New Computers- Whoo Hoo!

image My five-year-old Compaq Presario laptop has had hardware problems and failures since the first year I bought it. Twice I’ve had the motherboard replaced, once on HP’s dime, and once split with them. I think it had a design flaw that allowed it to overheat, which in turn would end up corrupting something in the master boot record. So, ever few months, it would suddenly make a helpless frog chirp sound from somewhere deep in the hardware, freeze up and then could not be rebooted.

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Washing Down Comforters


When Kirk and I got married, he brought with him two favorite down comforters. I’d always chosen cotton and polyester blend bedding; because I let the dogs on the bed, I need to wash the bedding a lot! So I cringed as I saw this lovely pale pink comforter get dirtier and dirtier as Maggie slept on it every night. I know, we could just not let the dogs in the bed, and it’s really only Maggie who gets up there. But she’s such a cute snuggler, I just can’t resist! And Kirk doesn’t tell her no either! She usually sleeps by my pillow every night.

So, I went to the Web for advice on cleaning feather down comforters. It turns out, you can safely wash them in a front-loader washing machine; and I’ve done it several times now. The great thing about front-loaders is that they spin the load at such high speeds, they drive most of the water out of the load  with centrifugal force before it goes into the dryer. So, clothes- and down comforters- are almost dry when they come out of the wash! One of the many reasons I love my front-loader so!

I’ve read several recommendations to dry the comforter with some tennis balls, or tennis shoes, in the dryer- to help fluff the feathers via some pounding action. I did this the first time (we have lots of tennis balls for the dogs), and it worked, but have since found that it’s not necessary, at least in my dryer. The only caveat is that the comforter does have a weird smell when wet-exactly like a wet chicken, because it is! But, the smell goes away once dry. It takes a little longer than a regular clothes load to dry the comforter, and I remove it and rearrange it several times during the cycle to make sure all sides get equally dry. But, it’s the same as washing any other large comforter.

I guess this makes sense, after all, chickens dry fine after getting wet, so a feather down comforter should too, given the right conditions. So, hooray, we can keep the down comforters!

Treo Hit By Truck, Literally

CellPhone I was crossing the street the other day to get the mail. A large delivery truck appeared, driving very fast (like everyone does on this road…). I sped up to be sure I was off the road by the time the truck got close, and my cell phone fell off, it was clipped to the pocket of my pants. I looked back, there it was, in the middle of the lane, I looked at the truck: no time to dive for cell phone.

I tried to make eye contact with the truck driver and then look at the phone in its brown leather case, drawing his attention to it. If he would have stayed centered in the lane, the phone would have been safe. But, no, he veered, as if he thought  he needed to give me more room as I stood on the shoulder. The tires went squarely over the phone. <sigh>

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Livestock Advisor WSU Tour

RadioactiveHorse For the last couple of months, I’ve been taking the Livestock Advisor course that’s sponsored by Washington State University. The concept of the course is to get a broad overview of training about all types of agricultural livestock; and then to give back to the community by sharing this information in a variety of volunteer opportunities. I’m enjoying the courses, though they are a bit more basic than I’d hoped. But, you always pick up something from a class, and I’ve learned a few new things.

Last week, we traveled to WSU to do a whirlwind tour of all of their agricultural facilities.

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The Future of Katahdins and Meat Sheep

EweAndLamb The last speaker I listened to at the KHSI Expo was Dr. Kreg Leymaster, a researcher from the USDA Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) in Nebraska. His talk was inspiring, he made me feel pretty fired up about our breed! 🙂 MARC is doing a lot of research on sheep breeds, trying to winnow down which ones are the best producers, the best tasting as lamb, and have the lowest maintenance requirements. I gather that the general vision at MARC is to help America develop the dreamiest sheep breed ever: one that consistently produces 200% or better lamb crops, with no help, thrives on the average forage offered by the open range (not grain feed lots!), and renders high quality, good-tasting lamb. The ultimate put-dinner-on-the-table sheep!

