Joe Abbott's Weblog

Letters home to mom

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  • RSS Cat Cartoon w/o the Cartoon

    • Coda
      Posting these cat-cartoons-without-the-cartoon was a long journey that I don’t know if I’ll repeat soon again. A daily blog is tough … even when you have your material handed to you! But, I couldn’t have done it without the artwork … Continue reading →
    • December 31, 2011
      Father Time is riding out his last few minutes of being the temporal keeper for 2011; he sits in an easy chair with a calendar showing “Dec 31” behind him and a grandfather clock pointing to the time of 11:53. … Continue reading →
    • December 30, 2011
      A happy young lady shares a table at a tony restaurant with her cat; they both wear festive, cone-shaped party hats. The woman gaily says to the tuxedoed server, “One martini and one glass of milk.” The cat does not … Continue reading →

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Who wants more Mr. P.?

Posted by joeabbott on March 12, 2017

The other day I caught a video of me walking our neighborhood pheasant to the backyard for a little seed treat.

Enjoy.

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Posted in Trivia, Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Back to the grind but …

Posted by joeabbott on January 12, 2017

… I did get out for a short romp last Sunday. A little fun just off Snoqualmie Pass on the way up toward Kendall Peak. I need to get in better shape, but winter is in full swing and looks wonderful.

Trees in snow

Winter snow at Snoqualmie Pass

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Merry Christmas!

Posted by joeabbott on December 25, 2016

It’s quite late in the day here in Seattle but wishing all the merriest of Christmas. And for all my friends for whom that has no significance, I wish you the best of the season as we approach the final week of 2016. Here’s looking forward to a wonderful 2017.

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Meet Mary

Posted by joeabbott on April 26, 2016

Had to share … my niece’s daughter. I’m not sure what that makes her in relation to me, but she’s adorable. And wearing a very fashionable onesie.

Mary

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Happiness is …

Posted by joeabbott on February 8, 2016

hearing your 82 year old mother returned safely from her trip to Costa Rica (among other South American locales) and reported on the “exhilarating” experience of successfully completing a 12-section zip-lining adventure in “fine style”.  I have a lot to live up to! 🙂

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Scenes from a busy life

Posted by joeabbott on September 26, 2015

Most of the time I post something here, I have a plan. Or at least a direction.  Today I sat down to write and thought about the various things I could share and decided today would be a grab bag of little things.

Projects in the shop

I’m building another table and that makes for a messy garage. I’m actually at a bit of a plateau: I made a few mistakes while I was distracted and decided I should stop for a bit. One mistake was cutting my mortise holes too big; I think it should be hidden, but I’m unhappy with the mistake nonetheless. The second issue was dropping a new plane on the floor. The plane body is ductile iron, so it’s a bit tolerant to that sort of mistake, but I’m certainly not as strong. Really bugged me.

Anyhow, as being in the shop is a big thing for me, I thought I’d share a few recent pics that normally don’t make my posts.

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imageProjects in the backyard

Both Suzy and I love our chickens. Not the sentimental caring we’d give to our cats, but our hens add a lot to our lives. And yet they’re right bastards a lot of the time.

They’re never cruel or harmful to us, but chickens, amongst themselves, can be downright nasty on their worst days and mildly intolerant on their best. At least as we merge our flocks. But they’re most damaging to the flora that makes up their side of the yard!

Suzy has had to harden her gardening resolve as she tends to a side of the yard that’s being constantly abused by the chickens. They’re just being chickens, and yet, it’s hard to see happening. So, we have starting bringing rocks back into the yard to place around some of the best plants to keep the hens from digging at the base of plants and exposing the roots.

It’s not a terrible lot of work and yet managing this load caused me to tweak a knee that had been on the mend most of the summer.

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Chickens.

