Thursday, January 31, 2013


Tia and I have been talking about trying Yoga classes. Life has been busy, and none of the times were convenient, but we just decided to try a class last night at Core Power Yoga. They give a free week to new people, and so we drove down there.

We were woefully unprepared. I’d tried Yoga during lunch at work once, but it was very informal. This was hot Yoga and Tia said we’d need small towels, mats, and water. I wasn’t sure what to do, and ended up with just water. Glad they let us use a may and towel, because it was needed.

The class started out slow, warming up. There were definitely some moves that stretched my body in ways it didn’t want to go and it strained. However the hot (95F) room warmed me up and I got going. I sweated, dripping at times and needed the towel.

It was hot, but not too bad most of the time. A few times I got slightly light-headed from the up and down movements, and I couldn’t do some, but overall it was relaxing, challenging, and a good, though not exhaustive workout. I could have pushed harder, and will next time.

Overall I enjoyed it. Not as much as martial arts, but it felt better in a different way than the hard movements of karate.

Planning on more next week and we’ll see after that.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Jim Nabors gets married

Congrats to him on his nuptuals. A wonderful voice, and an entertaining guy on Gomer Pyle and Andy Griffith in my youth.
After 38 years, he has the chance to make this commitment to his partner. I don’t know why they want to get married, but I don’t care. It’s his choice, and it should be his right. His marriage isn’t harming anyone else or causing any problems.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Book #4 - Final Battle

51Tx0jrqexL._AA160_The third book in this part of the In Her Name trilogy, The Final Battle is truly the last battle. In this one we continue with the story of Reza, who’s awakened from a coma. He’s charged with treason, but manages to escape with the help of Jodi. He realizes something is wrong and the warriors of the Kreelan empire have lost their will to fight.

Meanwhile, Earth thinks it’s discovered the location of the Homeworld and decides to send their entire fleet to attack. The new President (after assassinating the old one), brings along weapons designed to destroy stays as he plans for a final battle.

It’s an epic conclusion, which surprised me and excited me. I kept hoping for another book after this one, but the last trilogy on this topic goes back hundreds of years to the beginning of The Empire.

Exciting, but you need to read Empire and Confederation to understand this one and appreciate it.

The Second GOP

I like this piece at the NYT overall. It does a good job of finding some of the problems with the GOP and its attempt to change.

At heart, I’m fairly conservative, though I think the liberal views on many social freedoms and rights are important. Civil rights and tolerance are critical to us advancing as a society and becoming stronger, IMHO. However I also think less centralization, less government programs and overreach are equally important.

What I wish is more people would embrace libertarianism, but I think libertarianism also has to change and become a little more practical. The idea of almost removing government doesn’t work, especially with our investments in Social Security and Healthcare. Those, IMHO, are important as are some protections for unemployment.

The GOP party lost me in the 90s. It struggled with George HW Bush’s presidency and then seemed to go completely crazy. George W Bush was marginal in terms of conservative values, IMHO, but he also was a weak president. The idea that we want to return to these fundamentalist evangelical, intolerant ideas is ludicrous. That makes me think of Louis C. K. As he says, it’s great to be white.



An inch or so this morning, which is good. It made me check my phone before waking the kids up. Kendall is fighting a cold and I didn’t want to push her into being sick, so I let her stay home. She’s run down a bit and a day of rest should help.

Monday, January 28, 2013


I noticed a leaky hose on the tractor a few months ago. I called the guy we’d used for service, but he wasn’t thrilled about making a trip to change a hose. It wouldn’t be worth much, getting new hoses is a pain, and he said it was “easy”. Not having ever worked on one, I didn’t quite believe him, but he told me to give it a try.

I’ve been slowly watching the fluid leak out over months, but haven’t been too worried. A little, but things have been working, and I’ve been watching the level at the back of the tractor. Things have been working OK, but the other day when the tractor was in the driveway for a couple days, I saw this:

Photo Jan 28, 3 21 19 PM

Not a good sign, and apparently I’m losing fluid faster than I expected. I was worried about how to handle this, so I posted a question over at TractorByNet. I got a reply from someone that helped explain what I needed to do and what problems. It didn’t sound too bad, so after moving 6 bales into the barn to buy myself a couple weeks if I needed it, I took a picture of my hose.

Photo Jan 25, 12 51 08 PM

I roughly measured it attached, and it seemed to be 30” or longer. Mistake #1: measure it exactly.

I searched on the Internet, but I couldn’t find a pre-made hose that looked close and decided I needed to take it off. With a oil drain pan below, I unscrewed the hose and got it off. To my surprise, it was male on one end and female on the other. No pre-made ones were spec’d like that. On top of that, it was around 24”, not 36”, so glad I didn’t order anything.

