Dreams and Intersecting Phenomena

In early January, Sarcastic Muse Amanda Headlee wrote about getting inspiration from your dreams. It’s a great post, you can read it if you like, Ill wait. I left the following comment:

I get a lot of ideas from dreams. I use Evernote to write them down because my handwriting is as bad as yours. I can usually wake myself from a dream. Not the result of conditioning, just something I’ve always been able to do. Then again, I may just be dreaming now.”

I started to add:

However, not everyone’s conscious self is removed from the dream sequence.”

But I realized that my comment was going to be longer than her post, so I decided to write this post instead. You see, I periodically experience what some refer to as lucid dreams. According to (what did you expect) Wikipedia:

A lucid dream is any dream in which one is aware that one is dreaming… In a lucid dream, the dreamer has greater chances to exert some degree of control over their participation within the dream or be able to manipulate their imaginary experiences in the dream environment…”

My dreams often start as nightmares until I realize that I am dreaming. Sometimes, I tell myself that I am dreaming and sometimes, I simply decide to wake up. When I realize that I am dreaming, I can often interact with the dream sequence. I explain these dreams to my wife and I get the look that says: “I married a nut job” but my daughter also experiences such dreams.

One of the things I can almost always do during one of these dreams is change the location to a familiar place. If I am having a bad dream and I’m confused / being chased / being detained, I can move the dream to a city / street / building that I know well. This gives me the upper hand and the dream continues along this altered path with me in charge.

The Wikipedia entry describes a debate over this phenomenon among psychologists with some being skeptical that the “dreamers” are actually asleep. Asleep or awake, I have had dreams like this forever. Some psychologists say these are periods of brief waking. So, maybe a daydream? I don’t know. I’m not a psychologist but neither am I a nut case. Really honey, I’m not!.

I decided to wait until I had a recent lucid dream that I could describe. This one occurred on January 9, 2015:

The dream started on a winter night with three black sedans chasing me on the highway. I was driving my current car, a 2012 Jeep Patriot. The cars were gaining on me and I was scared. I realized that I was dreaming, took the next exit and led the cars to Spring St. in Windsor Locks, CT. I was now driving my 1988 Dodge Ram pickup. (When my daughter was little, we would go to Spring Park for a little off-road adventure in the snow).

I turned into the dangerously steep entrance to Spring Park and drove to the parking lot. The three sedans followed. The first car skidded into the lot behind me. The remaining two cars crashed on the final turn, blocking the driveway. I then escaped via the dirt road through the woods where I knew no car could follow.

At the point where the dirt road merges back with Spring St. I remembered starting the notes for this post, woke up and enter this into Evernote.

You may recall that a few posts ago, I wrote about the Baader-Meinhof effect. Some of you shared your support for there being odd connections in our world and some suggested that these things are just random. A week after I had the dream described above, but before I finished writing that post, I experienced another lucid dream. This time, I was in a cavernous steel structure with hundreds of other people waiting for an event to begin. The din of people talking was quickly overshadowed by sounds of steel straining, rivets popping and metal crashing against metal. The people in the room were scared. I was scared. Then I realized that the sound I was hearing was the baseboard heat. I started shouting “the building is fine. It’s just the heat.”

Incoming Text

This is a screen shot of the text from Faith and my reply.

I woke up and decided to add that little dream sequence to the notes for this blog post. I reached for my phone (Evernote) and noticed a new text message from my daughter.

Coincidence? Maybe. We both live in CT – it was equally cold in both places. We both have hot-water baseboard heat but Faith had never tweeted about it or commented on it and I can’t remember ever incorporating the sound into a dream before.

Maybe my wife did marry a nut-job. Maybe I was consumed by thoughts about phenomena and these dreams are just the natural outcome of that thinking mixed with a bit of coincidence. I don’t know why I have these dreams, but I have had them as long as I can remember and I think they make my life, at least my dream life, richer.

Poll – What about you?