State Fair

imageSuzy and I enjoy going to the Washington State Fair. It had previously been known as the Puyallup Fair (based on where it was held) but were finding too few entertainment acts wanted to attend a podunk “Puyallup” (pronounced pew-al-up) affair.

imageRegardless the name, we get in early and leave late. We tour all parts of the Fair, get tickets through a package that allows us access to special showings (this year was a Star Trek themed side show), and spend equal times amid 4H projects, animals of all types, and gawking the midway.

While we seldom ride the rides or fall for carnies calling from their booths, we enjoy watching people, eating “Fair food”, and spending time amid all the sights and sounds that is our Washington State Fair.

One of the fallacies I live under is that I’ll be able to eat myself from one side of the fairgrounds to the next. It may have been true in my younger days, but give me a scone and ear of corn and you’ll hear me saying, “let’s slow down on the food and go see the sheep” or something like that. I just can’t pack it in (fortunately!) like I used to.

It seems all parts of the Fair have a “favorite” for us. Even the “crafts building”, which holds endless cases of jams and quilts has a few highlights for us: a cooking stage usually has something interesting for Suzy to watch (and tasty for me as I join her) and there was a wood-turning demonstration this year that was enjoyable to see.

There’s something around every corner that makes our annual trip to the Fair a much looked-forward to event.

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Coda

That’s it. I’m in my office during the week and the weekends come and go in a flash, but we enjoy the time we have. This weekend we have friends down for a gathering tonight and tomorrow I’ll be in the shop completing the construction on the table. I suspect you’re busy, too, so thanks for dropping in!

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Minutiae–the many details of a busy life

Posted by joeabbott on March 21, 2015

imageI’ve been caught up in a dozen activities over the last few weeks … stuff that’s kept my undivided attention, well, divided. What lies ahead is a scrapbook of activities from the many days since my last post.

Of glass and gardens

Last November I spotted an offer to walk the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit with the head gardener from that business and learn about the choices that went into building the flora in that space. I sent it to Suzy, who asked if I’d join her; March seemed a long time away and so I agreed.

Time flew and, as always, it’s hard to break from work but the rewards are many and we enjoyed a fantastic day. Suzy chronicled the tour very nicely in her Chihuly Garden Tour post, here’s a pic from my camera.

Of chicks and chickens

As I’ve said before, when we got chickens we convinced ourselves they weren’t pets. That didn’t mean we treated them differently or give them less respect, but we didn’t intend on building an emotional bond with them. So when did it happen that we did start to care so much about them?

Chickens are much shorter-lived than our cat friends, we’d give them a good life, they’d give us eggs. We don’t cull the flock or “do away with” non-producers … we let them peck about the yard, doing us no harm but neither contributing. We’re good with that. They eat a bit of cracked corn and scratch but what’s the term for something cheap? Oh yeah … chicken feed.

What I didn’t expect was to really enjoy seeing the birds ranging about our backyard, running for the shelter of the cypress trees in a downpour, digging shallow basins for their dust baths, and living a quiet life in our suburban setting.

imageAnd so when one starts slowing down, parting from the flock, and being solitary and unmoving for longer parts of each day … well, you know it’s time. While we give the chickens respect, other chickens do not. The slowing bird will be chased from the food, she’ll get pecked on a bit more, and while I haven’t seen the others intentionally shun her, she gets nothing that looks like sympathy or compassion from her flockmates.

imageSo this happened to one of our oldest birds, who died yesterday. Again, Suzy wrote about her in her post The Golden Star and has some fine pictures. While there’s an overtone of sadness to a hen dying, in this case, whenever we’d come out, the Golden Star would walk over to us and just sit. And so, enjoying Seattle’s crazy-beautiful spring, we’d sit out with her, letting her hop up on the bench between us and we’d all sit. She with her eyes closed, Suzy and I looking over the blessings of our backyard. That went a long way toward me wondering if they haven’t crossed a line toward becoming a “pet”.

