Monthly Archives: August 2013

Busy But Productive

Man, today was action packed for a Saturday.  I had a lot to do at work, still working off my punishment for taking a vacation.  No we aren’t actually punished for taking time off… but the work still piles up while I’m gone.  I already had to stay late Friday for some sports so I didn’t want to stay even later and not get to see Luke at all.  Rather I decided to just come in while everybody else was sleeping.

I rolled out of bed around 4AM, chatted a bit with Andrea who hadn’t gone to bed yet, ate some cereal, got dressed and made it to work by 5AM.  I was able to get everything pretty much caught up by 11AM and headed back home.  Luke and Andrea were just getting around for the day, so my plan worked out pretty well.  I was a little tire so I caught a quick nap on the couch.

The doctor called today.  They got the results from Luke’s lead test and his lead level has gone from a 5 to a 6 since the last time he was tested 6 months ago.  I’m wracking my brain trying to figure out where he is coming in contact with the lead.  This house was built in 1978 so there shouldn’t be any lead paint.  I don’t think he’s been playing with any old toys or anything like that.  It’s a little scary because he’s now crossed the threshold where they start getting concerned and we need to figure out where he is interacting with it before his lead level gets any higher.  It’s not necessarily dangerous yet.  But it’s getting into his system somehow, and if it continues to rise, then he will be at risk of health problems.  So we need to get it sorted out.  But I honestly can’t think of any place he’s been exposed to lead!

Later we headed up to Hoisington for the Labor Day celebration.  They had an event called “Touch-A-Truck”.  It was really pretty cool.  Kinda like a car show, but with all kinds of trucks, tractors and other driveable machines.  Luke was really excited when we first got there.  Until the fire trucks and police trucks started sounding their sirens and blowing their horns.  The loud noise scared the little guy.  Luke was immediately ready to go.  But we toughed it out and saw all there was to see.  It’s a real bummer because he totally would have had a blast if it weren’t for the noise.  He would briefly get interested, but then realized he was letting his guard down and nuzzled back into my shoulder.

So we went to town.  Needed to get a few things from the store and ended up just walking around Wal-Mart for kicks.  I don’t think I’ve done that since high school.  I guess we were pretty bored.  Didn’t see much we couldn’t live without and got out of the store for under $14.

Luke had to get a new Hot Wheels car though, because obviously he doesn’t have enough already… He did pick a pretty cool one though.  He got an 84 Monte Carlo with flames on it.  It is almost the same color as the Cutlass though, so we call it “Daddy’s Car”.  Hehe.

So I had a lot of fun playing cars with Luke.  He’s starting to develop that little brain so much.  He’s to the point now he’ll start telling you what he want’s you to do.  “Move, Daddy.”  “Hey, watch this.”  I’m just a pawn in his little scheme, but it’s totally worth it when you see him loving every minute of it.

After supper I took it on myself to deep clean the tub/shower upstairs.  We had a nasty plumbing issue where everything in the garbage disposal drained into the bathtub.  It was 7.5/10 on the “Nasteriffic” scale.  And that’s about as high as you can go without getting poo involved.  I mentioned calling the plumber in a previous post.  He was able to take care of it straight away.  Every job is all about having the right tools.  But what was left was a working show that no one wanted to use until it was thoroughly sterilized.  I guess if any good has come of it, the show is now cleaner than it’s ever been.

So now Luke’s asleep.  I’m down stairs chilling, and trying to decide if I want to do some gaming, or just watch some Youtube videos.  I’m actually craving a bit of retro gaming right now, so maybe I’ll head to the retro room and fire up something old.

Predictable People

I like to think that one of my more refined (and useful) skills is the ability to figure people out rather quickly.  For the most part people are very simple creatures, largely predictable.  Once you figure out how they respond to certain inputs, it’s safe to say they’ll usually respond similarly in similar situations.  If you’re able to pick up on those tendencies, you can go as far as to emphasize certain inputs to… erm… manipulate the outcome.  For the most part people are inputs and outputs.

I’m not saying I’m manipulative… I usually choose to just observe.

Honestly I find it disappointing that most people are so simple and 2-dimensional.  Feed them something they love, and they’ll re-regurgitate it right back to you.  Ask them why they love it and they say “I don’t know, I just always have.”  Feed them something they hate, and they’ll parrot every opposing argument they’ve ever seen, heard or read on the internet.  Ask them about something neutral, and they just don’t care.