This morning after dropping the kids off, I headed to the local ranch supply. They had pre-made male-male hoses, but no female to female adapters to get what I needed. To top it off, as I checked the various options, I found the female connection was 1/4”, not 3/8” (as the male was).

Mistake #2 avoided.

The salesperson recommended the NAPA store, so I headed over there. Sure enough, they made hoses, and the guy measured my hose (25 1/2”) and then cut hose to spec and used a machine to crimp on the connectors I needed. It was pretty cool and I now have a new go-to place for hydraulics.

A busy day, but this afternoon I went out and got ready to attach things. No hose as you can see here on the bottom.

Photo Jan 28, 3 19 12 PM

First I walked back in and grabbed plumber’s tape and then went back out. I got the quick connect screwed on and plugged one end of my hose in into the controls. Then I screwed the other end into the metal tube along the arm. Hose connected.

Photo Jan 28, 3 29 41 PM

I was low on hydraulic fluid/transmission fluid, so I opened up the orange fill hole here. I started pouring in fluid.

Photo Jan 28, 3 19 02 PM

Nearly a gallon went in, with a little spillage, before the bubble below was a little above halfway between H and L.

Photo Jan 28, 3 19 06 PM

Just in time. It started hailing and snowing, so I ran back inside. No time to check it out today, but I’ll try tomorrow.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Quiet Night

Last night was quiet, Tia feeling sick still, kids wanting to relax after the week, and me tired as well. I grabbed things for dinner, cooked early, and then knocked off around 8, laying in bed with Tia and watching some TV until I fell asleep.

I did lift and then shower yesterday, and both Delaney and I got haircuts, which we've been needing. It felt almost like a reset.

Today I was slightly motivated. While Tia's doing horse stuff, I cleaned up a bit, am running laundry through, and tackled my calculus homework. I'm behind somewhat, and I worked through two sets of homework, struggling to get them done. So many things I've forgotten make it hard to work efficiently when I'm always looking things up, like the product and quotient rules, among other basic facts.

I'm hoping to knock out another 2 tomorrow and then maybe I can get a little more back on track.

Friday, January 25, 2013

I love volleyball and my knees are sore

This is definitely a lifting day. After late night volleyball, my knees are sore today. I could feel them as I tripped in the garage, caught myself, but had to bend down to do so. Arrggghhhh.

Last night Tia wasn’t feeling great, and she was debating on whether to go play volleyball. We had an early game, and with Kendall doing homework with a friend, she finally decided to rest and not go. I headed out alone, and arrived to find 2 other people on our side, with 8 on the other. Just before game time one more showed up and as we took the court, we had a 5th.

We played a decent first game, but ran into that stretch were we dropped 7 points in a row and never recovered. Two were my fault, as I didn’t move up enough on a serve, and then booted another serve into the stands. However plenty of my team messed up, just all at once. I was serving, down 14-20, and got 2 points and got arrogant. I was trying to hit one harder and spin it and knocked it over the end line, ending the game.

The second game was closer, and we played better. Despite a strange rule decision by the ref, which was reversed in the 3rd game, we won by 4 or 5 points. The third game was really close. We went up slightly and held a 2-3 point lead most of the game, but at 20-19, we blew a point, and then missed a serve. The other team then messed up a spike after getting conservative with underhand serves, and we served twice to win the third game.

It was exciting and I wanted more. After a brief stop at my old karate dojo to stay hi, and a phone call to update Tia, I decided to head over to the church for some late night volleyball. I was excited by the close games and wanted more. Less people at the church, which was good since I didn’t want to intrude. We started a 4-5 game, but had a 10th show up a point in. Only one girl, but I had a good start with 2-3 blocks at the beginning of the games.

It’s a good group there. Some of those guys are so athletic and can move quickly. The games are almost always close, however and we ended up splitting 4-5 games. As it got late, I got tired, especially of jumping. I had a few good plays, and two hard spikes, but both were out of bounds. I had the chance to practice a few times, with someone setting me and it felt better, but I still am not getting behind the ball enough. We finished a late night game of 4 on 5 before we had to set out tables and chairs for some event. 11:30 I left, tired and ready for bed.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Tire

It wasn't what I expected. Tia needed help moving hay yesterday. She started the tractor and I got the air hose ready so we could pump up the tires. One leaks and we need to add air regularly. She drove it over and we started filling tires. While she did the rear, I went to check air on the other side. As soon as I put the pressure gauge on the stem it blew out and the tire sank.

