Southern Man

Friday, August 31, 2012

Labor Day Weekend Day 0

No better way than to kick off a new adventure than a long holiday weekend. Southern Man must work in the morning but as soon as he's done with his lab at one o'clock it's off to The Land to grab The Titan, hasten back to the apartment, finish cleaning it out (all that remains is the bed and a few baskets and boxes, plus a bit of a mess in Teen Daughter The Elder's room), check the mail one last time, and turn in the keys. Sadly, he's not leaving the place all that clean and will probably not get much (if any) of his deposit back. But, face it, the price on their charge sheet for new drip pans is less than what they run at Wal-Mart and it's worth $20 to him to not have to scrub that oven. It didn't help that when faced with the horrible mess that was the carpet Southern Man's old vacuum cleaner first groaned in agony and then burst into flames. That was the point where he pretty much gave up on actual "cleaning" and just focused on packing instead.

Then it was off to The Land to unload and unpack and start to settle in to actually living there instead of just visiting. High on the agenda is to get all of the kitchen goods safely packed into sealed plastic tubs, as there is still a bit of a mouse issue with The Trailer. And there's lots going on this weekend - meeting with friends tonight at a local lakeside eatery to dine and dance, morning coffee with the church singles group, church and then lunch with Southern Parents on Sunday, and then a big cookout on Labor Day at an area park. And of course there will be plenty of geocaching! The weekend will also be Southern Man's first opportunity to take advantage of the new Gold's Gym membership, which will be Southern Man's place to shower must mornings. The one he chose is the newest in town (he got in on the tail end of the "grand opening" special) with a saltwater lap pool and hot tub and lots of shiny new equipment. They even have an exercise bike room in a cinema that shows movies all day. This will hopefully inspire Southern Man to work out four or five mornings a week and get back into some semblance of shape. A good sign is that while signing up with the two cute Gold's Gym girls he ran into Trip, a young man who used to run student activities at Southern Man's workplace (the go-cart racing on Valentine's Day 2011 was one of his best). A former basketball player, he's about six-six and built like a tank. The conversation started like this:
Trip: Hey, Dr. Southern Man!
Southern Man: Hey, Trip! How's it going?
Cute Gold's Gym Girl #1 (to Trip): Wow, you do know everyone!
Cute Gold's Gym Girl #2 (To Southern Man) You're a doctor?
The evening entertainment was to meet up with friends at a local bar and grill that sits right on the big lake for dinner and dancing.

Was there a geocache hidden near this lovely lighthouse? Of course there was.

Not a group you'd want to meet in a dark alley.

The band was one that Southern Man has seen before; they call themselves the Wise Guys and have a lot of fun playing covers (ranging from hilariously awful to stunningly accurate) and poking fun at them, each other, their friends, and the crowd in general.

Setting up the stage.

For the hilariously awful cover of Werewolves of London they dragged a pack of kids up on stage to howl. Of course Helicopter Mom had to be right there to spoil all of the pics.

The band's guest tonight was Johnny Barbata, who's played with Jefferson Airplane and CSNY and Eric Clapton and many others. They made fun of him, too, but did some pretty good Neil Young covers with him on stage.

These pics were all taken with the new phone camera.

We had a good time eating and drinking and dancing tonight. It's going to be a good weekend, a good month, a good semester, and a good year. Lord, thank you for your many blessings, and continue to watch over me and my family. Amen.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 the Internet...

The apartment is down to just a few more trips, including the PC and the TV. And Southern Man is having a hard time letting go of both, particularly the PC. Because that means no more fast connection to the Internet (outside of work) for the foreseeable future.

But it is time to turn off the trusty old ten-year-old Dell (yes, Southern Man, computer geek extraordinaire, is down to a hand-me-down desktop) and pack it off to the truck and make another evening run out to The Land.

But the TV will stay until the last moment of clean up - NCIS marathon! It will be a late night tonight, a full day at work tomorrow, and probably a late night tomorrow night as well as the place must be clean and keys turned in by five o'clock on Friday.

Why, no, Teen Daughter the Elder has not yet returned to finish cleaning her bedroom. And Southern Man does not want to deal with her mess. But place your bets - it's looking like he will.

Monday, August 27, 2012

What A Difference A Day Makes...

