Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Frustrating day

It started on Monday. Our internet router, just died. Called up the provider and they 2-day the new router to use.
I connect to the very weak and unsecured connection at our neighbors. The downside is that I can't connect to work over an unsecured connection.
So today is Wednesday. I'd hoped to work from home, but with out a connection, couldn't do. So I go in. I then spend two frustrating hours attempting to connect. They pushed out some new logon script and it hung up my machine. I couldn't connect at all. I called up the help desk, they open a ticket and tell me I'm not alone and that I should try connecting, at work, over the Wi-Fi. I try that and that won't connect either. I call them back and he finds out that my machine wasn't set up to connect to the firewall, wireless, at work! He tells me to just connect to the internet and open a security request.....and. I heard the light bulb light up when he realised that without a connection, I couldn't connect to open the wireless connection request!!
I told the boss I was heading home. At least I'd had my email at home!

Thankfully, the router showed up and I was able to reconnect.

Friday, December 18, 2009

An Al Bundy moment



Yesterday we had an Al Bundy moment.

I’ve been working from home all week taking an online IBM class. The wife took the kid to high school yesterday. When she arrived back home she mentioned stopping at the local Star Bucks and talking with one of the ministers from our church. I waited for her to finish.

“Where’s my star yucks?” I asked.

“You don’t like Star Bucks” wife responded.

“True. I find it bitter and over priced” I said.
Followed by my Al Bundy moment.

“Just like marriage” I said.

The couch was surprisingly comfortable.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Up-selling idiots

My eleven year old Ford truck got recalled along with a lot of Fords. The issue is that a cruise control valve can leak some brake fluid and with a spark, have a fire. Ford solution is a fuse-link, which will trip/burn/blow if the short happens. You'd loose your cruise control, but not burn up the car/truck. So I called a local dealer, check the parts are in and they can fix it. They were just great to deal with. I dropped off the truck and they gave me a ride home. A few hours later, they called with the "up sale". What a load. They think we are all idiots. In their attempt to sell me something, they showed that they are the idiots.
My truck has a K&N air filter on it. These are a cotton fabric in a mesh. You CLEAN them about once a year. You spray on their cleaner, wait a bit, gently brush off the gunk, repeat if needed. Once clean, you rinse with some warm water and set it in the sun for a time to dry. You then apply some of their oil to the cotton and put it back in. I even have a big STOP sticker on the air cleaner housing, which states that it is a cleanable filter.
Ford thought it was dirty and needed REPLACED.
Um, now, they always LOOK a bit dirty, when they are doing their job and catching dirt in the reddish oil.
I guess they couldn't read the big sticker saying DO NOT THROW AWAY.
So they then decided to tell me how the connectors for the Air to Air inter cooler (my truck is a turbo diesel, after the intake air is compressed, which heats it, they pass it through a radiator to cool it) were oily and needed replaced. I just said "NO". Seems they didn't think: 1) 1999 (but 11 years old), truck. 2) Diesel 3) Oil leaks after 175000 miles. 4) the Connectors are not the CAUSE of the oil, especially when all that is passing through them is AIR.
They think all customers must be idiots.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Las Vegas bathrooms

The bathroom at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas was a bit different than the normal places we stay at. It was very nice, but still different.

Case in points.

The bathroom had a tub, two sinks, a stall shower and a separate room for the toilet. In that room was a telephone. I figure that was so you could ring down to the casino cashier and check your winnings. Or call the spa for your afternoon make-over. Or call down to one of the bars and order up someone……….

















Next case in point was the shower soap. It had bits of something in it. I tried to figure it out, but never really did. It could have been coconut husk bits. But the soap had no scent to it at all. Perhaps when Grandma was making up that batch of soap she forgot to strain out the bacon bits from the grease. Or the last option was that Tyler Durden made it. You don’t want to think about what those bits of fuzz were.















And the last point was a High Definition TV attached to the wall by the sinks. Dangerous with a razor in your hand and The View on. I wonder how many men have turned that HDTV on while shaving and then were found dead when the maid came by.


Maybe the maids should check twice a day. Once after "The View" and again after Oprah

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Leaving Las Vegas


So last Thursday I got up in Vegas, ate breakfast at the IBM IOD conference, attended the 8:15 AM session and then checked out of the Mandalay Bay and headed to the airport.
It was interesting in that when I left Mandalay, the flight was on time. An hour later, after the taxi ride, the boarding pass mess, the security line, the tram ride, and arrival at Terminal D, the flight went to an hour delayed. Due to weather at DFW airport. So I had nothing to do but email, surf the Internet, eat a Quizno's, and read a book.
Items noted on the airplane.

1) To the lady with the over sized soft sided luggage that looked like a pregnant guppy, no, no way did you fit that into the "check to see if your carry on will fit". You can act all ticked off and all, but all you really did was delay the flight and a hundred people, another 10 minutes while you tried THREE overheads, as if one would magically be large enough to hold that bag. The guy who first pointed out that your guppy bag was five INCHES to wide to fit, was right the first time. No amount of shoving your bag into a Playtex 18 Hour girdle would fix that.

2) As we were waiting to taxi onto the runway I fired up my IPOD. ZZ Top's Viva Las Vegas roared on. Strange.



3) Most everyone was awake going TO Vegas. A third of the plane was snoring on the return flight.

4) Having a Rock and Roll band on the return flight was cool. They were all very polite gentlemen, even with the guppy-bag lady.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Attend a week long IBM seminar

I’ve been in Las Vegas all week attending the IBM Information On Demand (IOD) conference. I’ll post some other blogs about all the events on this trip. But one person at the conference kept showing up in my sessions. This guy sat in the back and read the newspaper half the time. Rustling his papers and only half paying attention. I wondered what his boss and company would think. They paid IBM about $2000 for him to attend and learn about new technology, they paid his airfare and hotel. He didn’t care. He was too busy reading the paper.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This company needs to find another marketing company




They are an electrical repair company. They have a crappy jingle, then they add some person who is supposed to represent an electrician. Looks like Farmer Ted to me. Someone needs to switch the farmer's head with the pumpkin.
And then at the very last second of the advertisement, they have a FLASH! Looks like the same electrical shorting flash which would make a homeowner want to hire an electrician! Not AFTER they SHOULD have fixed it!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Weekend of unexpected car issues – day 2

So on Sunday wife and I did church and headed to the grocery store. While on the way I asked her if she also needed to stop at Wally World. There were a few items I needed, truck oil filters and printer cartridges. But we decided not to stop yet. It takes a left turn into and out of the place, through a construction zone. I would return later on, via another road where I can make a protected left and a right turn. So we proceed on to the grocery store and then home. I did a few chores and then decided to head back to Wally World before lunch. I head out and get into my truck. I turn and wait for the diesel “wait to start” light to turn off. I turn the key and am greeted with a slow “rraaaww…rraaawww…CLICK CLICK CLICK”. Yes, dead batteries. The Ford F250 diesel takes two batteries to start it. I get out and get back into the wifes Corolla and head to Wally World.

