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Snow's coming down again today - 3-5 inches, they say, but I think it's going to be more like 4-8. Sebastian went out back to play while I did some early shoveling.

I told him that we'd reward him if he wanted to do some shoveling. "How?" he asked.

"Well...with money, I guess!"

"How much?"

"...what do you think would be fair?"

"Fifty dollars!"

"What?!? But I already did most of it!"

"Thirty?"

"That's pretty steep! I don't know..."

"Twenty? I need enough to buy a Hex Bug."

"I'll discuss it with your mother," I said, rapidly retreating.

I'd been thinking more in the $3-5 range. The snow is really light...a couple of inches of dust, so far.

Snow, snow

Jan. 18th, 2011 10:50 pm
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The forecasters predicted four inches of snow in our area today. There were four inches of powder on the ground this morning at 7:30. I shoveled it all out, but then the weather got strange. Huge fat flakes came pouring down, the fattest I'd ever seen. As for the snow itself...I've been a New Englander all my life. I've seen a lot of snow. I've shoveled a lot of snow. But I've never seen snow like this.

It was exactly like heavy sand. The grains hissed as I shoveled, and flowed down the piles I was creating like water. The sound was beautiful, but it was hard work - and then it all turned to hail or frozen rain (I can never tell the difference). I'd say we got about eight or nine inches, all in all, before it turned to rain and turned our street into a single sheet of frictionless wet ice.
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...is apparently heading our way in a few days, apparently. We picked up some bottled water and groceries today. The stores weren't crowded, but I bet they will be soon!

I'm trying to think of what I should do to prepare, but I'm too sleepy right now. Good night!

Weekend

Jan. 11th, 2009 10:19 pm
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It was an interesting one.

On Saturday we had to get up on the early side, because there was a Cub Scout event at the local high school: a Belt Loop Bonanza, in which each kid took four one-hour classes and will receive a belt loop award for each one. It wasn't just Sebastian's troop, either; there were hundreds of Cub Scouts there with their parents, from lots of Massachusetts and Rhode Island troops.

It felt weird to be in a high school. I haven't been in one in ages...it must have been twenty-six years! It was also strange because we had to bring our lunches and eat in the school cafeteria. I don't know...the whole experience was odd, but fun.

Sebastian took a great Wildlife Conservation course that was taught by a women who works at Roger Williams Zoo, an introduction to chess (we played a game together, since he didn't have another kid to play against - he did surprisingly well), and then had lunch. After that he took a course in marbles, and finally a course in Geology that was taught by a guy who really knew his stuff - he seemed like the kind of teacher you really wouldn't want to piss off, but he was very authoritative.

Sebastian was quite good throughout all of the classes. I noticed that some kids, though, were just awful. They wouldn't stop talking, wouldn't pay attention, or constantly interrupted the teachers with pointless statements ("I like jello!") or long comments about the topic which were usually completely wrong. In some cases their parents tried to shush them, but hardly ever effectively. Those kids had real issues, I would say.

Sebastian did get a bit rambunctious at the end, after the classes were over; there was a closing ceremony where he basically ran around and didn't listen to me, but it was over quickly. Then Teri picked us up and we all went up to my parents' place in Brookline to celebrate a belated Christmas. I should explain: we alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas between my family and Teri's each year, and this year we spent Christmas with Teri's family. So we spend a belated Christmas with my family later. We were worried, though, because the weather report said that we'd be getting a bad storm that night. As always, no two reports agreed on when the storm would start or how much snow would fall. It could be anywhere from 4 PM to midnight, and the volume could be anywhere from six to ten inches.

I brought up a yellow bundt cake that I'd baked late the night before, not thinking of the get-together but just for the hell of it. We had roast beef, twice-baked potatoes, gravy, and Yorkshire pudding...I have to tell you, I love Yorkshire pudding with gravy. I only get it about once a year, when my mother makes it, and I really need to learn how to make it myself.

We left at about 8 PM. The snow was starting to come down. It was pretty mild in Brookline, but as we approached the I95/Route 1 crossover, it was getting pretty thick and scary. So Teri decided to stick to Route 1. It's a slower route, less dangerous but big enough to get good coverage from snowplows. It was a long, slow, somewhat scary ride home, because when we left Route 1 we were on some relatively unplowed and quiet back roads. But we made it home safely, woke Sebastian up, and put him to bed. It took a lot of reading to put him to sleep again; at least three chapters of The Black Stallion.

