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March 2018
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Amy is TWENTY ONE!!!


Amy and Brandy are in Las Vegas to celebrate her 21st birthday. In the picture above, Amy reacts to dirt in one of Alex’s “Let’s Plant” videos that isn’t published yet. 

As of 07:33 UTC today (12:33 AM Pacific, 3:33 AM Eastern) Amy is officially 21 years old once you take into account leap years, the fact that years aren’t an even number of days, etc. I’m just that kind of geek.

In any case, Happy Birthday Amy! Enjoy your birthday vacation. Sorry Alex and I couldn’t share more of it! But you’ll have more fun without us. :-)

Can’t believe Amy is an ADULT. Crazy. Just crazy.

16435.899 Days

I missed the exact moment this year, cause busy and thinking of other things. But just under two hours ago at 18:32 UTC (11:32 AM Pacific, 2:32 PM Eastern) I was exactly 45 years old. Just looking at the date, you would think my birthday is tomorrow. But properly taking into account leap years, the fact years are not even numbers of days, time zones, and the time and place I was born…  the actual time has passed. I am 45 now.

Yay! Age!

Alex is SEVEN!!

As this posts at September 12th at 9:20 UTC (2:20 AM Pacific, 5:20 AM Eastern), Alex will be exactly seven years old.


First of all, as is traditional, here is the birthday interview with Alex. Also as is traditional, he is fairly uncooperative. At least when talking to me. Once our dog Miley joins us, he talks to her a bit about the prospect of getting older. And yes, Alex is wearing my pants. The whole thing is about 12 minutes long. Sorry, I didn’t have time to edit at all this year, so it is straight off the phone. There isn’t any expectation that anyone but family will actually watch, and really, probably they won’t either. :-)

Now, my rundown of the last year’s goings on. As he gets older, I’m including less detail, and leaving out some things, as he’s starting to determine on his own what he wants to talk about online. But the main bits…

  • For Kindergarten Alex split the days. In the morning he would go to the Montessori where he had gone the previous couple of years. In the afternoons he would go to the local public elementary school. The idea was to give him time to get used to the public school before jumping in full time for 1st grade. I was dubious of this strategy at first, but I think it actually worked out well. Alex liked both schools, but by the end of the school year, he was clearly ready to move on and go to the elementary school full time.
  • Most of the time with these split days, Grandma Ruth would transport Alex from one school to the other in the middle of the day, and spend the afternoon with him after school. They would sometimes just play at her house or ours, but sometimes they would go on adventures to do various things together. Alex enjoyed this quite a bit.
  • Alex still plays Minecraft quite a lot, but his video game repertoire has increased. He has rediscovered Portal, Portal 2, and Portal 2 Community Test Chambers, all of which he had played when he was much younger, but now he is doing almost all of it himself, when he feels like it. His other favorites are Roblox, Terraria, and Castle Crashers. He also plays a bunch of other things though, and is willing to try new things.
  • He hasn’t watched a traditional TV show in many many months, and then only reluctantly. His media consumption is basically 100% YouTube. And 90% of that are his two favorites, Stampycat and DanTDM, rounded out by a smattering of other YouTubers.
  • Combining these two interests, at the end of February he launched his own YouTube channel (with a little help from Dad). You can find it at He spends hours each week producing content for the channel. His tagline is: “Elementary school by day, YouTube by Night.” Most of the videos are gaming videos, but he occasionally branches out and does content on plants, math, bikes, or other things he is interested in. He is slowly learning video editing skills to improve what he does. At the moment I am the bottleneck, as I am still watching them and pushing them out as I have time, which isn’t as often as I would like at the moment. As of this moment, there are 111 episodes on his channel…  but earlier tonight he finished recording the 270th episode. Doing the math, that means he is averaging making about 9.4 new videos each week but I am only posting 3.9 videos each week. Obviously something needs to change there… I am just way way horribly behind in getting them posted. Anyway, please go check it out, please watch his videos, and SUBSCRIBE. He has 25 subscribers right now, but has big plans for when he hits 100 subscribers!
  • Oh, he has a business card for his channel. If you don’t have one and want one, just let me know, I’ll get one to you.
  • Over the summer Alex went to a Taekwondo camp. He didn’t really seem to participate all that much, but he seemed to enjoy it and would come home talking about it. He also went to the YMCA for a couple weeks of the summer. He didn’t really like that at all. The Taekwondo camp usually had less than 10 kids. The Y probably had 50+. He was much happier with the smaller group. Within the first few days he had kids at the Taekwondo camp watching his videos and subscribing to his channel.
  • He loves his dog Miley and harasses her constantly. Most of the time she seems to appreciate it. If only he would be better at recognizing when she doesn’t…
  • He has plans to convert our house into some sort of store. I’m not sure exactly how that will work…
  • Before this year he was clearly reading, but also clearly did not really want to, and so would resist letting us know that he could read if he could avoid it. Sometime in the last year that snapped, and he started reminding us that he could read when we were silly enough to read something out loud to him. He still is not a particular fan of books (although he will read them with Grandma Ruth!), but he is reading things on screens constantly, as well as signs and instructions and the like. And he is no longer hiding it, but actually seems proud of it.
  • He is into coloring, not the kids kind, but the grown up coloring books that are all the rage now, with all sorts of detail and fancy patterns, using artist grade colored pencils of course. Pretty sure he thinks he is too good for crayons now. :-)
  • It has only been a few days, but he is a first grader now! That is just incredible. He’s at or above grade level in everything academically, although the social stuff is a bit of a struggle. That’ll be something to keep working on… but hey, I struggle with that to this day. :-)
  • He likes to help with gardening and plants and such.
  • He is growing fast. He is just huge. Well, I’m comparing to when he was two of course, but it seems like every time we turn around he is an inch or two taller. But I guess that comes with the territory of being seven. :-)
  • He makes up elaborate illustrated books telling stories about the family. Most of these have been “Mom and Amy Epic” and sequels to that. These follow Brandy and Amy as they go through adventures inside video games.