Posted in Perspective, Strange Stuff | Tagged , , , , , , | 34 Comments

If We Were Having a Beer

Keurig Machine

Even though I was often the one who had to clean the pots and brew the first pot, I miss the old coffee makers.

The first thing I would tell you, if we were having a beer is the startling discovery I made earlier this week in our office. I don’t use the word “startling” lightly, I really do think this is right up there with “the best way to peel an orange.” Of course, if I tried to follow that process, the video would be titled “the most disgusting way to make orange juice.” Cut the thing into fourths, stick the sections in a ZipLock™ and be done with it. Anyway, I’ve managed to get pretty far off track pretty quickly. Let’s get back to that discovery of mine.

Do you have one of those Keurig coffee makers in your office/home? I don’t really like them. As far as I can tell, they are the most expensive and most environmentally unfriendly way to make coffee. Ever. That process represents the epitome of convenience triumphing over all that is good. It’s like driving a bulldozer on a straight line from your home to your office because it’s easier for you. OK, that’s a bit of hyperbole and, once again I am off the track.

One of the things I hate about Keurig brewed coffee is that I almost always end up with small coffee grounds in my cup. The secret to avoiding that is to never put your cup under the dispenser until you’re ready to push the brew button.

I made this discovery by accident. I wanted a cup of hot water, which on most office-style machines, doesn’t involve the brew portion of the device (it’s a separate water supply). I put my empty cup on the unit, then out of habit, I opened the cup-thingie to discharge the old cup. I then closed the cup-thingie and saw that my cup contained a bunch of coffee grounds. The grounds don’t come from the brew process, they come as a result of the fact that practically no one ever cleans these machines (which might be another concern). Grounds collect inside the moving parts and the vibrations send them into your cup. You can thank me later.

This is how it works when you’re having a beer. I would start talking about my interesting discovery about our coffee maker and you would say:

Is it one of those Keurig deals?

I would say “yes” and you would say:

I hate those things. Did you ever think about how expensive they’ve made coffee?

And so forth.

The next thing I would tell you is how cold it was in my office. You would nod because if we were having a beer, you would also live in Connecticut where 10 of the first 24 days this month have started below zero. We would want to talk about how cold it’s been, but I would have to share this story with you first.

The first time I flew to Ft Lauderdale, FL was several years ago in February. On my way to the cab, I noticed that it was warmer than it was at home (by a long way) but it wasn’t as warm as I had expected it to be. I asked my Caribbean native cab driver if it was a normal day.

It has been a little cooler than normal this week.”

Well, it’s a lot warmer than home. It was three degrees below zero when I left for the airport at 4:00 am.”

Below zero? The temperature goes below the zero? I’ve never been anywhere where the temperature goes below the zero. Why do you live there?

Good question.

But then I would tell you how it was 62°f in my office. I wouldn’t bother to say the ‘f’ part because we both live in just about the only country on Earth still using the Fahrenheit scale for temperature. So, just 62° and you’d have the picture. 62° is cold. It’s no negative-three, and to be sure, it feels pretty good walking into a 62° room from outside where it’s -3° but when you sit down, you pretty quickly realize that it’s cold. When that expensive, unenvironmentally-brewed cup of coffee quickly goes from not quite scalding hot to lukewarm, you realize it’s cold. About three hours later, when your office is almost all the way up to 66° and you notice the difference, you know that 62° was cold.

Of course, since we’re probably both guys and/or you’re probably as old as I am, we would drift into a series of “back when I was a kid” conversations and stories about camping misadventures, cars with bad water pumps, football games in December and the first time our furnace died in the middle of the night. We would certainly need another round for those conversations. If I recall correctly from the first post in this infrequent series, it’s my turn to buy.

