Category Archives: Annoyances
I told you. I told you in the last post. Be careful what you wish for. I was so excited to get the last of the floor wrapped up, the Jeep put back together and be done with projects for a while. Then what happens?
The biggest flood since 1993. So more projects! Yay. All things considered, we didn’t get it that bad. Sooo many people around us got it so much worse. We didn’t have any of the nasty floodwater come into our home, but we did get lots and lots of crystal clear ground water bubbling up through any nook or cranny in the basement.
It started on Friday. It’d been raining for probably 2 weeks at this point and the flood was already forecast. At the beginning, it was just some wet spots in the carpet. By the end, the whole floor was drenched.
So gutting the carpet and dry wall quickly became a project on necessity. It took a few days, but with Andrea’s help, we got everything moved out of the basement. All the wet stuff cut out, and loaded up on the trailer. Later today I get to make a run to the landfill… if it doesn’t rain.
I’ve never experienced a flood first hand before. And I think my town has to be the absolute best place to have to go through such a thing. We live in a very small community, so everyone was pitching in, helping each other out. Checking on each other.
Once all the sandbags were stacked, everyone as prepared as you could be for such a thing, there was just this errie calm that fell over the town. Up and down the streets, everyone was just sitting out on their porch, waiting for it to roll in. What else can you do? There was an attitude of indifference about it all no matter who you talked to. So we fell in line, pulled up some chairs, and waited.
For Luke especially, this was an event I wanted him to see and take in. There’s not a ton of stuff a person remembers when you’re seven or eight years old, but this is something that I bet he will remember for the rest of his life.
It’s going to take some time, but we’ll be fine. It’s been about a week and water is still coming into the house. Our sump pump keeps pumping it out non stop… after it runs across the floor of course. So it’s not like our basement is filled with water. All the mold friendly spaces have been cut out. So now, we just wait.
The stress hasn’t got too me too much… the only annoying thing is having half of our belongings stacked up in the garage taking up space. Well that and all the water in my basement. But 6 months or so from now, we’ll be back to normal. This is just temporary, and will definitely be an experience we’ll never forget.
They’re not wrong. But it’s not for me.
I’ve spent a week without social media recently. No twitter, no facebook, no online interaction at all. I turned off everything. No notifications on my phone. It was weird at first you know. I’d pull my phone out of my pocket at a somewhat regular interval, because it was “about time” there was something there for me to see. Except this time there wasn’t. And for the first couple days it was weird. Kind of the same feeling you get when you pull off the interstate into a rest area, while the rest of the traffic screams past you on the highway at a little bit more than the fastest velocity allowed by law. Some going left, some going right, but all pretty much following the one ahead of them in an orderly fashion, bound by rules they all acknowledge and accept. While I meanwhile, had to stop.
You see you don’t stop at a rest area because you enjoy the amenities. Rest stops are built out of a biological necessity. Given the choice you’d choose a gas station where you could get a candy bar and a Mtn Dew Code Red for the miles ahead. Or in a best case scenario, make it home, to the only bathroom on earth you can feel comfortable in naked. But here you are, at exit 328, if nothing else for a quick pit stop to make the next leg of your journey somewhat bearable.
The rest stop analogy ends there for the most part. I was growing weary of the amount of attention required to be given to my phone. I once pulled my phone out of my pocket and was informed I had 22 notifications. Twenty-Two. At any given point along my existence up until now, I don’t think there’s any singular point where I’ve cared about 22 different things at once. Messages, sports scores, news updates, recommendations, reviews. There’s NO WAY I’m this important that twenty-two different people or organizations NEED input from ME.
And for the first time in my life that I can recall, it was starting to affect my real life relationships. Not that I was spending too much time on my phone… but because I wasn’t spending ENOUGH. At the right times. With the right people. Saying the right things. Sharing the right stuff. To the extent that it was starting to effect my REAL LIFE relationships. And THIS really pissed me right the hell off.
You see, I exist in a pretty unique and remarkable moment in human history. I remember when email was new. I remember IRC, ICQ, MSN Messanger, AIM… and then later when text messaging was the thing. Always as each new thing came out, and people used it to communicate more and more. I still saw them as a substitute for actual interaction. “This is the thing you can do when you can’t be together.” It was the ‘instead’. You used it to in the moments between the time you really wanted with a person. Could you have meaningful conversation? Sure. But it was never the first choice.
I feel like I’m witnessing another remarkable moment in human history as I breath this air. Digital interaction isn’t just as important as face to face interaction. It’s maybe even more important. We’ve wrapped so much of our identity and actual lives around the pixel portal we hold in our hands, that it literally is a relevant measure of who we are as a physical person. And the fact that we have access to it at literally every living breathing millisecond of our lives makes it… completely reasonable.
Who is a person without their phone? Does it matter if they always have a phone?
