Friday, September 28, 2007

When it Rains, it Pours

Literally. In my car that is...

I've been working on finding the elusive leak in my car for some time now. It has been slow going though--Partly due to my schedule, and partly due to weather.

After I replaced the slightly leaking heater core this last summer, quite a while went by (it didn't rain!) before I found out that there was more to it than the heater core. It didn't rain much overnight, but it was enough to cause water to drip out of the heater onto the passenger floor. It had been just long enough after the repair that I had forgotten about it and was quite mad to find it still leaking.

Then I worked on it a month or so ago with a little help from my brother, using automotive seam sealer to re-seal the body seam area on the passenger side below the windshield. That involved partially removing the passenger side front fender as well. After that I had to wait quite a while again for the weather to cooperate and dump enough rain for me to know whether or not my repair worked.

Again it didn't.

The first morning it rained after that was a while afterwards, and I had almost forgotten about it. It really wasn't much of a rain so I didn't know what it would do. I was halfway to work when it dumped some water out onto the floor.

I was pretty pissed of course, and kinda pushed it out of my mind for a while. After all, it was summer. A few days ago I decided I was going to give it another go and completely sealed every body seam all the way across the car under the windshield area. That meant removing all the windshield wiper linkage and partially removing the driver's side fender this time. My repair timing was mostly due to the fact that real rain was predicted last night.

This morning I got in my car, and just to be safe, I removed the heater motor so it wouldn't get wet. Luckily it's just a snap-in thing so it's easy to pop back out with no tools. I went down the driveway, turning left onto the little street in front of my place. I was instantly greeted by a gushing sound. I turned on the dome light and witnessed a flood of water dumping onto the passenger floor. I mean a LOT of water. After all, it had to be a lot of water for me to hear it...

Obviously, my repairs didn't work because none of the repairs actually were the problem. That effectively eliminated most everything as the culprit. That leaves only one possible thing that could be causing it.

The windshield.

Now I get to figure out how to reseal a windshield. It was replaced about 5 years ago, and obviously their repair was only good for 5 years. There are two ways to fix such a problem: The right way (having someone
remove and replace the windshield) and the easy way (using some sort of sealer and hoping to get it injected into the right areas).

At least now I know what the problem is.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Time to Shop?

The other day I was looking around and for some reason saw my bedroom in a whole new light, and you know what? I didn't like what I saw.

When I moved out on my own I had nothing. I literally slept in a sleeping bag on an inflatable mattress that my ex wife let me use. I had no beds, no dressers, no nothing in here with the exception of my homemade computer desk and an ugly free-standing shelf.

One thing I refused to skimp on was a bed. Right off the bat I bought two new beds. That's where the buying really stopped though. The rest of it was scraped together any way I could, and from any place I could. My resourcefulness came into play as I accrued furniture items, and my criteria were few: No smells, and functional. Looking back on it, it was mostly a matter of not wanting to spend any money because I had no idea how much the divorce was going to cost me. Well, I ended up with functional, mismatched, and ugly. One exception was the nice looking bedroom set in my guest room, graciously donated (or "gotten rid of" as they put it) by Rhon's daughter and her husband.

Although it has occurred to me in the past, it occurred to me again this week: I need to get rid of this butt ugly shit. It served me well, but it's horrible looking. Yes, it is time for Rick to go shopping. And not just furniture either. I need a lot of things.

  • Obviously, I need a complete bedroom suite, first and foremost.
  • Clothes - I live in jeans and t-shirts. Those rare occasions when I need to (or at least should) dress up leave me screwed. I have no nice pants, no nice shoes, no decent jacket... Face it--I look like a pauper when I dress.
  • Linens - I have two sets of sheets for my bed. That is if you don't count the crappy set that I got screwed on when I bought one of those "bed-in-a-bag" things. I also need some selection of bed coverings like quilts or whatever.
My place is a guy's place. Yes, I live a comfortable life, but you sure won't ever find anyone accusing me of having nice things. How many people have a working, full-size traffic light in their living room? How many people have a mannequin in their entryway? Although I'm not embarrassed too much about those things, I need to make some adjustments around here.