But, as one of our old hens passed on, the eight chicks we got (knowing our existing flock was getting old) continue to thrive. They peep and cheep and we sit with them. The sitting with them is our attempt to teach them we’re safe; we mean them no harm. While it’s annoying to have an animal on your property be skittish around you (especially when you feel you’ve done nothing to earn that), there are times you need to handle the birds or get them to come to you. So, we put in the time feeding them treats, touching them, and letting them roost on our arms and legs.

Chickens. I’d never have thought they’d become a part of my life.

Computers and stuff

For the past few months, whenever I’ve picked up my Surface tablet, I’d rage. The WIFI connection seemed spotty, the rendering was dog-slow, and it seemed that every single time I launched it the machine would slow and then tell me it was time to install more updates. Every. Single. Time.

The problem was, I’d grab it just before going to bed. Time to look up some quick stats on the Minnesota Wild … oh, wait, can’t get on the Internet. Time to play a quick level or two of my castle-building game … oh, sorry, time to update. It happened Every Single Time.

Part of that problem is that I only used it occasionally; and so, when I did use it, there was a chance that someone somewhere would have found a way to stop hackers (who don’t take days off) and the updates helped to keep mine mine. I always took updates. Always. I’d rather be inconvenienced than have my data or money stolen.

But what a bother. Every single time.

So it was time to think about a new table computer. Suzy’s very happy with her iPad (wildly happy, I’d say) but I’ve never felt comfortable using it. I don’t like the browser choice, the app selection (while large) is limited to the Apple Store, and I’ve never got the hang of using/liking iTunes. Coming from a guy who learned computers on a Mac, this isn’t some Apple bigotry, just preference.

imageSo while an iPad was out, my other option was to dive into the Android device world. While I suspect it would treat me OK, I just didn’t trust moving into a new tablet ecosystem without ever having tried one. And I did reflect that just about any computer I would get now, would feel a bit slow and doggy in 3 years or so … about as long as I’ve had my Surface.

So, I looked at getting another Surface.

My story would get over-long if I detailed all of it, but the upshot is that I am now the owner of a Surface 3 … and what a marvel of engineering it is! While a bit more expensive than I was looking for, I’m a very happy user. Now I just hope it continues to keep me happy.

Aside from getting a new tablet, we’re installing another router in the house. We’ve always suffered from having a poor signal on the side of the house that’s farthest from where we keep our current router, so now it’s time to just bite the bullet and add another router. The impetus as to why now? Well, my Xbox One in the front room is a victim and we can’t have me going gameless from my comfy chair, can we?

No, we can’t. So, I’ll be spending a bit of time this weekend setting that up and testing it out. Wish me luck … these things always try my patience.

Shop time

While no chickens in the garage has meant better quality shop time, I’m now at the finishing stage of my project and that’s not really my strong suit.

I’ll share more in a week or two on this project … still a bit of a secret … but right now I’m rubbing in oil, sanding out with 320-grit, and laying on a paste wax. The items are coming along nicely.

Coda

There’s a lot more going on that I’m not going into … I was out of work sick last week for a day, I’m getting in plenty of game time, and my knee is feeling good enough that I’m starting to get the itch to get out hiking again. Toss in an outing to the Flatstick Pub for a team morale event and nine holes of indoor putt-putt golf, some gaming I’m doing late on Fridays with a coworker, and even Suzy and my quest to find the perfect burger in Seattle. All keeping us busy, all giving us little things to look forward to.

And with that, it’s now mid-morning, time for a shower and to hit the day! Today we will drop off a gift at one of Suzy’s sibling’s house, get more chicken feed, try the Bellevue Burgermaster, get that router setup, and put in more time on that woodworking project! Busy day … time to get to it!

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Great Uncle Joe

Posted by joeabbott on April 2, 2014

I usually start these posts by typing a lot of words and then inserting pictures to help illustrate my point. In this post my point is simply reflecting on a superior individual and so I started with pictures; and words escape me. My uncle, Uncle Joe, passed away yesterday; peacefully, I’m told and while anticipated after long illness and being in hospice, it’s unsettling.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures.