Sunday Teri woke me up and asked me to show her how to start the new snowblower. I got up (slowly), got dressed, and went out to get it. Our shed doors were frozen shut, but with some hard work I managed to get them open. The snowblower started up right away with no trouble, and I used it to clear the five or six inches of snow from our back walk, driveway, and front sidewalk. It only took about ten minutes or so. What a wonderful convenience!

Sunday was a relatively quiet day for us. We did some grocery shopping. Sebastian had been scheduled for a birthday party for a girl in his class, but it was postponed due to the weather. Teri and Sebastian played their DS's quite a bit, and I played them when they took breaks. I also spent a lot of time reading Larry Niven's Footfall, a good large SF invasion book of the massive disaster variety. Not top-notch Niven, but very good.

In the evening, Sebastian took a shower. A little later, we discovered that he'd shut the bathroom door behind him...and somehow, the bolt had engaged. This was a real problem, not least because I discovered this when I needed to use the bathroom.

It was also a mystery. How on earth had the bolt been thrown? It's an old door and a very simple mechanism. There's a latch for the door, and a light bolt that you can throw. Unfortunately, this meant that we were in trouble. There was no key and no keyhole. The hinges were on the other side of the door. The lone bathroom window couldn't be opened from outside, and breaking it would be both dangerous and expensive. Even if I unscrewed and dismounted the door handle, there would be no hole large enough to allow us to do anything at all. I tried using magnets to jiggle the bolt, but didn't have a magnet strong enough to do anything through the thickness of the door. I was able to slide a piece of cardboard between the door and the frame, but all I could do was locate the bolt; I couldn't open it, because there was no way to apply left-to-right pressure of any sort. The doorframe pretty much blocked me from any action. I tried lots of jiggling, but that didn't help at all.

So I threw my body against the bathroom door a couple of times, and on the second time I bashed the door open. We were lucky; the damage was relatively slight. The bolt and latch were badly bent (I neglected to fasten the latch open while bashing the door - to be honest, I was pretty pissed off by that point - I really needed to get in there). A very small splinter of wood was knocked off part of the door. But I was able to bend the latch and bolt back enough to make them work smoothly again, and the door itself doesn't look all that much worse.

Still, Sebastian has been strictly instructed never to close the bathroom door behind him again. I still can't figure out how the bolt got thrown - it's completely inaccessible from outside the bathroom!
bobquasit: (Default)
I assume it's the remains of one of those hurricanes that has been hitting us all day.

This morning, when I stepped outside, it was a real shock; a strange, unexpected wet heat. It was like stepping into the tropics. There was a bit of moisture coming down, but it was too diffuse to be called rain.

It continued to rain and be strangely warm and humid all day. Now the rain is definitely harder...but we've had no lightning or thunder, and all in all I'd call it a mild day.
bobquasit: (Default)
On Friday Boston was hit with a pretty powerful thunderstorm and violent downpour.

How violent? Violent enough that water came pouring out of several mechanical closets at my work, on the sixth floor. One of them is less than 20 feet from my desk, so I grabbed a video:


That's my voice warning people to avoid the water (although I'm sure they all knew not to touch it - call it a parental instinct on my part. Or maybe arrogance). It was probably safe, but in my old job water leaked out of an electrical closet, and they had to shut the whole building down for a week or two. A maintainence guy told me later that we'd been lucky; there could have been an explosion that would have wrecked the whole building.

Anyway, they cleaned up here and there was no problem. I wish the phone had picked up the sound better; it really sounded like a waterfall run amok inside that closet.
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I've been on a Discworld marathon, of sorts.

I quite liked Reaper Man - it was funny, but more moving than I expected, too.

Equal Rites and Sourcery were both very good, and I laughed quite a bit - no small compliment!

I've got to order the next couple in the series from the Library soon - probably tomorrow.

I stayed home today, incidentally. The winter storm warning this morning, coupled with surprising heavy snowfall when I got up, made that a pretty easy decision. I'm not going to drive 20 miles on slippery roads with Sebastian in the back seat - no way. His school closed early, incidentally.

I baked another batch of chocolate chip cookie bars today. I hadn't baked any in years, but decided to make some on a whim last week. Sebastian took one taste, and his eyes got huge. "These are the best brownies in the whole world!" he said.