All of the most interesting people I’ve come across in my life (which probably total less than 8) share two things in common.  First and foremost, they have deep convictions and feelings about the things they consider relevant.  And second, those convictions are rarely unsolicited, because those convictions aren’t reliant upon the acceptance of others.  They are wholly their own. Both of those traits are probably my most respected qualities in a person.  The ability to form your own thoughts, be passionate about them, and not require validation.

Because your thoughts are your own should be validation enough.  Should someone disagree with you, what does it matter? If you think something is “stupid” or “awesome” because someone else did (or didn’t), that’s not conviction, that’s influence.  I don’t mean to say you should be unique for unique’s sake; it’s absolutely fine to share similar feelings as others.  It is how you arrive to those feelings that matters.

Don’t confuse a strong conviction with ignorance though.  One of the most powerful conversations I remember having with someone was talking with a friend about salvation.  You may or may not be religious, but the conversation below is a great example of what I’m talking about.

She said, “Do you know you are going to heaven when you die?”

“Absolutely,” I said.

“How do you know for sure?”

“Because I believe 100% that Jesus lived and died on the cross for my sins.  That as the Son of God, His sacrifice is enough to cover the sins of all humanity, including my own,” I said with great confidence.

“You think believing is all it takes to be saved?” she asked.

“I do.  When I stand before the Lord I can say I believe with all my soul that Jesus saved me.”

Then she caught me off guard when she said, “I would rather stand before the Lord and tell him that I did everything I could to know for sure that Jesus saved me.”

I felt a bit ignorant in that moment.  I believed I was saved, because that’s what I was told I had to do.  Just believe.  She made me realize that just because I choose to believe something doesn’t make it real in and of itself.  That what is truth is truth regardless of what one chooses to believe.  That that conviction needed to come from personal revelation through action.  (James 2:14-17)  Those are the kinds of thoughts that I find alluring.

So, honestly I’m rarely that “interesting” person I’ve been talking about.  I’m pretty predictable and unsolicited myself a lot of the times.  But I try to keep an awareness of it about me. I try to be my own person and do what’s best for my family and me, but also realize that my way isn’t necessarily the best way for anyone else.

We are all unique individuals.  Being different isn’t something we should feel awkward about.  You should celebrate it!  Don’t let conformism take away one of the greatest personal freedoms you’ll ever possess, and that is the freedom of individual thought.

Vacation Almost Over

I took a week off of work.  It’s been really nice.  Breaking the doldrums of the same old same old.  I can say fore sure though, I didn’t get as much relaxing and gaming time as I had hoped.

The family and I all went out to Cimarron to help my Mom move to a new house.  It went about as smooth as a move can possibly go I think.  We started the heavy lifting at 8AM on Saturday, and we were done by noon that day!  We had a bunch of help, so that sure made thing go smoother.

I really like their new place.  It has lots of room both inside and out.  Luke loved running around and there are all sorts of different areas of the house that you can use for different things.  Upstairs is going to be a cool football room.  I had the pleasure of hanging my first flat screen TV on the wall.  It was actually a lot simpler than I thought it would be.  We got their sound system working and they have a pretty awesome setup now.  It will take some tweaking and organizing, but I helped get everything hooked up.  It’s up to Mom and Duane now to make it the way they want it.

We came back on Monday and on the way home, we realized that the leak I thought I fixed in the Jeep… wasn’t fixed at all.  The carpet on the passenger side was soaked from the condensation dripping from the AC into the cabin.  Thank goodness for the internet I found a fix.  Unfortunately it called for cutting a hole in the side of the frame on the Jeep!  Something I don’t really have any tools for.  But $25 worth of Dremel accessories and $5 of plastic tube and clamps later, I think I have it fixed.  I ran out of time to thoroughly test it because Andrea had to go bowling and I needed to watch Luke.  He’s just not to the age yet where you can go, “Stay where I can see you, don’t drink any poison.”  So letting him roam around the garage while I work on cars still isn’t a good idea.

On top of that, Luke and I took a shower and I noticed that the tub wasn’t draining.  This has happened before and usually I just have to plunge it out.  However this attempt of that has proven fruitless.  I even poured some drain clog remover down there, and nothing.  So I called the Landlord.  Something I haven’t had to do very often since we moved here.  Most of the time because it’s easier to just fix stuff myself rather than wait and rely on someone else.  But for this project, I got to the point where I said… “Why am I still screwing with this?  I rent!” so I took advantage of one of the benefits of NOT being a homeowner and called this one in.  A plumber is supposed to be coming over sometime today and I won’t have to worry about the bill!

