September 15, 2005: Like a Front Porch Cowboy

The Ides of September already! Only one last week of summer.

I wrapped up with work tonight really early and was home at half past midnight. It is always nice to get done early on the last day of the week. That is the best. I got home and took three loads of magazines out to the dumpster. We have had them sitting in the dining room for the past two weeks waiting for the dumpster to get emptied. Boy is it nice to be done with them. That cleared up a lot of space in the house. I have been putting in a lot of work the last few days trying to get as much stuff as we can do without either sold on eBay, given away or thrown out. I have worked on consolidating boxes of stuff down to as small of containers as they will fit into. Yesterday I managed to condense a laundry basket full of bicycling stuff that I have had for over fourteen years (fourteen years in the same laundry basket) into a small Amazon box that is now stored in the garage taking up almost no space at all. Three boxes of video game stuff has been reduced to just one plastic storage unit. So things are going well, I think.

I contacted Vonage to see if it is possible to bring my phone line down to just a regular home line. It is my personal line so I think that they might be willing to do it. We will see. If they are willing to, that might be enough to pay for a second DSL line to be brought to the house. Yeah baby. Or Road Runner. Actually, that would make more sense. Two DSL lines from the same provider doesn’t do much for you if one goes down. They would both go down together. I would like to have a separate line because my Vonage doesn’t sound very good going over the line that we have because it is so busy all of the time. I did try changing a setting on the Vonage line tonight that has a little chance of improving the phone quality. We will see what the impact is. Our network here is just so completely saturated with traffic all of the time. I can’t believe how much goes in and out through here. Speaking of Vonage, can you believe that I have been on VoIP instead of traditional phone service for over two years now? So many people still aren’t familiar with the concept even now. It is beginning to take hold but it is wild to think that I was such an early adopter. No one got it then. I was definitely the first person that I knew to have it and even now I only know one guy at Wegmans that has it.

Scott Alan Miller around eight or nine years old - cowboy

I found this old picture of myself and I just had to share it with everyone. This one was taken on the front porch of the house that my parent’s built on Peoria Road in Covington, New York. We built the house next to the old farm house that we had purchased in 1976. This was the house that was built when I was seven in second grade. So I know that I am at least that old here and since the house was completed in winter I have to be at least eight. I have the boots because they were required for the summer camp that I used to go to in Delevan, NY – Circle C Ranch. I went there for four years from ages 9 – 12. So my guess is that I was nine in this picture taken during the summer just before I was going to leave for camp. The year after this picture I didn’t have my boots with me at camp which helped to explain the broken ankle incident. I added this in as part of my “spicing it up” campaign to make the site a little more interesting. Having pictures like this around really do a good job of making me realize just how old I am now.

Eric got me up right at 8:00 this morning because we had some services down. Always a fun way to start the day. Why do these things always go down in the middle of the night? So I had to get up and head to the office. Oreo quickly got out of bed and came into the office with me. He hates to be away from me.

Min left for school at 10:00. She will get back and have to go right off to work. She does the “B” shift again today. It is going to take me a while to figure out her schedule now that she is in school.

I got the printer hooked back up again, the laser that is. We have been doing without it for a while now and it has been very irritating. We have an inkjet that we keep in the living room in the armoir and any computer can print to it at any time because there is a print server attached to it. So that made things tolerable. But now that the office is together the laser is back in service which makes me much happier.

Last night I won the video game Shenmue for the Dreamcast on an eBay auction. I am very happy that almost any game that I have ever wanted to own is now dirt cheap one way or another. As long as you are willing to be patient, you can get just about anything without spending too much money. It makes me very glad that I held off buying so many things. Video game consoles are the perfect thing to buy old since they aren’t “up to date” with PCs anyway it isn’t like you ever getting modern graphics and features on them. So at least this way they are cheap.

I ordered Time Warner Road Runner service today. We already have Frontier DSL but we use so much Internet access that it seems like it would be a really good idea to have two lines both for redundancy (we got NUTS if we lose access) and also so that we can get that much more total speed. The new line is 5Mb/384Kb. Not the fastest thing in the world but not bad. It will do a lot for us to add that to the 1Mb/512Kb that we already have.

SGL was down for a while today. It went down at some point during the morning but it took a while before we realized it. Due to the problem, part of today is being posted early but everything after this line will be added later in the day.

Okay, the site is back up and running again. I finished reading (read: listening to) David McCullough’s “Mornings on Horseback” – a biography of the early like of Theodore Roosevelt the younger. I have been working on getting through that book for at least two weeks now. It is a hard one to get into, at least for me. One thing that I learned from the book is that incest was very popular in that family and I later noticed that FDR had married Eleanor Roosevelt (NOT her married name) his own cousin AND God-sister.