Posted in If having a beer, New England Life, Rant | Tagged , , , , , , | 60 Comments

Lent by Addition

I have thought about this post several years during Lent, but I have procrastinated to a point well beyond Easter for two reasons. First, I’ve never really touched on religion on this blog. Second, I don’t want to draw undeserved attention to myself. It’s very hard to avoid the second reason when you’re writing a blog about yourself. However, I think that offering this post, at this precise time, will solve both problems.

As for the first problem, this isn’t really a religious post. Yes, it has to do with Lent, but not Lent as in Lent. It has more to do with the practice of fasting during Lent. Fasting doesn’t have to be confined to this time frame; lots of religions fast at different times. Lot of people fast outside of religious times, so we can drop any religious pretense for this post. Now that we have that cleared up, let’s look at the second problem. I think it will become apparent that there is little to be all impressed about me here.

About four years ago, I read an article about Lenten sacrifice. Most people who observe Lent, give something up during the period or fast in some manner. I have made attempts at giving up beer, chocolate, soda (back when I drank soda) and a few other minor addictions – mostly failed attempts. I once tried to give up coffee. At some point early in week two, my wife brought me a cup of coffee and said “drink this!” Apparently, I’m not a good companion when decaffeinated.

Giving up things wasn’t working. The article I was reading suggested alternatives to the whole giving up thing. Several options focused on the idea of adding something to your routine instead of giving something up. One idea was to do the things that others usually do for you. “How hard could that be?” I thought.

This is where you will understand why you don’t need to be impressed, it’s very hard. Since Lent only began a few days ago, I am barely even remembering that I am making the attempt.

Yesterday morning for instance, I started to hand my wife something that I wanted her to put away. She was closer to the cabinet where it belongs. As she reached for it, I remembered. I blurted out “ooh, Lent” pulled it back and put it away myself.

If you don’t think that sounds like much of a sacrifice, you’re right. It isn’t much of a sacrifice. However, as we proceed through Lent, I will notice more and more of these things. Making my own cup of tea, taking my own bowl to the sink, rinsing that bowl, putting my own shoes away, and so on. My experience with this approach has yielded a much greater appreciation for the folks around me.

Unlike giving up chocolate and then glomming down a half-dozen Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs on Easter Sunday, some of the things I add back to my life will endure. It’s not like on Easter Sunday I’m going to pull a Homer Simpson and yell out “honey, beer me!

Another reason not to be impressed is that I will likely drift back into a pattern of taking advantage of the people around me. I don’t mean for that to sound like I’m taking advantage of people. I’m merely taking advantage of the things people are willing to do. It sounds worse than it is. Really.

At some point during the year, I’ll hand my wife something to put away simply because she’s two feet closer to the cabinet but maybe I won’t do that until June.

One of the things I started doing during Lent a few years ago was to go and see the guy who works with me rather than ask him to come to my office. The very first time I did that, I realized that it was a good thing to do irrespective of Lent. Sometimes, the task at hand is easier to accomplish at his desk. It’s dumb to make him come to my office and work harder at the task just because I have the office.

I have shared this technique (I’m not sure technique’s the right word) with people, mostly when they ask me “so, what did you give up for Lent?” A couple of them have either tried it or asked their children to try it – children doing things others usually do for them…there’s some fertile ground for sacrifice.

If you’re still thinking about doing something for Lent, or if you’re just interested in appreciating the people in your world a little bit better, I would urge you to consider trying this behavior. It doesn’t have to be during Lent. You don’t have to tell people that you’re doing it. It doesn’t have to be for any particular length of time, but, if you’re like me, you won’t really start to ramp up for about two weeks. Also, if you’re anything like me, you will be amazed at how many little things other people are doing for you.

Posted in Family, Opinion, Religion | Tagged , , , , | 53 Comments

Colorblind Isn’t Black and White

imageThe first indication that I had a problem with color vision was during a physical exam for my first job out of college. My eye doctor completed the exam and filled out the form that I had to return to Burroughs Corp. “Vision: 20/20 with corrective lenses. Colorblind” Whaaaaat?