After I get back I changed into my old work clothes and go out and disconnect both batteries. I then perform a load test on one battery. The load tester basically doesn’t even know it is hooked up to a battery. I try and put my battery charger on it and it won’t register either. That one was DOA. I load test the second and it has about 9 Volts instead of 13. I put it on the charger and then remove the alternator. The last time both batteries had died, it was caused by the alternator failing.

Then I headed inside to grab some lunch. I also called my car buddy again! Daughter and her car were gone. The wife would be leaving to visit her father in Big-D and my other car was sitting inside the trailer with a DOA transmission! My car buddy had some time to spare.

So he picked me up and we decided to go to the O’Reilly’s first and have the alternator tested. It tested DOA also. Twice. Then the parts guy went looking for the part. And looking, and looking. Soon, half the sales people were looking for the part. Their computer showed they should have had two. They couldn’t find even one. So he called his other store and they made sure they had their hand on it! So we headed off to that store and picked up the alternator. $185.

We then headed to the local Firestone. I’d called them up as they were listed as a site for the brand of battery I had and mine were only two years old. We get there and the guy tested both batteries. One was DOA and the other showed “charge me and re-test”. He then said that we’d NEED THE RECEIPT to warrantee or pro-rate the batteries! I’d wished he’d said that before we drove over there! So we head back home. Unfortunately, I only find a receipt showing one battery. And it was for about five months earlier than the punch-out deal on the tops of the batteries. I then remembered what had happened two years back. The alternator went out, but the now-out-of-business-mom-and-pop car parts place and just replaced them for me. No paperwork at all. So we present ourselves back at Firestone with one receipt. The guy who first helped us was GONE TO LUNCH! At 3 PM in the afternoon when they closed in two hours! So the next guy does a “By the book” deal and finally decides that I’m not going to leave until he at least pro-rates the batteries and I get two new batteries. We then repeat the ordeal of Saturday.

Him: “What car are these on?”
Me: “None, the truck is home, dead, awaiting these batteries”
Him: “so you are going to carry these out?”
Me: “sort of. I plan on putting them into the back of my friends truck first”
Him: “what are these from then?”
Me: “OK. Punch in my phone number, xxx-xxx-xxxx. You’ll find that the other guy already has all this in your computer system”
Him: “oh, yeah here it is”


I was about ready to ask him if he needed to know the color of the truck, the one sitting in my driveway with the dead batteries!

But we finally get the two batteries and head home, $118 poorer. That was pretty much a buy-one, get one free deal. Except if they’d used the punch-outs on the batteries, they should have replaced them under warrantee. See the batteries were right at two years old and they are fully replaced in the first two years.

He hadn’t bothered to even look at the punch outs, nor did he bother to punch out the one’s on the new batteries.

I finally get home, after two hours of running around and FOUR trips to three different stores. I put in the new batteries and place them on my chargers. I put on the alternator. Thankfully, it is easy. Release the tension on the serpentine belt. Remove the small wire connector, remove the 10MM bolt for the main wire, remove three 14MM bolts and lift it off. I’d taken it with me, so all I had to do now was put it back on and make sure the serpentine belt went on all the pulleys correctly.

So the uneventful weekend wound up with almost $400 spent for a tire, alternator and two batteries.

I finally finished up and headed for my walk. I got back home just in time to see the Dallas Cowboys, lose another one.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My weekend of unexpected car issues – day one

So this past weekend I didn’t have a whole lot of items to take care of around the house.
Here it was:
1) check the tire pressures.
2) Change the air filters in the “new” part of the house
3) Get my car friend over and we push my Mustang into the enclosed trailer


Estimated times to completion (ETC)
1) About one hour for the tires (see below)
2) About 10 minutes, start to finish for the filters
3) About 45 minutes from hooking up the trailer, to pushing the car and disconnecting again.

Here is what really happened:
Item one, where I check tire pressures. We have five cars and two trailers. One car was gone. I still checked the tire pressure on the wife’s car (5 tires), my truck (5 more), two Mustangs (8 tires total, I ignored the spare tires), two trailers (8 more) and a spare for the trailers. 27 tires total. But then Saturday afternoon, I remembered that the wife’s car needed the tires rotated. I figured that wouldn’t take long, an hour tops. Except when I got to the left front, there was a hunk of missing rubber! That was not missing that same morning. So at 4 PM I called up Goodyear to check on a replacement tire. Yes, they have one. Then it gets stranger. You see, they have electronic forms to fill out and there must be a LOT of mandatory fields.

“Color” the service writer asks me me.
“Black….oh wait, the CAR or the TIRE I just rolled in here?” He wanted the car color. I guess that makes it easier to find the car when they send the 16 year old kid with the grease on his pants out to find your car.

“How many miles on it?”
“28000, I guess. Remember IT’S AT HOME!”

“So…the car isn’t here?” the service guy asks.
“No. I just took off the tire and brought it in”.

The look on his face was pretty funny. Like he’d never heard of such a thing. What I suspect he was really ticked about was that they couldn’t get grease on the seats, and declare that I’d need a new air filter, or my blinker fluid was low or some other nonsense.

I’ll give them credit, he had the tire on and off the rim in 10 minutes and I was headed back home.
Wife confirmed that she’d smacked a curb up at the drive in bank lane.
So the hour long tire pressure check, became a rotation and a new tire. Two hours and $118 spent!

Item two, where I change air filters. Actually, this was pretty uneventful. Except I totally forgot to do it until about 11 PM Sunday night. I did the filter change in my jammies, but I didn’t flash the butt-crack to anyone. With our new HVAC system, the other major filters are up in the attic now. But you only change or clean them twice a year. Earlier in the week I’d been up there to check them out.