For those of you who use Pocket PCs, I discovered another “must have” free software product (a lot of its “must have” status is probably because it is free) – Tonaya’s Weather To Go. It is a simple application that docks on your Today page and gets automatic web services updates from NOAA and displays the current and predicted weather for three locations of your choice in the US. Very handy and very simple. Just the kind of thing that you need on your PPC.

Min got home around 1:00 and we went over to the Omega for some lunch. Things were really slow over there today. Then she was off to work. I drove her there and dropped her off. She called after being at work for about an said that she had switched some shifts around and that she is working a double tonight and so doesn’t need to be picked up until morning. So I will probably drive over there sometime tonight and drop off her car and walk back so that I can get a regular night’s sleep instead of having to get up early in the morning and drive over there. It is always better to get a nice walk in. I need to stop at Super Walmart anyway. I like to mention Super Walmart to rub it in that it is so close that I can stop there on the way to and from places that I am walking to!

Since I had the evening to myself, I decided to play a little MUD. The character that I am playing right now, Scotticus the Mage, spends very little time doing anything interesting and a whole lot of time sleeping which makes me able to play pretty intently and still get a lot of normal stuff accomplished.

Our living room and dining room carpetting is a nightmare to deal with and normally Dominica does the shampooing but today it is my chore. Fun, fun, fun. It really needs it badly. We both really hate our carpet. It looked great when we put it in but little did we know that the continuous traffic from the neighboring hard surfaces would bring all kinds of ground in dirt and stains. And with the dog and hamster it adds up quickly as well. So it always needs to be dealt with. We are really hoping to have the entire area professionally cleaned sometime soon. We haven’t done that since we moved in and it has been over two years. With the unfinished basement, there is just no other way to get it clean.

So today I decided to learn what bergamot is since I like to drink Earl Grey tea. It turns out the the bergamot orange is a small, sour orange popularly cultivated in the south of Italy. It is believed possibly to be an ancient hybrid between the sour orange and the asiatic pear lemon. It is a small member of the citrus family. That is the fruit that produces the flavour in Earl Grey tea. However, there is also an herb native to the United States that is a member of the mint family that is also known as bergamot. That plant can also be used to make tea but it does not make Earl Grey, it instead makes a product known as Oswego Tea that was popular during colonial times. This herb is proported to have a lemon like taste and must be similar to asiatic lemon gress. Deducing from its name and the time period when it was popularly used, it must grow well in parts of New York. Once again we see the educational value in reading SGL. An SGL a day keeps the teacher away. (Or a bergamot orange in this case.) I did a bunch of CD to MP3 conversions tonight as well. I have come to realize that having “Books on CD” in MP3 format is far more useful that the CDs themselves since I like to walk with my MP3 player but have no way to walk with a CD. Also, it would be awkward and annoying to have to carry a pack of CDs around with me when walking. Often I walk for over an hour and a single CD wouldn’t cut it at all. Especially if I was already part way through one when I started walking. I managed to wrap up “Mornings on Horseback” which is a biography of Theodore Roosevelt. I started listening to that book on the drive back from Woodbridge, New Jersey.

Dominica decided that she wanted subs from Wegmans, again, for dinner. So I drove out to Wegmans around 8:00 and picked up subs for her and myself and also picked up some carpet cleaning solution for our Bissel carpet cleaner so that I wouldn’t have to clean each spot using Resolve by hand. That would get really annoying very quickly. I took the food over to the hotel and we ate together. We didn’t get to see each other hardly at all, though, because someone came to check in right as we sat down to eat. And from the looks of the parking lot that must have been the only person checking in all night.

I spent a lot of the evening listening to podcasts. I often find listening to well selected, on demand audio is much better than anything else. Podcasting has made me much more picky than I used to be. I like that I am able to get NPR and PRI material that I really like without having to wade through the radiowaves waiting for something good to swim by. There is starting to be a lot of good podcast content out there from large providers like PRI, NPR, CNN, BBC, etc. There is a lot more than just news from these content providers as well.

John ended up needing me to do some work with him tonight and we spent over an hour on the phone working together and didn’t wrap up until after 1:00 am. Nothing like having the night off – normally I would be done at Wegmans before now! At least it is a pleasant night and I have been able to turn off the A/C and the windows are open now. I am enjoying the fresh air and the sound of the insects outside. Oreo is way past being ready for bed. He has been camped out on his pillow right beside me all night long. He sure does love being in this room. He wasn’t very happy while I was using the scrubber on the carpeting, though, he gets really upset whenever appliances like that are running. It is funny that it bothers him so much and the hamster doesn’t seem to care at all.

