Saturday, January 6, 2018

Arctic Oil Change

As I mentioned in a previous post, a few days back it warmed up to a balmy 25 degrees, and I was able to take care of some outdoor stuff, mainly changing the oil on my car. Now I know how foolish it sounds to change the oil in this sort of weather, but it really does save me money and time. Most people might argue that it takes less time to take it in, but I beg to differ. First off, you have to get an appointment. If you go to someplace like Jiffy Lube over in the other big city, no appointment needed, but you're looking at 30 mins each way, then 30 mins for the change. Not too bad, but it's a drag having to go out there. I could go to our local mechanic, Meunier, but they are so swamped that it usually takes a week to get an appointment. Then it's about another hour for the change.

And then there's the cost. I don't know if Jiffy Lube will even put full synthetic into my car, but I can say with a fair amount of confidence that they'll charge me an arm and a leg for it. Same with Meunier. A typical oil change will run you about $40-45, and that's using a synthetic blend. If you request full synthetic, which Meunier will do, you have to almost double the price. Full synthetic is expensive stuff. I buy a 5 quart bottle for about $24, and I get the filter at Gerrish for $7. If I'm organized and get all my ducks in a row, I can change the oil in about 30 mins. So, for about 1/3 the cost and half the time, I can do it myself and not have to drive somewhere to get it done. Sure, I get my hands dirty, and I have to actually do some work, but I'm a big believer in the ability to do some things in life yourself. Relying on others because you can afford to, or thinking technology is a better alternative is, in my opinion, misguided, at best.

Either way, nobody cares what I think. I seized the opportunity and changed the oil. Bear in mind, 25 degrees is still cold, making the oil ooze like maple syrup. I managed to warm the car up before I did it, but once it drained from the engine, pouring it into the waste jug, and then cleaning up were affected by the cold. Maybe I should have just paid someone else to do it... nah.

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Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Alison Smith for the pic.

Just a Spark

In line with the awfully cold weather, I have not been able to start my car for the past couple of days. At first I attributed this to the weather, though mom's car seems to start no problem. My car is about 3-4 years older,and has about 100,000 more miles, if you can believe that. My car is the one that has traversed New England going to hockey games, not to mention several trips to Quebec City. I've also left my lights a few times, thus running the battery down. Suffice it to say, my battery is older and is holding less charge. This is not a problem on any given day, but with the temperatures falling to -20 degrees, it has become a problem.

I've had it jump started a couple of times, and I purchased a charger to juice up the battery overnight. I got what's known as a pulse charger, which sends a small charge (< 1amp) over a long period of time, thus re-filling the battery. It sounded good to me, but unfortunately, it didn't work. I then started investigating getting a new battery, which would have set me back about $150. Boy, the past few months have really been about car repair and maintenance. I then got to thinking that if I could just survive these brutally cold days, the car would reliably start once the warmer weather set in. In fact, and this is interesting, one day last week the temperatures rose to about 10 degrees in the AM (a high of about 25 - woo-hoo), and if you can believe this, the car started. I was so stoked, and it sort of vindicated my theory about the temperature.

The only problem is, the next day it dropped to below zero, and there is no relief in sight. Plus, it's only January, and we have at least two more months of freezing temps. February is often the coldest month. So we are back to thinking about replacing the battery. In the meantime, I got a jump box for about $40, and it has done a good job of starting my car. I've found that the first start of the day is the big problem, and once that has happened, even if the car has sat for the entire day, it generally starts. Hmm, what to make of this?

I'll probably get a new battery at some point, but in the meantime, at least I can get the Mighty Fit started.

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Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Ark Angel for the pic.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Warming Up

Sorry to be so obsessed with the weather (it's what people do up here), but it's so cold that it's hard to ignore it, or for that matter, not comment on it. On that note, this morning it warmed up to a balmy -2 degrees, and as of this writing, we are sitting at +5 degrees. Now +5 might not sound so hot, but when you think about it, it's a 25 degree shift over the course of 24 hours. The forecast says it will hit the low to mid-20s, which would mean a 40 degree shift. That's huge. I'm hoping to get outside and take care of a few things, and this might be my chance. Fingers crossed, we'll see how this goes. In the meantime, I may need to break out some sunscreen.

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Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Haleigh Walsworth for the pic.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Cold Start

How's this for starting off the new year? I was asked by a friend to walk her dog and feed her cats on new year's day (NYD), and the morning was so cold that I couldn't start my car. I had some indication that his might happen over the past several days, because my car really struggled to start, though start it did. As the temperature dropped to -20+, I started to wonder if it might be too cold to turn over. When said friend called with the request, of course I said yes, but I almost added that I might not be able to, and sure enough, that morning the car just wouldn't cross over that hump. I tried to wait until later that morning when things warm up to a balmy -15, but even then, the car wouldn't budge.

