Power Outage Is Over

This time around, it was out for the better part of three days.  We could cook indoors because the stove uses propane, but had to use matches to light the burners.  If I’d had any idea the electricity would be out for more than a few hours, I would have filled a bathtub with water before the storm hit.  Oh, well.  Again, we had heavy, wet snow, so we could shovel it into large home brewer’s/vintner’s buckets to melt, filter, and boil.  No electricity means no water pump, which means no water pressure.  Therefore, we had no heat, other than what we could generate in our wood burning stove.  Our solar charged camping lanterns, and battery operated tac-lights came in handy, as did my old-fashioned battery operated transistor radio.

If the electricity had been out for one more night, I would have trekked down to the pond with buckets to get non-potable water to gravity flush the toilets, which were getting rather disgusting.  It felt so good to finally be able to take a shower.

After three nights of cooking whatever needed to be used because it was thawing, or threatening to go bad, we decided to go out to our local pub for its Monday Night comfort food special.  Chicken pot pie was a nice change from pan fried pork chops and shrimp tacos.  I’m sure they stuck it in a salamander to cook the crust, and the ratio of sauce to chicken/veggies was higher than my version, but it tasted so good.  I was getting a little sick of only eating whatever could be fixed on a stove top, or served raw.

I feel a little sorry for the people who bought our old house.  Everything there is electric, so they would have had no water pressure, no heat other than from the fireplace, and no way to cook indoors.  We made do there a few years ago with my old dual fuel Coleman camping stove out on the front porch, using gasoline we raided from a jug normally used for the lawnmowers.  That outage lasted four days.  It was colder then, and we had at least a foot of snow, so stashing food in coolers, and burying them in the snow to keep it from going bad was easier.  This time around, the snow only amounted to three inches, and melted the next day.  Oh, well.  I’m sure the husband in that family is ingenious enough to find work-arounds.

We’re supposed to get another snow storm tomorrow.  At least this time, we’ve gotten in a few gallons of potable water, and I will fill one of the bathtubs.  Hopefully, there won’t be too many downed trees and power lines this time.  I’d rather not have to melt, filter, and boil snow to have potable water, if I can avoid it.

Proud New NRA Member

I joined the NRA.  Wanted to last weekend, but the website had so many hits that it crashed, so I gave it a rest for a few days.  For the record, I don’t own a firearm.  I’d like to get a sweet little .22 rifle, which any 10 year old could fire, just to pick off varmints raiding my veggie garden.  No reason to take out foxes or coyotes, which do help keep the varmint population down.

No need to take out a deer; maybe 1/5 of them get hit by cars and trucks, anyway.  As long as they don’t raid my veggie garden, they can stay, and nibble the grass.  At least, they have one particular cedar in the woods that they use for a bathroom.  All we have to do is keep our dog away from them.  He loves my cooking, but he also loves deer bon bons.  *shrug*

On another note, our neighbors’ one remaining Rhodie hen has stopped by for the last three days.  She’s a nice chicken.  She recognizes me, and comes running when I fill the bird feeder, because she knows I’ll toss out some extra for her.  I miss seeing the whole 13 bird flock.  I can understand why this girl is the only survivor; she will try to peck my hand if I don’t drop the seed quickly enough for her.  OTOH, if I tell her “stop it!” and pull my hand away from her beak, she obeys.  It’s not a whole lot different than dealing with my formerly way overweight, but still food agressive adopted black cat.

Pizza for Dinner

When you have a bone-in ham, and have slaughtered a fresh pineapple, that means Hawaiian pizza.  I have a really good, reliable basic recipe for pizza dough.  Typically, it takes ~3 hours to rise in winter, after kneading.  Today was so warm that within an hour and a half, I had to stick it in the fridge before it became Jabba the Hutt.  I’m not going to get used to this summer weather.  It’s still February!  We’ve had years in which it seemed like March came in like a lion, and lasted into late May.

At least, I can run around outside in jeans and a t-shirt, today, and content myself with flipping through the garden porn catalogs from Burpee, Park Seed, Jung, and Gurney.

Tractor Pull Contests

These never get old.  I love watching them.  Here’s one.

I was rather impressed with a couple of the Johnny Poppers, one of the Aliss-Chalmers, and a few Farmalls.  What I was not impressed with was how many of the contestants got their front wheels off the ground, and lost traction because of it.  The guy driving the orange Moline, and a few contestants later, the Farmall driver both got it done.  Some of these drivers just want to gear up too fast; the objective is to pull the load over the finish line in the best time.  Gearing up too soon just makes you lose traction, and time.

Our ancient ’60s Case might be able to do that, but there’s no way our smaller Kubotas could.

One thing I love so much about watching these tractor pulls is that I’ve gotten very good at identifying the make at a glance, and can probably ID the model year to within five.

A guy up the road about four miles from us has what we call a “tractor graveyard” on his farm.  Most of those could be rehabbed, but Freddy, who owns them, is pushing 90, so he can’t do it himself.  Freddy still flies his Piper, though, and keeps it in great condition in his Quonset hut.

WTF? How Weird was That?

