Thursday, September 28, 2017

Going to the Fair

About a week or so back when A was doing one of her big trips to the big city, N was slated to hang out at home with his boring parents when the clouds parted and a glorious message was left on the phone by some his friends inquiring if he wanted to join them at the Tunbridge Fair. This was an exciting development because not only did he want to go, but he was joining two beautiful girls that are older than him. Talk about a crazy night out on the town.

Of course, the situation was not without a big of drama, as you can imagine. There was a message on the phone from AH asking if N wanted to join them at the fair. Now AH has a boyfriend and is a few years older, but her sister IH, who is a good friend of N's, was wondering if he would join the party. Then, to add to the fun, their other friend, NMP, who is also a good friend, was going, as well. N was enthusiastic about going, and this initiated the logistical drama that seems to be an integral part of my life.

I had to work that night, and mom was at work while the planning was going on. AH was going to drive, and she needed to pick the girls up from school after work. I had to be at work in the afternoon so I had to drop N off at a place where she could get him, but I couldn't get ahold of her. I spoke with their father, AG, and he said I should just bring N to his office in the big city and he could wait until his daughter showed up.

Now this would have been all fine and dandy if not for the fact that he didn't seem totally sure if his daughter was actually going to come to his office. The problem I faced was that if I dropped N off at his office and the girls didn't show up, he was sort of stranded there. AG assured me that it would all work out (he knows how neurotic I am), but just in case, I told N that mom could come get him if need be. In reality, AG lives right down the street from us, and AH was going to pick the girls up at some point, so N was basically all set.

So, I dropped him off, the girls picked him up, and they had a blast at the fair. It happened to be middle and high school night, so he saw a bunch of his buddies. They stayed until pretty late, and even I got home well before he did, not that it mattered because we figured when you're out on the town with a bunch of cute girls, you just can't rush the situation.

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

The Heat Is On

Talk about crazy weather, this past week has been crazy hot, so much so that I can't seem to bring myself to do some much needed yard work, not to mention working on the woodpile. This past summer was definitely on the mild side, and I guess nature is getting her revenge by slamming us with heat in the fall. The past few days have been well into the high 80s and low 90s. This is a shot of the thermometer in our kitchen window showing 104 degrees, which is not accurate because it's in the direct sunlight, but it's sort of funny just the same.

Today the heat finally broke and we're getting some more seasonal weather, which is A-okay by me. Everyone I know is happy about this, and I'm glad that I can finally get outside and work on being a real man. I know once winter comes and it's 10 degrees everyone will be complaining about the cold (I won't, I like the cold), but for now, I'm all for some cooler weather.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Getting the Splitter and Squeaking By With Our Boiler

I had the day all planned out in the quest to fulfill numerous goals, and all the circumstances changed and I had to change things on the fly. It was a little crazy, but things worked out in the end. I sure do love when that happens.

The biggest item on the agenda was getting our boiler serviced and inspected. Now I am not proud to admit to this, but I've never had the thing cleaned, and it wasn't until last year that I learned that you're supposed to have it cleaned every year. Boy did I feel stupid. There was this whole drama last year when I scheduled a cleaning and the guy came to do an inspection but not a cleaning. I was a little miffed and complained to Irving because I was going to have to pay for another visit to get the thing cleaned. They basically told me to take a hike, and there wasn't much I could do. Then this summer I saw they were offering a good deal on cleaning so I took advantage of it, scheduling it for today. There was no way I was going to screw this one up, so I made sure to be here when it happened.

Now the funny thing about things like this is that, like getting your phone hooked up or cable installed, they don't give you an exact time but a range of time. I was told they'd be here somewhere between 12 and 4. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but I also wanted to get over to AM's house to borrow her wood splitter. However, she had guests over and didn't want to disturb them, so I had a window of time when I could get the splitter. To further complicate this situation (what else is new?), I also had to arrange transportation, because I don't have a trailer hitch on my car. I asked our neighbor and good friend JH if he could help, and he said he could, but not until later in the day. Sounds like a plan, right?

