Friday, April 30, 2010

Red Dwarf

BBC aired a sci-fi tv series, years ago, called RED DWARF.  It was about a few losers marooned on a ship eons after humanity had died out.  The British humor is rampant, but it is a classic.  Watch it when you get the chance.

I am going to bed (long day tomorrow).

Being Original

I think our coloring books have done well.  I think it has something to do with the fact that no one else has thought to make coloring books to help with their adoptions, though some have asked for our secrets...and if you really want to know the secret?  Here it is for all to see:  Get yourself a JIM and CORA.  I am proud of the way we work together.  We both do our parts, though, often, she does more.  Let's just say, I enjoy a little relaxation.

I finished the Dragon coloring book last night.  Which is, sadly, another book NOT specifically aimed at girls.  Sorry, girls, I am a boy.  Always have been.  I like drawing dragons and dinosaurs and tanks and airplanes...always have.

I DO try to get a little out of my box and draw girl things, but that requires a little more effort on my part.  When you are drawing things in between classes, easy comes out more often.  So, here's the thing.  I AM working on a few girl targeted coloring books.  I have drawn a couple butterflies and dragon flies and princesses.  I AM working on the story that Cora wrote.  It's taking some time, but I noticed when I put my focus on one thing, it happens much more quickly!!  It's been over a month since I finished a new coloring book. I HAVE been working on them, just I had been doing one dinosaur, one dragon and then working on a part of the story and then a flower or something.

Now, my main focus is to draw for the story.  And I am fond of this story.  It is coming along.  I have 7 panels done...that is, pages.  I may have to re-work a few when it comes to putting text in, but they are coming along.  I guess the problem of creating characters that are reproducible and then reproducing them is one of the main issues.  Another is visualizing dynamic scenes and then putting them on paper using the reproducible characters and then making them look like the characters on the previous pages...I have been recycling a lot of paper for this.

When we are done, I think it will be something to be proud of.

Another thing I am particularly proud of is my other website.  I know I have mentioned this before.  I like having people email me to ask me questions.  I really like it when I have a little something to offer back.  It is rewarding to see that my little site fulfills a little place that no one else's does here in Washington State.  I am REALLY looking forward to my coming visit to the Yakima Training Center!!  I may actually get to walk around at one of those sites!  The other is apparently on one of the main impact areas, so, no walking, but I'll be able to look down upon the area where it hit.

Some have suggested I write a book from it.  I don't know about that.  Maybe eventually.  I know that others have worked on the same subject and probably have more information and a few more years research on it than I do.  For the moment, I am happy to live my life and write my other blog for fun.  Once it gets serious, it will not be fun.

Same goes for life.  When you get too serious, the fun trickles away.  What's the use of living life if it isn't fun and interesting?  And let's face it, if it's interesting, it's probably a little fun.

This weekend promises to be interesting.  We have a wedding to go to!  Cora's cousin is getting hitched.  Who is this guy?  I am sure I will be able to find out this weekend.  Of course the REALLY interesting part is the museum she is having it in!!  A WEDDING in a MUSEUM!  It's genius!!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Preschool Daze

Now, I am by no means the BEST teacher in the world, but, as far as substitutes go, I'd like to think I am pretty good.  I've handled kindergarten through high school kids with similar ease.  I get by.  Even when I don't have the best plans in the world, i survive and so do the kids.  By the end of some days I am very happy to see the door, but today, well, today, I suppose I was caught off guard.

I taught preschoolers today.  Actually, I suppose they really taught me.  It wasn't that they were bad kids, I don't think there are really very many bad kids out there.  I think it was more that they were like getting too much U-235 or Pu 239 in the same vicinity...they were at critical mass and they were flying around like little neutrons, hitting little groups of preschoolers and fissioning and then creating more reactions until the energy had created a flux and my brain was buzzing.  --OK, the metaphor of highly radioactive metals and kids breaks down a bit...but you get the gist.  They were crazy.  Like their parents gave them Red Bull for breakfast or something.

I had two batches.  An early morning batch and an afternoon batch.  The morning ones were younger.  But the afternoon ones were no different.  Only that there was a very bossy little girl who knew exactly what she wanted Mr. H to do.  "You can sit here, Mr. H, and read me a story."  "You can help me, WE are going shopping."  "I am calling you on my phone, you should answer."  It took a little while, but I think she finally understood that Mr. H does not respond to demands like one might expect.  I ignored her and went about other tasks.

Mostly, I guess, I was mildly surprised that there was no formal plan for lessons.  For the first hour or so, they were allowed to play together.  Apparently building social bonds and learning cooperative play.  Not that I am complaining.  I am just more used to the structured and semi-educational nature of our kinder classrooms.

On the bright side, I work at WAP HI again tomorrow!

Then, this weekend, we have a wedding to attend.  A cousin of Cora's, whom I have known since she was a little girl, is getting married.  I won't forget the water balloon fight we had when I first met her and her older sister.  They were SO LITTLE!  Now they are all grown up.  Don't tell her, but, she is a beautiful young lady now, and still, it's hard to believe she is getting married!  Of course, the best part is she is getting married in a MUSEUM!!  At least I won't be bored!!

