Category Archives: Castle Willett

2020 Christmas Lights – Round One

As much as I had thought about starting Christmas lights a week or even several weeks early this year (because 2020 = SUCKS while Christmas lights = anti-SUCKS, in case that wasn’t obvious), the intentions might have been good but the work load and that whole “only 24 hours in the day and that’s the LAW!” thing sort of ruled that out. But now it’s after Thanksgiving, the normal time for starting to put up lights, in no small part because there’s a four-day weekend, so off we go!

I got up about half of what’s normal for this house over the last two years, but it’s the harder half with almost all of the roof lights and ladder work done. The lights that still need to go up go into those bushes and ground cover and that’s pretty straightforward and quick. (I hope!)

Plus there’s a 13 day-old moon rising, one day away from full!

Still need the lights over the garage door, but let’s hope it’s quick tomorrow and Sunday. Remember, if you aren’t blowing circuit breakers, you can still put up more lights!

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Thanksgiving 2020

What an odd holiday this year.

On the one hand, I have so much to be personally thankful for – family whom I love, our health (so far, and let’s keep it that way), a job with a great team where I find challenges and rewards and wonderful folks to work with, and overall a great many things capable of bringing me joy.

On the other hand – well, read the headlines. We seem to have dodged the worst of the political nightmare if we can make it another 57 days without an outright catastrophe, but it will take decades to repair the damage that the last four years have inflicted. And the COVID numbers continue to skyrocket with another 57 days before we can get an actual adult in charge. And, well, everything else.

This year we did not meet up with our kids or in-laws as we have every year in the past. There was not a huge bird or a full table or a house full of laughter and jokes and football and parades. There was just a lovely dinner for two.

We set up Zoom meetings with the Long Suffering Wife’s family back east and then with our kids and in-laws out on the Left Coast. We relaxed and picked up the mess as the wind was howling (35 mph at times with gusts pushing 50) but overall it was a relaxing day, with a long weekend ahead to put up lights and start the Christmas celebrations.

I hope you and your family had a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving. And if you’re not in the US, then he, it’s Friday!! Celebrate along with us.

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The Steep Hill, The Pine Trees, The Chain Link Fence

The scene of the mystery:

Otherwise known as, “It was one of those days when I was going to commit a homicide if I didn’t get up from my desk and see the outside world for ten minutes and as long as I’m doing that why not go get on a rickety 10-foot ladder in the back yard to take a picture of the scene I was describing yesterday?”

Off to the left is the steep hill. Throughout are many of the pine trees which are used as home for the evil Kong-stealing squirrel. (“Alleged” evil Kong-stealing squirrel – I don’t want to hear from their lawyer.) On the right is the chain link fence that the neighboring octogenarian would have to hurdle if she was to invade the yard to cover her tracks and plant the red herring incriminating the squirrels.

This is also where we’ve seen the owl. I could really use him to pick off that squirrel and end this whole, sordid affair once and for all.

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No Context For You – October 17th

But with some context to follow over the next couple of days?

Where’s the mystery? I assure you, there is one here.

Or rather, there’s one not here.

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Work-From-Home Lunch

In the next few days it’s coming up on seven months since I started working from home as COVID-19 spread. Believe me, I’m eternally grateful that I’m able to do that and that the amazing team I’m on has been able to keep everyone in our company on staff and working from home. But it’s a little odd to realize that I’m also coming up next week on the one-year anniversary of my starting there, and I’ve now worked five months in the office and seven months out.

Having said that, things have obviously changed. And things have gotten routine. And by “routine” I mean, well…

Lunch at my desk. Every day.

Some days it’s an apple or a pear instead of an orange.

Some days it’s PBJ instead of a turkey sandwich.

But that’s pretty much it. It’s lunch. At my desk. Every day.

I don’t thrive on routine and repetition, nor am I bothered by it.

I’m boring. I’m not a foodie. This is not news.

It’s simple.

In many ways, so am I.

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Left Turn Into Absurdity

Sometimes when the world is going out of control and the whackadoodle news stories are hitting faster than you can read them (you know which ones I’m talking about), the only choice to to take a hard left turn into absurdity.

Thus I found myself at lunch, avoiding the news as much as possible, awash in deadlines and data entry, hauling around large pieces of equipment heavier, more bulky, and more awkward than I am.

No harm, no foul. I think.