After a curse, I hunted out the bottle jack to lift up the tire. I didn't want it to sit there and ruin the rubber. I got it up easily and took the tire off. Then I was stuck.

The tire isn't small. It's heavy, and I got it over to Tia's truck, but that was it. I used some wood to get it off the ground, but there was no way I could lift it.

When Tia got done feeding, she came and we took it to town. I don't love the local farm shop, and I need to find another one, but we needed this fixed. I thought it would be 30 minutes, but they hemmed and hawed and said end of the day. We didn't get it until this morning, but it's done and back on the tractor.

Which means I can move it out of the driveway now.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Snow Caving

This past weekend was our Scout Troop’s annual snow caving trip. Each January the troop goes up North somewhere, usually Wyoming, to build Quinzee huts. Delaney hasn’t wanted to winter camp, and I’ve certainly not wanted to, so I haven’t pushed him. This year, when I asked him in December, he said he wanted to go. I didn’t sign us up, thinking he’d change his mind, but two weeks ago when he said he did, I signed us up, volunteered to cook, and started to prep (with trepidation).

There was a list of gear, with plenty of parents noting that you want to have extra in case it’s cold. As a result, I spent part of last week checking our clothing and buying a few things from Goodwill. Since we don’t usually outdoor camp, I didn’t have much that wasn’t cotton and I didn’t want either of us to be cold.

Our plan was to leave Friday afternoon, but because of scheduling issues with our cabin, we didn’t leave until Sat morning. Up at 5:00, I got Delaney up and in the truck, and we headed out to meet everyone at 6. I’d packed Friday night, double checking gear, and ensuring we had everything I could think of. It worked out well as the few things I’d wished we had I hadn’t ever considered. We were tightly packed, though most Scouts had their gear in the Scout trailer, so we didn’t feel pressured for space.

Photo Jan 18, 7 19 35 PM

We met everyone and drove up to Wyoming, going SW of Laramie to a small Scout camp. We got there at a reasonable time and started to unload. Not a lot of snow, but the 1/4 mile walk from the parking lot to the camp meant we needed sleds.

Photo Jan 19, 10 39 24 AM

Delaney and his buddy, Colin who rode with us, took turns pulling sleds and riding. Not the most efficient, but it was fun.

Photo Jan 19, 10 47 50 AM

The Baldwin Scout lodge is a two room cabin, a large bunkhouse and a real kitchen, sans sinks. No running water, but electricity and propane with real stoves, an oven, and a microwave. No cell service, which was fine. Good to be unwired.

Photo Jan 19, 10 25 06 AM

It’s right on a lake, and I was playing with the panorama pictures a bit on the iPhone.

PPPhoto Jan 19, 10 26 21 AM

Once we unpacked a bit, it was time to build Quinzee Huts. I’d never done one and was curious to see how it works. The boys walked out with some leaders and our guide across the lake to the far edge. There, on the ice, they started piling up snow.

Photo Jan 19, 11 47 06 AM

It was slow going at first, but with about 20 people, they started to get piles of snow. Delaney was working hard out there.

Photo Jan 19, 11 52 33 AM

He started out with his coat, gloves, knit hat, and Buff, but soon stripped down. The trees cut down the wind and the sun made it warm.

Photo Jan 19, 11 47 35 AM

An hour or two later, there were six piles of snow on the ice. The kids came in for lunch and to relax a bit.

Photo Jan 19, 12 48 08 PM

I helped cook and the kids ate well. Afterwards, they got to chill out a bit and relax before going out in the late afternoon.

Photo Jan 19, 12 30 48 PM

The cabin was nice, with two stoves and it stayed pretty warm. Kids played cards and hung out for a couple hours before heading back out. The huts had settled into hard piles of snow, and it was time to slowly dig out a hole and a domed inside. Again, with 2 kids inside, and always 2-3 outside, they dug in. They built pretty good sized interiors, enough for 4-6 people.


Delaney was working hard, coat on this time, removing snow. A couple hours of work and there were six huts.

Photo Jan 19, 4 01 02 PM

Dinner was relaxing, kids tired, and bed came early. The kids got setup with tarps on the ground and then sleeping bags. Supposedly with 4-6 people inside, the hut will stay around 32F. I didn’t go in, not wanting to crawl on knees, but Delaney went out and I didn’t hear from him until the morning. I slept OK, a little fitfully but warm. When the stoves are stoked, I could lay with my liner and sleeping bag open, in shorts and a t-shirt. When they died down, I needed to close the sleeping bag, but probably didn’t need the liner.

In the morning Delaney’s friend came in and said he needed help. His boots had frozen and he couldn’t get them on, so I went out to help. It was cold, but not frigid and we got him going. Breakfast was nice and hot, and then the kids needed to get their gear inside to dry out.

