Monday, October 31, 2011

She's Not Normal

Rachel mentioned to us a few weeks ago about a desire she has to travel to India this summer and volunteer with a medical team there. I admire so much her ambition to follow her heart and seek out that which is often only found on the road less traveled. She's not normal. Can I say that? Tammy made a brief mention of Rachel's budding plans for India in the video I posted to my previous blog entry which prompted a couple of responses from family and friends. Rob from work commented on how his daughter did much the same thing by traveling to India a few years ago as a college student to study and the life experience that it was for her.
He gave me his daughter's contact information to pass along to Rachel. I'm hoping she seeks her out for any and all advice she has to offer.

Speaking of Rachel: for all the many times I mention her here, I was surprised to find that when I did a wordle on the content of my blog, Rachel's name barely registered. I don't understand that. I would've thought her name would be in huge screaming letters obvious to even the most cursory glance, but it's not. She's there but you have to look closely.

We've been taking advantage of the cooler weather to spend more time with the pups at Ritter Farm Park in Lakeville just a few miles from home. Toby is so cute. No matter where we go walking he always has to pause somewhere along the way, make eye contact with me then jump up to give me a big lick on my face. I've always taken this to be his little way of thanking me for taking him on the walk. The last time we were at Ritter I got three separate kisses from him. I love that little guy so much!

I stitched together a panoramic view of the park last week. Click here for much greater detail but do give it a little time to load as it's 12 MB large but (I think) worth the view.

More views from the park.

I was very happy with a couple of vases I did last week. The steel blue color is a little different than what I've been working with and it's quickly becoming a favorite. I hope to play around with it in combination with other colors over the next few weeks. I'm so glad we didn't wait until we're retired to begin this adventure like we'd originally planned several years ago. There's so much to learn here and we're both happy for the headstart!

We took part in the Lights Out Halloween party at Foci Friday night. I resurrected my Austin Powers identity for the night while Tammy stitched something together more in the spirit of the occasion. We had fun watching as the too few people we actually knew had to do double-takes to recognize us. It was a much larger crowd than I think either of us anticipated.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sidelined and She No Longer Lives Here

I had to take some forced time off my bike this week and given the mild weather we've been enjoying it left me chomping-at-the-bit to be out there. Sharp pain in my right calf had me hobbling around for most of the weekend. When an ultrasound was negative for a blood-clot (my main concern), the radiologist suggested it was possibly a muscle tear deep in the tissue and undetectable. A muscle tear? The only thing I could come up with was when I was hauling my 24 bags of leaves out to the curb Monday night after work. I was trying to hurry the job along so I'd run between each trip. Oddly enough, the pain which began abruptly didn't show up until 36 hours later which had me discounting it as the reason but I can think of no other.

Too many times this weekend I was tempted to try and sneak in a short ride to see how it felt but Tammy's admonishment to rest it because I'd only aggravate it won out. She's a telephone triage nurse so I have little choice but to heed her advice.

I came home to a voice-mail yesterday. It was a collection agency looking for my former wife whom I've had no contact with for several years. Tammy returned the call and assured them that she no longer lives here.

End of story.

Not quite.

I received another call this afternoon again asking for Noy. I got a little pissed because I could sense that they weren't going to believe whatever I told them and that I was going to continue to get their harassing phone calls for who knows how long. They told me that because I'm listed as her spouse on whatever it is she's delinquent on, they will be attaching whatever claim they have to my social security number. The caller insisted that I needed to send them a copy of our divorce decree. Hmm. I wasn't sure what to think. Tammy suggested that the divorce is public record and they can find it for themselves. I like the way she thinks. I emailed them the docket number and date of our divorce and left it at that. I'm not all that secretive about my personal life as my blog will attest to but this seemed a bit much to divulge to some anonymous party even for me.

I hope she's not gotten herself into too much trouble.

