March 22, 2015 – Close to Having to Turn in My Man Card

Had a couple of vehicle incidents that both almost required I turn in my man card, but eked out of both. First, I buried the CRV in the field.

This is a bad photo taken with my phone as I walked away defeated. I USUALLY take a walk to make sure it is not to soft when I drive here, but since we’v had no precip in March and the pond and wet area in the pasture have been bone dry for a week or more, I thought things would be firm. Wrong – once the wheels break through the sod into the black gumbo, you are done. I tried propping boards under the tires to run up on. No luck.

I then went to get the tractor, but all I left with was making these ruts with the tractor. I was able to get the tractor out, but my chain wasn’t long enough to pull from a firm area. Had I buried both the CRV and tractor, I would have had to forfeit my man card.

Here’s the rut from the front wheel of the CRV. Our good neighbors came over with an even bigger tractor and even longer chain and said about dragging it out “The tractor didn’t even know it had a fish on the line.”

The other incident was a problem with the car. Emma reported that she thought she might have left the lights on, but got a jump and got home fine. Next day I drove her to Ames and when I went to leave, again, nothing, not even a turn over. I figured the battery was dead and was eager to get on with my day and called AAA and asked to use the “bring you a new battery and install it” service so I wouldn’t have to mess around with all that. After I made the call, I then popped the hood to indicate to the tow truck where we were. It was then that I noticed the battery cable had come loose from the battery and was resting slightly above the battery terminal. I just put it back on and everything was fine and cancelled the AAA call. Would also have had to turn in my man card if the AAA service man had popped the hood to put in a new battery and found it just unattached!

March 15, 2015 – Driftless Getaway

Linda and I snuck out for a couple of days to a nice AirBnB in SW Wisconsin.

We found a nice place to stay.

The view out the windows was a classic Driftless region valley.

Complete with Amish farmers in the bottom of the valley.

old settlers trail at wildcat park

Wildcat State Park was nearby for hiking. For mid-March, temps in the 60’s was a great change of pace.

amphitheater at wildcat state park

A great outdoor amphitheater overlooking the valley.

wildcat park ice cave

The approach to the ice cave.

Sizing up the hunk o’ ice (actually more of a frozen waterfall).

A look up the formation.

wildcat park ice cave

I’m sure we could write a nice story about the ghost trapped inside the ice.

ghost face in ice

Help, I’m melting!

We also had a nice visit and meal with some relatives we get to see about once a decade!

March 7, 2015 – There’s something happening here, What it is ain’t exactly clear

The basement door is open, the loader bucket is attached to a chain. What’s up on the farm today?

When we moved in about 18 years ago, one of our first upgrades was to replace the aging fuel oil furnace. While the furnace is long gone, the three fuel oil storage tanks are not. We’ve been using the oil left in the tanks to persuade bonfires to start over the years and finally the tanks are empty.

We tried manually moving the tanks up the basement stairs. No go. Wasn’t thrilled about cutting them in half in the basement. Enter a long chain, a tractor, and a three member team to guide them out without taking out a doorframe, door, or wall.

Victory is ours as tank #2 is dragged to the tank graveyard.

It’s a dirty, ugly, smelly job, but now they are finally gone.

February 16, 2015 – Claire to Paris for Climate Talks

Claire rather casually dropped in a Facebook message this morning that she got her plane ticket to Paris and living accommodations finalized. She will be attending the U.N. global climate talks this upcoming December. One of the faculty at the University of Iceland is Iceland’s chief negotiator and invited Claire along as an observer to the two-week long talks. She will only be able to attend one week as finals are during the other week of the meeting.

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The main goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The objective of the 2015 talks is to achieve a binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world. Should be able to wrap that up in two weeks! Actually, the work has been ongoing for 20 years, through meetings and agreements in Kyoto, Lima and other places.

What a great opportunity on the world stage. This alone will make her foray to Iceland worthwhile!

February 1, 2015 – Winter Arrives

Well, it first started out to be a 3-5 inch snowfall, then less than one inch, then back to 3-5, and when it finally arrived, 12-14 inches of snow.

