Thursday, July 31, 2008

What’s that smell???

I arrived at work today and the minute the door opened, there was this smell of raw plastic. It was almost overwhelming. When I get here, only about 10 percent of the people are in, so there was not much movement in the building yet. When I got up to my floor, I realized that it was also darker! They have replaced all the window blinds. The old ones were your standard plastic slatted mini-blinds. The new ones are some sort of plastic thermal blinds. They are like looking through a glass full of bubbly motor oil, which is why it is darker. The smell is the new plastics. We probably will all have splitting headaches later and cancer 20 years from now.

My boss made up for it. He supplied donuts.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Is it hot enough for ya’ll?

It’s gotten hot in north Texas. Real hot. No end in sight either. The Dolly hurricane hit south Texas, and then traveled clockwise right around this big high pressure system centered over my yard. Dolly is now heading back across New Mexico and then will go rain some over Oklahoma. We’ve had highs over 100 for about 4 days now. Set one record, so far. So on Sunday, I was fortunate enough to be asked to play drums at church. But while sitting there between services, I got to thinking that I’d put one of our Mustangs inside the enclosed trailer, about a month back. See the photo? When there was moisture in the form of HAIL in the air. In my shop, the air temperature is usually in the middle 80’s. Usually it is 10 to 20 degrees cooler in the shop than the air temperature. Except in the winter, when it rarely drops into the 40s in the shop. But I got to thinking about that car sitting in that hot-box trailer. On Friday, when I got in my truck at 4 PM, the temp in the cab was 140 degrees and the windows were cracked open. I figured that Mustang was baking at about 150 to 160 degrees. So after church, I got some lunch and then went about hooking up the truck to the trailer. Then, pulling the trailer forward enough so I could open the rear door and drive the car out. Except by 1 PM, it was already about 98 degrees outside and about 140 in that trailer. All the gasoline had long ago evaporated out of the carburetor, so it took a few minutes to get the car started and backed out of the trailer. I then left the car running, but moved the truck and trailer over so I could drive the car. It hasn’t been driven in at least a month and they do better when driven for 20 minutes once a month. So, in 98 degrees, I head out on a 30 minute drive in a 1969 car with no functional air conditioning. That car’s AC hasn’t worked since about 1979! I get back pretty sweat soaked and drive the car into the shop. I hook it up on a battery trickle charger, but it seemed the battery needed more “juice”, so I hooked it up to a regular charger. I checked the tires and the automatic transmission fluid, which has been leaking since 1971. It needs half a quart, but I won’t add that until the next drive. What happens is the torque converter slowly drains its fluid back into the pan as the car sits. If you drive it every day, this doesn’t happen. Once the fluid drains back, it then over fills the pan, which leaks fluid out a side seal on the transmission case. So, you add fluid the next time before you go for a drive. You will know it needs fluid, as the shifts are slow to engage, due to the low fluid.
So I then go about backing the enclosed trailer over, as I needed to leave a slot open because another friend has had our flat bed trailer and when they bring it back, they need to be able to back it right into it’s “hole”. By the time I finish this up, it is about 2 PM and over 100 degrees. I headed in to collapse in the AC.
By 5 PM, it was 105 degrees. Today, we get a break! It's only supposed to be 102!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hello Dolly!

There is a minimal hurricane approaching the south Texas coast. Minimal? Are any hurricane’s all that minimal? The people of the coast are experienced at boarding up their homes. We vacation on the beach every year and arrived back in June of 2003, to find the Weather Channel van, parked in our parking spot at the hotel. The first day, the water was quite calm and we had a good afternoon and evening in the gulf. The following morning, hurricane Claudette was approaching. The surf was crashing and heading up to the concrete sea wall there. Our oldest daughter and I went out body surfing and boogie boarding. It was hard to fight out against the waves, but what a ride! Our youngest, tired quickly and retreated to the pool. By 9 AM, we were worn out and got out. About 10 AM, the sheriff and the Corpus Christi beach patrol, had deployed and closed all the beaches. The Weather Channel people were televising live updates from the sea wall. We joined everyone else in leaving the island and headed inland.

So last night we are watching the 10 PM news and they are starting to report that the south Texas coast will experience some hurricane surf and winds. I mention “Let’s all go surfing!!” The wife shoots me one of “those” looks. But the youngest, who is now thirteen, says “YEAH. Great waves! So we die! I’d be very happy in heaven”.

I hope the people in the path, stay safe.

And that photo of the weather channel van, was us “phooning

Some other photo’s of us doing the phoon.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Really big and exciting entertainment news in North Texas!!