Item three, where we push the Mustang into the trailer. I decided to quit messing around with the transmission repair and just trailer the car down to the transmission shop. So after lunch on Saturday, I called a car buddy and he came over 30 minutes later. That gave me time to hook the truck up to the trailer, get the junk out of the trailer and then move it all and have it ready. My shop is about the highest point on the property, so we had a nice slope to let the car roll down. The only heart stopper, was as I tried to turn the Armstrong-Steering and line up the car to the trailer. Except I wasn’t IN the car! The car rolled a foot up the drop down door on the trailer and slowly rolled back. We’d done really well, but needed to move the car a few inches one way. We pushed the car up the hill and got it lined up and then pushed it into the trailer. After that I pointed out that one of the four trailer lights wasn’t working. So he and I take that off and decide to make a trip to the RV place and see about a new light. I was hoping to just change the bulb, but the lamps are sealed units, making them water proof. This also gave us a good excuse to take his 1970 Mustang Mach 1 out and terrorize old people. Wait….we ARE old. Oh well. His Mustang always attracts a crowd. We get to the first RV place and they don’t have the lamp. The salesman didn’t think anyone would. It seems that there is planned obsolescence on these and the trailer was “more than 10 years old”. We decided to fire up the hot rod and try another trailer store. Same story, second verse. Finally, we decide that maybe the Northern Tool store might have something. Strike three!!! But we did get some week-trimmer string and got to look at all the tools in the place. Tool stores and Victoria’s Secrets, stores where men will actually browse.
We gave up on the trailer light and he drops me back off. After I backed the trailer up so it was out of the way, I decided to get my test light out and check on the wiring. YEP! The wiring was bad, causing the one lamp not to work! It took me about 10 minutes to rewire it. Oh well, we got to drive one of the old cars about.
Three hours, mostly driving around.

The next item wasn’t on the list, but cost the most in time, money and frustration.

To be continued……

Sunday, October 4, 2009

One of those moments in the Cosmo's

It was a cool rainy weekend in North Texas. I had car and truck issues all weekend, but by 4 PM Sunday, departed on my walk. I planned on doing four miles, but went the full five miles. On the way back, I had one of those strange happenings.
I was walking along and Elvis came on the IPOD, singing All Shook Up.



But then my IPOD is on Shuffle. And the next song is Dire Straights, Calling Elvis!



Reminded me of the stoner's in College. You remember the song Never Been Any Reason by Head East. All the stoner's would always get all spacey when they would reminisce about when the line in the song was about breaking glass and CRASH, a bottle would break.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

You know you have been Orienteering when…

1) You find yourself getting lost in the woods
2) You find yourself backing up to “relocate” yourself someplace you can find in the woods and on the orienteering map
3) You spend two hours completing the course, upset that you took that long
4) You find that only a few people finished the same course any faster than you did
5) You feel much better when two of those faster than you, were MUCH younger
6) You drink two Gatorades, finish the water in your carry-along pack and drink another bottle of water and do NOT need to use the bathroom
7) You hang around for awards because it might be the only time you get one
8) You don’t want to really win the school bus they raffle off at the awards
9) You’d not mind winning the socks they raffle off. Your’s are sweat soaked.
10) You change clothes in the back seat of your truck
11) The back seat of your truck looks like a gym bag exploded in it. Mostly because it did
12) You spend hours studying the orienteering map, trying to figure out the best way to navigate, and trying to remember where all you messed up at
13) You get home and toss all your wet and muddy clothes into the washer. You forget to clean off the mud, sticks and leaves from the cleats in your shoes
14) Your wife asks you just what you put into the washer, why the water looks like mud, and those sticks seem to just float around on the top of the water
15) When you finally take off your underwear, more sticks and leaves fall out
16) You pack up the two compasses you carry with rubber between them, so they don’t mess each other up
17) You look forward to the next event

Yes, the North Texas Orienteering Association has started their year. Actually this past weekend was the second event, but I didn’t make the first one. I’m ticked off that I’ll probably have to miss the next one also. And the one after that is a “B” meet, two day event. I’ll have to keep my head on better to survive both of those days.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

In progress - transmission install


This last Sunday my friend came over and we started installing the C4 transmission. He helped muscle it into place and aligned. He stayed for four of the six bolts from the transmission into the motor, for one of the torque converter nuts(we need it further bolted up, and the starter installed to rotate the motor to align the rest), and the support cross member.
So last night since it was RAINING again in Texas, I installed a few more items, the starter and such. It's getting closer. I hope to finish it up this weekend and get it out of the garage for a drive.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The tranny transplant that didn't happen....yet



So we have been a bit busy moving the oldest daughter up to college. In between, I got the C4 Transmission for my Mustang rebuilt. I forgot to tell them to NOT paint it. I had to strip off the paint, mask off some parts and repaint it so it is close to how they looked from the factory.
I also spent a few hours running new stainless steel transmission coolant lines and getting 40 years of grease and gunk off the underside of the car.
Yesterday I went ahead and tried to see if I could get the car up and the transmission in place under it. That part went fine, but then my jacks were not cooperating and I couldn't safely get the transmission close enough to actually bolt it to the engine.
It will have to wait until a friend can assist.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Life changes

This past weekend was one of those times when you pause and say "did that really just happen?"
Our eldest has now moved to a college dormitory! We did that on Sunday. We got home from church and she had already filled the foyer with her boxes. By 2 PM we were up in Denton, and parked in a dirt lot next to the Honors dorm. She got checked in and a room key and we checked out a big cart to use to transfer everything. We only made two trips and had her all moved in. A young man from Denton Bible Church walked up while we were unloading the truck and volunteered to haul something. Mission work by the church. We spoke to him since we knew his pastor had health issues. We had the eldest moved in and wife and I went to see about paying the bill, since all of UNT's online bill pay, seems screwed up. Unfortunately, there were closed for the day. I tried again Sunday evening and it worked! Wife and I then walked about the campus and down to a Sack N Save to pick up a few items for her. We then went back home with a short list of other items needed. Printer cable, ethernet cable, hooks and such.
Hard to believe she is now up at the dorm. Classes start on Thursday, but she is staying up there, getting settled in, meeting people, checking out the campus.

And then today (Monday), the youngest had her first day in High School. She was a bit apprehensive about it, but will do fine.

Somehow with all that going on, I was still able to work on my newly rebuilt automatic transmission. It is almost ready to go back into the car. I need to crawl under the car and install the new transmission cooler lines and clean up a few other items.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sunday, A day of rest


Sometimes. Sometimes you get a wild hair and take a transmission out of a car.

