Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Random personal stuff, October 2012

I started last night on a project that will take up my focus for a few weeks to come. We have chairs for our dining room set that have fiber rush-woven seats; the trouble is, this is an older set, and several of the seats have worn through. So I'm re-seating them with new rush. It's a pretty straightforward weave, and it's satisfying work. I've somehow developed sort of a thing for chairs: a few years ago I had great fun replacing the cane seat of an antique rocking chair. Slowly, I'm amassing a new battery of esoteric knowledge. My family will be coming to join us for Christmas — my sister and brother-in-law, plus any children they are fostering, and my mother and step-father — so we will have a great crowd for a holiday feast. Marcie and I determined that I needed to get these chairs fixed in time for that, so that's a healthy goal.

Another project, not too dissimilar (in that it also involves old furniture), that I will be starting soon is refinishing a desk. I have a writing desk that, my whole childhood, sat in one entrance hallway or another in the two homes my family lived in. When my sister was in second grade, she carved her teacher's name into it, so it has a bit of character (maybe a little more than I would sometimes like!). The finish on this desk is in pretty bad shape, and I confess I've never really loved the finish as it is. So, I intend to strip the old finish off, clean up some of the surfaces that are more defaced than is acceptable (though it was suggested that I should keep the names of Weez's teacher in it, for the sake of that history; we'll see), and re-finish it in a finish that I actually like (or hopefully love). I've used this writing desk as one of my main study desks for 13 years before we moved to Tucson, and I'll need it again when we get into a more permanent property for the church. Thus, I need to finish it (no pun intended) by the end of this year, I think, to be sure that it is ready in time.

Marcie's main vehicle — our Ford minivan — is still in the shop. It has had problems with intermittently shutting off for a couple of months now, and we've already had a handful of things repaired or replaced on it. She was in an accident during that time (rear-ended), and it took about a week for the body shop to complete repairs on it; after we picked it up last Friday, it cut off for her on the way home! Of course, it never/rarely cuts off when I'm driving it. Fortunately, we've found a great mechanic nearby — near enough that I can ride my bike to pick up or drop off a vehicle — and he's on the job. Unfortunately, he's informed us that it will be a computer replacement this time around. Will that fix the shutting-off problem? Only time (and a Grand) will tell.

I've been going round and round with Adobe for the last half a month. In late August, I bought the (then) most recent version of Adobe Photoshop Elements, which was version 10. Then, less than a month later, they announced a new release, version 11 of Photoshop Elements! So I contacted their customer support within a day or so of the release announcement, and was promised a complimentary upgrade to the new version: "an e-mail with the code for the free upgrade will come in the next week." Two weeks later, still no e-mail; on with customer support again, and this time I'm promised that the e-mail will come two days later (I was given an exact date to look for the e-mail). It didn't come. So last night, I contacted support again, and this time I was sent to a form where I could submit my request as a support trouble-ticket. Why didn't they send me there in the first place? So I was told it should be handled within 48 hours. What a frustration. On the up-side: a friend caught wind of my difficulty, and offered to give me his old version of the full Photoshop — no charge! (Thanks again, Joe.)

I've been riding my bike to work at least a couple of times a week for over a month now, and it's really great. I got a new bike earlier in the fall, as an early birthday present from my mom. It's a good upright-postured bike, which is helpful with the troubles I have with my back, and it's an easy and comfortable ride. Tucson is amazing as a biking town, for two reasons: for one, the weather here is super for riding, even (maybe especially) as a commute, for well over half the year; probably in the dead of winter and the hottest parts of the summer it'll be less so, but I would guess 8 months or more will be good riding weather. For another, the city is very conscientiously bike-friendly. Almost every road, except the most tertiary residential ones, have bike paths, wide paved shoulders, or a separate multi-use path. I know someone who's been in a few accidents, but he was regularly riding on four- and six-lane roads. Where I ride, I often have the whole road to myself.

I've been teaching Jack to cook. Actually, we decided that one of his regular chores needs to be that he fixes a simple meal for our family once a week. So he's been learning basic stuff that we make from mixes or helpers, like Sloppy Joes, tacos, or spaghetti. He's learning to brown ground beef, how to tell when something it done, and the odd multitasking that is often required by cooking even a simple meal. He really likes it, and it will help a lot with meal-planning to know that he can (and will) do this. Soon, maybe, we'll move onto something with a bit more complexity.

Marcie's new Speech Therapy job seems to be going well; she's working at a place where they offer nursing home care, outpatient rehab therapy, and also home health care — and she'll do some of each. She's worked in nursing homes and rehab facilities our whole marriage, and she's really good with those kinds of patients. The only frustrating thing is the "productivity" demands: because of legal restrictions on what is billable (excluding things like administrative work, which also excludes the paperwork for patient care), all of the therapists have to meet certain demands for how much of their time actually IS billable. I think it's 80%, which doesn't sound like it would be too hard to reach — but it technically doesn't include time walking from one patient's room to another, or going to the therapy office to get another resource, or talking with another therapist or staff member, or writing up the lengthy evaluation that you just completed on a patient. I imagine some therapists fudge a little on some of these; Marcie was actually instructed to by a supervisor at one place she worked. But Marcie is faithful in her integrity, and won't record time as billable that isn't. I can totally understand why this sort of policy is in place, from a patient's perspective and from a business perspective. But the end result is that it creates a culture that is stressful for therapists, is ripe for encouraging deceptive or nefarious practices in billing, and is challenging in terms of befriending and enjoying co-workers. It just seems like there needs to be another way.

Jack and I finished reading the second book in the Harry Potter series on Monday night. Now I'll get started tonight with Molly, on book two in Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" books. It's fun to read these to them, and great time to have something special just between us (though Marcie usually comes and listens in too, at least to the Potter books). Jack is, of course, already familiar with a lot of the Harry Potter stuff just by osmosis; whether it is Lego catalogs, Wii games, or his friends at school, he seems to have at least a vague idea of a lot of the content. But the particular delight in hearing the story as it was written by JK Rowling, who builds such a consistent world, is fresh and new to him nevertheless. Molly didn't know anything about the Lemony Snicket books, by contrast, but has enjoyed them just as much.

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