Oil Delivery

First off, we canceled an appointment to fix our boiler when we figured out the problem was just an electrical switch that died, and replaced it with a spare we had.  The guy showed up, anyway, but was really good natured about it.  He works for our fuel oil company, so it was a miscommunication between his employer and him, not between us and him.

Later, the fuel oil truck driver showed up.  Fortunately, my other half got out the tractor early this morning, and had snow blown the entire driveway, so it was clear for the tanker.  The driver filled both tanks at the house, and even snaked the hose down the hill to fill a diesel tank we had for the tractors.  Too much snow on the ground to try to drive down closer, but the hose was long enough to make it.  Yay!

This is going to be a big bill, but two things are in our favor for getting topped off now:  oil prices are going to go up really fast over the next few months, and getting your diesel from your fuel oil company for the tank that’s used for the tractors beats the crap out of loading the tank onto a trailer, hauling it out to a gas station, getting it filled, hauling it back home, and offloading it when it’s full.  As long as it’s “off road” diesel, it’s legal to not get your tractor fuel from a gas station.  You just can’t use it to run a street legal vehicle.

So, it was a good day, all in all.

Also, our favorite pub is having a weekend-long “Valentine’s Dinner” offering.  Not their usual prix fixe three course thing, but we can still get the surf & turf we love, which they only ever have this time of year.  Weather permitting, we’re going there!

Every Charitable Organization Wants Money Now & Furnace

To be fair, they start sending out their pleas before Christmas, but they continue through the new year.  The thing is that I typically donate to a handful of organizations early in the year, with a one time donation, often when someone else offers to triple match them.

Sure, these charities share their donor lists.  There’s nothing new about that, but this year, I’ve been flooded with solicitations from charities that at best have a tenuous link with those to which I repeatedly donate.  Fine, sell your database with my name on it, but this is crazier than usual this year.

How many pens, return mail address label stickers, and 8-page pads of paper that are just big enough to use for a grocery list do I need?  Oh, and gift cards (Happy Birthday, Thank You, Get Well Soon, etc.).  Nobody under the age of 70-something still sends cards through the mail.  We either call, or tape it onto a gift package for a neighbor delivered in person.

Can’t blame charities for asking, but I can’t give to all of you, and I want the amount I donate to be enough to be of use beyond covering some of the cost of your solicitation campaigns.

As for the furnace (well, it’s really a boiler), the hot water was out in the main house, which meant heat was off this morning.  So, I hauled out the manuals for it.  Not much help, really.  It wasn’t getting electricity to fire it up, but the circuit breaker for it hadn’t tripped, nor did a reset help.  We tracked it down to a failed electric switch.  Fortunately, we had a spare in our bag of random hardware in the barn.  That probably saved us a couple of hundred bucks for getting someone out here to take a look, diagnose the problem, and fix it.

Stupor Bowl

No party this year, here or elsewhere, but I will keep up the tradition of making an assortment of finger food type items to munch on, in lieu of a real supper meal.  The pizza dough is rising as I type this entry.

  • pizza, probably sliced St. Louis style, instead of in wedges
  • salmon cake sliders from the leftover baked salmon we had last night
  • tortilla chips with homemade chili, salsa, and queso
  • crudités, with blue cheese dressing

Unfortunately, we didn’t find ground pork during yesterday’s grocery run, so my usual potstickers and dipping sauce are off the menu.  We have the frozen raw shrimp, but without ground pork in the mix, it’s not the same.  No need to make chicken skewers with satay sauce.  I think we have enough with the other items.  The other thing I sometimes make is shrimp/cabbage/carrot spring rolls.  We don’t need them, though.

I’ll sort of miss the Asian flair added to the mix.  This menu is less complicated, though.

I’ve no idea what the line is on tonight’s game, and don’t care enough to bother looking it up.  But, I would like to see KC whoop Brady’s rear end.  Either way, we’ll be snacking, sort of watching the game, and enjoying some beer and wine with the food.  Beer will go with the pizza and build-your-own nacho components.  A nice Chenin Blanc or Voignier will go with the salmon sliders.  We’re all set.