Oh, and one more thing: For those so inclined... No gifts, and no help. I'm pretty picky!

Monday, September 24, 2007

A New Friend

What is it about meeting someone for the first time? Obviously there are many ways a first meeting can go, but I'm talking about when things just "click" and it's like you've on exactly the same wavelength.

Such is the way it was yesterday when Deb and I met each other. We "met" (that's the 21st century version of meeting--aka "online" meeting) on a biker website that we're both members of. You can go here to view my page on their site. If you look, you can see it looks almost exactly like MySpace. In fact, it's the same software that MySpace uses, only this one if for bikers. I may have mentioned it before, I dunno. Anyway, Deb is one of the people on my "friends" list there. She and her boyfriend each have their own bikes.

It was one of those times when the pieces just fell into place I guess. Deb lives just up the hill from me in Federal Way, and she mentioned before that she would have to drop in sometime and say hi. I usually don't make the first move in situations like that. Although I'm very outgoing and social, I still have butterflies when I'm actually "en route" to meet someone I've never met before, no matter what the reason of the meeting is. Friend, job interview, party at a stranger's house... Whatever. Anyway, we have talked a couple times in comments on there, but nothing more than that. Earlier on she mentioned something about the Anacortes Oyster Run and wondered if I was going this year, etc. Because of the recent events that took place with my Harley (aka breaking it) I dropped her a line and told her that I wouldn't be going this year. She said she wasn't going this year but her boyfriend was, and maybe later she would drop by and say hi if I was going to be home. Well I was and she did.

As a already mentioned, it was like we had known each other all our lives instantly. Her "drop in" visit ended up lasting 3 or 4 hours as we found ourselves talking in the garage, talking in the kitchen, and even sitting cross-legged on the living room floor. Yak, yak, yak... It was like we both knew each other in our childhoods and were playing catch-up with our last 45 years! It was an amazing thing. As she said afterwards, we have both made friends for life.

In other news: Let's see if I can recap the weekend. Friday my new webcam came in, and that's pretty cool. It works worlds better than my old one that almost needed bright sunlight to work right. I also had Sarah over for dinner Friday, serving my yummy pan-fried Tilapia. We both stuffed ourselves and I still had enough for leftovers the following day. She jetted out with one of her best friends, leaving her car in my driveway. They and a bunch of other friends were all going to watch the football game over at Auburn High School. It was their high school against Auburn High, and Sarah's boyfriend got to play in this game so everybody had someone to root for. She was all decorated up with school colors and stuff. It was pretty cool. Oh btw, they lost horribly... But they all had fun.

I'm trying to think of what I did Saturday, but all I can come up with is puttering in the garage. I purposely avoided working on the Harley out of spite (like it really cares), but I did do some modifications on the Harley floor jack so it may work a little easier when I get back into it. I finished the day with dinner and a movie (here at home of course).

Yesterday I started out the day by taking Sarah to the Puyallup Fair. Yesterday was the final day of the fair, and she wanted to see the art exhibits. We went early and got there right when the fair opened, so I was able to snag a good free parking spot. We spent a long time walking through the art galleries of all the works that the various schools in the areas had submitted, but for some reason her school still hasn't ever submitting anything. Too bad. Anyway, Sarah was really in her element looking at all those. We both really took our time and looked things over well, noting all sorts of interesting styles and designs. When we left there she said she felt inspired. We wandered aimlessly around to find something to eat before leaving. I bought us each a burger at a place, and it was truly the worst burger I have ever eaten. I took 2 bites and threw it away. She at a little over half of hers before doing the same. The meat wasn't quite done (even though it was your typical thin 1/4" patty), the bun was cold, the cheese never melted... It was just shit. She got a scone and I bought a beef Empanada. Both of those were good. After we left the fair we circled around back to our favorite place to eat during fair season. A kiosk on wheels sorta thing that makes and sells these German meat turnover things called Fleislekuchles or something like that. They are most excellent! It's not unusual for people to stop and buy over 20 of them--So they can freeze them and enjoy them all year I guess. Sarah remembered them and wanted one as bad as I did.

