As of today, I am a lifetime ten-gallon blood donor! (And our little Red Cross spokes-ape, Hemo, is very proud of me!)




There is nothing — and I mean NOTHING — more pleasant than stumbling across a bag of old this-and-that (miscellaneous camera gear, and suchlike) which cats have taken to peeing on. For months, as far as one can tell.

Our cats have been sabotaging us by going in places we really would rather they not — but this is probably the worst I’ve run across yet. The stench of concentrated, aged … well, you can imagine.

I think we’ve got a fix for it, though. A week or so ago I finally convinced Carole to go back to Pestell cat litter, which we used to use, in place of World’s Best, which she preferred. Carole’s been unwilling to consider a change (she is nothing if not a little bit stubborn) but we’ve had too many “they’ve did WHAT WHERE?” incidents lately. A week ago we did a trial run of Pestell in one of our many litter boxes, and in that time, the cats have used that one box almost to the exclusion of all others. Carole likes World’s Best because it produces less dust and because it seems to be less heavy for the same volume of litter. I like Pestell because the cats seem to like Pestell. He who ignores cat preferences does so at his peril.

Given the results over the last week, we went out today and bought five more bags of the Pestell. If I’m right, these little peccadilloes should soon be a thing of the past.

But for now, I’ve got some very smelly old camera parts (underwater diving case, etcetera) airing in a corner of my office. (Fortunately, the bag they were in took the worst of it.)


They’re heeeeere!

“Take Steps In Their Shoes” 2018

Hey, everyone! “Steps To End Domestic Violence” (our local Vermont non-profit supporting victims of domestic violence, as the name probably indicates) is holding its annual fundraising walk, “Take Steps In Their Shoes“, on October 6. I’m registered to participate and I’d greatly appreciate your sponsorship. All funds raised go toward the fight against domestic violence and in support of victims.

You can sponsor me here:

If your employer matches donations, that’s even better! Their tax ID is 03-0283657 if you need it for your matching.



Attack of the Wild Turkeys

We get wild turkeys around our house in Vermont all the time. Sometimes we see whole mobs of ’em sprinting to and fro. But lately we’ve been seeing a few adults shepherding some chicks around. Very cute!

I can’t help thinking this video needs the Imperial March (the “Darth Vader Theme”) synched to it. (If I actually did that, Disney would file a copyright infringement complaint so fast my head would spin. So just imagine it as you watch.)

Ruined Songs

Ever had a favorite song get ruined by its getting played at a really inappropriate/bad/awkward time and ever afterwards, finding yourself thinking of said tragedy whenever you hear the song? Like, oh, having your favorite Muddy Waters song playing at the exact moment a huge tree branch falls on your garage and wrecks it … and every time thereafter you hear Muddy Waters you flinch, expecting a tree to come through the roof?

I used to be a big Creedence Clearwater Revival fan. Not that I ever went to any of their concerts — they broke up when I was what, five? But I enjoyed their music.

Then came the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech. I’m an alumnus of Virginia Tech. I’m also a native of Blacksburg. I was a thousand miles away when it all went down, but I couldn’t help being … rather upset each time I saw a news anchor reporting from the campus and sharing each new detail about the shootings and the deaths.

Don’t see the connection with CCR?

Well, Fox led off the 2008 Orange Bowl (pitting Virginia Tech against Kansas) pregame show with “Who’ll Stop The Rain”. As an announcer spoke of the incredible tragedy and the Tech community’s attempts to overcome the grief and shock and loss, John Fogerty’s voice was right there wailing “I went down Virginia, seekin’ shelter from the storm” / “Crowd had rushed together, tryin’ to keep warm”.

Never been able to listen to that song since.

Nostra maxima culpa

We want to apologize to our fellow Vermont residents for the extremely hot and sunny weather we’ve been experiencing this past few weeks. 
Um, see … we had solar panels put on the roof in mid-June. And, er, apparently the folks at SunCommon (our solar installer) took us seriously when I said “now, make sure we get lots of sunny weather this summer!”
We’ve been merrily cranking out the megawatts over the last three weeks, and even though we’ve run our electric heat pumps (rented from Green Mountain Power) to cool the house much more than we normally would’ve, we’ve still been returning more power to the grid than we’ve actually used:
For what it’s worth, going solar was almost disturbingly painless. SunCommon partnered with our utility, Green Mountain Power, and with the Vermont State Employees Credit Union and all we had to do was sign a couple of forms and get out of their way. VSECU’s green energy loan program made it possible to pay less per month for the solar array and system than we’re currently paying in power bills, and at the end of the loan period, we’ll own the array. Green Mountain Power hooked our array right up to the grid; they’re happy to have additional generating resources coming online and will give us net metering credits for excess power produced, which we can then cash in at night and in the winter. We’re on the waitlist for a couple of Tesla Powerwall 2 batteries; they’ll be installed sometime this year so power from our array can be stored and used locally and as a failover when there is an actual outage in our area.
My only regret is that my father didn’t live to see it. He was always super-interested in solar and even installed a solar hot water array (producing hot water for baths and showers, not electricity) on the roof of our house in Virginia when I was in high school. It didn’t work all that well, if you ask me, but it was the 1980s. Technology has come a long way since then.
I can’t guarantee that everyone across the USA will have the same fantastic results and ease of installation we’ve had; Vermont does have a pretty good green energy apparatus in place and not every state does. But that said, if you do live in Vermont or the Hudson Valley of New York and are interested in talking to SunCommon, you can use our link at to start the ball rolling. If you use our referral, SunCommon gives us both $100.
Oh, and about the weather: it turns out that really hot weather isn’t actually where you’re going to get max production from your solar panels. Sunny is good, obviously, but the panels produce better when it’s cooler. It’s just a matter of conductivity. Obviously, winter days in Vermont bring obstacles other than cold, namely, snow on panels and shorter days. But that’s why we have 36 panels, to overproduce in the summer so we build up enough net metering credits to get us through the winter.
Ain’t science grand?