There was some news last night that a lot of people deemed newsworthy. It seems the Hanson Brothers are moving into the Dallas-Fort Worth area! Or, as it is termed around here, DFW, or MetroMess, or Dal-Lus/Furt Wort. I’m sorry, but I really didn’t follow the story too close. In my excitement, I got all distracted and swept the kitchen floor. I thought the one movie the Hanson Brothers were in, Slap Shot, was an amusing little flick. I still laugh thinking about how they started a fight while just skating for warm up before the hockey game. And then stood there listening to the Star Spangled Banner, bleeding. The referee is so upset; he skated over during the song to continue chewing them out for the fight. One of the Hanson’s then yells right back “I’M TRYING TO LISTEN TO THE SONG!” (And not bleed too much). So why is the media making such a big deal of the Hanson’s moving to some gated community here in DFW? The movie is 31 years old, and on IMDB.COM, none of the Hanson’s continued in movies.

Wait. I just looked at the local news. It seems the JONAS Brothers, not the Hanson’s, could possibly move into some gated community. Changes my life!!! It really does. See last fall, we were making our way into the State Fair of Texas. We have a back route into the grounds, but we found that even all backed up. Then, our thirteen year old made mention that the boy-band Jonas Brothers were playing a free concert at 2 PM! Our youngest is in their target audience. They tried to get near the stage about 1 PM. By 2:45, they’d been: 1)Crushed. 2) Had drinks spilled on them. 3) Been shoved out of the way by parents so their kid could get to 212 feet to the stage instead of 214 feet. 4) Watched as the poor EMT’s tried to get in and help a sick or hurt person. 5) Given away their water to a poor girl about to pass out from the heat and crush. 6) Given up and exited to a nice, cool, quiet building and called us to meet.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Is it still plumbing if you do NOT show butt-crack??

Another fun Sunday spent playing at being a plumber. My tub/shower broke. Again. The faucet thingy that you pull up to switch from tub to shower, stuck a few weeks back. In the Shower position. I say it stuck a few weeks back, which is mostly true. Maybe a month. It actually broke about a year back, when I last had to change out the faucet. It leaked! But, I figured it was into the tub, so it would be OK and I'd get around to fixing it. Someday.

So a few weeks ago, I purchase a new diverter, which is the official name on the part. At least I think it is. Since it is written in Spanish and I don't read that very well (at all).

Sunday after church and lunch, I steel myself up for the task. I've been playing mind games with myself about what traps and pitfalls will befall this latest plumbing adventure. I'm ready to have to tear off the ceramic tile, getting back into the wall to remove and replace the copper pipe. I'm even ready in case my plumbers torch sets the house on fire. Gee, Like who hasn't had that one happen! (DING...we have a winner). So the first step, is to not even try and remove the diverter by unscrewing it. Nope, I get out the Sawzall and just start cutting it off. See, I had to do this the last time it broke. I found you can cut the fancy stuff out of the way, exposing the threads. Then, either with a crescent wrench of your ever-friendly plumbers wrench, grab that pipe and diverter and twist them free. Once I get the diverter out of the way, I then see why it had leaked this last year! Or years. I don't remember when I last changed it. I'd used that very same sawzall and had nicked the copper coupler! Caused my own leak! Except that also means a trip out to the shop to find a half inch, male-threaded coupler, the plumbers torch, sand paper, file, tape and other items needed for a bit of major plumbing surgery. I root around in all my plumbing boxes and can NOT find a new coupler! I go ahead and fire up the plumbers torch and get the old fitting off. That way, I can take it with me to the store.

So, I have to clean myself up and head up to the hardware store. I get there and stare at the wall of plumbing parts. Then I wake up to the fact that I'm looking at the brass couplers, and I need the copper ones. Over to the other side of the aisle. I stare at all the half inch parts. Then, work my way down to the 5/8 parts...wait, back up. Stare at the half inch parts. Notice the HOLE where my part should be!!! Yep, sold out of my 81 cent part!!! I do not want to drive 30 minutes across town in 101 degree heat (it's about 2 in the central summer), blow a gallon of diesel, for an 81 cent part! Then I notice that the "contractor pack" of 10 of my fittings, is only $7.50! That's worth it. So I'll have nine extra couplers.

I get home, file off the old solder, sand paper all the copper until it is shinny. I coat it with the NoKoRode stuff and solder on a new coupler. I wait a few minutes so I don't catch my hand on fire on the hot pipe, wrap on some sealing tape, put on the new diverter and PRESTO! I got a finely tuned bathroom shower!!!

By then, wife had been gone to Dallas a few hours. Eldest daughter had fled the house when the sawzall fired up. Youngest daughter had declared it "hot" and headed for a friends house, and swimming pool. No one was left for me to model my plumbers butt-crack fashion to.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Black Canary Barbie

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not “into” Barbie’s and all things about Barbie, but this one made the local news. Black Canary happens to be a DC comic super hero. A scantily clad one at that. Seems the people at Mattel decided to have a Barbie Loves Pop culture collection, and Black Canary Barbie is on the list. Along with the Addams family, the Wonder Woman Barbie, the 30TH anniversary Star Trek Giftset. The list is almost endless. The web site for colleting Barbie is fascinating. I “get it” why people are a bit upset with Black Canary, but they must have skipped over “Cabaret Barbie with RED hair”.

