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Getting Organized in 2020

Getting Organized

We finally got the new laptop and external display set up in the home office. Thanks to having some shelves to relieve the desktop clutter, we now have a better sense of organization. The photo above is preliminary since we have some desk lamps on order and we’re going to replace the aged speaker system with a new bluetooth system. The lamp in the left will be going away along with the old speaker system.

The shelf itself was advertised as a TV stand, but the literature it came with shows it is intended to be a shoe rack (for Imelda-wannabees, I guess). Regardless of that, the shelves are now serving as a desk organizing unit.

Frequently-accessed items and the wireless router/modem get the top shelf of the organizer, while less-frequently-accessed items get lower places behind computer monitors and such. It’s impossible to hide all the wires, but I think it is much better than it used to be. I’m sure that as time goes on, I will tweak things here and there.

I’m still installing applications and transferring files to the new machine as the need arises. I have the old computer set up in the motorhome out back and since it’s on the LAN, I can get most of what I need from the old system without having to go out there.

I sure like the new laptop computer. It is super fast compared to what I’ve been used to, although it isn’t in the supercomputer category by any means. Still, I’m enjoying the change.

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New Office Furniture for the RV

Office ChairEarlier this fall, the Damsel and I purchased two office chairs to replace the stock RV dining room chairs. Today, I finished assembly of the first of the two and took the photo seen at the right. The chair is positioned facing aft just behind the cockpit chairs. It will move to its normal position at the dining room table after assembly of the second chair.

The original chairs consisted of two fixed and two folding chairs which were a matched set of four. We only used the folding chairs on a single occasion when entertaining friends in Kalifornistan in 2018. At that time, one of the original folding chairs COLLAPSED while one of our friends was sitting on it. Fortunately, he wasn’t hurt. The RV dealer replaced the chair, but we haven’t trusted them since.

Damsel and I used the fixed dining chairs as office chairs when we would set up our computers on the dining table. After a while seated on them, however, our butts would get sore or fall asleep. We then resolved to replace them with some chairs comparable to those we currently use in the Arizona Home Office.

We figure we can just have a couple of garden-variety folding chairs standing by in the RV wardrobe closet for the rare occasion where we have guests in the RV. The old set of chairs, which are reasonable-looking and nice as a set, will be donated to a local charity for resale.

The second office chair will be assembled sometime in the first of the year, well before they will be needed for our spring excursion. The first one, pictured above, sure is comfy to sit in. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Sometimes, Life Gives You Lemons

Dwarf Lemon Tree Harvested Lemons

Late last week, the Damsel and I picked most of the lemons from our dwarf lemon tree west of the house by the RV Drive. For a “dwarf” tree, I’d say, it has reliably produced a large number of lemons each year since we had it planted seven or eight years ago.

We normally give some of the lemons to neighbors and a couple of senior centers here in town, and use the rest of them to produce Limoncello, an Italian “digestivo” after dinner liquor. Damsel uses a recipe form an on-line website modified to use diabetic sweetener rather than sugar. We can’t tell the difference in the end.

This year, however, we have a surplus of both lemons and Limoncello, so we’re going to give most of the crop away and juice some for another couple of uses. We don’t have any trouble finding friends, neighbors and food banks locally to dispose of them for good uses.

Just for a lark, I put together the little graphic below to leverage on an old adage about life giving you lemons . . .

Make Limoncello

Click on any image above to enlarge.

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Rain in the Desert

Rain in the DesertThe middle of this week is bringing a lot of rain to the area. NWS forecast Tuesday through Thursday for rain showers, thunderstorms and wind. We have experienced all three as of this afternoon. It looks like the weather will lighten up for tomorrow and be nice for the weekend, although with high temperatures below 70 degrees which is pretty cool for us.

Image: Our big Saguaro at the top of the driveway enjoying the rain today - Click to enlarge.

Damsel and I have been in our usual routines but this week we’re planning for celebrating the Thanksgiving Holiday which we will enjoy here next week. Our plans include mostly the menus for the four-day holiday. We are still restricting carbohydrates, but even so, we will be having a delicious and healthy Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving entrée will be smoked boneless breast of turkey with sides of Creamy Brussels sprouts, mashed fauxtatoes*, cranberry sauce and pumpkin mousse for dessert.

* Denotes simulated mashed potatoes using acorn or butternut squash topped with butter and low carb turkey gravy.

The rest of the long weekend we will be having turkey leftovers on Black Friday and undecided for the actual weekend. If the weather cooperates with us, we may cook outside on the grill. Good things always come from the grill.

In the meantime, my 2019 copy of the tax program is now installed and I will amuse myself with tax planning in my spare moments for the next couple of months. As usual, we like to keep ahead of things tax-wise.