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Sheep Summer Camp: The Ferry and OSU


During the first day of the KHSI Expo, we toured three different facilities. There were maybe fifty people attending the tours, so we all shared rides. I jumped in with a nice fellow named Chuck, who chauffeured me and three other people through the day’s tours. Chuck had a GPS system, and I was comparing its instructions to the printed driving directions we were given. On our way to one of the tours, the GPS started taking us in a completely different route than what the paper directions said. We had a moment of indecision, then unanimously agreed to rely on the technology to get us there. But, I was momentarily distressed to hear Ms. GPS Voice say “turn right and board ferry.” Ferry!?!

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New Refrigerator


We bought a new refrigerator last week, and boy what a luxury it is! Our old fridge was only 18 cubic feet, the classic style with the freezer on top. We chose a new LG brand, 25 cf, with “French door” style doors, and the freezer on the bottom as a drawer. The thinking goes, you don’t open the freezer a lot, so why put it at eye level and the most convenient location; while you constantly have to stoop to reach the often-accessed produce drawers at the bottom of the fridge? Continue reading “New Refrigerator”

Computer fixed!

I posted a bunch of half-done blogs today, as my computer is fixed again! Hallelujah! The HP help dude in India was wrong, I didn’t need a new hard drive, just a working CD drive to read the Windows boot disk to repair one of the windows boot files. But, I had bought a new hard drive just in case, so now I have to see if I can return it!

I bought new RAM while I was at it, can’t wait to experience the improved speed, as the box was feeling pretty sluggish lately compared to what I have at work!

I still have some fixing left to do: my wireless printer connection got blown away during the repair, and the new CD drive, though it worked well when the computer was half-defunct, it’s misbehaving now that Windows is fully up, so I have to fix that too. But, I’m glad to have my ‘puter back, I’ve been waiting a whole week to balance my checkbook in Quicken! :-0

Panoramic View

Here’s a cool feature on my new camera: a “stitch” function that’s right on the camera! In this setting, I can take one shot, then it’ll crunch for a moment, present me with the edge of that shot, to which I line up the next one, roughly. Then, it’ll stitch three shots together. Here’s a test, just a view of the pasture from the yard:

Panoramic View of pasture.

Boy, it’s never more obvious than in a photo that that center cluster of suffering alder trees really needs to go!

Electronic Woes

I am having some electronic troubles. First, my camera died- it just froze, with the lens open, completely unresponsive, despite a freshly charged new-ish battery. I think I paid over $400 for it years ago when something like 3.2 mega pixels was amazing technology-maybe 8 years ago? It is huge  compared to modern cameras, a real handful; and the keys and lens cover had become sticky, from something. Look at this old clunker, on its tacky plastic desk-hogging dock:

Old Kodak EasyShare Camera

So, I’m not lamenting its demise too much. I replaced it with a very slick, tiny, bronze-colored Kodak EasyShare (the old one was an EasyShare too) for only $130-wow, how prices come down on new technology! So, I’m back in business for taking pictures.

My laptop also failed- I have a Compaq Presario R3240, and it has been such a lemon for me. Twice I have had the motherboard replaced-one on HP’s dime and once on mine. Now, it appears the hard drive and CD drive failed together. So I can’t attempt ard drive repair using the boot CD because the CD drive is dead. I logged onto the HP “chat” help. It’s obviously a help center in India, judging by the “accent” of the helper, and he was obviously dealing with multiple customers at once, because he kept getting my conversation confused with someone else’s. So, he wasn’t much help, after telling him the hard drive BIOS test failed, he was sure the drive is just dead and needs replacing. I wonder if I’ll find that to be true if I can manage to fix the CD drive first, to get the boot CD in?

I spent $300 on parts for it (bought more RAM while I was at it), due to arrive Wednesday. It’s getting to be long in the tooth-maybe 5 years old. But I hate throwing away electronics, it seems so wasteful to replace them every few years. And it’s serving me fine (when it’s working) since I mostly just check email, surf the web, and run Quicken, GIMP, and FrontPage on it. So, I’ll give it one more repair job, which will probably take me several hours of messing around. <sigh> In the meantime, I’ll make do using other computers, like my work laptop, for which I’m grateful during times when I am doing repair on my home laptop!