When I realized being bad a phones, meant I was being bad at relationships. I suddenly did a full stop. I never thought about it before, that having constant connection and constant contact, or at least the ability to do so, was a reality of my existence. It was for better or worse, and by choice or not, a reality of how the world saw me. I could be reached at any moment. Therefore expected to respond at any moment. By contrast, I could reach out at any moment. Therefore expected to do so at any moment. I have always said, “I’m not good at everything. I just try to only do the things I’m good at.” And I suck at this.
Besides. It’s not what I want. It’s not who I want to be. I don’t want to be known for the sweetest links. I don’t want to be a master of the emoji. I don’t want to be the person who can craft the most heartwarming text. It may be how people prefer to experience me rather than taking up their actual time and space, but to be honest, if that’s the case… I’m not sure it’s worth my actual time and space.
The Problem With the Jeep
Ever since we bought the Jeep almost two years ago, it’s had one basic problem. We like it. A lot.
This has definitely been the most high maintenance vehicle I’ve ever owned. Seems like there’s always something up. Sometimes little things, sometimes big things. Even so, it’s not a difficult, nor expensive vehicle to work on. Everything that has come up we’ve handled fairly easily.
But now it’s looking like the engine… and maybe even the transmission are about done for. All said and done it would be around $6,000 to $7,000 to rebuild both of them.
So the crossroads we find ourselves at is this… we have enough money to replace the Jeep. That being, the Jeep when running is worth about $3,500. We could go buy another $3,500 vehicle. But who knows what kind of work that will need, could be flawless (not likely) or it could be about to blow just like the one we have. That’s a big gamble.
We’ve been looking around at vehicles in the $5,000 to $6,000 range and there’s a lot of crap out there! 150,000 to 250,000 miles with paint that’s all scratched up, interiors that are worn out. There’s some decent “Grandma cars”, but Andrea flatly refuses to drive anything like that. I guess I kinda understand. You have to at least like what you’re driving or else you aren’t motivated to take care of it.
Or for $6,000 we get a brand new engine and transmission that has no miles on it at all, comes with a 3 year warranty and should be good for 100,000 miles if we take care of it, like we certainly would.
If we didn’t like driving it, it wouldn’t even be an issue. But it’s comfortable, roomy, and it looks good! Plus we just spent $1,000 on tires 6 months ago.
If we do this though, it pretty much guarantees we can’t sell it… ever. It just wouldn’t be worth it. Even after dumping $6k into it, it’s still a $3k vehicle to the rest of the world.
Sucks to be in this situation, but I always try to think about how we can come out better than before it happened. Going to keep thinking and praying on it for now.
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.
The time change totally kicked my butt yesterday. I vaguely remember my alarm going off at 5AM. I’m pretty sure I remember hitting snooze, but definitely don’t remember finally dismissing the alarm. Sure enough I wake up and look over at the clock which reads 7:07 AM and a notification on my phone that says, “You missed an alarm ‘Get Up & Go To Work'”. Whoops. So that means I slept through 10 minutes of my alarm going off before my phone finally gave up.
So I resolved to make some changes. I updated the alarm on my phone to be louder. I also picked a new song as my alarm sound. I’ve found that I can’t use songs that I like as my alarm. Because after a couple days of that song waking me up… I grow to hate it. It totally ruins the song for me. So I try to pick a song that I sorta like so it’s still pleasant to wake up to, but I’m not too attached to. Thus I arrived at Frank Sinatra – “Summer Wind” as my new alarm.
I made a point to set up the coffee maker the night before and set the program. So that when I wake up, piping hot coffee is waiting for me. (Which I am enjoying its full robust flavor now). It makes it a lot easier to get out of bed if you have something warm and waiting for you rather than knowing the first thing you have to do when you get up is a chore.
The third change I’m trying to make is getting cleaned up and dressed right away. Usually I lounge around in my bathrobe until the last possible second before I have to actually start getting groomed for the world beyond my front door. And I’m usually groggy and lethargic all morning, until I actually start getting dressed, then I feel like I finally wake up into “day mode”. So I thought, “What if I just get dressed right away?” So far… seems to make a difference.
The final change I made is the most foundation rocking one of them all though… I disabled the Snooze feature on my phone. I am a chronic “snoozer”. I will literally hit snooze for an hour in the mornings. I just hate waking up. HATE it. Once I’m up, I’m good. But if snoozing is an option, it’s an option I take every time. So I decided to take that option away from myself. Today… it worked.
But it’s going to take weeks to see if this move is successful. “Sleepy Me” is a sneaky bastard. I have been known to solve the two compound equations that my phone requires to turn off my alarm, go into the other alarm on my phone and set an alarm for T+1 hour, and go back to sleep. Sometimes with only vague memories of it even happening. “Sleepy Me” is committed to not giving up on the night.
All I really want is to get a reasonable amount of sleep each night, but not sleep more than I have to. Sleeping is just time wasted in my book.
Does anyone actually wake up feeling refreshed and energized with a zest for life? How do you do it? I’d love to know your secrets.
Doing Something Interesting
I’ve had the urge to create, and it seems like it gets stronger every day. Each time I have some free time to actually do something, or plan something. I am coming up COMPLETELY blank. I feel like I’d really like to do something with video. So as an exercise, I’ll list my strengths and weaknesses.
