Nov. 6th, 2015

altivo: Wet Altivo (wet altivo)
Farrier scheduled for the horses, 8:30 AM. This part went well. Mark is punctual and efficient, and the horses seem to like him well enough. We were concerned to learn that he needs hip surgery though. (He is much younger than we are.) He was all prepared though and has enlisted help to cover for him during his recovery, which is reassuring from the horses' standpoint.

The farriery meant that we had barn chores done early and the rest of the day was "available." Gary wanted to go to the Driver Services office to have his license updated, as Illinois recently made it possible for military veterans to have a designation added to their license recognizing their service. Supposedly all that was needed was his official discharge papers and his current license. Since the office is in the same strip mall with the ALDI we generally use for most of our groceries, I planned to pick up stuff from the grocery list while he waded through the perpetual line at the vehicle/license bureau.

Our usual route to the ALDI was blocked by road repairs of some sort, with the road marked "CLOSED" but no detour marked. Fortunately this is home territory now so we know the next shortest route and made it to the grocery and Secretary of State branch office soon enough.

I was only half through the shopping list when he came into the ALDI and told me that they wouldn't accept his original discharge papers, nor the certified copy from the County Clerk that he had. He would have to go to the Office of Veteran Affairs to get a certified copy from them. That office is just 5 minutes away, in the National Guard Armory. So we finished the grocery shopping and headed over there.

He let the Garmin choose the route from one side of Woodstock to the other. Bad idea. It sent us down an unpaved gravel road, full of pot holes, and ominously marked "Private Road, No Access" to get us there. It was headed the right direction, so we went anyway. For a couple of miles it wandered between barns and several horse pastures, past many "Private" and "No Trespassing" signs. Fortunately no one came charging out with a shotgun to challenge us. The road did have a name, and was marked on maps. The very end of it arrived at the parking lot of the Armory all right, though I quickly realized that the slightly longer route I would have taken might actually have been faster because it consists of paved state and federal highways. I stayed in the car with a book while Gary went in to get his third "certified" copy of his discharge papers. About 5 minutes later he came back and said the office was closed with sign on the door saying "Back at 2 pm." It was already 1:42 so we decided to wait. Sure enough, they unlocked the door again at 2 and Gary disappeared for about 40 minutes. Two or three others who had been waiting in the parking lot went in at the same time.

It was almost 45 minutes before he returned with his new certificate. It seems they had computer issues and in fact the other people who had been waiting gave up and left. In a situation that has become all too common today, the small office was absolutely dependent on a computer, scanner, printer, and internet access in order to function. However, no one in the local staff knew anything about maintaining the software, or the equipment, or the network. They said they had been having issues for about a week. It took them six phone calls to reach someone who could help, but they did finally get it to run at least long enough to provide what Gary needed. Mind, this is a federal government agency, located on a military property where there are undoubtedly people with the necessary technical skills for support. But since veterans affairs is not a military function, the military personnel can do nothing for them. And of course, since both the US Congress and the Illinois government are locked in ridiculous budget battles between the two useless political parties that rule our lives, neither has any budget for support or maintenance anyway.

Surprisingly enough, when we got back to the Driver Services facility, it only took a few minutes for Gary to get his revised license. That and a $5 fee that was not mentioned in any of the announcements of the new service. That fee will not go to help keep anything running, since the idiot elected to the governor's office last year has impounded all state money and some over which his claim of control is dubious at best. In other words, money continues to flow into the state treasury, but none is being let out except where courts have already ordered this moron to allow payments to be made. Politicians are the most worthless people on earth, I think. Totally out of touch with reality, locked into ridiculous dogmatic positions, refusing to negotiate or compromise, and without the least concern for their real responsibilities to contituencies and the services they are sworn to support and provide.

Anyway, what was meant to be a 90 minute excursion, including time for lunch, ended up eating the entire afternoon. It was a good thing that the barn chores were already done.

NaNoReadMo

Nov. 6th, 2015 06:14 pm
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
Two posts in one day? Yes, I'm full of words, I guess. And no, that isn't a typo in the subject line.

I am not participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I have at least six mostly finished books already that need attention and final touches.

Earlier this year, like back in February, I signed onto the Goodreads.com "Reading Challenge." You set a quota number of books that you intend to read before the end of the year. I set my quota at 50, less than one book a week, figuring that I'd easily meet that goal. I can normally get through one title a week even when I'm working full time, and what with retirement at the midpoint of the year, I expected to have lots of time to read.

Well, it didn't work out that way. I was doing fine until June, but I accomplished very little reading during the summer, and by last month Goodreads was nagging me for being 8 or 9 books behind. I decided to devote November to catching up. There is no shortage of material, as I have a "to read" list that exceeds 200 titles. A hard push over the last two weeks just to finish books that were sitting around partly read has brought me up to even with the expected reading so far, and then past it so I am now three books ahead. I only need five more to make up the 50, and I expect to exceed that by some unknown number before the holiday madness hits.

One thing that helped was changing my own rules. I had been counting only fiction, when in fact I've been reading a fair amount of technical books and other non-fiction material. I went back and added some of those to my completed list, which raised my running total by a fair amount. I have three more partially completed books to wrap up now, which should pretty much guarantee a successful conclusion.

For the curious, my list of books read for the 2015 challenge is here. I am assuming that anyone can see the list, but if that isn't the case, let me know and I'll try to find another access point.

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