Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘Timing

Just Riffing

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‘Twas the night before Halloween, when all thro’ the house… I’m pretty sure creatures were stirring, because I could hear them in the walls. I’m hoping we don’t get any neighbors stopping by for treats tomorrow night, because I haven’t hunted down any of Cyndie’s hidden candy stashes and she is now out-of-town.

I drove her to the airport in the early darkness this morning to catch a plane for a visit with Dunia and family in Guatemala. Last night, instead of packing for her trip, she was cleaning the house, vacuuming, making me food for the week, …you know, mentally preparing for being away.

I interrupted her vacuuming and mentioned that I could do that after she was gone, in case she might better spend her time getting bags ready for departure. I’m a little surprised she didn’t start cleaning out the junk drawer in the kitchen, too.

It wouldn’t be the first time.

Those of you who are chuckling over this probably have a sense of recognition for this strange trait some people have, that they start organizing or cleaning drawers or closets that rarely get attention until the waning hours before leaving on a trip. What is that about?

The chickens and I benefitted from this pattern yesterday, when the normal evening chores unexpectedly blossomed into a grand chicken pasty-butt cleaning operation. I sure didn’t see that coming, but it will be nice for me that I shouldn’t have to deal with the possible negative consequences of plugged up chicken bottoms while Cyndie is away.

The things we do for our animals.

Cleaning up poopy butts was a nice distraction from the daily news, except that it wasn’t that different from what I suffered hearing about on the drive home from work yesterday. Most of what fills the headlines is pretty sh**ty lately.

It makes me dream of what it might be like if all the news organizations were to magically agree to completely ignore the person whose name I prefer not uttering for maybe five business days in a row. Imagine that. Just fill the time talking about whatever subject would bug him the most, without ever once making reference to him. And the louder he would try to shout for attention by his tweeting fits, the more distance the journalists could put between themselves and him.

Just ignore him until he goes away. But keep an eye on the cash register. Something tells me all the bluster and blather is a smoke screen to distract us from the siphoning of the public coffers that is going on. Check his pockets before he leaves.

Hey, speaking of my drive home yesterday, I had a lucky break by the weird coincidence of leaving for home earlier than usual after having needed to make an unexpected visit a customer site. As I got close to the border with Wisconsin, traffic came to a sudden halt.

I had spotted an alert on the electronic message board over the freeway warning of a crash ahead, so I was prepared to bale out at the exit to Hudson just after crossing the St. Croix River. If I had left at my normal time, the backup would have left me on the Minnesota side of the bridge.

Timing is everything.

Okay, that’s it. Now I’m on my own (with a little animal care help from some local hands in the a.m. hours of my work days) for a couple weeks. Let’s see how long I can keep my happy face¬†on. ūüôā

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Trusting Intuition

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Yesterday, I wrenched success from the jaws of failure after I reacted thoughtfully and purposefully to the engine failure of our lawn tractor in the middle of mowing the hill of our back yard. With barely a minute of pause to simply sit and contemplate the predicament, I decided to spring into action. I was racing the weather.

After a quick test to see if I could push the tractor uphill, I went to get the ATV and a nylon tow rope. It was possible that the mower was just low on gas, but it was way too soon to have used the entire tank, based on previous experience. I was concerned that maybe the engine was working harder than usual and burning more fuel. That deserved attention.

There was evidence to support this possibility. You see, I was in a hurry to beat the coming rain, so I started early enough in the day that the dew had not dried off the grass. There were sticky wads of wet cuttings littering the lanes where the mower had already passed. It was likely the bottom of the deck had become caked with dirt and grass that was severely hampering the efficiency of the whole operation.

Despite the time pressure of impending precipitation, I disconnected the deck to pull it out and flip it over to clear the debris. Working quickly, I did a perfectly imperfect job of sufficiently completing that task. With the deck out, I wanted to grease the three spindles, but remembered I hadn’t reloaded the grease gun last time it sputtered out on me.

What better time than right then. Usually, for this kind of task that I rarely deal with, I struggle to recall how I did it last time, and make six mistakes before figuring out the simple technique. Yesterday, my intuition was strong, and I got it right, first try.

About then, Cyndie arrived to report the line on the power trimmer had run out. I popped off the spool for her, grabbed some remaining lengths of nylon line I’d been wanting to use up, and wound both the upper and lower spools without my usual mistake of starting with the wrong one first.