I wanted to get home as soon as I could and so did Sarah. She had lots of homework to do, and I had laundry and stuff I wanted to do. Also, I wanted to increase the chance of being home in case Deb made her appearance. In addition to laundry and stuff, I spent some time cutting up kindling for my wood stove. It's getting to be that time of year when the heat is going to have to be on every day, and I want to be able to have my wood all ready to stoke the stove whenever I need to.

Anyway, that's my weekend pretty much. I had a good one and hope you did too!

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I'm so FUCKING mad right now I could SPIT. I mean MAD.

I've already literally shed tears over it in the garage a little while ago. I've thrown tools. I've kicked stuff. I swore loud enough over and over that I'm sure someone probably heard me at one time or another. I am so mad that I refuse to interact with anyone tonight. I don't want to inflict my grief on anyone else, nor do I want anyone else giving me pity. I just want to be alone. I'm as mad as I can recall EVER being.

I fucked up my Harley. I cross-threaded a MAJOR bolt. It's a bolt that holds the rear of one of its two shocks on. Normally (like with a car) a shock is just a cushioning device that keeps your wheels from bouncing too much. However, on a Harley the shocks are also the springs. The whole rear of the bike will squat right down on the ground without them.

I have years of experience doing mechanic work, and I'm still in disbelief that I did it. How did it happen? Normally when you start a bolt or nut, you can "feel" the threads by running it partway in by hand until it starts to get too tight, at which time you switch to a wrench and finish the job. These bolts I was working on had a couple things working against me:

  • They are bolts that you use Loctite on. Loctite is a liquid that you put on bolt threads before assembly, and in the absence of air it forms a bond that keeps fasteners from working loose on their own. Because they have had (and require) Loctite on them in the past, they have a residue in the threads that makes turning them by hand almost impossible.
  • They are "shoulder" bolts. That means that they have a machined shoulder on the bolt of a certain length because they pass through something before the threads engage. In this case, they pass through the bushings on the shocks.
  • The bolts on the shocks are down underneath the Harley, impossible to access "straight on" with a socket and ratchet. Instead you have to use a wrench, and that increases the chance of the bolt not being straight.
I was putting the usual amount of muscle into it (I've had it off and on too many times already) and when I got tight at a certain point, I knew. I put my face up under there close and saw the bolt protruding at a non-perpendicular angle from where it needed to be.

What makes it worse it that I fucked it up trying to fix the shocks that I spent $200 on that I haven't liked since I first put em on. They have caused me problems too many times since I first put em on. This is at least the third time I've had them both off. I wish I could go back in time and not bought the motherfuckers in the first place.

In case this is all Greek to all of you, cross-threading a bolt means a bolt was forced into a hole against its will and ruined the threads that were there because it wasn't straight. No amount of finesse will ever get that bolt in. The only way to fix ruined threads is to run a re-threader tap into the hole, hoping like hell you get it going exactly straight. If you don't it just gets worse. If a re-thread tap doesn't work, you have no choice but to have the hole repaired. That may mean welding it closed and re-drilling it and re-tapping it, or enlarging it. Since the hole in question has to do with the whole rear part of the motorcycle frame/suspension, I've got to completely disassemble the whole rear half of the bike to get the offending part out. And when I do get it out, it's possible it may be unrepairable. If that's the case, my $200 shocks will also have a $300+ new swing arm tacked onto the bill.

Need I make matters worse? This Sunday is the Anacortes Oyster Run, which is Washington State's "little Sturgis" and I am obviously not going this year.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Weekend Report

It wasn't a bad weekend--I had one productive day and one non-productive day.

Saturday morning, I went over to Teresa's house to do a little work in the garage that I had been meaning to do. The steel racks that I had made (see them here, down at the fourth project) a few years back to hold all my long raw materials were hampering Sarah's usage of that garage stall. In effect it created a lot of potential problems by narrowing the width of the stall. Anyway, during my morning coffee I ended up chatting a bit with Steve, who said he was going to be out on the bike that morning. I told him my plans over at T's house. Before I left I also emailed my friend Greg to tell him my plans, knowing that he would want some of the steel I was removing from their garage.

