It’s unrelenting

Friday evening I went to a PNNL party called Mayfest. It was a lot of fun and I met some new people and got to dance. After that I went to Tagaris winery to meet some friends and have a glass of wine and listen to my coworker Doug play his guitar. Then I went home to bake some cornbread and brownies. The next morning I got up early so we could drive for 4 hours to go rafting down the Skykomish, which was a lot of fun. Afterwards we went to our campsite and stayed the night. The next morning we went hiking at Wallace Falls, then drove home, stopping along the way at a diner for lunch, making it back just in time for me to get to softball practice and call my grandma on mother’s day.

Monday I played disc golf and had a great game, almost getting a hole in one, getting 2 birdies, and ending at only +4 after 14 holes. I headed over to ultimate frisbee for a couple hours. Tuesday I played racquetball for an hour, leaving early so that I could get to softball practice, where we practiced for a couple hours. Wednesday (today), I went to ultimate, then went back to work for a couple hours to catch up on some things that I have due at work tomorrow. Tomorrow is racquetball, followed by a showing of a movie at my place (A History of Violence). Friday I’m going to a swing dance. Saturday and Sunday I’ll be in Wenatchee for an ultimate frisbee tournament, and probably won’t make it back in time for softball practice, but may be able to show another movie at my place (Chicago). Every weekday and every weekend is accounted for.

In between all of this I have a few projects I’m working on, I’m still keeping up with netflix, I’ve actually been averaging more than 8 hours of work a day, and I’m preparing all my own meals.

All the things that I’m doing are fun. I enjoy it all. But I’m definitely stretched too thin. I’m so tired, and I don’t seem to be recovering from anything. I’m getting tan, I’ve got bruises all over, and soreness that won’t go away. This can’t last, but I don’t see an end. I don’t know what to do.

Stupid Cats

On Friday night I went to bed a little early because I was getting up early to go rafting the next day. Life can be a little ironic sometimes, though.

I don’t hate cats. I don’t hate animals or pets. I would say that my attitude towards animals is generally respect, toleration, friendliness, and occasionally adoration. I have a hard time justifying ownership of one right now, but I can imagine in the future wanting a dog. All this taken into account, I would say that I get along with pets, but can live just as well without.

Friday night, though, was one of the first times I actually considered harming an animal. It started around 2 a.m. A screaming sound. At first I thought it was coming from the computer, as I had fallen asleep to a TV episode. But the noise didn’t stop and indeed continued to increase in volume. It wasn’t long before I became fully awake and realized that there was a cat outside my window making a horrible racket. I couldn’t ignore it. It was the kind of screaming that makes the silence just as grating as the noise because of the tension waiting for the sound to begin again. The cat would occasionally jump onto the patio, perhaps thinking that I was going to  the door. Of course, hearing an animal making such a din does not make me want to run outside and pet it and give it a saucer of warm milk. It was around 2:30 that I considered throwing something at it to convince it to assault someone who didn’t have to get up in 4 hours. It must have known I had prepared a cardboard ball to attack it because it disappeared for half an hour. It returned, though, and I endured a few more minutes of what could only be the pain of crucifixion.

In the end, the cat never felt the wrath of my foot or my weapon, but if she comes back again tonight, I may solidify my position as a dog person.

I meet an old man

I was in my usual hurry today, rushing home to make dinner and change before biking to racquetball, playing for an hour, biking back, showering, and rushing out to run errands before going to a friend’s house to watch The Amazing Race. On my way out the door, though, I saw an old guy fishing cans out of the dumpster near the apartments. I’d seen him a few times before, and even left some cans outside the dumpster to make it easier for him, but I was curious, so I started to talk to him.

It wasn’t so much a conversation as it was me listening to him tell me about himself. He opened up and told me about how the price of metals was going way up, and how in his life this had happened three times and each time would be followed by a drop and a recession. He used to work in a smelter in Anaconda, then moved to Richland to work at the Hanford area. He’s been retired for 18 years now. He has colon cancer, and it’s spread to his lungs, but he had surgery and is slowly recovering. He’s been collecting cans for 9 years and has permission from all of the nearby apartment complexes. He only makes about $20 a week, but it’s more about something to do than it is about the money. A lot of people throw away perfectly good and even unused stuff, so he has yard sales occasionally, and has made $1600 dollars so far selling stuff he just found.

It was interesting listening to him talk about the places he’d been and the things he used to do and the way things used to be. Difficult to push away my impatience at not being able to run my errands, but it was an artificial impatience; more an artifact of my hurriedness throughout the day than my hurriedness at that moment. So I set the rush away and just listened to him talk for half an hour. I may not have accomplished the things I wanted to right now, but I sure learned a lot about Leo and Richland.

