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Archive for the ‘Me’ Category

Vacation Day 4-Tuesday

Posted by joeabbott on December 12, 2018

You all knew it was coming … a few days back I wrote about designing a turkey shelter, yesterday I geeked out and created a ton of images around the construction, and that only leaves one thing to do: build it! Let’s do it!

The day prior I dropped a note to the Puget Sound Goat Rescue director, Barbara, asking if I could park adjacent to the area I would be working in: I planned to build the shed off my tailgate. She noted it was forecast to rain so she said she’d clear space in her barn for me to work in. I pooh-poohed the idea as I didn’t want to be a bother but she saved me a lot of misery, as it gave me a dry place to cut a timber and reference my drawing. But let’s be clear: I worked 5-hours in the rain with only a few respites. Five hours. Non-stop rain. It was pretty miserable.IMG_0319

But spirits were high, she was incredibly grateful, and Suzy was at my constant beck and call for assistance or moral support.

IMG_0320_editedWe started by assessing the height and noted it was just too tall. Eight feet was excessive and looking at other structures on the property suggested 6’ in the front and 4’ in the back were the right heights. Easy enough and nothing else needed changing. Or so I thought. It turns out that the addition of the plywood sides wasn’t considered in the design and so I had to modify the roof just a bit, but that was simple enough: pull two screws, adjust the spacing, and then sink them back in.

Another less-than-perfect issue was a bit harder to fix on the fly: the roofing panels were shorter than what I’d planned around. My drawing used a template model for the corrugated roofing and they measure approximately 8’8” long by 31’’ wide; in reality the panels we had to work with were 8’ long by 26” wide. This left us with zero overhang in front and back, and the sides just barely adequate. But still not adequate enough. Suzy and I will be picking up another panel and I’ll work on a retrofit that we can attach the next time we are there.

But, the work went quickly in a large part due to my pre-planning but also because I had ready help. A volunteer named James doing cleanup at the Rescue was ready with hands when I needed them, Suzy was a HUGE help hauling the roofing structure through mud and under tree limbs to the shed area, and an intern at the Rescue, Kaela, made an extra trip to the lumber store to pick up some 2x4s that didn’t make it to the job site. A big thanks for those unsung heroes who helped this come together. I will note with a bit of pride the Barbara commented a couple times how quickly it was built. I was gratified.

This one took longer than I would have thought to build. The extra hauling to and from the barn was part, the fact that I made so many trips I turned the ground muddy in and around the pasture we were working in was another (slick mud is a tricky surface to work on!), and the rain all slowed things up. But, honestly, I was working without much rest or standing around the whole time so it’s probably just my speed that took up the time.

Well, that’s what I did yesterday. I had planned to go to the gym afterwards but I’d bonked my head a few times while building the shelter hard enough to tweak my neck and I was pretty whooped. The rain had also taken its toll, weighing down my clothes, chilling my hands, and generally draining my spirit. So, I got home, took a shower, and took a little nap.

It was glorious.

As always, thanks for dropping in and sharing my spare time. We’ll be back tomorrow!


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Vacation Day 3–Monday

Posted by joeabbott on December 11, 2018

It’s a bit disingenuous to call these “vacation days”, as we have nothing of substance planned and certainly aren’t going to see any sights. But, nice being off work!

A few mundane tasks started the day: getting gas and doing some grocery shopping. And, it didn’t really get all that much more exciting from there!

I created a 10-page PowerPoint slide deck for constructing the turkey shelter, managed to print labels for our holiday greetings, and then we wrote and sent our cards. I have one left for an international couple we remain in contact with and then a few packages to mail out, but it’s all very pedestrian stuff.

While I slipped it in with getting milk and printing labels, the “10-page PowerPoint slide deck” for the turkey shelter was more than just show: I really needed it. The overall design is simple but actually getting the steps needed for building it efficiently was missing. I usually substitute cursing and a petulant behavior for planning, but in this occasion it probably serves me best to think things through ahead of time. And it really helps!


By labeling parts and walking through the construction steps, I can spot problems and work things out ahead of time.

