Friday, October 10, 2014

Heat Pump

Well, we'd had a problem with it last year, and the tech had told us then that we'd need to get a new one sooner or later. Fortunately this is the slow season for HVAC and I got a hefty discount, which made it merely "painfully expensive". So now we have a new heat pump, air handler, and thermostat. Hurrah.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


Diana and I wanted to take Josh and Gwen to the Homestead resort, and decided that this was the weekend. We left a day early in order to visit Mom and Dad in Monterey, where they're renting a house. Monterey is a village--I'm told there are about 100 registered voters in town--in Highland County, on the border with West Virginia. The weather had just turned crisp, meaning 35° at night, and the leaves were turning gaudily gold and red. We saw one maple where the outer portions of the leaves were red, while the parts by the stems were still green. Some of the people up there raise sheep, and we saw a few flocks that had a llama or two added to protect them from dogs or coyotes.

The Homestead is a huge hotel--perhaps not in comparison with hotels in Vegas or New York or such, but it dominates the town of Hot Springs.  Apparently it's a little less ritzy than it used to be; they still have English style tea every afternoon, but you no longer have to have jacket and tie to take tea. A couple of restaurants, two arcades of shops, a pool, a theater--this is all inside the hotel itself, mind you--and they also have a couple of golf courses, a stable, a hawks mews, a shooting range, hiking trails, ski slope, archery range, and probably other stuff I didn't get to.

Saturday morning we started with a trip to the mews, which held an eagle owl, a pair of Harris hawks, and some saker falcons. These are birds selected for their ability to tolerate strangers; the instructor said that it's possible to train a redtail, for instance, but they won't cope with having other people around. She got out a Harris hawk and we walked around the area, with the hawk gliding from tree to tree, waiting to see if we might flush a rabbit or squirrel. This bird didn't mind getting close to us--once her wingtips brushed my wrist as she flew past, and she passed close by a couple other people if they happened to be between her perch and the trainer. The trick to getting the hawk to come to you is to hold up a piece of meat--chicken, in this case--and the hawk will pluck it out of your hand as she lands on your gauntlet. We all got a chance to try that. She weighed a bit over two pounds, although she felt lighter; she only stayed on our hands for a minute or so before going back to a tree.

That afternoon James met us and took us to the shooting range. Josh and I got an over/under 12 gauge shotgun, with about 100 round between us; Diana and Gwen had a Beretta 28 gauge shotgun, with 50 rounds. It was the first time shooting for the ladies, and they did pretty well; Josh and I managed to break a few clays as well, although some were a bit tricky. There was one that simulated a rabbit running along the ground, and I don't think I ever did hit that one; it always seemed to bounce at just the wrong moment. We had dinner with James and Heather at the local Italian place, then followed Sunday church with a hike up the Cascades trail, a couple of miles following the creek uphill and seeing the falls. Finished with a picnic at the upper end of the trail, before heading home.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Southwestern Tour

We just got back from a trip which started, for me, with Salt Lake Comic Con. Afterwards, I met Diana in Albuquerque and we traveled around New Mexico and the Four Corners region:

  • The Turquoise Trail and Madrid
  • Santa Fe
  • Taos
  • Los Ojos, the Jicarilla Apache Reservation and the Continental Divide
  • Chaco Canyon
  • Cortez CO, Mesa Verde and the Anasazi Heritage Center
  • Four Corners and Monument Valley
  • Canyon de Chelly
  • Albuquerque
More detail on each stop in later posts.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Glass Door

One of the panels of the upstairs glass door had fogged up, either because the guys who did the residing project weren't careful enough or just because it was twenty years old. I looked at replacing the whole door and frame, but the estimates were in the $1300-1800 "and probably more" range. So we dropped back to the idea of just replacing the glass in that door.
I called Binswanger and set up a time on Friday for a guy to come measure. They rescheduled to Monday. They rescheduled to Wednesday. They never showed up Wednesday--"he'll call you right back" didn't happen.
So I called Atlantic Glass. They called me to confirm the appointment (instead of me calling them), and the estimator showed up right on time. It was a custom size, so the estimator didn't work out the price right then and there, but the office called within an hour--and when I said "go ahead", they called back within 30 minutes to confirm that the factory had the order and promised to deliver it by the date I wanted it. A couple of days ago, they called to say "It came in early, we can install it Friday if you're ready." And today, the team called me, showed up on time, and got it done in about 20 minutes instead of the hour they had anticipated. I particularly liked that they took the effort after the install to get the glass spotless; there were some gummy bits at the top, and it would have been easy for them to just leave them and say "We're done", but they got out a razor and scraped it clear. Well done.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Saw a bald eagle again this morning, about 10:15, as we were having breakfast on the deck. Third time this summer, and each time he's been flying north over the river.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Diana really enjoyed going to Mannino's for her birthday last year, and had mentioned several times that she wanted to go back there. So, for her birthday, I told her to be ready to go out--but didn't say where. And  I drove to the oceanfront, which is opposite of where she knew Mannino's to be.
Except they opened another one last month, at the beach. Win.

Monday, August 18, 2014


Got my copy of the new DnD 5th Edition Players Handbook today, preordered from Amazon. My initial impresson is "much simplified from 3.5th Edition, much less Video-game-on-a-tabletop than 4th Edition". More at my Battle Honors blog as I get into it.