Sunday, November 9, 2003
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Wyatt’s Photo Correspondent Report
November 5, 2003
A friend at work asked me to bring my camera to work, so he could see if he liked it. I thought, what a perfect opportunity to get a picture, to tell about what I do at work! Maybe this will even prod others into writing, to tell just what it is they do all day! (I wonder if I can get my wife to do a report next … they don't all need pictures, just tell us what you do! Consider yourself challenged!) I've attached a picture, which I'll reference as I go along.
First, though, for those who don't know what I do, I'm a software engineer with Phoenix International Corporation, in Fargo, North Dakota. John Deere owns Phoenix, and I work on the software for the electronic engine controls of John Deere engines. I started at Phoenix as an intern while going to school, in January of 1997. I started full-time after graduating in 1998. I've been working on the FOCUS (Family Of Controllers Universal System) project since day 1. Here's a typical day in my work life.
Off the screen to the left is my inbox/outbox. This can vary in size from a couple sheets of paper to reams of pages that would make the Library of Congress green with envy. These pages include many different things. Most common are printouts of other people's software source code. (We use the ‘C' programming language to write our software). Part of my job includes reviewing other people's software, to see if I can catch any “bugs.”
When your computer crashes, that's a bug; we can't have that happen in a tractor engine. Farmers tend to become angry if they have to “reboot” their tractor four times a day. So reviewing source code is very important. It is nearly impossible to write software without bugs, though with experience you learn to limit them.
Other printouts are my source code files, which my peers have reviewed and returned to me. When I get these back, I have to look through the red marks, and see if I agree with, or can explain my stance on, the marks.
The last major inbox filler is unit tests. After these reviews, we put our software through some very rigorous testing, in which the unit tester tries as hard as she can to make my software do something it shouldn't (darn bugs). When (not if) she finds bugs, she returns more marked up printouts for me to look over.
Also off the screen to the left is a file cabinet, where I store a lot of the printouts I receive after I've looked them over. It's helpful to look through some of these occasionally, to see what kind of mistakes I've been making, and how I can prevent them.
Starting on the top left of the picture is my mini-library. These binders and books contain information about the two different microprocessors we use. Your computer probably has an Intel Pentium processor, which is very likely at least 500 megahertz (this means it executes 500 million instructions per second!) or more. We use a Siemens processor on our older projects, which we run at 15-25 megahertz. This is still faster than most personal computers that existed back in the 80s!
We use a Motorola Power PC processor, running at 40 megahertz, on our newer projects. This is a relative of the processors used in Apple computers. Anyway, the point I want to make here is I have all those binders full of information, all for two little microchips that are about the size of a quarter. A future report may have a picture of one of our engine controllers, with more description of that.
Below my library, you'll see my Rylie and Jolene shrine. Can't make it through a day without that stuff. Enough said.
In the middle, you'll see my laptop, in a docking station, with another monitor. This is EXTREMELY helpful, as this gives me an extra wide desktop in Windows, so I can have more things open on my screen at once. Of course, this just wouldn't be right without the Vikings background. My screensaver is more pictures of Rylie, naturally.
Above my computer is something I'm very proud of, my accomplishments in Toastmasters. (What a great idea for another future report!) Toastmasters is a club I'm in that helps its members improve their public speaking and leadership skills. I'm a Competent Toastmaster, and also a Competent Leader. I spent time this year as an Area Governor, which is another step towards my next goal of being an Advanced Leader. I'm three speeches away from being an Advanced Toastmaster Bronze, too! More on Toastmasters in a future report!
To the right is a FOCUS Level 14 engine controller. On an actual engine, this is in a metal box to protect it from the elements. When we are developing software, we keep them open, so we can more easily test what voltages and currents we are receiving and producing in various circuits.
Off the picture to the right is yet another computer that is used when I'm testing software that uses certain types of communication. I've had as many as four computers going in my cubicle at one time. If only I had four hands…
I'll get into some details of what our engine controller does in a future report, with a close-up picture of a controller.
by Melanie (Anderson) Shockey
Hello! How are you and Don doing? It's been while since I've written, so I thought I'd drop you a line... We heard you're planning on moving back to Minnesota! I'm sure you'll enjoy seeing your kids and grandkids more often and, hopefully, we'll get to see you more often, too! Especially since I don't believe you've met Eric yet...?