Regular readers know that Southern Man is vacating the apartment in town to live out at The Land for a while. Most of the big stuff is moved but there remains a few items plus a lot (and Southern Man means a lot) of cleaning, which has to be done by the end of the month. Well, that's what weekends are for, right?

For whatever reason Southern Man had figured on using most of Saturday to accomplish the remaining tasks. But a glance at the calendar this morning reveals that the last day of the month is not Saturday. It is Friday. Friday.

What a difference a day makes!

So this week just got a lot busier. There will be late night sessions. There will probably be all night sessions. In fact Southern Man predicts that there will be no sleeping on Thursday night at all. Friday's lab might be interesting. But that means Saturday is now (necessarily) free of moving and cleaning at the former casa.

Will Southern Man survive the move and the first weekend of his Walden-like experience at The Land? Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

One Giant Leap: Neil Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012)

Southern Lad remembers watching with awe as Neil Armstrong put bootprints on another planet.

Armstrong shunned publicity and never took advantage of his unique status in business or in politics and even resisted the publication of his biography until 2005. On the rare occasions that he took others to court for such misuse he always donated the winnings to charity. His nearly faultless public life after the moon landing was an inspiration to all who knew him.

Armstrong at the time of the moon landing. Photo by NASA, found on Wikipedia.

Below: The crew of Apollo 11 with President George Bush in 2008. Pictured from left to right are Michael Collins, Bush, Armstrong, and Buzz Aldrin. Photo by NASA, found on Wikidedia.

He was one of the giants of our time and it is fitting that we mourn his passing and honor his memory. Godspeed, Commander.

Friday, August 24, 2012

...And Come Up For Air

Well, that was a busy week. And (just like last Friday) Southern Man was sufficiently worn out upon his afternoon arrival at La Casa that he crawled into bed for a Friday Afternoon Nap. Last week he napped right through the monthly bowling. Friday Afternoon Nap is a Good Thing but he will have to be a bit more disciplined about it.

The semester is off to the usual somewhat rocky start. Graduate enrollment is down in Southern Man's area but it's down even more in the rest of the school so the Deans aren't too worried. This is due (in part) to stiffer admissions requirements (which the Deans favor) so they're willing to give it a few years to turn around. On a brighter note, an introductory undergraduate programming class that in the last few years never topped four students now has eighteen. Southern Man will pay particular attention to that group and work hard to retain them. We're short one professor and had to cancel a couple of database classes; hopefully we can bring at least one of them back in the spring. Southern Man may bone up and try to teach that one himself, if for no other reason than to re-learn database in case he needs to get a real job in the near future.

The weekend will be consumed by moving the rest of the large items out to The Land so Southern Man spent his post-nap evening packing and boxing up the items on a few remaining shelves. Tomorrow he will probably make several runs in The Titan and reduce the apartment to the bed, the remaining TV, and one desktop. And the huge pile of clothes and books and CDs and such in Teen Daughter The Elder's room. Southern Man will need to cajole her a bit more to get her to finish cleaning out her bedroom. The apartment must be clean and keys turned in on the last day of the month.

Other than that life has been pretty quiet. Southern Parents are doing fine. Teen Daughter The Elder occasionally comes home to sleep (sometimes at 3:00 AM) but spends most of her time with Southern Parents and with her friends. She's still scheduled to ship out to boot camp in early October. Teen Daughter The Younger is settling in to school up at her mother's house; she occasionally texts pics of her in her new school clothes. Southern Son seems determined to go his own way, which is worrisome but at his age there's not much any of us can do about it. So the next month will be spent establishing the routine of the new semester, worrying about Southern Son, fussing over Teen Daughter The Elder as she enjoys her last month as a civilian, settling in at The Land, and enjoying a few weekend outings with the church group. It should be good.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Take A Deep Breath...

...because tomorrow is the first day of classes, at least one of which doesn't have a professor yet. As Department Chair this is Southern Man's problem. Well, they pay him extra to deal with this sort of thing so he'll deal with it, probably by cancelling the class and hoping that there will be enough students in it next spring to justify hiring an adjunct.

Southern Man relaxed at home and then joined Southern Parents and Southern Sister and Teen Daughter The Elder for lunch.

Southern Parents mug for the camera.

Then it was off to a nearby park to pick up the daily geocache...

Geocachers love trees that look like they belong in Middle-Earth.

...and then to church for a lengthy singles leadership council meeting where we put the final touches on the plans for an upcoming float trip and worked through three months worth of events. There's lots of fun stuff coming up and you'll read about it here.

