our presence and smiles and laughter, we do appreciate them for who they are and what interaction we did have with them. We're sorry to see them go, but know they are going to have a wonderful retirement in their new ministry, whatever that comes to be.

This evening was our turn to read Compline on Facebook Live, and tonight I started with one of my mother's poems. Some say it is instruction for prayer, others say it is a retelling of the birth of God's son. I get a different read each time, so I've not really made up my mind what it is, other than a fun poem to read.

September 27, 20/20

This morning, at church, we had a guest priest who delivered a sermon. It related the Jews in Egypt as slaves and then wandering through the dessert on their way to freedom to the plight of brown and black people today as they struggle toward liberty and justice for all. It was well thought out and presented, and shed a new light on today's situation.

After church, as we usually do, we Zoomed to the Virtual Coffee Hour. One other person had logged into the meeting before us, but she was no longer at her computer. Becky and I sat there staring at an empty block with a name under it, and seeing out own block with our names under it and our images inside it. After a few minutes of waiting, we left without so much as a word being said by anyone other than us.

This evening, I listened to a podcast about Quantum Immortality. As is proven already, there is still several seconds of brain activity. The speaker then discussed a theory that when we die, that residual activity is our being (or soul, maybe) transferring into a different us in a parallel universe, and therefore we don't actually die. The whole discussion was much more involved than that, and by the end of it my head was buzzing.

September 26, 20/20

On a whim, I opened a box of gluten free bread mix, reviewed the ingredients, found them all and set about to make some bread. one box of mix makes four 4" hamburger bun sized loaves. It was pretty fun to mix it up and then to squish the "discs" of dough onto the baking sheet. As an afternoon snack, Becky and I shared one of the little bun-sized loaves. They hadn't risen much while baking, but they tasted really good. They were crusty on the outside and a bit chewy on the inside. Next time I'll include a little baking soda and baking powder to get a rise out of them, and have some biscuits, instead of flat bread.

September 25, 20/20

This morning, the first thing I did was to reinstall OpenSUSE on my Toshiba computerette - twice - because the first time part of the boot routine was corrupt (through my own error, I found out). Then, when I finally got it booted up, I found that it is about twice as slow as MX-Linux, which actually makes it as slow as the old Windows 7 Starter Edition the computer came with. I immediately set about to replace OpenSUSE with MX-Linux to make the Toshiba usable again.

I just tried to boot up my desktop with OpenSUSE, but unlike other distros, you can not boot it from the DVD without installing it onto the hard drive! BOO-HISS!

I'm glad I don't have to pay for the ISOs (Operating System Installers). This one is a waste.

September 24, 20/20

Today, on YouTube, I watched a video that introduced a Linux Distribution called OpenSUSE (SOO-zuh, the guy pronounced it, just like John Philip Sousa). I was intrigued, so I downloaded the ISO and installed it on my Toshiba, which I had always intended to be a test platform for different distributions. Half an hour later, I still hadn't found out how to connect it to the Wi-Fi Router. It was touted as the easiest distro to install and use. I'm not in full agreement on that statement, at this point in time. I think I will try another installation tomorrow, paying a little closer attention to the particulars. 

September 23, 20/20

Happy Lunaversary to Us!

Suzanne told me that she needed more than the one USB port that her new computer came with, so today I went to Best Buy and bought her a 4-Port Hub. Then I drove up to her house to give it to her, and when we got there, we learned that her brother, Brian, had made a meatloaf. For some reason, though, he felt he should leave the bread crumbs out of it. So there we were faced with a gluten-free meatloaf and an impromptu invitation to dinner. It was delicious, of course, that and the mashed potato and "The Sweet" (le sueur) peas. Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel syrup for afters, and we were "sturfed to the point of busting".

September 22, 20/20

Becky and I went to get her shots from Allergy Partners, and on the way we ran into a few obstacles. First, a delivery van driver had failed to either see the underpass height sign, failed to know the height of his van, or didn't realize that 12 didn't go into 10.3 evenly. He stopped before he hit the railroad trestle, but it left us daring to drive around him to continue on our way. Then we found that another road we had intended to drive on was closed. Fortunately, our GPS Display showed us the round-about path, so we got to her appointment in plenty of time. We decided that we would have to go home by way of Starbucks to make up for the inconvenience.