We are definitely keeping busy in our last year of school. We're very anxious to be finishing in May. Where we go after that is anyone's guess at this point! Eric has had a couple interviews with companies in the Minneapolis area, but none of the companies had a specific position to fill -- they just keep the candidates' resumes on file for a year. If a position comes up, they'll find the best candidate then. So in the meantime, Eric will continue to look for a job and I'll start looking when he finds one and I know where we'll be living!
We were glad to have Mom and Dad up to visit us last Sunday afternoon. They hadn't been to Grand Forks since our reception in January. It seemed like a long time since they were here, but we were gone for the summer and they did visit us out in Oregon. We hope to get down to Wahpeton this weekend, since Tami will be there. It'll also be fun to see how much Jazmine has grown and changed. Oh -- and it'll be fun to see the rest of the family, too! :)
The Gift That Grew
The Matriarch Speaks W
by Dorothy (Dake) Anderson
I am now going to continue the story of my Christmas Cactus. (Lots of you know that it arrived in my rehab room two years ago in December -- came from the Chap-Johnson grandchildren to cheer my stay while I was learning to deal with my repaired leg.) It is a story of love.
I look at it today and wonder what people mean when they say it is so hard to get these hardy plants to grow. You know they just don't have a good baby (or should that be "plant") sitter to care for them in their off season. Priscilla, from across the street, told me again this year, "I never knew anyone that keeps them in their garden."
Well Grandpa Don believes in tough love -- put them where you want them and then tell them to grow!! So it spent its summer where it helped make a pretty yard -- right in the full sunshine. Watered whenever the hose got around to that side of the yard. When the summer got really hot and the wind blew until my pretty plant began to droop, I decided to rescue it.
You will not believe how much it has grown. It looks tough and ready for anything. Don re-potted it into a pot that shrubs came in. I began watering it and telling it how much we had been through together and to please bloom again this year. (I am such a terrible flower tender.) I think it's like kids -- my plant knew we meant well! I watered it and tended it for a month and then I decided to put it back into the dark corner it lived in last year. It has rested contentedly for over a month.
Just a week ago, when I moved it out from the wall a bit to make it more comfortable, I discovered the cutest little bud on the very end of a segment of the plant. Now this week later I can count at least 20 little buds forming all over my treasure. What a thrill! We will have a beautiful blooming beauty -- probably not at Christmas, but who cares if it blooms a little early! I guess it knew it had better bloom so it could get fed and watered regularly again! You just deal in tough love in dealing with Christmas Cactuses.
The Family Cookbook
by Doug Anderson
Okay Foodies, I've got quite the installment for you today, so pay attention, and for Heaven's sake, stop slouching. Today's recipe is actually TWO recipes that coordinate beautifully to produce one fabulous meal. It is simple, yet elegant. It is, in a word, Hubba-hubba. That might be two words, I'm not sure, but I prefer to hyphenate it.
But enough of this chin music. (That one was for Weston, again.) Check out:
Donnie's Pecan-crusted Walleye
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp. Tony's Cajun Seasoning
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
2 - 8 oz. Walleye fillets (Other white fish may be substituted.)
2 Tblsp. peanut or grape seed oil
2 Tblsp. butter
Mix flour, cornmeal and seasoning and cover fish with this mixture.
Apply eggwash to fish and then quickly cover with pecans, making sure the fish is
well-covered on both sides.
Heat oil and butter in skillet, add fish and saute until golden brown, checking fish
for doneness at intervals.
Serve with Lemon Caper Sauce. (See below.)
Patty's Lemon Caper Sauce
2 Tblsp. butter
2 Tblsp. flour
1 cup chicken stock
juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lemon, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. Cayenne pepper
2 Tblsp. small capers
Melt butter in sauce pan over medium heat.
Add flour and cook for 2 minutes.
Add stock, blending with whisk until mixture thickens to a gravy-like consistency.
Add Lemon juice, zest, seasonings and capers.
Heat through, drizzle onto plate and top with pecan-crusted walleye. (See above.)
See what I mean? It's a Minnesota thing. If you live near a clean lake or a good grocery store, you are in luck. Thanks, Donnie and Patty, for such a cool meal idea!
How about sending me something that represents your state/ country/ mental illness ? I would love to get into print for you! See you next week!
The Best Things In Life Are Free!
The Miss Kitty Letters *
By Jerrianne Lowther
According to Miss Kitty, when it comes to games and toys, the best things in life are free ... you can't beat paper and plastic bags from the grocery store, a crumpled cellophane bag tied with a piece of string, and the plastic wrapped wire that secures lettuce leaves to the head. And the next best thing, those super bouncy rubber balls from the candy machine at the grocery store, can be had for 25 cents. She has six.