The house nestled in the new fallen snow.

Along with the fresh snow, the moon was full, making for brilliant light-filled nights. Can you find the cat in this photo?

The cat abides, and follows me in the night, hoping for a treat.

Finally one more shot in the moonlight.

January 14, 2015 – Swim Season Wrap

After weeks of gruelling early morning and after school practices – along with 2 a days over Christmas break, swim season is a wrap.

Wearing the gear on the deck.

A mass of swimmers at the conference swim meet.

Martin doing his favorite event, the 100 breaststroke.

He also swam the 50 freestyle.

Can’t say I blame to woman who can’t bear to look at all the hairless males surrounding her!

October 25, 2014, Backside of Fall

We are on the backside of fall, with November on the horizon next week.  We had a day in the mid 70’s so took a break from the grind of studying and working around the farm for a trip to Ledges State Park.

They grow big leaves here!

It was a great day to take a hike up a creek, especially this one with lots of sand on the bottom. (Emma will be bummed she missed the green stuff near Mom’s head.)

Even though the leave are past prime, there is still enough color to make things interesting. Yes, there are places like this in Iowa!

Martin “owns” the sandstone outcrop.

spindle tree, red berries in pink casing

First time noticing this shrub with brilliant pink berry protectors – this is a spindle tree or Euonymus europaeus.

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A peek at the berries inside.

October 13, 2014 – Back to Work in Portland

I was also able to geek out with about 300 hundred or so new friends at a conference centering around content strategy and user experience. It was good to get some time away from the urgent tasks at hand and think about some longer-term ideas.

Welcome back to you Portland!

I guess the bridge in the opening credits of Portlandia doesn’t really open up that much.  Pretty much wasted three days waiting for it (OK, maybe that was a slight exaggeration).

It’s easy to get into Portland, but not so easy to get out, unless you can figure out how to drive your car up a bridge piling.

October 12, 2014 – A Brief Respite on the Oregon Coast

Before I spent most of the week in Portland, I was able to catch up with some long-lost neighbors living in Portland. I was able to catch up with their family and they treated me to a trip to the coast.

crescent beach oregon coast

By the time we reached this part of the coast, the fog and rain broke.

foggy mountains

Earlier, I felt like I was trapped in an asian style painting.

ecola point

This is a view from Ecola Point, a state park.

There were high surf warnings out for this day, with 20 foot waves crashing in.

Yep, I was really there.

Had a chance to walk in the forest and see moss growing in tree branches.

Part of the trail along the coast as the park.

September 1, 2014 – Mini Maker Faire

We headed down to a mini-maker faire at the science center of Iowa this weekend.  It was full of 3d printers, CNC machines and the like.

Of course, some of the usual exhibits never quite get old!

How about a keyboard made out of carrots?

Or a cheap DIY microscope that uses a cell phone camera for incredible magnification!

There was also a virtual reality trailer from ISU and a virtual welding helmet as well.  Oh, and a traveling Tardis and R2D2 as well!

August 24, 2014 – Reykjavik and Good Bye to Claire

The last days were in Reykjavik – spent getting Claire settled into her apartment, getting groceries, household goods, a cell phone and the like.

Again, I will just put a few photos in the blog post and put a slideshow that can be viewed full screen with many more photos at the end.

We stayed three nights at this place – a flat adjacent to the harbor above a wood carving shop.

This shot was taken out of the front window of the flat.

Downtown pedestrian street in Reykjavik.

This is Harpa, Reykjavik’s answer to the Sydney Opera house.  In the clouds and fog and daylight, the shimmering fish scale effect of the glass panels is not as apparent.

A view out to the harbor from inside Harpa.

Imagining my life with a fixer-upper fishing boat.

Claire a the harbor just outside our flat.

Finally, the reason for the trip – Claire in front of the University of Iceland.  I took my parental duties seriously to settle her into her new location.  Such a sacrifice to spend eight days in Iceland with her on that mission!

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To see more photos and to see them full screen, use the slide sorter above.