Since I had the nozzle on the compressor hose to blow off the mower deck, I also blew off the business end of the trimmer for Cyndie and sent her on her way before finishing the task of remounting the deck under the tractor.

We were both back to work after minimal delay and the lawn tractor worked like almost new.

Honestly, the smooth sailing I experienced was in sharp contrast to the norm of multiple struggles to make minimal progress. Tasks certainly do get incrementally easier with repetition.

Despite the unplanned delay right in the middle of mowing, I squeaked out finishing the entire job just as the first drops of rain arrived.

Now, if only this run of success will carry on into figuring out why the pond pump doesn’t turn on again after Cyndie shut it off to clean the intake filter.

Come on intuition, stay with me…

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Written by johnwhays

August 14, 2017 at 6:00 am

Unfortunate Events

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The day started out so promising. We had an appointment to pick up hay at 10 a.m., and after a run to Hudson to pick up some long tie-down straps, we were in the truck with trailer attached and headed out the driveway. The last weather forecast we had looked at earlier indicated a likelihood for precipitation to begin later in the afternoon, but suddenly the sky looked ominous.

While Cyndie waited to load a view of the current radar on her phone, I practiced backing the trailer up using the side mirrors. There was no question we were about to be hit by a thunderstorm. Cyndie texted our plan to delay until after the rain and I parked the truck.

Then it hit. And hit, and hit. It rained for hours. Finally the radar revealed a break and we checked with the seller, receiving an okay to proceed. With our borrowed trailer and borrowed hay tester, we set off.

It was such a relief to have the reference of a moisture reading to assure us we were laboring over bales worth keeping. It also served to confirm the batch we already stacked in our hay shed was definitely too wet.

The bales on the first wagon we checked were all a little high, so the farmer gladly moved that batch out of the way and I backed the trailer up to the second wagon. The readings were frequently coming in at 14% moisture. Even when Cyndie felt a bale was a little heavy, the moisture reading was still 14%. These bales were just what we wanted.

It felt invigorating.

With the cargo strapped tight, we hit the road and began the trip home. Then Cyndie commented on the dark sky appearing on the horizon. I said it was probably hundreds of miles away. I was wrong.

About three-quarters of the way home, it became obvious a solid line of rain was between us and our hay shed. The dry hay that we were so thrilled to be bringing back with us was about get dowsed. We gritted our teeth and forged our way through varying levels of drenching rain to our driveway.

IMG_iP1477eCyndie jumped out and opened the barn doors while I did my best not to panic over trying to rush the backing of the trailer into the barn while the rain continued. With only a handful of correction maneuvers necessary, I got it between the doors when Cyndie stopped me.

Earlier in the day, while clearing out space in the shed for our new hay, I carefully stacked some bales on pallets in the barn. The trailer was just making contact with those and the wheels would never clear.

With the rain still coming down, we literally chucked those bales to the side, flopped the pallets out of the way, and backed the trailer in the rest of the way.

In hopes of demonstrating to Cyndie that only the outside of the bales had gotten wet, I suggested she re-test the moisture levels. That was a bad idea. They ALL came up more than double the moisture content!

We put some fans on it and let it sit. We’d had enough disappointment for one day.

Before I made it up to the house, the sun had come out and was shining brightly. How’s that for timing?

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Written by johnwhays

July 24, 2016 at 6:00 am

Flying Time

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This morning dawned as my final day at the lake after a week of vacation. The weather is just about as perfect as it could possibly be, just like the day before, and the day before that. In fact, the entire previous week has been divine, even with a couple of thunder showers tossed in. For whatever brilliant reason out of the mysteries of psychological behavior, I found myself, twice, waking from a dream about a past workplace. That sure felt like a stab at my attempts to completely dissociate from work during my time off. Maybe that was my mind attempting to purge work from my thoughts, by doing so while I was sleeping. Thanks, anyway.