Life is good when there is something to chase, excuses to jump high
and far, and great places to hide. A small rug on a slick bathroom
floor becomes a magic carpet, as she slides "home." An hourglass
shaped wicker plant stand, knocked over, is such fun. She hops over
it, zooms under it, races around it and explores the spaces at each
end. If she jumps on it, it rolls. Miss Kitty says a human shoulder is
even better than climbing a tree ... because her human walks around
and she gets a bird's eye view.
And there are real birds here, too ... especially the sassy magpies
that scratch around in the eaves, chatter in the spruce tree and fly
about the neighborhood, flashing their iridescent blue green feathers
with the jaunty black and white trim. Oh, it would be heaven to catch
one! She has tried that, too ... fetched up against the venetian
blinds with a terrible crash and landed on the floor. She seems to
have learned about blinds the first time, though it took two crashes
into a solid glass sliding door to figure out that it was shut and
there wasn't anything she could do about that, but avoid it.
Tables and cabinets are off limits, but oh, if nobody's watching ...
watch out! It is SO tempting to launch from a dining room chair
through the pass through window onto a kitchen cabinet ... and how did
those place mats on top of the refrigerator find their way onto the
floor? The window between the sun room and the kitchen has been closed
since that very first night, when she crashed through it and delivered
two potted plants from the window sill into the kitchen sink with a
single, prodigious leap.
That's where sticky duct tape comes in ... aversion training. Cats
hate that sticky stuff on their paws. The sticky label on a new box of
dishwasher detergent looked like a good place to start, so I left it
on the cabinet, sticky side up, over the dishwasher. Sure enough, Miss
Kitty came rocketing into the room where I was working with the label
stuck to her chin. She hit the panic button when she couldn't get that
She figured out how to knock a pumice stone into the bathtub and push
it around with a most annoying scratchy sound. When she saw it
floating in water, she jumped in to play with it. I've seen her chase
it around in up to three inches of warm water, lifting up one paw and
giving it a good shake, then plopping it back into the water and
repeating the motion with another paw. She hasn't volunteered to stick
around for a shower ... yet ... but she would fish in the toilet in a
heartbeat if the lid wasn't down.
So we are learning what each can tolerate and playing increasingly
complex games. She hides her favorite mouse ... the felt covered gray
mouse that clings to her claws and sports ears and a tail in bright
pink ... and expects me to find it. She ambushes tossed objects (and
the pointer light) from hiding places under furniture and all down the
stairs. She has a preferred chair with a window view in every room to
watch road traffic and stalk birds. Life is good. And she feels safe
enough now to nap on the floor.
Moving experiences come to mind lately. I thought of a move to Alexandria back in October of 1955.
We left from a farm in Ibsen township, where we had very little crop and I was getting depressed. I liked farming and we bought/rented a nice farm just 12 miles north of Alexandria. This was a dairy set up farm, and we had 12 nice Guernsey cows and some young stock. Also a few Hampshire sows. I had a 1946 Ford truck. I hauled my "A" John Deere and 3-bottom plow over there to do the fall plowing. I found this job difficult because there were fields with many rocks.
I traded my "A" and plow into Harris Implements in Alexandria for an almost new WD Allis Chalmers and mounted plow. This was a good outfit for plowing in rocky conditions, as it had a clutch release when it hit a rock.
We had a few bushels of oats harvested that year and a couple wagonloads of corn that I would come back to get. Joe Score hauled my cattle over in his livestock truck.
Dorothy was teaching out in Nansen. She and Donna boarded with the Lewis Aarhus family -- whose daughter Ellen went to the school where she taught. I would be there as soon as school was out and head back to our farm. Then to do the milking and finish chores. We had a 1948 Dodge 4 door "Luxury Liner." I would return her on Sunday afternoon and get back to do the evening chores.
I made several trips to the farm to haul the machinery I had. One trip I will never forget. Dorothy had decided to give up her teaching and come home to help. On New Year's Eve, 1955, I was coming through Fergus Falls, Minnesota, and just a short distance out of town my Ford stopped. It was well below zero. In checking it over, I decided the fuel pump was out. I walked back to the station I had passed just a few minutes earlier and told them I needed a fuel pump. Lo and behold! They had one and the price was, if I remember, less than $5. I had enough money to pay for it, but not enough for a bar of candy.