Monday, I return to the Preschoolers...this time better prepared and wielding a few Tylenol for any headache that appears.  All will be well!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

We Don't Need No Stinking Badgers!

Once, years ago, when I was a kid, I stayed the night with a cousin.  They had come into the wonderful world of Satellite TV.  This is back when satellite TV required NASA-sized satellite dishes.  Remember those?  I remember my dad rented one a couple of times.  They were on a TRAILER and you had to rent the BOX and the DISH and trailed the cables into the house.  THEN you could watch whatever was on satellite TV, which I think was HBO at the time.  Anyway, where was I?

OH, yeah.  When I stayed the night we watched the Disney Channel.  This was the late 1980s.  One of the shows that played was a story about a boy and a badger.  I always thought that badger was probably one of the coolest pets you could have.  Of course, later in the evening, after my aunt had gone to bed, we tried to watch the playboy channel, but got caught before we saw anything of educational value for a young teen-aged boy.  Oh, well, at least, I will always have the badger.

This morning, I drove over the small pass between here and the other town I substitute in.  As I crested the ridge, there was a small grey body with a white and black face.  A badger had been hit.  Of course, I was pushing the bounds of being on time, and probably the speed limit, so I did not stop to investigate.  I did, however, text Cora and tell her that a badger had been hit and where to find it, since it was on her route to work.

When she left for work, she let me know.  I told her to watch for the badger and then asked her if I had ever told her I wanted a pet badger.  She replied that she did not know that particular tidbit of information.  And, if you can believe it, she sent a "TONE" in her text that had no words accompanying.  Her "tone" said that if she had known that little snippet, many years ago, when I asked her to marry me, she might have had to think very long and hard about saying yes.

Anyway, I replied, "Oh, well, Honey, I'd like to had a pet badger."  She did not reply.

A while later, she texted me that the badger was cool and you don't see that often.

Indeed you don't.  My dad and I once found a dead had been hit by a car.  It spent a year and-a-half in the freezer before he finally arranged to give it to the museum to be stuffed.  On another occasion I was on a drive, one evening, looking for snakes (yes, I actually went out looking for snakes) and I saw a badger cross the road.  I stopped and followed this badger for about fifteen minutes.  I was within fifteen or twenty feet.  The badger ignored me.  He just sniffed around looking for whatever he was looking for.  I was wary, since those claws and those teeth looked more than a little threatening.  Still, it was quite a humbling experience, and it was, we gotta face it, cool.

So, I taught my classes and did my thing and thought about that badger.  I got off work and dropped by and said hi to Cora for a little while.  Then I went home, passing the dead badger, once more.  Sometime this afternoon, I sent Cora a text that said, "You know, I picked up the badger and brought him home. I think he's gonna make it.  He's resting on your side of the bed."

She replied, "Oh, thanks."

I replied, "I've always wanted a pet badger."  Then, " I think she is a girl badger.  Can we get a boy and have baby badgers?"  We followed that up with a general discussion of badgers and dinner.  Finally, Cora must have thought I was texting too much, because she told me to put the badger in the back yard and get back to house work.

Later we were in the middle of a text and I told her the "Badger is nuzzling me, ahhhh."  "Ahhhh-AHHHHHHOUCH!  THAT HURT DUMB BADGER!!!"  Cora replied with the three letters that sting so much:  "LOL  :-)"  Can you believe that?

My final text was, "Badgers DO NOT make good pets."

Of course, I was joking.  I did NOT really get the dead badger.  Though, I did ponder the idea that I should have pushed the badger off the road so she'd wonder.  But, alas, I hadn't done that.  I continued to work at cleaning up the house and getting the BBQ ready for dinner.

Cora pulled in.  I waited at the door to asked her about her day.  She looked at me and wanted to make sure I HAD NOT picked up the badger...apparently I had related the story about picking up the road-killed badger of my youth.  I said, "NO."  She said, "Well, it was not there when I went by and I got kinda worried!"

Gotta love the power of suggestion!  It made my night and we shall have Badger Stories for the rest of our lives!!!!


I enjoy birds.  When I am sitting in the back yard during the summer, I enjoy looking up from my book to see birds tittering over the seed I have placed on the fence for them.  I especially like the house finches and the gold finches because they are so colorful.  Those little gold finches are the prettiest little guys around.  Feeding them is a simple way to gain a little entertainment.

To that end, we have purchased bird feeders before.  I think, however, the one I like best is the re-purposed coffee creamer container.  I took it and an empty water bottle and modified them just a smidge.  The empty water bottle is the hopper and the creamer container is the magic area where the food collects.  All it took was a little wire and a knife.  And the best thing is, the birds love it.  I filled it on Sunday and it is now empty.  I like it when a plan comes together.
I had to paint it, because that was the ONLY way Cora would let me keep it.  Can you believe she thought leaving it the original color was tacky??

Monday, April 26, 2010

Where I describe JUST how super I am

We could not take pictures of the Hanford Site, but we took a picture before we got out of the car!  See the sparkle in her eyes?  She can't believe I went to such extreme measures to be sure she could experience Hanford!!

We worked around the house this weekend.  We planted some flowers and created a low rock wall.  It started with a short trip into town.

