Friday, 12:52 pm
Yesterday Ubuntu released their new operating system software version 8.10. (I used the Wubi installer.) They named their new release Intrepid...and it is. I installed it last night and whoo-hoo. They fixed a few things. When I fired it up, it instantly connected to the internet and I’m off to the races again. Wheeee! Now my Dell laptop is a dual boot machine that runs Windows and Ubuntu. It’s kind of like the best of both worlds. Kate is one happy camper.
State of shock
Tuesday, 2:21 pm
I received an interim water bill from my city today. It says I owe $1243.98. It took me a little while to stop hyperventilating. I called the city to find out what this is all about and I’m not too pleased with the explanation.
Last winter, the city had bright shiny new meters installed in all our houses. They emit radio signals so that the town can collect the readings without going to individual houses. Seemed like a great idea, but we should probably know that great ideas seem to come with a cost.
The town sent meter readers around in May to read the old meters to compare those readings with the new meters. Their determination was that the old meters were under-reading the actual water usage. So, they decided that they would go back to 1997 and recalculate everyone’s bills, to the present, based on these under-usage findings and charge us for the difference.
Isn’t that fabulous?
My new water bill should arrive in another week. It will be higher than I’ve been accustomed to. So I can add that to the interim bill which means I’m probably in hock to the water department to the tune of about $1500. Isn’t that even more fabulous? I’m so thrilled, I can hardly breathe.
I guess it’s a good thing I started cutting my usage back last year. The way I feel right now, I’m almost ready to dig my own damned well. And get a composting toilet.
If there is a bright side, I suppose I could be thankful that I don’t have a couple of kids, a spouse, or three bathrooms. The woman at city hall said I should feel somewhat fortunate—there are a number of households who were dinged in excess of $15,000. Can you imagine???
I hate Windows
Monday, 11:29 am
When I first began using Windows Vista last autumn, I liked it. I liked what it did, I liked how it worked, I liked how it looked. I liked it a lot. But then, the little bugs started crawling of its woodwork. Every day there is something glitchy. The most annoying is when Windows shuts my computer off without any warning whatsoever to update and install the software. I know that it’s supposed to give me an option to postpone and all my settings tell it to give me an option, but Vista totally ignores my settings and does what it pleases. And the glitchiest part is that my screen goes black while Windows is doing whatever it’s doing and I can’t see what it’s doing or click anything to make it stop. And then it apparently freezes. Or something. The mouse moves, but I can’t get my screen back. My computer will stay in that condition for hours. Something gets stuck or whatever. I have to manually shut the computer off, which, of course, means that anything I was working on is gone. When I turn the computer back on, Windows finishes the updates and installation and I’m good to go again.
Happened again last evening and I lost a wad of stuff I was working on. Not pleased at all. In fact, I’m fed up to the teeth with Windows. Finally.
Is Ubuntu a good alternative? I wanted to try it out on my previous computer, but it wouldn’t work. Maybe this time. Anyone use it and like it?
This will blow their mind??
Thursday, 3:35 pm
On Saturday the towns within the 10 mile radius of the Seabrook nuclear power plant will conduct a test of the emergency siren system—121 alarms. Oh boy. The newspaper and radio station have been issuing warnings for the past two weeks. The powers that be would like to avoid a public panic. Even so, there will be people who won’t know about it. If not for my neighbor calling me to let me know (I don’t subscribe to the local paper or listen to the local radio station), I might have been just a little nervous, too. People with farm animals are being contacted as well. Animals are at high risk of going berserk, apparently.
I checked the local paper online and found this interesting article—Siren test likely to frighten animals.
The article goes on to say that even the whales will be jumping out of the water in response to the horrendous noise. That seems to suggest something very, very loud and disturbing. The local animal control officer says,
"If they have problems with fireworks or thunderstorms, they will certainly have a problem with this,” Taylor said. “If you are not going to be home on Saturday when the alarm goes off, then you must make sure they are secure. This is way more than a fire detector sound or thunder; this will blow their mind."
Any guesses as to what my house will be like around 12:30 pm on Saturday? Holy moly. Abbie is utterly terrified of thunder and fireworks. If this will be as bad as it sounds, Abbie’s going to need counseling afterwards. And the birds will probably go nuts, too.
The article doesn’t say what pet owners might do for their animals to help mitigate the discomfort. I suppose wrapping the birds in blankets might help. Abbie? Stick her in the basement? Put her in her travel crate and wrap it? Let her hide under the bed? Play the stereo really loudly? I don’t know.
I’ve heard the sirens in town go off before and they are loud. When I had Terry and Peeps, they flipped out. It was as if someone was drilling into Peep’s head. He covered his ears with his paws and rolled on the floor. I don’t remember what Abbie did. They’ve never tested all 121 sirens at once before. This could be an event with some real unintended consequences. I do hope we survive with everyone’s mind intact.
