Monday, January 29, 2018

Mac Resistance

We are a Mac family, and have been for about as long as computers have been a commonplace household accoutrement. This puts us in the minority with most of the world, because most people opt for PCs, for a number of reasons - they are cheaper, more commonplace, on the whole more practical, and did I mention they are cheaper? In most cases, by a large margin.

The simple reality is, Macs are more expensive in every aspect. They are great machines, but they come with a cost, and for all intents and purposes, the quirky aspects of Macs that make them so appealing are really just a luxury. Plus, PC systems have basically caught up in terms of the look and feel of the operating systems (OS). In fact, I read recently that in many ways, PCs are better. While I don't know this firsthand, my limited experience with PCs indicates that they have improved a lot. Some things are not as simple, but for most of what I use a computer for, I think a PC would suffice. Plus, you're looking at a fraction of the price, at least for what I need.

Now for someone like N, who not only likes games but is also interested in video and graphics, PCs seem to be the way to go. I have no desire for him to get a powerful machine just to play video games, that's simply not going to happen. We have made our position beyond clear that he can play some games, but he is not allowed to play multi-player action games that shoot things up. It's not that I have some moral issue with guns, I just don't want him to get sucked into playing games that go on for hours on end. Not just because it's a waste of time (it is), but because a lot of guys (it's usually guys) who devote their lives to these games have no lives. Pretty sad and pathetic, if you ask me.

Either way, N is into drones and 3D design and graphics, and he's been making a lot of videos with said drones. He has expressed a lot of frustration over his Mac, which in all fairness is a laptop, not a desktop. For his needs, a Mac desktop would be much better, but nothing compared to what you can get with a PC. I guess PCs are just faster, more powerful, and have better graphics. I do know that the availability of software is orders of magnitude greater for PCs. Finally, PCs are easier to modify (i.e., upgrade). With the exception of memory upgrades, Macs are pretty much untouchable.

With this in mind, we have decided to let N transition into using a PC, and in order to do this, he wants to build it himself. Pretty serious stuff, if you ask me. Mom has given it the green light, as well, because she is in need of something more powerful for doing videos. More on this later, but for now, the PC resistance is alive and well in our home.

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

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Big City Concert

Last weekend while N and I were hanging out near the capital, mom and A were heading in the opposite direction, hanging out in Burlington to catch a concert. A and her buddies are interested in a band called Tennis, and they were playing at what I consider to be a great venue to see a show - Higher Ground. The only problem was that A is the only one of them who drives, and we weren't about to let her drive up alone and then drive back late at night. The only solution was for one of us (i.e., mom) to go up there with them, and then spend the night. This required getting a hotel in addition to the concert tickets, and probably a meal or two in-between.

Luckily we were able to get a deal on a room through my work, and the three of them set out on their big musical journey of discovery. N and I were out all day, so we didn't get to see the girls for what seemed like days, but they had a nice time. They headed up on the late side because one of them had to work until early evening. This meant getting off work, heading up to Burlington, and then going straight to the show. A little crazy, but that's what you gotta do to get to the show. I think mom just hung out and relaxed, read a book or two and maybe watched a movie. A and her friends had a blast. I think the show was very cool, but they also got to meet the band (who were very cool) and take some all-important selfies. Definitely a cool experience, though a bit of a logistical challenge. For the record, my parents would never, and I stress the word, “never,” have sprung for a hotel for me or my brother just to see a concert, partly because they considered music a waste of time and money, and also because they considered pretty much everything in life a waste of money.

A couple of the girls had places to be on Sunday, so they woke up, had a quick breakfast, and then headed back down. A little crazy, and in retrospect, maybe not the best planned excursion, but what are you going to do? Live and learn, I think next time we may have to re-think things.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to CJ Foeckler for the pic.

Rainy Days

So more crazy weather on this end. We had moderately cold temps much in line with normal weather up here, i.e., around 30 degrees, teens at night, and now we're getting this warm weather front coming through that is unloading tons of rain, of all things. A similar thing happened to us about a week and a half ago, and the flooding was significant. In fact, we almost got stuck in it, which would have been a big time bummer. Our car is small, and it doesn't take much standing water to ruin your day. After we'd passed through the flooded section the Mighty Fit had some problems shifting gears, as if the transmission was slipping because it got wet. It was a total bummer, and I was worried the car would fizzle out, but it was only the initial moment of gear engagement, and then the problem went away. I was later told that the water was freezing and causing either the gears or the transmission to slip. Yikes, not the sort of thing I like to hear, but my mechanic said I didn't need to worry. As if that's going to comfort my OCD.