Cora and I decided our front gardens needed just a little more.  So, a few weeks ago I took out the red scalloped bricks we've had for several years.  So, then we had nothing.  Then, last weekend, Cora took it upon herself to make the gardens square and befriend the neighbor kids.  We knew we wanted some new stonework to border the gardens.  I did NOT know how stones seem to gain mass as you work with them.  You can see evidence below.

So, we went to the local garden center.  We bought a half ton of stone.  Which was my duty as husband to load onto the cart.  Then I had to load it into the truck...then off the truck into a wheelbarrow.  Then I had to make sure the ground was level for each stone...of course it was never right the first time.  So, I had to move the stone a few times.

We were JUST going to have a single layer...but I HAD to try out a second layer to see what it looked like.  What a dumbass.  Because, when Cora saw it, she said, "WOW, What a great idea, oh, wonderful husband of mine!  We simply MUST have more bricks!  Thank goodness I married you!"  or words to that effect.  Give or take.  Sort of...

So, off to the store I went and I got another sixteen tons of stones.

I began unloading them.  Thirty-two tons later, I had them out of the truck.

Then I took them out of the wheelbarrow.  All sixty-four tons.

At one hundred twenty-eight tons, I laid the last one to rest.

Cora, during this time might have planted a some plants, and then, because she still had lots of energy, she planted some pansies for the neighbor kid.  As I dragged myself to the door hoping a taste of cold beer, she said, "I think that one's need to raise that one up or lower the other."  So, I fell back to work with a hammer and chipped some stones and re-stacked some rocks.  Finally, it was done.  And you can see what the result was!  

Two hundred fifty-six tons of stones later, I sat, a ragged shadow of the man I had begun the day as.  Another day older and a deeper in debt...

And Cora loved me forever and ever and ever!  All because I created a wall for her.  Several hundred tons of wall.  And she still calls me "Oh, great and wonderful husband whom I do not deserve, yet miraculously wake up next to every spectacular morning!  Being married to you is like the gift that keeps on giving!!"

She's right, of course, I AM wonderful.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Different View

I have found that despite the fact that Cora and I are often within arm's reach of each other, we often remember different aspects of places we go.

I, for instance, remembered and related the items (I call them FACTS, though, Cora may disagree) I saw and explained things to the best of my ability (with an interest in brevity, although, Cora may disagree) in my post on the Hanford Tour.

Cora, on the other hand, remembers a bewildering number of things I either forgot, or discounted as not being interesting.  I may have been mistaken.  Cora's account of our tour is very entertaining and well worth a read!  In fact, I suspect the majority of you will find her take on the tour much more to your liking than my own, rather tedious, account.

I hope you will have a look at her site!  She writes very well, and her sense of the absurd is without equal.  Even when she takes aim at me, it is generally well deserved.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Movies For Plans!

As a substitute teacher, I enjoy those days when the teacher leaves a movie.  Today was such a day.

Why do I like it?  Because this is my job:  Take role, explain that if people are talking I will send them to the office, then I push play, turn out lights, say "SHHHHHHHH" with a raised eyebrow and surprised look (As though surprised they dare talk after my warning seconds before), return to desk and do whatever the hell I want, then push stop and turn lights on.  Repeat as necessary.

In that capacity, I drew several pictures for the new coloring books.  I drew some dragons.  I also drew some girlie things. It is so difficult for me to determine what a girlie drawing is!  And, of course, everyone asks for "princesses."  Do you know how hard princesses are to draw?  I don't do well drawing people.  Sure, yes, in a pinch I can draw people, but damn, it's SOOO much easier drawing fish.

I enjoyed the day, though.  When it was over, I came home and delivered the That's My Pan order.  I got home just a short time before Cora.  I also sold a coloring a parent of one of my students.  She was in the classroom I was in yesterday.  I showed her the books and she said her son had been talking about them for quite some time.  Apparently all those free color sheets might be working out!

Our clown fish babies hatched yesterday, sometime before we awoke.  I am sure they are gone, but maybe in a few months one will creep out of the rock work and we'll have a baby!  Fish.  That is the most likely baby we will ever have, at this rate.

I need some wine.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Birthday! Happy Earth Day!!

Happy Birthday Cora!  Let's be green and send Cora an e-mail or comment on her blog today telling her why she's special to us!

I'll start:  You're the best!  Happy Birthday!!

Oh, and Happy Earth Day, too.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hanford Tour

So, today, Cora and I went and toured the Hanford Site.  Hanford, as a few of you may know was a little town, which the US Government told to move so they could create the Hanford Engineering Works.  This was part of the Manhattan Project of WWII, to produce Plutonium for the atomic bomb.

So, I got us a tour of the site.  I expected it to be similar to the one I had three years ago.  It was not.  Today we began with a ton of smartass comments from my beloved wife.  She was not especially happy to be getting up.

We made it to McDonalds and ordered breakfast, which helped tone down the smartass comments, since her mouth was busy.  We eventually made it to the appropriate place and wandered in and offered our identifications.  We were herded into a room, where there were only chairs for about 2/3s of the people on the tour.  Cora, having digested breakfast, once again commenced being a smartass.  I don't mind, since she is an amusing smartass.

