Saturday, November 24, 2012

Technology - gotta have it

Thursday night, I'm microwaving my hubby's dinner (he's been combining corn all night) just after 11 pm (yes, it *was* a long day), and kapow, the lights go out.  We checked our neighbours and they all had power.  DH heads out to the road to see what's happening at the switch - and it's blown.  Blast.

We lost our hydro a couple of weeks ago (posted here) and had to 'trim' our row of evergreens before we could get the power turned back on.  Those trees are still down, in their sad piles, awaiting the harvest to be finished so they can have their turn at getting tidied.

This time, there are no trees to cross the wires, we have no idea why the power has blown.  Call Hydro One, report our outage.  Head to bed.  Middle of the night, I'm awaked - by the lights of the crew checking the wires and the poles (bizarre, eh?)  Power comes back on - hurrah!  Reset the alarm, head back to bed.

In the morning, the usual ritual ... until I come back from the shower, and now that it's light, you can see that our tower for our antenna / satellite dish / internet receiver - is lying on top of that nice pillow of trees.  Well.

So we have power, no tv, no satellite, and *no internet*.  This will never do!

Both of us have a full day - he's got trucks coming, I've got meetings.  Off we go.  Gathering together suppertime, he's filled all the trucks and has to stop.  We're chatting about what to do - not having internet just will not work.  His *other* job is selling seed and he needs to send in the reports etc electronically and I do work from home.  We decide we'd better head out to see what kind of options are out there from other providers (our existing internet is via a point-to-point receiver, has to be +56 ft in the air - hence being on top of the tower).  We head into our nearest city (45 minutes away), hit the big box store.  Their shelves for this hardware are pretty empty and their sales team can't tell us much about the ISP rates anyway.

Did I say this was on BLACK FRIDAY?  Sheesh.  We're in a big box store on Black Friday looking for a router.  Have to head for the mall - where the ISP's have outlets.  Parking lot is packed of course.  Did I mention my DH despises shopping.  And here we are with all the other fools from miles and miles, trying to park.

Ah well.  As you can tell from this post, we were successful.  Chatted with the fine sales team and purchased a router and a plan.  Supposed to be blazing fast.  Our existing service runs somewhere around 1.5 mbps.  On a good, clear day.  This is supposed to get us between 40 - 100 mbps.  We are out in the country, there's no DSL, no fibre, no cable.  Sounds like a plan, right?

Have dinner at one of the mid-range chains - only to discover they're also feeding a hockey team of young fellas about 9 - 10 yrs old.  It's been a while since our guys were that wee and with their teams ... oh well, the Margeurita was splendid :)

Calls to locals who can repair or replace the tower are talking about needing 2 - 3 weeks and mega-bucks to replace the tower (have to put in cement and let it cure ... and it's cold).  Blech.

But we do have internet! Hurrah!  It is faster, but no where near what was promised.  Measures 2.5 mbps to sometimes around 5.  So we'll likely be trying out the competition to see if theirs can do better - they are promising the same blazing fast speeds.  Will have to play with placement of the router too, see if there is a sweet spot that gets awesome speed.

Just for fun, just so you know we're not kidding when we say we use technology - here is one of the sites that we use in our operation (WeatherCentral.ca) - an hour-by-hour forecast including wind speed and direction, precip & temp, for the next 3 days.  How awesome is that!!  Ian, the fellow that built this, is pretty cool.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Massey Christmas Gathering

A wonderful day today!  Even though our crops are not off, and the weather was clear, we did *not* spend the day harvesting.  Nope - today we spent the afternoon with our Massey family.

My husband started his career with Massey Ferguson in Toronto, in the Engineering group, with the Test Track and later with their Central Electronics Group and for a wee bit as things were winding down, at their combine facility in Brantford.  He was elbow-deep in their combine harvester design, development and testing.  Field trips were six weeks (one call home per week was paid for) so the crews really were like family.

Massey closed its doors in North American production in 1988.  But this group of co-workers, colleagues and friends has continued to gather together three times a year, ever since.  We have been able to attend many of these events - Christmas parties and summer BBQ's most often.  It's pretty amazing - people committed to each other 25 years after their company closes its doors (with much controversy).  This gathering, there were 43 attendees.  And again, as has often happened, there are people at these gatherings that we've never met before!  The gatherings have been open to anyone connected with Massey - often we meet people who had already retired from Massey before my hubby started.

Today was very cool - a fellow from the marketing/cost accounting side, who had worked in Des Moines, was at our table.  As well as a fella who is now involved in the photography for a new magazine "Massey Harris Ferguson Legacy Quarterly".  Very interesting conversation about some of the experiences while at Massey.

