Wednesday, February 20

A couple of Ben pix

It’s been awhile since I’ve shown grandson Benjamin. He’s still growing and getting smarter by the day. Here he is reading about the physics of water—how it can be in vapor phase, liquid, or solid. He is especially interested in how water crystals, always hexagonal, can be unique. No two are alike.

Here Ben examines water crystals. He spent more than an hour increasing his knowledge of the subject. He found out that you can use this stuff called snow to make a ball.

You can throw the ball and a dog with no name (background) will chase after it. But the dog won't bring it back to you—that's something the dog will have to learn. Ben is a willing teacher, so that will happen before too long. The ball may have to be made of something other than snow since that's not always available. Ben is now studying the physical attributes of rubber to see if it can be made into a viable ball.

Photos: Hilary Hurley Painter

We got snow!

Rain gauges don't measure snow very well
 For only the second time since we’ve lived here (30 plus years) we got a whole lot of snow all at once. We measured six inches (150 mm) this morning before the sun came up and it started melting away.

Three of the dogs accompanied us. The fourth, who is yet to be named, stayed back—he's only four months old.
Karla and I took a hike down the road a little over a mile to the new house; it wasn’t drivable due to so many fallen trees. Some parts of the road had become like inch-deep mud pudding where the sun melted the snow.

Grampa and nephew? Only they know for sure.

On the way she spotted a set of bear tracks, “…a momma and a baby,” she remarked. I questioned her observation—“How do you know it isn’t a grampa and a nephew?”

The view south from the new house's bedroom window.
For the next few days we will be cleaning up after the storm. Several trees around the old house shed a whole lot of limbs. I learned that if you want to avoid having to clean up after a snow storm, don’t introduce non-native trees that aren’t immune to the local weather. There wasn’t any damage to the trees at our new house site.

’Snow fun when you want to say it’s snowing

It is uncommon for us to get snow here at only 1,600 feet elevation in Central California, but it’s happening right now. I would like to blog about it and post the blog as it happens, but when I try to connect to the blogosphere via satellite, I can’t do it. Turns out the snow builds up on the dish part of our antenna, thereby changing its shape at microwave frequencies and sending our signal to Mars or Jupiter instead of the relay satellite in orbit around Earth. Dang.

The upside is that my hordes of readers on Mars and Jupiter get my post instead. Due to the distance between Earth and Mars and Jupiter, by the time their comments arrive at my satellite dish, the snow has melted and I can’t receive them. But I know they’re there, and thank all of them anyway.

Will follow up with pictures later today.

Monday, February 4

Speed on steroids

Living in the boondocks has its drawbacks. Like not getting fast Internet speeds. Today we got a new satellite system installed, replacing the old satellite system we have had for over ten years. It’s fast. There’s a Web site that I look at occasionally which consists of 50 or so time-lapse screen-filling full-color satellite images of weather over half the continent. It usually took three or four minutes to load all the images before it would play. This afternoon, it took less than ten seconds!

Four-minute download reduced to under ten seconds!
Wow! Civilization-speed Internet in the wild! Using the new system I wrote an email to a friend, and even before I hit the Send button, I got her reply!

I am awed. I’m also odd, which rhymes.

Saturday, February 2

Walls get packed

The insulation people came and in less than six hours had all the exterior walls, the floor and the ceilings throughout the house packed full of insulation. The ceilings got the thickest fiberglass, which measures nearly a foot thick. The exterior walls got the next thickest, along with the underside of the floors. The entire house is a soft cocoon now, and when you walk through the silence is deafening.

"I'll be making music in a room where the walls are packed with candy!"

Some of the interior walls also got insulated for soundproofing. Karla is shown in the piano room, which got the most insulation of all since grand pianos are really loud. That room also got some sound-deadening board between it and the rest of the house’s interior. Here she stands by one wall where, when the crew ran out of the gray-brown material on the left, cleverly substituted pink cotton candy.