First we need to rewind about 6 weeks, or 15 years. I have a 1969 Ford Mustang. It has been a member of the family since 1971. I quit driving it on a regular basis in about 1983. It has the small V-8 engine and an automatic transmission, a C4 in Ford vernacular. The shift linkage on the C4 goes through the side of the transmission case, where it has a seal to keep the transmission fluid inside. Unfortunately, the seal can only be serviced from inside the transmission. The shifter rod is actually designed so that it is above the normal level of fluid in the pan. But when you quit driving the car and let it sit for some time, then the torque converter, which is the device hooking the motor to the transmission, slowly drains its fluid back into the transmission pan, raising the level of the fluid up to the shifter seal. Result? A small seepage of transmission fluid on the floor.
15 years ago, I’d drive the car on a weekend and park it. It would take about six days before the seepage would begin, and then it would only leak maybe a bathroom Dixie cup of fluid. That went on for about 14 years.
This year I started to notice that I’d drive the car on a Saturday, and by Sunday, there was already fluid leaking.
About six weeks ago I decided to do a dirty nasty task and change the transmission fluid and filters in both the old Fords. We also have a 1970 Ford Mustang Mach1. Changing transmission fluids on old Fords is about my least favorite task on them. Ford pinched penny’s for years and never installed drain plugs on the transmission, as it isn’t a regularly required task. Most people just take it in to a shop. Not me. I lie on the floor with the car jacked up and start loosening the pan bolts. That causes the fluid to start leaking out. All over your arm and floor. But that is how it is done. So I change the filter and fluid and hope that some of the leaking on the C4 is from the pan gasket. Well some of it might have been, but you couldn’t tell it from how much was still leaking all over the drip pan under the car.
I hit the internet to see if there are some write ups on replacing the shifter seal with the transmission still in the car. I found a few write ups. Unfortunately, the task requires again draining the fluid, and then removing the shifter body from inside. So a few weeks back, I go back under the car, transmission fluid running down my arm, but I get the shifter body out. Except my car has a kick down linkage that also passes through the shift rod! That is in the way of getting to the large nut which holds the shifter arm. The shift rod can’t be removed, as the main gears are in the way. In disgust, I bolt everything back together. I pull out 40 years of maintenance records on the car and start looking around to see if there was ever any work done on the transmission. I can’t find any records about the transmission, except fluid and filter changes. I crawl back under the car the next weekend and start inspecting all aspects of the transmission. I find 40 year old Ford tags and markings. I also realize that the transmission has multiple leaks. Not only the shifter shaft, but the modulator valve is leaking, and it seems that the torque converter is also leaking. I decide to remove the transmission and take it to a shop for a rebuild.
So the next weekend I climb under the car and start loosening and removing all the parts so I can remove the transmission. I also call a local shop that has been in business since the late 1950’s and they confirm they can rebuild antique automatic transmission.

So this past Sunday another car friend comes over and we work on some parts for his Mustang. We mess with that for about an hour and then he convinces me that with his help, we can have the transmission out of the car in a little while. So we head under it, him on one side and me on the other. About two hours later, the transmission is lying on the floor. No injuries were sustained, which is always a good thing. The only broken parts were the transmission coolant lines. We tried to get the one off we could reach, but after 40 years, the steel line and the nut that holds it to the transmission, had become one with each other. The steel line twisted and cracked. The other line has to be removed when the transmission is lowered a few inches. Since the coolant lines are sold in a pair, I made the executive decision to use a pipe cutter and just cut the line off. I’ll have to order new lines and plan on getting stainless steel lines.

So I need to order some parts, the fluid lines, plus a new steel vacuum line. I don’t have to replace the vacuum line, but might as well at this point. Plus a new transmission mount, which is rubber and had about dissolved from 40 years of use and leaking fluids.

So after 40 years, I have to spend $475 to get the transmission rebuilt.

Should I call up Ford and complain?

The photo is the C4 transmission and the torque converter in the back of my truck, ready to be dropped off at Hackler Transmission.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


HVAC repair

We have had four service calls on our home air conditioning this summer.

The first was when we returned from vacation at the end of June. The “old” part of the house would not cool below 80 degrees. I called out a company, but they charged us $200 for two pounds of Freon.

Two weeks later and the “new” part of the home, the compressor was not running when I returned home from work. New is relative, as the system is 10 years old. Just the day before the compressor quit, I was at a friend’s house and three of us were talking about HVAC repairs. The other guy had his home built 13 years back and the AC had never really worked well. He had contracted a local Trane dealer to “do over” and was very impressed with the professionalism, the work and the energy savings. So when I got home and that unit was not running, I gave them a call. I explained the issue and they said it would be $200 for them to come out now, since it was after 5 PM already, or $175 the next day. I picked the next day. We could set up some fans and turn down the “old” part to try and cool some of the “new” area. About 6 PM, the phone rang and it was the service technician. He asked for the symptom, and then said that if he drew a line between where he was, and his house, we were on the way and would it be OK if he came now? If not, then it would have to be after 1 PM the next day. I told him I didn’t want to pay for off-hours, but he said NO PROBLEM, this was his choice. So, 20 minutes later he and his helper show up, and in 15 minutes the unit was back among the living AC units again. I was impressed. Then he handed me the bill. $157. CHEAPER than they had said. I paid them and told them I’d want a bid on replacing the older system, but later in the fall. They said to just ring them when we needed.

Two days later and I get home and again the old part of the house is not cooling. I called them again. They came by and sure enough, the unit was again two pounds low on Freon. It was leaking it at the rate of two pounds in three weeks. It was just the middle of July, in Texas. The technician climbed up into the attic and looked over the system. Bad news, which was expected. The coil up in the attic was leaking. It was 14 years old. The outside compressor was 19 years old and the furnace was original, 25 years old. The fan in the attic was also squeaking badly, even after he oiled it. I told him about my friend and how please he was with their Trane system, and he went to work on a bid. He asked some questions about the home size and such and then came up that we needed a 3.5 ton unit, not the 3 ton we had. Except in the new energy efficient unit, they only had 3 and then 4 ton units. I opted for the 4 ton, which is a really neat compressor. It is really two, two ton units. The “intelligent” systems in it, can work alternating compressors on mild days, and both at full capacity on really hot days. I also opted to go from a 16 SEER to a 20 SEER unit, with a 10 year warrantee. Since we have two asthmatics in the home, I also added a clean-air filtration system. Built into the unit, it was $400. Adding it later would be $600 plus installation. So we signed up for a full system change scheduled for July 23. It was July 15, so we all crossed our fingers that the system would limp along eight days.

Two days later, the system AGAIN refused to work. Since we were under contract for the new system, the HVAC company came right out, no charge, to trouble shoot us. He found some relay had overheated and shorted out, due to the fan bearings being so bad. He had a used relay on the truck and wired that in to attempt to get us into the next week.

So that was FOUR service calls, by two companies, in three weeks time!