I walked back to the truck. Snow was swirling across the road as I lay under the truck to remove the pump. Gas was running down my arms as I bolted up the new pump. I was happy to hear the engine start and get on my way home. Dorothy had the milking done when I got home at about 10 p.m. I was glad this day was over.
The rest of moving went very smoothly. I hauled items during the winter months.
I bought the '46 Ford truck in Fargo. (I don't remember where I come up with the cash.) It was a cab and chassis, no box. I borrowed a box from my Dad's truck and during the winter I was able to buy a 20' livestock box and stock rack. The rear of the box was damaged, but as I had to shorten it anyway, it turned out to be a good looking cattle truck.
I hope our move to Alexandria will be easy, as we have gotten rid of excess things we will not need. We have moved a few times in our 53 years. Someone once told me a rolling stone gathers no moss, but do you know, it gets a good polish!
+ LETTERS TO THE EDITOR?
Because of several extra events this last week the mail is running heavy. I won't run the ordinary order letters, but think some would be fun for you all to read--
First a new subscriber -- Melanie Shockey (Dwight and Janie's youngest daughter) and her husband who are students. (Read about it in the Update.)
First my letter to her after getting an update: So thrilled to hear from you, Melanie--May I please use your letter as an update in The Bulletin, and do you want your name added to the list -- as the letter would be your subscription price?? :-) Love, Dorothy
Her answer: That's a subscription offer I can't pass up! :) Please add me to the list. I usually read the digests when I'm at Mom and Dad's, since she prints them out for Dad to read, but it'll be nice to be up on the news instead catching up every few months! It might be better if you send it to my other email address: email@example.com I only have this email address while I'm at UND, so I'm gradually switching everything over. Thanks.
Some messages arrived about business;
Got your Bulletin #67 and it's nice to see my article published in it with all the other ones. For your next Bulletin I want to make an article about the garden center where I work. Will take my camera and make some pictures of what work has to be done before a customer can buy the plants from the table. Might be interesting for you to know.... Ary
Then some wrote about the first issue of Review Edition One.
Really looking forward to this as I think I missed some of the first Bulletins.... What a gift!!!!!! Elaine
What a cool idea, Mom; I can't wait! PattyDee
And finally some sent for the next two issues of the Review Edition -- that is only being sent to the ones who order it from me at firstname.lastname@example.org I am only including a few of these, as some were simple orders, but these had special messages.
Please send me the remaining special editions of The Bulletin. I really enjoyed the first one.
I'll have to keep this short since I have to get back to work, but I just wanted to request copies of the next two "Best of" Bulletins when you send them out. Keep up the good work!
Please put me on the list for the Review Editions; the first was as enjoyable as reading the articles the first time.
We have a new coat of white "termination dust" on the ground this morning; still hoping to do a few hours more of field work, but getting about to the end.
That was lots of fun! Put me on the list of names for the next two special copies. I think it's a great way of letting those that have a newer "subscription" to be able to read some of the things they'd missed. Also enjoyed The Bulletin... Love "traveling" with Kjirsten; does she know how many are reading her letters? :-) Hope her mother's informed her. She writes a very descriptive, interesting letter. Almost feel like I'm with her. She's an amazing, confident gal!
Looking forward to the next Bulletin, as always. Exciting news! Danny is in Minnesota, and plans to come up and visit tomorrow. It's been over a year since we've seen him. Guess I'll fix my chicken and rice hot-dish. It's a great dish to put together and put into the oven, and just forget about it until ready to serve. How are your moving plans coming along? Hello to Don.
Housewife: These eggs are very small.
Grocer: Straight from the farm this morning, madam.
Housewife: That's the trouble with these farmers ... they're so anxious to get their eggs sold they take them off the nest too soon.
Most freeways have three lanes ... a left lane, a right lane and the lane you are trapped in when you see your exit.
Bill: Did your watch stop when it dropped on the floor?
Will: Sure! Did you think it would go through??
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY: Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.
EDITOR'S POLICY: If you wish to subscribe to The Bulletin, simply send me a statement of that fact. If you wish to keep receiving it I hope you will contribute to one of the columns that are running in this family epistle (at least occasionally!). My e-mail address is email@example.com
This Bulletin is copyright Dorothy M. Anderson; the contents are also copyrighted by the authors and photographers and used with their permission, and the contents are not to be used for any commercial purposes without the explicit consent of the creators.