September 21, 20/20

Summer is tumbling out of existence for this year, and the last three days have started with temperatures in the 40s. What a way to make an exit, Summer.

For Compline, tonight, I eliminated the struggle with my desktop computer which apparently is incapable of reliable video recording on Facebook Live, and used the laptop computer. I hope the Hewlett-Packard is totally embarrased for being replaced by a used ASUS that I bought for less than $100! The laptop doesn't have the crisp and clear video or audio, but it is reliable and people can see and hear us, and that's what matters.

September 20, 20/20

As I typed today's date, I realized that it's September twenty twenty twenth, or in today's parlance, Setemer twunny twunny twunny.

This morning's worship worked really well, technically. They've been including a Stewardship Moment during this season of, well, stewardship. Different people record a message at home and send it to our technical team who incorporate the message into the live YouTube video. Today it was seemless. Since we have been attending the Monday Morning Bible Study, I've seen that Mother Milly has us studying the Gospel reading for the next Sunday, and she collects comments and interpretations from us all as it goes along. Last Monday, she actually said, "James, you just wrote next Sunday's surmon for me!"

September 19, 20/20

Yesterday, Becky was having a meltdown trying to get her computer to work correctly. Her document wouldn't scroll in the word processor, and while we had overcome that problem twice before, neither of us could remember how. I went to take a look at it, and noticed that her keyboard, one that I had bought for her, was completely illegible. We both gave up on solving the trouble.

Today, we went to Best Buy and bought two computer keyboards. My keys, too, were becoming illegible, as well. Becky went with me to make sure the keyboard we selected would suit her far better than the high-functioning one that she never really got used to using. We got matching wireless keyboards so if we want to sit back with the keyboard on our lap and type, which is not likely, but it's possible now. They have rechargable batteries, so unlike my wireless mouse, we don't have to change batteries.

We are both well pleased with our selection.

September 18, 20/20

RIP Ruth Bader Ginsburg. God be good to her!

My own daily activities and happenings are mere trivia, and I cannot even talk about them, now.

September 17, 20/20

Storm Sally Survival!

All night it rained, and just before 7am this morning Becky heard it raining. Her bladder said, "That sounds like a necessity!" So, when that necessity was met, she turned on the coffee to start heating and came back to bed. She could not go back to sleep, though, so she got up again. By that time, I had realized that I, too, was awake, so I got up. I realized that I had left our underwear (the last load I had washed yesterday) in the dryer, so I brought them in, dumped them on the bed, sorten them and folded mine and put them away. Becky had only one item to fold, so I left that for her to do (she has different methods from mine).

When we opened the curtains, i saw that the road was wet and there was a gentle rain falling. It did that all day. The sky was solid overcast all day, too, and the temperature reached all the way up to 68 degrees outside. Inside, we started the day at 77, and to my surprise, it warmed up to 78. We were comfortable. There was no wind associated with the weather, which was a good thing. As wet as the ground is, we didn't need any trees to fall and take out electrical power or smash anything.

What the weather reports had billed as a Weather-Warn Day turned out to be a non-event. I, of course, can read a weather map as well as they can, and I could see that the cone of uncertainty centered on Columbia SC, about 200 miles south of us, and knowing how weather works, for the most part, I had said that we wouldn't get any wind and not much rain. Nailed it!

We heard from David, Tami, Kent and Kyle this morning. They all came through the storm with no damage, no injuries. The two boys are in Troy AL, which was on the backside of the storm (the calmer side), so I expected them to be safe. David was at the prison, so I knew he would be ok, but since they live on the east side of the storm (the dangerous side), I was very relieved to see Tami report that all is good, all is well.

September 16, 20/20

I finally got rid of my old cell phones, dating back to 2003! Friends told me that Staples would accept them for recycling, so I took them to the store, and yes, they took them.

I spent much of the day reloading various apps in my desktop computer, and I think I'm almost done remembering what I forgot to reload. I'm sure I'll find more, and when I do, it's easy to reload them.

Before Compline, I was told that I missed the first Choir Zoom meeting with our new Rector. I guess I forgot to put it on my calendar. Big OOPS!

This evening, I stepped out to the lawn, and if the street lights and porch lights were not on, it would be near total darkness. The sounds of nature were more pronounced tonight than I have ever heard them.

September 15, 20/20

Beware the Ides of September!