Now it's been raining cats and dogs, and I'm sure flooding will be an issue, once again. This is crazy. When I went outside this morning to take out the compost, I nearly lost it on the steps, it was that icy. I put out some sand, which helped, but my understanding is that when this rain ends, which may be never, another cold front is moving in and it will all freeze. We just can't seem to catch a break out here.

We were at hockey practice at Cardigan when this storm moved in. It was fine at first heading over there, but gradually you could sense that what started out as rain was beginning to freeze. It was especially apparent on our windshield. By the time we came out of practice, the car was coated in ice, and the roads were precarious, making driving really slow. What's crazy is that one of the “elite” teams practiced on the same sheet of ice, and since they're “elite,” they draw players from all over. I was told some of them travel as much as an hour and half to practice, which would be a total bummer under last night's conditions. Since these guys are hardcore, they don't miss practice, either. The things you do for hockey.

I'm curious to see what the weather will be like tomorrow, since we're supposed to go skiing. 

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Eric Backman for the pic.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Showing Interest?

I'm not going to jump the gun here and read (no pun intended) too much into this, but N is beginning to show an interest in books. Not just any books, I don't think he's quite ready for War and Peace (is anyone?), but I recently checked out the Hunger Games, and he not only plowed through the first book, but he then devoured the second book and actually said he likes them. How cool is that? I am so stoked. I read all three books and really liked them, as well. Even though they're dark as heck, they're well done. Plus, he's into them - say no more. Fortunately there are many books in this genre, and his sister has read all of them and can offer recommendations. We could be onto something here, so stay tuned for more.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Dana Chan for the pic.

Long Ass Day

Boy, what a long (ass?) day we had this past weekend. N had two games down in southern NH, so we traveled for about 1.5 hours down to Manchester for an early morning game, the first of his doubleheader. We were up by 6:00AM and out the door by 7:00 to make it down there by 8:30. They played well, won their game, and we had several hours to kill down in a town we knew very little about. On a bright note, it's a big city compared to where we live, so there were more opportunities for entertainment. I was hoping he could meet up with his special friend up in the capital, but she was busy all day, so we were on our own.

Our plan was to see a movie, and we picked Jumanji. Not necessarily the sort of movie that I would choose, but it wasn't rated R (or X, for that matter), and was “mom-approved.” The only problem was that it started at 12:30, and his first game ended at 10:30, so we had some time to kill. We drove around a bit and then went to Bass Pro Shop, which is sort of famous around here. I'm not sure what inspired us to go, but we figured we'd check it out. I have to say, the place was enormous, and they even pointed out to me that this one in particular was one of the smaller ones. I would go as far as to say it was very impressive, except that it's really geared to people who hunt and fish, i.e., plenty of guns, rods and reels, and flannel. If those are not your thing, then the place probably doesn't have much to offer you. We walked around for a bit and within 15 minutes were done. For the record, I was impressed with all the boats, some of them fairly big, that were for sale inside the store. 

We then headed over to Best Buy so N could check out some high tech gear. He is in the process of building a computer (more on this later), if you can believe that one, so he wanted to see if they had any components, which they didn't. The woman working there, however, was very well informed about where to get the parts and shared her insight with us, or I should say me, because it was all old news to N. He's clearly been doing his homework. N went off to look at some camera and game stuff, and I wandered around the store. I have to say, being old and boring, that all that high tech electronic stuff does nothing for me. I have zero inclination to be spend money on 99% of it, so what fascinates young and hip people like N basically bores me, which naturally means that I'm a painfully old and boring person (my kids would concur). Personally, I would have rather been in a library reading books and magazines.

The Best Buy was linked to a mall, I guess it's the Manchester Mall, or something like that, so I decided to wander around there a bit, and my feelings went from boredom to depression. Malls are some of the most depressing places around, mainly because they are slowly sinking into oblivion. We went to the mall in LA and it was so desolate, I don't know how it was staying afloat. This mall was no different, with very few people walking around, and all the stores basically empty. I was talking to my mom in LA and she said that the mall that we visited, the Westside Pavilion, had gone from bad to worse - the two big “anchor” stores, Macy's and Nordstrom, were both closing. Pretty sad, if you ask me. Either way, I walked around for about 10 minutes and found N and told him it was time to go.

