January 2016

Spouseinbox and I were travelling across Texas to two different cities.  The starting impetus for this trip was the loss of a relative and the funeral and burial plans.  On one of the highways, spouseinbox discussed a trip during college when the rain as so intense, the travel had to stop until the clouds lessened their deluge.  I discussed two times where I had been in such a predicament.  There was once on I20 where the rain was so intense that I could just barely see an 18-wheeler’s lights at about 15 feet, and another in Ohio where I drove through a blizzard and could see just a little bit of road in front of the hood.  After stating those moments, I thought of another time while travelling through Tennessee.  There was a section of interstate that had reflectors about every foot.  I thought that strange until driving through the same place during a fog.  The reflectors were literally the only thing visible on the road.  It made sense then.  During this remembrance, it occurred to me that this country’s founders had the sense and understanding that those in the local areas had more sense about what was needed for their environments.  Those removed from local environments have no real appreciation of what was needed in those environments.  Therefore, centralization of decision making was not practical.


Man 1: That  one, when you consider mental acuity and physical beauty is a perfect 10.

Man 2: How’s that?

Man 1: She was an 8.8 from the neck down, and 1.2 from the neck up.

I’m finally getting to sit and relax for a few minutes.  Supper is on the stove and the big job is done.  Sigh.  Feel the chair.  Deep breath.  Pause.  Reflect.  I have walked out in the garage a couple of times and surveyed the results of labor.  I have also ambulated into the back yard and north side yard to verify water flow there.  Let me back up for a moment.  Christmas brought a wonderful gift from my doctor.  It was good enough that I decided to add a 100 pound propane tank, wall mounted space heater in the garage, hook up the water softener and add a reverse osmosis unit.  Granted, not all of this was from the doctor’s gift – we also had a change of pay periods and as such had an extra check comprising one week this month.  All combined, it made good progress on some projects at the homestead.  The heater was for the garage which housed the washer and dryer, but had no heating or cooling except what came through the door of the kitchen.  We now have a back up in case, or rather when the power stops, and a means to warm the garage for winter vehicle projects.  The reverse osmosis arrived earlier this week, and upon viewing the setup and requirements, I added an additional pressure tank and piping to both the refrigerator and kitchen sink.  The 7 gallon pressure tank was mounted just before the “T” between the sink and refrigerator.  The remainder of the reverse osmosis unit was mounted near, or rather over the washing machine.  It had a 2 gallon tank which now resides on a corner shelf above the water heater.  The discharge from the reverse osmosis is combined with the discharge of the washing machine and piped outside to water the trees.  I thought that would be a good way to use the water for which we paid – rather than giving it back to the city to process and pump to the farms towards the East.

There is now a drain which runs out the wall of the garage and connects to two hoses, one going to the apple tree in that yard and a longer one to the Italian Cyprus in the back.  I’m really hoping that the additional water will encourage growth as we put them there to block the evening sun which can really blind at supper time.  Anyways, that’s what has been keeping us busy, besides the usual household activities.  I’m happy that they are all working and I can sit back and enjoy the fruits of labor.  Someone asked how long we would have to operate them to pay for the cost of installation.  Considering the bottle water we have been using over the years, I’m figuring about 1800 gallons to make us even.  This will also make it easier to work on the fish tanks as well.

The other day our nurse practitioner came to me and asked that I check out the otoscope in room J and see if I can get it working or call someone to have it fixed.  Let’s just admit that I like this kind of work.  It’s electrical and I like figuring out issues.  I went to room J and started poking at the power and the contact switches and confirmed that the ophthalmoscope on the Left would work occasionally and the otoscope on the Right didn’t work at all.  Now, the times the ophthalmoscope worked were about half of the times the main power switch was turned on.  I was thinking maybe there was a bad contact there and since the light on the otoscope didn’t work at all, surmised that the bulb may be bad.  Considering the information gathered, this seemed a reasonable hypothesis.  We are in a facility, therefore, I don’t get to try and fix these issues.   I just get to call someone who can.  After querying the ordering agent, I was directed to a maintenance number.  I dialed.  “Hello, this is nurseinbox calling on a problem with the otoscope in room J.”  I described the issues as best I could and received the response, “OK, we will get someone to check the breaker.”  (blink, blink)

PostScript: The maintenance man arrived, and accepted my explanation and spent time with the unit – not the breaker – and diagnosed some bad cable connections on the base of the unit.  OK, I will admit liking this kind of stuff.  That doesn’t mean I am always successful.

Good morning from our little corner of this ball of rock circling the sun at just under ten times the speed of sound.  For simplified math, take 93 million miles, multiply by 3.14 and that gives 292020000 miles (if the circumference was circular, which it isn’t, so the actual number is higher) divide by 365 days, 24 hours, and 3600 seconds per hour and you have 9.259 miles per second.  Sound moves at .198 miles per second.  That is why one can count the number of seconds from the lighting flash to the sound of thunder, divide by 5 and calculate the number of miles away the lightening was.  Enough of that rabbit trail.  We are getting ready to travel to another city across Texas.  Well, not too far across Texas as we will be back this evening.  Kidinbox came for a visit and it is time to return balance to the force.

I have been chewing on a concept recently, and it was brought to mind with the admonition to eat the black-eyed peas yesterday.  I was informed this was for good luck.  The way my mind works, it wasn’t too long a stretch for me to imagine all of the sports figures and their antics prior to a game, the particular mitt, sweat band, slap on a pole, pair of socks, etc I have heard over the years.  Let’s back up into a psychologist’s office for a little bit.

Researchers experimented with rewards after various conditions and recorded the behavior of the animal in question.  The experiment in question was a food pellet which was was provided after a certain period of time.  The observed behavior was a bird walking in circles and then approaching the food cup.  Obviously, the behavior was rewarded at some point by a food pellet, and the bird kept the performing the behavior even though in actual practice, th ; e food pellet distribution was unrelated to the behavior and in this case was only relative to the time from the last distribution.  The bird, uninstructed on the parameters of the experiment, started and maintained behavior which seemed related to obtaining food.

Are humans different?  We have much more complex interactions and abilities to experiment and learn from environments.  (Let me note black-eyed peas and ball gloves.)  It goes back several millennium and I will pull out a portion of Jeremiah 44:17-18:

But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.

18 But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.

The actual behavior related to their relationship to God was ignored because of the association with the behavior to the results.  This brings up an additional factor – the reward’s proximity to the behavior.  It’s useless to scold a dog for behavior done the previous day.  There is no association of the punishment (negative reward in this case) to the behavior.  The common understanding is that the results of behavior must be immediate for instruction to occur.  The best game was performed by the athlete after he slapped the pole in the hall twice on his way to the field.  What are the odds he will perform that behavior again?  Is there really any association with that behavior and the performance on the field?  Not really.  The one association I can ascertain would be the emotional level calmness related to the behavior performed.  Approaching from that angle, one could argue for any behaviors as they are each emotionally tied to the athlete’s performance.

It’s time to burn some earth-provided fuels, so I will have to drop the thought right there for the moment.