We grilled steaks at her house yesterday and he leads the monthly bowling (which Southern Man has missed two months running).

Then Southern Man loaded up some clothes and furniture and stuff into The Titan and ran it out to The Land (where he found that his newly-relocated stereo receiver had picked up a little water damage from a new leak on the as-yet-unrepaired north roof of The Barn) and came back to the apartment to blog and clean up and organize and box up even more stuff and then mentally prepare for the beginning of a new semester tomorrow.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Geocaching and Movies and Steaks, Oh My!

Today is International Geocaching Day so Southern Man got an early start and headed to a small city about half an hour east of here and worked down a list of caches he'd put together yesterday. Or tried to, anyway - Southern State finally got rain and it came down in classic Southern State style (which is to say, not gently) so he didn't find very many and got pretty wet and dirty in the attempt, to the point where it almost wasn't fun any more. Almost.

The trail led him to the Central Southern State Geocachers pot-luck in a little park in aforementioned small city.

This was Southern Man's second meeting with local cachers so he knew a few of the attendees and met many more.

Cachers In The Storm

One of the hosts had set out a bunch of new caches for the event so after the pot-luck Southern Man went after one (meeting some other cachers there) and we had a good time looking for it.

Then it was back to Southern City to meet with the guys in the church singles group for a movie (The Expendables 2) and then to another member's house (contributed by one of the ladies, as none of us have decent houses) to grill steaks. We had a good time grilling and eating and conversing together. They're a good bunch of guys and Southern Man appreciates them all. And then pretty much exhausted by the day's fun he headed home to hit the pillow early.

Movie Review - The Expendables 1 and 2

Yes, two reviews for the price of one as Southern Man missed the first one when it came out and RedBoxed it earlier this week in preparation for the sequel. But there's not really much to review here. If you like over-the-top action films with over-the-hill action film heroes making fun of each other's over-the-top action films you'll enjoy both of these. For example:
Arnold Schwartzenegger: I'll be back!
Bruce Willis: You've been back enough times already. I'll be back. (exits, with guns blazing)
Schwartzenegger (to himself): Yippee ki yay.
The funniest part is that according to the credits those lines were written by Sylvester Stallone.

In another fine moment Our Heroes are outnumbered, pinned down, and ready to buy the farm when all the bad guys are riddled with bullets and fall dead and then their tank explodes. As Our Heroes walk into the carnage wondering what had happened and who had saved their asses, Chuck Norris strolls around the corner. Yes, just Chuck. He doesn't need a team. He works alone.

The Expendables is kind of half-way serious but The Expendables 2 is full of that sort of self-deprecating macho-corny meta-humor. They're both comical in the sense that vast hordes of bad guys can't hit much of anything and Our Heroes not only appear immune to all assault (in one scene an attack helicopter with dual mini-guns strafes them at point-blank range, with no effect) but they inflict all sorts of massive damage with their weapons (like Terry Crews shoots up a wood-stilt watchtower with his auto-shotgun and it explodes). The gore is pretty graphic with lots of blood and guts and dismemberment and more than a few exploding heads. Yeah, gross. But a lot of fun. The list of action heroes that will (potentially) be in the third one is impressive. Just remember, it's all make believe!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Farm City

Today was mostly about the Reads program and Novella Carpenter's book Farm City. As a discussion group leader Southern Man prepared some additional handouts covering topics of interest to him (right to farm, food law, front-yard gardens, and back-yard chickens) and nabbed another professor who has a few (illegal) back-yard chickens to help him out. There were about fifteen freshmen in the group and we had a good time discussing the book and various issues about food.

The afternoon was spent working on syllabi, then that evening was Ms. Carpenter's presentation. If you ever have a chance to hear her speak, don't pass it up - her descriptions of her various adventures in Oakland was witty and clever and downright hilarious.

Novella Carpenter and Southern Man.

Now Southern Man is even more excited about getting settled out on The Land so that he can put some of his own hobby farm dreams into reality. Novella's blog is now on the blogroll and Southern Man has ordered her new book, The Essential Urban Farmer.