We drove past the 300 Area, where Uranium was made into fuel elements that would fit into the reactors.  Then we continued on.  We got to the Wye Barricade (entrance) and waited while the bottom of the bus was sniffed by a K-9 unit.  We then proceeded north.  We drove past the old Hanford townsite, noting various features along the way.

The Hanford townsite was the site of the tens of thousands of workers who built the wonders of the Hanford Engineering Works.  It was a tent city that lasted less than two years.  You can read more at the various sites listed below.

We were then driven past the F-Reactor.  Which was one of the three War-Time reactors that contributed Plutonium to the War Effort.  It is now cocooned.  A sad end to a brilliant piece of engineering.  (And let me just add here, my opinion on the way they are handling things out there.  They are striving to return the land to a state where nothing remains of the Historic Presence of the US Atomic Energy Commission or any other entity that occupied or ran part of the Hanford Reservation.  I disagree strongly with this.  These buildings should remain a part of our heritage!  Once they have been decontaminated, I believe they should remain for the generations that follow.  I believe there is no way to totally know an era unless you stand in their structures or within the areas they stood in.  That is why we have memorials and museums made from ships, airplanes, trains, and buildings.)

Then we passed H-Reactor (also cocooned). Then D-Reactor and DR-Reactor.  DR stands for D-Replacement.  These have all been cocooned.  Their size is remarkable, considering the lack of scale available in the desert.  See the photo below, which I have borrowed from the "Hanford Site." (forgive the pun)

Then we came to the N Reactor.  A dual purpose reactor.  It could produce electricity AND plutonium.  It was such a spiffy new design, President Kennedy stopped by to be part of the opening ceremonies!  An Aunt of mine was present at this occasion!  About six weeks later, that president was dead.  The N-Reactor, however, continued on unto the mid-1980s, when, sometime after the Chernobyl Accident in 1986, the US decided to shut the N-Reactor down for awhile because it shared some of its design with the Chernobyl Reactor.  They never did start it up again.  Three years ago, it was in decent condition.  Today they are in the midst of tearing it down and cocooning it.  Dammit.

We passed the K East and West Reactors.  both cocooned.  Their basins have been the subject of some local media focus, since some unprocessed fuel rods were sitting underwater for many years and made clean-up a difficult job.

Finally, we got to the B-reactor!  It is awesome!  That stack that rises above it?  That is a ventilation stack.  It takes the filtered air OUT of the reactor building, which was kept in a negative pressure environment.  We had an hour and fifteen mionutes to spend, but it went WAY too fast!  We saw the air fans and the water coolant valves.  Up to 70,000 gallons of water per MINUTE was passed through the reactor!  It was designed to be a 250 megawatt reactor, but the guide said that toward the end they had it up to 2100 megawatts!  I wanted to know what it felt like at the face and he started to show me up to the face when our bus-guide said it was time to go...dammit!  We stood where Enrique Fermi stood 67 years ago!  We did not get to see the back of the reactor like I did three years ago, but it was a small price.

After we left the B-Reactor, we drove to the 200 West Area.  This is one of the two processing areas.  The spent fuel rods would be placed into the "Canyons" and then subjected to chemicals that would break down the rods one thing at a time, till finally a slurry of plutonium nitrate was left.  It was then further purified until it became a Plutonium hockey puck.  then it was shipped off to Los Alamos to be made into a bomb.

We saw the T-Plant, U-Plant and the Redox.  All three different buildings used to process fuel rods.  We then got to see ERDF, which they were SOOOOO proud of the guy they had explain it to us did it several times.  I stopped listening once I understood that they have dug a huge hole in which to bury dirt. 

All in all, it was great to see the magnitude of the size of the reactors and buildings, but it was sad to see so many reduced to nothing.  And worst of all, was the focus on how they are working to protect the environment.  I must state, I am all for protecting the environment, but I was REALLY interested in the HISTORIC importance of the area AND scientific problems that had been overcome!  Three years ago there were many more anecdotes shared by the tour guide, today, we got the PC version of everything and I was left wanting!

Cora and I then departed the drop-off area and went shopping.  We got her some clothes for a coming wedding and then went to dinner at P.F. Changs for her Birthday, which is tomorrow.  It was a great day!

Here are the links:

also, my post on my airplane blog:

Getting Ready!

The Hanford Works was begun in the early 1940s.  There they began production of the Plutonium used in atomic bombs.  Each year there are a limited number of tours offered on a first come, first served basis.  On March ninth, I made sure I was up at a few minutes after midnight to grab mine.

That tour begins this morning at 9:30AM!  Cora and I will be enjoying views that not everyone gets to see.  We will also be going to the B-Reactor.  The first full sized production nuclear reactor.  It went critical for the first time in September of 1944, less than two years after breaking ground!  We will be standing within feet of the reactor face and will be standing on ground that Enrique Fermi stood on!

Hanford played a major part in plutonium production used in atomic bombs and tritium used in hydrogen bombs.  It is a Cold War heavy area with architecture both harsh and utilitarian.  Despite that, the buildings often offer a stark beauty.

Be assured, I will post about it tonight!

