Fitbit Blaze

I keep breaking my “I have never weighed this much before” record and have decided to try to do something about it. I used the Fitbit Charge Kelly and Christian got for me quite successfully when I we lived in both Wilsonville and Lewisville so I decided to get another one. The problem was that it had a pretty lousy band that was not replaceable. My buddy, Dan in Texas used his Fitbit successfully, but ran into the same kinds of problems.

I ordered a Fitbit Blaze this afternoon to kickstart my new health and fitness plan. The other thing I am going to do when Christian is here is move the treadmill Bob lent us down to the bottom floor of the house from the garage where it is now getting too cold to use.

Finishing the library on the landing

Lorena only has a little bit of touch up and some ceiling left before she completes the painting of the library on the upstairs landing. She did a great job and it looks a lot better. She plans to paint my upstairs office next so we will be ready for the new floor to go in sometime in mid January.The picture above shows what the landing looked like when she started.  The vision for what we want to do before we call the remodel “complete” (scare quotes because these things are never really complete) is now starting to form. God willing and I stay gainfully employed, we hope to put in new flooring on the first and third floors and in the master bedroom on the first floor, paint the first floor, paint the exterior, put a kitchen in the first floor, put on a new roof,  and rework the landscape (not extensively). Lots to do, but nothing crazy and, especially, nothing crazy expensive.

Saying goodbye to a new friend

Lorena and I attended the funeral of a young (43) woman we had met as a healthy, engaged wife and mother only six months ago. We met her and her little family at our Wednesday night Bible study and knew here as an engaged, thoughtful person who enjoyed life and loved God. She was diagnosed with cancer only a couple of months ago. She was buried this afternoon. The service was uplifting and hopeful. The day was beautiful and sunny. Our mood is melancholic.

It is so sad to see a young life taken in such a way. It is also a timely reminder that life is short with no promises of even one more hour of life. At our stage in life–kids out of the house and successfully making their own way–these kinds of event are a catalyst for healthy reflection on what to do for these later stages of life. Material good do not seem so important. Connections to other people seem more important all the time.

Bible reading: Setting a new goal

A couple of years after we started our homeschool, I decided I needed to read my Bible more systematically. I had never read the Bible straight through. I decided the only way I would be able to do it was if I kept close track of what I was reading. On February 9, 2006, over eleven years ago, I started at Genesis with the idea that I would read one chapter every day (or a stanza when I got to Psalm 119) by reading through the New Testament two times, then reading through the whole Bible from cover to cover. The goal was to complete this sequence three times, then decide what to do next. I kept the record on the Dad’s Bible Reading page of this blog.

It seems kind of crazy that it took me so long, but it feels pretty good that I finally met my goal on November 15, 2017, just a couple of days ago. The other part that feels pretty good is that I started reading more the further I got. I know I still do not read so fast, but now, my minimum goal is to read two chapters per day. I have decided I want to read two or three other versions of the Bible next starting with the English Standard Version and probably finishing with the Reina Valera 1960 Version. I am not sure which one I will read in between. I plan to never quit keeping track. That helped a lot to keep me going.

Nexus interview

Lorena and I spent the night with Kelly in Seattle on Tuesday night so we could drive to the Birch Bay Enrollment Center of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security to be interviewed. We did not get much sleep because we talked with Kelly until very late in the evening, then got up at 4:00 to get to our appointment on time at 8:00 AM. It was really pretty uneventful. The arrogance of the first guy we met to turn in our papers was offset by interviews with very nice agents with both the U.S. and Canadian border services. We still have a couple more steps to get through the process, but when we are done we will get to go through the TSA Precheck at airports in the U.S. and global entry lines which are almost always a lot faster. There is another certification I can get to get through customs in participating Asian-Pacific countries. I think it will be worth it if I continue with the expected travel to China.

Sports devotion

For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

I ran into an article about devotion to something the author called Athletica that very much resonated with me. It described a phenomena that is epidemic in our society. Our own little family was not immune to this and I am glad some articulated the problem so well. The article is definitely worth a read. Here is how the article starts out:

For decades, demographic studies have indicated the steady decline of religion in America, but new measures suggest that, on the contrary, at least one religion in America is alive and well, thriving in every community, and claiming devoted adherents in nearly every household.

This new religious revival has remained under the radar in large part because its adherents do not claim any religious attachment to this social institution, but by every measure of behaviors typically associated with religion, it is deceitful to label it as anything less. Although it shies away from adopting an overarching organization or name for itself, for the purposes of this study, it will be considered under the name Athletica.