So I planned on helping Mom move, that was the reason for the timing of the vacation.  But I didn’t plan on having to tear apart the Jeep and mess around with plumbing.  Feels like a lot of the time I’ve spent on “vacation” I’ve been working and fixing things.  Andrea says that’s sure not her idea of a vacation.  But you know, times like this when I can kick back on the couch with the laptop, a cup of coffee and write a blog in the middle of the morning… this is what it’s all about.

If anything this time off has helped me get back to my natural state, which is “laid-back”.  Work gets me so uptight and hi-strung sometimes.  I didn’t used to get all stressed out about stuff.  Just not enough time any more I guess, blah, blah, cue what everyone always says.

I feel like I can go into work now with a bit of a re-freshed perspective.  That is going to help a lot.  I really am going to dedicate myself to dumping the stress from my life.  Get done what I can get done and don’t sweat the rest.  That’s my plan.  We’ll see how long it lasts.

Bygones Are Bygones

I was never a Sega kid.  If you look back through the archives of this blog, or explore the “Video Games” category, you’ll know that I am a fair tempered Nintendo fanboy.  And in the 16-bit days, the console wars were at Defcon 2.  It just so happened that I really ended up sitting out of the 16-bit era.  I never had a Super Nintendo growing up, but I had friends with both a Genesis and an SNES.  Maybe that’s what made adding the Genesis to the collection feel so right, or maybe it really is that enough time has passed, we can put those quarrels behind us.

I got a small amount of birthday money in the past couple weeks, and combined with a small amount of money I saved up, I had enough to buy this Sega lot on eBay.  A Genesis, 1 controller and 22 games.  I pretty much inherited somebody’s complete Genesis collection!

What do I play next?  Now, granted a lot o those games are mid 90’s sports games.  But it was really fun watching Andrea play some football that has almost more in common with the old vibrating metal football games of the past than it does today’s sophisticated Madden games.  Still just as fun though.  And neat to think that at the time, that was the pinnacle of gaming achievement for the genre.  Plus it’s kinda cool to play as Joe Montana for the Chiefs.  I mean, c’mon.  If you don’t like that you can play as one of the OTHER 27 teams! (Hint, there’s 32 NFL teams now).

Of course there’s Sonic in there, and some other arcade/adventure style games.  Really a pretty nice collection.  I know positively nothing about Sega, but it will be fun to experience these games for the first time!

Oldest of Friends

Tonight was Retro Night.  I really was at odds as to what to play.  What I NEED to play is Final Fantasy VI… but I wasn’t up for something that required such focus and investment.  To be honest, I really contemplated just sitting at my PC and watching all of the fantastically hilarious “Geek Week” content on YouTube.  But I said to my self, you have begun this tradition of Retro Night, and you MUST honor it.  I thought and thought.  Then I decided, you know, if it came down to any game you could play at this moment… of all time… what would it be?  And from there the choice was simple.

Andrea and Luke are out of town.  Some men might use this as an opportunity to go out on the town, hang out with the guys, smoke some cigars.  Me?  I decided to play Mario Kart 64.  And drink.  Infact I was doing equally as well at both.  Well, by the end I was doing much better at drinking than I was at Mario Kart.  Still got gold on all four cups in 150cc though.  Not really saying much though.  I’ve played so much of this game, I could play it even practically unconscious.

I would like to think that being slightly inebriated helps me experience these old games at a point in time before I had mastered them.  That is severely not the case.  It serves only to frustrate me as I know what these hands are capable of, only what I see happening on the screen isn’t matching what I’m telling them to do.  Slamming into walls, running into traps… not my usual style; not my style at least not when it comes to this game.  We go way back.

I tweeted a picture of the poster above a few days ago.  I’ve been tweaking out the Retro Room recently and knew I had this stashed somewhere, but it hasn’t been displayed in probably almost 10 years.  It was originally a poster insert in the Tips & Tricks magazine that I used to get back in the 90’s.  The magazine always published the fastest times for Mario Raceway, and I always would practice and beat the published time before the next issue came out.  Of course, then there would be a new FASTER time that some other reader had submitted.