What does it mean? It means after last night’s debacle I figured out how to post pictures again? Maybe? And maybe even links?

And there aren’t any holes in any walls! It’s a winner!

Don’t worry. None of it matters.

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The Monkeys, She Are Winning

Say something silly about hypothetical, rhetorical primates and they go out of their way the next day to prove they exist and they’re in charge…

Between the deadlines both scheduled and spontaneous at both the office, the hangar, the home, and the world, plus the aches and pains of getting through this decade, plus the gremlins that are inhabiting my computer hardware, plus…

I’m sure we’ve all had those days.

I’m sure we’re all having a lot more of them these days.

That’s probably going to get worse in the next five weeks, and I don’t have a lot of faith that they’ll get better a whole lot after that.

Maybe in February. Or March. March would be nice. Maybe a trip to Tempe Diablo in the middle of  the month…

Again, I’ve wandered. My apologies.

Perhaps sleep will help. Remember sleep? It was so nice…

Hang in there. One foot in front of another. It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get back up! (I suspect the smarmy schmuck who came up with that one never, EVER got knocked down.)

Just be there for one another, be there for others when they need help, ask for help when you need it. We’ll get through this.

But that printer may get chucked into traffic if it doesn’t get its shit together tomorrow.

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Meanwhile, In The Laundry Room

While we’ve been distracted by the mama birds and baby terrordactyls, the plant kingdom is making its move in the laundry room:

This is how Steven King novels start, right? Or John Carpenter films?

One or two tiny little tendrils and the next thing you know you’re waking up with a pod lying next to you in bed!

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Looking Above, Looking Below

Memorial Day weekend, the traditional unofficial kickoff for summer in the United States. What a strange and different weekend this was than what we all would have expected three months ago.

We were supposed to be in Michigan this weekend for a family wedding. That obviously didn’t happen. If we weren’t going to the wedding we could have gone to Baycon in then San Francisco area. That obviously didn’t happen.

We stayed home.

Normally, if we weren’t traveling we would have invited the kids over, and extended family, and maybe some of their friends. The BBQ grill would have been packed. There would have been a dozen or even twenty-plus people here. Lots of food, beer flowing, margaritas being mixed, wonderful conversations, hugs all around.

That obviously didn’t happen.

Down here below there was just us. In our yard. No visitors.

I chatted across the street with the neighbors to make sure their family was all safe. We chatted online with our kids to make sure they were all safe.

But here, it was just us, the birds, the lizards, the flowers.

As I was cooking, above there was a rumble as a 747 passed overhead. Atlas Air flight #715 from LAX to Inchon, climbing through 9,200 feet at 366 mph. Almost certainly a cargo flight.

We used to have a hundred flights a day climbing out of LAX and headed toward the Bay Area, Seattle, Anchorage, Japan, Korea, China. Now it’s a handful. Coming in from the west we used to have fifty or more flights a day heading in to Runway 8 at Burbank. Now it’s maybe a dozen.

The world is so different than it was three short months ago.

In states that have “opened up” there are reports and video of packed beaches, large crowds, and dirt track grandstands packed to the gills. And not a mask in sight. I hope that I’m wrong, but that’s not where the smart money is. I expect outbreaks to spike in two to three weeks all over the country. A lot of those sites (the Ozarks, for example) had cars with license plates from a dozen different states.

The virus doesn’t care. Science doesn’t care. Reality doesn’t care.

Unless we have an order of magnitude more testing, and faster results, and contract tracking, and a plan to isolate those exposed, we’re going to see packed ICUs again. We’re passing 100,000 American fatalities now. (And I will guarantee that figure is low by at least 10% given all of the governors who are being caught deliberately fiddling with the data and not counting nursing home deaths.) I’ve said it before – by election day in November, we’ll be lucky to be under 1,000,000 deaths.

But I can’t change that. Neither can you.

So we stayed home. As I hope you did.

We wore masks if we had to go out. As I hope you did.

We stayed socially distant, with extremely limited contact. As I hope you did.

I continue to do 99% of my work from home. As I hope you are able to.

We wait for someone to make available the weapons we need to fight this disaster. Testing. Medical equipment. Protective gear. A vaccine. Leadership.

In the meantime, we fight with the only weapons we have. Masks. Distance. Hand washing. Isolation. Votes.

As I hope you did.

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Rose Rows

They’re all blooming now, many colors, many sizes.

No lizards in sight.

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