Originally I’d planned on building the entire roof structure (complete with corrugated panels) on the ground, but as I envisioned the construction process, that seemed like it was courting problems for a solo builder. For that matter, the panels could go on dead last … and probably will. Another example is that I’d planned the roofing substructure to be built just using those parts that made it up … and then I realized I’d ultimately fit it onto the structure frame so I should use the upper frame beam from the structure frame to help size the roofing substructure!

It may be hard to visualize what I’m talking about but the key is that it makes sense to me!

I finished the day by going through work mail late at night. Nothing worse than getting back to work with hundreds of emails to go through … this way I can easily jettison most of it, save a few items that can (and should) hold for 3 weeks, and address any emergencies (of which there were three).

And that, folks, is what I do when the time is my own. Of course there was having meals, washing dishes, folding some clothing and putting it away, but just like the nap I took, I don’t plan on cataloging every activity. Or have I … he says with a smile. Enjoy your day!

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Vacation Day 2

Posted by joeabbott on December 10, 2018

imageIt was still the weekend (Sunday) so I wasn’t legit on vacation … but, close enough to establish patterns.

Due to getting to sleep early and still in the habit of getting up early, I was awake around 4AM; go up, had a little brekkie (cold cereal), and read the paper. After doing a little computer work, it was still before 6AM so I went down for a little nap. Felt great!

Around 10AM Suzy and I headed to the property to check things out, do a little reconnaissance on the neighborhood we’ll be in (we were checking out grocery stores … how’s that for setting a pace of just kicking around?), and drop by work so I could pick up my laptop. Easy peasy. While we left the house early, we didn’t get back until about 5PM. Wow … more time than I would have wanted to spend away.

Anyhow, I’ll be volunteering at the goat rescue while I’m on break, so we asked the coordinator what project she’d like me to tackle. The surprising answer: a turkey shelter! Yup, she has a couple turkeys walking about the area and figured they’d need a little something during our winter, so I spent the night coming up with a plan and getting her approval on the design. Simple, but here it is.

The hardest part will be knocking it out in the time we have. I tend to work slowly and often mutter, “I don’t know what I’m doing!” The sort of habit one gets into when we’re willing to say “yes” before we know what we’re getting into. This should be easy, and yet I have a track record of saying that sort of thing.

So this morning I’m spending a little time planning my cut list, going over the order in which I’ll construct it, and generally making sure I can arrive, make some cuts, screw a few things together, and be done. But look at me … now I’m getting into Day 3.

Thanks for dropping in to see how I’m spending my vacation time.

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Vacation Day 1

Posted by joeabbott on December 9, 2018

blepOK, time for most people to ignore this and recognize that I’m just trying to have a little diary entry here … a small way for me to keep track of how I spent my time off. It’s easy to get into the habit of “doing nothing” after a long day of work, especially when hitting the gym a few times a week: those days that are unstructured beg for just relaxing. But, you do that enough and it becomes a lifestyle … a pattern of sloth and negligence. Yup, I’m being harsh but I have too many “piles” around me and I haven’t made good use of my evenings and weekends.

So, what did I do yesterday (Saturday)? I went into work! It’s true … the day before my long holiday, Friday, I left at noon to drop a check off with our builder and to meet a guy on the lot to discuss some trees we want cleared, which meant I’d skipped out on half a day. So, I arose at 5AM and was out the door at 5:45AM where I worked until after noon.

I cleaned out my inbox, wrote a few instructions for folks covering my work, dropped a line or two for people who I had been covering for, and then left knowing I’d next return in January.

Upon getting home, Suzy and I squared away the chickens, sat and enjoyed our backyard with temps in the very comfortable 40°F range, and then we headed out for dinner and phone shopping. I spent the evening doing some homework with the phone, then a little reading, and finally hitting the sack early.

To the right … cat tax!

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Blathering on about phones

Posted by joeabbott on December 9, 2018

OK … get ready for some postings about something other than games. I am off work from now until after the new year and so I’ll have some time on my hands. When I think about all the stuff I want to do, however, I can’t see fitting in a lot of computer time. But, we’ll see.