I use the standard Toll House cookie recipie, with a few slight changes:

1. Double the vanilla extract, from 1 tsp to 2 tsp. That works for almost any baked goods; vanilla is magical.

2. Halve the chocolate chips. I did that, and even so the chocolate flavor is a bit overpowering; since the cookie part of the bar is SO delicious, that's a pity.

3. Make sure to use real butter, and make sure it's unsalted.

4. Instead of using 3/4 cup each of white granulated and brown sugar, I use one cup of dark brown sugar and one-half cup of granulated; it makes the cookies more flavorful and moist. I'm thinking of substituting light brown sugar for the 1/2 cup of granulated, actually.

5. Once I used a whole wheat flour instead of white flour. The results were very interesting; there was more texture and flavor, in a good way. But it wasn't necessarily better, so I don't use whole wheat flour as a rule. If I happened to have some, though, I'd probably consider using it.

6. As soon as I take the pan out of the oven, I put it on a cooling rack and cover it with a large baking (i.e. cookie) sheet. This seals in the moisture. The result is very moist and dense bars - they almost seem like cookie dough - but they are, in fact, completely cooked. And delicious.

Weather

Jan. 11th, 2008 11:03 am
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This morning we had a thunderstorm on the way to the train station.

A real, thunder-and-lightning thunderstorm. In the middle of January. When I called Teri more than an hour later, she told me that it was still going on.

And the past week we've had a lot of t-shirt days, with the temperature over 50°F.

Jacket Day

Sep. 17th, 2007 03:52 pm
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Today was Jacket Day, the first day of the season in which I felt it necessary to wear a jacket on the way to work.

It was pretty chilly this morning!

Undershirt Day passed, unremarked, a couple of weeks ago. Oh well.

Yellow

Jul. 30th, 2007 09:30 pm
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Late this afternoon around 5:30 or so, Teri and I noticed the damnedest thing. The light outside was bright yellow, in a totally unnatural-seeming way. It was almost brassy.

Last night we had an astonishingly violent and noisy thunderstorm, so now we're wondering whether we'll have another tonight. We lost power that night, incidentally; Sebastian woke up and fussed a little about the noise, but wasn't too upset overall.
bobquasit: (Default)
Just got in from round #1 of shovelling. The snow is extremely powdery; it's not quite like shovelling mist, but the metaphor did occur to me.

Because it's so light, and because it's pretty windy out, it's almost impossible to accurately measure the number of inches that we've gotten so far. But 14 inches is my best guess, and there are many drifts that are in excess of two feet.

This isn't as bad as last year's Arisia blizzard (not yet, anyway), but one point of similarity is that the snow is actually blowing into beautiful sculpted dunes. I should have taken some pictures, but instead I shovelled them.

By the way, the latest report is that the snow will last until 8 PM. And we've already received the maximum number of inches that they're predicted. So my guess is that the final total will be closer to 18-20 inches.

Oh, a later addition: when we were out shovelling, Sebastian helped us. He has a child-sized red snow shovel, and since his motto lately is "I help everyone in town!", he had to help. A neighbor across the street was also shovelling, and for some reason had two tiny brown and white puppies with him. When they saw Sebastian they let out little yelps of delight, plunged out across the street, and instantly disappeared into the snow.

Eventually they struggled all the way across, popped up on our curb, shoved their way through the thicker snow on our driveway, and wagged their tails at Sebastian. He giggled like crazy, and eventually the neighbor called them and they went away again.

How's the weather where you are?

Snow

Jan. 3rd, 2006 08:13 am
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It's Tuesday morning, and we've got the first nor'easter of the year. It's hard to tell how bad it is; right now there are about three or four inches on the ground, I'd say. But it's still coming down fast, so I'm staying home from work.

We had a power outage this morning; the lights turned dim for a few minutes, then went out altogether. Actually, the odd thing was that Sebastian's night light still glowed faintly while the rest of the power was out. Anyway, the power came back about ten minutes ago.

I'd better post this now, while I can.
bobquasit: (Default)
This is not going to be a long entry, because who wants to hear me talk about the weather? Nobody.

Okay, I can't resist saying it - no, I'm going to resist. Self-depreciation can be funny (I hope), but I know I carry it way too far.

Anyway, the weathermen last night (Thursday) were warning of a high-energy winter storm on the way. It was going to hit around 6 AM, and dump a lot of snow on our region over the next eight hours or so.