Tomorrow should be a half-day at work, mostly a mid-morning faculty meeting. Once Monday's syllabi and handouts are printed and stacked Southern Man will embark upon his weekend!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

More Meetings

This morning was the somewhat liturgical and rather upbeat matriculation ceremony and service, which is the "official" start of the semester. That was followed by the somewhat more somber university faculty meeting (enrollment is down and budgets are very tight) and then by yet another lunch meeting. That left the afternoon to work on syllabi and follow up on a six-month-running insurance hassle (insurance has not yet paid on some cortisone injections from last fall and it's beginning to look like the surgeon's office didn't properly pre-certify the procedure in spite of their assertions that they did). On the way home Southern Man avenged himself on one of yesterdays DNFs and spent the evening packing and cleaning. Tomorrow begins and ends with the Reads meetings, with several others sandwiched between, and Southern Man plans to relax and re-read portions of Farm City tonight.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Back To Work

Well, Summer Vacation is over and Southern Man is back at work.

So after a restful night at The Trailer Southern Man zipped up to La Casa to shower and change and head in to the office. Today's schedule began with a noon luncheon for the Reads program in which Southern Man is a faculty discussion leader. We send a book out to all of the incoming freshmen, they read it (we hope), we meet to discuss it (that will be Thursday noon) and then that evening the author of the book gives a talk. This year it's Farm City by Novella Carpenter who describes her adventures as an urban farmer in a rather seedy corner of Oakland. Southern Man is interested not only in a little gentleman farming but also in right-to-farm issues and food law and he's looking forward to Thursday's sessions. Then there was a three o'clock leadership meeting (Southern Man is a Department Chair and attends many such administrative meetings) and then a five o'clock dinner and meetings at the community college where he moonlights in the evenings. So it was a rather full day.

And then he was stumped by not one, not two, but all three geocaches he'd assigned for the evening run. Southern Man tries not to be too OCD about his daily streak but he will not break that streak until he absolutely must so he used that as an excuse to run up to Wal-Mart and pick up a data cable for the new phone and nab a nearby back-up cache on his "easy" list. Tomorrow has an early start so he'll stay in the apartment tonight. And hopefully clean and pack some more rather than just sit in front of the TV...

Three Cameras

Photos on this blog come from many sources and many cameras; Southern Man tries to give photo credits when due. But most of the pics are from a four-year-old Sanyo VPC-1700T 7.0 megapixel camera. It's been a pretty good camera, enough so that when the first one broke Southern Man picked up a duplicate on Ebay. As he has said, he tends to buy and hold for too long. But he already had the software installed and the data cable and the battery charger... When that camera wasn't handy, a few were taken with the HTC Wing phone camera. An example is here and you can see why it's not the preferred camera.

But now there's a new kid in town - the camera on the Samsung Gravity Smart. So just to see which is the better camera here are a few top-and-bottom comparisons with the new cell phone camera on top and the old Sanyo camera on bottom.

The Lake at sunset.

The Barn loft, full of junk.

It's kind of a tough call. The Sanyo takes better but smaller (1600 x 1200) pictures, but the camera phone will be fine. Further testing in both natural light and well-lit rooms is necessary, as a sunset shot and a dark barn loft probably are suboptimal environments for both. Of course what Southern Man would like to do is retire the Sanyo and spend a few hundred bucks on a new digital camera, but that won't happen 'till Christmas at the earliest.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Land Work Day 8

La Casa (soon to be La Casa Antigua) is almost empty; only a few large items remain. Of course a million smaller items are scattered everywhere.

Today Southern Man made his usual Monday-morning trip to the chiropractor and picked up a few early morning geocaches, then returned home and loaded up Teen Daughter The Elder's bed (which actually belongs to Southern Mother) and hauled it out to the Ancestral Manor. He then returned and ran some errands...

This time it was The Hyundai's turn for an oil and filter change.

...which included (finally) a used Samsung Gravity Smart to replace the nearly five year old HTC Wing. Yes, Southern Man tends to buy and hold, sometimes way too long. The "new" phone also required a trip to the T-Mobile Store to update the data plan and add hot-spot and tethering, which after some fussing and fiddling about finally worked (well, the WiFi, anyway - Southern Man still needs to pick up a cable to test the direct-connection tethering). Tonight he will test it out at The Land.