Well, Irving called in the morning and said there was a cancellation and that he could come by around 10:00. Then JH called and said his morning appointment ended early and he, too, could help me get the splitter in the morning. This would all have been good news except that I had a specified window of time to get the splitter, and it didn't involve the morning. I quickly texted AM and asked if I could go around 11:00 instead, but didn't hear from her.

Meanwhile, the guy was cleaning and inspecting the boiler, and I wasn't completely sure when JH would show up. As it turns out, the boiler was in excellent shape (a massive sigh of relief on that front), so he gave me the paperwork and was on his way. Literally as he started his truck and moved forward, JH pulled into our driveway with his truck. I jumped into his vehicle and we were on our way. I wasn't sure what the time was, but I think it was around 11:30, and I was hoping that AM's guests would be gone, which they were. We picked up the splitter, brought it home, and I was grateful that things worked out despite the changes in plans.

After JH left, I brought out my chainsaw and cut several logs, but had to stop at some point because the heat was just too much. N and I then went to get some lunch and go to the driving range (which is shaded), stopping to get A's guitar from her on the way because she had so many things she needed to do.

Then it was back home to make supper, and then finally, a moment of rest. Boy, talk about too many moving parts. Then again, without all the chaos, life wouldn't be as interesting, or at least this blog wouldn't be.

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

Staying in Shape

I've noticed that as I get older (actually, I've noticed a lot of things as I get older), my flexibility goes out the window, and I'm more prone to injury. Funny how that works. I've also been told that with aging it's beneficial to stretch regularly to hopefully avoid this situation and maintain a range of motion. So with this in mind, I've started a regular regimen of stretching and strength exercises, with the goal of looking like this guy... yeah, right. Truth be told, I'm doing the former to help avoid hurting my tired old body, and the latter to help with my surfing. As you can imagine, it's not easy.

I've found that the hardest part, like all things in life, is just doing it. It's a chore to mobilize and motivate at any given time of the day, and this is especially true at the end of the day, when it seems to be the most opportune time. I'm just so darn tired, and who wants to expend time and energy on something that doesn't involve eating ice cream or being in a horizontal position? Not me, that's for sure.

But stretch and strengthen I do, and for all it's worth, I feel better for it. Something about stretching makes me actually sweat and feel good, and if I can do the strengthening stuff, all the better. Eventually I'd like to do some conditioning before hockey season, but that's a pretty tall order. I will pay the price for this once I hit the ice.

I'm not even sure how much benefit I'm deriving when I surf, because I'm exhausted and working like a dog out in the water. I guess that's a workout in and of itself. And as anyone who exercises knows, any sort of interruption in the regimen throws the whole process out of whack. We've been traveling a fair amount and every time we go away, it's back to ground zero.

Oh well, at least when I'm surfing or playing hockey my body is getting worked over, so I don't have to feel so guilty about that bowl of ice cream after dinner.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to ddman_70 for the pic.

Friday, September 22, 2017

More On Our Budding Engineer

Our budding engineer is continuing to impress yours truly with some of his exploits. Just recently he made what I believe is a Tesla coil and demonstrated it to mom and dad the other night. Now I hope I'm getting the name right, but it hooked up to a power source and then allowed him to wirelessly transmit electricity to a light bulb. Talk about too cool for words. I was impressed, and you could tell by looking at it that it took some initiative and diligence to make, not to mention patience. This pic shows the bulb lighting with no wires.

On other fronts, he has gotten in touch with one of the teachers at the local high school who has a 3D printer and is getting involved with that. The teacher, KL, is a pretty cool cat, and he is very supportive of kids who are interested in engineering projects. He has the technology and wants to share it, which I think is really cool. Best of all, this could be something cool for N to pursue in the coming years. We'll keep an eye on that one.