The biggest news right now is that I got a new phone and it’s pretty daunting. A little background info …

While some folks may get the latest and greatest phone as the seasons change, I’ve had the same phone for a very long time … it was a Nokia Lumia 920, I think; which was released in 2012. It had a crack in the screen where I bit a little too hard while trying to hold it in my mouth (don’t ask) but it worked like a champ. Except when it didn’t. It ran the Windows OS, which Microsoft stopped supporting well over a year ago, but that only meant no new features were coming: the phone itself worked fine.

But, I started hitting a few problems: the few apps I’d used no longer functioned, battery life was limited, it would occasionally be unresponsive or reboot itself on its own, but the killer was when Suzy wanted to text both me and another person, but my phone would only allowed 1-1 texting. Meaning I’d get a text from her with questions for someone else who wasn’t on that text thread, and then I’d get a text from the someone else answering her questions but it would be a completely separate conversation and wouldn’t include Suzy. At least not from what I could see. So, time for a new phone.

However, this wasn’t the first time I’d decided to get a new phone. The process was always the same: I’d pick one out based on specs or recommendations, I’d go in to look at it or find it on the web, and then think, hell no! I ain’t paying that kinda money for a phone! Yeah, the price tag would shock me away. But, I had to agree with Suzy and so I found one I could finally live with.

Based on a brother-in-law’s recommendation, I looked into the T-Mobile phone line. Foremost, in the town we’ll be moving to, T-Mobile service has been noted as being the best, so I wasn’t just basing my decision on my bro-in-law’s biased opinion … had I mentioned he works for T-Mobile? Anyhow, other phone carriers are bigger, T-Mobile is trying hard to expand, and their branded phones, the Revvl, was affordable … sort of.

It still cost hundreds of dollars but it was easily half the price of my next consideration and a quarter of some of the phone recommendations, so I bit the bullet, changed carriers, and walked out with my new whiz-bang phone. And looked at it about 10 minutes before deciding it needed charging rather than setting it up. Holy smokes have things changed!

Just take a look at the image to the right that shows all these crazy key combinations using the on and volume buttons … how will I remember all that?!?

I need to input my new addresses and numbers, need to change over to learning the Android OS and using the Google apps, I need to figure out what all those dozens of icons do, and then need to configure it to do what I want it to do. As I said at the start, it’s all pretty daunting. But, I have time off from work and this new “computer”, er, phone, to learn and figure out. I’ll take it slow and easy but I think the scariest part will be that I now have a phone I care about … meaning I will be worried about getting it scratched or losing it, having it fall out of a pocket, or whatever, Worries I didn’t have with a 5 year-old phone that had been given to me by my employer.

As they say: first world problems. I’m in a blessed position to be able to afford a new phone at all, confident that I’ll be able to figure it out sooner or later, and now I have a bit of breathing room in my schedule so I can figure it out on my time. Well, it should be charged by now … guess I’ll start inputting a lot of phone numbers. Oh, and for those who would ever call me, my number hasn’t changed.

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I had a meal …

Posted by joeabbott on November 18, 2018

WP_20181117_18_27_28_Pro… that was insanely good. The restaurant providing us this experience is Altura, located in Seattle on Capitol Hill, Suzy’s old stomping ground when she was going to college. Let me back up, set the stage, then talk about the dining.

Suzy had a milestone birthday this year: #50; and my mother recognized it by sending her a very nice gift certificate to Altura … a restaurant neither of us had heard of but whose name comes from the Italian word for achieving a great depth or height. My mom asked around for fine dining places in Seattle and she nailed this one.

Anyhow, we had a busy year and so we hadn’t made time to enjoy the dining at Altura until the “Week of Joe” … I felt a little guilty turning her birthday gift into something about me, but after last night, I have no reservations. While we hadn’t heard of Altura before, it’s been around a while, winning a Seattle’s Best Restaurant of the Year award from some source or another for many years running.

We had early dinner reservations and arrived a little early (traffic, for once, was in our favor). The place wasn’t yet jammed but plenty of seats were taken, as were most seats at the bar. This is one of those restaurants that has reserved seating allowing customers to watch their food being prepared … and Suzy made sure we had seats at the bar! And, as I found out, the chefs almost welcome questions, comments and interaction. This fact will destroy nearly every other dining experience I’ll ever have: talking to the chefs was great. I not only asked a question or two, but I guiltily talked to our chefs more than I did Suzanne. I’m a terrible dining partner but this was too good of an experience to pass up.

