Saturday, March 28, 2020

Spring Fire

Last night, before the rain came.  50ºF, overcast and perfect.  It had been a long time coming and was a nice couple of hours.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Local Updates, More

Madison is in Dane County
It's been over a week since I last posted and it's still going to get worse before it gets better.  Since that time, schools have closed, retail has closed, restaurants are carryout or delivery only and gatherings of over 10 people is barred.  Now, as of tomorrow, all non-essential businesses in the state are to be closed.  Still not sure if that would only leave grocery stores open or what else.  We're one step away from a stay-at-home order.

The good news is we were finally able to get a grocery order in on Thursday, for Saturday morning delivery, and the toilet paper actually came.  Truthfully, we were still probably a week away from being out, but it was on our minds due to all the hoarding.  We're pretty set for food, if need be.  With the full freezer we could probably eat for months, but that's normal for us.

I forgot one key thing I needed for Friday to work at home so I had to go into work.  Today I went in for a little more than an hour then came home and worked the rest of the day - and made sure not to forget anything this time.  This was the first time I worked from home.  Tomorrow I'll have to go in again at least for a little bit to get others up to speed in the change of our procedures due to everyone working at home and not being able to print or scan anything.  (This is due to the nature of the work, not printing or scanning capabilities from home.)  Like today, I hope to be there for only a little while but it may turn into a half or all day as I know there are some things that need to be done that can't be done at home.  The good news is it's even more of a ghost town at work so at least there's much fewer people to come into contact with.

That's the state of things now and, like I said, it's going to get worse before it gets better.  Screenshots are from the site everyone has likely seen by now, CSSE/JHU.

On a different subject, I considered a fire on Friday and again on Saturday evening.  Friday was too breezy and Saturday was pretty cold.  Plus, the grass has not started growing yet and even though we got an inch or so of rain since my last post the rabbit pellets in the back yard are intact.  I think my only hope is for the grass to grow and hide the pellets until they can break down.  I've been yearning for good weather and a good fire but I think I need to put that hope back on the shelf until it is actually a more realistic time.

Overall it was a pretty cold weekend with highs just over freezing, but the extended forecast looks much better, thankfully.  Last night it snowed some, so I woke early to a light dusting still showing on cars and in grassy areas.  It may officially be spring but, indeed, winter has not left the building.  And neither should you, if you can help it.  Stay well, everyone.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Pandemic Panic?

The sudden burst of evening sunlight that comes with daylight saving time has been nice.  The mornings are still dark when I get to work, and once there I'm too busy to note when the sun rises, even with plenty of windows in view.  In fact, I shouldn't say I don't notice because I remember noticing a few times this last week. It was the orange reflecting off the next building's windows.  If not for that glare, though, it's no matter to me.

The warmer temperatures have been very welcome lately.  Almost all the snow has melted so now we are in the time of dirty grays and browns, waiting for the green to burst forth.  While it was above freezing yesterday evening the breeze was a bit much to have a fire.  The dirty brown lawn was also still pretty soft for lawn chairs and still covered in rabbit poop.  We need a couple good rains to wash away the remnants of winter and encourage growth and greenness.

Everything seems to be just about on track this spring, so why not drop everything and panic?

Okay, maybe not everyone is panicking, but many people seem to be.  And I saw it come to a head on Thursday, when seemingly every sporting event, concert tour and other events were canceled.  I've heard the stories of hoarding toilet paper and other toiletries, empty shelves and limits on items, and now we're advised not to go out to eat or order food in.  I even heard a bunch of people were lined up outside a local grocery store this morning waiting for it to open.

Also on Thursday, everyone at work who had the capability of working from home was required to stay home.  A friend at work was going to fly to Texas soon for vacation, he was told if he did he would have to self-quarantine for two weeks when he got back before they'd let him come back to the office.  It was a little odd at work on Friday as only about half the people were there that would normally be in the office.  I'm not set up to work from home, and there's much of my job that I can't do from home, so it looks like I'll be going to work as normal.  It was certainly the topic of discussion on Friday, and many jokes were made, but I guess if you don't laugh you'll cry.  "Social distancing" was discussed, and while I normally wash my hands several times a day I found myself using a big bottle of hand sanitizer a whole lot more.  This huge bottle was bought for my 50th birthday party and sat in a closet for a while and has now been on my desk at work for a year.  I had to hide it now so it won't get stolen.  Seriously.

Locally speaking, we had only one case in the area several weeks ago until another one was confirmed about a week ago, and now I hear several more in the last week.  Sorry, I don't know many details as I tend to not watch a lot of news.  I seem to get a lot from hearsay, the newspaper a couple times a week, or my wife who is much better at keeping up on things than I.