Oreo has been exceptionally itchy today. We haven’t yet been able to determine quite what has been making him have good days and bad days. I think that it might have something to do with the fact that he went out into the tall weeds this morning and there was a lot of dew or maybe a light, early morning rain. His allergies seem to be at least party in the “contact dermatitus” vein and having his fur get all wet might exacerbate the problem. He has been doing much better since he has been on the anti-hystamines but the last few days have been worse than before which is strange because the A/C has been turned on. We had thought that having the windows open would make his skin worse but maybe that isn’t the case. Maybe the moist air makes things better. We are very happy to have finally gotten him off of his steroids. From what we can glean from his medical records he has been on steroids for his skin problems since he was a puppy. Taking steroids for that long is definitely going to have a detrimental effect on his life span. Which is so sad because we are already very upset that we only got him now that he is a mature dog. We will be really fortunate if we even get to spend half of his life with him. He really is the best dog that I have ever known. He is just so incredibly sweet. He can’t stand being apart from us and is noticeably upset if even one of us goes away for just a few minutes. He waits by the garage door leading into the house everytime I go out to the garage to do something. He stops whatever he is doing and just stands there waiting for me to walk back in. When we leave the house he watches us go looking through the low office window facing down the from sidewalk. If just one of us is gone for several hours we have to be very careful not to greet him too excitedly when we walk in the door or he will piddle himself. When he wants to be let outside he comes and stands next to me and looks at me kind of funny. He is exceptionally polite and will never go anywhere or do anything without “asking” us for permission first. If he wants to jump onto the bed or onto a piece of furniture he will wait at the foot or bottom of it and look at us until we invite him up.

At some point during his youth, apparently his tail became infected and had to be removed. A normal Boston Terrier has a very short tail but Oreo has basically none at all. What little tiny bit he has was obviously broken and fused into a solid little piece. If he gets really excited sometimes we can see his muscles attempting to wag it but it doesn’t really move. It must have been broken to be the way that it is. Perhaps whatever caused the tail to become like this is also what caused it to have to be docked so short. We are pretty sure that he is trying to wag his tail at certain times because he walks funny when he gets excited. A normal dog would be swinging his tail all around and it would look normal. But for Oreo that same motion makes him look like he is walking strangely with his rear end maneuvering to the sides as he walks. It ends up looking like his butt is overtaking his torso in a race to great you. And when he gets really, really excited he does a little dance around the house. If he gets even more excited than that he will be forced to race from room to room trying to keep himself from exploding. I have never had a dog be anywhere nearly as expressive as Oreo is. And that really says something for a small dog without a tail to wag. It is amazing how much expression dogs get out of their tails.

Our other big concern with him is his left eye which has a large brown patch that we are worried is spreading. The vet looked at it once and said that it was nothing to be worried about but his left eye is definitely not very responsive to anything and I am not totally convinced that he can see out of it. He definitely has not depth perception and doesn’t really react to anything happening on that side of him. Dominica saw somewhere that there is a problem with dog’s eyes that looks like this and can spread and will eventually cause blindness so we want to be absolutely sure that nothing is wrong.

I had to install a scanner tonight that we never, ever use. What a pain it is to setup. First of all, heaven only knows where the disk that came with it is. It is in the basement, I know that much because I come across it so often. But I know that I could never find it when I need to.

So for all of my whining I go down to the basement and walk straight to where I thought that the driver disk should be located and find it within thirty seconds which proves that all of my cleaning sprees as of late have not been all for naught. Even with the house and especially the basement being in complete disarray I am still able to find the things that I need relatively quickly.