Being Sunday, we had a small worship service. Delaney did the introductions and opening prayer and then other kids took over.


The morning had a mini-project, kids learning how to make snow goggles out of anything. We did cardboard, but they could use leather, bark, whatever would fit.

Photo Jan 20, 9 24 08 AM

Then it was snow bowling on the ice. Lots of fun, and Delaney got a strike on one of his turns.

SnowCave2012_nPhoto Jan 20, 11 02 10 AM

The afternoon had kids out for snowshoeing on a 5 mile hike. They were back at dusk, leaving a few kids and adults to stay in the woods, making snow trenches for an outpost. Delaney played cards.


And hung out before and after dinner. He got set for the night, putting his gear out, and was happy to do so. Not worried about going back into the hut, which was good to see. I knew he’d worked hard, however, since he came back in for dessert. He must have gotten enough because he and Colin didn’t g out to their hut. They left and 30 minutes later as I walked to the outhouse, they were out there sledding down the hill onto the lake.

Monday morning we got up and broke down gear, loading up the trucks. Our outposters were late, and we were getting worried, so the guide and I loaded up a pack and sled and went out in search of them. We were hoping nobody was hurt, and started on a 3mi loop where they were supposed to camp. We were about 2mi in when they got back to camp and we heard on the radio they were safe. It ended up being a nice hike and chat with the guide and me, and some good exercise.

Loaded up, drove home, and back here as dusk was falling. A long weekend, but fun. Delaney said it was one of his favorite Scout campouts and wants to go next year. Tia wants to go and we might see if there is a female contingent that wants to join us next year.

Friday, January 18, 2013


Snow caving with Delaney this weekend. Building a Quinzee Hut in Wyoming with the Scouts. At least he is. Not sure if I'm going to build, or sleep, inside a snow hut, but we'll see.

Same Love

From the NPR Tiny Desk, this is great.


What to Think of Lance Armstrong

I’m not trying to change your mind. I’m not trying to convince you of anything. I’m still trying to sort out how I feel.
I’m disappointed. It’s sad to think that someone that provided inspiration and excitement in bicycling to me didn’t win the races on his own.
It’s understandable, when I see that many of the top cyclists have been caught. So many that the titles vacated by Armstrong will not be awarded to anyone. A hundred years from now it might look like the race was suspended for 7 years. However with lots of people cheating, maybe it is somewhat of a level playing field. That doesn’t excuse breaking the rules, but I do understand.
It’s despicable to hear of Armstrong’s actions towards fellow humans. Other racers, spouses of racers, reporters and more. I won’t repeat the things said since I don’t know what’s true, what’s exaggerated and what’s made up. I believe something happened, and it’s not what I’d want anyone to do, much less someone famous that kids hear about, read about, and are inspired to be like.
It’s a balance. Gandhi wasn’t great to his family, and allegedly cheated on his wife. Thomas Jefferson, one of our founders, owned slaves and measured his profitability in various ways by managing his slaves differently. J. Edgar Hoover, who did a lot to help strengthen law enforcement in the US had numerous issues. Google if you want to know. Phil Knight inspired many with Nike, and he donates to lots of cause. And he also used a lot of cheap, child labor.
Many people that have publicly done great things were not good people in private. Some people you might admire, you’d not want as friends. I don’t excuse it, but I see sometimes there’s a balance of sorts. Armstrong did amazing physical things with the help of science, but he still did them. He was likely an incredibly cold, ruthless, mean asshole to many people. He provided incredible inspiration, help, and time to people battling cancer.
I don’t think this is a balance, as in two sides of a scale. It’s not the good that Armstrong did weighed against the bad. I’m not in that business, and I’ll let him be judged as he will be. However I see this as facets, different sides to the person and the good, the bad, the charity work, the lawsuits, the personal visits and the lies all come together. Not in a I like or dislike Armstrong, not in a he’s good or bad, but that he’s all those things.
I appreciate what he’s done for people that are dying, people that are literally fighting for their lives. It’s always grated on my that Michael Jordan, and Tiger Woods, both of whom have given lots of charity, don’t do more publicly to inspire and help people. They are private people, and that’s their right, but it’s been disappointing to me that they didn’t do more.
However you feel, I’d urge you to listen to this radio piece with Stuart Scott of ESPN, who is battling cancer. It’s before the Oprah interview aired. He doesn’t excuse Armstrong, but it does bring perspective to the way you might view Armstrong.
I see Armstrong as having done a lot to help other people. Whether to make amends for something else or not, he’s done a lot of good. I applaud that. I’m not sure he’s someone I’d like to know, do business with, or even have a conversation with, and I’m saddened by the way he’s behaved.
On PEDs, I’m not sure how I feel. The line of where we draw a PED is strange, and like many rules, it’s somewhat political. We make decisions on what to allow as a “drug” or supplement, with some rational, but not a consensus. The world changes, we create new compounds, learn more, and it isn’t always the clear that all athletes are competing in a level way. Not equal or even fair, but even that we understand they are consuming the same foods and their performance is just based on training. I’m not sure I’d like to see better testing, or lesser standards, or perhaps just give up and see who can truly push themselves to the limit, however they do it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