On the appointed day for the system change out, three service trucks rolled up. Along with a pickup truck loaded with all the new equipment. There were five service technicians and the owner of the company. They then proceeded to unload the gear and crawl up into the attic and over the outside compressor to remove all the old gear. About 9:30, I went out and they had all the old gear sitting on the garage floor. I offered them some Gatorade. Then there were two discoveries that had the technician’s eyes wide! One technician decided to dump the rust out of the furnace. He got a small bucket and asked one of the other guys to help him pick it up and dump it. It HALF FILLED the bucket with rust. One of them made another comment about that being about the worst he’d ever seen. The owner cracked me up with his reply. “That unit has been in that attic since before YOU were born!” But then the owner noticed something and asked for a screw gun. He went about removing the natural gas control valve from the furnace. Even his eyes got wide as they started singing “Burning down the house!” The inside part of the control value, had evidence of a fire! He said if it had burned a hole in the gas line, you’d see our house on the evening news with the attic blown off.

They finished their Gatorade and went back to work putting in the new gear.

The next wide-eyed moment was an hour later. Since the new compressor was larger than the old unit, it required a new breaker in our fuse panel. The owner was attempting to get the old fuse out and I was watching. It didn’t pop right out. When he got it out and examined it, it also showed signs of being over heated! There was some light corrosion on the fuse and also some plastic fatigue from heat! Another round of “burning down the house”.

Around 12:30, they were almost all done. We were down to just one truck, two technicians and the owner. He started the new unit up. With it’s built in electronics, it would actually sense things and tell them to add or remove Freon. It was 84 degrees in the house at 12:30. At 1 PM, we heard the one compressor shut down. The temperature was already dropped to 78 degrees, heading to the thermostat setting of 77. A few minutes later, and we were at 77 degrees and the unit shut down. It had pulled it down so fast, they actually had to lower the temperature a few more degrees to take some more readings and tune the system.

We are beyond impressed. I can’t wait to see what our electric bill will drop to. My friend said his dropped in half, but we still do have the “new” part of the house running with an older AC system. If you are about the Flo-Mo-HV-Lake Dallas area, check these guys out, Allied American Service.

I plan to have them out again this fall to replace our worn out duct work.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Film versus Movie - an explanation

The TV station Encore has been showing Dances With Wolves a few times lately. It was playing this Sunday and I had it on. Our 14 year old daughter came walking by and asked me what show that was. I said "Dances with Wolves, a real nice western FILM". She tisked at me and said "MOVIE....dad....jeshhhh...". She then explained that only OLD people used the term "film".

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Let's use two gallons of water to get one cup of water


I'm always amazed to watch the antics people go through to get a cup of water. I've already documented the "hot water over ice" technique.
So today I'm in the break room micro-zapping my lunch. A lady comes in. She heads to the sink, right where I'm microwaving, and LEANS on the hot water tap to insure it is turned well off. She then turns ON the cold water, full blast. I mean I have to step back to keep from getting splashed on. She heads over and picks up a styrofoam coffee cup. She fills it about half full of hot water out of the coffee maker. All the while the cold water is on full blast, with water splashing onto the floor. She then turns the cold water down, sticks her finger in it (it's Texas, Summer time in Texas...there isn't any COLD tap water). She then sticks her half full cup of HOT water under the COLD water tap. The one she just ran for two minutes to get COLD water flowing. So she has half HOT water, half COLD tap water (and about two gallons went down the drain) in her cup. She drinks some of the water, dumps the rest and tosses the cup in the trash. She then makes SURE the sink taps are off. I mean she leans on those. I pitty the next person who tries to turn them on.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Customer Service


I have been using flash drives for about five years. The first one I purchased is 512 MB and still works. It is a Lexar. My second flash is a Kingston Data Traveler, 2 GB. I’ve had it about three years. About a month back, it was about 80 percent used and decided it was “write protected”, so I can read off it, but could not write to it. Some time spent with Google searching for solutions yielded a tool to use to attempt to reformate it, but that didn’t work either. I was able to copy most everything off of it onto the computers hard drive. I then went and purchased a PNY 4 GB flash. It didn’t cost much, but the dumb thing quit working in three weeks! And I can’t read anything off it. Thank goodness, the old Kingston is still readable. I lost a few updated files off the “pony”.

So yesterday I decided to call up both PNY and Kingston to see what, if anything could be done.

PNY. Did I always properly eject it? Yes. OK, If you have the store receipt call us back and you will need to send the receipt and the flash back to us. I attempt to find the receipt, but can’t find it. I know about when I purchased it and went up to Wal*Mart, but they can’t pull up a duplicate receipt. I am out of luck on this unit.

I call up Kingston. Can you read the serial number off the side? Yes. OK, that unit is 4 years old, so it is still under our warrantee. They then email me instructions and a return number. I buy a 62 Cent padded envelop and have the post office stamp it. I’m out about $2 and Kingston will mail me a replacement drive. No questions asked. It should not have failed. Oh, and they most likely will replace the 2GB with a 4GB unit.

Kingston and Lexar, you have my business.

PNY, see ya!!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Entertainment Tonight


We usually watch the local ABC News affiliate, WFAA. We often watch at the 6 PM news time and following that, the ABC program Entertainment Tonight (ET) comes on. It is the most annoying four minutes and thirty seconds of information that can be crammed into a thirty minute program. They start with loud flashy music and images and excitedly tell you about what they are going to cover in these thirty minutes. They then take a commercial break. When they come back, they take four minutes to dispense one minute of celebrity news. They, they tell you what else they will tell you about in the remaining part of the program. Off to another commercial break. When they come back, it is another minute buried in five minutes of noise, and then they pose some “whose celebrity something or other is TODAY…..we will tell you after THIS commercial break”. On and on and on and on. Some psychologist needs to study if suicides in America go UP as the show drones on.
They spend the last few minutes of the program telling you about what they MIGHT cover in “tomorrows program of ET!!!!!”.

So last week, Michael Jackson died of a cardiac “event”. I’ve been betting the wife that MJ would open and close the show, every day this week. I’ve won that bet. I should have bet that the entire program would be about MJ, but on Thursday, they actually had some other celebrity news, for one minute and thirteen seconds, and then returned to MJ news.

Entertainment Tonight has not been this focused on a dead celebrity, since Anna Nicole Smith passed.