And tomorrow just starts earlier and earlier. First it was a 5:00 PM meeting at the community college, and then a 3:00 leadership meeting, and now a noon luncheon. So this will be the last official Land Work Day as tomorrow will be a more than full day to kick off the fall semester. Classes begin on Monday!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Land Work Day 7

After a good night's sleep over at RCJ's place we returned to La Casa to move the big stuff - a heavy old television that Southern Man just can't wrestle down the stairs alone anymore, a big recliner, some nice shelves, and so on - and managed to get it all done in two trips.

A good start to the Man Cave.

After moving and setting up and more than a few rounds of Guitar Hero we then headed to RCJ's sister's house to do a little plumbing.

RCJ under the sink.

And finally we treated ourselves to dinner and drinks at our favorite Mexican restaurant and parted company after a full and productive day. Tomorrow is the final full day off; Southern Man reports back for meetings and such on Tuesday.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Land Work Day 6

Not much to say...made one more pass with the mop on The Barn floor, set up the futon and the stereo (there is now music in The Barn!), cleaned up a little more, and then went back to La Casa to clean up and run some errands (such as a visit to Gold's Gym to check them out) and then head over to RCJs for dinner (geocaching along the way, of course) and to spend the night. Tomorrow morning we will move some heavy furniture out to The Land.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Land Work Day 5

Repeated applications of the mop have got that concrete floor to where it's actually almost clean. Southern Man's schedule all week has been to wake up in The Trailer, have breakfast, work 'till noon or so, come back into town for a shower and wash clothes and clean up whatever needs to be cleaned and run whatever errands need to be run, load up The Titan with more stuff (the rule is, don't drive out to The Land without taking something large) and a few buckets of clean water (yes, water must be trucked out to The Land), work a few hours in the evening, and then relax for a bit.

One of those errands was to get an oil and filter change on The Titan.

And of course there is always geocaching.

Since The Trailer is quite small the plan is to convert a portion of The Barn into a standard garage-conversion man cave. Now that the concrete floor is almost clean Southern Man moved a bookcase and the stereo cabinet and stereo gear out tonight; the futon is already there. It's still a little dusty so there will be one more pass with the mop before it all gets set up. And then a relaxing few hours in The Trailer with beer and popcorn and a movie before retiring to bed!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Land Work Day 4

Today was dedicated to sweeping and scraping and scrubbing that dirt-encrusted concrete floor. It finally got to the point where no further progress could be made so Southern Man went into town and bought a mop and returned and first mopped the trailer (he keeps the trailer extremely clean as to not tempt the mice) and then made several passes with the mop in The Barn. 

Southern Man also dropped by the big gym near the current casa (he has budgeted a gym membership, not only to work out but as a place to shower) only to find that due to some new federal regulation they are closing their lap pool. It's just ten bucks a month but Southern Man was kind of hoping to swim laps in the mornings so he checked a much more upscale (and pricier) health club that does have a lap pool but is $50 per month. That's not much more than the local YMCA and much nicer, so he'll check out Gold's Gym (there are several between The Land and The Job) and make a final decision sometime this week.

Southern Man has had long-standing issues with insomnia but sleeps quite soundly in The Trailer!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Land Work Day 3

After another restful night in The Trailer Southern Man finished clearing out the front part of The Barn and scraped and swept and scraped and swept and scraped and swept some more and now the concrete floor is approaching a state where you can actually see some of it through the red dirt stains. Those mud daubers sure did a heck of a job in there. Southern Man used to leave them be but now he has two cans of wasp spray and kills them on sight.

Then Southern Man was surprised by a visit from Southern Father (who comes out every now and again to work that county on his ham radio and bird watch and such) and Teen Daughter The Elder, who hadn't been out to The Land in probably a decade. She was not particularly impressed.

Southern Father radios while Teen Daughter watches. Why, yes, she did chop off most of her hair.

After they left Southern Man went back to La Casa to shower and change and wait for Teen Daughter and when she arrived we ran some errands and took care of some financial tasks for her and got drinks at Jamba Juice and came home and chatted a while. Then she left and Southern Man gathered up a few things and headed back out for the night...

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Land Work Day 2

After a most restful night in The Trailer Southern Man had breakfast and got back to work. It was more of the same - move, scrape, sweep, clean - and by mid-afternoon another large area was clear. The Workshop is starting to feel the strain but at least so far everything that's been moved to that building is supposed to (eventually) be there. To give you an idea of the mess - Southern Man finally reached a corner and uncovered a table saw - yes, a full-sized table saw - that he hadn't seen in ten years. Yes, he knew it was there. Tomorrow he may plug it in and see if it still works.

