Wednesday Work – Irrigation, Drawers, and Cats

The weather here is finally good enough to allow me to start on this year’s garden infrastructure projects. First up is irrigation. Living in the desert means irrigation systems are required for gardening. Water doesn’t fall from the sky here. This year I’m adding new watering zones to better manage water usage:

One of three valves on the manifold

It will go here

I made progress on my pull out shelves:

First 2 of 14 – just 12 more to go

Sliders waiting to be used

And now, a few kitty pictures:

Spotty kitty sleeping

Boots in the catio look at birds

Socks getting some exercise

Well that’s it for this time. I’ve got a big project about to start, so there will be more soon.

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I’ve Been Thinking

It’s dangerous, but I’ve been thinking about stuff lately.  I mean about important stuff and not just trivial things.  You know world changing things like should I get a hair cut or finally let it grow long enough to tie in a pony tail.  If I did that, what kind of tie-dyed tee-shirts would I wear?  Should I get ones with big yellow swirls or maybe some red and blue blotchy ones.

I guess I’d have to make my own if I wanted to do it right.  I’m just not sure what to do with the left over dye – is it okay to just let it go down the drain and let the water treatment plant deal with it?  I could dig a hole in the backyard and pour it in there, but that might kill my plants.  What would happen if I poured the old dye near the tomatoes and then I eat one of those tomatoes – would it be deadly or just make me sick?

There’s a lot to think about, when you think about it.  Like, how much of myself should I reveal on this blog and how do I not start every sentence with “I.”  It’s a personal essay blog so it’s easy to say, “I” and “Me” a lot.  Well, given that I write in first person that is.  Maybe I could write this personal stuff in third person – that would stop me from using “I”.  Well, no, that might be too weird.

Weird is one reason why I don’t talk about certain personal things on this blog.  I know many of you have this idea that I spend all day writing, quilting, working in the yard and building stuff in my workshop like some modern hyper-enlightened renaissance man.  I just wonder if you’d be shocked to learn that I put almond milk on my cereal, eat popcorn when watching TV and that I don’t eat ice cream.  I used to eat ice cream, but then I stopped and politely refuse any ice cream people want to serve me.  This includes whipped cream, I don’t eat whipped cream.  Do you eat or drink or slurp whipped cream? 

This isn’t to say that I don’t like ice cream or whipped cream – well that’s not true, I don’t like either anymore.  Ice cream upsets my tummy and whipped cream is just weird.  I don’t make a big deal out of it or demand that ice cream factories be shutdown.  I know that I should be involved in the mission of all hyper-enlightened renaissance men to seek justice, awareness and accommodation for ice cream-free people everywhere.  I know I’ve been falling down there as I’ve not even filled a lawsuit against Starbucks for that time when they put whipped cream on my hot chocolate after I said, “No whipped cream.”

I know, you’re all now disappointed in me and will likely stop following this blog.

Now, in the name of full disclosure, I should mention that I cut my finger in the workshop last week. Yeah, a perfect woodworker, following all the safety rules shouldn’t cut a finger, but I did.  I’ve compounded the failure by not posting a long video about it on YouTube or calling my lawyer to get the product liability lawsuit going or at least post on Nextdoor about the dangers of using power tools.  I did think about posting a picture of the wound here on this blog, but sadly my camera just doesn’t have the magnification to show anything that small.

I was going to write a serious post about important stuff I was thinking of, but that got sidetracked when I found that my barber doesn’t have an appointment opening this week and I’d have to go at least another week without a haircut.

So, I promise, after my haircut, I’ll be back to share with you how we’ll save the world and create universal love and a peace on earth that will last until we colonize Mars.

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Friday Wisdom – The Lawn

The grass is finally growing here in the desert and I had to mow the lawns this week so here’s everything I know about lawn care:

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence because they water the lawn over there.

You can make a lot of money removing leaves from people’s lawns – you can just rake it in.

At the garden center they are selling a new chicken-proof lawn. They say it’s impeccable.

I had to fire my lawn care service – they just weren’t cutting it.

I saw my neighbor slumped over his lawn mower crying. He’ll be fine – he just went through a rough patch.

I saw a guy secretly dumping top soil on his lawn – the plot thickens …

The Hulk grows a great lawn – well, he does have green fingers.

I should cut the grass more often, but it can be hard to get mow-tivated.

I have to say one good thing about snow – it makes my lawn look as good as my neighbor’s.

My gardener want to bring a cow to my house. He called it a lawn moo-er.

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Titles

I’ve been called many things in my life, some nicer than others.  I’ve been a son, a husband, a brother, a friend, an engineer, student, teacher, and that annoying customer on line 3.  Some titles are given to us while others we take on our own.  These don’t always fit who we really are, but sort us into the different boxes that life has.

My dear old daddy (and he liked being called my dear old daddy) used to say, “We are who we say we are.”