WP_20181117_18_22_36_ProA few examples of chats with the chef … and the guy we talked most to was literally the sous chef (#2 on the floor): is that duck hanging over the fire pit being roasted? (Answer: nope, just drying out the skin for a nice, crisp texture) Are those fruits hanging over the counters pared already? (Answer: yes, they’re persimmons and we peel and hang them for three weeks or so until they dry out and then make the best fig newton’s in the world from the dried fruit. They’re washed and massaged to get any air out daily.) I’ve never heard of a “finger lime” before … what’s that? (Answer: a fruit we use to give our palate cleanser a little punch.)

I could go on as the interactions were constant. I asked about their training, a tattoo I saw, the foods … I really had no inhibitions. And they congenially obliged and encouraged me, offering samples of the foods I asked about, sharing stories of their past, and generally making the places Suzy and I shared at the end of the bar the hottest seats in the restaurant!

Unfortunately, the thing I never asked about and don’t know are their names! This seems like a missed opportunity as I can’t recognize the exceptionally warm reception we received, but to you, our nameless food geniuses: thank you.

Before I share some pictures and descriptions, let me say that the words in the first column are coming straight from the menu and I am a terrible food photographer. I just point and snap. Apologies to all of you who would like it done better but I was there for the eating!

And. for those who want a better view of what we ate, just click on the picture and it should show you an enlarged photo in another browser window.


Apple, fennel, cardamom, verjus lamb prosciutto, calabrian chili frittelle albacore tuna, tonnato, beet sponge cake grass fed beef crudo, white truffle snow, crispy black trumpet mushroom mahogany clam, preserved chili brine, kinome leaf fermented potato, black butter, bottarga muggine savory cannoli, local sea urchin, parsley root, spruce smoked sturgeon zabaglione, coho roe, salsify sformato

WP_20181117_18_35_01_ProWP_20181117_17_25_08_ProMost of the words in this dish aren’t resolving in my word processor’s dictionary, but this was a sponge cake made of beet “stuff” and a bunch of tasty other stuff on it.

I hadn’t quite gotten into the swing of taking pictures of our meal just yet, as all I have to show is our empty serving “tray” (a small 4” square of travertine marble), but the picture to the right is a chef preparing the food for other diners.

Salt Spring Island Mussels

Prepared two ways with prosciutto, bergamot orange and Madrona bark

WP_20181117_17_48_27_ProWP_20181117_17_48_11_ProThis delicacy was brought to our seats with a small smoke-filled dome over the portion on the right side. The servers introduced the dish while removing the dome and wafting the smoke around us.

A+ for presentation … A++ for flavor!

Ezo Black Abalone

Sweet garlic, crispy kale, pig’s feet braised in apple juice

I failed at getting a picture of this dish … best kale EVER! Which may not be saying a lot, but it was pretty darned tasty.

They crisped the kale by deep frying it in a way that left zero grease on the kale, they topped it with some garlicky sauce or powder that was delish!

Darrell’s Bread

Cultured butter, myrtle leaves

WP_20181117_18_27_17_ProWP_20181117_18_27_10_ProIt’s hard to make bread sexy, so they turned to serving it on hot stones to keep it warm.

It impressed me!

Pheasant Agnolotti

Wild mushrooms, crispy sage

WP_20181117_18_27_21_ProHow this dish didn’t earn more words from the menu is surprising to me. Really quite fantastic.

It was a half-dozen ravioli pouches filled with pheasant, topped with a nice, rich mushroom sauce. It could have been the main course on its own!

Quince Granita

Sea Buckthorn, Marigold, finger lime

WP_20181117_18_40_28_ProA testament to how tasty this was but after each time this was plated for someone’s meal, the spoon used to dish it up was ALWAYS licked clean by the chefs! I was surprised when I saw this the first time, but chefs would regularly sample something right there in front of us. At one point a dish wasn’t ready or fit to be served and we saw the chef bring it back to some of the dishwashers in back. Nice!

