Winter Again

It was winter again yesterday — 12°F down here, 18°F up on the land. (We often have temperature inversions when the weather comes from the east.)









It’s supposed to get above freezing today. One forecast says more snow, one says it will be sunny. We’ll just have to see.

What’s your weather like?


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It was cold, slightly windy, and snowy today, so Andy built a fire and worked on designing his electronics. Here’s the tentative schematic for some of it:


And here’s what he has so far for the layout of the corresponding printed circuit board:


The red shows the copper that will be on the top of the board, the green the copper on the bottom. The brown is information for him, so he knows what components will go where.

I don’t know how it all works, but he does love ExpressPCB, the easy-to-use program that lets him lay everything out. When he thinks everything is all right he’ll send it in and they’ll make him a 5″ X 6 1/4″ printed circuit board for this part. How cool is that? (If you want to do this sort of thing!)

That’s what counts as excitement around here. What about with you?


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I made a couple of comments that struck all the wrong tone a few days ago, and I’ve replaced them with a more appropriate response and apologized to the commenter.

I worry that I hurt the commenter’s feelings/made him feel invalidated, and I appreciate having the chance to apologize. This poem from The Cheerful Cherub by Rebecca McCann helps. I came across it about 50 years ago and have never forgotten it. It’s so friendly/accepting/forgiving.

I’m sure I have a noble mind
And honesty and tact,
And no one’s more surprised than I
To see the way I act!

How do you feel about apologies, being wrong? Do you worry about hurting other people’s feelings?


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Poor Sheep!

One of the consequences of the 2011 fire is the steepest part of the burn scar is now ideal for bighorn sheep.

The herd up in the northern part of the state was becoming too large for its food supply, so the Department of Game and Fish relocated 45 of them to the area just southeast of our land.

Sheep Being Transported in Bags Below a Helicopter

Sheep Being Transported in Bags Below a Helicopter
(Click on link for article and video.)

Each sheep was given a radio collar for tracking, and Andy actually met a Game and Fish fellow trying to find one that was presumed dead — it hadn’t moved for quite a while. The fellow phoned Andy a few days later saying the collar had come off and presumably the sheep was fine. Andy had let him through a gate so he could find the collar, but even so we thought it was friendly of him to phone.

Anyway, being caught and transported must have been traumatic for the sheep, but it’s no doubt better than starving. And it does make the area up there even more interesting.


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Yay, William James!

Good-humor is a philosophic state of mind; it seems to say to Nature that we take her no more seriously than she takes us. I maintain that one should always talk of philosophy with a smile.
— William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience

I came across this quote when I was looking for another one by him. We’re such tiny specks in the universe that it has always seemed crazy to me to take ourselves so seriously.

It reminds me of Robert Frost’s

Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee,
And I’ll forgive Thy great big joke on me.

The James quote also reminds me of the Dalai Lama, who laughs a lot and says happiness is the purpose of life.

Not everyone agrees, of course. What do you think?


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What Other People Think

If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you but answer, “He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would not have mentioned these alone.”

I love it!   My version is

We’re all a bunch of nuts. Why should I be any different?

That’s one of the great things about getting older, we no longer worry about what other people think of us. Have you noticed that too?


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My Hero

Apparently the older dogs at The Thundering Herd are upset that they’re not getting more snow. But Typhoon isn’t wasting any time complaining. He’s focusing on having fun.

Yay, Typhoon, my hero! I’m wearing my favorite T-shirt in your honor.


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Tech Support

All I can say is Opal is getting a lot more help from tech support than I usually do. It’s not that they’re completely useless, it’s just that often their advice doesn’t quite work.

Yesterday morning our modem died — no internet. Because I had bought and checked out a spare a couple of years ago, I just plugged it in and it worked. But the new one has its own wi-fi router — we use the Apple Airport — and I wanted to make sure we could shut off all wi-fi when we wanted to. So I phoned our phone company tech support and he said we needed to “bridge it out” and put me on hold while he looked up the instructions.

So I Googled “bridge out” and the modem model number, and it told me how to get into the innards of the modem and check the settings. It turns out wi-fi was already off and I would have to set up a new network if I wanted to turn it on. Problem solved.

I did wait for the technician to get back on the phone. He didn’t know about my way but had something else to try. I figured I might as well learn something new, so I tried to follow his instructions. Unfortunately his instructions didn’t match what I saw in the settings, so they didn’t work. I explained to him why my method solved the problem, and he said, “Oh, that could work too.”

I later Googled “disable wi-fi on gt701-wg” and it gave me a link to how to enable wi-fi:

Wireless networking is disabled by default in your Actiontec GT701-WG. With just a few simple steps you can enable the wireless feature.

Okay, so in this case it would have been quicker to just use Google. But tech support didn’t slow me down that much.

I must say, this is not my favorite way of spending my time, and all sorts of things have needed fixing lately. I hope things have been working better for you! If not, how much luck have you had with tech support?


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The Conquest of Happiness

Grahame Greene wasn’t the only one to experience depression. As Bertrand Russell says in his 1930 book, The Conquest of Happiness,

In adolescence, I hated life and was continually on the verge of suicide, from which, however, I was restrained by the desire to know more mathematics. Now, on the contrary, I enjoy life; I might almost say that with every year that passes I enjoy it more. This is due partly to having discovered what were the things that I most desired, and having gradually acquired many of these things. Partly it is due to having successfully dismissed certain objects of desire – such as the acquisition of indubitable knowledge about something or other — as essentially unattainable. But very largely it is due to a diminishing preoccupation with myself. Like others who had a Puritan education, I had the habit of meditating on my sins, follies, and shortcomings. I seemed to myself — no doubt justly — a miserable specimen. Gradually I learned to be indifferent to myself and my deficiencies; I came to centre my attention increasingly upon external objects: the state of the world, various branches of knowledge, individuals for whom I felt affection.

In fact, he did more than that. He examined the beliefs that were causing him misery and he changed them. It was similar to modern-day cognitive restructuring or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). But, of course, Epictetus told us years ago that it’s the way we think about things that makes the difference between happiness and misery.

Yes, it’s not always that simple — some people need more than that. For instance, some people can free themselves from depression by analyzing and changing their thoughts, but others, especially people with bipolar disorders like Greene, need medications.

Still, for most of us the depression-fighting Abraham Lincoln was right, “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” It often takes commitment and work, but we have a wealth of help available now. I think that’s a blessing.

What do you think?

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It’s Not All Grim

I came across this grim quote the other day:

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.
—Graham Greene

I do think doing something creative, be it cooking, sewing, knitting, woodworking, painting, writing (especially our blogs!), whatever, can enhance our lives. But I also think there is a lot more to life than just madness, melancholia, panic and fear.

Wow! Reading Greene makes me appreciate the good things in life even more. What about you?


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