One project that I resumed during the week was sculpting the wood bracelet I am making for Cyndie. I tend to work meticulously slow, and that gives me ample time to enjoy the transformation from a chunk to the flowing shape. I am fascinated by the variety of visuals that appear as the grain is revealed. Lines appear that I would love to keep, but then must sacrifice in the effort of working toward a more refined shape. These are a couple of shots that I captured a few days ago. It is now even more finished than is shown in these images. It is a real trick to capture all the detail in a 2-dimensional image. Maybe a video is in order…

There is something that I have discovered about how fast this week has passed in my mind. These days of doing almost nothing have flown by so quick that today feels like we have only been up here for a long weekend. In fact, today is day 10. Tomorrow, I return to work. A few days ago, I discovered that I had no idea what time it was. I have rarely looked at a clock all week. When I checked for the time that day, it turned out to be 2:30 p.m., about 3 hours later than I imagined it might be. It occurred to me that on a normal work day, by that hour I would probably have checked the clock about a hundred times.

My thinking is that I should try checking the time repeatedly, while on vacation, so I can absorb how much time is passing while I am doing nothing. That way, maybe the glorious days will feel like they last as long as a day of work.

I’m just sayin’…

Written by johnwhays

August 28, 2011 at 9:39 am

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Keeping Pace

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Is it possible to keep pace with everything life offers? I am not able to do so myself. Somehow, I know enough to navigate a very small amount of technology in my daily life. I don’t tend to double-click live links. There are those who do. However, I have never been one to make full use of all the bells and whistles available in any device I have ever owned. I am inclined to be happy with a power button and a volume control. Good to go.

Recently, our kitchen audio component demonstrated a decisive change in behavior from its previous usual. The onboard pushbutton controls no longer function. There is absolutely no response to pressing any button, or combination of buttons. I have been forced to actually use the remote that came with it. That should be enough for me. It has a power button and volume controls. Unfortunately, there is no way to adjust the clock time by remote.

The tunes box in the corner of our kitchen now continues to boldly display its clock in Central Standard Time, even though we’ve obviously sprung ahead to Daylight Saving Time. How annoying is that?

Maybe if I would just go out and buy this week’s latest version of smart phone, with a prominent power button and volume control, I won’t need any other devices. Do phones display the current time?

Written by johnwhays

March 23, 2011 at 7:00 am

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It’s True

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I’m beginning to think maybe life itself may actually be based on a true story. I woke up yesterday and found the weather was just like what the forecast had predicted. Everything that happens is just like what really happens. It’s impressive. It would make a great marketing campaign. “Life …Based on a True Story!”

It seems odd though, since we are all just made-up characters.

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I am experiencing the weirdness of time perceptions again. The ‘long-ness’ and shortness of passing time. Both happen, simultaneously, and I am smack dab in the middle. I waited while Cyndie was having knee surgery and it was a classic moment of ‘killing time.’ Minutes, and then hours, pass by and I am static. When that phase ends, I move to being a companion in her recovery process. My normal activity is placed on hold. It was a long day.

Yet the day passed by very quickly. It seems like we just got up, and then we were home. A brief rest on the couch in the afternoon and suddenly we’re off to bed for the night.

It reminds me of my perception of having children. At first, they were around the house a lot and required frequent attention, and then not so much of either being around the house or needing attention. In the time it took me to bend down to put my socks on one morning, they were done with college and entering the work force.

The same things that seem to take a long time to pass, are also passing by very quickly. It’s true, even if it seems like I just made it up.

Written by johnwhays

November 23, 2010 at 7:00 am

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Golden Years

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Take a look at the years the University of Minnesota Gophers enjoyed success in the Big Ten conference.

I wonder how much of a reflection that is of the players that coincidentally attend the institution at the same time.

If a player was just average, yet happened to make the team in his Sophomore year back in 1909, he’d be able to enjoy a pretty good college football experience. If a player was exceptionally great, but arrived at the U during the many decades when the Gophers have failed to challenge for a spot at the top of the conference, that greatness doesn’t appear to carry enough sway.

Cyndie and I were generously invited to join her parents for this year’s home opener against the University of South Dakota, but it turned out to be a stinker for the home team. They were out-smarted and out-played by a team from a smaller school in a lower division. Next week the Gophers host the Trojans of the University of Southern California, making us the BIG underdog. I wonder how it feels to be a player on the football team this year.

I don’t think the average player has a lot to look forward to, and if there are any exceptionally great players hiding on the team, I’m going to guess that their greatness won’t be enough to bring a championship to the program.

Written by johnwhays

September 15, 2010 at 7:00 am

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