What must first impress outsiders studying the life of Athletica is how wholehearted is the devotion of its followers. These disciples are willing to sacrifice almost limitlessly where their dedication to this faith is concerned. Money, time, health, and even family may all be expended for the sake of bettering oneself within Athletica, and it is no exaggeration to say its members orient their lives around the strictures of their religion’s demands.

We assiduously worked to avoid fanatical devotion to sports when the kids were young. The kids participated in organized swimming, tennis, soccer, gymnastics and other athletic endeavors four or five days per week for the entire course of their homeschool. We belonged to the YMCA or a sports club everywhere we lived and when they were not in an organized sport, they went to the gym to lift weights or work out. But we vigorously emphasized this activity as just exercise–like brushing one’s teeth every day–good for the health of the body, but not something on which to base your every waking moment or life goals. Even (if not particularly) the team and leadership aspects of sports rang hollow with us based on the attitudes manifested by the vast bulk of the kids and families who were so wholly devoted to such efforts.

Bob’s spotting scope

Bob lends us his spotting scopeThe last time Bob and Gena were here, Bob dropped off his spotting scope for us to try for a little while. We knew we had pretty bad optics on all our cameras, but now we are beginning to understand how bad they really are. The scope he brought by is nothing short of amazing and WAY too addictive. We have all been taking turns. Now if I could only figure out how to take a picture through the thing. I can hardly wait until the eagle comes back.

Sorting coffee beans

A cheap ring lightSome good news and some good news arrived yesterday. The first is that my participation in the sickle cell disease diagnostic project is wrapping up. I will still be on call for the machine vision elements of the project, but I will not be tasked with the day to day programming any longer. The second is a good friend (Gene C.) I have known since I was a child has agreed to work with me on a side project. We are going to make a “cheap but good” coffee bean inspection machine. There are lots of machines that do that, but none of them are particularly cheap in the way we want our machine to be cheap. We hope to do this for another friend who lives in Dallas.

Cheap back lightI bought two lights I plan to use for the project. One of them is a back light and one of them is a ring light. I am pretty sure we will not be able to use these in our finished instrument, but they will certainly help me with development of lighting and optics. I still need to buy (at least) a few m12 mount lenses and a cheap USB microscope. I already have a camera with the wrong lens, but it has allowed me to start writing the program I will use to do image processing and classification algorithm development. I got it to take pictures before I went to bed last night.

Snowing in Centralia

Snowing in early November in  Centralia 2017We got some snow day before yesterday and it is snowing a lot harder now. Everyone says it is very early to be getting this kind of snow in Centralia. The temperature is not very low (37° F) so it is pretty sloppy stuff. It took me a long time to be able to take a picture out the window, but it kept snowing the whole time I tried and it is snowing even harder now. It is beautiful out there. Maybe I will not think it is so nice if we get two feet of the stuff, but right now we are enjoying us. I bet our Alaska friends are saying “Oh, brother, that is why we left Alaska.

Lorena painted the guest bedroom

Lorena finishes painting the guest bedroomLorena picked colors we really like, even after she did the painting in the upstairs. She did the preparation and painting all by herself. She is now an expert at taking doors from their hinges and hanging them back up again. We are quite pleased with how it came out. Here are the colors:

  • Ceiling: Ceiling White
  • Walls: Light Pewter
  • Windows: Chantilly Lace White

She did a good job on furnishing the place, too. We got the bed at Walmart.com. We like it so much we bought a second one for the downstairs bedroom. She got two side tables for the bed from Goodwill. She bought and refinished a desk that was really nasty for $8 and refinished that. She actually had a great time doing it all.

Next comes the “library” that is the upstairs landing between the guest bedroom and our office. She has already primed it all and has half of it painted so that should go pretty quick. After that, it is going to start getting painful because it will be time to move me out of my office so she can work there. The hard part is that we have to move downstairs because, when the paint is done, we hope to be able to tear out the carpet and put in some LVT flooring. We are feeling pretty ambitious right now, but will have to wait and see how far our resources take us before we have to start taking a breather.

New heaters for the second guest room

Lots of visitorsThe remodel continues at a good pace as we prepare for visitors, lots of visitors. To that end, we have to get the house in to a more operable state at the same time we need to continue work on the remodel. Easier said than done. People will understand a little bit of disorder, but we want to make sure the guest bedrooms work OK–the two goals often working at cross purposes with each other. We decided the number one goal is to have two working guest bedrooms by the weekend, After that, we can go back to painting.