You exhibit symptoms of colorblindness, primarily red-green.”

What does that mean?

It means you don’t see certain colors well enough to distinguish them from other colors.

How can you tell?

Those slides I had you look at, they had numbers in them. You didn’t see them. There are better tests, but this should suffice for a pre-employment physical.”

Those slides being the things that look like mutant strains of bacteria growing in a petri dish. I could see plenty of colors, what could the dish know? Now I was worried that I would lose my job because of a condition that I never knew I had?

Apparently, I was still fit for duty. I got the job.

It turns out all employees working at one of their manufacturing plants had to take that test. I was going to be a programmer-analyst, it didn’t matter what colors I saw; the text on the monitor was a single dreary shade of green. Other employees could not be colorblind because the equipment they operated used different color lights to indicate stuff.

I am reminded every day that I would stink at a job like that. I arrive at work about the time that the main doors to the building unlock. Most people entering the building glance at the card reader on the wall and instantly know whether or not they have to swipe their card. There’s an LED. If it’s red, the doors are locked. If I’m not lucky enough to follow one of those folks in, I have to go swipe my card. Oh, sometimes I go up and yank on the locked door, but usually, I swipe the card.

The first definitive measure of how much/little color I see came early in the PC era. If you’re old enough to remember when computer monitors went through the CGA-EGA-VGA transition, this will make sense to you. If not, you might have to spend some time on Google or just mutter “yeah, yeah whatever grandpa…”

When we made the serious investment in an EGA Graphics card and monitor (about $500), I couldn’t wait to see the difference. I opened a color image and kept zooming in to see the fine color gradations. I stopped at about 800%, when each pixel was about ¼” square. My wife asked me if that was as far as it went. I told her no, I had stopped because I had zoomed into the point where all the pixels were the same color. She pointed (literally) to the many different colors still discernable and said” “I guess this is as good a monitor as you’ll ever need.

Perhaps the funniest color mistake I made was in buying a tie. Back in the early ‘80s, I had a Tattersall dress shirt that I loved. The lines in the shirt were red and blue. I mostly wore that shirt with a solid gray suit or a solid khaki suit. One day, while shopping at lunch, I spied the perfect tie. It had wide gray and khaki stripes. Each wide stripe was bordered by a thin blue line within two narrow red lines. It was like they made that tie just for me.

As I was checking out, the saleswoman looked at me and asked:

Are you planning to wear this tie with that suit?

“Yes! It’s perfect because I only wear this shirt with this suit and with a khaki one and this tie will go with both!

She looked at me funny and said: “OK then” and rang up the sale.

I told my wife about my great find. She sounded skeptical. When I got home and showed her the tie, she pointed out that the “gray” stripes were, in fact, lavender.

I wore it anyway. I look adorable in lavender.

A nearly very costly color error on my part happened about 10 years ago at work. I was responsible for our network equipment, aided by technicians from an outside firm. Those guys would come in about once a month and apply updates and fix any problems we had. One day, the tech went into our server room and quickly returned to my office.

Why didn’t you tell me about the drives?

What drives?

The dead drives. Two of your servers have dead drives in the storage array. You are running without RAID protection.

How do you know the drives are dead?”

The LEDs are red.”

I am getting some help these days from technology. First, I have a color App for my iPhone. Using the camera, I can point to a shirt/tie/sock and be given the precise color. There are many of these, I use ColorDetect.

The other benefit technology is providing is from companies that recognize that about 8% of males are colorblind. Many companies are adding colorblind options to their software and websites. Trello, the organizer I talked about a few posts ago allows you to identify related tasks using labels. The labels are color-coded but they have a colorblind mode which adds stripes. The labels kind of look like that tie I bought, but at least I can quickly identify them.

Posted in Family, Humor | Tagged , , , | 67 Comments

Considering Attachments

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: attach/attachment. It can be about love or anything else!