Stinking up the neighborhood
Wednesday, 2:51 pm
I knew it was bound to happen sooner or later. Last night, around 9:30, as I sat in my comfy chair reading a scary story*, a knock came on my front door. I jumped about a mile. Peering out the front window, I saw a neighbor standing at the door.
When I opened the door, she seemed a little uncomfortable. “Are you burning wood tonight?” she asked.
I opened the door a little wider and gestured toward the stove. “No, see? The stove is cold.” She peeked around the corner at the stove and seemed relieved.
Meanwhile, smoky smelling air poured through the front door. Thick, pungent smoky smelling air. Stinky smoky air.
My neighbor admitted that I’m the only one she knows, for sure, who burns wood and the smoky air was bothering her a lot. It aggravates her asthma, makes her sick. But she was glad it wasn’t me.
I asked her to come in. It seemed like the ideal time to tell her about my stove and how it works and to listen to her concerns. Good neighbor relations required it. It was the first time she’s ever been in my house.
She came in and we shut the smoky air out. She told me that she doesn’t know that much about wood stoves, but was a little surprised that my house didn’t smell like woodsmoke. No, I told her, the newer woodstoves are air tight and are designed to burn the wood gasses and smoke so that it doesn’t go up the chimney or into the house. It’s better for the environment and the air quality and, actually, allows me to burn less wood. I told her that if she looks at other people’s chimneys (who use gas furnaces), she will see much more steam coming out of them than she’ll see coming out of mine. Most of the time she will only see heat waves emerging from the top of my chimney, but on really cold days, she would see some white wisps of steam. But the one thing she won’t see coming out of mine is smoke, which is gray and dingy looking. And I make sure of it because I don’t want my neighbors to hate me and my woodstove.
She reached out and touched the stove. Icy cold. I opened the stove’s door and gave her a tour of what’s inside and how it works. She actually was pretty interested. In fact, she remarked that aside from some ash sitting in the bottom of the stove, it didn’t look as if anything had burned in it. “It’s so clean in there,” she said. “There’s no black soot.” She asked a lot of questions and we also had a discussion about the wood I burn. I explained that my wood is seasoned for two years before I burn it and it’s pretty dry stuff. It catches flame quickly and burns cleanly. If my stove was black inside, that would mean I was burning wood improperly or using unseasoned wet wood. I make every effort to make sure that my stove and chimney are maintained and that I only burn well seasoned and dry wood so that I don’t send a blanket of smoke all over the neighborhood. That’s important to me because I don’t want to antagonize the neighbors and cause anyone to complain.
Of course, the conversation turned to the question, “Who is stinking up the neighborhood?”
Yes, I know who it is and it’s driving me nuts, too. But I’m not sure it’s my place to rat out a neighbor. On the other hand...it’s bad business for people who depend on wood heat and burn responsibly. I told her that I was pretty sure it was someone living up on the hill behind us. Could be any one of a number of houses—although I know which one. The guy who lives directly behind me. He chopped down another few hardwood trees in July and had them cut and split and stacked right on-property. It’s good wood—or will be in another year—but it’s unseasoned green wood and the smoke from it stinks terribly. Smoke from well-seasoned wood tends to be sweet smelling. This is is sour and really pungent smoke. It’s hard to burn green wood and it will smoulder more than burn. He’s not doing himself any favors either. His chimney is going to get thoroughly gunked up and increase his risks of a chimney fire. But for the rest of us...did I mention that it really stinks? And I am sure that half the neighborhood thinks that it’s me?
Well, the good thing is that this neighbor is the neighborhood telegraph. By the weekend everyone on the street will know that It’s Not Me. Which doesn’t solve the problem, but it’s nice to be off the hook anyway. When she left, she was confident that I am a good neighbor. She did remark that she thought it odd because she’s never noticed a smoky smell before and I’ve been burning my stove for a few years now. And I told her that if she ever has any questions or concerns, to come over. I’d be glad to show her how my stove burns when it’s actually burning and take a look at what’s coming out of the chimney. I’m sure she’ll be watching it for a while. And that’s fine.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t solve the problem of the guy up on the hill. That kind of smoke and stink is what makes people complain to the town and ends up getting laws enacted that prohibit wood burning within village limits. As more people turn to wood, it’s probably going to be more of a problem. There is a little learning curve to burning wood. But there are excellent resources available that teach people how to do it properly and responsibly. I highly recommend Woodheat.org for anyone thinking of buying a woodstove or, for that matter, anyone who has one. I’ve learned a ton from that site. Some really instructive videos, too.
* (riveting scary story) The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen. Not necessarily recommended for reading while alone in the house.
Monday, 8:18 pm
There is still time for the weather man to change his mind....
He’s just funnin’ with us. Right?