Slippers Received

I’d originally ordered a pair like these last year for myself, but with super soft suede uppers instead of pebbled leather.  Sellers like to say their granny hand made them, but if that is the case, it’s a good bet that granny works in a factory, because you find these all over former Soviet Bloc countries.

Either I was sent the wrong size, or the seller’s US to EU size conversion chart was off, and they were two sizes too big for me.  But, since they arrived from Poland, I couldn’t easily return or exchange them.  So, I found another pair from a seller in Ukraine and got the correct EU size.  Not a problem, and neither pair was expensive (~$23, including shipping), but I wondered what to do with the first pair.  Sure, I could have dropped them off in one of those clothing collection boxes that seem to be in almost every shopping center parking lot.

They probably would have fit my mother, but she prefers slippers that are more like footie socks with non-slip bottoms.  Finally it dawned on me that my sister-in-law, or my niece might like them.  She’s got a wacky sense of style.  They’re actually a fairly common size, so we asked if she thought they’d fit.  They were her size, and yes, she wanted them.

Despite Priority Mail no longer being two-day, the USPS did indeed deliver it halfway across the country when it estimated that it would.  There wasn’t really a rush, but I wanted a tracking number for it.  She received them yesterday, then texted to let us know she’d gotten them, they fit, and she loves them.

I’m glad they went to a good home.  Merry (belated) Christmas, I guess.  We’re not in the habit of exchanging Christmas presents with extended family members every year, but once in a while, we see something and say “Wouldn’t that be perfect for so-and-so?”  Anyway, they’re shearling and suede, so they’re thick, fuzzy, and toasty warm.  She can even wear them to go out and fetch the mail if their driveway isn’t too icy.

Galumph Galumph

That title is my assessment of our USPS.  My local post offices are great, but once the package makes it to the nearest big city distribution center, it sits there for two to three days before being sent along.  Priority Mail used to be two day, origin to destination.  Then it became three day.  Now, it’s four day delivery, if you’re lucky, for the same insane price, for a box that weighs ~1 lb. at most.  Mule train could get it there faster.

As an aside, having to switch to a different browser brings all sorts of grief with it.  Some of my old beloved extensions aren’t available.  I’m not in the habit of keeping a whole lot my logins/pwds saved, but I do remember most of them, and exported an Excel spreadsheet that has the saved ones.  The issue comes when the place I need to log into thinks I’m an alien.  It might be kind of cool if I were, but I’m not.

Slippers on Their Way

The slippers are on their way to Mini-Soda.  Estimated delivery day is Saturday.  Priority Mail used to be 2-day.  Then, it was 3-day.  Now, it’s four days to get there, with no guarantee, but at least we get a tracking number, and loss insurance for up to $50 is included, whether we want it or not.  Suede and shearling could probably get run over by a fully loaded tractor trailer and survive, so even if the box gets beat up in transit, the contents should be fine.  I used a pretty sturdy box, though, and clear Gorilla Tape.

We sent the recipient the tracking number so that if she wants to track it, she can.  If the slippers don’t fit her, they might fit our niece.  But, my S-I-L is just wacky enough to keep them for herself as long as they fit her.  They are cozy, comfy, and warm.  They’re not ugly.  They just are probably mass produced, although sellers like to pretend their granny in the “old country” hand made them.  Maybe — but in a factory, ’cause granny in a former SSR can’t afford to retire.

Switching Browsers and a Home for Slippers

This is, as they say, “Nucking Futs.”  Oh, well, this browser works faster and leaner, even with the VPN, than my old one did.  Don’t let the door hit you on the butt on your way out, old browser.  It really is a pain in the ass changing browsers.  Logins, passwords, etc.

As for the slippers, well, long story short:  my sister-in-law has feet that fit them, and she wants them.  They’re suede and shearling.  I got them from Poland, but they’re classic women’s slippers all over Eastern Europe.  My feet are so stubby short, like duck feet.  I did finally get the ones I wanted, in my size, from Ukraine, but the Polish ones I first received that didn’t fit  had to be given away.