He has also become interested in various audio projects. He's been making amplifiers and speakers like there's no tomorrow, and they sound good. He gathers the parts from various old radios (and not so old) appliances, or he procures them from the Listen Center or the dump, and then he goes to work. It usually involves taking stuff apart for the required parts, then soldering them back together in the configuration he wants. The power needed comes from amplifiers that he is builds, usually from parts ordered online. Also, when he gets ahold of an old computer or radio, he collect various transistor and capacitors for future use. I'm not completely familiar with the whole process or the names of the parts, but suffice it to say that it's pretty cool stuff. I used to love doing stuff like this when I was a kid but I was severely limited by the access (or lack thereof) to parts and tools. This guys got the world at his fingertips.

Finally, he's been doing his drone building, and that's pretty high tech stuff. It's amazing to me how affordable and accessible technology is today. It's a different world we live in, so we might as well make the most of it.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Home Improvement Warrior

In my continuing quest to be a real man, I'm still toiling away on the home improvement front and just recently I put another feather in my cap in that arena by installing a new toilet seat. Admittedly this isn't the most rigorous or manly of jobs, but suffice it to say that I wasn't passionately drawn to the task, and consequently it sat unattended for many months. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that it took me awhile before I even realized that it needed to be replaced.

I use the downstairs bathroom a lot and every now and then, contrary to what mom might say, I clean the toilet. It doesn't take much, just a dash of soap and a good scrub with the brush. Along with the inside, I also clean the rim of the bowl, which as anyone who lives with men can attest to, gets pretty nasty. Regular clean up helps one to avoid the massive super-gnarly mess that makes most men faint.

Several months back I began noticing that there was small piles of crud at specific places on the rim. I wasn't really up for inspecting them too closely so I just wiped them away, but they kept appearing. I realized that they were the result of the pads on the toilet seat disintegrating. I figured it wasn't such a big deal and I would just replace the pads. Well, you can imagine my surprise when I learned that you can't really replace the pads, you have to replace the whole seat. Isn't that just like everything in life? You have to buy a completely new thing rather than fix a small part of it.

Whatever be the case, I finally decided to replace the thing and headed over to Home Depot. As you can imagine, they had quite the selection of toilets and toilet seats, a fact that baffles me but shouldn't surprise me. I went into standard mode and bought one of the cheaper ones. When I got it home I put it in the bathroom and wondered in the back of my mind how long it would be before I actually put the thing in. Well, as luck would have it, that was sooner than I thought - I put it in the same day that I bought it.

Best of all, it wasn't that difficult, nor was it that disgusting. Sure, it was a little nasty because anything involving that part of the body is going to get some residues of a mysterious nature, but nothing a baby wipe and paper towel couldn't handle. If anything, the harder part was laying down on the floor to screw the seat in - you just never know what's been on the floor around a toilet.

It took about 15 minutes, and I couldn't wait to try out the new seat and break it in, though that happened soon enough and I won't burden you with the details. Part of me wonders if I should have gotten a slightly higher-end seat, but this one was so cheap that replacing it wouldn't be that awful. Wasteful, yes, but not painful. Or, I'll just get over my OCD and live with a perfectly functional toilet seat. We'll see where this line of thinking goes.

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

New Hockey Frontiers

With hockey starting soon, I think it's good for me to reflect a little on the big changes that are happening this year, namely that we've left our old hockey program with completely bad vibes (on my part, N holds no grudges) and are playing in a new program over in the big city. It's a big change and one that I didn't think we'd ever make, at least not yet.

In the past, playing over in the big city always meant being more competitive and driven. It's a stronger program and churns out more high end players, which means that the parents have high expectations, i.e., they're way more intense. Then again, hockey parents are hockey parents, right? Several players from our old program moved over to the big city in the past because they wanted various things for out of it - from a bright future in the NHL of just parental bragging rights that their kids were in a kick-ass program. For full disclosure, the level of skill seems to drop off at the level that N is playing at, probably because the really high end players move on to select teams or go play at prep schools. It's still a solid program in the big city, just not at an elite level, which suits us just fine.