I’m going to approach this from the “anything else” angle. Not that I have anything against love, I’m all for love, but other kinds of attachment are on my mind this week.

Actually, the first thing that popped in my head when I read the prompt was the accident in the Fort Point Channel tunnel in Boston where large concrete panels fell from the ceiling, killing a passenger and injuring the driver of a vehicle. I know, the prompt is about “love” and I immediately drift toward a catastrophic accident. That’s because I remember that the accident was caused by the fact that the panels weren’t properly attached to the roof of the tunnel. I will always remember that story because something wasn’t properly attached and a person died as a result. Attachments, physical mechanical attachments, matter.

The other thing that makes me remember that event is the fact that shortly before that accident, my wife and drove through that tunnel to pick up a friend from England at Logan Airport. My wife is no fan of tunnels, she’s a terra-firma-beneath-my-feet kind of girl. I love tunnels. I grew up in the southwest suburbs of Pittsburgh and if you don’t love tunnels, you don’t get to Pittsburgh from the southwest.

One of my life goals is to take a train that travels through the Cascade Tunnel in Washington. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be making that trip without my wife, but it’s nice to have goals.

Anyway, I told my wife that tunnels are safe and that we had nothing to worry about in driving through the Big Dig tunnels in Boston. Shortly before one of our trips through those tunnels, she stepped in the room as I was watching a documentary on the Big Dig on the Discovery Channel. She came in just as they were talking about how many gallons per minute were being pumped out of the tunnel system to keep the Atlantic Ocean from spilling into the construction site. It’s hard enough to convince her that tunnels are safe without stories like those two.

The other reason attachments are on my mind today is that I’ve spent the past two evenings on a ladder trying to dislodge some rather large ice dams from the gutters on the southeast corner of our house.

I’m not worried much about damage. I built the roof(s) that connect at that corner, and I knew that ice would be a problem. One roof is over our family room and the chimney from our wood stove penetrates the roof about four feet up from the gutter. According to the building code, you can’t place insulation up against the chimney pipe, so I knew we would have snow melting when a fire is burning. The snow melts, but when the temperature outside is in single digits (as it has been lately) it freezes again before it gets to the gutter. For that reason, I put Ice & Water Shield on the roof well above the level of the chimney penetration.

Ice attaches to the surfaces on which it forms pretty well. You can work to get it lose, but you should expect some collateral damage. Trust me, having worked in the home improvement contracting industry for a while, I can tell you that water may enter your house as it backs up under your shingles. On the other hand, water will definitely enter your house through the hole you put in the roof with a chisel. I chip away some of the ice on/over the gutter, but only to create a flat surface on which I can apply Calcium Chloride pellets. The pellets do all the work, but they are difficult to attach to the ice.

Shelf Diagram

Both methods start out happy but screwing into the side might eventually end badly.

On Saturday, I promised to help my daughter install a microwave above her sink. This will involve attaching shelf support brackets to the sides of the cabinets on either side of the sink. I will attach solid wood brackets by screwing into the brackets from the inside of the cabinets. She’s in an apartment, and I’m pretty sure the cabinet sides are made of particle board. Screwing into particle board will not result in a reliable attachment. The microwave falling into the sink isn’t likely to kill anyone, but it would make for a bad day.

The last attachment I’ll talk about is also one that occurred this week. MiMi, the smaller of our two Tuxedo girls, attached herself to my chest in an effort to avoid our dog. MiMi has surgically sharp claws which penetrate skin easily. It’s like my chest was the fuzzy side of a Velcro strap. I was able to get her off quickly, but I have a series of little scabs over my right lung today.