I texted her and said I might not be able to make it, but would keep trying, and then called AAA around 9:00AM. They said someone would be there hopefully within 90 minutes. In the meantime, I sat and waited, but by 10:30, I decided to call our neighbor and good friend, JH, who I should have called in the first place. Not only is he amazingly capable, en par with the Amazing PR Man, but he would never hesitate to help us. The feeling is reciprocal, even if the abilities are not. I just didn't want to bother him on NYD, but he was more than happy to help out. He came over, gave me jump, and we chatted for a bit. He said he has a battery charger and it got me to thinking that maybe I should get one. I also thought it would be good to have a jump box, because dead batteries occur in this household a few times a year.

I was, as always, very appreciative to JH for being such a good friend and neighbor. Then again, that's how it is up here, people just want to help one another out. I rather like that fact.

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Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to ecalley for the pic.

Riding Solo

I hope everyone had a nice time ringing in the new year. I spent the night at home, alone, and I have to confess, I rather enjoyed it. In years past we've spent NYE together in Quebec City, though last year we went to Montreal. It's nice being up there, though this year it just wasn't meant to be. First off, I can't even fathom being in Quebec in this weather, and don't even get me started on the drive. Second, there's too much crazy stuff going on in our lives for a big excursion to be on the agenda. And finally, a funny thing happened to our children - they became teenagers, and at some point no teenager wants to spend NYE with their parents. I can't say I blame them.

It worked out nicely because both A and N had their separate plans involving people their own age. Mom has been away for the past couple of weeks back home, and that left me to fend for myself. I toyed with the idea of going in to work at the Inn; I had originally been put on the schedule but I said I was going to be out of town. In my defense, that was the plan, like every year, but mom had to make an unexpected trip back home and we had to scrap that plan. By that time, the schedule at the Inn had already been set, sans moi, so I would have had to have requested that I be re-inserted into the schedule, which carried no guarantees of employment, especially since I'm in the doghouse with the supervisor. Either way, I decided that I needed to be home in case one of the kids needed me, and let's be honest, I didn't really want to work on NYE, despite the phat paycheck.

So with the kids off and running with their respective crews, I stayed at home and was a domestic madman. I made traditional New Year dumplings and baked some cookies. I had this plan to eat all my favorite foods, engorging myself on pizza, burgers, and ice cream, but none of that happened. I actually had a salad and some soup, then watched the hockey game (Detroit beat Pitt) and Netflix while folding dumplings, and believe it or not, I rather enjoyed it. I spoke to mom several times, and though I was originally planning on going to be early, we agreed to stay awake until midnight and then call each other in the new year. I managed to stay awake, but it wasn't easy.

After we spoke, I headed straight to be and crashed hard. NYE wasn't what I had originally planned it to be, it never is, but that suits me just fine. As a wise man once said, it's just another day.

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Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Marisa Ishimatsu for the pic.

The Loco Launch

A's band, Plum Loco, has recorded an EP and for anyone interested, it's for sale on Bandcamp. It's pretty cool because they wrote the songs, went into a studio to record the tracks, had it re-mastered, and then they had a launch party. A designed on the album covers. All very professional, if you ask me. They were even interviewed on a local radio station in Concord, the Pulse. How cool is that?

They had the launch party at one of the band members house and it was quite the soiree. A large contingent of people showed up (even A's music teacher, which was really cool) and they did a wonderful job of hosting the party. First off, the house is amazing, and they had loads of food, it really was a nice setup. Several bands played and a good time was had by all. We all went but N and I had to go to hockey practice, so we headed out and went back afterward. We missed the last part of A's set, but we got to catch the early portion, and it was a lot of fun. It's interesting that this music gig is really falling into place, no longer just a fantasy concept but something that is really happening. It will be interesting to see where it leads, will keep you updated.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to A for the pic.

Arctic Tundra

I'm a fan of cold weather, but this is getting a bit ridiculous. I mean, really, can we just crack zero degrees for a bit? You know it's crazy cold when you think of 20 degrees as warming up. I don't think we've cracked single digits for a week, and every morning for the past week it's lingered well below zero. Even when the sun beams down on the thermometer, it doesn't get above zero. What's crazy is the duration - it's been going on for weeks.

Something's gotta give, because it's hard to imagine how long this can go on for. I realize it's winter, but this is New England, not Antarctica. Maybe my mom is onto something when she says we should move back to California... nah.

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Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to sakurakte2002 for the pic.