I became a college student, not when I walked into class, but when I said to others, “I’m a college student.”  I became a Christian on the day I said, “I’m a Christian.”  I became a worthless human on the day I said, “I’m a worthless human.”

What we tell ourselves is important.  The titles we embrace and hang around our own necks are the most powerful.  Others may give us titles or call us things like, “Sir,” “Mr.” or “The guy in isle 5,” but it’s the ones we embrace that count.

In my father’s last years he’d often introduce me as, “This is Andy of Me and Andy.”  That meant so many different things.  It was is part just my father’s way of expressing love and my importance in his life.  In time it also became a title of importance as the strokes slowly took away his mental abilities and he relied on me to make decisions for him.

I remember once arriving at the emergency room and meeting father’s doctor.

“Are you Andy?” the doctor said.  Apparently father was confused about what was happening to him and had been telling everyone that they needed to talk to “Andy.”  It was my name, but in that situation it also became a job title, a position of authority, and a burden to a young man watching his father slowly die.  It felt like the doctor was asking, “Are you The Andy?”

The medical staff also saw me as, “family,” and “caretaker.”  At times it did feel more like a job.

In my professional life I held many jobs and each had its own title – electronic technician, software engineer, general manager, security officer, dish washer …

I still don’t understand why I took that job as a general manager of an electronic test lab.  I’m not much of a leader and while I generally managed things for the lab, I never felt comfortable in the role.  I didn’t last long there and moved on to other things.

Once I took on a job as a teacher at an electronics trade school.  I taught the computer repair classes. Officially I was an “Instructor,” but rarely called myself that.  It was just a title for the payroll department.  My students called me, “Mr. Andrew” as I called all of them, “Mr. Bob” or “Mr. Jim.”  Most of the students were men in their late 20s or early 30s trying to rebuild their lives.  Some were recovering alcoholics, some veterans, some just lost souls who were tired of flipping hamburgers and I felt it important to give each one a little dignity by calling them, “Mr.”  It was also just a bit of fun that they enjoyed.

Most of my fellow instructors were veterans, either retired or recently mustered out.  All of them NCOs – sergeants, or chiefs and not one an officer.  We considered ourselves just plain folk. Nothing fancy, just a bunch trying to do the job right.

At the school, morning break time was about 10:00 am and most of the students would head outside to the back parking lot for a smoke and conversation.  We instructors would always join them as this was the time when they’d really ask questions and the time when we likely taught the most.  Not all about electronics, but also a bit about life, careers, and getting along with people.

The director of the school would often come out to join us and always as he approached our group of instructors he’d say, “Gentlemen, good morning.” Our response was always to look over our shoulders to look for who he was talking to, often saying under our breath, “Where?”

It was part self-deprecating joke and part true.  In the US military, gentlemen are officers while the NCOs and enlisted ranks aren’t.  The title of officer and gentleman was one that my fellow instructors were passively rejecting.

After I left school I joined a company and was given the title, “Configuration Manager.”  It was a bit like being the equipment manager for the high school football team.  I didn’t manage people, but rather was a support position.  My job was to manage the configurations of the software build tools, servers, the test lab equipment, and other details for the development team.  It was a good job, but most senior managers didn’t really know what I did.  They did understand that whatever it was, the development mangers thought it was important.

The title did cause some confusion and a little embarrassment.  Once the development team was taken on a weekend team building event.  The first evening we were told that when we went back to our hotel rooms that we’d find a tee-shirt on the bed.  The shirts had the color of the breakfast table we were to sit at and the team we’d be on for the beach games later in the morning.

I got to breakfast before most people wearing a hideous orange shirt and found that no one was at my table.  I sat down and was soon joined by the company co-founder, the director of engineering, and other managers, including my boss.  It was getting a bit uncomfortable as I thought I’d gotten the wrong tee-shirt.  I would have rather been with the junior engineers.  Everyone at the table greeted me cheerfully enough and when the co-founder asked how I was, I replied, “I think I got the wrong shirt. I should be over there with Jim and the team.”

“No,” she replied, “You title is configuration manager and that puts you right here.”

The only good part was that it was mostly older people on the management team, we weren’t expected to do the same amount of running and climbing as Jim and his team.  Still, we managers did win the sand mural contest and water balloon fight – turns out no one would throw a water balloon at their boss …

I can only think of one time when I demanded that a title be used for me and that was in college.  I was in my mid-forties when I went back to get my BA in English and some of my professors were younger than me.  It was weird at times.  Most professors told their students to just call them by their first name and not use the honorifics of Dr. or Professor.  Except one young professor I had.  I learned that this was her first year teaching, she had just received her doctorate and was at least 20 years younger than me.  At her first class she insisted on being called Dr. or Professor and then asked each student to introduce themselves by their first name.  That didn’t sit well with me as I felt it was egotistical of her.  When it was my turn I said, “Mr. Reynolds.”

She didn’t demand to be called professor after that.

Personally, I’d prefer that you just use the title, “friend,” when you talk about me.

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