This morning, just past Midnight, I replaced the OS in my desktop computer by making a fresh backup, then repartitioning the hard drive, which completely erases all content, then reinserting MX Linux 19.2 that I had been using. After the installation, I recovered the backup, thus loading the contents of my system into the pristine OS. That way, if there was any corruption from previous OSs that I hadn't fully removed when changing from Ubuntu to MX Linux, those corruptions are no longer present. Now I just have to reload any application that doesn't work (was removed) so I can use it again as I had.

Then, after seven hours of sleep, I awoke, showered to resolve some of the residual itch from spider bites and whatever else was bothering my flesh, then got ready for the day.

First, we had to drive to Fairview to visit our chiropractor for our monthly tune-up. Then we drove to Allergy Partners for Becky's shots (she only got one, today).

When we got home, I started testing my fresh OS on Facebook Live Videos. It did no good to replace the OS, for it still cannot be relied on to record a video onto Facebook. The only logical conclusion is that we use Becky's computer to do our Monday Compline live videos. I will place her webcam atop our printer so we will have the same backdrop, just from a slightly different viewpoint. That computer, at least, will work reliably with these webcams. Apparently they don't work well with MX Linux. I heard from another MX Linus user who had the same trouble with webcams on facebook. He said he never resolved the trouble.

September 14, 20/20

Bible Study, this morning, went really well. For a change, I didn't feel so much like a fifth wheel, and even saw some appreciation for a comment I made - as though I was actually contributing for the first time.

Compline, this evening was a different matter. I started doing tests nearly an hour ahead of time, and by Five minutes till the hour, I felt I had a reliable connection, so I sent live. I received one comment, "Audio trouble, but hello".

I typed a comment to say I was switching to my laptop, which always connects correctly, then had Becky type one that said I was booting up the laptop. At two minutes after the hour, I was ready to start the session on the laptop, so I stopped the video on the desktop, started it on the laptop, and we read Compline. On playback, it worked without a flaw.

My troubleshooting efforts revealed that the trouble was not in the USB port I had been using for my camera, and it also was not my camera, for I had used a different port and a different camera. I tested it also on Becky's computer, which revealed that it is not the router or the model that is causing the video sound to mess up (but I could have known that when the laptop worked right, for that goes through those devides, too).

My next step will be to reinstall MX Linux and see if that corrects anything.

September 13, 20/20

Friday the 13th came on a Sunday this month!

This morning's worship ushered in the Season of Stewardship. Our two favorite children, Nate and William (and their mother, Elaine, of course) presented the first Stewardship story, "What does Stewardship mean?" The boys were very good readers, given their young ages (six and five, I think). The rest of the service was its usual brilliance. The more I hear Mother Milly preach, the more I appreciate her fresh interpretation of scripture.

At the end of the service, we attended the Virtual Coffee Hour, as is our usual. We had some Virtual Coffee (which tasted just like our Communion Wine - because it really was), and some good conversation with the others in attendance. There were only five housefolds represented, and it didn't last half as long as it normally does. The topic of conversation was, by and large, the upcoming Pumpkin Sale on the church's front lawn. The proceeds will, as usual, go to help Haiti. This year, they're talking about a pumpkin carving contest. It's been 65 years since I tried to carve one, so maybe I'll give it a try this time and see if I do any better than the last time (yeah, right).

September 12, 20/20

It was an overcast day, so I didn't even think of lawn maintenance today. At any rate, I had another week to go before it would even seem worth while to mow. So I stayed in and took a leisure day. 

Becky and I have been attacked by spiders in the house. We haven't seen them, but we've got the welts to prove it. I spent some time trying to clean the bedroom, but during Compline I got another bite on my forearm. How can we fight something we don't even see?

September 11, 20/20

Remember 9/11!

Our day started by meeting Suzanne and Elizabeth at TGI Friday's for lunch. We were early, so we sat in our cars, side-by-side in the parking lot, chatting for about 15 minutes until the doors were unlocked, then went inside. The man at the bar saw us walk in with the hostess, who had opened the door for us, and said, "Billy's not here, today, so we'll put you with Mark." The guy hadn't seen us all year, but not only recognized us, but knew that we were about to ask if Billy was in, just like before! Mark took excellent care of us, not only because he's a competent waiter, but also because we were the only customers in the restaurant. Talk about separation!