This dish was a generous portion of minced, frozen quince … think “snow cone” … topped with a few other strange and delicious things.

Spring Rain Farm’s Rabbit

Four preparations, cabbage, sunchokes, black garlic

WP_20181117_19_05_54_ProThis was my main course. I ate every last bit. Every. Last. Bit.

Dry Aged Duck Breast

Early winter roots, spicy pickled cherries

WP_20181117_19_05_40_ProSuzy’s meal must have also been delightful as it was all gone by the time I got around from looking up from my meal.

Gorgonzola Dolce

Honeycrisp apples, black pepper, wildflower honey

WP_20181117_19_23_24_ProTalk about crazy: crisp apple sections filled with gorgonzola cheese. The apples were dried and the cheese had been made into a paste. Pretty good with the non-alcoholic pairings we had with each course.

Duck and Matsutake Brodo

Duck heart and matsutake grilled on pine branches quince poached in vin santo sicilian pistachios, dried persimmon

WP_20181117_19_32_59_ProThis came served as “tea”, or a post-main entrée palate cleanser but was pretty much broth. After I took my first sip and proclaimed it “hearty” or something like that, I saw the chefs grin; I think they knew I was expecting a green tea or something like that.

Bourbon Caramel Semifreddo

Caramel roasted banana, fuyu persimmon, toasted marshmallow

WP_20181117_19_50_21_ProMy description of this is a dollop of caramel beneath a banana-flavored brownie\blondie sort of thing; top that with a marshmallow gelato. Then sandwich it between a thin, brittle brownie and a thin slice of meringue and finish with a sprinkle of something.

OK, I’m not ready to write for a food blog, but I’d happily test out the kitchens for one! This was a winner!


Mascarpone gelato, amaro montenegro aerated hot chocolate baba au rhum grappa soaked luxardo cherries

WP_20181117_20_02_14_ProWP_20181117_20_02_10_ProOK … it started with some gelato stuck in the little cup, topped with warmed (and aerated) hot chocolate. All the rest was just “stuff” … my word, this was tasty!

While the gift certificate from my mother was acknowledging Suzy’s birthday, we enjoyed during Week of Joe … so the birthday plate came to me! Same stuff on both plates, just a different presentation … I’m sure it made my portion taste better!


And, incredible as it may sound, we had other treats that weren’t on the menu! I can’t begin to tell you all of what they had in them but to the last one they were delicious! Let me see if I can do a little guessing!

Tasty Thing #1 WP_20181117_17_39_15_ProI have no clue what any of this was … and I’d even asked.

While the chef who had a station in front of us was a delight, he spoke softly and it was hard to hear everything he was saying. I’m sure he told me what this was but it was strange, softly spoken, and I can’t recall.

Some creamy paste stuff with some long, dried crunchy things. Four stars!

Tasty Thing #2 WP_20181117_17_31_16_ProThe base of this dish was fermented potatoes. Now I like potatoes but “fermented” sounds like the last way I’d want them served to me, yet this was a delight. More, please!
Tasty Thing #3 WP_20181117_17_27_27_ProThese were clams on the half-shell served with some spicy flavorings. Suzy isn’t a big seafood fan but she ate everything set before her … except her second clam, which I got. Not sure if it was the clam of the spiciness, but they were a nice burst of flavor!
Tasty Thing #4 WP_20181117_17_35_35_ProSpring rolls filled with some sort of creamy paste and finished with minced onions. Now onions are to me what seafood is to Suzy, but following her lead, I polished mine off and expanded my culinary experiences!

A few other pics

The night was a complete delight due to more than just the food. Here are a few samples of our evening at Altura:



I have to thank my mother for this wonderful dining experience. It may be a bit hackneyed to say that, but that’s just what this was: wonderful food, smashing atmosphere, the attention of attentive chefs, and a wonderful dining partner, Suzy. Thanks, Mom!

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Sorry I’m late!

Posted by joeabbott on November 4, 2018

I’ve been caught up in a whirlwind of activities, some my old faves and a few news ones. Rather than many smaller posts, I’ll try to catch up here with a grab bag of “what’s Joe been doing lately”!