When I got there at 10:15, Steve and Greg were both there already. Steve was there on his Harley, just to hang out and to have a riding destination. Greg was there to help and to take home all the steel I no longer wanted. He loves fabricating stuff and has the tools and knowledge to do so. We ended up emptying all the racks, putting the good steel in Greg's truck, and the scrap crap into my truck. Then we removed all the racks and cut them in half. I took the upper halves home with me, but we bolted the lower halves back up on the wall. The difference being that we bolted them up way higher than they were, so we opened the whole wall up so there is nothing in the way of a car any more. We put the "half-sized" racks back up there because there were some long pieces of wood and trim of Teresa's that needed to be stored. By the time we were done there were two levels of shelving instead of four, and they were much higher up.

During the course of our working there, Edie next door came over and discussed my helping her pick up a stainless steel BBQ that she had bought at Sam's Club. After I did all the project in the garage, I wanted to get to the recycler in the next town to unload all the scrap I had, but instead decided to get to Sam's Club to pick up Edie's purchase before her husband got home. It was sort of a surprise for him I guess, and she had been waiting for months for them to go on sale. I went home and unloaded all the crap into my garage and went over and picked up her new purchase. That thing was HUGE! It filled the whole back of my truck right to the tailgate. It's all nice stainless steel, and let me tell you--It's no BBQ, it's an outdoor kitchen! Although it was lifted into the truck by four employees, we managed to get it out without too much trouble with 3 of us at Edie's house.

After all that transpired, I reloaded the scrap back into my truck and took it to the recycler in the next town. I still wasn't finished though. I then came back to Teresa's house to fix a leaky faucet in one of the bathrooms. It was an easy fix fortunately. I took it apart and we both drove over to Lowe's to get the repair parts. It cost a whopping $1.51.

It was a very busy day, but a very productive day. Oh, I also forgot to mention that Edie gave me a 24-pack of Corona beer for helping her. Nice!

Sunday was almost the exact opposite of Saturday. I didn't do shit. I did manage to get out and get a haircut and do a little shopping and all before 10 o'clock. My timing was perfect because nobody in town was really out and about yet. I was back home and back to my usual nude self for the rest of the day. It was a good day for it too because the weather got steadily worse as the day progressed. I was nice and cozy while it rained outside.

Addendum: Teresa told me on the phone last night that Edie's husband came home and found that she had bought a natural gas outdoor kitchen instead of a propane one, so they had to go exchange it anyway. Oh well, at least I earned a case of beer out of the deal for my trouble!

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Isn't it weird how neighbors can be? They can be your worst enemy, your babysitter, an enigma, almost family, or anything in between. You never know what kind of neighbors you're going to get. People usually don't rent or buy houses based on their neighbors--That is unless they are actual family members. They do, however, sometimes buy or rent based on the lack of neighbors (as in being away from everybody).

Me? I ended up with some pretty damn good neighbors.

Gayle lives next to me. Freshly retired this year, she has worked the recent years of her life in the retail environment--Specifically Home Depot. I don't know much about her, but we talk to each other any time we happen to run into each other in the driveway. What makes her a great neighbor? Two things:

  • She's just an all around really nice lady
  • She's never home
The fact that I'm on the outside of a triplex means that I don't have anyone on the other side of my North wall. There is another apartment building a few feet away though. Although there were at one time "neighbors from Hell" living there, they have fortunately moved on so I don't hear anything from that direction any more. On the other side of me is my absentee neighbor, Gayle. The reason she is absentee so often is because she is always at one of her kids' houses babysitting her grandchildren. She plays "live-in" when she babysits, so she only comes around every few days or so.

On the other end of my triplex is a young (30 or so) family of three. Chris, Angie, and Kailey. Kailey is 3 years old and quite a handful. Chris is a fellow motorcycle enthusiast and computer nut. Although they've lived here for a while (I believe they moved in right after I did), I never really "met" them until the warmer months when I would be out in the garage with my door open. Kailey loves to come over and pester me, and she is the cutest little blond-haired brown-eyed girl you have ever seen. Chris hangs out quite often when I'm out there, and we've become pretty good friends. What makes Chris a good neighbor?
  • He is nice, his wife is nice, and his daughter is such a precocious cutie
  • He gives me things
He will occasionally, without warning, leave a little green "bud" sitting in my garage when he departs. The first time it happened I didn't catch it until the next day. When it happened a second time, he was still there.
"Do you know anything about this?" I asked, pointing to the bud sitting on my drill press table.
"I might..." He replied, with a twinkle in his eye.