At any rate, this poster appeared in one of the issues.  On the flipside, it has a similar scene for Kalamari Desert (wish I would have photographed that before hanging it).  Hopelessly lost in my Nintendo 64 addiction, I pinned this up in my room at the height my my Mario Kart 64 obsession.  Over the years I let go of some of the more minute parts of my collection, game boxes and the like.  But I could never bring myself to throw this one away.  It’s an emotional anchor back to a really different, but very pleasant, time in my life.  Sentamentally, I value it almost as much as the Mario Kart 64 cartridge itself.

It was a fun night.  Though I couldn’t help but think of all the fun we had with Biebs, Bef, Bobby and the rest of my family playing battle mode on Block Fort or Double Deck.  An experience that sadly I don’t think I’ll ever be able to re-live quite the same way.

Luke is Two!

Luke celebrated his 2nd birthday yesterday!  His big shindig party isn’t until next week.  But we wanted to at least commemorate the day.  

We didn’t have a cake, but we did make some brownies, which he probably ate too much of (along with chocolate milk) since he spit up a bit of it later while he was playing, haha.  I could have swore we had some extra birthday candles laying around.  I couldn’t find any, so we used some tea candles.  We lit two of them and set them on the plate with his brownie.  He wanted NOTHING to do with them!  He squirmed and cried.  “Fire Away!” he kept saying.  I think he’s still scarred from his 4th of July experience!

Then get got to open the present we got him.  Just a little racetrack with some wind up cars.  It’s actually pretty cool for as cheap as it was.  He has had a blast with it so far.  I’m sure by next week it will be “just another toy” but it is fun watching him just get completely fascinated by something.  Then we let him stay up until about 10pm, which is way past his bedtime.  

We definitely spoiled the little guy.  But hey, it’s your birthday! 

Everybody says it, but I can’t believe it’s been 2 years already.  Seems like just a few weeks ago we were heading to the hospital with Andrea.  It has been completely amazing though.  Luke has to be the easiest kid to have around.  He’s almost always in a good mood, loves to play, can entertain himself… sometimes. And is just a love filled little boy.  

It’s so much fun watching him grow up.  He’s really becoming his own person.  He has his own preferences, his own favorites, his own habits even.  If it wouldn’t go quite as fast, that would be great though!

Automotive Night

Well, I may have come across a bit of a kink in my plan.  I’m taking one night a week to focus on something different you know, Thursdays I try to work on the cars.  Well the flaw here is what happens with pretty much all my car projects.  They always take thee times longer than I plan on them taking.  And with my weeknights, I only have about 90 minutes to dedicate.  So as it ends up, there’s not much I can get torn apart AND back together in that amount of time.  Not while digging for the right wrench and lifting a few beers anyway.

I set out to fix two issues on the Caprice, which turned into three in the short drive to the garage.  First I wanted to sort out an electrical issue with the voltmeter.  I was driving home last time and the volts would drop to zero, then come back up, or stay at zero indefinitely.  I found a wire on the intake that is a bit frayed, but I don’t know that it’s the culprit.  I patched it up just the same.  Second issue was a water leak somewhere on the top of the engine.  I thought at first it was the thermostat housing, but it really looked sealed up pretty good.  Then I noticed that it seemed most of the water was leaking from the heater hose coming off the intake.  So I pulled it off and found the fitting all pitted and corroded.  Pretty sure this is the cause.  Just for good measure I pulled the heater hose fitting off the water pump too.  They’re only a few bucks to replace, so might as well.  I’m debating whether I should replace the hose itself too.  I guess if it leaks when I put it back together, I’ll go that route next.

Oh and remember that as a cooling system heats up, it pressurizes.  The engine had cooled down, but it was still warm to the touch.  So when I pulled off the heater hose, coolant sprayed everywhere…

So I just took the opportunity to clean up the engine bay a bit. (This is why things always take three times longer).

But as I was pulling it around, I noticed the exhaust seemed louder and rattled more.  The damn header bolts at the collector are working loose now.  I saw one of them just sitting there vibrating and spinning.  Sheesh.  These things are a PITA.  So I’m sure I’m going to need new collector gaskets now too.  Just need to get it apart and see what it looks like.

The point however is, I think Automotive work is going to have to be relegated to the weekends.  Significant mechanical stuff anyway.  I guess Thursday nights will be relegated to cleaning, waxing, and minor adjustments.