Don't expect any pictures, though, because cell phones and cameras are NOT ALLOWED!  Despite that, I will tell you about it!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Poor Me

Why is it that sleepless nights don't happen on the weekend where the following morning can be spent relaxing and napping?  No, of course, sleepless nights exist only on work nights.  I awoke at sometime around 2:30am.  I got up, had a drink of water and tried to return to slumber.  NO LUCK.  I tossed and turned.  So I got up and sat looking at the computer trying to decide how best to bore myself to sleep.  Cora joined me at some point and we had a glass of milk.  I thought this might help and returned hopefully to bed.  Still no sleep.  I read a book.  no luck.  I watched Firefly.  Still not tired.  I finally found my eyelids becoming heavy around 5AM.  I tried going back to bed.  So, I basically lay quietly for an hour, but may have slept for eight or ten minutes.  I am up to stay now.  Drinking coffee and preparing for the day.

This afternoon, I get to return to the dentist and hope they are more gentle with me this time.  My teeth are still sensitive from last time.

We had a pretty good day yesterday.  We worked in the gardens and made some progress with the house.  We might add some flowers and some bricks and make a decent looking dwelling after all.  Best of all, though, I got to spend the day with my incredibly beautiful wife and her new haircut!  Skip on over to her site and have a look at her new do!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Busy Day!

We worked and, with the help of the neighbor's grandkids, we managed to enlarge our front gardens.  We intend to line them with lovely stones!  We also did some minor surgery on our garden.  Some rose bushes we have been meaning to destroy  take out, were the subject of our ministrations..  It wasn't too hard, unless you consider using a "come-along" hard.  Oh, and I sort of drove the truck up onto the lawn to pulled them out.  That;s not hard, is it?

We also trimmed out trees and we got ready for the CITY CLEAN-UP next weekend.    

I know!  Fun times, huh?  Oh, yeah!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Day

Clown fish are cool.
Trains are cool.
Clown fish really are cool.
Cora left today to join her sisters.  Her sisters were going to be there as support for her when she cut her hair.  She is tired of it being so long and, well, can explain it better on her site.

That left me free for the afternoon.  Not one to do normal things, I set out to see if I could find a what to the top of the Rattlesnake Hills.  I could, as it turns out.  I had to do a little creative driving, but I managed it.  Below you can see the roads were pretty good.  There were a bunch of cows in the way.
They were curious about me as I passed.
After some tense driving I found a high point and stopped.  Here is the view.
I think my truck is cool.  I have always liked the look of it.  I don't car if it is 9 years old.  It's a pretty good looking truck.
There are a few valleys hidden from the rest of the world.  It looked as though man had forgotten their existence.
I walked around the hill top looking for evidence that the US Navy had used it for target practice.  I found none.  I did find a few spring flowers!
I turned the truck around and went looking for that valley, since the maps say it has a road down through it.  Turns out it was a cow trail.
Yes, perhaps vehicles had been this way years ago, but I thought it best to check the road ahead before my two wheel drive tried it.

I found that the road did not go much further, rather it ended in a small canyon.  As I was checking out the road ahead, I chanced upon two coyotes.  I did not even think to take a picture, though I could have.  I was enjoying the sight, then they saw me and took off.  ONLY then did I remember the camera.  Still, here's their den.
This is the bedrock, which seems to show the columnation that is so common with basalt.  Still, usually, you see it from the side, not from the top.
Here is why the truck could not continue.
There it is in the background.  It was a beautiful little valley.
There were some tracks of a wheeled vehicle going a different direction.  i followed them to see if there was an outlet.  I found none and assume the vehicle had turned around and returned the way it had come.  Like I decided to do.
I got out to inspect the bottom of the draw and like this picture of the truck looking back toward the Lower Valley...that's Toppenish in the background.
There were some young calves that were in my way on the way back.  I let them cross in front of me.  I gunned the engine a bit more than I needed and startled them.
I got a moove on...get it, MOO-ve?  Yeah, I know, I am a comic genius.  They did not go far and stopped to watch me drive by...then followed.
Apparently they believe every vehicle brings hay...they were wrong.

This is the time to see the flowers of our desert area.  Most are small.
I made it back to paved roads without any trouble.  Overall, it was a fun outing.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Happy Spring Dog!

The apple blossoms are blooming and animals are feeling a friskiness that they haven't for a while.
Specifically, Pepper.  She romped out in the front yard of my in-laws for awhile today.  She was in high spirits.  I mean, look at her eyes!

My mother-in-law's tulips were in full bloom.
Gypsy is even smiling.
I saw some beautiful apple blossoms today and couldn't help but take some pictures.
And, of course Pepper made ME smile.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I have been a long time fan of Star Trek.  I do not dress up as Spock or a Klingon or anything like that, though, long ago, I thought a Borg costume would be a helluva way to celebrate Halloween, and still have that sitting in the back of my head.  I have put away several semi-functioning optical mice for that option.  I intend to use their small lights and circuit boards for my Borg suit...ok, maybe, just maybe, I have put a little thought into this.

The point is, our DVR is set to record Star Trek Voyager and Next Generation.  Of the two, Voyager is my favorite.  Sometimes, and there appears to be no pattern, SPIKE TV runs a Voyager episode.  The rest of the time, we have to make do with Next Generation.

You see, my wife is a Star Trek fan too.  She watches it with me.  She is ALSO a nerd.  Further proof that we work together well.