So given all the crap we had to endure last year at our old program, we made the decision to move over. There were many reasons for this change, most of them spiteful on my part, but it never would have happened if N didn't agree to it. His strongest motivator was the level of uncertainty in the old program. They go through this every year, never sure how certain teams are going to shape up, or if they're even going to have a team. This is the case with N's level, and as far as I can see, they are going to have a hard time putting together a team. Besides, despite all of my juvenile bad feelings for the old program, it would be nice to see N play on a team where his teammates were a little closer in skill level (at his old program, the players were all over the map), but more importantly, came out, worked hard, and gave some semblance of effort, i.e., didn't have crappy attitudes. This was rarely the case on his old team. In fact, I think it's fair to say that most kids on his team rarely, if ever, gave 100%. It was discouraging and telling at the same time.

Finally, N will more than likely do some high school work over in the big city, just like his sister, so this is the world that he will be inhabiting. It's not a bad time to get a foot in the proverbial door of this new environment. I'm not saying this is the promised land and we're going to have nothing but warm fuzzy feelings about life in the big city, but at this point, anything is better than being “over there” at the old program. I am done with that place.

This should be interesting, and like all things in our lives, will probably be filled with drama. I can't wait. At the very least, more of our lives are stationed over in the big city, including work, school, and friends. It's easier for us to get to the big city than the “other place,” (just a quick jaunt on the highway), there's way more to do in the big city (there's nothing going on “over there,” it's the epitome of dull), and a lot of these kids that are on his team will potentially be his future classmates. Coupled with my complete disdain for the old program, one could make the case that this change is a no-brainer. Then again, I could eat my words in a few weeks. You just never know.

Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and make changes where you think they're needed, especially if you're unhappy with your current situation. Life's too short to endure people treating you like crap, don't you think?

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Preparing for Fall Surfing

I know I've been commenting on how warm it's been, but truth be told, fall is on the horizon and the water is still a bit chilly. It really takes hot weather to make it comfortable, and that occurs in a small window of time during the same. That window has closed. Last time we surfed it was warmer than I'd expected, but with the fall weather closing in, the water only get chillier and chiller with each passing week.

With this in mind, we are doing some fall surfing prep, which boils down to doing whatever it takes to stay warm. I've been told that people surf until mid-late October, which is fine by me, but I can't fathom the idea of getting out of the water and taking off a wetsuit when it's cold and windy outside. Talk about brutal.

Either way, we have our wetsuits and booties to keep most of us warm, but one area where we really suffered when it was cold outside was our hands. It's mainly because when they're wet and in the cool breeze, they take a beating. So I got us some gloves, and they were surprisingly cheap online. We were able to get a sense of what size we would need by trying on various pairs, and then I did some bargain hunting. It wasn't a rush situation because it's still tolerable out there right now, but I'm thinking that if we want to surf in the coming weeks, we're going to need to protect those hands. For the record, I look forward to the day when our surf gear is complete and I won't need to keep buying stuff. Then again, that may never happen.

One final note, I was looking at gloves for around $40 a pop at surf shops, and I got two pairs for $30 online. I love when that happens. Now we're ready to keep hitting the waves.

Until the next time, thanks for surfing.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Passport Renewal

When we fly we often need some form of identification for all of us, but at the very least mom and dad. Now when flying in the US all we need is a driver's license, but just for good measure we bring along our passports. Well, imagine my surprise when we recently flew to LA and the TSA guy informed us that my passport had expired. Boy, it was a good thing we weren't flying international because we, or rather I, would have been in trouble. Since it was just a domestic flight he didn't make a big deal out of it, but he did inform us that we needed to take care of it.

It's strange that this passed below our radar because we are usually on top of these matters. However, since we haven't really done a lot of international travel this year, the timing could have been worse. Plus, with no big trips in the works, I had time to deal with it. This meant getting a new passport photo done, which is a bit of a hassle because camera shops, where I used to get them done, are a thing of the past.

Either way, no time like the present to get it done. Then we will be all prepped and ready for our next big trip, wherever that may be.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to John Dewar for the pic.