Inaugural Post

It has to start somewhere. Usually it’s a rocky start, with errors galore, no focus, no intended audience, nothing at all that could indicate intelligent writing. So here is that first post. Consider my obligation complete. From now on, all posts will be insightful, interesting, witty, and, uh, won’t suck.

I can’t keep up

Every hour of every day is planned now. I used to have something after work every night. Now I’m packing in two things every night. Today I went from work to disc golf to ultimate, then out with the ultimate folks for dinner, not even getting home till 9:30. A shower later, and it’s already 10, leaving me only a couple hours to work on all my home projects, catch up on reading, and email people. Tomorrow we’re moving racquetball earlier so that I can be done in time to make it to the softball game. Yesterday I spent a few hours moving rocks at a friend’s house, then went to softball practice, then worked for a few hours. Every weekend for the next few months is planned. All these activities are fun, but I’m juggling chainsaws, and the slightest interruption threatens to throw the whole mess out of whack. Well, maybe it’s not so threatening. If I drop a few chainsaws nobody will get upset but me. Still, it’s a delicate situation, and I’m not leaving enough room for me, or the spontaneous activities, or the new people. If you’re reading this and I haven’t emailed you in a while, I’m sorry. I’m getting to it, just not as quickly as I’d like.

How I saved $1, and how we could save many more.

I was at the grocery store to buy eggs. They were 1.99 for 18ct, but the deal was sweetened with a promise of buy one, get one free. Not feeling very much like Rocky Balboa, I had a hard time imagining how I could use 36 eggs without breaking the law (or windows) or wasting food. I collected a single package of 18 eggs.

When I got in line, though, the lady behind me also had a package of 18 eggs. Well, I put 2 and 2 together, or rather, 1 and 1 together. I asked the lady at the checkstand if it really was buy one, get one free. She confirmed, so I asked the lady behind me if I could buy her eggs. She didn’t understand at first, and wanted me to get my own eggs if I wanted more. But when I convinced her that if I purchased hers, they would be free, and I would be saving her $2, she accepted, the checkstand lady called me a good samaritan for saving a random lady $2, and I was ready continue about my business. In the end, the lady offered me $1 so that we split the savings equally, which was fair and I wasn’t about to make a bigger scene by refusing it. So in the end, I saved $1 by buying someone else’s eggs for them.

Sure, it’s just $1, you say. But think of the potential. Buying in bulk is pretty much always cheaper than buying individually. Many stores also offer group discounts. People who don’t know each other will pay full price for something, but if they somehow got together beforehand, they could save money by buying at once. Imagine the potential of a web site the did this kind of thing. It could set up group discounts for tickets to baseball games, concerts, volume purchases, whatever is cheaper for bulk. Of course, when you get down to splitting the cost of buy one, get one free 18ct eggs, it gets to be more work to find someone else than it’s worth in savings. But I’m just a guy with crazy ideas, and you’ve probably already had the idea or could point out a web site that already does this. If not, though, and you end up making this work, I want some credit and some royalties. 🙂

For now, I’m content with my $1.

Woohoo! Patent #2!!!

Well, patent application #2. Today I signed my second patent application. Now it goes to the lawyers and the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) where it will sit around for a couple years and get debated. I won’t know for probably 2-5 years whether the patent will be accepted, but at least the application is in. I’m proud of this second one, too. I was only partly involved in the first one, but I did a lot of the work for the second one, and it’s neat to see the stuff I’ve written in the application.

French Bread

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast (or 5 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast and salt. Stir in 2 cups warm water, and beat until well blended using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.

On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Knead for about 8 to 10 minutes total. Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn once. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled. Punch dough down, and divide in half. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each half into large rectangle. Roll up, starting from a long side. Moisten edge with water and seal. Taper ends.

Grease a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water, and brush on. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until nearly doubled, 35 to 40 minutes.

With the best pocket knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across top of each loaf. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for 20 minutes. Brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until bread tests done. You’ll know it’s done if you whack it lightly and it sounds hollow. Remove from baking sheet, and cool on a wire rack.


I made bread today!

Not the money kind, though that would have been satisfying, too. Today I made real French bread. It came out great. It’s my first time with bread (other than pizza dough), so I was really worried about it. In the end, I had some good loaves; slightly crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. It’s probably 10 times better making my own bread just because I made it. No, it doesn’t taste as good as if I had bought a loaf at the grocery store, but I made it myself, and it was my first time, and if you have a problem with it, try making your own bread and see how you like it.