So, tonight, when I looked at the DVR, I saw "Voyager" had been recorded last night around midnight.  I was pleased!

I taught SPED today.  It wasn't bad.  I have taught these kids several times over the past few years.  The best thing about it is the people I work with.  The Para-Pros are the best.  These ladies are the real thing.  They make me look good.  I am just there for the ride.  I enjoy it, since they are the nicest people around!  I am not even trying to brown-nose them.  They just are THAT NICE!

So, it was a great day because of my co-workers...and Star Trek: Voyager!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Post 700 and Eggs

Cora asked where the clownfish in our good tank went.  I looked and found they were hiding behind a rock.  Then I found why!  We are gonna have some babies!!  Of course, clown fish are difficult to raise, so we probably won't have them very long, but the thing is, this is COOL!!!!!
the yellow/orange things on the rocks are the eggs.

Oh, and Deadliest Catch's new season is on!!!

Moving Forward

Our fish tanks make me happy.  There are times when other aspects of life keep me from caring for our tanks the way I should.  I am notorious for not doing water changes, something that probably contributed to our latest tragedy.  Still, a 50% water change and continued care is showing progress.  Of course, we now have a red slime problem...oh, well, I am looking at it as a challenge.

Cora and I have had these tanks for quite awhile.  We began the 30 gallon tank in 2006.  Shortly after we started a ten gallon reef tank...unfortunately, the reef tank drained of its water in 2008.  Two years before this latest debacle.  I had salt water tanks in Ellensburg...back in 1995-98.  We moved back to Yakima and shortly after that, we gave up on the tanks as too much work.

At least, I always have Cora.  I love this picture of her.  She looks good when she is out in the wild.
We have been together for a while now.  When we got married we went to Walt Disney World for our honeymoon.  On the way back we stopped in Salt Lake City.  I bought a touristy cactus "egg" which had seeds.  I planted them and woo hoo, in two weeks I had a ton of little cacti.  I had a decent amount of die-off in the next six months.  I gave some away and kept a few.  Today I have seven or eight left over.  One is about 8 inches tall.  I think it's a saguaro.  Below is a pair of the hold overs.  

No wonder the South Western states protect cacti so fervently.  It takes A LONG TIME for them to grow to a decent size.  These two below are ten years old and are only a couple inches tall!
In 2008 I bought more Cactus seeds when we visited Arizona.  I planted some of them and they have not grown very much at all.  None are more than a half inch.  I suspect, if I ever have a kid with a green thumb, I will give my cacti away.  Hopefully they will bring someone happiness for a long time after I am gone.  

Monday, April 12, 2010

Always Thinking

I believe nearly everyone who reads this blog is aware of my other blog.  The airplane blog (I just refer to it as that to keep the confusion down)  is ostensibly to promote interest in local history.  I write mainly on things that happened in or are in some way related to Washington State.  Sometimes I write on other military subjects, for instance the grounding of a Cruiser near Pearl Harbor, Hawaii a year or so ago.  Still, I try to return to Washington State and the Cold War.

I honestly did not think anyone would look at it without me inviting them.  Imagine my surprise when I finally began tracking it with Google Analytics and discovered just how many people go to my sight.  It isn't exactly a high end site, I'll admit that.  It does cater to a very small percentage of the population.  Still, the numbers indicate that several people visit each day.  Many because Blogger sends them there.  A few, more than I expect, come directly to my blog!  They have it bookmarked or they follow it.  often, though, they search for something and Google brings them to me.

It is the Google searches that bring the best, though.  I have corresponded with more interesting people thanks to that.  For instance there was the gentleman that wrote about his experience as a boy when he accompanied his family to recover an abandoned Army Helicopter.  There have been others, though, that really make me happy.  The ones who are searching for loved ones or friends.  They want to know about what their dads and brothers and uncles did.  I do my best to send them to the right place and give them as much information as I can.  THAT is the unforeseen result of my blog that makes me happy.  Helping others, while doing something I enjoy.

The thing is I was making fun of a teacher for thinking about buying teacher materials while she was on her vacation...then it dawned on me.  Uhh, yeah, I am always thinking about history.  Oops.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Photo Phun

If you have a camera and an industrial plant available to you, I highly recommend taking a few pictures.  I took a little while this morning and touched up a few photos I took the other day.  I approched each one a little differently.

Below, I liked the green from the fluorescent lights and so I used that and enhanced the greens to get what you see below.

I also tried a little gem that I'd never noticed before...see how it warped the photo above?
And sometimes black and white, with an appropriate amount of contrast, is just the right thing.
Same here.  Except, I need to remember to bring a tripod next time.
The next one is just a part of the original photo.  I think I modified it enough to give it a Sci-Fi feel.
I always like to add contrast.  I like these.  I think they would make a good set.
Last night, we had my family over and had a great time with them and playing Wii.  The new game we have offered a lot of options for group play!  It was a lot of fun!  See Cora's site for some pictures!  Or, look at colormehome to see the kids coloring some of the potential dragons.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Birthdays Party

OK, my family has always celebrated birthdays.  It's the way they do things.  Cora and I don't always have a party to celebrate...especially since we seemed destined to remain childless.  However, certain nieces and nephews seem to believe that even grown ups need to have a birthday party.  To placate my niece and nephews, we hosted a get together.  We had a bit of dinner and some snacks and cake.