Big Mac

Wow, this sort of came out of nowhere, but I've managed to upgrade my computer and get a good deal at the same time, all thanks to my amazing sister in law, DR. Thanks, BTW. My current laptop is about 7 years old, which is 49 in dog years and 70 in computer years. It works fine but it is definitely starting to fall apart - my hard drive crashed and I had to replace it, the track pad is losing sensitivity, and the actual case is coming loose and is being held together with packing tape. As I mentioned, it still works, but the proverbial writing seems to be on the wall, and I've been looking around for deals on used MacBooks.

I'd heard that the Dartmouth computer store sells off old laptops that departments use and then replace. By old I mean 2-3 years, which would be a huge upgrade to my computer. The problem is, they never have computers available when I inquire, and I when I inquire, I'm talking emailing them every week. At some point my conspiracy-minded brain started to think they were yanking my chain, but one of the salespeople actually told me that faculty have priority on the MacBooks and there is a long waiting list. I.e., I'm out of luck. My friend JP actually has one of said MacBooks, which sell for around $300, which is a great deal if you can get one, but you can't get one, so it's not such a great deal.

Anyway, I'd pretty much given up and thought that at some point I'd have to look to eBay or Craigslist when the clouds parted and DR came to the rescue. Woo-hoo. I am stoked because the timing is good, and it's something the entire household can use. I don't need a high tech machine, but if I'm going to get a new computer, I might as well get something nice if I can, right?

Either way, I'm hoping that one future problem has now been addressed, and I can direct my attention (and money) to other important things, like hockey equipment, snow tires, and surfboard wax.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Rocky Chen for the pic.

Splitting Like Crazy

I'd been splitting wood and trying to finish year 2 at a reasonably casual pace, but it has dawned on me that I was going to have to step up the pace because no matter how much wood I think I've split, it barely makes a dent in the wood pile. Needless to say this is incredibly frustrating because I'd like for it to just be done, but no such luck. On a bright note we do have plenty of log length wood, and I've blocked up a reasonably good-sized pile, but as I've experienced in the past, a massive pile of un-split wood is no reason to get complacent. Sometimes I'm amazed at how much wood we burn.

We were lucky to get a brief spell of cool weather (I was sure fall was here), which made cutting and splitting more bearable, but the heat has returned, and it's been a challenge, especially for a whiner like myself. Over the past week I've been splitting whenever I can, and just when I've got this big pile for stacking, I'm floored by how much farther I still have to go. The kids have been helping me and it makes a big difference, so the only thing to do is stop whining (yeah right) and just keep chopping away. The kids don't whine when I ask them to help, so I should just keep my big mouth shut.

Meanwhile, the pile of blocks that I can't seem to split keeps growing, so at some point I'm going to have to borrow JP or AM's splitter, I'm still not clear who it belongs to. Maybe I should just get ahold of said splitter sooner than later and just finish the whole damn pile. Then again, there are a lot of things I should do.

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

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Big City Girl

A has been quite the big city girl lately, heading down to the big city with her friends, sans mom or dad. She's so cosmopolitan. It bears mentioning that even though mom and dad are not going, parents are involved, and her friends are actually her bandmates and they are, for the most part, older and in college. I know this sounds like a potentially complicated situation, but we know and trust her friends, and as I mentioned, parents were present.

The first weekend she went down to see this band called Snarky Puppy, which is a jazz ensemble that is apparently the hot new thing. Several of them went to Boston and they later learned that other friends and bandmates were going as well. Very cool. A has begun developing an interest in jazz because her jazz band at school is encouraging it, and her bandmates are into it, as well. More on this at a later date. One of the dads, who is a music head, drove the guys down and they stayed at a relatives house in the city, which is pretty cool. They hung out in Boston, went to see the band, and had an overall really cool time. Plus, they got to see some killer live music.

The next weekend she went to Concord to do some music stuff with her band. Again, this was very cool because they are a talented bunch of musicians and they are taking their craft seriously. One of the bandmates used to live up here and now lives in Concord, so they stayed at his house and his mom prepared meals and put them all up. How cool is that?