We both had a very good day of glassblowing on Thursday afternoon. I felt that Tammy really pushed herself and reached a new level of accomplishment. I was happy for her. We're excited to go in next week to see how our pieces turned out. We're comfortable with just one 4-hour session each week now that we've reached a level of proficiency we can sustain and build on rather than two to three sessions a week for 3 hours each time. We're finding our footing.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

What Will They Think of Next?

I had an extended weekend having taken the last two days off from my work-week. I don't have plans for any more vacation days this year and likely won't take any until next June. It's times like this when I catch myself daydreaming about retirement and the ultimate days off, Monday through Sunday. If I had to guess when I may finally pull the plug on my career I'd guess December 2013. That's the tentative plan anyway and it's definitely subject to change. I'm not even sure I've shared this date with Tammy yet.

I spent Wednesday being totally lazy. It was a rainy, stormy day and that made it all that much easier to ignore any yard work that may have been taunting me. Tammy and I traded Wordfeud moves with one another throughout the day then spent a couple of hours in the evening, coffees in hand, kicking around Mall of America. I love that place!

Speaking of Wordfeud!

I've uploaded nearly my entire music library to Google Music. This is an amazing program/service and one that begs the question: what next? I don't think I could've imagined this just a few years ago. I used it Thursday while driving down to pick up Rachel in Rochester to bring her home for the night (she and Tammy were attending the So You Think You Can Dance tour at Target Center). Rather than shuffle through the 6 discs in my truck's CD player, I tapped into my music library on the 'cloud' and pressed shuffle. How cool is that? All of my music, right there!

I had a lot of fun blowing glass on Friday. All four pieces I worked on, three vases and a bowl, survived the process and made it into the annealer where they'd spend the next day or two ramping down from nearly 1000f / 537c to room temperature. Tammy shot some video for the archives of me making a vase and I hope to add it to next week's blog.

At Rob's request (a fellow air traffic controller) here's a link to a Flickr set where I've been uploading photos of most of our pieces.

I'm up to 177 planes landed in the Air Control game on my Bionic (see previous blog entry) before I pranged two together. I used to dream about air traffic situations during my days as a trainee but not since—until Thursday afternoon. In my dream, I was in the sector at work but the airspace I was controlling was that of the Air Control game and it was crazy busy. I yelled out "I need a D-side! ...and a Tracker!" I was swamped but before help arrived I was awakened by Tammy when she came into the room.

My goal is to actually reach Air Traffic Controller status but I'm around 100 planes shy of that and really struggling to do any better.

Hmmm. Maybe I ought to be rethinking my retirement date.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I'm Declaring War!

I mentioned Spotify in a recent post. I'm even more of a believer in this music program now than I was a couple weeks ago. I enjoy getting suggestions from friends which is one of the features of Spotify. Listening to a track that you like and want to share with a someone? Drag the track over their username located on the right side of the player and they'll receive the notification and a link to your suggestion. Just that simple—but they need to be a Spotify user as well.

We both struggled to try to blow glass this week. Some sessions are like that so you make the most of learning from your mistakes. There's never a lack of those. I had a three-gather vase take a dive off the punty onto the concrete floor but survive the landing. Together we were able to re-punty and salvage it. I tried to fire-polish out whatever scuff marks it picked up but I'm thinking it may be a candidate for my first attempt at a sandblasted finish to help hide any remaining marks. There's a sandblasting booth in the cold shop at Foci.

Tammy's focus has been on bowls lately and it's beginning to show. The photo to the left is of one of them. The blue is so beautiful in the sunlight.

It's that time of year again: I'm declaring war on leaves! I filled our two 65 gallon compost bins with leaves yesterday, even getting inside the bins to smash them down to make room for more. I then proceeded to fill another 20 leaf bags to go out with the trash on Tuesday. Before and after. And this is just the beginning as most of the leaves are still on our trees. Ten years ago Tammy talked me into buying a John Deere riding lawnmower. This is the time of year when I'm most glad I did as it makes pretty quick work of leaves. Still, I dread the work.