Posted in DIY, Prompt, SoCS | Tagged , , , , , , , | 45 Comments

Blogging Tech–Part-II

The first part of this series focused on storing and manipulating ideas for blogging. Today, I’m going to talk about the way I write. No, not the scatter-brained stream-of-consciousness-hopping-from-topic-to-topic thing, the technology that I use. Remember, I’m a geek. I have a geek job and I have geek things that are the result of having that geek job. So, even though I’m going to try to be non-geeky, it’s going to sound like I’m a geek. We all have to work with what we know. If my wife were writing a food blog, she’d be talking about pots and pans that I never use. If I were writing a food blog, it would be a collection of one-pot recipes or things you can eat over the sink with a spork.

I write almost every blog post in Word. I have Microsoft Office, and since it’s part of Office 365, I can install Office on five (yes, that’s five, as in 5) computers. These can be laptops, desktops, PCs or Macs. I can also install it on (yes, also as in “in addition to”) five devices. I wrote parts one and two of this series on my iPad, on a plane on my way home from our company’s Annual Meeting. I edited them later on my Windows laptop. You’re thinking “parts one and two? Does that mean he’s going to write more of these?

image

I know there are blog editors that might simplify this, but it works for me.

 

I work on the layout in Word. Spacing, indents, image placement and links. Once I think I have things looking the way I want them, I print from Word and read/edit the paper copy. I usually reread it after a day or so. I give the “final” version to my wife for review. That comes back looking like the papers I wrote for Mrs. Richardson in 5th grade. Lots of red ink. Once I / we like it, I move it into Live Writer.

Live Writer is a blog editor that is part of the free Windows Essentials kit. I like Live Writer because A) it’s free, B) it is dirt-simple to connect to a WordPress (or Blogger) blog, C) it syncs with your blog so it knows your categories and tags, and D) it incorporates your blog’s style/theme. It doesn’t do all these things well, but it does them all free.

Note: I did try publishing directly from Word, but I didn’t like the result. Word publishes everything in the document. I like to store the titles, urls and descriptions of the photos I use in the document with the text. That way, if I’m editing a WordPress gallery. I just have to copy and paste the text from Word. So, I copy just the blog text into Live Writer.

Once published, I keep a copy of the Word document on my laptop and in Box, an online storage service. So, I have a blog post, a backup of the post and descriptions and a backup of that backup. “Belts and suspenders” as a business mentor of mine was fond of saying. I also back up my photos. If I don’t upload the photos to WordPress, I embed them and link to them on my Flickr site. Flickr gives me 1 tb of free storage for photos. The high-quality illustrations you see here are usually stored on WordPress or in Pinterest in a board called “blog photos.”

By the way, those illustrations? I sketch those on my iPad in Jot, a free freehand drawing App. As I wrote a year ago, I love Jot because I can draw, doodle, store, save and send illustrations (jots) very easily.

One of geek things that I use at work, but that I don’t have access to at home is Adobe Photoshop. Unlike Microsoft, Adobe doesn’t let me install their software on five PCs and five devices. Since I don’t do a lot of photo editing, just a little cropping and adjusting, I use GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP). GIMP is free and if you’re familiar with Photoshop, you will find all the same features in GIMP – they just won’t be in the first place you look. They won’t be in the second place you look either but you’ll find then eventually.

I get some of these things because I need them to do my geek job. But unlike my friends over at This Old House, these tools are affordable. I’m not talking about a laser-guided crown molding measuring and cutting tool with robotic molding installation supports. Just like Evernote and Trello (from Part-I) GIMP is free. Do you see a pattern forming? Flickr is free, Box is free for 5gb and on the right day, 30 or 50 gb. Jot is free. Office 365 isn’t free, but the home edition is affordable at $99 a year and you get those five plus five copies. And, if you buy Office 365, you get 1 tb of storage on OneDrive for free. Who doesn’t like free?

I don’t think that we need a Part-3. Several people have asked me about building the photo galleries. I just use the WP media features. I would be happy to share more information about that, and anything else people want to know about, but I don’t want to bore you to tears. Leave a comment. If I can, I’ll answer it there. Thanks for reading.