Strengths & Weaknesses in Making Interesting Videos on the Internet:
- Not afraid of being an idiot
- I think I’m funny (Might be a weakness?)
- Have a decent camera
- I like games (Games are popular on internet)
- No ideas
- Not good looking
- No time for editing
- Need more equipment (Capturing direct footage)
Okay. So there we go. Writing those down was… not helpful. Maybe I should just stick to this blog thing.
2013 is Here
I was doing so good posting on the blog. Then all of a sudden it’s like the will and ability to post just wasn’t there anymore.
It’s been busy as every holiday is. So many weekends in a row being gone, and my free time for producing anything tangible during the week is limited. I have just enough time to start most things, but not enough time to finish them. Right now I’m writing this at 9:00 PM while I’m still at work training one of our part-timers. Which hopefully means I’ll be filling in for missing part-timers less often in the long run.
Hard to imagine with the utter lack of my existence online lately, but I really think I need to unplug. It’s one of the things I love about camping. There’s no radio, internet, TV or distractions. And you just free your mind to think about things in a more deep and meaningful way. So much content out there is trying to evoke some sort of desired emotional response, whether its outrage, desire, or excitement. Everyonce in a while I need some utter solitude where there are no outside messages trying to influence my decision making and just let my mind unravel things as it will.
I’ve been playing some Tekkit on Bieb’s server. I got my resource collection up and running to a point now I can just login and build stuff. I’ll post some screenshots of my project once it starts to take shape a bit. It’s something you should recognize.
I have a hard time really committing myself to Minecraft. Everything I’ve ever built has been lost for one reason or another. Server crashes, world corruptions. It’s just a matter of time before its all gone in a digital POOF. I’ve had a lot of fun watching the Yogscast Tekkit series though. And it’s hard to resist playing for myself. There’s that outside influence I was talking about earlier.
I also am anxious to get back into Guild Wars 2. I mean REALLY anxious. There is just so many damn things to do! It’s a little bit daunting considering I want to do it ALL. But I need to just take my time and realize I have years and years ahead of me yet to experience all that content. It doesn’t help much that Andrea doesn’t play so I’m playing solo all the time. I really would like to find a nice guild… but again, I don’t really have the time to commit to something like that.
So this was basically another chapter in “How Matt Became a Grumpy Old Man”.
Look at this crap.
This just hasn’t been my day…
Why can’t I just buy NORMAL bulbs!? Look at this cheap chinese Wal-Mart crap. You’d think something as simple as some insulated wire and LEDs they could get right, but no. These haven’t even been up a week and one strand is already out. Complete bull crap.
Then when I’m heading to work, I notice that the dashboard in the Cutlass is indicating I have a bulb out. So I do a walkaround, sure enough. It’s still dark out so I can’t see all that well, and I have to get to work, so I waited until after work to check it out. That’s when I see this:
Super… and a nice sized rock is still resting inside the lens. So I’m on the hunt for new ones. Yay.
Then I go to take the bulb out and the glass comes out leaving the metal part of the bulb stuck in the socket. So more fun trying to pry that out. No permanent damage there though, once I got all of the old bulb out, the new bulb works just fine.
I did get one thing done though. I put a wreath on the Jeep. Every year I see a few people driving around with them on their truck and I always kinda liked it. So I wanted to see what it would look like. We’ll see how it holds up with semi-trucks blowing past on the highway. If it gets destroyed I’m not out much, but the way my luck is going it will probably somehow rip off the entire grille.
My car has only left me stranded once before in the 6+ years I’ve owned it. And that was due to my own stupidity flooding the engine.
This time around the failure was more… catastrophic.
As you can see in the picture above, something “exploded”. That something was the inside joint on my passenger side axle. I had a mild vibration over the past couple months, and I couldn’t track it down. So I just kept driving it. Today on the way home from town, the vibration quickly started to escalate. I slowed down to 50, and the vibration went away, but then started to come back. I slowed down to 40… got better…. then came back. I found a place to pull over and did a walk around on the car. That’s when I discovered the mess. The car still moved under its own power so I figured I would try to limp home.
I was about 10 miles from home and figured I’d give it a shot. Thank God I decided to take the back roads home. So I head down the county black top doing 25mph. Everything seems like it was going pretty good. Until I got to a decent sized hill. Then POP! WHZZZZ! And that was it. No more go.
So I got off the road as best I could with no power. I pulled out my cell phone and of course “Your battery has less than 10% remaining, please plug in your charger.” Nice. I called my neighbor Chris with my final minutes of battery life and he brought out a truck to pull me home.
So the Toronado is now back in the driveway. I ordered a new axle. If there’s anything frustrating about this it’s that the part that broke is a part I replaced only two years ago. With a 30 year old car that has over 260,000 miles, you figure its going to be one of the 30 year old parts that breaks… not a two year old part with maybe 20,000 miles. But nothing you can do about it now. The replacement part is only $70, so still not quite justified to get a new car yet.
At least I made it to the liquor store… I was out of beer.