How else has it changed our life?  Well, normally my wife and I like to go out for food and drinks on the weekend, but we will most likely stay in this time.  And any stops at the local bar and grill any time of the week may end for the time being.  Otherwise, not a whole lot.  I can be content at home, home is my favorite place to be anyway.  At least I don't work in the service industry - what will all those people do?  They don't have a choice but to mingle with the great unwashed and take their chances.

Stay in if you can, wash your hands and don't touch your face.  Not a whole lot else to do - but panic!

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Spring Poop, And More*

We're getting there!  It got up to 62ºF on Sunday, and this week is quite mild with only high temperatures in the 40's for the foreseeable forecast.  But that's above freezing and I'll take it!

The snow is slowly disappearing and while there's still time for more I'm hoping not.  The area around and in the firepit is melting away, fallen branches from neighbor Dave's trees have appeared on my woodpile, and there are starting to be signs of plant life.  Daffodils, one of the first plants we see each spring, are starting to come up in a couple areas.  Sunday evening we even got the grill out and had the first grilled hamburgers of the season.  This all spells spring to me, and I couldn't be happier about it.

Poop.  Everywhere.
Not poop.  Daffodils!
My only real issue at the moment is the rabbit poop.  I know I've complained about all the rabbits before, there don't seem to be any predators in the area so the rabbit population has seemingly exploded and they've been running amok for quite some time.  I could actually accept that, and keep them out of the garden and flowers, but the poop left behind after the snow melt is just unreal.  You can't take a step anywhere in the back yard without stepping on several of the little brown pellets.  Look close at the picture, each little brown dot is poop!

Thursday is the Spring Equinox here in Madison - 10:49 p.m. to be precise.  I'm hoping to have an equinox firepit on Friday night.  Sounds like as good an excuse as any, right?

*Update, 3/12.  I'm wrong!  The equinox is next Thursday, the 19th.  I've pointed myself to that moment for so long now I guess I want it sooner than later.  And windy conditions may halt firepit plans tomorrow night, unfortunately.  If we all even live until then.  COVID-19 post coming soon.  Maybe...

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Leap Day This-And-Thats

Happy Leap Day, if you celebrate such things.  Today, while sunny, has only just reached the freezing point.  There has been some snow and some melting since I last posted two weeks ago.  You can just see the upper row of blocks of the firepit in the back yard now.  Spring should be so close, yet is still so far away.  I won't go into it again because I did that in my last post.  Since then, I've felt I should write something yet there really hasn't seemed to be much to share, so you know what that means - time to start typing and see what comes out!

  • We ordered new phones from Amazon the other night.  I don't want to say much yet because it's a new brand to us, and my wife will get hers in about a week while I have to wait about a month.  If we don't like it then things might change.  What was shocking, was the same phone was $170 cheaper in a less attractive color.  My wife got the cheaper color, and I feel like I should have, too, but I spent the money for the vanity black one.  This will only be my third cell phone ever, and I had to spend the last several years with a white phone, so I spent the money for black even though I will have it in a case.  There may be more to come on this, or else no news is probably good news.
  • Last Saturday afternoon I was sorely tempted to trudge a path to the firepit, empty the snow, melt what was left inside with the garden torch, trudge a short path to the wood rack and then start a fire.  The temperature was about 40ºF, the wood was dry and I just miss being outside.  But I didn't, and I can blame laziness and sanity equally.
  • I'm almost afraid to mention it, but we've only had mandatory overtime once (a week ago) in the last several weeks now.  If you've been reading for a while, I'd been on mandatory overtime (as much as union rules allow my employer to mandate) for over a year and a half.  It is such a relief to only work 40 hours, only 8 hours a day.  I want a regular schedule again.  I want to sleep later again.  I want to not be tired all the time or just not have time again.  You know, I just want normal life back, but I'm still not at ease yet.
  • I'm very aware that I've not had a Latest Listening Pleasure post since Alice Cooper last summer.  I've not attended any shows nor have I heard anything that really, really grabbed me in quite a while.  Oh, there's been good albums and good videos that I've heard and seen and enjoyed since then, just nothing that I really dug enough to overflow my musical joy and spill over to share here.  I came close once, but while I enjoyed them there were things that annoyed me as well.  Highlight right of the arrow, if you want to know the band's name. >  New Years Day
  • There are two 1' by 2' boxes full of albums in my closet.  I do have a record player in the closet, too, but no place to set it up even if I thought I would actually play the records.  These are mostly the albums I grew up with, either bought new, traded with friends, or sought out and collected.  Most are from the 1980's, and I've not even seen them in years now.  I should sell them, but first I need to go through them.  I may not be able to part with them all, but I really should part with what I can.  It's just one of those things I know I should do but keep putting off.
That's enough brain spillage for one sitting.  I've not really taken a lot of nice pictures lately, but I took a look and here's some views from here at the desk from past pictures.  To everyone out there, it's just that time of year - I've not been very outgoing, social, or even healthy and happy yet, but Spring is coming, and it won't be a moment too soon!