So, my laptop’s battery died, and I was getting messages every 7-8 minutes about how I needed to shut down my computer and replace the battery NAOW or DIE!  It’s a computer that can run on AC just fine, thank you very much, so excuse me if I ignored the urgency.  Anyway, I went into system settings info to make sure I had the right model number of my computer to order a new battery for it, and used task manager to turn off the annoying alerts.

The battery arrived yesterday, and cost me a whopping $26, delivered.  That’s pretty cheap, actually.  Didn’t feel like swapping out the old one at the time, so I did it today.  I’m used to taking apart tower/desktop models, but not laptops.  This was a new adventure for me.  However, there are YouTube videos for everything, including repairing the engine on our old ’62 Case tractor.  Finding one for this battery swap was no different.  Man, was it easy!

Then the fun began.  I had to reboot twice, because Microsoft thought it hadn’t fully beamed out my latest OS update.  After that, some of my settings were screwed up, so I had to fix those.  Annoying, yes, but not a big deal.

Can you imagine if my mom had to deal with that?  She called me three times on Friday, and twice yesterday about some freaky email she got.  Bottom line was she needed to change her password, because someone else got into her account, and was using it, but hadn’t changed her password to lock her out.  She screams “I’m 87 years old.  I shouldn’t have to deal with this!”  Well, I couldn’t talk her through changing her password over the phone, so she went to the “iPad Club”meeting at her retirement community, at which a “nice young man” fixed it for her.

She was so freaked out that she couldn’t even remember what she wanted me to buy for her the next time we visit, but she finally calmed down.  Her password has been changed.  There’s no way she could operate a screwdriver to change a computer battery.  She can’t change a lightbulb by herself, even if it’s at face height.

The Greenbrier

It’s a bit of a splurge on a vacation, but a six hour drive beats the crap out of alternatives.  As long as we show up looking no worse than we did at the Boulderado, or the Sagamore, we should be okay.  Our reservtions are confirmed.  My other half is up for this.  Go there once, enjoy it, etc.

Finally Got Switched

No, I don’t mean getting whacked with a willow switch.

My former insurance agent gave me a whole song and dance about why my homeowner’s and auto insurance suddenly cost so damn much.  The last time I got a ticket was in the early ’80s, and that was a payoff to the county mounty who wrote it.

I’ve never made a claim.  Traded in my former car after 10 years, with not even a dent on it from a falling black walnut, for close to blue book, which is pretty good for a trade-in.  No accidents, no tickets, nothing.

I fired my former insurance agent.  I’m not a pain in the ass.  I spoke with him maybe once a year, and was always polite.  He is a certified jackass.  “This is your only policy option, so sign here.”  No, thanks.  I “womansplained” to him why his “mansplaining” was inadequate — politely, of course.

Found a new insurance company to cover both auto and home for approximately 1/4 of my previous premiums, with roughly the same coverage for what matters.  Plus, my new agent is in my town, maybe a couple of miles away, not some jerk from another state, 60+ miles away, who can only pull up the county records for it, and look at the pics on Zillow.  Getting my homeowner info is as much child’s play as pulling up my driving record.  Technically, I can afford to rebuild from scratch if this entire place, plus the outbuilings burned to the ground, w/o insurance.  House, personal property, and loss of use, are about right, at current market value, for the farm.  The car insurance cost is right on the mark, given my driving record.

G’mornin’ India

All I was trying to do was swap out an old analog STB for an an ancient CRT TV for an HD one for a new TV, and send back the old black box.  I finally got connected with a woman in India.  No problem understanding her accent, but it was like pulling teeth to get what I wanted.  In the end, she knocked
$10 off the shipping charges for the new silver one.  There was no fucking way I was going to drive into Philly pick it up in person.  It’s Philly.  You don’t do that.  Not by yourself, anyway.  The closest I will go to Philly is Harbor Freight, which has some really nifty stuff.

The upshot is that I will get an HD STB, but it’s up to me to mail back my old box to Verizon, at my cost.
I got snippy with the woman about that, then apologized to her.  She was following her script, but she did knock $10 off the shipping cost.

So, I went through all that to do what I initially tried to do online.

I never thought getting a new TV, and retiring one of the old ones would be so difficult.  Holy guacamole, Batman!


Phase 2 Home Brew

I’m ready to move on from small batches to larger batches of home brew.  I’ve had the kegerator for a while.  It came with a dual pressure gauge CO2 tank, but my local beer distributor said something about a two week waiting period to fill it, so I haven’t bothered.  They have prefilled ones I can use, but I have to put a deposit on them, just like I would on a prefilled keg.  When I do that, I can at least hook up the brew to one of the taps.  I’d rather have them fill my own 5 lb. tank for $11 or $12, and not have to plunk down the deposit.

Mostly, I’ve just used the kegerator as a fridge for bottled beer.  It’s time to up the game.  Brewing small batches, and bottling them, is useful for bringing them outside in warmer weather.  But, when I brew a 5 gal. batch, it really is easier to keg it in the corny than bottle two-plus cases.  I have a really old bottle capper, probably from the ’30s, and a source for bulk unused, uncrimped caps for about three cents apiece, which is reasonable for a home brewer.

The funniest thing about the corny keg is that when I first got it, used, in really good shape, for a very reasonable price, it still smelled like cola inside.  Yuck!  Well, it has to be cleaned and disinfected between each use, anyway. Continue reading