For afternoon entertainment Southern Man tackled a "pipeline" - that is, a long series of geocaches down a country road - that consumed a couple of hours and was a lot of fun. A lot of them had DNFs ("Did Not Find") recorded but Southern Man was eight for eight, finding the last one just as it began to rain. This was a bit of a surprise, as we're in a drought and the average daily temperature is in the one-teens. Hopefully the stuff that is still in front of The Barn didn't get too wet. But that's selfish - we desperately need rain, and a lot more of it.

After caching Southern Man showered and had dinner and emptied another truckload of trash into the dumpster and headed back out to spend the night...

Monday, August 06, 2012

Land Work Day 1

The day started off with the usual Monday doctor's appointment and a really challenging geocache in that part of town - it hadn't been found in six months, but Southern Man nabbed it. And then it was time to get to work out at The Land.

The first floor of The Barn is a horrible mess. Boxes are heaped everywhere. Every time Southern Man had to move more boxes went out there, just stacked wherever there was room. The center is full of stacks of bookshelves (most hand-made by Southern Father and Southern Man), many of which are water damaged from the (formerly) leaky south roof. Southern Man found toolboxes and buckets in the middle of the barn that were still full of water from that leak. Most everything is on sheets of plywood on 2x4s to keep them off the floor but the rats just love that crawl space. And the mud daubers have built countless nests over the years and everything is covered with red dirt. You would not believe how much mud those critters can bring in over a decade or more. And there were corners that hadn't been touched since before the divorce, six years ago, so rat nests were everywhere. However, it could have been worse; there were also skins from a fairly large snake that Southern Man knew had taken up residence in The Barn some years ago. He hopes the snake ate well.

So Southern Man grit his teeth and started pulling everything out. The floor was heaped with dirt dauber mud and rat droppings and debris of every kind. But Southern Man moved and scraped and swept and cleaned and by the end of the day a pretty large space was cleared out and relatively clean. He then moved and organized boxes and stacked them in that new clear space, revealing another realm of filthy floor to clean. He is also beginning to manage his pack rat gene and filled the truck with trash to dump in the apartment dumpster. Yes, that included the very first CD-ROM he ever bought - a one speed, read only, with its own special I/O card. He hadn't been able to bear to throw it away until now. Ditto for a SoundBlaster 64 Gold for which he payed two hundred bucks, back in the day. Any cheap on-mainboard sound beats it today but back Click here for a loving look at the history of PC sound.

By the end of the day good progress had been made so Southern Man returned to La Casa for a shower and dinner but then grabbed more stuff and headed back out to spend the night so he could get an early start in the morning. The goal is to have the bottom of the barn ready for all of the large furniture by the weekend when RCJ has been railroaded into promised to help. Southern Man has moved by himself many, many times - well, every time - but he's gotten to the point where there are a few items that he just can't manage alone.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

State Of The Land

About fourteen years ago Southern Man and Southern Ex had a dream of building a house and raising our (then two) children in the country so we went shopping for land. We looked at a couple of lots and weren't very excited but one evening Southern Ex called on a lot and was told "by the way, we're cutting a road in to some new lots that back up to a little lake on Thursday. They're not even listed yet." We went out the next day and Southern Man fell in love with Lot #2, a long, skinny lot that was nice and flat in front (this was retired farmland that the owner was parceling out) but a couple of gulleys and depressions in back that cried out "Farm Pond" and "Koi Pond." We bought that lot. Somewhere in a box is a hard drive with a snapshot of the older two kids looking over the lake into the sunset. Southern Man is not much of one to carry pictures but he carried that one in his billfold for years and years, until it plum wore out. It was a film camera but we loved that photo so much we had it scanned (which was kind of a big deal back then) and Southern Ex used it as her desktop background. Some day Southern Man will find that hard drive and post that photo. And from that time on we always referred to our country property as The Land.

A year later Lot #1 (which was on the corner and did not go all the way back to the lake) was still unsold so Southern Man and child number three (then just a month old) went to the realtor and bought it (much to Southern Ex's ire) and that gave Southern Man two adjoining lots totaling ten acres that wrapped around a "common lot" that was supposed to one day have a boat dock and picnic tables and such but none of that actually happened so in effect Southern Man has pretty much free run over five additional acres.