End of the Bronco’s Season

I had to leave Saturday for a Scout event, but they had the game on for a bit and we saw the Bronco’s make a horrendous play near the end of the game to allow the Ravens to tie. I still can’t believe the two defenders missed the ball completely and the Jones’ went in for a tie with 30s left. I had hoped the Broncos would drive for the win at the end of the game, but with 30s left, I can understand them being nervous.

I know Fox is a run coach first, but with a tiny back and a (relatively) slow FB, I can’t see why they are running on the 2nd and 1, 3rd and 1 situations, with the line bunched. However it wasn’t the coaches fault. The entire team didn’t play well. Not much pressure from the D-line, poor coverage a few times from the secondary, with Bailey looking old. The O-line played poorly, Manning wasn’t crisp, and the running game wasn’t there. Just a failure.

Next year? I wonder. I’d say we need more secondary help, a bigger running back as a complement to Moreno or whoever, and definitely some depth in the lines. I think we have decent receivers, though I’d like some bigger, better blocking TEs.

Now after watching parts of exciting games, I’m rooting for a Harbaugh-Harbaugh Super Bowl. How cool is it that these two brothers are both once again in the conference championships?

Volleyball Night

A relatively quiet volleyball night. All four of us went for the first time in a month, in the 5F weather. We practiced a bit, doing some drills and having some laughs before we joined in a pick up game with some high school girls. Surprisingly they weren’t that into it, with Tia, Delaney and me being the most active. Kendall didn’t want to play, and watched.

Afterwards, dinner and then to bed.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Order of the Arrow Banquet

66409_10200290812981864_1496703608_nLast night was the 2013 Order of the Arrow banquet for Scouts. Delaney had gone last year, and when I asked him if he wanted to go, he said he did. He registered us, and with the Broncos tied at halftime, we headed out to the West side of Denver.

I wasn’t sure what to expect and wasn’t sure if anyone from our troop was going. We don’t have that many Order of the Arrow participants, and I don’t think many of those elected in the last year or two have even gone through their Brotherhood ceremony after their ordeal.

Delaney did, and I’m proud that he did it. This is almost like an Honor Society of Scouts, focused on service and doing more than needed. Delaney has enjoyed it, even though we’ve lightly participated.

The banquet was like lots of those held by organizations. Mostly focused on awards for members with a little pomp, circumstance, and business. It was long, lots of speeches, awards, and thank-yous, where it seemed like we were clapping every few minutes. A long night, but Delaney never complained as we sat through this and supported those that had achieved something for the Order.


Delaney looked good, and it was nice to see most of the people didn’t have their brotherhood sash, as signified by the stripes at the top and bottom. I don’t know what more he will do with OA, but it’s neat to see him being a part of it.

It’s also interesting to see that OA participates in the High Adventure camps of Philmont and Boundary Waters, but not just as a getaway. The kids that go do two weeks at a very reduced price, but it’s one week of learning about the area and a week of hard work, fixing trails and ensuring the Scouts that come behind them have a safe, enjoyable, trip.

Not sure if he’ll do one of those trips at some point, but I hope so.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Late Night Volleyball

I’ll pay for it later, actually I’m paying slightly today with sore knees, quads, and a lower back.

Last night we went back to volleyball, with an 8:10 game. Tia and I showed up, along with everyone on our team and we had 7 to start the game.

And we sucked.

It was bad. I think we served and promptly dropped 8 or 9 points. It wasn’t any particular person, but all of us making mistakes. Mishits, poor sets, watching balls between us. It was a combined effort of failure from all of us. I had a couple really poor hits at different times, just missing. Near the end of the first game, 42-9, I was looking, just hoping we’d break double digits. We got to 11 and lost.

The second game wasn’t better. We were down 18-2 or something like that, having yet to rotate in one of our players when we finally scored a few points, not getting to 10. The third game we won, much closer, and it seemed as though we’d just warmed up.