Come to think of it, ANS and MJ had a lot in common. Most of it was plastic. Male viewers appreciated ET’s “coverage” of ANS……

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Strange and cool events while on vacation

1) Youngest daughter took a LARGE Snickers bar out of the refridgerator and decided it was too cold to eat. So we mentioned laying on the balcony banister, in the shade, for a few minutes. Bad idea. She was 1 foot from it when a seagull swooped in and grabbed it and took it!

2) While walking off the inlet jetty wall, the gulls were again fishing for something. The night before, even the pelicans were in on it. Tonight, there were turtles bobbing up in the area! There must have been four or more. We watched until the sun faded and we could not see them anymore

3) While laying out on the sea wall after dark, I spotted FOUR satelites going throgh the sky. They look like stars, but are moving fast and no flashing lights like an airplane. Three were tracking west to east, one was south to north.

4) Spotted at least one shooting star, there might have been two more, but they were so faint, I'm wondering if my eyes were playing tricks on me.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Texting "I'm SO Bored", over and over and....


This Wednesday night some bad storms rolled through North Texas. The wife and I left at 5 PM and went on our three mile walk. By the time we got back at 6, the storm clouds were filling the western sky. We called our youngest kid as she was at a friends house, to the west. She wanted us to pick them up, take them to get hamburgers, take them back home. Totally unaware of the pending storms. We got on the phone to the other mom, who agreed that getting home was the priority.
We got back a bit after 6:30 and the news was still on with the bad storms, hail, possible tornado's and such. We quickly heated some dinner and got flashlights out. By 6:45, we were shutting down computers and such. Right before 7 PM, the storm hit, the lights flashed and then went out. It stormed hard for the next thirty minutes while the warning sirens wailed. We took cover in a walk-in closet.
By 8 PM, the worst was over, but the power was out. Our youngest is very "attached" to all things electronic. She started telling me how boring this all was, what could we do, etc. I decided to sit on the back porch, watch the rain and read. She sat with me and texted her friends "I'm bored".
We got showers by flash light and candle light and went to bed before 10 PM.
The youngest didn't want to sleep in her room, so she made a bed on the living room couch. She kept saying how she wasn't tired, but she'd had a "not a sleep over" the night before, so we knew she was running on fumes. She fell asleep before 10 PM, on the couch, texting her friends "I'm Bored".
About 10:30, we heard the oldest kid drive up from her job. I got up with flashlight in hand. I'd texted her twice that we were without power, eat before she got home, flashlight on the floor by the door. She'd ignored the text! The power had not gone out at her work.
About ten minutes later, the power came on. We started laundry, dishes, turned off lights and such. Youngest moved back to her bed.

In the middle of the night, it started storming again! This time, the power stayed on and the youngest didn't need to text her friends "I'm SO BORED"

Good thing she wasn't born in 1850.

Driving in to work today and there were several places with trees down across the roads, lights not working and flooded streets.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Bird Poop Bombing practice range

We have two cats. One stays inside and sleeps 23 hours a day. The other likes to hang outside. He likes to bother the other cats up the street, he likes to watch the world go by, he likes to lay in the sun, sleep in the shade of the bushes, roll in the dirt and do other cat stuff.

Every spring, we have anywhere from two to five birds build their nest in our three oak trees. They then have their babies. We have cardinals, mocking birds, sparrows and I don’t know what else building the nest. The birds do NOT like the cat walking about. They like to swoop over his head. We’ve seen him actually pinned to the ground by the birds. I’ve also found a few dead birds. He has enough of it and has killed a few over the years.

One thing the cat likes to do is walk down on our drive way, roll on it to scratch his back or head to the neighbors to check on their dogs. The birds have taken up poop bombing practice while the cat is on the drive way.

One photo is proof.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Rassle'n with a truck


My diesel truck is 10 years old now. It's been relatively trouble free. I do most of the routine maintenance on it. A few weeks back it gave me a no-start day. Part of that day was to disconnect the batteries. Yes, plural, there are two needed to start this diesel. There are two negative cables, that just go from each battery down to the engine block and also to the truck chassis. But the positive cable, is a doosie! It is about 10 feet long. Yes, feet long. It starts at the battery on the drivers side, is then taped along the radiator running to the passenger side battery. Where it has another post connector. From there, it has a smaller wire to the starter solenoid and the main cable runs under the engine to the starter. This is not small cable either. It is about as big around as your thumb. And attached to something every foot. And covered with that plastic wrap to keep from chaffing. At 11 AM this Saturday, I called a local mom and pop battery shop about putting on new connectors. It was NOT advised, as that one connector would be massive, to join the two batteries and also run to the starter. I figure that much, and had priced out a replacement cable. No one had the replacement cable, and it was $100 also. But this guy DID have one and for $65 and he'd throw in two bolts so I could replace those on the negative terminals also! So, I got the cable and it took a bit over an hour to replace it.

Since I had that done and it was only past 2 PM, and I had nothing else to be doing, I went ahead with replacing the transmission fluid and filter. Which I'd not done for about 100,000 miles. The transmission holds 16 quarts in the deep sump, aluminum finned pan. It's held on with about 20 bolts. All that came off, slimy transmission oil in my hair, shirt, arms, etc.
I worked until 7:30 that night, with a dinner break in there. But it all got done.

Sunday, I washed and re-oiled the air filter. I just need to change the oil on the beast before our vacation to south Texas.

The photo is the old cable, with the rotted ends, and missing all the protective stuff that I'd already thrown away.

Friday, May 29, 2009

White people can't clap

I went to a middle school (sixth, seventh and eigth grade) choir show the other night. They had a fun program, doing Beach Boys and beach song covers. Some of the parents decided to help by clapping along. Except instead of clapping on the regular second and fourth beat, they were clapping on the down beat. The One and Three. Except all those beach songs are classic rock, two/four songs. Where the drums, the snare drum (the one you clap WITH) are on the two/four. So when they started clapping on the one/three, well, it just doesn't work. It almost killed one of the songs. The kids seemed to "feel" that it was off and started getting off tempo with the recorded music.

We need some diversity in that school.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A most welcome telephone call


My sister started to get a Master degree about ten years back. She didn't complete it then and went back to work. Some years back she was widowed. She worked teaching public school a few more years, but then decided to quit and really pursue a Masters in History at the University of North Texas. She's been working on it a few years. I think she gained a lot of respect from her professors when she realised something was missing, took it to them, showed it, and then went back and totally reworked her masters paper. She called around 5 PM last night and was on cloud nine. She passed her oral defense of her work and passed with flying colors! She said it was all still very surreal. She arrived at the 2 PM meeting. Introductions were made. She was asked to go walk the halls for a few minutes. They then called her in and they discussed the work, and some areas that they wanted more details added. Then they asked her to take another walk. She said she had not even reached the ladies room door, when they called her back in. Unanimous vote that she received her Masters! She then said they proceeded to discuss how she could continue the work and work towards her doctorate!