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Firepit Deep

The snow is about firepit deep in the back yard.  It was a bit deeper, but for the normal settling and melting, and the dark metal firepit insert melted the snow above it just to show me where I could be having a fire, except for obvious reasons.

All in all, I can't really complain about our winter so far this year compared to how I know it can be.  Still, I'm starting to get a bit of cabin fever, even while the more sunlight/longer days makes me feel better.  I've talked about how the cold this winter really hasn't affected me much, as in not having to wear bulky winter gear while still being comfortable, or ever being outside long enough to get that cold, but I just don't get to be outside then.  And that gets old.

I'm tired of wearing socks and long pants.  Long sleeves and layers.  And laundry - there's so much more to do in winter.  I look forward to the times of shorts and flip-flops, grilling out and firepits, bike rides and open windows, summer and warmth!

For perspective, here's a similar picture from last May 31.  The maple tree seeds littered the lawn then, and the hostas weren't quite yet fully grown.

I know spring is near, but we've plenty of winter left for anything to happen.  It's still been a winter, and I'm starting to get pretty tired of it.  But that's normal, and that's okay.  I think it may actually make spring that much sweeter.  And may explain why we Wisconsinites wear sweatshirts and long pants at 50ºF in the fall and shorts and t-shirts at the same temp in the spring!

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Alternate Side Snarking

This just happened.

We have alternate side parking in the winter.  This means that on odd number days you park on the odd side between 1 and 7 a.m., and vice versa on even number days.  This is designed for snow removal.

This afternoon, knowing the parking rules, my wife parked across the street in front of a neighbor's house - as everyone does, all the time.  This is not unusual, people.  Now, normally my wife doesn't happen to park in that particular spot but circumstances today made it so.  And a very nice parking job it is.

A few minutes ago, while my wife was out back for a smoke, the doorbell rang.  I answered, and it was the owner of the house in which my wife parked in front.

A little back story.  We seemed to like her when we met her, when she moved in not too long after we did.  Then we noticed, um, things.  Lets just say I call her "princess" when we talk about her.  She seems very entitled and we have many examples.  For one, she once asked me to get a motion light for my front door light because our light, and I quote from her text, "shines right in my window in my eyes."  Really?  There's more, but onward.

"Hi, I hope I didn't wake you up!"

Eh, I'm pretty beat so that's not a knock.

"I was hoping I could get my spot back?  I know it's not 'my' spot, but you leave so early in the morning that it wakes me up!  My bedroom's right there!"

Pointing to the areas in question as she goes.  And my wife leaves at a reasonable hour.

"I'm sorry to ask.  I'm asking nicely!"

Now this whole time as she's talking my only response is to say her name, 3 times total, while glancing down and shaking my head.  You know the tone I had, the 'I-can't-believe-what-I'm-hearing' tone.  I had to put a rather quick end to this nonsense.

Without using her name here, I said "Neighbor, it's time to start Adult-ing."  With that, I shut the glass door as she said something about that not being very nice.  And then I shut the front door.

What would you have done?

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Sick Musings and Funny Videos

It's been over a week since I posted that I had the flu and I'm still sick.  No longer the flu, but the upper respiratory stuff, while much better, continues.  I still have a bit of a rattle in my lungs when I cough and still going through tissues like they're going out of style.  Other that, I've just been trying to stay rested and hydrated.  I really hope this goes away soon.

I've been around the internet while sick but haven't chimed in or commented anywhere.  Ghosting, you could say, as I've been feeling miserable and my attitude has often matched.  Best not say much until I feel better, I think.  With that thought, this will be a short post.  In fact, I'm not sure what else to say right now.  Let me take a quick look to see if I have anything to share.

All I can find or think of at the moment are two YouTube channels I recently found and have been enjoying lots.  They've both been around for a while now, but they're new to me.

First, the Manitowoc Minute.  A comedian from Wisconsin makes fun videos about, well, Wisconsin things, usually.  I featured one of his videos in a post last month.  Always fun to laugh at yourself, I find.  His channel is here, his latest video is below.

Second is a channel I'm still discovering.  It's by an ex-pat Englishman living in the Midwest U.S., currently Chicago, called Lost In The Pond.  That channel is here, and his most recent video is below.  But for a real good laugh see the video I first found of him called '5 U.S. States With Way Colder Winters than Britain.'  You just know Wisconsin is on his list.  In fact, that will be the video below, from just about a week ago.

Fun stuff.  Good times.  Hope I feel better soon.