30 June 2008

Making Decisions

Today I am making decisions - all sorts of decisions.
  1. Whether or not to move some websites to SiteGround so that I can use Drupal for CMS
  2. What changes need made to payroll items
    • deductions & exemptions
    • payroll automatic deposit: how much to which account
    • how long to keep kids on insurance

  3. Priority of house repair tasks
    • ROOF - 1st week in August - $6,500.00 (hired Zane's Roofing)
    • Front porch - priority moved from after back porch to before, in order to get it done before roof in August - Some decking, posts, railings, roof joists and decking - $800.00 (us doing labor)
    • Back porch - remove screen, replace with lattice, level and paint decking - $125.00
    • Side porch - replace screens, add door(s), paint deck and posts & railings
    • Finish fence - 5 panels, 6 posts - $180.00
    • Landscaping (Mike & Nova for front yard, Mike, Nova, Abelisto & I for back)
    • Cracked plaster (6 spots on 1st floor, 3 on 2nd) - $125.00
    • Paint walls - $200.00
    • Stain woodwork - $100.00
    • Downstairs bathroom - yuk
    • Upstairs bathroom - more yuk

  4. New car or no new car or new-used car - leaning towards putting off this decision until I hear back from EC

  5. Tapestry, or Armor, or Quilt project next
I think that's all that I need to decide on today.

27 June 2008

Compressed Ulnar Nerve

Two days ago I started having numbness in the 4th and 5th fingers on my left hand.

I tend to ignore medical things until they really begin to irritate me, but everyone had such an immediate response when I mentioned the numbness I decided to call the doctor.

It just so happened that one of the questions that the nurse practitioner asked me was about headaches (she also asked about chest pains - no chest pains at all) and I had to say that yes, I have had some dizzy headaches lately. I attributed them to running out of allergy medicine a while back and going without for several days (turns out I was correct on this). Anyway the nurse had a fairly strong reaction to the admission of headaches, especially dizzy headaches, and asked me to come in (they really should not put such excitable people in a position to counsel patients).

So I took the afternoon off, drove to La Crosse and waited for a squeezed-in visit with the doctor. It took him a whole 3 minutes to decide that I was not in any danger of a heart attack or a stroke and that what I had was a compressed ulnar nerve - a condition which normally clears up on its own, but sometimes requires surgery by an orthopedist who specializes in hands and elbows to move the nerve to a new location. Usually they only do this if a person starts having muscle wasting.

Today I am working with a neoprene pad under my left elbow and trying to keep it unbent. It is going to take some getting used to. I need to talk to HR about an ergonomic study of my workstation.

26 June 2008

Winona Daily Foto Blog

Started another blog. The new one is a photo blog:
Winona Daily Foto - Taking Everyday Photographs of Winona Minnesota.
The plan is to post a photo taken in Winona every day, photos either taken by me or sent to me by others.

I think I will like doing this photo diary, but I may want to get a small point-and-shoot digital camera to make it easier and more spontaneous. I have a Canon digital SLR and it is too heavy and awkward to carry around for those spur-of-the-moment shots - not to mention too expensive to risk on the bicycle...

Abelisto and I are thinking about getting a Digital Camcorder to do some video blogging . Abelisto is doing sustainable beekeeping and currently is documenting the process with still images and text. Some of what he is doing would be great videos.

22 June 2008

52nd Wedding Anniversary

Today is my parent's 52nd wedding anniversary. Can you still say its an anniversary if one parent has passed away?

Last year, about a week before their anniversary, we learned that my father had lung cancer. He was a smoker - pipe and cigar, never cigarettes - for much of his life.

They were married in 1956. I was born in September 1957, followed by a brother in January 1959, another brother in October 1963 and a sister in February 1968.

My parents moved 7 or 8 times during their marriage, all within the state of Indiana. During most of my childhood we lived on Russell Road in Bloomington.
View Larger Map

My dad had maybe 8 or 9 jobs during those 50+ years; my mother worked mostly in the home until we were all grown or nearly grown.

20 June 2008

MacKenzie Died

                                                      Photo by Gareth

It is s sad, sad morning. I just found a phone message on my cellphone about MacKenzie. I hate the way that messages sometimes do not show up until days after they come in.

On June 3rd a gentleman called and left this message: "I am calling about your orange cat. I thought you would want to know that I found him in my yard dead a couple days ago."

This means MacKenzie died the night he got out. All the hope that he would come home has been false hope. That hurts. All the late night searching, barefoot, in pajamas, after hearing a cat outside the window, was in vain. Mac will not be coming home.

It also hurts me that since I did not find the message on my phone for over two weeks, that his body is gone and I cannot hold him one more time and bury him beside Kai. I really, really do not want to know where his body went.

I hope it was not the garbage. I so hope it wasn't.

18 June 2008

Another Labyrinth

Today I took part of my lunch hour and helped Eileen & Tadie recreate a labyrinth for the graduate program course that Eileen teaches. It was our 4th labyrinth together. Tadie took some photos and perhaps a video of the making of it. If he sends it to me I will post it here later.
Here is the first one we did - I think it was 3 years ago. It is nearly perfect. We have the best process for painted labyrinths...