We built a little storage shed and planted trees (hauling water in buckets from the lake) and the kids played Raptor in the tall grass and we fished and waded and even camped out a few times. And in 2000 and 2001 we dug trenches and moved sand and built forms and the Sunday School class came out to help pour concrete (thanks everyone!) and in the long hot summer of 2001 Southern Man built The Barn, which was to be home base for tools and building materials for the future house.

And then the marriage began continued to unravel and...well, a lot of stuff happened and The Barn never got finished and The Land was more or less neglected for many years. During one long hot summer our faithfully-watered trees were the only green things in sight and the deer ate them down to stubs. And when the marriage ended The Barn became the storehouse for most of Southern Man's books and records and such but due to neglect the roof leaked and much that was stored even in the middle of The Barn was damaged or ruined. And still The Barn remained neglected and the rats and mice and snakes and mud daubers pretty much had their way with it for many years.

After the divorce Southern Man was working two and sometimes three jobs and putting his time and money into buying his kid's love (every divorced man does this for a while before he figures out that they'll either love him or not regardless) and putting the rest of his time and money into two more relationships, the second of which ended in flaming ruin and put Southern Man on the brink of bankruptcy. He chose the current casa based on a hunch that Teen Daughter The Elder would move in with him when Southern Ex remarried and moved out of state - she did, and she did - and slowly started to put some time and energy and work into The Land. And over the next few years he tore down the remnants of that first shed and built The Woodshop in its place and finally repaired the damaged south roof on The Barn to stop that leak and slowly started to put things in order.

The Land, complete. The upper left is the Common Lot, upper right is Lot #1, and across the bottom is Lot #2. For a more detailed view of the lower left corner where all of the interesting stuff is, click here.

So now that Southern Son is on his own (more or less) and Teen Daughter The Eldest is about to embark on a four-year tour with the Navy and Teen Daughter The Younger is with her mom for at least another year Southern Man has made The Land a priority. He's always wanted to live out there - he bought the FEMA trailer with that in mind - and now is his chance. There's no well down so there is no running water (the worst part about that is no shower) and no plumbing and both cell phone and internet service are sketchy at best ("no service" is typical) but as of a few years ago electricity is finally in (Southern Man has four, count 'em, four, 'fridges out there now) and Southern Man just loves it out there. Every time he makes that half-hour drive he feels refreshed and renewed as soon as he puts his feet on that good red dirt. And every time he reads Walden he wants, wants, wants with all his heart to be out there even without running water or 'net service.

So he has given notice that he'll be out of the apartment at the end of August. Teen Daughter's deployment date is still a bit up in the air as she keeps passing tests for more advanced positions but she has more or less migrated out to Southern Parents anyway. And Southern Man will spend the next week - his last week off before the fall semester kicks in - preparing for the move. Tomorrow he tackles the ground floor of The Barn...

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Four Things That Liberals Do Not Understand

Yes, Southern Man knows it's a lot more than four - others include the principle of cause and effect, the difference between correlation and causation, basic economics, and the essential nature of human behaviour - but the recent Chic-Fil-A brouhaha brings a few specifics to mind as well as amplifies, once again, the breadth and depth of liberal intolerance. Hat tip to this post, which breaks it down into four components which Southern Man adapts as:

The difference between approval and condemnation

Approval of one point of view does not necessarily mean vicious condemnation of the other. But there are those who loudly claim that approval of traditional family values means you must necessarily against non-traditional arrangements.

The difference between people and opinions

Similarly, normal people can have differences of opinion without rejecting one another for holding that opinion. Southern Man has many friends and even family members whose opinions or lifestyle are disagreeable to him, yet he accepts and loves them anyway even while they condemn him as a hater and a bigot. And speaking of hatred and bigotry...

The difference between disagreement and hatred

Normal folk understand that you can disagree with an opinion and hold no animosity towards those who hold that opinion. But there are those who immediately associate any disagreement with their point of view with hate. And who is quick to pull out the "hate group" label when there is such a disagreement?

The difference between disagreement and bigotry

Finally, there are those who are quick to label those who disagree with them as "bigots." A bigot is someone unable to tolerate people or opinions different from their own, not someone who disagrees with you. So when the "bigot" slurs come out during a heated difference of opinion think about who actually better fits the definition.