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In a way of distinguishing between him and me (as we share the same name), my nieces and nephews call him “Great Uncle Joe” … I wish I’d thought of that; it’s the perfect appellation.

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Technology not being very Christmasy

Posted by joeabbott on December 25, 2013

imageBetween March and August I wore a Fitbit Flex … a bracelet-style pedometer that tracks the number of steps you take each day via an accelerometer. It just stopped charging at one point and I wasn’t able to find a way to power it up. It was a huge bummer as I liked tracking my daily stats but I was very busy and took about 4 weeks to contact Fitbit for a replacement. Surprisingly, the Fitbit support folks were exceptionally helpful.

I wasn’t very hopeful when I first contacted them, as they just asked me to go through all the same steps as were out on their support page. I’d assured them I had done that, but they asked me to double check. And, for due diligence, I entertained them … all to the same result of the system just not charging. When I confirmed I’d followed the steps and it still wasn’t working, their response was a surprising, “OK, we’ll sent you out another; what color are we replacing?”

That was it? Seriously? I loved that company and, within a short time, the new Fitbit replacement arrived and I was again a daily-track-your-steps sorta guy. Until this past Saturday when the new one stopped charging.

I’m sure if I make a big enough fuss about it, I’d get another replacement, but I’m just not sure I care enough. I’ve spent more than my share of time ensuring I had it, fiddling with their web site, and contacting their support lines or reading the FAQs to know that I can probably do just fine without having this tool in my life. I wish it’d work and was zero-effort … my wife has a Fitbit (different model) and she loves it; no problems. Unfortunately, that’s not my experience and so I’m hanging it up. Yup, giving up easily but this isn’t the battle I want to fight.

Sorry, Fitbit, I really wish my experience had been different.

imageimageThe next tech problem I bumped into today was from one of my favorite video games: Borderlands 2. I’ve sunk more time into that game than I have nearly any other and I’m still enjoying it. One of the added features of the game is the “golden key”. Through social media sites (Facebook, Twitter), the game publisher will occasionally post codes that you can use to redeem for a gold key. Once you redeem the key, you can go to a special “loot chest” in the game, open it (in exchange for the key … which then disappears), and you get an extra-special gun, grenade modifier, or shield.

Now, a great bonus to this game is that you can have more than one gold key! As a matter of fact, the most common code these days gives you three keys. And today, Christmas, they posted a code good for TWENTY gold keys! Hooyah!

Now, I have a lot of the best loot you can get in the game (having played it a long time), so I don’t really need the gold keys. But it has been fun amassing a war chest of keys … the last time I looked prior to today, I had well over 200 keys! And when I say well over, I mean somewhere in the 270 region.

Unfortunately, I hit a bug and when I looked at my keys today, I saw that I had something like 58. Yup, somewhere in the ether I lost 200+ keys.

I’m really quite bummed, as collecting the keys was the game I was after here. I didn’t need them and only occasionally used them, but that isn’t the point. But, unlike the Fitbit problem, I’ll still collect keys: I have used them in the past when building up a new character and wanted to get them a quick bunch of good loot. Suzy asked if I’ll report the bug but I’m not sure. I’ve heard of others hitting this problem but never anyone who had successfully gotten any keys back. And to complain that I lost 200 keys when I still have 50 that I wasn’t planning on using immediately … I’m not sure there’d be much in the way of sympathy.

I may report the problem in the interest of helping them locate and fix a bug in their program but, as far as what’s in it for me, not much.

And so, on this Grinchy note, I conclude one of the several posts I’ll drop today. Hope I didn’t sour your day with my First World Problem woes! Drop in again later for more upbeat news and stories!

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Seven is a good number

Posted by joeabbott on November 6, 2011

imageWe have a lot going on. We always seem to have a lot going on. Even when it’s fun stuff, it’s just a lot. Unfortunately there’s been a lot of stress lately and I very much sat back and asked: is a busy life worth it?