How about Pirate Barbie?

That lends itself to some imagination.

How about the “French Maid” doll?


Sort of sad to see some of the Barbie’s discounting their services.

So, people are all upset about Fishnet & Leather, S&M, Biker Chic Barbie. Please alert me when we get Crack Whore Barbie, Pole-dancing Barbie, the Naughty Nurse, Cat Woman……….

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Don't you just love being on hold so long???

I was checking on one of our credit card balances yesterday and noted a $34.99 automatic charge for a web site that we (used) to own. It was for a band I played in for about five years. A year and a half ago, the band broke up. My Web-master-wife, removed the content and notified the domain to place it into a "hold for future use" type status. They were to charge us $9.99 a year for this. We actually have three of these. The band site, a drum building site that I never used, and a political campaign site. So what was up with this $34.99 charge? My wife logged onto the provider, whose first letter is a Y and who's last character is a punctuation character, and found an email from a month back, notifying us that the $9.99 went up to $34.99 a year! Except she also noted that the band site, was NOT due for renewal until two more weeks, so why were they charging us already? Oh, and she fully cancelled all three web sites! She then got on the phone to get to a person at the company and attempt to reverse the charge. It took ONE HOUR before someone came on. As my wife said, "you know you are in trouble, when the music tape starts OVER!". At least the company representative was able to reverse the charge. And spoke English.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

22 inch rims on a Caprice

I didn't have my camera the other day and wished I did. But, getting a photograph would have been difficult, as I was in traffic. What I spotted was an older Chevy Caprice with the gansta' 22 inch rims on them. I don't know about this. Back in my day, we'd never customize a four door car. But, seems common now. Well, this Caprice was about 10 years old, had some dents, rust, lots of primer, and these 22 inch rims with the tires that look to be rubber bands. All rims. Like somewhere in Oz, a train is missing a set of wheels. Except this car was listing, and listing like a drunken sailor. Down in the front passenger side and down bad. And driving about 18 miles per hour, which was probably a good sign. Then, he went through the intersection and I saw why he was "down in front". Seems one of the tires had gone flat. At least he had the sense to get out and change it. Except all he had for a spare was one of those emergency spares!

That was two days ago and I'm still chuckling at the thought.

But while searching for a representative photo of "spare tire", I found this.....scary.....

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Goodbye old landmark

We’ve lived in our house for 22 years. We back up to some city property and one of the original water storage facilities for the town. It was the first water tower in town. And according to our neighbor, was supposed to have been a ground level storage tank.

Well, the city has had to build several new water towers and they have wisely placed them on city property along a rail road line in the city. That rendered the old tower in our back yard, obsolete. The city property also had the fire department and police, both of which moved to the new city hall and city fire building, which just opened. Because of all these changes, the old city property will be reconfigured to be a senior center and also a brand new city utility and works building. But first, they had to remove the water tower! Looks like it will be removed start to finish, in two days!

We used to tell people to watch for the water tower as they navigated to our home. I would tell them, "aim for it. From our back yard, you can throw a rock and hit it". Looks like we won't be able to tell them that anymore. We are sad, but happy in that our home sell appeal, just went up.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Oh my aching back

I’ve had a bad lower back since about 1978. I was young and foolish when I first hurt it. I’m careful about it and we have a Sleep Number bed, which is great. During our vacation, I was waking up every day with a back ache. It wasn’t a very good bed for our backs, as the wife also had back issues. Well, we’ve been back a week now and I’ve still got a back ache! I’ve been on a prescription pain medicine during the days, and take a muscle relaxer and some Tylenol PM at bed time. Walking is a great thing for the bad back, so the last three days over the July 4 holiday, I’ve done five miles each day. I’ve decided that every hour at work, I need to spend five minutes and walk to the other end of the building.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


So after the funeral for my mother-in-law, we packed up the truck and headed to Corpus Christi Texas. We've done this trip about 10 years. We've been staying at a very nice condo for the last three. Island House. We take an evening stroll down to the Bob Hall Pier. It was nice and relaxing. And too short. Except I was a bit tired of the sand, too much sun burn, etc. Some views from our patio and of the pool.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


That's my only explanation. Two weeks back, my mother in law collapsed. She'd had her first stroke about 14 years before. This latest one was fatal, she passed on a Wednesday. Somehow, we had the visitation on Thursday, the funeral on Friday and we left for a few days vacation on Sunday!