All in all A had two amazing musical weekends in a row. It's very cool to see her so interested in music, though not just playing for fun, but taking it reasonably seriously. Who knows what will come of it but suffice it to say that she has mom and dad's support.

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

New Guitar

A got a new guitar and I'm really stoked for her because not only is it a cool guitar, but it's something she researched and picked out. First, a little background. Way back when she was first starting we got her a starter electric guitar that was reasonably cheap because let's face it, we weren't sure it was something she'd stick with (though I was hoping she would). It was recommended to us by her guitar teacher at the time, EE. He said that they were fairly well made and were a good option for a first guitar. Plus, since they were cheap (i.e., made in China), they had a wide selection of colors and body styles. She picked out one she liked, we got her a decent amp, and a rock star was born.

Well, a few years later and she's playing in several bands, if you can believe that. She's been using the same guitar and it's served her well, but it's not without it's small issues. I can't adequately explain what the problems were, but we've had the guitar guy at the Dojo do a few things with it. Nothing major but small problems that keep cropping up. At some point A inquired if she could get a new guitar, and of course she'd been doing her homework and looking into various options.

One thing that was fun about this process was that she could go to guitar stores and try them out. They are very cool about letting you try just about any guitar they have in stock, even if it's still in the package. This happened to us in LA, where we visited the Guitar Center in Hollywood. She asked about the guitar that she wanted and they unpacked the thing, tuned it up, and handed it over so she could jam. Even though we didn't buy it, they were very accommodating. For the record, I think that was the fourth Guitar Center that she'd been to.

Anyway, when we got back, she searched the internet for her guitar and found one to her liking. My mom had actually given the kids some cash as a gift and A used that towards her guitar. It came very soon after she ordered it, and she's stoked with it. I have to confess that I'm happy that she's playing with a decent quality instrument. Even though I'm a fan of cheap, I can appreciate the value of spending the money for something of good quality, especially when it involves a special item like a guitar, surfboard, skis or snowboards, or most stuff for the kids. For me, I'll generally lean towards the cheaper option. With surfboards this is not an option because you can't find cheap or used surfboards around here.

Plus, you can't deny the importance of the “cool factor” when it comes to kids. I don't mind using junk but when you're young you just can't pull it off, you need to have the good stuff, and you're usually better off in the end. Now that A has a quality guitar, she has more of the cool factor on stage, and that's important when you're a rock star.

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Updating Hockey Gear

Hockey season is right around the corner and sure enough, that means updating some hockey gear. This year there were some big ones, namely skates for N. His old skates are too small, and now we have to upgrade, so off to Stateline we go. Normally I'd look for a bargain but I've learned that with certain pieces of equipment, you just can't skimp too much. I've tried and been burned. Online shopping will only get you so far, and truth be told, I like the idea of supporting a local business, especially one that knows us and cuts us a break whenever possible.

With skates, he really needs to try them on and get a good fit. He's a good player and a big boy now, so buying cheesy or used stuff isn't really an option. Plus, for something like skates, fit is important. Over at Stateline they will attempt to expand a pair of skates with some sort of machine they have, but it had limited utility in this case, so we tried on a few options. Even with the new ones they had to heat mold them and tweak them a little, but once that was done, N said they felt good. That makes me feel better, and I think his outlook on things improves when he knows he's got the right gear. It's a guy thing.

Fortunately we upgraded his sticks last year (much thanks to MB), so with the exception of a pad here or there, I think he's good to go. It's hard to really grasp that hockey season is right around the corner, but it is, despite the fact that we're still hitting the beach to catch waves. This will surely come to an end, but until it does, I think we'll straddle both worlds.

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

Still Surfing

Even though I don't like the heat, I was a little bummed to see summer coming to an end, and naturally, summer (to me) means being hot, discomfort and whining included. Heat, however, can be a welcome thing when you're diving into the water. In fact, if it's not at least 80 degrees outside, I'm not that inspired to go swimming. Sure, a wetsuit helps, but nothing beats going into the water on a nice hot day.

