Fun note on Christian’s college trajectory

This image from six years ago came up on our social media today. It is Christian’s Dean’s List notification for the first semester of his second year at Wake Technical Community College. I had completely blown it for the following semester by forgetting to pay for everyone’s classes by the deadline. Kelly was able to get the classes she needed, but I had to register Christian for Differential Equations and Calculus based Physics at Johnston Community College which was about a 40 minute drive from where we lived. The only class I could get him into at Wake Tech was Linear Algebra at Wake Tech. Fortunately, he was able to take another class on line from Central Carolina Community College. He actually had a 4.0 semester that semester and finished every math class he needed to get an engineering degree when he was 16 years old.

There was an added benefit in that he got to do the driving over to Johnston CC every day–a great thing for someone who just got their license, Lorena took two classes with him, so she went with him every day, and he got paid by the college for taking notes for a couple of members of his class who were not able to do it themselves.

Now the office is painted

Work in the home office has been somewhat chaotic over the last week. Lorena painted the whole thing “underneath” me. We shoved the furniture to the center as she went. Hopefully, we are only a few weeks from replacing all the dated carpet with hardwood and laminate flooring. In the mean time Kiwi continues to insert herself into the middle of everything. Notice her perched on my ever decreasing belly (Down 16 pounds now!) looking over my left shoulder. In a few minutes we are off to celebrate Lorena’s birthday.

Weight, travel, hobbies, and home improvement

Life is getting back to normal in the Chapman household. I guess I should make the caveat that it is about as normal as is possible based on adherence to the recently adopted New Year’s resolution to which I hope to stick. Lorena does not really have that first of the year resolution life modification thing because she sticks to what she is doing through thick and thin. Nevertheless, after one pretty big fall from the wagon and a brief smaller one, both due to visits and special circumstances, I am back in the game and hit a new “this diet” low in my quest to lose over sixty pounds.

My work is back in full swing with a trip to Canada and tentative trips to China and North Carolina in the works. I work on stuff that is of great interest to me and that is a gift. It is enough of a gift that I actually work on it as a hobby, too. Hopefully, within the next few months, I will be able to write about the hobby project some more because it is something that could have a fairly high level of interest for those in certain small businesses and maybe even for those with serious coffee snobbery. More on that when we (my buddy Gene and I) have more to show.

In the meantime, we continue with our home improvement projects. The entry to the house now looks less like an overgrown vacant lot, but only a little bit less like that. This month there is some good chance we will have all the new floors installed in our house, but that will depend on how often I have to travel and/or am stuck at home by myself while Lorena visits her mom in Mexico.

Back to normal after the holidays

Life is returning to normal now after the holidays. I am back on my diet–still 5 pounds over my pre-holiday high, there is too much work to do, company is coming for the weekend, Lorena returns to FINALLY finish up on the surgical work that started in North Carolina almost three years ago–after this she only returns to check on how it is all holding up, several short trips are planned after that, and we continue to work on getting the house fixed up. There are still four major remodel projects that I will try to post here. In the mean time, whenever I sit down to get a little reading, Kiwi lays on the arm I use to hold up my phone to read my book so I can move it until it finally starts going numb. When I finally move she is very disgusted with me and I deserve it.

Lorena getting close to rowing goal

Lorena has had a long term goal of rowing 12k meters in an hour on a Concept II rowing machine. She is very close to meeting that goal. This is the snapshot she took at the end of her workout on January first. She thinks she should be able to make it within a month or so. She continues to row faithfully and has done so for over ten years now. It took her several years to get to the point where she could row for sixty minutes without stopping, but she does that two or three times per week these days and then works the elliptical machine for one or two additional days. She puts me to shame. We are going to celebrate when she hits 12k.

Starting the New Year right

After a major setback on my weight-loss regimen, Lorena and I started the year off right with a visit to our favorite restaurant for a 300 calorie Egg McMuffin and a large cup of black coffee. It is now time to buckle down and go to work. Only God knows what 2018 will bring, but we have set some goals to work on for the year with the new house, with Lorena’s school, and with my side projects. Kiwi and I are hard at work coding on our coffee project, Lorena is heading out to the gym to row for an hour, people are protesting in the streets of Iran for freedom from religious tyranny, Americans have dramatically diminished the amount of professional football they watch–now if they could only do the same with college football, taxes are dropping, and all kinds of other good and interesting things are happening. There are still some very scary things out in the world, but it is good to have a reminder that there is a plan and even when stuff turns bad, and it will, God is in control and we know how the story ends.

Changes and New Year’s resolutions

It has been truly an odd year. It was partly odd because we held the funeral for goth Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah in February, we moved from an apartment in Texas to Washington State after having moved from an apartment in Oregon to Texas the year before and from our house in North Carolina to Oregon the year before that–all to deal with aging parents. We were so much in upheaval, it really felt odd to be settled in a house again.

During this time, we had no time nor inclination to pay attention to or participate in one of the strangest elections in American history. The funny deal was that we were thankful for that in many ways–looking back it made me realize that there is no reason to lose one’s peace given the sure knowledge that God is in control. We will probably participate in future elections, but with a fundamentally different mindset than in the past.