Driving to work

With so many special activities on the calendar, I’ve driven into work a few times this past week rather than take the bus. The bus is, in a word, miserable. OK, maybe not that bad but I leave the house a half hour later, it takes 30 minutes longer, and both the seats and air temp are uncomfortable. I take the bus for two reasons: I’m frugal and it saves me a lot of gas money and this picture sums up the rest. Yup, this is from when I was on the road at about 5:30AM and what I get to see … I’ve added a close-up of one of the key details:


Yeah, that’s not unusual. Vehicles all around and at a complete stop. It’s just for one section of the roadway but it’s pretty irksome. So … I’ll take the bus when I can.

A long walk

Suzy and I have been enjoying some of our old favorites here in the south end over the past many weekends. One of our enjoyable haunts is a donut shop called Legendary Doughnuts; I’m a fan of their salted caramel doughsant, Suzy favors a tiger tail or apple fritter. Regardless, we realize it’s calorically unbalanced to drive somewhere for fried dough, so we find some nice places to walk before we enjoy our rewards.

On our last trip we found the Vista Ridge Trail.

WP_20181027_12_07_29_Proimage lists it as a 2.8 mile, 300’ elevation gain loop and that seems about right. You lose most of your elevation from the get-go as you follow a busy road and then gain it immediately thereafter as you head up through a greenbelt before rejoining a modern housing development.

That arrow I included on the small map? Oh, that’s the location of Legendary Doughnuts!


I should have said “Halloween”, but for us the main attraction is getting together with Suzy’s brother’s family, having a meal out, and then carving pumpkins.

We almost always choose The Outback before we carve, but will tradeoff hosting the carving. Or, maybe we always do it at their house … now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t recall us carving often at our home in the recent few years. Either way, I look forward to it and seeing the design each of us chooses to carve.

This year Stevie carved an alien, Julie did a fiery design (it was called “Hothead”, I think), Suzy carved an owl, and I took inspiration from the movie Nightmare Before Christmas and carved a character called Oogie Boogie. Yeah, Oogie took me all of four cuts to complete … my kinda pumpkin design!


At home, Suzy’s pumpkin greeted Trick-or-Treaters on the Smith Brother’s milk box outside our front door, and mine was at the bottom of the stairs grinning over whoever was handing out the candy.


Starting the build

And a big bit of news from our small corner is that we’re starting the build on our new home!

Yup, the permits are “in” (mostly … long story but insert any notion of bureaucracy you might imagine here and it’d be close enough) and we’re starting our build. One of our initial hopes was to avoid building in the rainy season, but we’re kicking off smack dab at the start of it. We’d told ourselves starting now would avoid building when the ground was most saturated, but a trip to our property the other day kinda eroded that notion, as large areas of standing water were in evidence.

But, the market’s right for getting workers on our project, our builder is confident he can do a quality job, and our informal survey of people in the industry can’t find a single one who warns against building during this season … “happens all the time and we know how to do it”.

OK, let’s go!

Here was our property a week back … complete with trees and a couple deer:


And here we were yesterday:


Plenty of trees, just not the ones where we are going to put the house!

Yesterday we painted lines where were are going to place the house and barn; pretty exciting stuff. Suzy and I also cleared out the small shed we built on the property … was that really two years ago we put that up?!? This will give the people working on our project a small “shop” in which to stand when it’s raining, roll out plans and keep them out of the rain, and have a small storehouse for “stuff”.


Last and, probably least, I have a bit of gaming going. After a massive August I focused on just a few games since, most notably getting 100% in something called Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen. It proved to be something of a month-long time-sink with my first achievement coming on October 4 and my final achievement landing on the 31st, but it was nice to complete. I made some new friends while playing and seeking advice, but this month I plan on seeing my gamerscore rise a bit, so there’ll be a bit more variety in my gaming.



As you can see, in the first four days of November I’ve already outstripped my October count!


That’s it … the big and the small … or, maybe, the small and the smaller news from our little corner of the world. Today we will enjoy some light yard work, a bit of recharging for the coming week, and putting away the few Halloween decorations we’d put out. An enjoyable quiet little life.

Thanks for dropping by and staying in touch!

