Many years ago at the end of the Carter Administration, Paul Volker was appointed chairman of the board of governors of The Federal Reserve System, August 1979. A few years later I was married, and came to appreciate my wife’s thriftiness and ability to deal with financial figures quickly, almost effortlessly. This was a talent I sorely lacked. Around about the same time, my mother-in-law, who also worked effortlessly with finances, and found both a several thousand dollar and a $0.10 error in two different bank statements. Now, because of that, I built up a mythology around my mother-in-law, kind of like William Faulkner’s fictional Yoknapatawpha County in Mississippi, but requiring less talent. I imagined she had the financial equivalent of the direct-connect phone connecting the White House and the Kremlin, only this was to discuss financial matters. I called it the Green Phone, which meant in a financial crisis, Mr. Volker could pick up the phone and get advice from the very same person who had found a $ 0.10 error in a banking statement. The dinner time stories including fixing the accounting of several German financial institutions, when my mother-in-law was touring Germany along the banks of the Rhine, to saving the U.S. from economic disaster. She was embarrassed by all this, and, since the mythology included Paul Volker, like Wagner’s Ring cycle, the mythology concluded after Alan Greenspan was appointed the next FED chairman, much to my mother-in-law’s relief.
Years ago we lived with three birds. Back then, our birds needed a way to get from their cages to each others’ cages and to the floor. Pookie The Cockatiel is the oldest, and lives alone now, but he still needs a way down to the floor.
The method we employed involved purchasing a couple of three-foot wooden ladders. Each ladder had hooks, so it could be held safely to the cage, and was long enough to reach the floor. I quickly dubbed these ladders the Viking Ladders, because they looked like miniature siege ladders used in the middle ages.
Pookie hangs out on his ladder or the stool that sits next to it. But, when lovebirds lived with us, they used to park themselves on these ladders and hold the resident of the cage semi-captive. In fact they were laying siege to the cage.
Recently, another bird on twitter asked Pookie what a Viking Ladder was, so here are some pictures.
It is that time of year again. We are starting on another water project. About four years ago, the method used to read the water meters — by hand — was replaced. Now, we will be working on replacing everyone’s water meters in town. Old water meters run slower. That’s good for the customers, but the meters do not record as accurately. Ideally, a water utility should change its meters every ten years or so.
It means interesting work, and newer technology reporting using tablet computers.
For the most part, the Gary Larson Non-Working Breeds cartoon applies to me. It shows a husband and wife dog couple. The husband is sitting in front of a television in a T shirt. The wife has come in from the kitchen, and is glaring at the husband, who answers her glare with “Hey, Look, You Knew When You Married Me that I was a Non-Working Breed”.
Perhaps the only exceptions to this is when we entertain our friends and riding my bicycle. Getting my driver’s license was probably the worst thing I ever did. Before being able to drive, I rode by bicycle a lot. Physical fitness-wise, everything seemed to go downhill after getting my license.
For about a decade, I have ridden my bicycle to work, and although I don’t work that far away, riding my bicycle for the first few years was drudgery. Lately, while riding, it almost seems like I’m young again. I’m not an exercise enthusiast, and don’t have to be on my bicycle every minute of the day, but riding more seems to make riding more better.
I sometimes think it is because my 23-year-old Giant Rincon hybrid bicycle was overhauled last year. Overhauling the hubs and cleaning the drive train probably helps riding by reducing friction and making shifting smoother, but probably it’s due to my wanting to ride and building up some stamina. I will enjoy it while it lasts.
I really do hope Roger did not actually hate the park and everyone in it, but there are days that remind me of this. Personally, I think it’s better to have humor, and the plaque is funny.
We all try to save money. It’s the same with snowblower maintenance. I take good care of my 26-year-old Toro 521 snowblower. Occasionally, I have to replace an auger belt between maintenance sessions. It’s not too hard, and snow starts getting thrown properly with a new belt.
This week, the ultimate happened. Right after replacing the auger belt, part of the cowling that protects the engine and belt assemblies from rocks and moisture on the ground, had rotted away, hung down, and was caught in the snow. Now bent, the snow blower started acting like a dirt plow farmers use before sowing seed. One side where the cowling fastens had just plain old rotted away.
So, we have no more snowblower, until it gets repaired. This will undoubtedly include welding the cowling where it rotted away. While my dealer has the snowblower, they might as well perform a maintenance as well, even if were 6 weeks away from the end of the snow season.
So for today’s storm, it is shovel time.
But here’s the punch line. Before the cowling broke, I was picking up the extra belt and asked about purchasing a new snowblower.
“Your snowblower isn’t that old.”, the owner of the shop said.
“As long as the engine and body are intact, why not get it repaired?”, she went on.
Yesterday New Year’s Even 2013, I was at work. Like many projects, the last 10% seems to be taking 90% of the time. I was hoping to reach a a milestone, whose description would be so boring it would put most people to sleep or drive them out in the street. So let’s use rockets and lunar modules as an analogy, specifically, putting an astronaut into one orbit around Earth with a safe return.
I didn’t reach that sought-after milestone. The milestone I reached was more encouraging than the rocket blowing up on the launch pad, or the rocket launching and ascending a few hundred feet and then crashing. No, my rocket ascended, descended, and no one was injured. Pretty soon, we’ll have the capsule into one orbit and then several, but for now, I’m content with the results.