Just for fun, this is the model of combine that my hubby was involved in development/testing ...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Expanding my resume

What a day ... worked as usual at my regular, full-time, day job (Manager of IT at a credit union) - meetings,  meetings, meetings, fix a few things, write a bunch of stuff, solve a few things.

Getting to the spot in the farming where my better half could really use another set of hands, and the weather has been not terrible for a few days, so headed out early headed back home to help where I could.

Combine is going strong, have a truck on hand to haul the corn away.  I'm on vbox duty - driving the tractors with a couple of vboxes attached, augering the corn from the vboxes into the truck.  Moving tractor/vbox sets between the truck and the combine.

The truck headed out for the last load of the day, and we headed back to break out another field.  Tractor is parked and I'm riding in the combine, admiring the skill of my very talented better half.  I've heard other farmers call him the best combine operator around.  He'd never say it himself, but he is amazing :)

Finishing up what we can for today, we're deciding the logistics of getting all the vehicles shuttled back.  He asks if I want to drive the combine home or the tractor/vboxes.  Well, I've got to tell you, I'm quite terrified that I'll tip the vboxes.  I'm sure they're very stable, but I haven't seen them perform over lumpy bumpy corn rows and all that good stuff.  Just makes me nervous.  And the man says that the combine is easy as pie to drive.

OK- I'm in.  I get some great instructions on how to make it go, how to make it stop.  Trade seats.  Turn around and head back to the tractor.  Dang - he's right - it's a dream to drive!  Going downhill is startling the first time though - even just a bit, when you're not expecting it (it IS dark).  There is a wee dab of corn from breaking out the field, so I get instructions on how to run the header, and there ya go, I'M PICKING CORN.  Yehaw!

I'm farming tomorrow too, maybe I'll drive the combine again :)

My ride for a wee bit today ... (plus a corn head)


Best husband ever :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Timing - Maintenance on the Grand Quilter

I was having issues with my Pfaff  Grand Quilter 18.8 - making a terrible racket after I put in a new needle.  Put the new needle out and in a couple of times but still made this horrid noise.  I knew I had  hit a ruler in the last pass, altho the machine did seem ok to finish the quilt. 

Pulled the cover plate off, manually turned the hand wheel to see how things were moving - and the hook was pushing the needle as it was going by.  EEEK!  

The Pfaff 'manual' really bites - terrible pictures, photos out of order (photo 31 is at the beginning of the section, before photo 28).  The whole section is really awful and I couldn't make head nor tail of what I needed to do.

Like washing machines, fridges etc, lots of brands are actually only made by one manufacturer - my Pfaff Grand Quilter 18.8 is the same as a Viking and a Husqvarna and the Tin Lizzie.

I *DID* find a really good YouTube video of technicians working on a TinLizzy - 2 parts:
 part 1
 part 2

OK - now this makes sense :)  Went back to my machine, tested how things should be meshing, repositioned the needle, moved the hook a smidge, and it's good to go.  YAY! 

And happily can report that it's sewing away on 2 more comfort quilts - I load 2 at a time on wide backing.  Whew!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ribbon Candy Success

I'm *such* a newbie.  I've been trying to draw nicely shaped ribbon candy for months and months.  Literally.  
It just wouldn't flow nicely.

I had a Comfort Quilt arrive that looked PERFECT for ribbon candy in the sashing.  So I spoke harshly to myself, sat myself down and drew.  Looked at samples online, went through my books.  Drew and drew.  Finally, the loops started working - got the hang of it!  Loaded up the quilt, and stitched away.  I think I've got it!!!


Hopefully you can see some of those loops - they're looking nice and full and even kinda even!  Mostly.  Lots of practice still needed, but I'm a happy camper!

This batting is warm & white, the thread Essential Pro in gold - blended nicely with the sash and POPPED on the beadboard on the border!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Burying threads after quilting

Found this *awesome* little video this week demonstrating how to bury your threads after quilting.  I've tried  all kinds of things - short stitches to anchor then just clipping the threads; just clipping; using regular needles, using 'self-threading' needles (which I can't make work without shredding the thread).  The method demo'd here is wonderful - I quilted 2 Comfort Quilts for our Guild this weekend, and used this technique.  LOVE IT!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3gl4K8Z7XM

This is fun too ...

Project 48 Quilt Finish

Project 48 Quilt We've had so much rain and wind it has been a challenge to find a good time for photos.  This is the finish of my ...