Afterwards Tia and I stopped by McD’s to get a drink and head home. We were talking about the game, and both a little frustrated when one of the players called us. She’s playing solo (the rest are couples) and we don’t know her well, but her daughter was on Kendall’s team in the fall for the first time. She said her church had a late night group and they were playing and did we want to join them.

We did and I turned the car around, heading down near Kyle’s old high school. They have a gym in the LDS church there, and we shook a few hands, saw some people around our ages (30s, 40s) and started a 5 on 5 game. It expanded to 7 on 6 eventually, with one team rotating people in an out.

We had a blast, playing until 11:15 or so. It was competitive, all the games close, with some really hard hitters. Men  going all out spiking balls, and some older women doing their best. We played three hit ball, bump, set, spike and that was the most fun I’ve had in years playing sports. We really laughed, joked, but competed.

I knew I was getting worn out and sat out around 10:30. I was ready to go home, but Tia wanted to play, so I watched a game. They convinced me to come in for one last game, and I was the setter, not jumping, just pushing the ball up.

We loved it, and we’re hoping we can go back again and play. That was much better than the league, and I’d love to just play there every week, if my body holds up.

What a Day

It was crazy windy today. I took the kids to school and saw dust blowing everywhere when I got back. I didn’t want to go outside, but I knew if I didn’t get the charger mounted in the West pasture, I wouldn’t do it for a few days. I wandered outside, and had to walk down the track backwards. This is what I saw.


Photo Jan 11, 10 22 21 AM

Dust devils everywhere, hard to breathe, and I’d taste the grit in my mouth as I walked. Glad I was in glasses and not contacts.

We got the charger mounted, and I came back inside to go to work. About an hour or so later Tia said it was snowing. After about 30 minutes, this was what it looked like.

Photo Jan 11, 12 48 00 PM

The wind had stopped, and it was a nice day. About an inch or two of snow, but not bad. A trade I’d make anytime.

Tia and I headed to town to get some groceries, dog food, and eat lunch. A nice break with my wife, which would have been wonderful if I’d been feeling better. Still fighting this cold.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Under the Weather

Slightly. Started feeling a litle sick last night, and struggled to get through Scouts and shopping. A good night’s sleep helped, but still a little worn out after a run.

Book #3 - Confederation

51homJSTkXL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-67,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Continuing the In Her Name series, which has me hooked, Confederation is the middle book of the Reza trilogy. This picks up at the end of Empire, with a Marine contingent trapped on a small world, few of them left, outnumbered by the Kreelan warriors, but in a defensible position in a small village. They take refuge in a church, with Jodi McKenzie, Navy pilot turned Marine leader, wondering how they will survive the next assault from the Kreelans. The village inhabitants are pacifists, and it frustrates her, especially the words and wisdom of the local priest.

Suddenly Reva appears to her, in a church basement, with no way in. She’s amazed as he leaves and then confronts the Kreelan warriors. They greet either other, and Reva the High Priest of Tesh Dar, slays them. After that, the book goes as you might expect. He’s vilified by the church going people as some kind of demon. Many on Earth think he’s some kind of Kreelan spy or traitor, but he still has the letter from the old Colonel asking he be granted admission to the Marine Corps. That, along with recognition by Nicole (from Empire), now a decorated pilot, and he goes through Marine training.

Part of the book is the training, part is his life after, as a Marine officer. The book jumps through time in a few places, and shows Reva’s struggles. It ends in a cliff hanger of sorts again, and immediately had me looking for the next book. Not fantastic, but a very enjoyable read.

A Learning Experiment

I’ve been looking for ways to improve the way I do my job, which is mostly writing and editing, but at a higher level it’s teaching people. That was the goal of SQLServerCentral, to help people learn about SQL Server and become better at their jobs.

Last summer I was looking at a few of the other online learning techniques, and decided to give one a try. I signed up for a Single Variable Calculus class at Coursera. It was delivered by Professor Ghrist from the University of Pennsylvania. There were some problems getting started, and the course was delayed from August until January. I had forgotten about this during the busy fall, but the first week of January I received an email that the class would start on Jan 7, and sure enough, I got a welcome email with a note to start.

The class is set up as you might expect for a college class. I received a syllabus, some introductory remarks (8 minutes, about what I’d get in class), grading instructions, and an initial exam to see how prepared I am. I’ll be starting this week, setting aside a little time a few nights a week to work through this.

I thought this would be a good class to understand the delivery mechanisms and structures as I have had 7 or 8 semester of calculus, though that was over 20 years ago. I’m hoping this won’t take too much time, but it will give me a chance to review some skills I’ll need to help my son in a few years, and it should be fun. I like math.

I’m also looking for ideas that might help me build some better features for my regular job.