Okay, it is currently 1:44 am and a jogger just jogged past my house. For those of you who know where I live, that is a really weird thing to happen late on a Thursday night. This front office room is so completely a part of the outdoors that I could totally have talked to this guy as he jogged by. No wonder Andy always felt like this room was so exposed. I looked out to find the guy because he was jogging so close that I could hear his shoes hitting the pavement and I could hear his breathing! Before Andy had left we had been commenting about how this bedroom was so completely different than any other part of the house being the one single room with any kind of sunlight or any views that face anything but scrub. Here you actually feel like you are a part of the larger complex. I can see half of my neighbor’s front doors and can almost see half of the remaining neighbors. I can see my own sidewalk and the edge of the driveway as well. I can hear people and see the next door neighbors in their driveway and garage. It is very weird. I have never lived so close to people in this way before and it is neat. It sounds like a weird thing to think is neat but having lived my entire life in the most extreme isolation I really love close proximity living. It makes me feel connected to the world at large. I grew up on a farm with the neighbor’s houses so far away that you could barely even tell that they were there. When I lived in Greece with Josh was the first time that the neighbors were close but somehow we never really ended up meeting any of our neighbors when we lived there. Even though people were really close to us, sharing walls in fact, they seemed decently separated from us. I liked it there. It was the closest to other people that I ever was and it made me a lot more comfortable than being so isolated but it wasn’t nearly enough for me. I really need to be in the middle of people to be really comfortable. It is a strange thing and very few people ever feel that way. It is tough for Min because she grew up in practically the opposite circumstance and feels quite differently about it. I don’t think that it is a natural trait for me. I am pretty sure that it is an environmental behaviour caused by my childhood. Living in the country with no real neighbors, having no family that lived nearby (I grew up in New York and my family was from Ohio – my first near relative of my same generation was my cousin Sara who wasn’t born until I was almost twelve years old), having my parents move to a new place right after I was born so that they had no established social network, having my family attend church always at some distance to where we lived, having my father work in the city about fourty miles away and going to a tiny private school where no one that I knew lived anywhere near me at all (so far in fact that even my nearest friend had a long distance telephone number from me) all added up to me feeling like I was totally isolated in the world. Today we think about kids growing up with the Internet and everyone being interconnected and communicating all of the time. But when I was a kid there wasn’t even the concept of being able to make local telephone calls to anyone I knew. My parents always let me use the phone. But it is still very isolating. And it meant that almost no one was allowed to call me.

Well, it took about forty minutes before I managed to get that old scanner up and running. What a pain it is. Thank goodness for Windows XP having every utility necessary built right in or we would have really had problems. The software that comes this thing is absolute garbage. And it was completely incapable of installing its own drivers too. I really wish that I had an HP scanner. I had one long ago. I remember owning it when I lived in Observatory but it had to be right when we had first moved in so that must be four years ago or more by now. I had gotten it really cheaply at one of those Staples Christmas sales things but it had ended up only lasting for ten scans or so. So that ended up being a really bad investment even though it had only been a few dollars.

Well, I finally wrapped up working with John around 2:30. Much later than I had anticipated when he first called me to tell me that we had some work to do at 8:00. That means that we put in just shy of a full day’s work just now in the middle of the night with no warning.

I did a little more work on my Bible recording that I started the other day. I have actually managed to complete the book of Lamentations. I didn’t know that book very well so I thought that it would be a good place to start. It isn’t all that long and it doesn’t have any complex language or difficult names so I thought that it was as good as anywhere to start. I am not sure how good I think I sound. It is a very difficult thing to do – recording a book like that. I have never really tried it before. When I was a child my mother read to me the entire Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. Every night she would read me a chapter or two working through all seven of the books and eventually she had recorded (onto old Radio Shack “Archer” cassettes) all seven books. I kept those old cassettes and used them for year after year. It was obvious that my love of recorded books started then. I must have only been age three or four. I know that by age five I had been listening to them for some time and already knew the stories very well. I used to go to my room in the old farmhouse that overlooked the swimming pool and the valley and, funny enough, could see the spot where my house is now. In fact, if I could travel back in time to 1981 and could stand on top of my house here in Geneseo (assuming that my house travelled back in time with me) then I could go up and stand on the roof and wave to my younger self who would, with a telescope, be able to see my older, time travelling self right out of my bedroom window. I used to have to go to my room for at least an hour a day to entertain myself. I would play with Legos and listen to the Chronicles of Narnia, Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book or Lyle the Crocodile. Those were the three books that I had recorded. I have no idea where Kipling had come from and I didn’t have the entire book, only two stories from it. One I don’t remember and one was Riki Tiki Tavy. I remember getting Lyle the Crocodile from the Richmond Memorial Library in Batavia when I was very young. It is an awfully strange memory to have lurking around in the back of my mind but there it is.

So I was wondering whether or not Andy was going to start reading the site now to keep up with what goes on back at the house that he isn’t living at anymore. He never used to read the site when he lived here but maybe he does now. I know that Bob reads the site all of the time now that we don’t live together.

Anyway, it is getting late. I am going to go ahead and post for the night. I am leaving in a minute to drive to the hotel and drop off Dominica’s car for her so that she can drive home in the morning. I am going to them walk back to the house and collapse into bed. I expect to be getting in around 4:30 or maybe just a little after. I will almost for sure stop at Tim Horton’s on the way back and get a donut because they are probably making the fresh morning donuts already and their toffee glazed donuts are to die for. Have a good Friday everybody!

I also recorded a short and slightly delirious SGL Podcast to go along with today’s massive update. We just might have set a new record today. It has been a really long day. I have been at the computer in the office without any major interuptions since 8:00 am. That is twenty hours! That is a long time to be adding to the update.

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