One other time he was watching me typing something into my garage computer, and said, "I'm going to have to get you a monitor for your garage." He works for a branch of Dell that provides computers to Boeing, so I knew he probably got good deals from time to time, but I didn't think much of it. That is, until this past Friday. I had just gotten home a few minutes earlier when he roared home on his Honda crotch rocket. He came ambling over with a drink in one hand and a bunch of cables in the other. He laid the cables down on a table in my garage.
"I don't know if you can use any of these or not." he said. "I'll go get the rest." and he went back over to his garage. When he returned he was carrying a 19" black Dell digital flat panel monitor! This is not one of the "cheapie" ones they make either. It's digital or analog, has a built-in USB hub, and it telescopes upward and even rotates 90° if you want to.
A couple years ago I replaced the video card in my computer with one that supported a digital input, expecting that I would be upgrading to a digital flat panel monitor in the near future. Although flat panel monitors look great with an analog input, they look even better with digital. Anyway, with the divorce and all, it just got swept under the rug and forgotten. I guess I was lucky my computer was ready though eh?

Neighbors: When they are bad, they can be a total nightmare, but when they are good, they can be really, really good!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Thoughts on Aging

It's funny how age sorta sneaks up on you little by little. It's another example incrementalism. Things will change a teeny bit here, a teeny bit there... At some point down the road the realization (at least I'm assuming...) hits you: "Holy shit, I'm old!"

Yeah, I know... I'm only 51 and that's not old. Having said that, I have noticed a lot of little things in the last year or so. I'm the kind of person that notices things, remember? Here are some of the things I've noticed:

  • Wrinkles - Okay, everybody's skin gets wrinkled when they get older. Some show it and some don't. I'm a slim guy, so I don't have my skin pulled taut like some overweight people, so it's going to be more noticeable on me. I really notice the wrinkles most around my eyes after I get out of a particularly hot shower, which is obviously hell on skin quality to begin with. If it really bothered me I'd be using some sort of Oil of Olay or some shit. The way I look at it? Screw it... It adds character.
  • Skin imperfections - This one is odd because it covers so many things that seem to pop up from time to time. I haven't gotten age spots on the backs of my hands yet, but I have gotten other little odd "flaws" that have cropped up that never used to be there. A couple teeny (less than 1/8") warts are a good example. An occasional little purple spot where it looks like a capillary did a supernova. An odd "dry spot" here or there. All I really ask for is for my nose and ears keep their shape until I'm near the end.
  • Vision - My eyesight as always been shitty, but hasn't changed much, if at all. Who woulda thought that, based on everything else doing a slow slide, my eyesight would be one of my best assets?
  • Aches and pains - I get a lot of mysterious pains that I never used to get. By mysterious I mean I did nothing to cause them. It's not like I pulled a muscle doing something. I'm talking about something that just starts hurting and stays that way for no apparent reason. One thing I have to do every day when I wake up is to stand in one place for a minute before I take a step. If I don't, the upper part of my feet will hurt me for a couple hours like I strained em somehow. I guess it's a blood flow thing. If I stand there for a minute before walking off, everything is fine.
  • Hearing - I can't hear well at all. I really should get a hearing aid(s). That is a major thing though. They are very expensive (unless you just want the kind that amplifies everything--Noise and all) and I don't know if I want that expense. This is where the newest thing to mention fits in. I was watching a movie the other night and kept turning it up... Kept turning it up... Then it occurred to me to turn on subtitles. Viola! (pronounced wha-la) Why hadn't I don't this before now? It was truly a senior moment.
You know what I like most about getting old? All of my fellow "new oldster's" ribbing each other and calling each other "grandma" or "grandpa".

I think it's cool.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Downside of Being a Parent

Confrontations: I hate them.