Posted in Blogging, Technology, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

Because Snow is Water and Time is Money

I don’t like long titles, but if I did, I would continue this one with “and we need access to firewood, and the snow at the fence can’t be so tall that the dog can walk into the neighbor’s yard and people our age should never lift snow over their heads and the dog needs a place to…” I hinted at this post when I wrote “Notes from a Snow Day” but I thought that a little explanation might help and I have some pictures to share.

If you look at our yard right now, you might wonder “what was he thinking?” Yes, it’s a small lot and yet a significant portion of it has been snow-blown down to a bit above the grass. What’s up with that? Do I enjoy running my snow blower that much? No. Well, to be honest, I might. It is kinda-fun and with the storm cab and the cup holder, it’s not a bad gig. Still, I’d rather be sitting inside near the fire, near the computer, near the box of Star Trek Next Generation DVDs, near the coffee/tea/beer (depending on time of day) and near the wife/cats/dog (depending on collective moods).

Most of the places that I run the snow blower make sense, especially if you’ve lived in New England long enough to have experienced winters where the snow keeps piling up (like the one we’re having this year). Of course, I clear the driveway, the sidewalk at the street and the sidewalk from the shed where the snow blower sits and the gate to the driveway. That just makes sense. However, not every storm requires the machine. Sometime, we only get ½” to 2” and I can just push it around with a shovel. If – there’s – some –place – to – push – it. That’s why I clear a bit of the grass (either in strips or in “pockets” at the edge of the driveway. Otherwise, the snow that gets pushed around has to be lifted over the snow bank which is something a friend reminded me that “people of a certain ageshouldn’t do.

The second group of places that I clear that makes sense are the paths to the firewood.

I got into some trouble in the comments the last time when I mentioned that I do this “so my wife can get to the firewood.” It’s true, she handles everything related to the fire. That’s because she knows how she wants the wood stacked, which logs she wants brought in and she enjoys the exercise. Also, she doesn’t trust me with fire. Period.

Alongside those paths are a few extra for the dog. These fall into two types. A) The paths where we want Maddie to take care of business and B) the snow we remove so she can’t escape the yard.

The areas that I clear that make no apparent sense are the ones alongside the foundation. I do this in the back yard because the yard slopes slightly toward the house. Our first winter in this house saw me digging a small sump pit in frozen ground and running a submersible pump to keep the water from pouring into the basement windows. The following summer, I added a bunch of drain tile and drywells, but I’m still not taking any chances that a mid-winter thaw will flood the basement. I also clear snow away from the side windows because a channel forms between the drifting snow and the foundation windows. A warm winter rain, and we would be testing the waterproof nature of those windows.

The path that makes no sense at all, is hinted to by the second half of the title. We don’t have a sidewalk from the street to our front porch. Still, I clear a path because the paper guy, the UPS guy, the FedEx guy and one of the mailmen walk up to our door that way. They will trudge through the snow in order to avoid the time it takes to get to the ramp at the top of the driveway. They are on the clock, and time may actually be money.

When I was in college, I was lucky enough to complete several stints as an 89-day wonder with the Post Office. The pay was great, but I worked lousy shifts and was treated a little like dirt. One thing that the supervisor could do to me that he couldn’t do to a union employee was “clock me out” at the end of my shift whether I was done working or not. I’m sure I could have complained, but I’m sure I would have never worked there again if I did. So, I did my best to finish my route on time.

I remember trudging through snow during several Christmas holiday breaks at the P.O., and I remember how much I appreciated the people who cleared a path connecting the best place to park with the mailbox.

I’m sure that the UPS guy and the regular mailmen are in no danger of losing wages, but the guy that delivers the paper and the people driving the FedEx Home trucks are self-employed. Time is money for them. It’s not that much extra work, and it makes a few people happy. People may not appreciate the computer programs I write, but those folks like that path, my wife likes being able to get “her” firewood and Maddie loves the paths and the resulting mountains of snow.

Posted in New England Life, Photography | Tagged , , , | 53 Comments