Teri and I talked about it, talked about the possibility of me not going in to work on Friday. I suggested we wait and see; maybe my company would call a snow day.

No such luck. As we started out from the house, the snow was just starting to come down, thick and fast. Teri was worried, and so was I. She suggested to Sebastian that she might not take him to school, and he immediately burst out sobbing - big fat tears practically burst out of his eyes.

"I want to see my friends!" he sobbed.

Time was tight, but we made it to the train. The ride in was uneventful. When I got out at Ruggles, though, the company shuttle wasn't there. A bunch of fellow employees were standing around, freezing and getting caked in a remarkably thick layer of snow - I'm not kidding, it was half an inch thick at least. After a couple of minutes the shuttle pulled in and we clambered aboard.

The roads were getting bad, so the trip took a slightly longer than usual. When we pulled up to the building, though, the van door wouldn't open. The driver tried and tried, but it was absolutely stuck. It couldn't have been frozen shut; it wasn't that cold. But even though he tried the emergency handle over and over, and another driver came over and helped him pull on the door, it wouldn't budge at all.

So eventually they had us all go out through the driver's-side door. That required sitting behind the wheel, a tight fit while fully laden with bags (as most of us were), but eventually we all got out and headed into work.

I hoped that would be the most exciting part of the day. It wasn't.

Read more... )
I'll go to sleep soon. But I am trying to decide what I want to write next. Don't know if I'll figure it out tonight, but it's definitely high on my list of priorities. Because there's no question in my mind that I'm happier when I have a story going. It gives me something to think about, something challenging.

Recently the thought occurred to me that if I assume that some (or all) of my stories have no chance for publication, that frees me to write things that I'd really enjoy, but wouldn't normally consider doing - for example, a new story using Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson's Hokas. The idea hit me that it might be interesting to do a story about a serious Hoka - one with no real imagination, or no more imagination than a normal human. Might be amusing, though I'd need to work out an angle.

We'll see.
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I've been thinking about that novel (or novellete, or long short story) that I am going to do in installments here. But a short story idea pretty much jumped into my head tonight, and started dancing around. I was cooking and doing the dishes, and the lines just started coming into my head, non-stop. It took me about half an hour before I realized that I was going to have to write this thing tonight.

And then the thunder started. I have to turn of the computer ASAP. So it looked like I'll just have to make a few quick notes offline, and see if I can pick it up tomorrow.

Just a reminder that all or almost all of my fiction here will be friends-only.
bobquasit: (Me)
All in all, it was a pretty nice weekend, I have to say.
Read more... )

The perfect end to the weekend.
bobquasit: (Me)
For the past nine days or so it rained. Pretty much non-stop. The last two or three days it rained heavily. Sometime last night, or early this morning, it stopped raining.

And the Woonsocket waterfall...you should have seen it. There were an amazing number of people downtown, just staring at it and taking photos. But photos don't do it justice, so I'm including, for the first time, a video clip. You have to see it to believe it.

Before you do, though, you might want to take a look at some photos of the waterfall as it normally is, here, in one of my earliest entries: Images of Woonsocket Falls. There are a bunch of photos in that entry, but they're all fairly low-res.

Go on, I'll wait.

And now take a look at this clip. It's short, only 7 seconds, and only 2.3 MB, so it won't take too long to load.

Woonsocket Falls, 10/16/2005

Pretty cool, huh? The water was churning and blasting so hard that it was as if it was still raining in the entire area; there was that much spray in the air. I was interested to see a large "Department of Public Safety" vehicle near the falls; later I heard that the flood gates of the falls had been opened three times during the night.

I don't know if you can tell in the video, but the water that was blasting against the large rock island under and next to the middle of the bridge (visible during seconds 3 & 4) was shooting about 20 feet up into the air.

Sebastian fussed a bit because he was afraid that the falls would be too loud, but we managed to get through without him getting too upset.

The Storm

Aug. 15th, 2005 10:01 pm
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Last night the region was hit by a rather spectacular thunderstorm. I've heard louder thunder, but I don't think I've ever seen that much lightning - it was practically stroboscopic!