They can sometimes bother me so much that I get physically ill. I grew up having to endure being screamed at and beat with a leather belt whenever my dad determined that I had done something to deserve it (that was his twisted perspective on it at the time apparently). Those times have shaped me to be the way I am--To avoid potential gut-wrenching confrontations whenever possible.

It had been building for some time now. The new found freedoms associated with having a driver's license, a car, a boyfriend--All together are a lot to deal with. Add to that: Typical teen angst and a mother that has the overwhelming job of being a single head of household, and you have the recipe for problems.

Last night I had just rolled the Harley into the garage after working a couple hours of overtime when Teresa called me.
"She did it again," she said exasperated, "She had him over here again."
I listened while she went on and on about Sarah's apparent telling her one thing and doing another. I could tell by the way she was talking quickly and nonstop that she was frazzled and needed help. She explained that she had told Sarah not to bring her boyfriend home after school, and yet it had happened again.
"Okay, whoa... Slow down. Where is she now?" I asked her.
She explained that she had went to Katie's house, which is a childhood friend of hers.
I sighed, put my leathers back on and got on the bike. I rode over to Katie's and Sarah came out of the house.
"Go home," I said, "and put your car in the garage. You're losing it."
"Mom knows I'm here," she explained.
"It's not about you being here. Go home."

I rode the bike back and waited for her to show up with my stomach knotted up. Teresa was washing dishes and talking about everything all at once. I told her to just let me do the talking. When Sarah showed up I sat her down and started in on my talking points. Things like telling her mom one thing and doing another, not telling her mom at all, bringing her boyfriend home after school and feeding him every day, neglecting homework... I was fully prepared to take her car away from her until such time as it appeared that she was doing things to her mom and my satisfaction. However, it turns out that Teresa wasn't entirely forthcoming with me (she has a tendency to embellish and I'm aware of it). She hadn't told Sarah to not bring her boyfriend home any more until just yesterday. All the times Teresa had called me and talked about these things in the past she had alluded that she had.
Obviously during all this, Sarah is distraught and crying like crazy which doesn't help me any.

After we had all talked back and forth and I assimilated all the information, I back-pedaled a little bit. I decided that she would not lose her car, but would not be able to drive her boyfriend in it any more. It's illegal for a 16-year-old driver to have anyone other than a family member in their car for 6 months anyway, but her mom thought she'd be nice and let Sarah take her boyfriend to and from school, which is not too far. I didn't know that the consequences for violating such a thing were as steep as they are. Apparently you get a warning the first time, and lose your license for 6 months for a second violation.

The boyfriend was the whole problem in this particular scenario, and being Sarah's first love, she wanted to do everything she could do to please him. He seems like a nice kid, but he's using her. Using her for transportation, food, and who knows what else. To top it off, his parents don't even know he has a girlfriend! The story I got was that they won't allow him to have a girlfriend. My theory is, because he's Cambodian he doesn't want them to know he's dating a Caucasian. He has no car and no license, nor does he seem to care about getting one. And why would he? He has Sarah's person shuttle service. Correction: HAD.

At any rate, I was very methodical and explained myself in a civilized manner. I covered all the points, explained myself well, told her how much I loved her, etc. Her mom also was very good during this whole thing.

While Sarah was buried face down on the couch and crying, I got up and told Teresa I was going to go to the store and would be back in a few. When I did come back, she came out and said that Sarah had went on a door-slamming, stuff throwing rampage for a bit after I left. I went in and Sarah was just trying to get online to do homework. It wasn't working, and I told her to come over and she could do her homework at my house.

I sat in my living room and stared at the walls... Thinking about all that had transpired that day. At 9 o'clock when they both showed up. She seemed much better. She got her homework done, and we talked a bit about different things while she was working. When they left at about 10:15 I gave her a big hug and told her I loved her.

When I finally went to bed, it occurred to me that I hadn't eaten a thing since noon. Sigh.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Sunday Morning & Sunny...

...And when you're me, sunny is a very welcome thing!