After lunch, Suzanne and I drove to Best Buy and left Becky to ride with Elizabeth, because Suzanne hadn't even sat in our car, yet. She had only good comments to make about it. I knew she'd like it. Once we were at Best Buy, Suzanne found and bought a replacement for her defunct (as of two years ago) dishwasher for under $400 (which with tax, installation, installation kit and extended warrantee came to about $650), and also found a replacement for her rapidly defuncting computer for just over $1,000. Now I learned, by email, that she has just bought a new cell phone, a Motorola-something-or-other, which is putting her old phone to shame, even when it was new. What a day!

September 10, 20/20

Becky had to go to the dentist, this morning, for her cleaning appointment. Since she doesn't like to drive since the accident last November, I drove her to MAHEC, then sat in the car reading my Kindle while her teeth were getting all shiny again. I had noticed a fairly new red Subaru parked next to us when we left MAHEC, and as we drove away, we had just gotten established on Hendersonville Road when a fairly new red Subaru passed us, did a u-turn and headed back the way we had come.

After lunch, we drove to the Allergy Partners for Becky's second shots of the week, and again I sat in the car and read. The differences were that I was not alone, this time, and instead of an hour's wait, we only had half an hour to wait.

Shortly after we got home again, though, I realized that I had not washed our face masks, this week, so I collected them all, stripped the bed and washed the masks and the bedding. While those were washing, I found there were lots of groceries on the list to buy, so I drove up to Publix and filled a cart with goodies, then came back home just in time to put the washing into the dryer. So for me, it was a lot of time sitting in the car, whether I was driving or just reading.

September 09, 20/20

Today was laundry day, again. As such, I didn't go anywhere all morning, except back and forth from the bedroom, to the garage, to the living room, and so forth. Had I been wearing my pedometer, I'm sure I would have racked up at least a mile.

After the laundry was done, I tuned into YouTube on our television and watched a wonderful, 40-minute comedy, on Dry Bar Comedy, by a guy who calls himself Moody Molavi, the video is called Pranks on Strangers. He was born in Iran, but moved to South Georgia when he was five. His first name, Mahmoud (I wonder if I spelled it right), nobody could pronounce, he said, so his friends just called him Moody. We laughed hard and often. He claims to be the only Southern Baptist Iranian in South Georgia, and who are we to argue with him - he's huge!

September 08, 20/20

Becky had an appointment, this morning - well, at 11:55, but still morning - to get her allergy shots. After the shots and subsequent 30-minute wait for reactions, of which there were none, we drove to Bellagio's in North Asheville and bought a Greek Salad w/Roasted Chicken. On the way home, I drove through the car wash to get the collected grime and bird droppings cleaned off, and then we returned home and enjoyed our lunch. We had shared the one salad between us, and as there usually is, there was too much to eat completely. Some of the Chicken is left over for another meal. Yum.

September 07, 20/20

Happy Labor Day!

Bible Study, this morning, found me in an odd mood. It might have had something to do with our clocking in 3 minutes late. Whatever the source of my mood, I was more silent than usual. It seemed to me that the others were trying to find deeper meaning to something that, to me, seemed more straight forward than Holy scripture normally appears to me. Again, side-track discussions arose that made less sense to me than they did to everyone else, according to their continued discussion of them. I think that this is the same feeling I got in most book club discussions. I don't usually see the "deeper meaning" of a book.

Then, in the evening, I had issues again with my computer(s). 20 minutes before 8pm, I tested my computer on the church's facebook account in preparation for Compline. The sound failed. I rebooted the computer, loaded the browser again, tested it again. The sound failed again. I went to Becky's computer, learned that her webcam was not operational. Then I got my laptop, did yet another test, and finally got one to pass. I deleted all traces of my tests, and at 8pm, I started the video. It was a little disjointed, not up to my somewhat lax standards, but we got through it. Now what do I do about our computers?

September 06, 20/20

We were up just after 8am, Melinda called about 9:30am and talked just over 30 minutes. She's quite lonely, not able to do much because of her physical condition nor able to go much of anywhere because of the Great Separation. So she calls and visits with us by phone. We enjoy our visits and talk about "good times had a long time ago," to quote Roger Miller's song Walking in the Sunshine. Of course, most of those times don't include me, so I throw in a few good times of my own, just for a laugh.

We "attended" our church service on YouTube, of course, then had lunch, caught up on the news and watched a few of the TV programs that we have recorded.