OK, as usual, I’m sure there is much more, but that is enough.

Happy birthday to Alex!

Upgraded Podcasting Setup


In honor of Curmudgeon’s Corner (the current events podcast Ivan and I do) hitting 100 downloads in a week for the first time a few weeks ago, I upgraded my podcasting setup. I’d gotten a new microphone back in February, and gotten the pop filter for Father’s Day, but I have now added a studio arm and shock mount. Works better than having the microphone on a stand on the desk for multiple reasons. The setup is starting to look almost professional. :-)

Of course, in real life 100 downloads a week is still tiny tiny. But a year ago a normal week was 20-30 downloads, and two years ago normal was only 10-15 downloads. So hitting 100 was a nice milestone for us. It is good to be growing, even if we are still small!

Alex has graduated kindergarten!

IMG_6751 (1)

Cynthia is a Vet!


75 Bricks

Because he wants to build something in the back yard.

What am I thinking?

[Edit 2016-04-10 15:06 UTC – Rotated Picture]

I Broke My Foot


Lovely, huh? I was trying to do an obstacle course Alex had built in our driveway. I was on my bike. I fell. Crunched my foot between a wooden 4×4 and my bike. It wasn’t a hard fall, and at first I thought it was nothing and I would just get up and brush it off. That idea disappeared once I tried to stand up.

After a night of crawling slowly from room to room since I couldn’t stand or walk, and with even the crawling resulting in quite a bit of pain, Brandy made me go to the doctor. :-)

For now I have a boot on my left foot and I’ve got some crutches. I’ve been referred to an orthopedic office to see exactly what more they want to do with me.  Sounds like it will probably be more than just the boot. In the mean time, I’m hobbling around the house, but even going from room to room is a fairly big effort, and often quite painful. The doctor says no weight at all on the foot if I don’t want to make it worse, and that I need to minimize how much I’m up and around.

So I’m thinking I have lots of working from home in my immediate future, and probably quite a bit of time just in bed or on the couch.  Sounds like minimum 4 to 6 weeks to heal, possibly more.


But hey, at age 44 this is my first broken bone ever, so I guess I did pretty well…

Amy is TWENTY!!!


We no longer have a teenager! How amazing is that?

According to my calculations, which take into account time zones, the fact that a year isn’t an even number of days, leap years, and all that fun stuff, at the moment this posts…  2015-10-21 01:44 UTC (6:44 PM on the 20th Pacific, 9:44 PM on the 20th Eastern) Amy will be exactly 20 years old. TWENTY!

<Insert bad joke about paying rent here.>

Happy birthday Amy! It is an honor to have you as my daughter. Love you!

Diary of Hiram Harvey Hurlburt Jr: Chapter 16

Note: This is an excerpt from the memoirs of Hiram Harvey Hurlburt Jr (1827-1910).  He was my mother’s mother’s father’s father.  The full diary is available here, with chapters transcribed from the scanned PDF of the manuscript into more easily read text as I have time.