The mandatory workweek never really happened like they said it was supposed to. I ended up not working any overtime on Thursday or Friday. On Friday the foreman came up to me and said something like, "I don't see your name on the list for working Saturday."
"No, you don't," I said.
"You can explain that to Phil then." He replied, trying his best to scare me into changing my mind. (I believe I already explained that Phil is the co-owner of the company.)
At any rate, there was no way I was going to work Saturday and I didn't feel that his statement even warranted a reply, so I just shrugged my shoulders and went about my business.

Right after I got home on Friday I got a call from Sarah. "Dad? My car won't start." Ha, here she's been driving to school for a whopping 4 days so far and has already managed to leave her lights on and drain her battery. I went up and gave her a jump start.

Teresa and I have been talking back and forth on the phone about her, and T is worried about her having too much freedom so to speak. I had to agree that we need to establish some limitations and such now that she has a car. We agreed that I would have Sarah over more often whether she wants to or not. If nothing else, it will get her out from under her boyfriend's watchful eye from time to time. She expressed concern about Sarah wanting to go to the Puyallup Fair. Legally, you're not supposed to have anyone else in your car for 6 months if you're a new driver. Well, except family anyway. Teresa lets her shuttle her boyfriend to and from school, but that's it. She felt that if she went to the Fair she would have a carload of kids and would get into trouble. I agreed that she was not going to drive to the fair. There were just too many things to go wrong there, not the least of which was even knowing how to get there and where to go. Anyway, when I went up and gave her the jump start her boyfriend was with her, and I used that opportunity to tell her (and of course him) that she was not going to be driving to the fair in her car. Surprisingly, she agreed. When I told Teresa about it a little later on the phone, I suggested that maybe Sarah was hoping for us to tell her she couldn't go... And that maybe her boyfriend would have pressured her and goaded her into driving them there and she didn't want to have to deal with it. After all, it's been proven that even though kids don't admit it, they sometimes want to be told no. They need guidelines and parameters.

Sarah spent the night with me on Friday, coming over at about 6:30. We barbecued burgers on the grill, and afterwards spent a couple hours watching slides from when I was in Italy. The following morning I had to sort of ease her out the door at about 11:00 because I was going down to Melinda's house for their "barn party." It was kind of different having Sarah drive over now that she has a license. Of course that also means she can just get into her car and drive home whenever she wants instead of me shuttling her there. I wonder if that will take some getting used to?

I rode the Harley down to Melinda's and stayed until about 10pm. It was an excellent gathering. Great food and great people, and the party actually took place in their new barn! She has the same giant horse she has had for years and years, but there is also a new horse, recently acquired for Melinda's granddaughter. She is 4 years old, and the cutest thing you ever saw. Melinda presented her with a brand new pink saddle and some other riding gear. You should have seen the smile on her face as she sat proudly atop the horse while Melinda led them around the grounds. Neither of them could get enough of it! I told Melinda and Danny that I've lived in houses that weren't as nice as that barn was. It even has a shower stall with hot and cold water in it!

I always go to Melinda's house with my toiletries and such with me in case I end up staying overnight, but usually happens, I went home. It was a pretty fast ride (70-80) most of the way, so it's good I never ran across any cops.

It felt good to wake up in my own bed though, and also good that I didn't have to dress like I did yesterday when I got up.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Engulfed by Gloom

I was in a foul mood today. Dark, angry, fed up, and wanting to chuck it all out the window. It was one of those days when people can see it because you wear it like a crown of thorns. I was all at once sick of my car, my Harley, my truck, my job, my hair... You name it, I was pissed at it.

So, here's the majority of the things that drove me into the mental mud today:

Mandatory overtime - Okay, everyone knows I hate overtime. Hate, hate, hate. Because I didn't feel like pushing the issue this time, I said I'd work their mandatory 10 hours days this week. Apparently, I'm one of only a few guys there that can do silver-soldering (a form of brazing/welding). There was a certain product that we were overdue shipping and they needed me to do them. I finished them all by 4 o'clock. I planned on staying until 4:30, but there just wasn't that much else to do. Imagine my surprise when the parts I "hurried up and finished" were still sitting there untouched. When it came 2:30 today, I bailed. Whether I feel like working overtime tomorrow or not I'll decide when the time comes.