Lets take stock.

Sister: Undergraduate degree, and now a masters.

Mother: Registered Nurse from a hospital school. Undergraduate degree when she was in her forties. Masters after that in Liberal arts.

Dad: Too much to list! Undergraduate degree. Air force pilot training, which is constant. Masters in Business while still in the air force. Yet another Masters degree when he retired from USAF. He went on teaching school. He's been retired from that for 10 years, but he teaches drivers ed, and does tours at the Cavanaugh Flight Museum.

Me: Just an undergrad degree.

I must be the black sheep. I'm also the only one in the bunch that never worked in public education.

A super big congratulations to my sister.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Telephone calls, what where they thinking?


We had two telephone calls that had me wondering what people placing the calls, were thinking. The first was late last night and again this morning. I’ll start with last night. I work in Information Technology (IT). Off hour calls are a way of life. When a production computer job breaks, someone, sometimes me, has to get it fixed. My employer recently sent some jobs half way around the world for support there. This is to save money while the business focus’s on new applications. Last night at 10:30 PM USA central time, the phone rang. Never a good thing being that late. I could barely understand the other person, with the delay for an overseas call and all. I did some mental math and figured out that it was around 10 AM on their Monday morning. Since I had trouble understanding them, I finally asked them to send me an email with the job that had failed. We hung up. I then called our global computer center and spoke with the operator. He was able to point me to the correct job. My first mistake was assuming that it was a production issue and had just happened. WRONG! It was on the test system, and to sweeten the icing on the cake, it had failed FRIDAY morning! When the “on shore” team should have handled it. Not calling up me at 10:30 PM on a Sunday evening on a three day weekend. I looked back through some logs and found that a person must have had trouble running a job, all last week. They probably just gave up on Thursday and left it. Except then the Friday morning job failed, but they didn’t fix that either. By 11 PM, I had it up and running, and pointed out to the off-shore person that this was TEST, and it was 11 PM here, on a holiday weekend.

The next call was this Monday, Memorial Day morning. 8 AM in fact. We were still asleep and enjoying sleeping in. The phone rang. I was still groggy, but the wife picked it up. Our middle school kid is going to graduate and move on to high school. The middle school deemed that important enough to telephone all the parents with an automated message. We appreciate the call, but 8 AM on a holiday? I think whoever set that message up to be sent at that time, needs to be sent back to sixth grade.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Eventful three days - part 3


So after almost getting caught up on sleep, I got up Monday morning and got ready for work. At 7 AM, I headed out to my diesel truck. I turned the key and looked for the "wait to start" light. But it didn't look back. None of the gauges registered. Usually at least the battery gauge goes up. The lights were on, the radio came on. I cranked on it, but it would not start. After about 5 minutes, I headed inside. I fired up the work laptop and sent the boss an email about not making it in. I assumed that the engine wash, must have gotten something wet or, hopefully not, shorted out. This hadn't ever happened in the 10 or 15 other times I'd washed it over the years. I posted a message on the North Texas Power Stroke forum seeking advice and did some "real" work while waiting on their expert advice. Within 30 minutes, the president sent me a reply about a GPR. I had to ask what that meant, where was it, and how to test. It is the Glow Plug Relay. Diesels start much better when the cylinders are warm. The relay activates the Glow Plugs, which use electricity to warm up the cylinders on the diesel. This relay is located right up top of the engine on my truck. Kevin even sent me the part number to go get! So I went to work changing it out. Which wasn't too bad. Except the wires didn't exactly line up, so I had to jiggle the wires and grind down the edge of one connector. Still, the truck would not start. By now it was noon. A few others chimed in about checking all the fuses, especially under the hood. At 1 PM, I called Ford and AAA for getting a tow. But then went out and decided to not only check the under hood electrics one more time, but also the in-the-dash fuses. I got down and popped off the cover. Then it hit me. Actually it was staring me in the face. I have a Turbo Diesel Lifesaver on the truck. That allows the truck to idle, while locked up with no key in it. If you try and drive the truck when the TDLS is engaged, it just dies. Great for letting the turbocharger cool down. I use it when real cold weather, or on trips. I've let that truck run for hours, only shutting down while we ate a meal. As part of the unit, there is a "Kill Switch" feature. My kill switch WAS down low on the dash. While wife and I were cleaning the truck on Sunday, one of us must have tripped the switch! It "killed" the truck. So at 1:15, I flipped the switch and the truck roared back to life. I ran in and cancelled the tow, cancelled the service appointment, posted on the forum that "idiot solves dead truck", and then went and moved the switch to BEHIND the dash. I'm thinking I need to tape it so it can't be tripped again.
I worked from home the rest of the day.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Eventful three days - part 2


So after orienteering Saturday, we headed home. I got home around 4 PM, tossed my wet muddy clothes into the washer, tossed myself into the shower. After that, I delivered our youngest to a sleep over. You see, it was High School Prom night. At 6:30, seven other kids were showing up in their finest. So wife, eldest, myself and my sister ate take-out Chinese food and got ready for the kids. They started arriving, parents started hanging out by the limo, etc. We had a line of cars from the front to the back of the property of their cars.
We took a few photo's here, but then headed over to another parents house. We lost a few getting there.
After that, it was parents collapse for a bit. At midnight, we had pizza delivered. At 12:30, the limo arrived and dropped nine kids off (we'd gained one). Some changed into casual clothes, some hadn't brought any. Then, even more kids arrived, including one just back from Marine basic training. The wife and I attempted to get to sleep around 2 AM. Around 3 AM, some of the kids decided to head to an indoor gymnasium that one of their parents owns. At 4:30 AM, they arrived back at our place. At 5 AM, they all left again to head to IHOP......back where the gym place was! At sun up, a few were still hanging out talking.

We slept in as long as we could, but were still up around 9 AM. I decided to wash and spring clean the vehicles. That included washing the motor on my diesel truck.

I then drove one of my old classic Mustangs. I went to start daughters car to get out my other classic, but her car would not start. May is when I do maintenance on her car, so I started pulling the spark plugs out. It should not have needed new ones, but one of them was the wrong one! Unreal that a "real" mechanic would do such a thing. He took a tapered seat plug, put on a metal washer on it, and installed it!

A new set of spark plugs and her car fired up. I proceeded to change the oil and filter, the brake fluid, the power steering fluid and the transmission fluid.

More about cars not starting, tomorrow.