Chapter 16

When I returned to Ripton we had an uncommon winter for amusement. I did not wish to teach the singing school as father had given me my time and I had taken Bacon’s shingle mill to run on shares with Henry of his father, but I proposed to the singers we have Trueman Parkill of Cornwall, Vt. for teacher. We had pleasant times. Miss Smith and myself practiced several pieces some were to be acted. One that would bring the house down every time, was Fanny Gray. The verses were responsive, one verse in particular was broken in response.

(She sings:) Put up your hat, don’t take your stick. Oh prithee Charles do stay. You never come to see me now, but you long to run away.

(He says:) Good bye, (She sings:) Good bye, you’ll come again. (He sings:) Yes. One fine day of these.

(She sings:) He’s turned the street, I knew he would, he’s gone to Fanny Grays!

They would call us back, but we never repeated it the same evening I would answer the calls with the The Old Oaken Bucket, The Indian’s Lament, Woodman spare that tree, &c, &c.

That winter the singing teacher from Bristol, Vt. name of Crane had a school in Weybridge, they wanted to close out the school with an exhibition, and Crane joined a petition with several others, wrote for me to help them out. I sang my favorite songs, everything went nicely; But there was one thing happened, never heard the like! A four part song “Bell Brandon”, that I was familiar with, was played on the piano by Samantha Wright. Mrs Elizabeth Tyler took the soprano, Mason Harrington the base, do not remember the alto, myself the tenor, and the first verse Mrs. Tyler fell half a tone. I whispered and pointed on the notes, to Samantha, she took the cure, and struck the piece half a tone lower, and was capable to do it, and the four verses were rendered lowering the music half a tone each verse. After we were through, Crane came to me, says he, “Hurlburt you managed that well, but I was terribly frightened.” He was bald headed and the drops of perspiration were all over. I understood afterwards, Mrs. was not aware of her failure at the time, and there was hardly any one in the house noticed it.

The day I was twenty one was town meeting 5th of March 1848. So I left the shingle mill to take the freeman’s oath, and have the voting privileges of an American Citizen, soon after taking the oath, the authority composted of the selectman and Justices of the Peace, came to me to let them vote for me for constable and collector. At first I was astonished, then as they kept urging, with the venturesomeness of youth I gave consent, I was unanimously elected, but after the meeting the authority told, I must get bail, mentioning my father would be sufficient. I went to father, but he positively refused to do it, saying, a boy just twenty one going that risk. In a town where it was comparatively new, property constantly changing ownership. The inhabitants many of them disorderly. So I gave up, for I would not call on any one else.

Hon. Daniel Chipman a lawyer, a man of note he heard of the case, and sent for me to come and see him. Then he and I went to father. But father would not yield. I remember what father said to Chipman. “That it was a very bad beginning for a young man”. Chipmunks answer was: “A bad beginning makes a good ending.” On my return with Chipman to his house, Chipman proposed to me to become my bail for $1000, as the law required. Chapman said to me. “I will exact one promise. When you come to a question in law you do not understand come to me.” To which I willingly agreed. Now there was no law but what Chipman was good authority, and his advice has been a life long help. I gave Mr. Chipman no trouble in my two years service.

I hardly know how much of my experience in this office I should relate, but I will give a sample. I became a deputy sheriff, had quite a business, my friend Henry Bacon attended the shingle business until the first year closed. When we dissolved, and what time was spared from the office work was devoted to millwright-work, or to look up lines on wild land for non residents.

One day I drove down to Smith’s Tavern and there was quite a crowd, men and women. The town grand juror “James Peirce” was just coming after me to serve a warrant on Charles Adams, who had early that morning threatened his sister’s life. After Mr. Peirce obtained papers, then, he told me. “That I would risk my life to go for Adams, as he had gone into the woods a couple of miles to his sugar camp to boil sap for maple sugar, he had taken a heavy rifle he had made for himself, his bugle and a quantity of rum, and would shoot the first man that came near,” continuing advice. “That I had better go to Middlebury and get a Church the High Sheriff of the county”. Then some women came and told me I would certainly be shot just at this time Sorell’s mother “Mrs Smith” came and said to me, “Sorelle did not want I should go”. At this time this was more than I had ever hoped for. So I told Mrs. Smith I was well acquainted with Adams, and to say to Sorelle, I was no coward, for I at this moment made up my mind, to know how I stood in regard to winning her.