The other odd occurrence, was the movement of our children from a status of students to a status of being truly on their own, making their own decisions, paying their own bills, and living on their own. Actually, they have lived that way for three and a half years now, but this year there seemed to be some finality to it. We had a wonderful time at Christmas, not always calm, but always wonderful. Lorena and I are always sad to see them go, but this time, more than any time before, it felt like they were going home after a visit rather than leaving home to go back to school.

This all puts us at a new place in life. It seems like Lorena and I are more in upheaval than the kids. We are still trying to figure out what to do next. As a New Year’s resolution, I have decided (beside my perennial favorite to be less fat), to sin less, love more and find a peace in my God-given vocation whatever that might be.

Bald eagle from the living room

Warren K. took some very cool pictures of the bald eagle that sits on the tree behind our house sometimes to fish down in the Chehalis River below us. He took the picture with his Samsung S8 phone looking through the spotting scope Bob so kindly lent us. We thought the pictures were amazing. The bird certainly was.

Hooking up the new camera

I bought a global shutter camera from Ameridroid for Gene’s and my new project. It is a pretty amazing little camera, especially for the price. It is a USB 3.0 so it runs fast. I do not have the lens I need for the application we are doing so I ordered a three lens kit (need it anyway). I hope to be able to start testing beans falling past the camera before the end of the holiday, but that might be a little ambitious.

The other really good thing about this camera compared to the ov5640 cameras I have been using is that the Korean company, WithRobot, that makes the camera provides great, freely available libraries to control all the things the camera does. If I can get the camera control into our proto-type program, we will have made a major step in getting to the point where we can actually start developing a product.

Seattle to Portland Amtrak train derails — multiple fatalities

It is being reported there were at least six three fatalities in the wreck. This is the train we took to return home from visiting Kelly in Seattle when we lived in Portland. It is also the train we take to visit Kelly in Seattle now that we live in Centralia. When we drive back from Seattle, we always drive under the graffiti marked train trestle (overpass). We love to take the train. It was very sad this happened. We understood this one of the first trains on the new, faster route that had been opened.

Lorena and Kelly go to the Symphony

Lorena and Kelly did a mother/daughter Christmas concert. The dressed up, went to an elegant dinner, and then on to the concert. They had a great time. I hope this turns into an annual affair. I also gives me a chance to live a day and a half of a slovenly life without Lorena sweeping up the crumbs and browbeating me into cleaning up after myself. All I have to do is clean up before she gets home.

The global shutter camera arrived

The camera for the project Gene and I are working on arrived. It is pretty amazing. It cost literally 20% of the cost of what a camera with similar features would have cost only five years ago. I am dying to try it out, but in my normal bonehead manner of operation, I did not get the USB 3.0 cable I need to make it work. I was highly confident I had the right cable. It turns out I have a gazillion cables that are rapidly in the process of becoming obsolete and a gazillion more that ARE obsolete.

Fogged in (but with no rain!)

After a week of crisp, clear, late fall days with beautiful territorial views from my office of the town belows, the foothills behind it and the mountain behind that, today I can barely see to the edge of the property. Still, it is not raining and any day in this part of the world at this time of year without rain is a day to be enjoyed. I walked to the mailbox twice yesterday in sweatpants and a sweatshirt. I hope to do it again today even if the fog does not burn off. If we get a drought this summer, I suppose I will lament all this, but right now I am enjoying it immensely. I can see that I am now one of those guy who talks about the weather and the birds in the backyard. I have turned into my grandparents.

Fireworks again!

We did not get a picture that really did these fireworks. We certainly were not expecting a professional fireworks display off our back balcony. This part of the world is very enthusiastic about their fireworks in a way that exceeds any place I have ever been including Mexico. They were very nicely done and very colorful. We hope they do it every year at Christmas time.

Reading the Kindle at the treadmill

After a few days of experimentation (and actual usage), I finally have the treadmill set up in a way that works for me. Bob helped me move the treadmill downstairs, then I futzed with a way to read my Kindle for three days before I got something that actually works. I used a suction pad from the base of a cell phone holder to hold the Kindle in exactly the right place to read when I walk. Now all I need is some decent new books to read. I am about a quarter of the way through a good one and I have another good one coming in January, but I am going to need a lot more if I stick to this. It is helping my weight-loss plan quite a lot, too. This combined with the Fitbit allows me to keep my calorie output well above my calorie intake by quite a bit.

The sun is shining in Western Washington

They say it is unusual for the sun to shine during the rainy season in Western Washington. It may be unusual, but it is not that unusual. For instance: today. The air is crisp, clean, and clear. You can see forever. It is a great day to be alive. It would even be better if I were not chained to a desk although I have to admit that I do not mind that.

Lots of people have asked us, incredulously, why we moved to Centralia, Washington. We tell them, besides the really nice people and a worldview (relatively speaking) common to our own, why would anyone not want to live in a temperate climate with a view like this. There are lots of other reasons, but these, by themselves, are enough.

We hope that it will even get better. Our gardener came to the house today to talk about some intermediate term plans to clean up the yard and to prune the fruit trees. If we have all of the above and home grown apples from the Apple State, people should really stop asking us that question. Next I will have to get one of those apple picker poles like Bob has. It is really hard to keep up with Bob and Gena.