Thursday, February 26, 2009

A hot time on the old homestead

Well, I earned my keep yesterday. I was just inside minding my business while stitching up some hiking boots when I heard something that sounded like a very close gunshot. At the same time the power dropped out for a split second. I threw on the same boots that I was mending and ran outside, only to be greeted by the smell of smoke. I looked over the retaining wall between the house and the barn to see what was happening with the utility pole up there. Sure enough, a grass fire was burning right by the eaves of the house. Our home, you see, is earth sheltered, and the roof in back is just above ground level. The fire was also pretty close to our propane tank, but the wind was blowing the fire away from it and toward the house. I grabbed the bucket of water for the pets that was sitting on the patio out front and climbed up and over the retaining wall. I doused the flames right by the eaves and stomped out the other flames I could, but they kept igniting on their own. We have had a pretty dry winter, so the grass was really parched. All the while, I am keeping an eye out for any sign of further electrical current from the utility pole right above me. I jumped down the retaining wall and grabbed some garden hoses, strung them up and over the wall, and soaked down the area that had been burning. It went out easily at that point, so I got a chance to go call the electric company and request a technician to come out and see what had blown up. Scattered around in the grass were some pieces of ceramic shrapnel that had blown off a component that was previously attached to a ground wire that led down the pole into the earth.

A while later the technician came and fixed what was actually the lightning protection device that had melted down. Naturally, this being a small community, it turned out this was the dad of somebody I had been a year ahead of in school.

So, that was the excitement of the week thus far. It was a nice chance to see whether or not I had forgotten my firefighting basics from Pole. Unemployment has at least let me save my folks' house from potentially burning.

On the left side of that picture of the broken insulator chunks is something I found in the yard last weekend. It sure seems like it could be some sort of stone tool, but I don't know fore sure. I need to find a more learned person than myself to make that call.

NTR on the job hunt.

Fear can't hurt you any more than a dream.
~William Golding, "Lord of the Flies"

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Holding pattern

Well, there have not been loads of developments on this end of things in the last week. One option in Los Angeles dried up, but it was not all that big a surprise to me. I'm just keeping my eyes peeled for any sort of good opportunity. If I were to go back to Pole in October I would not want to be unemployed that whole time in the interim, so I have begun looking for employment options that might be good to keep me occupied over the summer. I might return to work at some old stomping grounds that helped shape my young mind back in the day, but we'll see what comes of it. Nothing is very certain nowadays.

Last night a bunch of friends and family gathered for dinner over at Cottonwood Falls to celebrate some birthdays and a wedding anniversary. It was nice to see folks again after such a long absence, if however briefly. It also feels good to be able to patronize businesses in these small towns. It is amazing to think how much more vibrant the business scene was even as recently as when my parents' generation were kids.

I got word of a pretty awesome trip being put together by the folks I sailed with on the Soren Larsen (from Auckland to Easter Island, 37 days underway in 2007). They will be sailing a circumnavigation route, starting and ending in England. It will be a voyage of over a year, and the inner sailor in me sure wishes I could afford the time and money involved to tag along. It certainly will be an adventure of pretty epic proportions.

The same little voice in my head tells me that I would have ended up contacting Sir Ernest Shackleton after reading his call for expedition members:

"Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success."

Sounds great, when do we leave?

Soren Larsen setting sail from Easter Island, 2007

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Still looking

Well, this week's interview out with the Chandra X-Ray Observatory folks certainly was a whirlwind. I did not really get much of a chance to experience the Boston/Cambridge area, but I did have a really interesting time talking to the folks during the lengthy interview process. My first flight headed out east aborted the take-off roll while still on the ground, which was a little exciting. It was followed by 2.5 hours of sitting on the ground waiting for a faulty generator to be fixed, which wasn't quite as thrilling. The pilot's screens in the cockpit had gone black as they throttled up for take-off, which is never a particularly desirable thing...

I am still looking to find out what all my employment options out there might be, and am trying to cast a pretty wide net. There are a lot of paths I could travel, which is far better than being trapped into any one position by the forces that shape all of our lives. It can still be difficult playing the waiting game. I am trying to keep an open mind about different living and working situations, but we all have our preferences.

Seeing the Space Shuttle launch might be in the cards after all. Due to some problems with the propulsion system, the launch has been rescheduled to no earlier than 27 February. As usual, there are a lot of precautions being taken to ensure the launch can be as safe as possible, and it looks like they are taking it slow and sure establishing that the problems have been resolved.

Well, I'm just hanging out here at home on Valentine's Day. I may take a hike over to the Bass Bridge and see what I can see.

Life is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out what was going on without bothering everybody with a lot of questions, and then being unexpectedly called away before you find out how it ends.
~Joseph Campbell