They are going to a good home, as of tomorrow morning.  It’s a crapshoot using USPS Priority Mail, but at least I get a tracking number for it.  Fingers crossed it arrives within a week, even with the extra postage for Priority.  My sister-in-law has a really funky sense of fashion, and humor.  If those slippers fit her feet, the way we all think they will, I can guarantee we’ll get some photos of them, both on her feet, and off them, in bizarre places, just for shits and giggles.

We could use some shits and giggles, and if this does it, hey!

I’ve Reconsidered Hillsdale

That first online class I audited about Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey really was a joke.  That lecturer was bad, and could not look up from reading her notes long enough to blink.  I hadn’t read the book in at least 40 years, and still aced every quiz along the way, plus the final.  Since then, I’ve audited three more classes, two in literature, and one about The Federalist Papers, which for any foreigners reading this, is politics/civics during the early years of our Republic.

I did not score above 85% on either the Early Childhood Literature or Mark Twain final quizzes.  Oh, I aced the Beatrix Potter section, and got the Hans Christian Anderson ones right, but blew Aesop’s Fables, probably because I’d never read more than one of them.   My mother-in-law would have aced the kiddie fiction class.  It’s her specialty.  I read both Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, but probably 50 years ago, and not since.

The course on The Federalist Papers is really interesting.  I’ve read chunks of it before, but never the whole thing in its entirety.  Probably never will, although I should.  Still, I’m flying through this politics/civics course with ease, probably because I went through K-12 when it was still taught — at least in some semblance.

Onward, Civic Soldiers!  Or something.  I’ve decided that auditing online classes can be alright, but if the lecturer is a ninny, or a bore, move on to something else.  There really are better lecturers out there.

UPDATE:  I’m halfway through the lectures on The Federalist Papers.  These courses always start of with a background lecture by the college president, with no quiz, but the rest of them are each followed by a short quiz, and then a final much longer one.  This class is a breeze for anyone old enough to have been in school when civics was still taught.

Another one that sound interesting, but scares the bajeezus out of me is one on Western Philosophy.  I have a tenuous grip, at best, on Greek philosophy, and anything newer than that is something I could look at, and might tentatively poke with a stick, but would be afraid to pick up.  Oh, well.  If I flunk that one, it’ll give my B-I-L a good laugh.  He’s a philosophy professor.




Our neighbor across the street called yesterday to say he had a bunch of lawn chemicals in his garage that he wanted to clear out.  So, my other half said he’d go over ~1pm to see what he wanted.  They decorated for Christmas this year, but didn’t host their usual party.

For now, I sent over a box of John & Kira’s chocolates.  If they need some mulch this spring, or firewood now, we’ve got loads of it to give away, but that would require driving over with one of the tractors and a trailer to deliver it.

Having neighbors like this is such a blessing.  Do a favor.  Return a favor.  Doesn’t have to be anything spectacular.  Invite us to a party, and we will be sure to bring a hostess gift.  Invite us out to dinner, and refuse to let us even chip in for the tab?  You’ll get firewood or mulch in return.  Or, fresh organic produce from our garden, if it’s summer.

Hillsdale College

What a joke this place is.  You can sign up for some online classes for free.  You have to watch a handful of really boring lecture videos, and take a few quizzes.  Just for shits and giggles, I signed up for an online class that focused on Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey.  The woman who gives those lectures isn’t so bad when she’s her real self, but when she stands in front of that lectern, she could put a mushroom to sleep.

Damn near six hours worth of lectures on Northanger Abbey? That’s overkill.  I could have summed it up in two hours, nuances, and all.  Austen’s later books were better, anyway, imo.  Well, once you start a video, you can FF through it, and just watch the end.

I passed the final “test” with flying colors, only getting one question wrong.  Not so bad for having read the book once, nearly 40 years ago.  But, what does this say about “distance learning”?  Thank god I got my M. Litt. from a good college, when the degree was worth half a damn.  This “distance learning” is for the birds.