The top photo is the line of cars in the driveway.

The bottom photo is the spark plugs from the daughters car.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Eventful three days - part 1

Saturday, rain. Mr G and I were heading out to the last NTOA orienteering event of the year. But first I had to drop off a bunch of electronic waste for recycling. The local high school had a drop off deal going. We got that done and were underway towards Erwin Park in McKinney Texas. On the way there it took both of us to wake up enough to not take the road north to the Texoma area parks. We arrived about 9:30 at Erwin, to light rain. This event only had about half the usual number of people signed up for it. We parked pretty close and walked over to the pavilion where sign in was. We then went back to the truck to get ready. Our start times were the same and we had about 25 minutes to get ready. We took our start and started in the same direction. I asked Mr. G what number was on his first control. Yep, same control, so we headed over the field and through the forest to the first point, and the second. At that point our courses took different directions. I didn't have any trouble with my third point, but the fourth took me clear across the park to an area that is pretty thick forest. I got to where a trail went down to a creek and ran into about 20 boy scouts, with full packs on. They were S L O W L Y climbing across the stream. I took about 1 minute watching and then decided to find a spot to jump the creek. Even though a few other orienteers cautioned me about it, I did it, made it and headed up the hill past the scouts. I found the fourth point and headed to the fifth. Taking a wrong angle of attack on the way. Funny thing spotted along the way was an orienteer jumping over a "non-crossable" fence. He'd gone off the map! He wasn't the only one to do that this day! That is a bit dangerous thing to do, as people can get lost quite quickly. The rest of my points were not to bad. It had quit raining while I was out on the course. I got back, got out of my very wet clothes. Another friend and I were just getting lunch out when Mr. G showed up. He'd had a good course also, but was also very wet. By the time we finished lunch, the temperature started to drop and it started raining again. We stuck around for the awards and headed home.

I needed to get home, as this was also the High School Prom night. Eldest daughter and friends were congregating at our place and would return after midnight.

To be continued.

Photos.

Stream


trail


control in the forest.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Star Trek

The wife and I and some of her old college friends met at the movie theater for opening night of the new Star Trek. I’ll start with it was a FUN movie. Decent effects, decent plot, funny bits, some great casting. We didn’t even realize it was Winona Ryder until after she’d been in the movie for 15 minutes.

However, here are some visuals about the movie and some thoughts on it.

The plot



Simon Pegg will always bring to mind, SHAUN OF THE DEAD. Actually, he was near perfect pick for his part.




There was an Ice Planet. Just like the rebel base in one of the Star Wars movies.


But it looks like this now.




At least the Trek Ice planet had a big red monster and not an abdominal snowman, like an original Star Trek did.





The bad guys space ship



Reminded me of this


Nero the bad guy


reminded me of this guy


They also have a new high-tech dental drill, which is used to distroy the Golden Gate Bridge, among other things.



And you must always have “Kirks Babe of the day”. Which is done to remind us of Bond, James Bond.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Keep your ditches clean, or not

Last weekend I spent a bit of time trimming trees off the roof, fence and other places. The other task was to remove some of the silt from the drainage ditch in the front of the house. In 22 years we've lived there, the city has yet to do it. Not many people do it themselves. I do it as we have two drive ways and I don't need the pipes under the drives filling up. So I got out there and spent about two hours shoveling out about four inches deep between the drives. It only needs done every five years or so. I'd rather do it than have the city show up and break the pipes, chip the drives, and who knows what else. Next rain, we should see how I did.

I take a short cut through an old-town neighborhood on the way home. Wednesday I turned up it and hit the brakes. This other city had a backhoe out cleaning out the ditch in front of this old house. The house is probably 60 to 100 years old. The ditch wasn't half way silted up, but the city was cleaning it out. Thursday I turned up the same street. The homeowner must have decided he didn't like that the city used his tax money to clean out the ditch and put in new rocks for his driveway. He was shoveling the rocks out of his driveway. Back into the ditch.

I wonder when the ditch backs up water, if he will be the first person calling city hall to complain!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Orienteering at Tyler State Park


Saturday April 25, Mr. G picked me up at 7:30 AM and we headed two hours to the east, to Tyler State Park. We drove in and out of rain showers on the way. I blamed Mr. G for that, as at the last event, he'd commented how we had not had to orienteer in the rain this year.
We arrived to just light sprinkles and went to check in. We then wandered back to his car and got our different gaiter, compasses, clue holders, hats, tape and other items we take.

I did the Brown course and didn't really have any problems with it. I finished in an hour and 23 minutes. Mr G did Green and it was very long and he took about an hour and 50 minutes. It was still sprinkling on us at the start of the event. About half way into it, I'd taken a compass bearing and was heading cross country when I decided to back track. The area I was into, was very wet with chest high grass. I was getting soaked. Other orienteers were in the area, but I'd noticed the trail I was on, would intersect a power line. Power lines are like highways in the woods. The utility companies keep the underbrush open. You can follow them. The orienteering maps are so detailed, that even the power poles are noted, so you can count the poles and use one to go into the woods at. I decided to do that and not get so wet in the grass.

After the event, we cleaned up, ate lunch and attended the awards. After that, we went and sat under the trees and read and napped. About 4:30, we headed out of the park to Bodacious BBQ. We sat with an orienteering couple and discussed world events.

After that, we headed back into the park. They were doing a Night-O event. Orienteering in the woods at night. Last year, about 100 people did it. This year, only eight of us. Mr. G and I do it as a team.

The photo at the top, was one of my control points. It was located on a bend in a stream. The control bag is the orange and white thing, the orange thing below it is the paper/manual punch. And strapped to the tree (click the picture to zoom in), is the reddish electronic control punch. After I dropped down to the control, straddled the stream to get my e-punch, I then had to hoist myself up the bank of the stream and head up that hill in the back ground. Such is the way of advanced orienteering. Now, add darkness!

Below are some photos.

Tree at sunset from a trail



Trail at sunset



A night-o photo from the internet. The orienteer has on a head light for hands free use in the forest. Mr. G and I don't have a HEAD light like that one, but we also carry a regular hand flash light.



And what the orienteerer sees during the night-O (not really, you can see 25 to 30 meters)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Humans walk on water!!!

No, really. In recorded history, there is only one occurrence noted in the Bible.
This past weekend there were a lot of people standing on Lake Tyler State Park, Texas. I took a picture just to show the wife. She thinks I make up all this weirdness that I see. I was so awe-struck, I only took one photo and only when two people were walking on the water. Earlier in the day, there was about 30 people out there.