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Fixing my Invisible Fence and Binary Numbers

Posted by joeabbott on October 20, 2018

This one is a treat … I actually love it, even though I feel a bit a fool for making the error I’m about to divulge. Buckle in, chums!

Back in September I posted about our Invisible Fence failing; how I’d been told how to turn off the audible alarm and proceeded to fiddle with a bunch of settings. This may ring a bell:


The details of changing the settings aren’t important but the fact that there were four items that could have one of two values is. Let’s write this out: the four items are: Mode, L1 Freq, L1 Signal, and Mask. Each of these can have one of two values … and, honestly, the specific names of the values doesn’t matter for this exercise.

After fiddling with the controls, I forgot what their original settings were … oops. But I reasoned that I’d just try all available settings and one of them should work! There could only be 16 different unique settings for the four items. From Statistics 101: if we have

  • … one item with two values, we’d have 2 different unique settings: 0 and 1
  • … two items with two values, we’d have 4 different unique settings: 00, 01, 10, 11
  • … three items with two values, we’d have 8 different unique settings: 000, 001, 010, 011, 100, 101, 110, 111

And so we see that, for binary choices, the number of unique settings is the square of the number of items:

  • 1^2 = 2
  • 2^2 = 4
  • 3^2 = 8

This brings me to my assertion that I should only have 16 possible combinations to the configuration of the panel: 4^2 = 16. That night I tried randomly plugging in the combinations but lost track … I needed a little structure. So I created this little cheat sheet to help me


Here’s the problem: I wasn’t very organized in how I was doing things. The way you should capture binary is how you should write a decimal number: that is, no one says 0, 1, 2, 4, 8, 3, 5, … which is how the above image reads. By doing so you just lose track and can make and easy mistake. Like I did.

After I created the above image, I tested all these values and when nothing worked I concluded that “something more needs to happen to set the system”. After calling the Invisible Fence tech folks and talking with Makayla (who was awesome), she helped me find the right values and we got our Invisible Fence system back. So, what went wrong?

Well, if you’re sharp-eyed (I wasn’t), you’d see that I duplicated a number. The second column from the right in the upper row shows 0111. And, the second column from the left on the bottom row shows that same number. What number did I miss? Well, the exact sequence that turned out to be the values I needed: 1110.

If I’d just remembered my binary number sequencing and wrote out the values like this: 0000, 0001, 0010, 0011, 0100, 0101, 0110, 0111, 1000, 1001, 1010, 1011, 1100, 1101, 1110, 1111 … everything would have been just fine. And, to be honest, I didn’t need to know about binary numbers or statistics … I just needed to be orderly. I wasn’t.

Thanks for dropping in!

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Been a way a while

Posted by joeabbott on October 20, 2018

Over the past three weeks I’ve been keeping busy … day outings, taking care of the home fires, and of course work: but it’s time for a few quick posts.

clip_image001A month or two ago Suzanne and I visited our property in Granite Falls to inspect a small bit of work needed as part of the permitting process. While there we saw a sign someone had posted at our property: it was a bit of cardboard stapled to a couple of wooden stakes. While a manageable bit of signage at need, it wasn’t the presentation we were looking for at the site of our future home. And so a small project cropped up.

Given our busy days, Suzanne was encouraging me to just get her a bit of plywood so she could paint on the house numbers and get something posted. I had other ideas … that, as they do, took a bit longer to knock out.

I started by printing out some simple numbers as large as I could on a standard piece of paper. I then cut them out, glued them to some scrap lumber I had laying about, and then cut the numbers out on the bandsaw. After that, a bit of sanding finished up the numbers and I needed a frame to put them in.

I chose a bit of wafer board … probably not the best possible wood to use, but as it forms the sheeting for houses and even the underlayment in roofing, I figured it’d be OK. Two pieces about 15”x27” were selected. One piece would be the back, on which the numbers would be attached, and the other formed the frame. Rather than cut out four parts to create the frame, I used my track saw that can make plunge cuts … and I cut out the center of the second piece of wood, leaving a frame about 3” around!

This worked pretty well.