We headed over to the theater and ran into a couple of his teammates. If we had somehow communicated with each other or coordinated things, we could have just got the guys tickets and sent them inside. I had no clue what everyone's plan was, and in this regard, this team is a lot different from teams (for both A and N) in the past. Previously there were always plans for the team to do things, even if it just meant hanging out at a common location to watch TV and eat pizza. This has happened only once during his tournament, and in a way, it makes life easier, though less social. We simply made our plans and as luck would have it, N didn't have to sit with his boring dad (who embarrasses him to no end) and instead hung with the guys.

I will say this - it was one of the nicest movie experiences I've had in a long time. The tickets were a little pricey ($10/pop-standard city prices), but they had reclining seats which almost went completely horizontal. I could have taken a nap! When we first entered I thought the theater seemed small, but they had to limit the number of seats so that you could recline, and there was plenty of space to spread out. Oddly enough the seats are reserved, and the movie was almost sold out. N and I got the last two seats next to each other, and I traded my seat with one of his buddies so they could sit together. It didn't really matter, every seat was comfortable as heck.

And, the movie was good. I laughed the entire time, Kevin Hart and Jack Black are both a scream. The guys liked it, too. We left the movie in good spirits, and we had a couple of hours before his next game, so we went looking for food. We had to go to a different rink that was about 20 minutes away, so we found it first, and then headed back out for some vittles. We decided to find a Five Guys since it's one of the greatest restaurants in the history of humanity, and ended up on a bit of a wild goose chase to get there. It required driving through retail hell in the suburbs of Manchester, and traffic was bad. Also, everything is located in a strip mall, and all the strip malls (there are dozens of them) have separate parking lots that are not connected. This means that is you mistakenly drive into the wrong lot to, say, look for Five Guys, if you pick the wrong one, you have to exit that strip mall and enter the next one. We did this 2-3 times, and by the end, I was ready to give up and go without food. It didn't help that the clock was ticking on the start time for his next game. I guess I could have done better research before searching for food, so blame dad, as usual.

We found the Five Guys, got the food to go, and N ate in the car as we went back to the arena. He was a little late, but not horribly, and the game went well. His friend, who couldn't meet up during the day because of a prior commitment, made the trip to the game, which I thought was really cool. N scored an amazing goal, to boot. Nothing like impressing the girls, right? His team destroyed their opponent, and by the end, it was nearing 7:00PM and time to go. Earlier in the week N asked if he could hang out with said friend after the game, but I vetoed that because I didn't want to get home really late, especially after being out since 6:00AM. Of course I felt bad afterward, but we stuck with that plan and just headed home.

The drive wasn't that bad, I wasn't as tired as I thought I'd be (coffee helped), we got home by 9:00PM and chilled out. Mom and A were up in Burlington for their concert, so we relaxed and I was in bed by 10:30. It was a brutal day, but as is often the case, anticipating it is the worst part, and it always feels good when all is said and done.

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

Darn Tough, Darn Good

When you live in New England you learn to appreciate a good pair of socks, so much so that you're willing to do the unthinkable and spend over $20 for a pair. I'm talking one pair of socks, for $20 or more. When I lived in California, I wore shorts most of the time, so all I had were white cotton ankle socks, the kind you get at Target for $1/pair, or something like that. They come in plastic packages of 6-10 pairs, and they wear out by the end of the year, but at that price, no big deal, right?

Well, since moving to the cold northeast, I've learned that wool socks are really the way to go, especially when snow and rain become a factor. The only problem is, wool socks are not durable, especially when you buy the fancy knit ones at LL Bean or J Crew, the kind you wear around the fireplace with a hot cup of tea. They look nice and cozy but they aren't build to last. What you need are wool blends that give you the warmth of wool but have synthetic fibers to make them strong. Wool is also the best material for getting wet.

The only problem is, good wool socks, including brands like SmartWool, WigWam, and of course, Darn Tough, are expensive. In fact, I would normally never have spent the money for good wool socks except that I was given a pair as a gift when I coached A's hockey team. One of the moms gave all the coaches Darn Tough socks, and at first I thought it was a strange present. Who gives socks as a gift? Plus, Darn Tough socks have pretty funky slick designs, which are great when you're young and hip. When you're old and boring like me, you've grown up with socks that are monotone and go up past your knees.

Either way, I started wearing the socks, and was amazed at how they kept my feet warm, dried very quickly, and lasted. I was still hesitant to drop $20 on a pair, but whenever there was a sale, I outfitted myself and all the kids with a few pairs each. It was harder with A because she's a sock fashionista and has upwards of 20+ pairs, so I don't think she's really looking at functionality.