We also played Wii.  I COULD post dome really embarrassing video of my mom doing hoola hoop dance thing, but I doubt strongly she'd keep me in the will...or on her Christmas list, so I won't.  Instead, I will post a couple photos taken tonight during our get together.

Below are the backs of some heads focused on the TV.  We played Wii.  Everyone seemed to enjoy taking part.  Others enjoyed watching.  Either way, everyone seemed to have fun!
 Everyone had to read a story it seems.  However, Cora was quick enough to get a photo of me reading.  Below you can see my rapt audience.  Yeah, they are pretty much the cutest audience ever.  I enjoyed it.
It was a good day!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Pipes Are Alive With the Sound of Music

Yesterday, I had a job near where Cora works.  So, we drove to work together.

I had a pretty good day.  They were the fifth graders I have been revisiting all year long.  For some weird reason, the teacher keeps asking me back.

Of course, last time, I illustrated my customary subnotes.  It began with a submarine.  The second picture was of a surface warship going fast(destroyer with a bone in her teeth) it was placed near where I described an outburst of one of my students.  When I described my resolution to the problem of the student, I drew a picture of a submarine firing a torpedo next to it.  At the very end, when I described the way the kid came back to class after visiting the principal, I drew a picture of the surface ship sinking.  The sub won.  I think she appreciated the metaphor.

When I got off work I drove to Cora's work and went inside.  She suggested I take some pictures to supplement the ones they had up that were several years old.  This, of course, meant I would need to have the camera and a tour.  by chance (not really), I had the camera with me.  You never know when you will get a picture worthy of blogging...for instance, the "Club" picture I shared the other day.  (I would not run around with the camera if it wasn't so small.  It fits easily into a pocket)

So, we went around and took some pictures.  We will see how they are received.  In the meantime, here is a picture of Cora and me...don't I look cute in a bump cap?  We had just been in a cold room, so if we look cold, that's why.
Today, I subbed music at the El again.  Which does explain why the kids usually ask me if I am subbing for Music when they see me.  The teacher said she likes me because I can manage even when she doesn't leave me particularly detailed instructions.  I think that's a compliment.  

I had it easy, though.  The kids were composing their own scores.  All I had to do was look over their work and make sure they had gotten everything right.  (I can't read music, but I fake REAL good)  

It was enough to build one's ego, though.  As I stood just inside the doors toward the end of recess, i overheard some of the kids say, "Mr. Huffman's teaching Music! And we have Music today!!!"  "We get to have Mr. Huffman!"  It makes you feel good.  

Tomorrow, Cora and I are having my Sister and her family up, along with my parents, for a mutual celebration of our birthdays.  It seems our niece and nephews don't understand how one can have a birthday and NOT have a party.  This is a nod to their needs, plus, it's a decent reason to get the family together and play Wii.  Be assured we will have some embarrassing photos tomorrow!  

For now, you'll have to make do with the pipes below.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Forecast: Crappy

I was pretty pleased with myself yesterday.  I had managed to return our filter arrangement to working order for the fish tank.  (I broke the filter on Monday)

This morning, right before we left for work, we discovered all three of our fish in the reef tank were dead.  I am not sure what I did that killed them.  It may have been the dissolved oxygen content became too low, or maybe I had accidentally introduced a chemical to the tank, or maybe I overdosed it with something else.  It remains unclear.  The corals are still alive, as are the crabs and snails, so I don't really have much of a clue why just the fish died.  Still, it left me with a sour feeling in the pit of my stomach, all day.  I don't know why losing a few fish ruins my day so horribly, but I was in kind of a funk all day.

Cora's was similarly a crap-fest.  I think hers may have been worse than mine.  Mine wasn't bad, I just was not flying with both wings in the wind.

I'm still drawing, though not everything comes out as a good color sheet.

I don't know what this means for our fish tank days.  Continue?  End?  Another chapter?  I don't know.  Seems if it weren't for bad luck we'd have no luck at all, gloom, despair, and agony on me.  Yeah, i suppose i'm feeling sorry for myself.

On the bright side, I did have some pretty cute, and pretty awesome kids today.  They are enough to be happy about at times.


My Uncle Larry was an artist of many sorts.  I have only been exposed to a fraction of his photography, but I have seen his use of found objects to create a living space that made him happy.  I appreciate that kind of sculpture and arrangement.  He is gone now.  He passed away almost four years ago.  I never took the opportunities I should have to know him better.  It seems the saying is true about youth.  While he may have rubbed some people wrong with his hippie ways and un-mainstream beliefs, I always found him to be one who was enjoyable and agreeable to know.

I saw my aunt yesterday.  She still grieves for him.  I know this.  I know the pain never leaves after you lose a loved one.  Some days are better, but they are never easy.  Seeing her reminded me of this.  And of his art.

I need to appreciate the loved ones I have now.

Forgive me for leaving my normal tempo and narrative form.  Today, I write for my Uncle.  And, in that vain, I submit this poem:


It seemed
All night long.

Was an
Inconsiderate lover.