With that in mind, after a brief cool spell, which for the record was very nice, the heat returned just as we were hitting the surf again after a short break. Traveling to see my mom and various other commitments took us away from the waves, but now we're back and ready to surf. We've been going at a pretty good rate, shooting for a couple times a week, even though it's a trek to get there. The trip is not as bad since we've done it so much, and now we have a killer routine where we paddle into the lineup, surf for at least an hour, ideally two, and then pick up killer burritos at Las Olas. The surf was small on Thursday but this past Sunday there were some head-high sets coming in. It was fun and our surfing is definitely progressing nicely. It would be nice to get a few more trips in before it's too cold, but we'll see.

One complication is that I'm pretty darn tired for the drive home, and eating a fat burrito doesn't help because I get so sleepy. I've found that the best thing is to eat only about 1/3 of the burrito and then sip an ice coffee all the way home. It's the only way I can keep my head clear, and even that doesn't work every time. I almost need to pull over and take a phat nap, but sometimes that's asking too much. Then again, do what you have to do, right?

For now I'm pretty stoked with how surfing has gone. N is into it, A is sort-of psyched but somewhat ambivalent, and I'm stoked. It has completely changed my POV about summer - I used to dread the heat but now it just means that it's time to hit the beach. I love when that happens.

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

Friday, September 15, 2017

Playing in the Band

A has been brought into the fold of a band that her friends formed, and it's a pretty cool thing, mainly because they are all really cool (i.e., nice) kids who are talented, motivated, and dedicated to writing their own music. I think it's a great experience and a nice addition to what she's doing with the Dojo, which is a great experience but I like the idea of them writing their own stuff.

The band is called Plum Loco and they were formed prior to when A arrived at the scene, so hopefully she'll be able to seamlessly transition in. For what it's worth, she is not the only new member, which I think is helpful. I like the other band members and they are all friends, at least for now. Somehow it seems like a little conflict drives bands to creative genius (think the Stones and Beatles), but that's not always the case. I think Steely Dan got along, but I could be wrong.

Whatever be the case, I love that they've welcomed her into the fold, and I hope that it will be an enriching experience. I think it will.

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

Driver Test Prep

I know this is old news but I just want to re-iterate how proud we are of A passing her driving test in a stick-shift car. I felt terribly guilty making her take the test in a manual, but she had no qualms about it. Truth be told she's been driving a stick from day one, and she's comfortable and confident in it, but even still, taking the test is another thing altogether.

And, getting our acts together for her to take the test was not without it's own set of drama. Kind of like everything in our lives. The problems we faced were that both of our cars had slight issues that were not a big deal in the actual performance or safety of the vehicles, but were going to be an issue for sticklers who do everything by the book. I can't say I blame them, and rules are rules. For full disclosure I didn't know for a fact that these issues would be a problem, I just assumed they would based on what I'd heard from other people.

The first issue was with mom's car, which has a crack in the windshield. Total bummer, but not anybody's fault. It happened when she was on the highway and a truck flung a rock at her. It hit her window leaving a crack that was about a foot long. The window is perfectly intact, though we are pretty sure that it won't pass inspection. It is going to cost a few hundred dollars to fix, so we decided to sit on it until inspection time, at which point we'll replace it. We assumed that the DMV wouldn't allow A to take her driving test with said windshield, which left my car.

Now my car, of course, had a minor issue, as well. Modern cars have these crazy tire pressure sensors, which make sense, except that (at least on my car) they seem to break down. I've replace three so far, and for good measure the fourth one finally bit the dust. What happens is when the sensor dies the entire pressure sensing system dies and an indicator light comes on. Technically it's not the end of the world because you can just check the pressure regularly without the sensors. The problem is that the indicator light on the dash will raise red flags, and it won't pass inspection, which I assumed meant it wouldn't be allowed for her test. The reality is, did we want to take the chance of driving all the way over there only to find out we couldn't use that car?

