Winter chill demands ingenuity


We drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway last week and found scenic Mabry Mill firmly in the grasp of winter. The wheel is frozen firmly in place and the mill pond is skimmed over. A few ducks float in the icy water, somehow defying the bitter cold.

The temperature in Floyd County has lingered in the teens for several weeks with only a few excursions into higher ranges. I am wearing flannel-lined jeans and extra layers of fleece every waking moment. I am even thinking of getting one of those fur hats with earflaps.

The woodpile on the porch has to be replenished every few days as the wood stove inhales logs like an old-time chain smoker. The Dutchwest stove is giving great service and my home-made stove handles are holding up just fine, but the fire has to be kept going in order for us to work comfortably and efficiently..

The only drawback of a wood stove in my mind is that one has to remain vigilant and load a new log in the stove every 30 minutes. My problem was that I would be writing away on the computer and didn’t keep my eye on the fire and by the time I noticed that the room temperature had dropped, there would only be coals left in the stove.

It would take only a minute to recharge and relight the stove, but I knew there had to be a better way to remind me of the passage of time when I was working on the computer.

SecssI installed this Secs desktop timer program which beeps to remind me when it’s time to get up from the computer and put another log on the fire.

If you are a heavy computer user, you may be interested in reading further.

The shareware application called Secs
from Sinner Computing has worked quite well for me in this situation. It is quite
programmable and keeps me from fixating on a project and sitting in my
chair for hours. The timer keeps me aware of the passage of the hours
and helps me keep the fire going at the same time.

Now that I see the utility of having a timer, I may start using
their Break program which is designed to help you work more effectively
by recording your work times and reminding you when you have been
working for too long. Work can be divided into five different
categories, with maximum work capping for each category. It maintains a
running total to show you how long you are on your computer, and what
you do most on it.

In addition, Break totalizes time at work, on break and away from
the computer. Since I am doing projects for several clients, this may
be a way to help me keep closer track of what work I am doing on each

I will let you know if it I find it useful.

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