I was playing with my Droid Bionic a few nights ago and found an air traffic control game called Air Control. It's actually a lot of fun. In the hour I've spent playing it I've reached the rank of Captain with 111 planes landed in one session before suffering a mid-air collision that stops the game. I suppose it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say that there are actually some similarities to the game and the actual job in that you've got to have a good scan as well as a plan to keep them separated. Check it out.

We've had some fantastic October weather for doing just about anything outdoors with temps in the 80s most of the week but it's been much drier than I like. I managed to make it out for a few nice rides even though the winds were at times so strong that it got a little dicey. Still, it was nice to feel the heat of the sun on me in a big way so late in the season.

I'm not sure how many longish rides I have left in me this year but hopefully at least a few. I hadn't done the Henderson loop (101 miles) in a while so I was happy to be able to do that at least one last time before it's not practical due to cooler temps and less daylight. One of my favorite stretches of highway is county road 40 between Carver and Henderson following the Minnesota River a few miles west of 169. Not much traffic, a nice road surface and rolling terrain make it ideal for cycling. It's the sort of stuff I find myself daydreaming about in the dead of winter.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

We're Now Happy Bionic Owners!

We were back in the studio blowing glass on Friday morning. Jackson, Joe, and Kevin were bringing to life works of art on the bench next to ours that we can only dream about at this point.

I was excited to see how our pieces from the previous week turned out. Typically I'll remember whatever I place in the annealer as being much nicer than it actually is but not this week. I was pleasantly surprised when we walked back into the cold-shop to have a look at our work and find that I wasn't at all disappointed. Three-gather pieces now have me intrigued more than ever but I couldn't help but wonder if I should stay with the two-gathers we've been working with until I perfect a few more forms? I'll keep wondering because I did some larger pieces again on Friday. Very fun stuff!

I boxed up some of our pieces and sent them off to Sweden Saturday morning to a friend of Tammy's and mine that we met last winter while playing WordFeud together on our phones. English is only a second language to Marielle but you'd never know it by the way she owns us in this game. We've become good friends over the many months we've been playing and I was happy to send her some of our work.

Rachel and I have been on the fence about whether to upgrade to the new iPhone 5 when it comes out any day now or to stay with the Droid family. She's been doing most of the research so far and for a while was reluctantly leaning toward the iPhone while I've been wanting to stay with a Droid. There's just something about that little green notification light you know. It's not necessary that we get the same phone but I think we both wanted to. She posted a one-word message on my Facebook wall the other day, "woah" with a link to the new Droid Bionic. She then followed that up with a less hyped link offering much more information. A text two days later pretty much sealed-the-deal for me, "a girl in my class has the bionic. its so sick."

We're now happy Bionic owners!

The phone is nothing short of amazing! I could never have imagined just a few years ago a handheld device this size having so much capability. Who knows what the future holds for these addicting must-haves? And to think that I once boasted I would be the last guy in Lakeville to go online. Haha.

Charlie turned 3 years old on Friday. He's always so happy and full of dickens. I'll come in the back door from the garage after being away and while Toby and Allie are busy jumping up on me, Charlie is off in search of a toy to bring me so we can play. It never fails. I've never had a pup as playful as this little guy. When we first got him Tammy and I thought he may have some alpha-male tendencies but that's not so at all. He just wants to play. You can't help but just laugh at this little guy and love him.

Tammy's 4-year-old Dell laptop is the most frustratingly slow computer ever and it's been reformatted at least twice. She has patience that I simply can't understand to be able to still use it. We were out at Mall of America last night and I steered her into the Microsoft store as we walked by it. She asked what I was interested in and I told her "I just want to check out the laptops" and then I asked her if she wanted to pick out one for herself? "Really?" she said. "Yes, your Dell days are over" I replied. She decided on a smaller Toshiba that will be ideal for all she'll need it for with plenty of speed and hard-drive space. She's quite happy with it and I'm happy for her.

It's Indian Summer in the Midwest and we've still got temps pushing into the upper 70s. If you've got a day or two of sick-time left to burn, now may be a good time to do it!