Eileen measured the space we had to work with - an 80' diameter circle (or 960").

I took an image of the Chartres cathedral labyrinth into Illustrator as a background image.

I then drew concentric circles , lining them up with the 11 circuits of the unicursal labyrinth.

I added the lines for the switch-backs and the gaps for the pathway and then grouped all the elements so that they would stay in the same relative positions, and deleted the background image.

I set the base measurement in Illustrator to points, and enlarge the grouped graphic to 960 points in diameter.

Now I could use Illustrator's measuring tools to determine the all the necessary measurements.

Since there was a 10" diameter tree in the center of the area I took 5 inches off of the radius and then took a copper rod and bent it into a circle that we slipped around the tree.

Using a 1/4" rope, we placed a tab of masking tap at intervals matching the dividers for the 11 circuits.

We then painted the straight lines and plotted where the curved lines began and ended, where the switch-backs were and where the entrance was.

Then using a athletic field painting handcart, we walked backwards, spraying the paint, using the rope as a spoke as we went round and round creating the circuits.

Once those were finished we added the center and outer lunettes, and the curved corners at the switch-backs.

We learned that the labyrinth would last through two mowings, although it would need retouched fairly soon after the second mowing. We kept it up for several months and then repainted it the next spring.

The one we painted today is a bit mis-shapen due to being on the side of a hill, but it will still work. Instead of a tree in the middle, we tied the rope to a large screwdriver and stuck it in the ground where we wanted the center of the labyrinth to be.

17 June 2008

Identity Again

A couple weeks ago we went to the Dakota Gathering here in Winona. It brought up the idea of identity and how we construct it again.

I am not trying to be critical, but how can american indians (as I was told they prefer to be called by a few of them) celebrate their heritage by selling plastic beaded trinkets? Perhaps it is a reverse of the way that europeans purchased their lands with shoddy bling centuries ago. If so, it is fitting. However I wish they got as much for the stuff as the whites did back then.

Returning to the idea of native theory and inspiration and the artist’s practice it seems to me that there is sort of a reverse colonization that often happens – a backdraft of appropriation of styles, artforms, and identity by the outsider – a disrespectful fascination with a culture that leads to exoticizing the “other,” trivializing and reducing individuals within those cultures to caricatures. We assume we are welcome within groups just because we like them, just because we want to be like them, wear clothes like them, talk like them or eat their food... How often is respect for the material or nonmaterial objects of a culture – manifested as a desire to have them – mistaken for a respect for the objects’ creators? Our engineered identities are made up from so many influences, so many “I love that!” feelings, that for the most part, it seems to me that authenticity may be a chimera.

How can we possibly know if what we are, what we do, is authentic?


14 June 2008

Bit of a Funk

Been a bit down lately. Just felt sort of lazy and non-productive. Don't know why really, but I need to get out of this mode and back to being more productive.

All I have been wanting to do lately is read science fiction (usually until way too late at night - or rather, early in the morning). In itself that would not be bad, except for the fact that I have so much other stuff I want to do but cannot seem to find the motivation for doing.


10 June 2008

Mackenzie Missing

                                                      Photo by Gareth

We have had a cat go missing. His name is MacKenzie and he's an orange tabby. I cannot believe he is gone. He got out the night of Princess' wedding. He's not been home since June 1st.

He was the really friendly one. If you caught him looking at you and you patted your chest he would leap into your arms and wrap his front paws around your neck and snuggle his face against yours.

He loved going outside and escaped as often as he could. But he always reappeared on either the front or back porch within hours (or less if it was raining - he hated the rain).

We put up signs in the neighborhood. We've been to the Humane Society.

I could stand it if I thought he'd just taken up with another family. The thing that makes me heartsick is the possibility that Mac ended up going into someone's shed or garage and got locked in there and died.

I wake up at night thinking I hear him crying.

05 June 2008

Abelisto Show & Tell

Last Sunday Abelisto did a hive check (week 5). Daughter #1, Daughter #3 and Granddaughter watched intently. Granddaughter was outside with us for a while, but kept wanting to get closer and closer so she could see more and more. Her mother was a bit worried about her getting stung so we put her inside at the window by the hives. There she and her mother and aunt got a lesson in sustainable beekeeping.

When she was outdoors in Beelandia Granddaughter was really fearless with the bees - squealing with excitement as the bees buzzed by here on their way back into the hive.

Level Orange

We just spent 6 wonderful days with Daughter #1 and our 3-year old granddaughter. They flew in from Las Vegas (which Granddaughter calls Lost Vegas) last Friday morning and flew out yesterday.

Picking them up last week from the airport in Minneapolis, I noted that our Terrorism Threat level was Orange. How strange. Orange is the second highest level. If, in fact, we were in that much danger, how come no one was talking about it? Activity in side the airport looked normal to me - no goose-stepping guards, no strip searches, no public warning announcements over the loudspeakers, nothing unusual, nada.

Have we become fearless, or just complacent...? Either way, I do not think that a rational discourse could take place yet about 9/11, the subsequent wars, keeping uncharged people in prison for years, torture, or even what we should do now that we have totally screwed things up for so many, many people (including ourselves).