Life Update

- I left Brandi and the kiddos in Houston. I'm in Waco now and I'll rejoin them on New Year's Eve.

- All 13 of our birds were fine. They were all hungry because they exhausted their food supply, but they were fine.

- I have never in my life seen a woodpecker in person, until this morning. He was on a pole adjacent to my house, pecking away on the wood. I was impressed.

- We had a great time in Houston: Christmas, family time, Entmoot, a brand new Wii, new books, et cetera.

- We have wood-burning fire place insert. A wood-burning fireplace insert is essentially a wood-burning stove designed to fit inside a typical fireplace cavity. Like traditional wood-burning stoves, inserts have doors that close and vents to control how fast (or slow) the fire burns. Supposedly traditional fireplaces are not efficient home-heating devices, but wood-burning stoves are fantastic for that purpose. It seems that most bumpkins use either a free-standing wood-burning stove or a wood-burning fireplace insert to heat their homes. Our insert will heat our home just fine, with the exception of our bedroom and the kids' bedrooms upstairs (for those rooms we have small oil-filled radiator heaters that work great). We do have central heat and air, but I only turn it on if we need to take the chill off while we're getting a fire going in the morning. Since I work for a company that uses tons of saplings and lumber, I've been able to get all of our wood for burning for free from a stash of wood that was going to be recycled or burned. It's a pretty sweet deal. Last night it got down to 27 degrees and, since I'm alone and my family is not with me, I decided to sleep on a sofa by the fire. I read a little U2 by U2 and drifted off to sleep for 11 hours (I was catching up on sleep). So my total heating bill during last night's freeze was zero dollars. I like that!

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