These revelations really came to light a day before her driving test, so I had to scramble to fix the situation. I actually had a new sensor still in the package that I had sitting around. As I mentioned three of them had gone down, so I had one on the ready, and it's a good thing I did. It was late afternoon so we were pushing our luck, but I called our friends at Tip Top Tire and they said they could fit us in. I hurried over there, they put the new sensor in, and lo and behold, we were good to go.

I'm not a big fan of last minute drama before a big event, but we managed to weather this storm. And A passed her test, despite the slew of setbacks that threatened her driving independence. Kudos to her for that. Now she's a driver, and me and mom have a whole new set of things to worry about, but for now we're just happy that she passed.

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

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Chainsaw Enlightenment

Cutting wood seems to be a constant project at our house, and because of this you can't mess around with your chainsaw. Unlike most tools I've purchased, I didn't go cheap with my chainsaw. I bought a good brand with a reasonable amount of power, which will meet with the approval of my Mentor and the Amazing PR Man. It was a little painful on the wallet, but the things scare me, so it's worth the piece of mind.

Like all fine machinery, however, they can be a little temperamental if you don't care for them properly. I learned this the hard way, and now go to great lengths to make sure I'm careful when running it and maintaining it. Even then, there's so much to learn.

Just recently I was having problems with the chain overheating. I didn't know this at the time, but if the oil isn't lubricating the chain properly, it can lead to some serious issues, and if there's one thing you don't to have with a chainsaw, it's issues. I can tell when the problems crop up because the chain seems to lock up when I let up on the throttle. I can feel the tension is way too high and it looks dry. When lubed properly, the chain looks greased, and it seems to flow more smoothly. It turns out that my blade was not properly lubricating the chain, and not only did it make the blade hot, but it stretched out the chain.

I took it in to see what the problem was and they said right off the bat that the chain was stretched out and was probably done. They checked the machine and said it seemed to be oiling properly, but that I was probably using the wrong oil. I buy the eco-friendly stuff that is basically vegetable oil and they said they've had problems with that stuff. They recommended going back to the petroleum stuff and sure enough my chainsaw was back to normal. Whew, I didn't want to have to buy a new chainsaw or pay for expensive maintenance.

It turns out that the eco-stuff is mainly used when cutting in or around water, and that most people use the conventional oil. I will say this - the conventional stuff is about half the price, so I didn't need too much prodding. Now that the saw is running better, I can turn my attention to that log pile and get some blocks cut up for splitting. I figure I still have a couple of months to split before the snow comes, and that year 2 pile is only about 10% done, so I've got some work to do.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Dan Funderburgh for the pic.

Stoked on Wetsuits

Before we left for Cali we had a problem with N's wetsuit in that it tore at the knees. Total bummer. I was going to try to fix it but wasn't sure how much I could really do. Stitching and gluing neoprene is not the same as sewing a pair of jeans. I was a little bummed because I figured since I got the wetsuits at such a good price, I was sacrificing customer service, which is often the case. Since the wetsuit tore while we were using it, they had ample grounds to deny fixing or replacing it since it wasn't necessarily a defect in the manufacturing... or was it?
Hard to say, but truth be told, the wetsuit was only about 3 months old and hardly used. I figured that I had nothing to lose in trying, and lo and behold, my efforts paid off.

I first contacted the company that sold me the suit, SwimWear Outlet, which has good customer service. They said the suit should be covered by the warranty, but that was covered by the manufacturer. I then contacted Hyperflex, and they told me to send it in and if they couldn't fix it they'd give me a new one. Wow, I suddenly went from bummed to stoked, though it meant that N would be without his suit for a couple of weeks. He actually got around this by wearing A's suit, since she's been too busy to make it to the waves.

I packed up the suit and sent it off, not really know what to expect, and within two weeks they sent it back, all fixed up and ready to go. I love when that happens. It just goes to show you that good customer service still exists, you just have to make a little effort to find it. I'm stoked on Hyperflex and SwimWear Outlet, both have been good experiences for us.

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