The point of this story, which was lost about 15 paragraphs ago, is that Darn Tough socks have a lifetime guarantee. Don't ask me how they can make such an offer, but they will replace a pair of socks, no questions asked. How crazy is that? Now in the winter I pretty much only wear Darn Tough, and since they've served me well and I have no complaints, I didn't want to take advantage of their offer. I figured if I got 4-5 good years out of a pair, I got my money's worth. However, I did buy a pair a year ago and they developed a tear in the top (I think this is the exact style). I contacted them and they said, whether the socks are 10 days or 10 years, they will replace them, no questions asked.

How's that for a guarantee? I sent the pair in and am toying with sending my oldest pair, which is about 5 years old, in, as well, though that would be going completely against my principles. Then again, they were pretty emphatic about their guarantee. I have yet to receive my new pair of socks, so we'll see how things play out, but if things work out as planned, I don't think I need to tell you what socks I'm buying from now on. I could do an ad where I'm standing naked and the caption would read, "If I can't wear Darn Tough socks, I'd rather wear nothing at all." Scary thought, don't you think?

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

Monday, January 22, 2018

Back Home and Back to Work (sort of)

Now that mom is back full time, we can live our lives as normally as possible, or at least as normally as possible given the circumstances. I think a trip back to her home is in our near future, but it would be nice if we could all make the sojourn and at least be together. This might be logistically challenging given our amazingly busy lives, but we're adults here, right? We can make things happen.

One thing that having mom back means is that I'm am better able to work, and thereby support our fabulous lifestyle. Catering work has ground to a halt, as it always does this time of year, but poster-boy work is once again up and running. It's been a cold snowy winter so walking around and delivering the good word is a challenge, but on a bright note, it's good to get out of the house, off my butt, and moving around. I don't have a single illusion that my work is glamorous or desirable to anyone, but as I've gotten older I can definitely see the benefit of moving around on a regular basis. This, I've learned, is not only something that people don't get enough of (if they even do it at all), but many people are actually proud of it.

It's not unlike splitting wood by hand or mowing the lawn with a push mower - sure, it can be hard work, and is looked upon as foolish in the era of technology that's supposed to make our lives easier, but easier is not always better. There's value to moving around, it's just that you don't realize this until it's too late and you're unable to get off the couch, unless of course it's to get the TV remote.

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

First Run

Last week we went skiing for the first time, which in the grand scheme of things isn't that remarkable, but it is interesting when you realize that the ski hills have been open for a few weeks, and had we been motivated, we could have gone. It's just that the temps were locked in at about 10-20 degrees below zero, and when it's that cold, it's just not that much fun skiing, especially when you spend half your time sitting on the chair lift. At times it is potentially dangerous, though that's a being a bit hysterical.

Either way, once December ended, temps rose to a balmy 20 degrees, and last week we went skiing for the first time. The conditions were excellent, the cold weather coupled with a couple of big storms meant the snow was in good shape, and the warmer temps meant a good time was had by all. Unfortunately A could not join us because of her amazingly busy social and academic calendar, but N and I got to go.

I was a little pensive the first time down the hill, I always am, but once the first run is out of the way, we had a great time. N is once again doing the junior instructor program at the hill, it was something he wanted to do, so who am I to stop him? Actually, I'm well within my rights, but if he's keen on doing it, I'm completely supportive.

What's crazy is that the day after we skied excellent conditions, a big storm rolled in that brought warm temps in the 50s and tons of rain. There was extensive flooding and all that beautiful snow took a terrible beating. Then, in typical New England fashion, the temps dropped back down to below zero, and it all turned to ice. What a bummer. Our driveway was like an ice rink, and the ski hills really suffered. By extension, so too did the skiers.

For all it's worth, we aren't skiing as much this year, or at least that's how it seems. Things will probably change later in the season, especially now that we've got our feet wet, but for now, the awful conditions are putting a huge damper on our spirits. Plus, if we get a storm or two until the next time we ski, we'll once again be in good shape. We'll keep our fingers crossed.

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

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Routine Maintenance (albeit painful)

I'm no expert on cars, though I do play one on TV, but I was floored by how much it cost to have my spark plugs replaced. It was around $480, with four hours of labor, and my first thought was, how hard is it to unscrew 4 plugs? This all started about 5 months ago when I was talking to an automotive expert, the Amazing PR man, and he put the fear of god into me by saying that when plugs have been left in a car for too long, they can become fused to the engine block and if someone tries to unscrew them and they break, then you're looking at a major engine repair. Yikes, suddenly I was sweating over my spark plugs, something I've never, in all my years of owning a car, even thought about.