Sebastian was still awake when the storm hit, so it was inevitable that he came into our bed. Teri was soon asleep, but Sebastian was wide awake. So we talked about the thunder, and the lightning. I told him about Benjamin Franklin, who discovered electricity from lightning, and who was the person that the town of Franklin was named after. I told him about back when I lived in Malden with my old roommate, Scott, and the lightning hit outside our house. Scott had unplugged everything but his modem; I was so stupid that my computer not only was ON, but I was actually online.

The lightning hit the sidewalk across from our house (or rather, the phone pole across from our house), and we lost power in a flash so bright that it shone through the actual walls. When the power came back, my system hiccoughed and was fine. Scott's modem had been destroyed.

I told Sebastian, lightning is funny.

We lost power momentarily a few times, but nothing major. He took it well.

He was nervous, but not too nervous. Suddenly he was talking about Sam, our old cat, who died about a year ago. I listened in amazement.

"He was my favorite kitty, and now he's dead. I'll never see my Sammy again!"

And he sobbed, broken-heartedly.

What could I do? Not yet four, and he already knows about death. I held him, and tried to calm him down.

Eventually he slept.

Here's a photo from our weekend with the family. Teri took this at Crane's Beach:
Sebastian at the Seashore
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It's pretty much his first snowman. The snow was perfect.
bobquasit: (Default)
All in all, a great con. But first, a little background for those who haven't read my 15 previous Arisia reports.
Read more... )
It was all very complicated, and not at all promising. Read previous entries in my journal if you're insane enough to want more details.

Okay, hold it. This report is going to be pretty huge. There are a bunch of pictures and lots and lots of my patented babbling. So here's an lj-cut.

Read more... )


Sebastian and Harry Bear. Next year I hope to bring Sebastian to the con, in a costume if at all possible. I think he'd enjoy it. We might even enter the Masquerade together!

Whew!

Jan. 26th, 2005 09:29 am
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I just had two extremely frightening hours.

It was snowing when I got up this morning, but there was only an inch or so on the ground. I figured I could make it in to work with no problem.

As I drove, the snow got heavier and heavier. The radio announced a winter storm warning for the day, 8-10 inches for our area. The snow would continue until 8am the next morning. I kept driving.

I pulled into Franklin/Dean station in time for the train, but the lot was full. So I headed out for Franklin/Forge Park.

The roads started getting bad, and then they got very bad. At a traffic light on a main road I lost control of the car. It lurched forward and sideways, partly into the intersection, and crunched into the curb on the right. Fortunately, the curb stopped me without doing much damage.

But I was starting to get extremely nervous. I'd been driving quite slowly when I'd lost control, and I've never seen roads get so bad so quickly. In fact, no matter how slowly I went I had almost no control; the steering had that mushy quality, not responding well to the wheel. Basically I was sledding.

I lost control again, but managed to regain it. In the process, I realized that there was no way in hell that I was going to go to work - the situation was much too dangerous. So I took a turn that headed me for home.

I was going less than 20 mph, with a number of cars behind me. The road on the opposite side was clear. I dialed Teri to let her know not to try to take Sebastian to school today. As I was telling her how bad the roads were, I suddenly lost all control of the car.

I've been driving in New England for more than 20 years. I've never caused an accident. My judgement and driving skills, in other words, are pretty good.

I'd been going very slowly. Nonetheless, the car went into an uncontrollable skid. I let out a long scream and dropped the phone. The nose of my car swung left, across the line of incoming traffic, and the rear swung wildly to the right. I spun like mad, and by the time the car stopped I was completely turned around and in the opposite lane. Oddly enough this is exactly the same thing that happened to a Rolls Royce near me more than a decade ago. That time, my car was nearly totalled.

Fortunately there were no cars in the opposite lane. If there had been, I would not be writing this now; I would be in a hospital. It was also extremely lucky that the SUV behind me had excellent brakes; it stopped less than three feet from the front left corner of my car, which was protruding out into my old lane.

I was in shock, of course. After a moment I unfroze, then backed my car off the road into a nearby driveway. My phone started ringing.

It had apparently been a pretty exciting call, from Teri's end; there I was telling her the roads weren't safe, then suddenly a loud scream, and the line was disconnected (the phone had folded up when I dropped it). I told her what had happened, hung up, and got back on the road.

It was a long drive home, and I kept to under 10mph. Even at that speed my control was poor. Cars lined up behind me now and again, but no one complained. Finally I got home. The whole thing had taken about two hours.

Damn, that was a scary experience.

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