Now I will say I had exchanged work with Adams, he was a very skillful blacksmith, had worked some days to help at ironing sleighs and shoeing oxen when he had been harried with work. I went up with horse and sleigh, when I got near the fire of his kettle I hitched my horse to a tree, and went afoot, as I got in sight he took his bugle and blew it. I then hailed him, the first he saw me, as soon as I got in speaking distance, he hollered out and took his rifle and said. “He knew what I come for, and I am not going!” I told him, I knew I could not force him, but I had taken the papers to serve, and had been advised to get help, but concluded that he would be better suited for to see me come alone. Well let me hear the papers read. He became different at once, left out the curse words most, only when he clinched the promise. “By G** I’ll go!”

So he packed up his things, fixed his kettle to boil down the usual way – the pole it was hung on, was so balanced that it would rise up higher away from the fire as the sap evaporated. Then took him down and delivered him up to the court. Then he wanted me to go to Middlebury eight miles after Lawyer Julius Beckwith to care for his case.

Adams paid fees willingly, and he brought witnesses to prove his sister was mistaken, and the case was thrown up no cause of action.

Afterwards, about two years, Adams went on a bear hunt. The manner was of surrounding a tract of woods, drawing closer together, until the game is cornered and shot. He had just blown his bugle, when others in hearing heard the report of his rifle – supposed to have placed the rifle against a tree to blow his bugle, when the lock struck the tree, sending a heavy charge through his heart. I was appointed foreman in the coroners jury by the justice, and we brought in a verdict according to the above.

Editor’s note:

The full lyrics to Fanny Gray according to and follow. (I merged the two versions to make something that seemed to make more sense than either of them alone and to match HHHJr’s recollections of the alternating parts at the end.)



Well, well, sir, so you come at last,
   I thought you'd come no more,
I've waited with my bonnet on, 
   From one to half-past four.
You know I hate to sit alone,
   Unsettled where to go,
You'll break my heart -- I feel you will,
   If you continue so.
You'll break my heart -- I feel you will,
   If you continue so.


Now pray, my love, put off that frown,
   And don't begin to scold,
You really will persuade me, soon,
   You're growing cross and old,
I only stopp'd at Grosvenor gate
   Young Fanny's eye to catch;
I won't -- I swear -- I won't be made
   To keep time like a watch,
I won't -- I swear -- I won't be made
   To keep time like a watch,


It took you, then, two hours to bow,
   Two hours to take off your hat;
I wish you'd bow that way to me,
   And show your love like that;
I saw you making love to her,
   You see I know it all,
I saw you making love to her,
   At Lady Glossop's ball.
I saw you making love to her,
   At Lady Glossop's ball.


Now really, Jane you're temper is.
   So very odd to-day,
You're jealous, and of such a girl,
   As little Fanny Gray, --
Make love to her, -- indeed my dear
   You could see no such thing,
I sat a minute by her side,
   To see a turquoise ring.
I sat a minute by her side,
   To see a turquoise ring.


I tell you that I saw it all --
   The whispering and the grimace,
The flirting and the coquetting,
   In her little foolish face,
Oh, Charles, I wonder that the earth
   Don't open where you stand,
By the heaven that is above us both,
   I saw you kiss her hand.
By the heaven that is above us both,
   I saw you kiss her hand.


I didn't, love -- but if I did?
   Allowing that is true,
When a pretty girl shows her rings,
   What can a poor man do?
My life, my soul, my darling Jane,
   I love but you alone; 
I never thought of Fanny Gray, --
   How tiresome she is grown.
I never thought of Fanny Gray, --
   How tiresome she is grown.


Put down your hat, don't take your stick,
   Now pr'ythee, Charles stay?
You never come to see me now,
   But you long to run away,
There was a time, there was a time,
   You never wished to go, --
Now what have I done, what have I done,
   Dear Charles, to change you so.
Now what have I done, what have I done,
   Dear Charles, to change you so.


Pooh! pooh! my love -- I am not changed,
   But dinner is at eight;
And my father's so particular,
   He never likes to wait.
Good bye! 


Good bye! You'll come again.

Yes, one of these fine days!


He's turned the street, I knew he would,
   He's gone to Fanny Gray.
He's turned the street, I knew he would,
   He's gone to Fanny Gray.

The alternate arrangement of the last part of the song more in line with the non-HHHJr sources I found would be:


Pooh! pooh! my love -- I am not changed,
   But dinner is at eight;
And my father's so particular,
   He never likes to wait.
Good bye! Good bye! I'll come again.
   Yes, one of these fine days! --


He's turned the street, I knew he would,
   He's gone to Fanny Gray.
He's turned the street, I knew he would,
   He's gone to Fanny Gray.