Monday, January 7, 2013

No Volleyball

None of the kids wanted to go to volleyball yesterday. Kendall said her ankle hurt, and I think she was being a little lazy. Delaney had been helping Tia with chores, and it was a day off for him. He’d skipped a chance to hang out with a friend to relax around the house after community service Friday and a sleepover Fri night. I was disappointed, but Tia had stuff to do as well, so we skipped it. I whipped up enchiladas and we just hung out. Strange, but nice to have a quiet night.

On the plus side, I did get some things done around watching football. I moved 6 bales of hay in, fixed two broken fence strands, and cut a door for the generator box. I’ve let that go too long and need to finish it, and this was the first part. Closing it up for weather. Now I need to add siding and trim.

Overall, a nice, relaxing Sunday.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Flat Tire and Good Luck

Tia had to teach down South today and left early. Shortly thereafter I got a call. She’d gotten a flat in the Prius. Since she was late, I drove up there and gave her her truck, finished changing the tire, and headed to Tires Plus. We haven’t had great luck with tires, and this one was a blow out. It was also a busy day at Tires Plus, one of the few places open on Sunday. Two people called in sick and they were busy.

However I’ve been a good customer, giving them lots of business and they recognized that. The manager changed the tire on the rim for me, in about 30 minutes, and while I had to put it back on the Prius, he could have said he couldn’t do it. They aren’t the best on price, and aren’t the quickest, but they’ve given me good service like that and I appreciate it.

Back home by 11:30, new tire, and things were looking pretty good.

We haven’t had great luck with vehicles lately. The ATV has a coolant leak somewhere. The Prius with this tire, and the bottom splash guards need cleaning, and possibly replacing. The Suburban lifts in the back went out, though that was an easy, and relatively cheap fix by me. Once I had the parts it took me almost as long to watch a YouTube video on changing the parts as it did to change them. However while that was happening, the “Service 4WD” light was on and the transmission isn’t shifting into overdrive. I thought it was the switch, and replaced that, but something else is wrong. Appointment Tuesday to look at that.

Not a great vehicle time for us.

Book #2 - Empire

51IEytBkQHL._SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA160_The second trilogy of the In Her Name series starts with Empire. It’s a 100 years after the first books, all those characters long dead in human space, though Tesh Dar lives on and returns. It starts on a human colony, attacked by the Kreelan. A young boy is supposed to be in a shelter as his parents make a last stand, but he gets out. His parents are killed, and as he runs, Tesh Dar picks him up. He’s terrified, and somehow manages to scratch her face, leaving a scar from eyebrow to cheek. She appreciates the young one’s spirit and lets him live, but not before leaving him with a matching scar.

The book fast forwards to a planet where orphans are put to work, almost as slaves. Reva Gard, the young human with the scar saves and befriends a women who manages to leave the planet for the Navy the next year. However before she can return to the planet, the Kreelan attack, kidnapping human children. Tesh-Dar remembers Reva and brings him along to the Kreelan homeworld, even though he is older than the Kreelan experiment called for. The planet is destroyed, becoming a blackened rock with no atmosphere.

On the Homeworld, we follow Reva for years as he is trained as a warrior. The Kreelan bound to him calls him an animal, and both beats and trains him, teaching him their language and ways, even as she treats him as less than a person. You can guess for the story goes, and it’s an interesting one as Reva excels in the Kreelan society, earning their respect and earns the right to live. Eventually he proves he is The One, as the Empress believes, and he along with his mate, his tresh, his wife, is chosen by Tesh-Dar as the successor of her line. However he cannot pledge to fight humans for the Empress and is banished as the book ends.

A great story.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Water Heater Works

Not much ice overnight, despite single digit temps, and it melts during the day.

Photo Jan 02, 1 48 49 PM

I don’t love the design, and I’d like to paint over the insulation on the front and add more inside, but for now this is working well.

Cleaning Fire Trucks

A community service morning for Delaney. Up early, I dropped him off at the local fire station where he and a number of Scouts were out cleaning trucks for the firemen, in memory of the firefighters killed in New York a few weeks ago.

It was a good time for him, and not too cold. He had the chance to bond with a few Scouts and act as a leader for others. It was the life service project for one of the boys, and it’s something he needs to get done. We need to find some community service for him to organize with some other Scouts here soon.

Steak Night

I wasn’t cooking again, though I would have. Instead we had a family steak night, Tia, Kendall, Delaney, and me all out to Texas Road House for a nice  steak. Fun to get out with the kids and nice since we made them put the devices down and talk to us at the table.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


The absolute easiest exercise day I’ve had in 4.5 years. With the family I went out on a slow, short, 2mi hike. The dogs came, along with my sister-in-law and finance as we enjoyed a respite from the very cold days we’ve had.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Books in 2012

95 books in 2012. I had hoped for 100, but life was busy, and I didn’t get through a few I was expecting to at the end of the year. Vacation ended up being more family time, with less time for reading, which was fine.