At 4pm, though, there was an hour-long concert by Lúnasa, an Irish band who have been playing together for over 20 years and one of our favorites. The concert was "broadcast" on YouTube, and of course after it was over, I downloaded the soundtrack so I can Rip the music from it and burn the pieces onto a CD.

September 05, 20/20

I awoke at 8am, saw that the temperature was 65F, and decided it would be a good morning to mow the lawn, so I sat and watched the news until 9am, then got the mower out and got busy on the lawn, I forgot to turn the fuel switch on, though, so after two short swaths, the engine stopped. Oh, yeah, fuel! So I switched it on and it took a while for the fuel to get back to the carburetor, but when it did, I had no further trouble - for a while. The grass was wet with dew, and the undercarriage clogged with clippings, stalling the engine several times before I cleaned it and then lifted it at each turn to let it blow the clippings out from under. When I finished the yard, the temperature was still under 75F, so a shower and a brief nap brought me right up to lunch time.

Becky had made an experimental meatloaf, using sweet Italian sausage, which she served with veggie bake of carrot, potato and onion. I found it to be a very good lunch.

September 04, 20/20

This was a day of rest. I didn't write anything tonight (he said, on Saturday night).

September 03, 20/20

Becky had her allergy shots again this morning. She's back on the twice-a-week schedule again. After waiting the prescribed 30 minutes after the shot, it was only 10:30am. We had decided to order lunch from TGI Friday's, today, but I couldn't place the order until 11am. With 30 minutes to wait, then, we drove to Ingles supermarket, where we get our annual flu shots, in their pharmacy, and while I got my shot, they needed to find out what kind of shot Becky had been given at the Allergy Partners before giving her the flu shot. Naturally, we couldn't get that information, because when Becky called, she was shunted to the triage nurse, and her call was again shunted to voice mail. 

Before we left Ingles, I ordered our meals from TGI and had 27 minutes to get there and pick it up. We got there with five minutes to spare, and the food was already waiting for us, so I retrieved it and got back in the car.

We stopped at Starbucks on the way home, and while waiting in their drive-thru line, the low-fuel alarm came on in the car. After getting our coffees, then, we drove to Sams to fill the gas tank, then we got home and enjoyed our lunches, well, parts of them, anyway. We always have left-overs enough for two more meals each.

At 4pm, the triage nurse finally got around to calling us back with the cheerful information that it would be good to get the flu shot. There would be no conflict at all. So we went back to Ingles, Becky got her flu shot, and we loaded up our cart with frozen meals, including a Roasted Veggie Pizza (gluten free, of course), which turned out to be our dinner when we got home. It was delicious.

September 02, 20/20

Having been asked to record a video for the church, to respond to the Passing of the Peace with out own, "The Peace of the Lord be always with you," and since we are in the choir, at least nominally so, it was suggested that we sing it. With that intent, Becky and I drove to the church, set up in the sanctuary, in the choir stalls, with my phone on a music stand which I adjusted to the correct height, and I sang the Rite I peace. Then Becky sang her own improvisation of the Peace, and then we got together, and I sang the same version I had sung first followed by Becky singing her version. Once back home, I loaded the video file into my "kdenlive" video editor, played them all through and settled on the joint video. I clipped it out and sent it to the church's video editor and considered our job done. I got an email from the editor saying it was good, and we should, "Look for it to come to a stream near [us]."

At 8pm, as we were waiting for Complin to begin, we got several notifications that it was starting, but every time we logged on, it terminated. Finally, though, the Officiant said that he was going to go ahead in hopes that anyone was watching. He did a fine job of reading "in the blind," as it were. He had no indication that it had started live streaming. It was frustrating for him, likely moreso than for us, but he got it done.

September 01, 20/20

Happy September Fools Day!

I'm happy to announce that the year is 2/3 over, and we only have 1/3 to go. Just four months, and then with God's help, we will face a far better year ahead.

We were invited to visit and lunch with Suzanne, today. She made her special Spril Pea Soup and Guacamole, both wonderfully delicious. 

This evening, Compline was missing for the second night in a row. This time we had nothing to do with it, but those officiating didn't appear, and didn't offer any explanation why.

At least when we missed it yesterday, I was able to post an explanation as to why I didn't post the video file. If anyone was watching at the start of it, they knew it was messed up, and they might have said something in the comments, but we never got them.