Well, I’m not sure I came to a conclusion but, as with all things, a new day dawned, the problems passed and I had a good day with Suzanne … which always makes up for any bad days.

The bad came in the form of a new job: one I’m loving but it’s taking a lot of time up. I get up early, leave home at 6 AM, and wasn’t getting back home until 7:30 PM. Completely my choice but on a Friday I was ready to get home to some peace and quiet.

Well, I got home and the pile of trash outside the house clearly signaled that the remodeling job we have going on is still doing that: going on. We started talking in June with the contractor, finally had all the permits and design issues worked out (we’re enclosing a second level deck and making it a sun room), and the three-week job started in early October. Tomorrow is the start of the sixth week and we have to finish the flooring, install casings on the windows, add baseboards and trim, and finish the electrical. Oh, the door we ordered isn’t ready and won’t be in for … oh, the general never answered when it would be here. So we wait.

imageBut, on getting home, before I could look at their progress, Suzy stated flatly: the chickens had a bad day; one of them is missing. So disappointing. Not pets … but, still, animals in our care. So, I went out and looked around and found the same thing Suzy had: nothing. We had our other six birds but the white “Easter egger” was missing. As we were looking around we spotted a raccoon in the front yard and we shoed it away and then I went out and set a live trap we got for just this problem.

But that really took a lot of wind out of my sails.

After that, Suzanne mentioned the construction people had the lights in, so I went up to see their progress. The floor was half finished but looked super and the lights were on. And I couldn’t turn them off. I looked at the second switch and there was a note taped to it (Suzanne had missed this) saying, “light switch broken”. Criminy.

The system that’s being installed in a low voltage setup, so we needed a special switch to allow dimming; then we wanted it to be controllable from both inside and outside the room so we needed a three-way installation. So, it was “fancy” but not rocket science.

When I got down and explained this to Suzanne we were both bummed but then I noticed the ants. Yup, I’d tried to take care of them but they were back. To think, an ant was the last straw. But it was. I announced I’d had enough of the week and was going to bed without supper.

But, hunger drove me out and my gal made me some pasta and we ate in silence and candlelight. Just a quiet end to a long week.

And then today happened and I’m coming back to life a bit.

I woke up around 3 AM, unable to fall back to sleep and worrying. I’m not a good worrier so it was keeping me up. I read the paper and was just enjoying a bit of “cat therapy” when Suzy got up around 7:30. She joined me and we watched the day lighten up and suddenly, in a flurry of white flapping, our Easter egger flew into the middle of the back yard! I’m not sure if it came from over the fence or had avoided our searches and roosted in a tall, nearby maple tree, but there she was!

imageWe ran out, coaxed her into Chickenville (the chicken’s side of the yard) and everyone was merry. The appearance of the raccoon may have been a coincidence (although we’re still taking precautions) and our little flock seemed happy again. It was the shot in the arm that we needed.

Suzy ministered to the chickens and then made us a big breakfast … after which I did dishes. I then played a bit of Xbox and we ran our errands. We started by dropping off some items at Goodwill (nice to clean out and hope someone else can use our stuff), then went to a Seattle Chocolates opening near us (all the free samples you could eat … an offer I tested satisfactorily), picked up a gift at REI for a friend, returned the defective light switches, bought new switches, and finally picked up some chairs we’d ordered for a table we bought earlier in the summer.

Phew!

imageWe both took a little nap after that and, I have to say, I was feeling much better. I’m glad I have today off (I think I’ll need it) but I’m getting back on that horse.

We made sure the rest of the day was quiet, too. We picked up some chicken for dinner (irony?) and drove out to a marina where we just ate in darkness and silence, listening to the water, nibbling our meal. We then went home and I played some more Xbox … ironically, a game titled Rage. But, it was mindless entertainment.

So, today will be filled with little chores and easy work; nothing so taxing I won’t be able to put it off if it doesn’t get done. Good days and bad days … I have to expect a few of each, but I was happy yesterday was one of the good ones.

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