The leaky car - Everyone that has been keeping up on the latest and greatest knows I have a leaky car. You also know I put a new heater core in it, which was no easy task. You also know that it didn't fix the whole problem and it leaked again when I drove it shortly after a rainstorm. You may not know, however, that I spent some time out working on it a couple weekends ago, and did some re-sealing work on it. It involved removing the front fender and lots of associated parts. Did it fix it? No. It rained a couple nights ago, and when I drove to work the next morning it dumped all over the floor once again.

The truck that only starts when it wants to - My truck pisses me off so bad I just sneer at it when I walk by. I think it's starting to resent me now because when it only appears to start when I was only testing it--When I wasn't really going to drive anywhere anyway. In addition, when it starts during these times, it starts instantly.

The missing website - I clicked my website button yesterday and was greeted by this nice message of doom:

The page you're accessing no longer exists or you mistyped the URL.

Now isn't that a nice surprise? I tried to access it through my web software and through their website, and still: Nothing. It doesn't even recognize me as a user. Now wouldn't that give you a warm feeling? It's not like I will lose my files because I have them all here. Actually, I really haven't lost my website totally either, because like any good geek, I have a backup website with all the files all ready to go. There is talk on their support forum that it is a hardware problem at a "node" in their system that my website resides on, and it will be back up eventually. Whatever... It wouldn't be the first time I had to pack up and move on...

Harley shocks - My new Harley shocks that made it ride like shit when I first put them on? I had nothing but trouble trying to adjust them. It's made even harder by how it's designed and how close to the ground they are. What I'm trying to say is, even under optimum conditions adjusting them is a bitch. Let alone having them not want to adjust and bind up when I tried turning them. I ended up taking them each in and out twice. I rode it today and it's a major improvement, but I still need to tweak it more.

Those are just some of the highlights of my Wednesday mental state. There were also lots of other little things like having the high speed press go down today too, and upon removing the die and dissecting it, finding part of it shattered. I tried to busy myself as much as I could to keep my mind off things, but I know I was plodding along all day with a whipped look on my face. When 2:30 came, I left. Screw it.

Maybe tomorrow will be a better one.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Schedules and Shocks

I will have to just stop making plans that include Sarah. I don't mean I won't stop doing things with Sarah, I'll just stop making advance plans to do things.

It's pretty much a regular thing--We agree on something, and by the time it rolls around she has forgotten about it and has made other plans. Last night was another example of it. I was going to take Teresa and Sarah out for dinner to celebrate her driver's license, remember? She was going to stay overnight as well. Well, yesterday morning T called me and said that Sarah has a game she's going to, etc. I said fine... Maybe tonight then. It may actually happen this time or may not, but the point is there is just too much going on in a 16 year-olds life, and probably very few of them have learned how to juggle appointments.

My day ended up being spent in the garage. I put the new shocks on my Harley that I've had sitting around for a couple of weeks. It was pretty labor-intensive, but went pretty much without a hitch. After I put them on, I sat my ass down on the bike and noticed an immediate difference in firmness.

I was feeling pretty good at that point, and for some reason instead of going for a test ride I instead decided to dissect the stack of pallets that had become furniture in my garage since last winter. I think it was because I was barely dressed and wanted to stay that way as long as possible (obviously nude would have been preferable). I spent almost 3 hours pounding them apart and pulling all the nails out of them. I didn't want to cut them up just yet--I wasn't in the sawdust mood--I just wanted to create more floor space. I ended up being pretty sweaty and dirty by the time I was finished, but felt good that I had done it. When I do decide to cut them up it will be easy. The hard work is done.

After taking a shower, I put on my riding gear and took the Harley out to test its new shocks. Holy shit, it rode like I had taken out the shocks and put a solid bar of steel in their place instead! It was positively fucking bone-jarring. I rode for about a half hour only because I just plain felt like riding, but at that point I had finally had enough and headed for home. It is apparent that they are set up to haul a good sized passenger full time. They are designed so you can adjust the spring preload by turning a portion of the shock, and I'm glad I took the time to make a spanner wrench a week or so ago to adjust them with. I will definitely be doing that today. Wow, I still can't believe how uncomfortable that was. I was afraid if I had went any longer either part of me or part of the bike would have probably broken from hitting bumps...