I long
To go back.
Jim R. Huffman

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sore Mouth

Having been to the dentist, I don't expect to feel spectacular, but you would think they were in there with jack hammers and high explosives the way my jaw hurts this morning.  I had to lie on the other cheek as the side they worked on was sore to lie on.  It was only a couple fillings, and yet it feels like they were drilling for oil.  I swear they were in there with crow bars, too.

This morning we have to go visit the Federal Government and remind them that we have finger prints since they seem to have forgotten and misplaced the ones we had done 18 months ago.  I have also had mine done for the schools a few times, but we would NOT want to keep them on way!  It's a great cash source!

Who knows what the rest of the day will bring...

Monday, April 5, 2010

O.K. Then.

Do you ever have days that start out pretty O.K., but the closer they get to the end of the day the crappier they get?  Yeah, me too.

Today was kinda one of those days.  Well, sort of.  

I was up late last night looking for a job.  I was hoping against hope that I might procure a sub job.  Usually on the day back from a break there are not very many jobs that come up.  So, I was not terribly optimistic.  Still, I was up late, just to make sure.  I also got up early this morning with the hope of obtaining the unlikely job.  While I waited, three jobs came up for tomorrow, the sixth.  

I took the first one, but Cora reminded me that I can't take a job for tomorrow because we have a nine o'clock appointment to go in to USCIS to have our finger prints taken for the immigration documents for the adoption.  I could take a job in the afternoon, but the likelihood of one coming up and me actually being able to take it are remote. 

I did a lot today.  I went to town looking for a few items.  I managed to get a few.  I got the oil changed.  I got an item at Target, and then some stuff at Costco.  Between all that I bought a pair of gloves and stopped at the county court house.  Why did I stop at the court house you ask?  

Well, I think I mentioned that I have found mention of a bombing range near Zillah, Washington (A town about fifteen miles distant).  As many of the wrecks I'd like to investigate are MUCH further away, this potential historical treasure has potential for me to investigate at my leisure rather than making plans ahead of time.  

My previous experiences at the court house have been negative.  Of course, much of it comes from my parents paying property taxes and an appearance for a ticket that I had to pay years ago, so who knew that when I walked in and asked about information on something so strange that they would be so helpful?  The first lady (records) helped me boot up a Microfiche reader and find what I needed.  Only, I quickly discovered I did not have enough information to help me find what I was looking for.  She suggested I go down the hall to where they keep the maps (assessor).  The lady I found there was most helpful, until we discovered some of the land is still under Bureau of Land Management and she had no information on it.    Still, I now know how easy it is and how friendly they are, so I won't hesitate to go back...also, I did not have to go through a strip search, that's probably a good thing.

It was at the court house that I saw something I had to share with'll need to scroll down to see it, but first, read on.

I then got Cora a coffee and saw her for a little while.  She always puts a smile on my face.  After I left her I came home and began work on the house, although I made little visible progress.  I remembered I had a dentist appointment.  

And here is where the afternoon went to hell.   I decided I had time to do a water change for the fish tank.  So, I did.  I also cleaned out the filter.  While I was doing that, I found that the florescent light has made the plastic broke.  I should be able to fix it, but, for now, we are relying on the little pump inside the tank for water movement.  

I also needed to get the dog licenses.  According to the letter we were late.  That means they assess a 5 dollar charge on the five dollar fee.  For two dogs that is 20 dollars( I did the math for you slow people out there, you probably know who you are, but if you don't, send me an e-mail and I will tell you).  I made out the check and left the checkbook at home.  The clerk said, "that's too much."  Much as I hated to, I told her, "Well, we're late and the late fee is $5, 4X5 is 20, here you go."  She said, they are not charging the late fee.  She can't give me change for the check.  "Do you have any cash?"  No.  Damn it!  I didn't have cash.  And I didn't have time to go back to the house.  With my luck they'll charge me a late fee tomorrow when I walk in with a ten dollar check.  

When I got to the dentist, they invited me in and gave me a shot.  I immediately got very jittery and shaky.  I mentioned that, since that has never happened before.  They said it may be because it had epinephrine in it.  The dentist began his drilling and we all found that the numbing solution had not done its job.  They gave me more.  Now I am having trouble speaking without sounding impaired.

Well, I am O.K., but I will probably be dining on something liquid.  

I was looking our photos over when we got home yesterday and I found that in one of the photos, there was a honey bee on the flower that I had not noticed!  Have a look!  Cool, huh?

As mentioned above, I found something in the court house parking lot that I thought you needed to see.  Below you see a picture of a vehicle with "THE CLUB."  You know, that late night infomercial thing guaranteed to keep people from stealing your car!
Now, you might expect this to be in a very styling vehicle.  Something with panache.  Perhaps a sports car or something expensive and new, maybe a Hummer?  Nope.  What you see equipped with "The Club" is... 
(by my best estimation) a 1983 or 1984 Ford Escort.  Powder BLUE.  Surely that Chrysler PT Cruiser is more deserving of "THE CLUB" than that Escort!  Ah, the irony.  I should also point out that this is IN the employee parking area of the Court House, which is pretty much surrounded by video cameras.  Also, I saw a few on duty officers while I was there, I am sure the place is pretty much crawling with cops.  Why would a thief steal that?  Gotta love it!

Hopefully our appointment with the federal government goes well tomorrow.  Wish us luck!