Quite a few re-reads this past year, which was fun. A few series extended, and I went back and took in earlier books to enjoy the full experience of the new novels. I discovered some new authors, and read a lot of science fiction this year. All good, though I expect to read less, and write more, in 2013.

The last few years were:

  • 2012: 95
  • 2011: 69
  • 2010: 80
  • 2009: no idea
  • 2008: 47
  • 2007: 65
  • 2006: 68
  • 2005: 112
  • 2004: 59
  • 2003: 42
  • 2002: 47
  • 2001: 43
  • 2000: 49
  • 1999: 49

That’s a lot of books, 68+ in the last decade, if I think 2009 was similar to 2008. However it’s still a drop in the bucket to how many books are out there, and how many I would still like to read.

Book #1 - Dead Soul

51SLig2 hKL._AA160_The first book of 2013. Actually most of this was read in 2012, but I finished it this morning before getting going.

The end of the first trilogy, Dead Soul takes place on an agricultural world, Alger’s World. A young girl’s birthday party is interrupted when the Kreelan invade. Her family is killed, but she hides in the shelter they built beneath their barn. As the Kreelan invades, she rescues some other kids and they all hide out. There’s a new priestess leading the Kreelan, Ku’ar-Marekh, known as the Dead Soul who doesn’t feel any emotions. However she’s curious about the young girl, Allison, and doesn’t kill her, watching her try to help others.

As with the first invasion, the humans are rounded up and readied for battle in arenas. However the rest of humankind isn’t standing by. President McKenna plans to win back Alger’s World and sends overwhelming forces, including Sato in a new battleship. Before they go, however, advance Marine units are being sent to provide live intel. Mills leads one, with Valentina, and Steph, who’s separated from Ichiro.

The book is mostly the recon patrol’s time on Alger’s World, interspaced with the Dead Soul priestess and Ichiro’s battle. It’s quite a finale to this part of the In Her Name trilogy. I enjoyed it, but you really need books 1 and 2 to get this one.


I received notice that my MVP was renewed today, making this my sixth award. Honored to be recognized by Microsoft again.


It’s deployment day for the solar water heater. It’s taken longer than I expected, but I got a lot done, including some painting help from the kids yesterday. There’s more I want to do, but it needs to go out.

This morning when Tia went out to feed, I got going myself, and started up the tractor, bringing it over to the house. I didn’t have my phone, so no pictures of the insulated base going out, but there’s not much to that. Two sheets of foam insulation sandwiched in between two sheets of OSB. I piled bricks on top and drove out to the pasture. Tia helped me set the base up, leveling it (somewhat) with bricks below, and then adding a bunch on the South side of the platform for a thermal mass.

Then it was back for the cover (and my phone). I loaded them up the tractor and drove out

Photo Jan 01, 11 36 55 AM

It’s not heavy, just a little unwieldy. Above is the bottom, standing on it’s side. You can see the solar plastic which will face South on the left.

Photo Jan 01, 11 37 35 AM

I was worried it wouldn’t fit on the forks, but it did fine. I drove out and Tia and I lifted it onto the base. It actually went on fairly smoothly, which was nice. Delaney and I struggled a bit the other day, since the cover fits around the base, not on top.

Photo Jan 01, 11 47 36 AM

A few bricks sticking out, but mostly it was looking good. Tia started filling it and we could feel sunlight and heat building up inside. I don’t think that it will be enough without a top, but she wanted to give it a try, so we will.

Photo Jan 01, 11 51 45 AM

There are just three pieces of insulation around the sides, and I’m hesitant to add more right now. I think we need a more straight sized bucket inside, but we’ll monitor how this works for a week or two and then decide.

Photo Jan 01, 11 55 31 AM

I’m hoping the 20 bricks in front heat up today and provide a nice thermal mass tonight, keeping things warm. We’ll see tomorrow when Tia goes out.

I did cut out the top larger, and add the trim I got the other day to it.

Photo Jan 01, 2 29 11 PM

I added a brace piece of wood on the bottom, and then screwed the metal trim to each side. A little elbow grease bent the metal around the wood to keep the horses from hitting it with their noses.

Photo Jan 01, 2 42 43 PM

I think we’ll need the top, but for now it’s in the garage. I gave the bottom some paint to try and preserve it in the weather, though I’m not too confident it will last a long time. We’ll see how it survives the winter.