Ice Storm Cleanup

After nearly two and a half months, we’re mostly cleaned up from the ice storm. We’re not completely done, but things are getting back to normal. As the trees begin to grow new leaves, the damage from the storm will be covered up somewhat.

All the fallen branches are gone, though we have a lot of small sticks that we’re paying The Boy by the trashcan to pick up to put out for yard waste pickup every week. It’ll take a while, but he’ll get it and, hopefully, learn something about the satisfaction of working hard and getting paid for that work.

Our back porch cover was smashed by a large branch that fell from our sycamore, and it’s been taken down and hauled away. We’re now left with just a concrete slab porch that’s not all that enjoyable or useful. But, luckily, a good friend is an architecture student, and he and a classmate are going to design and build us a new deck. They’re going to start after the semester’s over in a few weeks, so we should have a great new deck by the end of May! The best part is, since they want a real-world project that’s actually been built in their portfolios, they’re going to do the labor themselves for free! All I have to do is pay for the materials, though I plan to help them build it, as well. Look for updates as soon as we get started.

UPDATE: looks like we’re possibly looking for a new house with more room, so we’ve decided to not build the deck for now.

My History Via Google Street View (Part I: The Early Years)

All of the houses I’ve ever lived in have now been photographed and tagged in Google Street View. Now, that might not sound like such a big deal if I hadn’t grown up in two little (pop. 6,000 and pop 9,500) towns in Arkansas. Real nowheresville sort of places (esp. Newport, as at least Batesville has a great little college, Lyon College). The effort required to document, input, and store that sort of data for the whole U.S. is pretty staggering. Should Google ever become evil (and some argue that it already has), we might be in (more) trouble (than we’re already in). But, in the interest of nothing much other than ego, I suppose, I mapped out all the houses I lived in growing up (but none of my family lives in now).

Continue reading My History Via Google Street View (Part I: The Early Years)

Icepocalypse '09

Ice Storm 2009The week of January 26, 2009, Northwest Arkansas (and a lot of the rest of the upper South) was hit with a massive ice storm. People called it a “category 5” or “generational” storm. It did millions of dollars in damage to the area, which has been declared a state and federal disaster area.

Personally, it was a VERY disturbing and motivating experience. We were out of power for 6.5 days (early Tuesday through the next Monday afternoon). We lost a number of large limbs from our lovely trees (we live in an old neighborhood with large mature trees), our electrical service was ripped off the house by a fallen limb, and our back porch cover was partially smashed. We’re still cleaning up the yard (and waiting for the crew our insurance company hired to remove the porch cover).
Continue reading Icepocalypse '09

New Year's Resolutions 2009: Sleep More

My second New Year’s resolution for 2009 is to get more sleep. Studies show that people who don’t get adequate sleep have all sorts of problems: higher rates of heart disease, anxiety, auto accidents; are less productive at work; and myriad other problems. I probably average around 6 hours a night most nights. My goal is to get AT LEAST seven and to try to get eight hours of sleep a night. For the few nights I’ve done it so far this year, I’ve really noticed that I’ve felt better the following days.

Pre-New Year's Resolutions 1: Document My Life Better

Seems like every year — even in the blogging near-blackout of the last few — one of the handful of posts I manage to make consistently is the New Year’s Resolutions post. This year, I’m going to start early, and do them one at a time. First up: Document My Life Better.

I used to blog (we’ve already sorta touched on that one). I used to write in a private journal (still do, but sporadically). I used to take LOTS of photos, especially of my kid. Not so much anymore, and I intend to make that the main plank in my platform, and here’s why…

Over Thanksgiving, we went to visit my parents. Now that The Boy’s almost 6, he’s moderately interested in the other people in his life, and he wanted to see pictures of me when I was his age. So, I pulled out the old family albums and discovered something: if you removed one year’s high school prom pics (I went both years I was allowed to, though) and my high school graduation pics, a causual observer might think I died when I was about 11 or 12.

Now, I’m fairly naturally camera-shy (if you’ve seen me, you know why), but there are NO pictures of me from junior high and high school. I’m glad I have a handful of high school yearbooks still. Of course, I grew up before digital cameras and camera phones and Facebook and all, but, still. It was a little disturbing.

In addition to my not having any pictures taken of me during the later years at home, my parents have managed to lose or throw away even stuff like the official class pictures and t-ball league photos from my youth, not to mention the baseball trophies and Cub Scout badges and other detritus of the life of an American boy in the 70s and 80s. It’s a little weird to have no physical evidence (other than, you know, ME) that I existed then.

I also noticed while helping The Wife put together one of those slick iPhoto calendars from Apple for my mother-in-law that every year we take fewer photos of The Boy, despite our being a multiple-camera family these days.

So, I’m going to encourage photographs and video at every opportunity. At least one Christmas List item (a Flip Mino HD video recorder) should help that somewhat.

Next up: I dunno, but it’ll be up in a few days.