This was aggravated by the fact that my car has over 170,000 miles and I've never had the plugs even removed. I recently learned, 170K miles later, that they recommend changing the plugs at 100, 000 miles, and here I was, 70,000 miles late. On the other hand, I'm not one to religiously adhere to manufacturers/dealers recommendations. Sometimes it seems like overkill, not to mention expensive. And, the plugs were working, the car drove fine.

So this is how my neurotic mind began to work - while it's true the car was running fine, what if a problem did arise, and they needed to check the plugs and broke one off in the engine? Then I'd be screwed. Plus, I figured it wasn't a bad idea to change them, and at the very least, see if they could be removed. Was this something I could do myself? What if I broke the darn things off? The Amazing PR Man told me that some mechanics will make you sign a waiver absolving them of any damage to your engine if they break the plug, adding to my neurosis. Why don't you just break my other leg?

I decided that at 170K miles, it was time to just have the plugs replaced. I asked our trusty mechanic, Meuniers, if there was concern about the plugs breaking, and they said they didn't think so. They did, however, say that they would adjust the valves, and then check some sort of belt, a timing belt, perhaps. I said fine, just do what you have to do. I guess the engine needs to be cold, as well, due to expansion of the valves, which wouldn't be a problem with the temps hovering around -20 degrees. So I took the car over around 7:00AM, whereby the left it outside for two hours to cool it off, and it was done by 1:00. When I got the bill, I nearly fainted - $480. I completely trust Meuniers, it was just way more than I anticipated, and I'm not a fan of surprises when it comes to money.

I guess it took awhile to adjust the valves, and they ended up replacing the belt. The plugs cost about $30 each, they're some sort of iridium spark plug, but it's really the labor that kills you: four hours to change spark plugs. Needless to say I was really bummed, but nearly as bummed as I was when mom tore me a knew A-hole over the bill. My ignorance of the situation was no defense, so I had to bend over and take it like a man.

On a bright note, the car does run better, and I'm not going to worry about those spark plugs for another 100K, if not longer.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Kool Cats Photography for the pic.

Reflections on the New Year

I realize it's only the first couple of weeks 2018, but it's been somewhat crazy and so much has been going on, it's worth noting. Things started off late in 2017 when we had a passing in the family, which was at the forefront of everyone's thoughts and was very difficult.

To add to the situation, we were hit by a slew of household problems on our end that needed to be dealt with, including our boiler and plumbing. We were lucky in a way because I was able to fix the boiler before the two-week stretch of below zero temperatures hit us. Normally we don't really employ our heating system, but during that time it was going on every morning, and for good reason. I was riding solo as a parent for pretty much the entire month of December, and A had a bunch of things going on with school, music, and her raging social life. N had hockey and his budding social life, or should I say, romantic life. I'll leave it at that. There was a weekend in Lake Placid for his hockey tournament, and we also had car issues, with mom's car needing a new windshield along with inspections needed for both cars. I got a tuneup for my car (more on this later), which for the record cost way more than I thought it would, but I think it's running better. Since I was running the show, I really couldn't do much work at the Inn, so I couldn't make any money to support our fabulous lifestyle. Oh well, you can't be fabulous all the time.

Mom had to fly back home on more than one occasion, so she was back and forth to the airport, and as a consequence, we were back and forth to the bus stop to get her. I managed to hold down the fort and get the kids where they needed to be, though A is now driving and was able to transport herself. I'm guessing she was stoked to have free reign over the car, I know I would be. If you can believe this, we actually ate most of our meals at home. Cooking a healthy meal is not easy when you're running around and pressed for time, but since it was mostly just the three of us, there was less to prepare. Plus, eating out isn't easy up here, your choices are really limited and it's expensive.

What was really brutal was the cold, or rather the duration of the cold. I get that it's winter, it gets cold, but two straight weeks of -10 to -20 temps is ridiculous. I'm no expert on New England weather (I just play one on TV), but it seems very much out of the ordinary.

We didn't have much of a Christmas. The kids got some things that they really wanted, but for the most part, presents were not really happening, and our celebration was pretty muted. This is completely understandable considering the circumstances, and to their credit, the kids didn't make even the slightest issue out of it. If anything, the holidays were more along the lines of how we feel, with less consumption and stuff, and more about just being together. They're old enough to not pine away for lots of presents.

Now that we're well into the new year, things seemed to have calmed down a bit. We are returning to our normal routines, though there is still a lot of change on the horizon. 2018 is only about two weeks old, but already it has the potential to be a seminal year, and that has nothing to do with reproductive organs... or does it?

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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