So take heart. Hold fast to what you hold to be good and right and true, and the next time someone calls you a hater or a bigot because of your opinions be comforted in the knowledge that there is, in fact, a hater and bigot present, but it's probably not you. Lord, let me not judge but let me follow Your greatest commandment and love my neighbor as I love myself, and grant me the strength and wisdom to keep to the straight and narrow road You have prepared for me. Amen.

Supercomputing Conference Day 6


Friday, August 03, 2012

Supercomputing Conference Day 5

This morning Southern Man was treated to a pair of lectures by the always dynamic and entertaining HN...

HN resolves a minor technical glitch.

...on the future development of supercomputing and on scientific libraries for high-performance computing. He'd heard the second talk before but always learns new things anyway. A few fun facts:

  • Ten years ago the university supercomputer topped one TF and cost just under a million dollars. Today you can buy a graphics card with TF performance for a few thousand dollars. That's ten years from supercomputer to desktop.

  • Moore was righter than he ever realized; speed increases in everything are exponential. But the slopes on all the lines are different; some things get faster faster than other things.

  • Several years ago the emphasis was on clock speed. A few years ago the emphasis was on number of cores. Today the bottleneck is communication and the emphasis is on finding ways to get data to the cores.

  • As an example of the previous point, the fastest math packages are optimized for cache performance, not for supercomputing performance.
After lunch Southern Man slipped out to pick up a geocache he couldn't find yesterday.

This cool "fort" was near the Duck Pond.

Afternoon was free time so Southern Man knocked out several more Euler Project problems and has re-learned some C++ that he had forgotten. He's looking for problems his beginning programmers can do as exercises as well as problems that can be easily adapted to multicore algorithms. And as there was no open lab after dinner he retired to his nice cool hotel room for movies and relaxation. Tomorrow is the final session!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Supercomputing Conference Day 4

After a good night's sleep in that deliciously cool hotel room Southern Man spent the morning learning about another set of tools for parallel programming called openMP and a bit about parallel debugging and profiling. Southern Man admits that the latter was a bit over his head but he tries to write code simple enough that it doesn't need profiling.

He slipped out during lunch break, as he usually does, to find geocaches on campus.

One was near this lovely pond.

A campus police officer stopped, curious as to why an "elderly gentleman" was wandering around in one-hundred-ten-degree weather in jacket and tie. Pay him no mind, officer; he's harmless. You know what they say about mad dogs and Southern Men...

Why, yes, they do call it the Duck Pond. Why do you ask?

Feeding the ducks.

In the afternoon we played with Conway's Game of Life which is a good problem to distribute across multiple cores. Southern Man has written that one before and mostly fooled around with Project Euler problems instead and got hung up on a number theory problem for much of the afternoon.

After dinner Southern Man strolled around a bit and geocached some more and then went back for an evening round-table discussion on various tips and tricks on communicating these rather difficult ideas to students.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Supercomputing Conference Day 3

Actually only half a day as they cut us loose at noon. Full days tomorrow and Friday and another half day on Saturday will wind it up.

Today were presentations by the students and hosts on LittleFe and BCCD. Dr. S and I are veterans (more or less), as are about half the attendees, but the other half were pretty fascinated. Southern Man will admit that he was toying with Project Euler problems and only half listening, some of the time.

Ivan describes the "HPC Across The Curriculum" initiative.

CP demonstrates a LittleFe (one of six at the workshop, but it happens to be ours) for the participants.

Mobeen and Dr. S.

Then it was back to the hotel for a while. The arrangements were double occupancy but Southern Man's roommate chose to commute instead, so it's been a private room with 'fridge and a microwave and nice ice cold air conditioning. Southern Man killed an hour there before heading back north towards home and a 2:00 doctor's appointment, where he found that he, too, has shingles. Yippee.

So after a trip to the pharmacy and a few errands Southern Man returned to La Casa just in time to catch Teen Daughter on her way out the door for more top secret military briefings so after a quick chat and promise to rendezvous that evening he went on in to take care of the usual end-of-the-month bill paying, which involves a fair number of mouse clicks and a couple of checks and one stamp and a brief stroll. And then it is all done except for some automagic withdrawals over the next few days. Yippee!

After Teen Daughter returned we had dinner and talked for a while and then Southern Man headed back to the hotel. He doesn't care all that much for beds other than his own but Southern Land has had a week of hundred-and-teen afternoons and the hotel is easily twelve degrees cooler than La Casa. Buenos noches!