After that, Suzy helped by painting all the parts, making sure to give them lots of coats (pro tip: plan for extra paint if you’re painting wafer board!), and then I glued everything up. After that, a bit of clear shellac finished the presentation part of the sign.

For mounting I dug out some old butterfly clips used to secure two pieces of plywood when butted together. After a bit of bending and drilling, I was able to mount the clips to the back of the sign and then run a piece of rebar up through them. After that it was just a matter of pushing the rebar into the ground and posing for my picture!


Now we just need a house here!

Apologies for the long delays. I’m reminded of a diarist I read who said something like: the trouble with writing about your life is that you need to live a little to have something to write about. Your patience at my long disappearances is appreciated.

Thanks for dropping in.

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And then the rains came … or, turtling-up

Posted by joeabbott on September 22, 2018

2017-01-16 13.09.02With my training trip for our successful Mt. Rainier bid, I have been on the go every weekend for about half a year now. Friday approaches and I’ll have both Saturday and Sunday planned, I get through those, and back to work. Initially it was hard to overcome the inertia of winter and build up momentum to keep going: the preparing for an outing and its imageattendant details, becoming physically strong enough to maintain the pace, and ensuring gear was ready before the coming outings.


After that, it was exhilarating to be operating in a zone where I could hike, bike, or mountaineer with ease, keeping up with my friends or enjoying time with my spouse. Throughout these adventures I battled foot-pain that was unrivaled in recent years, with any trip more than 6-miles being amazingly painful. I could stop and rub my feet out, but that was a short-term fix of limited efficacy on long outings. Fortunately it was less pronounced while wearing snowshoes (which I did a lot) or biking (which I did a bit) and in late season Suzy helped me acquire some insoles that did marvels.


But, as my outings continued, so too did the mess grow in my garage, the staging area for my many adventures: 4 different pairs of boots, the same number of backpacks, multiple pairs of snowshoes, bikes, a tire pump, stoves, filters, first aid kits … you name it.

2018-07-02 12.00.28DSCF2386

And then there were the small household projects that I’d get to: putting the summer fans away in the loft, the bucket I promised to make a “sifting top” for so Suzy could clean soil in the garden to remove rocks, the stash of electronics gear, stones and sharpening tools … just a lot of the things you need for a semi-active life put on hold. A picture of my workbench might be called Still Life of a Suburban Homeowner. It all fed a treadmill of go-go-go that was energizing but starting to sap me. You see, I really do hate to live in a messy space.


And then the rains came.

Yup, I not only looked forward to them but almost needed them. Last weekend I passed on a hike due to some mild sprinkling. We got the garage mostly in order, Suzy’s stone-separating sifter was finished (sorry, love … just as it starts raining Sad smile), and we nearly completed a sign for our house numbers at the new property. Not a bad weekend. But, it didn’t rain much, just some misting and enough to hide behind the excuse of “rain”.

imageToday, however, I awoke around 5AM to glorious gushing! Trees were wind-blown to the point I heard one crack, rain would come in sheets and then buckets, and all sounds of anything but the rain were drowned out … literally. By the time I got up, around 6:30AM, the rain had slowed to a patter and the world was sufficiently saturated. As if knowing we had a new routine, Trasper, our social cat, curled up atop the fuzzy blanket on my lap as I read the paper … rather than his usual quiet mew to see what was outside. It’s good to just pull your head into your shell now and then and “turtle-up”.

imageBut, lest this sounds like I’ve fallen from an active lifestyle just a bit too quickly: my legs are sore from spinning class both on Tuesday and Thursday, as well as an after-work hike of 6-miles with 2100’ of elevation gain on Wednesday, Suzy and I will participate in the Smithsonian sponsored Museum Day today (Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry being our target), and tomorrow we have a last-of-the-season bike ride with a trip to the Old Goat Farm afterwards for an end-of-the-season plant sale. Maybe not everyone’s version of turtling up, but it will work for us.

My fall activities are not as exciting or glamorous as hiking in beautiful or challenging areas, tidying up is hardly the exercise in body or discovery as taking new trails, but it’s part of life … part of my life … and every bit as valued and valuable.

Thanks for dropping in and hoping your fall activities are just as rejuvenating.

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