The first guest bedroom is in pretty good shape. It is newly painted with all the furniture it needs. All it needs is a little organization. The bed for the second one is scheduled to arrive sometime today. It needs to be assembled, a couple of tables, a chair, a heater we got from Walmart.com (again, at a significant savings over Amazon), and a lamp or two need to be added. Then that room will be good to go (short term) as soon as the carpet needs to be cleaned.

Uncle Doug’s DNA kit results

Uncle Doug's ethnicity estimateMy brother (Uncle Doug) got one of those DNA kits as a Christmas gift last year. The results were completely unexpected. We had always assumed, based on word of mouth family history that we were a quarter Finnish (not to far off the mark) and the rest was Welsh/English. The thing that is surprising is the largest component, over a third, is from Scandinavia. We have really wondered what is the ancestry of Lorena. We think there is a big Spanish component, maybe some French, some native Mexican and maybe even some semitic component. We are definitely going to do this. I think Doug’s cost something like $99. Not a bad price for something so interesting.

Where to take the blog

My blog posting has fallen off quite a bit over the last month or so. Part of this is due to a lack of time with work on the sickle cell disease project and my day job and the travel required for that, getting Grandpa Milo’s and Grandma Sarah’s estate settled, remodeling the house (even though the new kitchen is in, we still have about a year to go at our current pace), etc., etc. Really, though, I have not been so inspired to write too much. It was nice to be able to put up pictures so friends and family in other places could see pictures of what was going on with the remodel, but there has not really been any greater goal in my posting. The early posting about homeschool, CLEP testing, and posting about skipping high school to go to college had a greater appeal and still draws a lot of traffic to the site and was well worth the effort. After some thought, I have to find something better about which to write or just turn this into a personal blog with pictures and posts suitable for friends and family. I am working through that now. I do not think it will be a short process and I plan to continue to write as I go, but my desire is to find better things about which to write.

New furniture realities

My new parking placeWe enjoyed getting some new furniture yesterday. It was quite a task getting it into the house, but we have a (kind of) system now so it will be easier next time. The picture right below this text shows how it all appeared when we put it in place. the picture way down at the bottom shows what I think it will look like for all but those rare times when we have company and Kiwi the remaining twin cat sister is in hiding and unable to scratch the new furniture. We are not sure these pieces will stay where they are, but until we finish remodeling and buy some more, they are in a good place.The new furnitureThe cat coverings

New furniture — Bob and Gena’s fault

A BarcaLounger for the remodeled living roomBob and Gena invited us over to their house a couple of days after we arrived in Washington. Ever since then, Lorena has had sofa envy. Well, we are trying to remedy all that, but I am not sure if it will ever be enough! The good news, is that in addition to the sofa, we got a BarcaLounger. That was what we called Grandpa Milo’s chair when we were growing up and boy did he love it. Looking forward to putting this to great use.

Another 25th Anniversary

After Lorena and I got married, we decided it would be easier to just get married again in the US. We had planned to do it on the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas. We missed it by one day. It was a fifteen minute affair in the County Clerk’s office of Palm Beach County, Florida. I thought I should just put this here for the sake of posterity.

The kids are home to celebrate

Kelly home for fall break 2017Christian and Kelly came to Centralia this weekend. The purpose is to celebrate Christian’s birthday, my birthday and Lorena’s and my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. We are going to do the “official” celebration toward the end of the year in Mexico at either the place we had the original wedding or something very similar. It is really nice to be able to have the kids home more frequently. Plane flights between Seattle or Portland and Phoenix are really pretty cheap so Christian can get here pretty easily. Train tickets from downtown Seattle to Centralia are even cheaper, so Kelly can get here any time she wants.

The real reason this became an occasion was because has a four day fall break and I have Columbus Day off. We ate way too much and hung out together. Hopefully we will be able to do it again at Thanksgiving and then again in Mexico.

A harvest moon and our first apple harvest

Centralia Harvest Moon 2017The picture to the right was taken last night and the moon looks even bigger today. There is a special feeling in the fall when homeschool starts up again, the weather starts cooling down, and there are tons of amazing local food stuffs on the grocery store shelves. Thanks to our friend Bob, we even had our own special harvest. Our apple trees have not been pruned properly for what looks like several years, but Bob brought over a apple picker on the end of a long pole so we did not get completely skunked. Lorena made up some apple sauce. Wonderful stuff. We are going to prune in January or February and hope for a much more bountiful harvest next year.

An added benefit is that Christian arrives shortly after midnight tonight for his fall break. That coupled with the fact I get Columbus Day off with my new company (it is also Canadian Thanksgiving Day), means life is quite good right now.