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Clear Skies over the Southwest US

GOES East Map Image

A couple of weeks ago (10/22/2019), I captured this image from the GOES East weather satellite in geosynchronous orbit above the western hemisphere. GOES East showed this area of the southwestern US which I cropped to highlight Arizona which is centered, more or less, in the image. The image showed the area mostly clear of clouds at that time, hence the terrain features are mostly visible.

Late October and early November in our part of Arizona has the in-between hot summer and cooler winter temperatures which are still warm (80-90 degree highs) and we call “Second Spring” because of the flowers we have open this time of year. As I write this post, the early November temperatures are forecast for highs in mid-80s and lows in upper 40s or lower 50s. Soon, however, the temperatures will start to drop and we will be back in flannel and long pants.

Anyhow, back to the satellite image; you can clearly see the Mogollon Rim which is defined by the darker forested area at its southern side that extends from the inside the New Mexico border on the east and arcs toward the north across the northeastern part of the state and ends in northern Yavapai county in north central Arizona. The two darker forested areas continuing north are the Kaibab National Forest. The lighter gap between the southern Kaibab dark area and the northern dark area is where the Grand Canyon is located.

Other interesting features visible in the image can also be seen; over in New Mexico toward the right lower side of the image you can see the White Sands Missile Test area where WW2 Atomic Bombs were tested. On the left side, in California, you can see the Salton Sea. Finally, at the bottom left corner, the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) in Mexico is visible.

I look at the satellite images on a regular basis to help me identify our weather patterns. I use them in addition to radar and other tools to get an insight on our weather. You may click on the image to enlarge.

Looking at the enlarged image, you can identify Roosevelt Lake which is the flying eagle-shaped dark area below the Mogollon Forested area. West of that is Lake Pleasant, an oval-shaped dark spot. Lake Pleasant is just about forty miles east of our place.

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All Hallows’ Eve

halloween.pngOur little Arizona house is located on an unpaved access (can’t really call it a road although it’s passable for most vehicles) which is about five hundred feet from the nearest paved road. In addition to there being no real road, there are no street lights, either. That means that not many kids (zero so far in eight Halloweens here) venture into the dark desert to go trick or treating. After all, there are all kinds of potentially unfriendly nocturnal critters that habit these parts including javelina, cougar, coyote and others.

So we’re expecting to get NO visitors on this night, which is fine with us. There are a few children that live in our area, but their folks take them to lighted, less rural areas for the evening.

When we lived in Torrance, we would get a steady stream of kids, most of whose parents brought them to our nice neighborhood from their crappy ones. We got tired of that and cut them off for several years before moving here.

In late October and early November in the year 2000, Damsel and I were in Rome; I was there for conferences with our business partner on a satellite project and Damsel came with me. While I was in meetings, she toured with one of the other wives who spoke Italian and was familiar with the environment.

One of the things that was interesting was the Romans were into Halloween just like in America which was surprising to us. The difference is that many of them also celebrated “Tutti Santi” - All Saints Day on November 1st. We watched Pope John Paul II celebrate the mass in St Peter’s on TV from our hotel room. We headed back to America the following day.

We had many other good Halloweens in the old days, often hosting costume parties for family and friends. Good memories, but we don’t miss all the late night activity and possible morning after blues.

We hope that those of you who will be celebrating have a safe and sane time. Enjoy!

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Waxing Gibbous Moon

Waxing Gibbous Moon

I had a notion this evening to grab my camera and take a photo of the waxing gibbous moon shining overhead at 85% illumination. Again, as I did taking the photo of the emerging crescent moon last week, I did not use a tripod and remote shutter release, but rather I propped myself and the camera up against one of the porch pillars out in the courtyard. I used the automatic program shutter priority along with some post-processing to get the result seen above.

The Camera Settings were:

  • Camera - Canon Rebel EOS SL1
  • Program - Shutter Priority
  • Shutter Speed Set To 1/4000 sec
  • F Stop - 5.6
  • ISO 6400
  • Lens - Canon EF 75-300 set to 300mm Focal Length

Other than shutter speed, the camera automatically picked the other settings. In the post processing, I used my IRFANVIEW utility to crop the image, to enhance the gamma setting and eliminate the chromatic aberration caused by the cheap Telephoto lens. I would really like to get a better lens, but they are somewhat cost-prohibitive for as often as I have a need for one. I do have a camera adapter for my little Matsutov-Cassegrain telescope, but that, like a bunch of other things only comes out when I am highly motivated. Maybe the motivation will come one of these nights.

After I took the photo, Damsel and I stepped out to the courtyard to enjoy a nearly overhead pass of the International Space Station. The weather is starting to cool off a bit and we wore outer garments for the first time since early spring. This evening, the temperature plummeted to the low 70s which we consider quite cool. I know, I know, it’s snowing up north, and lots of snowbirds are already in town because of it.

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